Monday, November 28, 2005

The Continuing Chaos in Iraq

Time for an update on Iraq.

Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq was a secular country. But now there are troubling signs that the country is even more extreme and more religious.

As you know, I periodically check in with the Riverbend blog to see what's really transpiring there. We can't hope to get unbiased reports from our media. Hell, our reporters can't even leave the Green Zone to get a cup of coffee.

According to the woman who writes the Riverbend Blog,

In the last three weeks, at least six different prominent doctors/professors have been assassinated. Some of them were Shia and some of them were Sunni- some were former Ba’athists and others weren’t. The only thing they have in common is the fact that each of them played a prominent role in Iraqi universities prior to the war: Dr. Haykal Al-Musawi, Dr. Ra'ad Al-Mawla (biologist), Dr. Sa'ad Al-Ansari, Dr. Mustafa Al-Heeti (pediatrician), Dr. Amir Al-Khazraji, and Dr.Mohammed Al-Jaza'eri (surgeon).

Another professor killed earlier this month was the head of the pharmacy college. He had problems with Da’awa students earlier in the year. After Ja’afari et al. won in the elections, their followers in the college wanted to have a celebration in the college. Sensing it would lead to trouble, he wouldn’t allow any festivities besides the usual banners. He told them it was a college for studying and learning and to leave politics out of it. Some students threatened him- there were minor clashes in the college. He was killed around a week ago- maybe more.

Whoever is behind the assassinations, Iraq is quickly losing its educated people. More and more doctors and professors are moving to leave the country.
The problem with this situation is not just major brain drain- it's the fact that this diminishing educated class is also Iraq's secular class…

So all those happy stories about how we're over there opening more schools and hospitals don't really mean much, if the teachers and doctors are trying to leave the country.

And according to Tom Friedman of the New York Times who wrote about Iraq's new constitution:

Islamists will have to accept being unhappy that the system does not mandate Sharia law as the constitution, but only "reasonably" unhappy, because Islam will be the official religion of the state and respected as an important basis for legislation and governance. Secularists will have to accept being unhappy that Iraq's new basic law gives Islam an important symbolic place in governance, but only "reasonably" unhappy, because this secular law and judges will still provide the basis for a new rule of law.

Then there's that business about the recently discovered Iraqi torture chamber, again from Riverbend:

These torture houses have existed since the beginning of the occupation. While it is generally known that SCIRI is behind them, other religious parties are not innocent. The Americans know they exist- why the sudden shock and outrage? This is hardly news for Americans in the Green Zone. The timing is quite interesting- it shouldn't matter that this raid came immediately after the whole white phosphorous story came out, but the Pentagon and American military have proven to be the ultimate masters of diversion.

Only last year in an area called Ghazaliya, one such house was discovered. It was on a smaller scale though. My cousin lives in Ghazaliya and he said that when the Americans got inside, they found several corpses and a man hanging from the ceiling on a makeshift noose. The neighbors had tried to get the Americans to check the house for months- no one bothered. They finally raided it because they got information from someone in the area that it was an insurgents hiding place. I read once that in New York, if a woman is being raped, she should scream 'fire' instead of 'rape' because no one would come to save her if she was screaming 'rape'. That's the way it is with Iraqi torture houses- the only way they'll check it is if you tell them it's a terrorist cell.

And another thing- you know when they say 'men dressed in Ministry of Interior uniforms' or 'men in official cars claiming to be from the Ministry of Interior', etc. when describing some horror committed by the new Iraqi security forces in the news? Here's a thought: they aren't 'claiming' and they aren't in costume- they actually ARE from the Ministry of Interior! One would think they'd do this covertly so as not to enrage Iraqis or humanitarian organisations, except that it doesn't matter to them because SCIRI and Da'awa aren't out to win hearts and minds. They have American favor- what more does one need in the New Iraq?

For over a year corpses have been turning up all over Baghdad. Corpses of people who are taken from their homes in the middle of the night (lately they've been more brazen- they just do everything in the light of day), and turn up dead somewhere. That isn't as disturbing as the reports about the bodies- the one I can't get out of my head is that many of the corpses are found with holes in the skull left by an electric drill.

