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Saturday, May 08, 2004
Will the White House call these guys unpatriotic?

They've said that about everyone else who has criticized Bush's War. Let's see if they say it about our own military brass.

Army Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, who spent much of the year in western Iraq, said he believes that at the tactical level at which fighting occurs, the U.S. military is still winning. But when asked whether he believes the United States is losing, he said, "I think strategically, we are."

Army Col. Paul Hughes, who last year was the first director of strategic planning for the U.S. occupation authority in Baghdad, said he agrees with that view and noted that a pattern of winning battles while losing a war characterized the U.S. failure in Vietnam. "Unless we ensure that we have coherency in our policy, we will lose strategically," he said in an interview Friday.

"I lost my brother in Vietnam," added Hughes, a veteran Army strategist who is involved in formulating Iraq policy. "I promised myself, when I came on active duty, that I would do everything in my power to prevent that [sort of strategic loss] from happening again. Here I am, 30 years later, thinking we will win every fight and lose the war, because we don't understand the war we're in."

The emergence of sharp differences over U.S. strategy has set off a debate, a year after the United States ostensibly won a war in Iraq, about how to preserve that victory. The core question is how to end a festering insurrection that has stymied some reconstruction efforts, made many Iraqis feel less safe and created uncertainty about who actually will run the country after the scheduled turnover of sovereignty June 30.


Some officers say the place to begin restructuring U.S. policy is by ousting Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, whom they see as responsible for a series of strategic and tactical blunders over the past year. Several of those interviewed said a profound anger is building within the Army at Rumsfeld and those around him.

A senior general at the Pentagon said he believes the United States is already on the road to defeat. "It is doubtful we can go on much longer like this," he said. "The American people may not stand for it -- and they should not."

I give Rummy two weeks, tops. that'll be long enough for Bush to be stubborn and rigid like always, and then he'll see he's swimming against the tide and he'll cut Rummy loose.
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You'd think they would have realized by now.

Well, AP has taken notice of how the media is being punked.

But power will not restrain itself. Those entrusted with it have to be watched. That is not meant as a political statement or a character assessment. It's just a basic law of nature.

The powerful have to be watched, and we are the watchers. And you don't need to have your notebook snatched by a policeman to know that keeping an eye on government activities has lately gotten a lot harder.

In fact, the government itself has actually told us so.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the attorney general of the United States informed federal departments he was reversing the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act.

The essence of the FOI Act is that government information is open and accessible to the public unless there is a very good reason to keep it secret. But under the attorney general's directive, department heads were told they should treat government information as secret unless presented with a very good reason to make it accessible.

The agencies eagerly complied. Up went the barriers. Down came the official Internet sites and document databases. Gone were expedited FOI procedures for reporter requests to many agencies.

By last summer, a government study determined that nearly a third of the federal officials whose duty is to comply with FOI requests reported they had succeeded in reducing the flow of information to the public.

The states appear to have fallen in step with the new spirit of secrecy. In a survey taken last month of AP chiefs of bureau around the country, more than half told us that state and local governments are making it much harder for us to do our jobs.

Why are journalists of every stripe not screaming from the rooftops about this?

(Thanks to praktike from Atrios' comments for the link.)

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I got one word for you, and the word is...


Bush's blood lust, his repeated commitment to Christian beliefs, and his constant references to "evil doers," in the eyes of many devout Catholic leaders, bear all the hallmarks of the one warned about in the Book of Revelations - the anti-Christ. People close to the Pope claim that amid these concerns, the Pontiff wishes he was younger and in better health to confront the possibility that Bush may represent the person prophesized in Revelations. John Paul II has always believed the world was on the precipice of the final confrontation between Good and Evil as foretold in the New Testament. Before he became Pope, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla said, "We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel." The Pope, who grew up facing the evils of Hitler and Stalin, knows evil when he sees it. Although we can all endlessly argue over the Pope's effectiveness in curtailing abuses within his Church, his accomplishments external to Catholicism are impressive.

According to journalists close to the Vatican, the Pope and his closest advisers are also concerned that the ultimate acts of evil - the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon - were known in advance by senior Bush administration officials. By permitting the attacks to take their course, there is a perception within the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy that a coup d'etat was implemented, one that gave Bush and his leadership near-dictatorial powers to carry out their agenda.

Note: I don't necessarily agree with this. I was just pretty stunned when it turned up in my inbox.
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Creepy cat blogging

Most people post pictures of their cats to show how cute they are. I'm posting this picture to demonstrate that my new cat Pippin is the physical manifestation of Satan in animal form.

And that's kinda what the world looked like last night before I fell asleep.
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Oh, man, oh man oh man....

My band played a local joint last night. We sounded good and I must have played well, because everybody wanted to buy me a shot. I, like a stupid jerk, took them up on it.

And I got drunk. Like carried-out-of-the-bar drunk. Falling-over-in-my-seat drunk. Unable-to-carry-my-own-equipment drunk.

I cannot remember the last time I got that drunk. K says I never even got that smashed in our legendary trips to Drunk Heaven, New Orleans.

Surprisingly, I feel pretty good this morning. Thank goodness K was there to help drag my ass out of the bar. Coulda gotten ugly.

Coulda been worse, though. I could have ended up behaving like this:

Prosecutors have said Skilling violated his bond by being intoxicated, trying to lift a woman's blouse in search of an FBI wiretap and attempting to steal a car's license plate outside an Manhattan cigar bar.

And I have to do a benefit show this afternoon. Rest assured, no drinks for D today.
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Friday, May 07, 2004
Graham drops a bombshell.

He hints at ThugCo's worst nightmare.

Graham, a veteran of the House Judiciary Clinton impeachment hearings in 1998, had his sound bites honed to a sharp, quotable edge: “I want to prepare the public. The worst is yet to come in terms of disturbing events.”

A few minutes later, Graham told a press conference, “We’re talking about rape and murder here, we’re not just talking abut giving people a humiliating experience, we’re talking about rape and murder and some very serious charges.”

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Typo watch...

Someone on Atrios' comments noticed this, from ABCNews. I thought it was worth a screen cap.

Sophomoric, i know. But it's Friday and I watched a lot of Rummy testimony today, so indulge me already.

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Say 'hi' to...

Bloggers United against Bush. Something tells me that list is gonna get a lot longer...
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I had to stop. Forgive me.

I simply could not sit through another minute. I'm currently out on the porch with the cats, smoking a cigarette and trying to wake myself up again.

Here's Code Pink's press release on their disruption of the morning's hearings. WTG.
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House hearings coming up.

Dunno whether I have the time nor energy to real-time it, tho. Here's my best shot...

Duncan Hunter is smooching butt worse than Warner did. I didn't think such a thing was possible, but there you go. He's emphasising 'a small number' of people did this. Sounds like the House is more willing to throw the grunts to the wolves than the Senate was.

Skelton: Wants more than just one hearing. Good luck with that, Ike.

Rummy's opening statement... pretty much a rerun of this morning.

Announcing appointment of a group of people to review within 45 days. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa...

There are more pictures and videos.

Myers' opening statement... again, saying he wanted CBS to lay off out of fear for the troops.

Much more emphasis on the timeline they showed in the Senate this morning. Line-by-line. Running the clock, there, Richie?

Brownlee opening statement: I apologize, too.

They're investigating 35 deaths and assaults of detainees. 12 due to natural causes, 2 justifiable homicide, 2 homicide. Remaining cases still under investigation.

Schoomaker opening statement: As far as i can tell, the same one he gave this morning.

Again, 'a very few people.' Taking it very seriously and very personally.

Hunter: What have we done on the ground to fix this?

Leadership suspended, accused suspended. Geneva Convention was posted in both languages (why wasn't it already there?). Miller is 'fixing' it as per what he did at gitmo. (If abuse at Gitmo surfaces, these guys are screwed.)

Falluja is 'calm, yet not resolved.'

Skelton: Is there anything else we need to know, that we won't be surprised with?

Investigations are ongoing. We will brief you if you want. There could be misconduct.

(Rummy) - There is more, there will be surprises.

CENTCOM announced this to the world! Skelton says, 'They may have announced it to the world, but they sure didn't tell us.'

Hunter proposes a once-a-week briefing. Brownlee says okay.

Saxton: Says a photo CD was left on the cot of an investigator by a soldier.

Saxton reinforces the timeline. Nothing new here.

Rummy complains about how the law gets in the way, in the age of digital cameras and 24/7 news.

Spratt: Miller was in Iraq when this story first hit the radar. How did he miss this if he was there?

Rummy says, he wasn't investigating, he was assessing.

(At this point, rummy starts rummy-speaking. My eyes glaze over, and i realize I just missed the last 30 seconds of what he said.)

Spratt asks about 'softening up' detainees and how it related to the Geneva Convention. Rummy objects, Lance smith says it's within Geneva.

Thornberry: Says this type of thing is what we're trying to let Iraqis do. He went to a funeral for a soldier. He can't find fault with how the military handled it. Says the pictures are being 'exploited' by people who want to keep the Iraqi people under oppression (???).

This guy is barely making sense. I'm having a devil of a time trying to figure out what the fuck his point is here.
Finally asks how the pictures got out.

Smith says they were surprised. there was a CD in the States, but 'They got the disc back.' Says someone put the pics on the internet. Says that one of the people involved probably leaked the pictures. Which makes not much sense here, but....

I gotta take a break.

Myers says any charge that the abuses were done through chain of command is wrong.

Another reference to Geneva Convention. For a bunch who disavowed the damn thing in 2001, they're sure using it as a crutch today.

Goin' for a smoke. This shit's making me dizzy.

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Video of disruption at rummy hearing

dhpbear from BartCop forum has posted video of the demonstrators in the hearing this morning.

Be patient - the server's prolly getting hammered at this point.
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This is such bullshit.

I'm watching these hearings on C-SPAN (got tired of Blitzer gabbling, the fucking apologist), and the opening statements boil down to 'Hey, shit happens.'

John Warner should get his nose out of Rumsfeld's ass. His 'Good statement, General' comments are getting us nowhere.

And the demonstration during Rummy's opening statement was great to see. Went on for a long time - must have felt like forever to Rummy.

My feeling is that unless the Democrats really hammer him in questioning, the hearings will make no difference. Levin is going now, and it sounds like he's really going to go after him. I'll add more to this post as the hearings progress.

Levin: 'How far up the chain are we going to go?' Non-answers from Rummy, and Levin keeps coming at him.

McCain: Established that Rummy is incapable of answering a simple question.

Kennedy: Asking about Rummy's disregard for the Geneva Convention.

Roberts: Established that the guy who 'straightened out guantanamo' is in charge of the system in Iraq now.

Byrd: 'Why didn't anybody say anything until CBS ran the story? Why did Myers try to kill the CBS story? Why did the report languish until the media got it?'

Truman said 'The buck stops here.' This administration uses arrogance, misplaced bravado, and fingerpointing.

'Is a presidential apology to the King of Jordan sufficent?'

'Will you (Rumsfeld) ask the Red Cross to waive their confidentiality agreement and make public their reports on US detention of prisoners around the world?'

Damn work. I'm missing questions because I'm concentrating on other things. Missed allard's questions.

Lieberman: Quisling. 'Those who killed 3,000 people on September 11 never apologized.' Useless.

Although he did get Rummy to say that the prisoners who were abused fall under protection by the Geneva Convention.

Sessions: Another bloviating opening statement. Shut the fuck up and ask the question, already.

Sessions is actually correcting Myers where he's screwing up the timeline. Myers is now running out the clock talking about minutia as regards the timeline.

Reed: 'For the next 50 years, America will be represented by an American soldier dragging a naked Iraqi across the florr on a leash. This is a disaster.'

Asking if the DoD approved the interrogation policy. Rummy brings up 9/11 again. Reed is grilling Intelligence under-secretary Cambone. Cambone is retreating into legalese. No straight answer as to who approved the process.

Collins: Asked if Rummy regrets not having brought this to light himself. Rummy, of course, will not voice regret - he blames the photographs for being so damn explicit.

Heh. Rummy is complaining about the Taguba report being leaked 'against the law.'

Collins tells rummy he sisn't answer the question. 'Instead of calling CBS and trying to stop the release of the pictures, you should have come forth and told the world.' Rummy says he wishes he had done that. Complaining that he has to deal with 'peacetime constraints and legal requirements.' Arrogant fuckhead - the laws are there for a reason.

Akaka: 'What are the roles of private contractors, and who supervises them?' Rummy says the contractors are answering to the officers in charge.

To Rummy: 'These are sadistic, wanton, criminal abuses. Are there allegations of abuse against contractors?' Rummy: 'Time will tell.' One of the brass says 2 contractors are under investigation.

To Myers: 'How could an entire brigade be deployed to Iraq and not be trained for their mission?'

Lindsey Graham: Brought up video for the first time - says he wants to prepare the public, and 'the worst is yet to come.' Rummy acknowledges that there is video, and he hasn't seen it. To Graham's credit, saying he won't be satisfied by this ending with 'a couple of privates and sargeants being prosecuted.'

Lt. Gen. Lance smith admitted being shown the photos in March. Myers called CBS without having seen the photos. Myers says he tried to kill the CBS story to protect the troops - as if all Iraqis tune in to 60 Minutes II.

Color me surprised - Graham is blasting the panel for not informing Congress. Asks Rummy about calls for his resignation. Rummy says if he felt he couldn't be effective, he'd resign in a minute.