And what about the White Phosphorus? The LA Times did a story on that today:

The Pentagon and other U.S. officials at first denied, and later admitted, that troops had used white phosphorus as a weapon against insurgents in Fallouja...

This is interesting, because now how do we know they're telling the trust when they say that its use wasn't widespread and that civilians were not among those killed?

When white phosporus comes in contact with skin, the chemical will burn through to the bone. The only way to stop it, is to cut off its air supply. According the LA Times article, incendiaries like wp are considered particularly inhumane weapons under international treaty, and a 1980 United Nations convention limits their use. However the U.S. never signed that part of the convention.

In the 1990s, we condemned Saddam for allegedly using white phosphorus chemical weapons against Kudish rebles and residents of Irbil and Dohuk

A soldier in the LA Times article said:

We had rounds of wp burst in the air quite close to us, and the Marines were quite concerned, since they knew of its impact - that it burns through flesh and is impossible to extinguish."

And if you really want a jolt of reality, click on this link courtesy of Crooks & Liars,to see a trophy video that appears to show security guards from the British security contractor, Aegis Defense Services, randomly shooting Iraqi citizens from their car while they listen to Elvis Presley's Mystery Train. If you want to read the story, this link will take you to an article from London's Daily Telegraph.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Bugler: Sound "Planned Withdrawal!"

Newsweek has an interesting article about a "planned withdrawal" that will, coincidentally, occur at just about the same time as the midterm elections.

While reading this, I kept thinking: How is this different than what many in Congress have asked for? Last week, Rep. Murtha is called a coward for suggesting exactly the same thing that this article suggests is already in place.

How dysfunctional is this administration? They could have said, "Yeah, we're working on something along those lines, Rep. Murtha. We'll probably release the information in the next couple of weeks." But instead, they automatically go into attack mode.

Lieutenant Trouble says the only reason so many Iraqi troops are now listed as 'trained' is because they have changed the definition of what 'trained' means.

Seems to me that Iraqi troops get military training the way many college football players get a university education.


Friday, November 25, 2005

Iraqi Insecurity

The bubble of security is shrinking in Iraq, in Bahgdad. We're pouring billions in, we're pouring in our blood, we're pouring in our best hope. And the bubble of security is still shrinking. This from a first hand account from the Washington Post.

Paul Hacket, the Vet. who's running for the Senate in Ohio puts it well when he says, why not listen to the military strategists and professionals to find solutions in Iraq? Why fire the guys advising more troops, or caution, or timetables, and instead going with policy and demanding that it fits? Good interview, he stands by his statement that George was a known party boy and cocaine user. My kind of politician!

His common sense seems like...well, common sense, doesn't it?

The downside of George Bush illustrious lack of a military career, is that he doesn't understand military process. There are a lot of wise old multiple star guys who know how to kick a country's ass and secure it. They should set the game plan, troops numbers, and we should go with that. But these guys running the administration see taking counsel from anyone as a weakness. So they demand a game plan, and expect the game to be won, regardless of the shifting opposition. And brutally end the careers of those military elders who raise any criticism.

Richard Clark said in a recent interview that when Colin Powell was asked what the meeting was like when they discussed going to war he said "What meeting?" The decision had been made before the case was closed.

Don't forget what Bush 41 wrote about in his book (Taking Bagdad was not worth the consequnces or the benefits).

I mean, even his dad realized the hornets nest he'd be getting into. Then Clinton isolated Saadam with embargos and made 3/4 of the country a no-fly zone. Not a world threat.

Yet here we are. And now the GOP votes on the most heinous budget cutting bill, cutting into just about all government services for every state, to support the war, while we nation build.

Just wish we were nation building our nation.

And don't tell me we're building American security. The war has guaranteed American insecurity. And this administration will milk that for all it's worth to stay in power and keep us afraid.

Ex-FEMA head to start disaster planning firm

Insert your own joke here....


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Don't Let the Turkey's Get you Down

Happy Thanksgiving.