Nelson: Asked when Rummy first saw the pics. Rummy said he first saw the unaltered pictures last night (!).
Myers says Bush knew about the pictures in February, Rummy says he doesn't remember when Bush found out. Won't say what Bush said when he found out.

Dole: Yawn. Catalog of 'progress' in Iraq. Schools, women, freedom, etc. She's going to eat up all her time with her opening statement.

Asks Rummy about his 'plan' for reform. Rummy wants to pay off the abused, among other things.

Ben Nelson: Proposes tearing down Abu Ghraib.

Is the abuse aberrant or systemic? Was chain of command severed? Rummy says a lot more will come out. He seems to be calling for the rest of the pictures and videos to be suppressed. Says the CPA and the Iraqi government will decide about tearing the prison down.

Cornyn: Repeats that seeing more pictures will be bad. Waves CENTCOM's press release from January, quotes that release of the material would compromise the investigation. Another windbag who likes hearing himself talk.

Again the idea of preventing release of more pictures comes up. 'The country doesn't need those kid of shocks.'

Bayh: 'A question of presidential leadership.'

'Even though you weren't involved in the underlying acts, would it undo the some of the damage if you were to step down?' Rummy: 'That's possible.'

Quotes Friedman's NYT Op--Ed from yesterday. Asks 'Do you believe we're on the right course, or is drastic change needed?' Rummy, of course, thinks we're on the right road. (What did you expect him to say, Evan??)

Chambliss: Re-iterates tearing down the prison.

A little butt-smooch of rummy to start off... praises Miller and says he saw 'random' interrogations (sheah, right) and said Miller fixed Guantanamo.

'The Army doesn't operate 12 hours a day.' As if you have any idea, Chickenhawk.

Pandering son of a bitch. Talking like he was in the military. Liar. Rummy agrees with everything he said.

Clinton: How is it that the information only comes forth when released to the press? Rummy says he can't imagine that anybody recommended the abuse. Says the situation was announced, and also said that most prisoners are covered by Geneva Convention.

Implies that Hillary got the report early ('I don't know how you knew that.').

Rummy says they have to leave at 2:30 firm.

Pryor: 'You can't un-ring the bell.'

Notes a pattern - they've asked for months if more troops were needed, WH said now. Now you do. WH said they didn't need more money. Now they do. Surprised again today, and we don't like these surprises in Congress. What else will come out.

Rummy says 'you can be certain' that more will come out.

He's getting hysterical, reverting to typical Rummy. 'Shit happens.' Talking about pulling moey 'out of one account, putting it into another account.'

Dayton: Did rummy authorize Myers calling CBS to suppress their report. Rummy objects to the word 'suppress,' and doesn't remember if he authorized the call. Myers objects to the word 'suppress.'

Myers again says he wanted CBS to 'delay' the report to protect the troops. Myers says he didn't discuss it with Rummy, Cheney or Bush.

antithetical to democracy. Bush wants to expand democracy around the world, but is denying democracy in this country by managing the news.

On escalation of forces. rummy, the wiseass, checks his watch. Wotta bitch. How can more forces to Iraq do anything except dig us deeper and make Iraq hate us more. Warner cuts Dayton off, saying that answer will be entered into the record.

Now Frist is making a statement. Is he on the committee? WTF is he doing there if he isn't on the committee?

Show over.

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Can Rummy hold his tongue?

Rummy goes before Congress within the hour. Given his propensity for being a wiseass when he doesn't want to give a straight answer to a question, can he curb the urge to mock and dismiss questions from the panel? His job may depend upon it.

Rumsfeld plans to defend himself in appearances before the Senate and House Armed Services committees today. In the Senate, Republicans as well as Democrats described the appearances as critical to his survival as defense secretary, aides to key senators in both parties said.

"There's growing anger" at the sometimes prickly defense secretary, said one senior Senate Republican staff member, who agreed to discuss the mood of lawmakers on the condition that he not be named. "Republicans' instinct is to throw him a lifeline, but he's not giving them anything to deal with."

Another staff member said many Republican senators wanted to hear from Rumsfeld before criticizing him in public. Given that Rumsfeld's congressional relations have been rocky since the early days of the administration, he will have to be open, candid and responsive to senators' questions, the aide added: "If he says anything arrogant, it's over."

And it looks as though General Boykin may come up in the course of questioning as well. About damn time.
Josh Marshall has more.
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Plenty of Warnings

The other day we heard about how the Red Cross repeatedly tried to warn the White House about abuse in the Iraqi prison system under US control. This morning, we learn that the Pentagon tried to warn the White House about the lack of control over mercenaries 'contractors.'

A year before the Iraq invasion, the then-Army secretary warned his Pentagon bosses that there was inadequate control of private military contractors, which are now at the heart of controversies over misspending and prisoner abuse.


In a sign of continued problems with the tracking of contracts, Pentagon officials on Thursday acknowledged they have yet to identify which Army entity manages the multimillion-dollar contract for interrogators like the one accused in the Iraq prisoner abuse probe.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld also acknowledged his department hasn't completed rules to govern the 20,000 or so private security guards watching over U.S. officials, installations and private workers in Iraq.


"You've got thousands of people running around on taxpayer dollars that the Pentagon can't account for in any way," said Dan Guttman, a lawyer and government contracting expert at Johns Hopkins University. "Contractors are invisible, even at the highest level of the Pentagon."

So many warnings. Why were none of them heeded?
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Earning their 'liberal' rep

Conservatives will be howling over the entire NYT Op-Ed section today. Here's another one.

Instead of a country committed to law, the United States is now seen as a country that proclaims high legal ideals and then says that they should apply to all others but not to itself. That view has been worsened by the Bush administration's determination that Americans not be subject to the new International Criminal Court, which is supposed to punish genocide and war crimes.

Fear of terrorism — a quite understandable fear after 9/11 — has led to harsh departures from normal legal practice at home. Aliens swept off the streets by the Justice Department as possible terrorists after 9/11 were subjected to physical abuse and humiliation by prison guards, the department's inspector general found. Attorney General John Ashcroft did not apologize — a posture that sent a message.

Inside the United States, the most radical departure from law as we have known it is President Bush's claim that he can designate any American citizen an "enemy combatant" — and thereupon detain that person in solitary confinement indefinitely, without charges, without a trial, without a right to counsel. Again, the president's lawyers have argued determinedly that he must have the last word, with little or no scrutiny from lawyers and judges.

There was a stunning moment in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address when he said that more than 3,000 suspected terrorists "have been arrested in many countries. And many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: They are no longer a problem for the United States."

Let's hope this sort of thing knocks the blinders off of the 'real' conservatives, and they see Bush for the venal sociopath he is.
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NYT joins the chorus

I'm getting the feeling that despite Bush's words to the contrary, Rummy is not long for his job.