An Update on the El Tee

Just got a call. He's doing very well, considering.

Considering he's been up for two days. He's in charge of two shifts, and sometimes when things get a little aggravated, he'll work both shifts. He usually tries to make his hours overlap, so that he's around for at least half of both shifts, but when things get a little dicey, he goes round-the-clock.

He had his Thanksgiving meal off-base, with some Bedouins. He made sure his troops got fed, and since it was crowded, decided to go elsewhere. He was closed-mouth about what he ate, simply saying it was edible.

His troops love him. The upper brass less so. He'd probably be fired, except his flight always has the best ratings. He demands no less from them, or himself. When the Base Commander came out to meet the airmen today, there was supposed to be some sort of 'hoo-ah' response from each flight. All the other flights gave the appropriate response. When it was his flight's turn, apparently, they responded (on their own) with my son's mantra when he's on duty:

"We run this shit!"

It's a good thing he doesn't want to make the military his career.

He was aware of the kerfuffle in Congress, but didn't want to talk about it, except to say: "When it comes to assessing the military, I tend to side with the guy with the most metal on his chest."

Of course, what else would you expect from a guy whose nickname is now "Lieutenant Trouble?"

I'm so proud of him.


Monday, November 21, 2005

Common Ground

I’m pretty liberal. You guys have figured that out, right? But I work with two conservative guys. Guys I happen to like a lot and feel lucky to work with. We don’t always agree on solutions to the issues. But we try to find some common ground. And it’s amazing how much we really agree over all:

Honesty - I don’t care what political party you belong to, you want your guys to be honest. For instance, I’m interested in finding out who in Congress accepted money from Abramoff to do favors for his clients. There are a lot of Republicans who seem to be involved like DeLay, Ney and Hastert. But, Harry Reid is on his list, too. I was very proud of Harry the other day, but if he was getting money from Abramoff, I want him to face the music just like everyone else. We need to stop looking the other way when it’s one of our guys. We all have to demand transparency and accountability. Oh and if you said something and it's on video or audio tape, don't lie and say you never said it. You just look like an idiot.

No strings attached – Get rid of the special interests. Stop giving breaks to big business. The Trickle Down Theory ain’t working if most CEOs make 512 times more than what the average worker makes.

No one wants an endless war in Iraq - The Democrats believe there was a hidden agenda. That the intelligence was fixed around a pre-conceived desire to invade Iraq. The Dems did not have access to all the intelligence reports the White House did. And how good was the quality of that intelligence when it’s coming from a guy named "Curveball" that German Intelligence thought was an idiot with emotional problems!!! C’mon, wasn't the name Curveball a dead give-away as to the veracity of his information?

The Republicans say the Democrats don’t have a clear solution beyond just pulling out. But not having a clear victory isn’t a solution either. I would love to lock Kerry, Murtha, McCain and Hagel together in a room and make them come to some consensus.

Think beyond your party – Stop the profiling. Dump terms like liberal & coservative. Run on a platform of ideas instead of ideology. I’m tired of knee-jerk reactions. Of one party thinking they know better than the other. I want the smartest people on the planet as my senator, congressman and President. I want people who put the good of the country first. Not their party or their religion.

Stop the spin, I want to get off - How about a no spin zone that doesn’t try to spin it the other way? I don’t want anyone’s version of the truth. I just want the truth. And stop the endless shows of punditry.(Talk about watching paint dry) Put an end to PR posing as government. I never want to see another photo-op as long as I live. Back before radio, TV and the Internet, there were no sound bites. Politicians had to travel from town to town without a teleprompter and talk to large crowds of people. And those people weren’t screened by security to make sure they supported that candidate.

Anger Management - I’m Sicilian. I have a temper. I hate arrogance, lies and abuse. We have to be able to vent - but people ultimately want solutions to poverty, global warming, unemployment, etc. People want Congress to work together to get stuff done. The backbiting and dirty tricks have got to stop. The end doesn’t justify the means.

Keep an Open Mind
– I’m just going to quote Shakespeare here,
"There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
No one person, political party or religion has all the answers. The thing we should remember is
"First, do no harm.”