This is far from a case of a fine cabinet official undone by the actions of a few obscure bad apples in the military police. Donald Rumsfeld has morphed, over the last two years, from a man of supreme confidence to arrogance, then to almost willful blindness. With the approval of the president, he sent American troops into a place whose nature and dangers he had apparently never bothered to examine.

We now know that no one with any power in the Defense Department had a clue about what the administration was getting the coalition forces into. Mr. Rumsfeld's blithe confidence that he could run his war on the cheap has also seriously harmed the Army and the National Guard.

This page has argued that the United States, having toppled Saddam Hussein, has an obligation to do everything it can to usher in a stable Iraqi government. But the country is not obliged to continue struggling through this quagmire with the secretary of defense who took us into the swamp. Mr. Rumsfeld's second in command, Paul Wolfowitz, is certainly not an acceptable replacement because he was one of the prime architects of the invasion strategy. It is long past time for a new team and new thinking at the Department of Defense.

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This is what 60 million gets you nowadays.

All that money, all those ads... just think of where he'd be if he hadn't been spending all that dough. Money can't buy you approval after all, I guess.

In January, Bush's job-approval rating was higher in the USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll than that of any recent president at that point in his first term; the public was optimistic about the future. Those two measures are the most accurate predictors of whether presidents win re-election.

But in May, his approval rating has dipped below 50%, and the public has become more pessimistic. This spring, he's closer to presidents who lost their bids for second terms.

Polls fluctuate, of course, and it's six months until the voting.

But Bush is scoring some of the lowest ratings of his presidency at a key moment. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they are paying close attention to the campaign. Bush aides have said voters' impressions of the president and challenger John Kerry would begin to set in May and June.

"The historical analysis of data has shown this window — April, May and June — is the window" when voters' views are formed, Democratic pollster Celinda Lake agrees.

Rich Bond, who was Republican national chairman during the first President Bush's re-election campaign, acknowledges that "in the context of a moody economy and a dysfunctional Iraq, this is a tough time for President Bush."

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Out of the loop.

I'll bet Colin is feeing real proud that he went to the UN and lied for these sons of bitches - only to end up frozen out of major policy decisions.

Shortly before Bush administration officials presented Republican congressional leaders with a request for $25 billion in Iraq funding this week, Secretary of State Colin Powell was telling members of the Congressional Black Caucus that no such request would be forthcoming.

Powell's associates tried to downplay the mix-up of him not knowing about the $25 billion request for funding in Iraq.
By Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP

"I'm stunned he didn't know," Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, one of the Black Caucus members who met with Powell, said Thursday.

Powell's associates tried to downplay the mix-up. But it underscores the continuing rift between President Bush's departments of State and Defense and deepens the impression that the nation's top diplomat is being cut out of the decision-making process. "It's unbelievable that our chief diplomat is not being heard," said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., another Black Caucus member. "It's tragic and it's dangerous."

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This just keeps getting more and more absurd.

Sounds as though they let anybody work as interrogators.

Many of the prisoners abused at the Abu Ghraib prison were innocent Iraqis, picked up at random by US troops and incarcerated by underqualified intelligence officers, a former US interrogator from the jail told the Guardian.

Torin Nelson, who served as a military intelligence officer at Guant?namo Bay before moving to Abu Ghraib as a private contractor last year, blamed the abuses on a failure of command in US military intelligence and an over-reliance on private firms. He alleged those companies were so anxious to meet the demand for their services, they sent "cooks and truck drivers" to work as interrogators.

"Military intelligence operations need to drastically change in order for something like this not to happen again," Mr Nelson told the Guardian.

He claimed many of the detainees are "innocent of any acts against the coalition".

"One case in point is a detainee whom I recommended for release and months later was still sitting in the same tent with no change in his status."

And it also sounds as if the military had no clear explanation of exactly who they were supposed to round up, either.

As a witness in an ongoing investigation, Mr Nelson said he could not talk about the abuses of specific prisoners at Abu Ghraib, but he said the nature of the detention system makes the imprisonment and abuse of innocent people all but inevitable.

"A unit goes out on a raid and they have a target and the target is not available; they just grab anybody because that was their job," Mr Nelson said, referring to counter-insurgency operations in Iraq. "The troops are under a lot of stress and they don't know one guy from the next. They're not cultural experts. All they want is to count down the days and hopefully go home.

"I've read reports from capturing units where the capturing unit wrote, 'the target was not at home. The neighbour came out to see what was going on and we grabbed him'," he said.

According to Mr Nelson's account, the victims' very innocence made them more likely to be abused, because the interrogators refused to believe they could have been picked up on such arbitrary grounds. Interrogators "weren't interested in going through the less glamorous work of sifting through the chaff to get to the kernels of truth from the willing detainees; they were interested in 'breaking' tough targets", he said.

Much of the problem lay in the quality of the interrogators, Mr Nelson said; only the youngest and least experienced intelligence officers actually question detainees.

My friggin' head hurts from this.
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Thursday, May 06, 2004
Tell it, Big John

Good stuff. Kerry should keep hitting on this.

"As president, I will not be the last to know what is going on in my command," Kerry said. "I will demand accountability for those who serve and I will take responsibility for their actions. And I will do everything that I can in my power to repair the damage that this has caused to America to our standing in the world and to the ideals for which we stand."

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Say 'hi' to...

Prairie Angel.
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Small world.

Damn. Shake the Bush Pioneer tree, and all sorts of crap falls out.

The founder of one of the biggest and best-known private security firms working in Iraq is part of one of the wealthiest and best-connected Republican families in Michigan.

The anonymity that former U.S. Navy SEAL Erik D. Prince, 34, and his Moyock-based company enjoyed for years was disclosed after March 31, when the grisly images of four charred bodies of Blackwater security guards flashed across television screens around the world.

Prince left the family's home in Holland, Mich., for the U.S. Naval Academy, resigned before graduating, then joined the Navy and became a member of its elite Sea, Air and Land commandos, or SEALs.

He started Blackwater in 1996, a year after the auto-parts supply company that his father built was sold for $1.4 billion, The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va., reported yesterday.

Prince has declined requests for interviews. Former Blackwater executives said that they signed confidentiality agreements prohibiting them from talking about him.


Prince Corp. became Holland's largest employer, with about 4,000 workers.

In 1988, Prince helped Gary Bauer, a conservative activist and one-time presidential candidate, start the Family Research Council, a lobbying group that advocates traditional family relationships.

Edgar Prince died of a massive heart attack in 1995, when he was 63. The family sold the company a year later for $1.4 billion. They shared some of it with their employees, making several millionaires overnight, McGeehan said.