Hey, By BOMB Iraq, I didn't mean "Invade"

Rumsfeld tap dances around his initial commitment to go to war on an interview, Sunday. Now even the top players in the house of cards are losing their velcro-like attachment to Bush's misguided and mismanaged dreams of world order.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has asserted that he did not press for the US-led invasion of Iraq, as public disaffection for the US military operation there reaches new highs.

"I didn't advocate invasion," Rumsfeld told ABC television Sunday, when asked if he would have advocated an invasion of Iraq if he had known that no weapons of mass destruction would be found there. whole story.

Why didn't that little fact come up, he was asked? "No one asked me."

No one asked the Secretary of Defense if he thought our country should invade another country? This guy gets no respect.

He followed that up with a statement that he completely agreed to go to war. So he didn't advocate it - but he merely completely agreed with it.

advocate: "One that argues for a cause; a supporter or defender."
agree: "To grant consent"

In other words - "I was just following orders."

Sounds like he's distancing himself a bit from the bruhaha over the continue failed war effort that he's master minding, ney?

Just have to give you some omore of this:

"But Rumsfeld's insistence that he had not advocated an invasion of Iraq appears to contradict several media reports, and at least one book by a former White House couter-terrorism chief.

CBS News has reported, citing notes by Pentagon officials, that Rumsfeld told his aides to come up with plans for striking Iraq hours after the September 11, 2001 attacks on Washington and New York.

The notes, cited by CBS, quote Rumsfeld as saying he wanted "best info fast. Judge whether good enough to hit S.H. (Saddam Hussein)".

Former White House terrorism czar, Richard Clarke, said in his book "Against all Enemies" that days after the September 11 attacks, Rumsfeld was pushing for retaliatory strikes on Iraq, despite questions over Iraq's links to Al-Qaeda.

Clarke suggests the idea took him so aback, he initally thought Rumsfeld was joking.

"Rumsfeld was saying that we needed to bomb Iraq," Clarke has said in describing White House deliberations after the September 11 attacks.

In other words: "Give me best info fast, because I'm not advocating an attack, merely agreeing on something I haven't been asked about yet, that I'm in complete agreement with." Well, it would be classic Rumsfeld double talk.

I don't know if it tops "stuff happens" his brilliant defense against the looting during the lack of post-war planning that helped devastate Bahgdad, or "Death has a tendancy encourage a depressing view of war" or even his classic:""I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started."

But it is significant that a crack in the armor of conviction has appeared in the President's top defensive officer.

The War is just not going well, and that's just such a drag, isn't it? After all the neat and tidy theories and scenarios in the bounce house.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Cowards Cut And Run

The honorable Jean Schmidt:
Ms. Schmidt: "A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bop, Ohio Representative from the 88th district in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do."

Ms. Schmidt: "Mr. Speaker, my remarks were not directed at any member of the House and I did not intend to suggest that they applied to any member. Most especially the distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania. I therefore ask for unanimous consent that my words be withdrawn.

- from Crooks and Liars

Translation: "Murtha, you yellow piece of dog crap, and by by "you" I don't mean anyone specifically."

Let Rep. Jean Schmidt know how you feel about personal attacks against a veteran who has served his country on foot, gun in hand, and is one of the biggest supporters in congress of the millitary.

Some of Representative Murtha's incredibly offensive text -

"....I have been visiting our wounded troops at Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals almost every week since the beginning of the War. And what demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace; the devastation caused by IEDs; being deployed to Iraq when their homes have been ravaged by hurricanes; being on their second or third deployment and leaving their families behind without a network of support.

"The threat posed by terrorism is real, but we have other threats that cannot be ignored. We must be prepared to face all threats. The future of our military is at risk. Our military and their families are stretched thin. Many say that the Army is broken. Some of our troops are on their third deployment. Recruitment is down, even as our military has lowered its standards. Defense budgets are being cut. Personnel costs are skyrocketing, particularly in health care. Choices will have to be made. We cannot allow promises we have made to our military families in terms of service benefits, in terms of their health care, to be negotiated away. Procurement programs that ensure our military dominance cannot be negotiated away. We must be prepared. The war in Iraq has caused huge shortfalls at our bases in the U.S....."