His wife, Elsa, is still active in the Michigan town, but the best-known family member is Erik's sister, Betsy. She married Dick DeVos, whose father, Richard, is a co-founder of Amway, the owner of the Orlando Magic basketball team and No. 216 on Forbes' most recent list of the world's richest people with a net worth estimated at $2.4 billion.

Betsy DeVos led the Michigan Republican Party for several years and personally collected millions from the Princes and DeVoses for her campaign to promote school vouchers. She declined to comment about her brother.

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Multi-Level post.

Okay. Bush apologizes to King Abdullah of Jordan for what went on in Iraq. I don't get it.

President Bush on Thursday said he told visiting king of Jordan that he is "sorry for the humiliation suffered" by Iraqi prisoners at the hands of U.S. troops in Iraq.

Bush said he told King Abdullah II that the photos made him and others "sick to our stomachs." And he said he made it clear that "wrongdoers will be brought to justice."

Bush made his comments at a joint Rose Garden news conference with the king.

But the big news is this - given Bush's penchant for voicing full support for something just before killing it, do you think that Rummy is nervous about now?

Bush rejected calls for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign for his handling of the Iraqi prisoner abuse controversy.

"He is an important part of my Cabinet and he will stay in my Cabinet," Bush said.

And I can't help but think that King Abdullah being at the White House had something to do with this:

President Bush, responding to complaints in the Arab world, urged Israel on Thursday to withdraw from the territory it captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

After meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan, Bush did not repeat the assurances he gave Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last month that he supports Israel's retention of some settlements on the West Bank as part of an overall agreement with the Palestinians.

Bush said at a joint news conference with the king that all such issues must be negotiated against the backdrop of U.N. Security Council resolutions from 1967 and 1973 that called on Israel to withdraw from captured land.

"The United States will not prejudice the outcome of those negotiations," Bush said. Only a few weeks, the president publicly supported Israel's retention of some population clusters on the West Bank and opposition of the settlement of Palestinian refugees in Israel.

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Rummy Death Watch in effect!

Career death, of course - because vampires are immortal. Just the same, the calles for his (figurative) head on a (figurative) pike are getting louder.

A Democratic senator became the first in Congress to demand Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation over the U.S. military's abuse of Iraqi prisoners, but the White House reaffirmed President Bush's support of the embattled Cabinet officer.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, demanded Rumsfeld's ouster "for the good of our country, the safety of our troops, and our image around the globe."

"If he does not resign forthwith, the president should fire him," said Harkin, whose statement came as White House spokesman Scott McClellan said President Bush "absolutely" wants his defense secretary to remain in office.

And no link yet, but I read that Charlie Rangel has called upon congress to impeach Rumsferatu. Fat chance, I know, but...
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As I was saying....

He can taste Fidel's blood, bet on it.

President Bush, declaring "we are working for the day of freedom in Cuba," took steps Thursday to end jamming of U.S. broadcasts to the island as part of a tough new strategy to hasten the demise of communist rule.

Bush decided to order deployment of military aircraft to transmit signals of the Miami-based Radio Marti and TV, an effort to end Cuba's jamming of U.S. government broadcasts. The measure was one of a number of recommendations in a report prepared by a government commission on Cuba headed by Secretary of State Colin Powell.


"It is a strategy that says we're not waiting for the day of Cuban freedom, we are working for the day of freedom in Cuba," Bush said.


The plan involves use of C-130's that will fly over international waters adjacent to the island. Operations are expected to begin in a few months.

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Do you think the twins completely loathe their parents yet?

Between that time when George didn't go see lil' Jenna in the hospital because he had golf to play and this, you might imagine that the resentment would be building.

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush will skip their twin daughters' college graduations later this month to avoid creating a distraction at the respective schools, the White House said Thursday.

"There are no plans at this time to attend these ceremonies," said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for Laura Bush. "The Bushes felt the focus should be on the students, and not how long the lines are to go through the metal detectors."

Jenna Bush is slated to graduate May 22 from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor's degree in English. Barbara Bush graduates May 24 with a bachelor's in humanities from Yale University.

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CNN is showing Bush at the White House, gabbling about 'freeing Cuba.'

You can see the truck coming down the block. If you heard my call in to Randi yesterday, it's my theory that Bush's 'October Surprise' won't Be Osama- or WMD-related - it'll be the overthrow of Fidel Castro.

A lot of people disagree with me, but I'm beginning to become convinced that Cuba will be the next stop in the War on Terra, and it may come before the election. You can tell by the increasing chatter out of the administration about 'rescuing the Cuban people from tyranny' - as well as the recent actions of some South American countries - that something is afoot.

Taking action against Cuba would cement the crucial Florida vote for Bush, and however misguided the thought might be, I could see them trying it. But that's just me, thinkin' again.

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'Friends' finale.

Who freakin' cares??
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Geez, we give the guy a gig, and the first thing he wants us to do is leave. No loyalty, I tell ya.

The Iraqi former general entrusted with pacifying volatile Falluja said on Thursday U.S. Marines must withdraw quickly from around the troubled town and go home so stability can be restored.

"I want the American soldier to return to his camp. What I want more is that he returns to the United States," General Muhammad Latif told Reuters in an interview.

"They should leave very quickly, very quickly or there will be problems. If they stay it will hurt the confidence and we have built confidence. They should leave so that there will be more calm."

Latif and a group of generals offered to tame Falluja with their Falluja Brigade after the town was subject to a month-long siege in which hundreds of Iraqis died as U.S. air strikes and guerrilla mortars rocked the town.

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Girl makes sense.

Mary at Naked Furniture (which is a daily read round here) is as frustrated by the Abu Ghraib situation as anybody.
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First we 'didn't' lay siege to Falluja... we're 'not' rolling into Najaf.

Heavy fighting has erupted between US forces and Shia militiamen in the central Iraqi city of Najaf.

Fierce gun battles and mortar fire are reported, and US helicopter gunships have been seen flying low over the area.

Fighters loyal to the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr are based in the city, where some of Shia Islam's holiest shrines are located.

US forces have said they will refrain from entering the shrines.

I guess the prevailing 'wisdom' - such as it is - must be that we didn't quite piss off the Iraqis enough with the prison photos, so they figured they'd roll into Southern Iraq's most sacred city.

I hope someone explains to the bullets, RPGs and shells that they're not to hit any of those shrines in Najaf.

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Say 'Good Morning' to....

Daily Gusto.
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Are these numbers right?

So, I'm watching the rerun of Aaron Brown's show last night, and he runs a piece on Medevac crews running C-141s out of Iraq to Germany and to the US. He does his usual folksy tag on the end of the story, and it goes something like this:

Since the war began, there have been 3,000 of these flights, 40,000 patients. They haven't lost one yet.

We'll check morning papers after the break.

40,000 patients? 40,000??

If that number is accurate, then how come the 'official' wounded number from the gubmint is so low?