Let Rep. John Murtha know how you feel about speaking the truth.



This post is in response to Anonymous' comment from the previous post.

He wrote: " Some of those program cuts are a good thing. Some of those that have the least have become much too comfortable with living off of those programs.

Yeah, some things even disgust the most staunch Republican, but not everything has been bad.

And I for one sleep just fine at night.

I wondered how well Anon knows his subject. I started thinking about Ronald Reagan's "Welfare Queen." I wonder if Anon is old enough to remember this story. While campaigning for President in 1976, a staple of his campaign speech was that there was a "Welfare Queen" in Chicago: "She has 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards and is collecting veteran's benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She's got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names."

There was no such woman.

Anon--care do dispute this fact? How many people do you know--not know of, who are on some sort of public assistance? How many do you deal with on a daily basis? How many of them are the parents of the kids your children play with?

How many of their stories can you tell?

I can tell a story.

My wife's. Almost wife. Soon-To-Be-Ex-Wife. Hence, STBEW, the title of this post.

One of the reasons I go by the moniker of Balloon Pirate is to preserve anonymity. Because it is an important part of recovery.

My wife is a recovering drug and alcohol addict. And she's on welfare.

Now, Anon (and any other of the right wing ilk who may be reading this), don't get all huff-and-puffy about how she's getting what she deserves and she brought it on herself. Need I remind you that the only difference between her and the President of the United States is she doesn't have a billionaire family to support her, and she has a slightly more realistic world-view.

And I can't support her.

A year ago August, she voluntarily checked herself in to a drug rehabilitation program. This was no "Betty Ford" clinic. This was the place where people who have nothing but the desire to get better go, along with the people who had to choose between treatment and prison. It was as no-frills as you can get. It was, essentially, a jail without jailors. She could leave, but if she did, she couldn't go back.

And the reason she was there, as opposed to any other treatment center, was because we were broke. Bankrupt. House foreclosed, paycheck-to-paycheck. I have two degrees and have been with the same company for more than 15 years, but it's hard to survive when huge amounts of money disappear into a crack pipe.

While she was there, we had to decide what to do. I certainly could not afford to pay for her treatment. So, we have separated, and will soon be divorced. It may sound callous, but it's not. The marraige was over. We bruised each other way too much to ever be whole as a couple again. The financial issues just hurried the process along.

But I digress.

She's on welfare. And it ain't pretty.

Are there some people who are on welfare who shouldn't be? Perhaps. I'll even give you 'probably.' What the hell: Yes, yes there are. But there are many, many more who need these programs to get by, who are using these programs not as a replacement for, but assistance with, living their lives.

And without these programs, where will these people be? What will they do? Who will help them?

What will they do to survive?

Despite all the harrumphing I hear from the right, I have yet to see a government report that says there is rampant abuse in the world of public assistance. That's because there isn't. It would be too much work, to get too little. Financially speaking, it's easier to rob. Saying that welfare should be abolished because people abusethe system is the same as saying accounting should be abolished because of embezzling.

So the right wing harrumphs, and cuts funding from those who need it most. Shortly after giving tax breaks to those who need it least. And in the big picture, what they cut from these programs is about what is spend in Iraq in a week.

Sleep well tonight, Anon.


Blog Universe

Some excellent blogs out there I have come across recently:

Booman Tribune
" You can make yourself sick by reading, via Crooks & Liars that GOP lawmakers are floating an ethics probe of Murtha. "Republican lawmakers say that ties between Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) and his brother’s lobbying firm, KSA Consulting, may warrant investigation by the House ethics committee.....
Erudite Redneck
"Cut programs that mean the most to people who have the least in the first place. Leave ruinous tax cuts in place. Increase the deficit at the same time.

Blame it on a war that was reckless at best, and immoral at worst. Then blame it on God (Katrina).

Then sing with Jesus on Sunday morning.