Is somebody, umm, lying?

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Like crackheads.

I'm borrowing Hoffmania's favorite term of endearment for ThugCo - the shoe most definitely fits.

Democrats are lambasting President Bush for his $25 billion request for fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan next year, saying they will support the money but accusing him of low-balling the amount for political reasons.

The proposal marked an abrupt reversal for a White House that until recently had insisted it would not seek more money until next year. The reversal came amid intensified combat that is forcing the Pentagon to keep more troops in Iraq than they anticipated, and pressure from lawmakers saying the money must be approved before Congress adjourns in October for presidential and congressional elections.


''The track record of the Bush White House in accounting for funds for Iraq is a record of confusion, obfuscation, bumbling, denial, and deception,'' said Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee and a frequent critic of the administration's Iraq policies.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democratic leader, called the request ''the most recent episode in a pattern of secrecy by an administration that refuses to share information with the American people even when confronted with facts that stand in opposition to their policies.''

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry said it was too early to tell whether he would support the proposal. The Massachusetts senator said U.S. troops ''need to get what they need,'' but he faulted the administration for failing to provide them promptly with body armor and humvee trucks.

Bush, in a written statement, said he decided on the request after he, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and U.S. commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan discussed their fiscal needs on Wednesday.

''While we do not know the precise costs for operations next year, recent developments on the ground and increased demands on our troops indicate the need to plan for contingencies,'' Bush said. ''We must make sure there is no disruption in funding and resources for our troops.''

The truth is, if Bush could sneak into your house and steal your jewelry and your TV, he probably would.

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Just call for him to resign and be done with it, already.

Jeebus, you've made the case - just fucking say it.

THE HORRIFIC abuses by American interrogators and guards at the Abu Ghraib prison and at other facilities maintained by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan can be traced, in part, to policy decisions and public statements of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld. Beginning more than two years ago, Mr. Rumsfeld decided to overturn decades of previous practice by the U.S. military in its handling of detainees in foreign countries. His Pentagon ruled that the United States would no longer be bound by the Geneva Conventions; that Army regulations on the interrogation of prisoners would not be observed; and that many detainees would be held incommunicado and without any independent mechanism of review. Abuses will take place in any prison system. But Mr. Rumsfeld's decisions helped create a lawless regime in which prisoners in both Iraq and Afghanistan have been humiliated, beaten, tortured and murdered -- and in which, until recently, no one has been held accountable.

The lawlessness began in January 2002 when Mr. Rumsfeld publicly declared that hundreds of people detained by U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan "do not have any rights" under the Geneva Conventions. That was not the case: At a minimum, all those arrested in the war zone were entitled under the conventions to a formal hearing to determine whether they were prisoners of war or unlawful combatants. No such hearings were held, but then Mr. Rumsfeld made clear that U.S. observance of the convention was now optional. Prisoners, he said, would be treated "for the most part" in "a manner that is reasonably consistent" with the conventions -- which, the secretary breezily suggested, was outdated.


On Monday Mr. Rumsfeld's spokesman said that the secretary had not read Mr. Taguba's report, which was completed in early March. Yesterday Mr. Rumsfeld told a television interviewer that he still hadn't finished reading it, and he repeated his view that the Geneva Conventions "did not precisely apply" but were only "basic rules" for handling prisoners. His message remains the same: that the United States need not be bound by international law and that the crimes Mr. Taguba reported are not, for him, a priority. That attitude has undermined the American military's observance of basic human rights and damaged this country's ability to prevail in the war on terrorism.

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Laugh of the day.

Just how delusional is this guy?

Sitting in a leather captain's chair and tossing back a throat lozenge as his Bush-Cheney campaign bus rolled toward Cincinnati, President Bush told reporters Tuesday he has earned re-election.

"We've been through war, we've been through emergency, we've been through corporate scandals and things are better. Things are improving," he said. "They are not as good as they will be, but as we sit here in May 2004, I can say the life of the Ohio citizen is improving. The fundamental question is who'll put policies in place to make sure that it continues to improve beyond the election cycle."

The life of the Ohio citizen is improving - except for the quarter-million that lost their gig on your watch, there, lunkhead.

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Even the hawks are smelling the coffee at this point.

When an Iraq supporter like Murtha proclaims Iraq 'unwinnable'... Karl Rove must have such a headache right now.

Signaling a new, more aggressive line against the Bush administration’s policy on Iraq, Rep. John Murtha (Pa.), the House Democrats’ most visible defense hawk, will join Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) today to make public his previously private statements that the conflict is “unwinnable.”

Democrats’ new approach came as lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol grappled with how to respond to stunning photos of Iraqi prisoners being abused and braced for debate over a $25 billion additional appropriation for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Pelosi’s most trusted ally on military issues and a senior defense appropriator, Murtha, a Vietnam veteran, sent a shockwave through the Caucus when he told Members at a leader’s luncheon Tuesday that under the current Bush administration course the United States cannot win the war in Iraq. Murtha’s comments — characterized as angrier and more discouraged than in the past — came on the heels of recently released photos of Iraqi prisoners posed by U.S. soldiers in degrading positions.

The term “unwinnable” is widely viewed among Members as a major shift in the Caucus’ message on the conflict, especially from a veteran, pro-military Member who supported the U.S. role in Iraq.

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Party's Gettin' Rough

Taking a look at the NYTimes letters page, you've gotta conclude that Bush is losing the country. Some excerpts:

The most terrible shame of the United States military torture of Iraqi prisoners ("The Torture Photos," editorial, May 5) is that it undercuts and contradicts the principles of justice and Americanism that more than 700 American soldiers have given their lives for since our invasion of Iraq.


These despicable acts are the latest product of an administration that wants to fight a war on the cheap and on its own terms. They are a result of an administration that conducts the country's business secretly and deceitfully and that scoffs at congressional and international oversight.

It is also another illustration of the White House's willingness to take all the credit when things are going well, but none of the blame when things go awry.


I was a Republican yesterday, I am a Republican today, and I will probably be a Republican tomorrow. I am not a Democrat because I still hold to the philosophy that the Democrats are the tax-and-spend party.

But I must say that in November, I will stay home. George W. Bush and his crew are pathetic and, worse, inept. How can it be that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was not briefed on Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba's Army report? Perhaps a little more gravitas from Mr. Rumsfeld would be in order.


I know that in the United States Navy if a ship goes on the rocks while the captain is off watch and asleep in his cabin, he is likely to lose his command.

We are certainly hard aground in Iraq, and the Army commander should be treated accordingly.


What happened to our once highly respected country? I cry for what we once had.

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Is somebody finally waking up?

Welcome to the real world, Mr. Friedman.