Give me a Saturday-night hell raiser who stumbles into church the next mornin' and sticks what little jingle he has left in the offerin' plate -- ANY DAY. Drunks know they're drunks. These people couldn't care less about their overindulgences.

How can Republicans sleep at night?"
The Cranky Yankee:

For those of you who don't know him - a must read:
"We do not torture: Is this what we have become? It wasn't so long ago when the very idea that a sitting U.S. President would have to utter those words was unthinkable. Now we have a President denying widespread accusations of torture while his Vice President is strong arming Congress to exempt the CIA from the rules forbidding it.

We truly are at a low point, the torture years..."

Kick ass attitude and wit. Michelle Malkin has this to say about her:
"Profanity-laced and sex-obsessed...[a] vain, young, trash-mouthed skank."
What else need you know?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Looks Like We Have a Ken for Judy Miller's Barbie

I’m referring to none other than Bob Woodward. So Bob got the word two years ago from a senior White House official(Some are speculating that it’s either Hadley or Cheney) that Joe Wilson’s wife was a CIA agent.

So for two years while the controversy mounted, Bob hunkered down, didn’t even tell his newspaper, because he didn’t want to be subpoenaed (and of course, he wanted to protect his source)

The only thing he did do, was drape himself in his magical Watergate Aura and criticize the investigation.

"there is going to be nothing to it. And it is a shame. And the special prosecutor in that case, his behavior, in my view, has been disgraceful." In a National Public Radio interview in July, Woodward said that Fitzgerald made "a big mistake" in going after Miller and that "there is not the kind of compelling evidence that there was some crime involved here." LINK

There is a lot to this revelation that I find especially disturbing.

Bob went through a hell of lot more drama putting together the Watergate story with Bernstein. He was afraid his apartment was bugged. He was afraid he was going to be “silenced” with a silencer if you know what I mean… Now, he’s afraid of being subpoenaed?

As a participant in the story, and using his Watergate gravitas to attack the special prosecutor’s case was the worst kind of slimy spin imaginable – even misdirection. Looking back on his comments now, it seems like he’s hiding something really big. It’s the same kind of stonewalling the Nixon administration used against him when he was reporting Watergate…and we all know how that turned out.

I went into Journalism in part because of the work Woodward and Bernstein did on the Watergate story. It demonstrated to me that reporters can do a tremendous amount of good in the world. They're supposed to be watchdogs. So, as someone with a degree in Journalism, let me say this: Yes, reporters need to protect their sources. BUT NOT WHEN THEY ARE POTENTIALLY BREAKING THE LAW AND UNDERMINING OUR NATION’S SECURITY. The least Woodward could have done was consult his paper.

Because at some point, you need to decide what you care about more. Your job, your reputation, or your country. Bob chose his job and reputation. And now both are damaged. He has no credibility. Are you going to trust anything he writes or says about this administration? I’m not. He’s obviously too cozy with them.

Woodward, who had lengthy interviews with President Bush for his two most recent books, dismissed criticism that he has grown too close to White House officials. He said he prods them into providing a fuller picture of the administration's inner workings.
"The net to readers is a voluminous amount of quality, balanced information that explains the hardest target in Washington," Woodward said, referring to the Bush administration.

If I were Bob’s editor, I think I’d make him cut the quality, balanced part of that last paragraph. And I’m just going to have to be satisfied with only respecting Bernstein from now on. Even if he’s not the cute one…

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Reality Check

No matter what our administration tells us about Iraq, it's always good to check back with the Riverbend Blog which is written by a young Iraqi woman from Baghdad, and get another perspective on what's happening over there. This latest installment was written November 6th.

The occupation has ceased to be American. It is American in face, and militarily, but in essence it has metamorphosed slowly but surely into an Iranian one.

It began, of course, with Badir’s Brigade and the several Iran-based political parties which followed behind the American tanks in April 2003. It continues today with a skewed referendum, and a constitution that will guarantee a southern Iraqi state modeled on the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The referendum results were so disappointing and there have been so many stories of fraud and shady dealings (especially in Mosul), that there’s already talk of boycotting the December elections. This was the Puppets’ shining chance to show that there is that modicum of democracy they claim the Iraqi people are enjoying under occupation- that chance was terribly botched up.