We are in danger of losing something much more important than just the war in Iraq. We are in danger of losing America as an instrument of moral authority and inspiration in the world. I have never known a time in my life when America and its president were more hated around the world than today. I was just in Japan, and even young Japanese dislike us. It's no wonder that so many Americans are obsessed with the finale of the sitcom "Friends" right now. They're the only friends we have, and even they're leaving.

This administration needs to undertake a total overhaul of its Iraq policy; otherwise, it is courting a total disaster for us all.

That overhaul needs to begin with President Bush firing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld — today, not tomorrow or next month, today. What happened in Abu Ghraib prison was, at best, a fundamental breakdown in the chain of command under Mr. Rumsfeld's authority, or, at worst, part of a deliberate policy somewhere in the military-intelligence command of sexually humiliating prisoners to soften them up for interrogation, a policy that ran amok.

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Say 'hi' to...

...Political Parrhesia.
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You gotta strip away the fluff from MoDo's writing more often than not, but she sums things up pretty nicely here.

When a beaming Mr. Wolfowitz stopped at my table to greet an admiring Republican, I wanted to snap, "Get back to your desk, Mr. Myopia from Utopia!" Shouldn't these woolly headed warriors burn the midnight Iraqi oil — long enough for Wolfie to learn the body count for dead American troops and for Rummy to read Gen. Antonio Taguba's whole report on "horrific abuses" at Abu Ghraib?

Sure, the secretary of defense has had two months to read the report, but as he complained to Matt Lauer, it's awfully thick: "When I'm asked a question as to whether I've read the entire report, I answer honestly that I have not. It is a mountain of paper and investigative material." Goodness gracious, where is Evelyn Wood now that we need her?

Can't the hawks who dragged us into this hideous unholy war at least pay attention to a crisis of American credibility that's exposing Iraq and the world to more dangers every day? For the defense chief and the president to party two nights in a row, Friday at Rummy's house and Saturday at the Washington Hilton, is, to borrow a Rummy line, "unhelpful in a fundamental way."

President Bush also seemed in a buoyant mood on Saturday. But he might think about getting just a tad more involved so he doesn't have to first see on TV, as he clicks around between innings, the pictures sparking a huge worldwide, American-reputation-shattering military scandal. And so he doesn't keep nattering about how we had to go to war to close Iraq's torture chambers, when they are "really not shut down so much as under new management," as Jon Stewart drily put it.

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Xan hipped me to this article over at Sadly, No. Good, good stuff.

Long read, very funny.

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Nobody would be getting into trouble in Iraq...

...if it weren't for those damned digital cameras.

The former head of a U.S. military police unit at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison was under investigation following charges he secretly photographed naked female U.S. soldiers as they showered, officials said on Wednesday.

Capt. Leo Merck, 32, a member of the California National Guard who commanded the 124-strong 870th Military Police Company, was under U.S. Army investigation and has been relieved of duty, they said.

"Three of our soldiers were in the shower. If you just walked by the shower you could see their ankles," said Lt. Michael Drayton, who took over command of the unit after Merck was removed in November.

"My understanding is that he was taking pictures. One of the soldiers noticed the flash," he told Reuters.

Merck, a veteran of the first Gulf War who worked as a financial analyst before going to Iraq, is suspected of snapping the photos in November.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2004

That wasn't toast I smelled, that was burning rubber. The wheels are obviously coming off.

Colin Powell's key aide has described US sanctions policy against countries such as Pakistan and Cuba as "the dumbest policy on the face of the Earth".

In an article in GQ magazine Larry Wilkerson, chief of staff of the United States secretary of state, bemoans Mr Powell's firefighting role in President George Bush's cabinet.

"He has spent as much time doing damage control and, shall we say, apologising around the world for some less-than-graceful actions as he has anything else."

The article, which includes an interview with Mr Powell, is most illuminating for the comments made by his close friends and colleagues who are explicit about his distrust and disdain for the hawks in the administration.

Mr Powell's deputy, Richard Armitage, remarks on his boss's anguish at the damage to his credibility following his speech to the United Nations last year making the case for war and insisting there were weapons of mass destruction. "It's a source of great distress for the secretary," he said.

Meanwhile his mentor from the National War College, Harlan Ullman, describes the US national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, as a "jerk".

He said: "This is, in many ways, the most ideological administration Powell's ever had to work for. Not only is it very ideological, but they have a vision. And I think Powell is inherently uncomfortable with grand visions like that."

Their candour suggests that the internecine battles within the administration are becoming increasingly bitter and open, particularly those between the departments of defence and the state. "None of Powell's friends had made any pretence of speculating about or guessing at his feelings," wrote the journalist, Wil Hylton. "They spoke for him openly and on the record."

Mr Wilkerson even makes jibes at the war record of Mr Bush's inner circle, comparing their desire for military conflict with their reluctance to serve as young men: "I make no bones about it. I have some reservations about people who have never been in the face of battle, so to speak, who are making cavalier decisions about sending men and women out to die."

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Do I smell toast?

Looks like Bush's little stunt on Middle East TV worked about as well as that Meet The Press appearance. Or that train wreck of a press conference.

The gravity of the threat posed to the White House, and Mr Bush's re-election prospects, was further underlined yesterday by the moderate Republican senator John McCain, who told ABC television he could not rule out the prospect that the scandal could force the resignation of the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. Officials said last night that Mr Rumsfeld, along with the joint chiefs of staff chairman, General Richard Myers, would testify to a senate committee tomorrow on the torture claims.

Senator Saxby Chambliss, a member of the Senate armed services committee, told CNN: "I want to know when [Rumsfeld] knew about this. He will be grilled pretty good."

Mr Bush also faces rising anger in Congress at his administration's failure to come forward about the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners.

He admitted he first learned of the torture claims in early January.

Last night the pressure on Mr Bush intensified with a request to Congress for another $25bn (about £14bn) for US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. A request for more money was not expected until after the election. Meanwhile, new details have emerged of the scale of abuse by US troops. Pentagon officials are investigating 35 possible instances of abuse by US personnel, and the Los Angeles Times reported that 25 Iraqi and Afghan prisoners had died in US custody in the last 17 months.

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Somebody's fired.

The New Yorker won't win any awards for this: a production slip-up in some copies of the current issue left out a high-profile article and repeated parts of other articles.

Several hundred incorrectly bound issues were sent to subscribers on the East Coast, which receives the first shipment, said Perri Dorset, a spokeswoman for the magazine, which won three National Magazine Awards yesterday.

In some of those copies, a high-profile story by Seymour M. Hersh about torture at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison is missing in action, and a story on Sen. John Kerry appears twice. The first Kerry article stops midway, then appears later in full, followed later by the final pages from the story that was cut off earlier.

The magazine's page 54 appears twice, including an ad for the book "The Mapmaker's Wife," listing an incorrect Web site for the book, an error the book publisher took the blame for.

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More photos emerge

Do you get the feeling that sooner or later, something extremely bad is gonna drop? Not that shit like this is good.

The collection of photographs begins like a travelogue from Iraq. Here are U.S. soldiers posing in front of a mosque. Here is a soldier riding a camel in the desert. And then: a soldier holding a leash tied around a man's neck in an Iraqi prison. He is naked, grimacing and lying on the floor.

Mixed in with more than 1,000 digital pictures obtained by The Washington Post are photographs of naked men, apparently prisoners, sprawled on top of one another while soldiers stand around them. There is another photograph of a naked man with a dark hood over his head, handcuffed to a cell door. And another of a naked man handcuffed to a bunk bed, his arms splayed so wide that his back is arched. A pair of women's underwear covers his head and face.

The graphic images, passed around among military police who served at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, are a new batch of photographs similar to those broadcast a week ago on CBS's "60 Minutes II" and published by the New Yorker magazine. They appear to provide further visual evidence of the chaos and unprofessionalism at the prison detailed in a report by Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba. His report, which relied in part on the photographs, found "numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses" that were inflicted on detainees.


"It is clear that the intelligence community dictated that these photographs be taken," said Guy L. Womack, a Houston lawyer representing Spec. Charles A. Graner Jr., 35, one of the soldiers charged.

The father of another soldier facing charges, Spec. Jeremy C. Sivits of Hyndman, Pa., also said his son was following orders. "He was asked to take pictures, and he did what he was told," Daniel Sivits said in a telephone interview last week.

Military spokesmen at the U.S. Central Command in Qatar and at the Combined Joint Task Force 7 headquarters in Baghdad referred requests for comment about those claims to Col. Jill Morgenthaler, a U.S. military spokeswoman. Morgenthaler could not be reached by telephone yesterday and did not return requests to comment by e-mail. Requests to speak with Col. Thomas M. Pappas -- who commands the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, based in Germany, and whose troops were stationed at Abu Ghraib -- were declined by a U.S. military spokesman for the Army's V Corps in Heidelberg, Germany.


The pictures obtained by The Post include shots of soldiers simulating sexually explicit acts with one another and shots of a cow being skinned and gutted and soldiers posing with its severed head. There are also dozens of pictures of a cat's severed head.

Other photographs show wounded men and dead bodies. In one, a dead man is lying in the back of a truck, his shirt, face and left arm covered in blood. His right arm is missing. Another photograph shows a dead body, gray and decomposing. A young soldier is leaning over the corpse, smiling broadly and giving the "thumbs-up" sign.

Mark my words. Somebody got a snuff video or something out of this.

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Hey, you gotta love this.

These guys are good.

At the Heritage Foundation's annual Resource Bank meeting in Chicago last Friday, protesters masquerading as a right-wing think tank took the stage and announced that in light of Bush's shortcomings, they were nominating former Reagan Attorney-General Ed Meese for president.

The audience applauded for nearly ten seconds. Meese, eating at a table just feet away from the podium where Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men made the announcement, grimaced and shook his head in surprise.

Heritage is the most influential think tank in Washington, spending over $25 million annually to influence policy. Just as the wildest anarchists aim to "smash the state," Heritage hopes that "the liberal welfare state can be brought to collapse," in the words of its current president.

The Yes Men registered for the Heritage event as "The Society for Socioeconomic Stability" and spent two days mingling among the 650 participants before approaching the microphone during a lull in the closing luncheon.

Echoing sentiments expressed by others throughout the event, Bichlbaum condemned Bush as an inadequate free-markets candidate. But while others had condemned Bush's "No Child Left Behind" program as "socialistic," Bichlbaum focussed on the administration's war in Iraq, calling it "crony corporate welfare" and "market distortion on a fairly gigantic scale."

"The Iraq war was history's biggest illegal trade subsidy," said Yes Man Mike Bonanno, who was also in attendance. "One thing we'll be trying to do in the months ahead is lodge an official complaint about this with the WTO in Geneva."

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Bush is pissed at Rummy...

The article says why, but I kinda think Bush is pissed at Rummy for not covering up sufficiently.

President Bush (news - web sites), compelled to publicly condemn the abuse of Iraqi prisoners in interviews on Wednesday, has privately expressed annoyance to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over his handling of the issue, aides said.

Bush knew of the allegations in general terms around the time the U.S. military issued a statement about them in mid-January, but aides said he only learned how severe the abuse had been a week ago when CBS broadcast photographs showing Iraqi prisoners in humiliating poses.

The aides said the president had complained to Rumsfeld for not having fully alerted him to the details.

"The president was not satisfied with the way he was informed with regard to the pictures, and he let Secretary Rumsfeld know about it too," a senior administration official said. "He believes it's better to make it known privately instead of pointing fingers."
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Dueling Quotes

Reader Josh sent me a pair of quotes. Someone's, umm, lying.

"The abuse of Iraqi prisoners sparked so much concern that President Bush
was told about an investigation during the winter holidays, White House
officials said."

- LA Times, 5/5/04

"Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, told reporters with Mr.
Bush on a campaign trip in Ohio that the president had only become aware of
the photographs and the Pentagon's main internal report about the incidents
from news reports last week."

- New York Times, 5/5/04

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Sure, Mikey, sure...

So Bloomie says that he's gonna overrule the Secret Service. Sheah, that'll work...

A day after the director of operations for the Republican National Convention said the area around Madison Square Garden might be locked down, Mayor Michael Bloomberg asserted Wednesday that he was in charge and assured the city that disruptions would be minimal.

"The NYPD will carry out the instructions that I gave them and that's to make this a safe convention with as minimal disruptions as possible to the public," said Bloomberg. "This is going to be a convention where we will make it safe, but if you're in any area outside of the garment district, you probably won't even know that the convention is in town. The city is big. The city accommodates crowds and events all the time."

The Republican National Convention is scheduled to be held at Madison Square Garden from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2. The security plan, being drafted jointly by the Police Department, the Secret Service and other federal agencies, has not been finalized.

On Tuesday, Mike Miller, director of operations for the GOP convention, told reporters that the Secret Service and the Police Department planned to sweep the area and lock it down as early as three days before the start of the convention.

Miller said that Seventh and Eighth avenues around Madison Square Garden were likely to be closed at times and that the boundary "won't be measured in terms of feet or yards, probably in blocks."

Bloomberg on Wednesday bristled at Miller's remarks, saying, "Mr. Miller was speaking without knowledge."

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Great. Now I gotta remember how to drive this thing....

If you made it over here from B3, the news is that I started to set up Movable Type, and my ISP didn't finish setting file perms before he went out of town for the week. In the mean time, Greymatter gave it up altogether.

Hopefully, I'll remember how Blogger works so I can post some shit...
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