As for the December elections- Sistani has, up until now, coyly abstained from blatantly supporting any one specific political group. This will probably continue until late November / early December during which he will be persistently asked by his followers to please issue a Fatwa about the elections. Eventually, he’ll give his support to one of the parties and declare a vote for said party a divine obligation. I wager he’ll support the United Iraqi Alliance - like last elections.

Interestingly enough, this time around the UIA will be composed of not just SCIRI and Da’awa- but also of the Sadrists (Jaysh il Mahdi)- Muqtada’s followers! For those who followed the situation in Iraq last year, many will recognize Muqtada as the ‘firebrand cleric’, the ‘radical’ and ‘terrorist’. Last year, there was even a warrant for Muqtada’s arrest from the Ministry of Interior and supported by the Americans who repeatedly said they were either going to detain the ‘radical cleric’ or kill him.

Well, today he’s very much alive and involved in the ‘political process’ American politicians and their puppets hail so energetically. Sadr and his followers have been responsible for activities such as terrorizing hairdressers, bombing liquor stores, and abductions of women not dressed properly, etc. because all these things are considered anti-Islamic (according to Iranian-style Islam). Read more about Sadr’s militia here- who dares to say the Americans, Brits and Puppets don’t have everything under control?!

Americans constantly tell me, “What do you think will happen if we pull out of Iraq- those same radicals you fear will take over.” The reality is that most Iraqis don’t like fundamentalists and only want stability- most Iraqis wouldn’t stand for an Iran-influenced Iraq. The American military presence is working hand in hand with Badir, etc. because only together with Iran can they suppress anti-occupation Iraqis all over the country. If and when the Americans leave, their Puppets and militias will have to pack up and return to wherever they came from because without American protection and guidance they don’t stand a chance.

We literally laugh when we hear the much subdued threats American politicians make towards Iran. The US can no longer afford to threaten Iran because they know that should the followers of Sadr, Iranian cleric Sistani and Badir’s Brigade people rise up against the Americans, they’d have to be out of Iraq within a month. Iran can do what it wants- enrich uranium? Of course! If Tehran declared tomorrow that it was currently in negotiations for a nuclear bomb, Bush would have to don his fake pilot suit again, gush enthusiastically about the War on Terror and then threaten Syria some more.

Congratulations Americans- not only are the hardliner Iranian clerics running the show in Iran- they are also running the show in Iraq. This shift of power should have been obvious to the world when My-Loyalty-to-the-Highest-Bidder-Chalabi sold his allegiance to Iran last year. American and British sons and daughters and husbands and wives are dying so that this coming December, Iraqis can go out and vote for Iran influenced clerics to knock us back a good four hundred years.

What happened to the dream of a democratic Iraq?

Iraq has been the land of dreams for everyone except Iraqis- the Persian dream of a Shia controlled Islamic state modeled upon Iran and inclusive of the holy shrines in Najaf, the pan-Arab nationalist dream of a united Arab region with Iraq acting as its protective eastern border, the American dream of controlling the region by installing permanent bases and a Puppet government in one of its wealthiest countries, the Kurdish dream of an independent Kurdish state financed by the oil wealth in Kirkuk…

The Puppets the Americans empowered are advocates of every dream except the Iraqi one: The dream of Iraqi Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen… the dream of a united, stable, prosperous Iraq which has, over the last two years, gone up in the smoke of car bombs, military raids and a foreign occupation.

Four Freedoms and a Horse Race

You all know this picture. It's called Freedom From Want by Rockwell. One of the Four basic Freedoms that FDR felt we should have. The others are:

1) Freedom of Speech
2) Freedom from and of Religion
3) Freedom From Fear.
and just to make the list of four tidy:
4) Freedom from Want.

Paul Hackett spoke on these ideals today, at a home here in our small town. I was there to hear him, as was Boni. We missed you BP!

They form the bedrock of our country, the backbone of our beliefs. They are why people came to our shores in an unending stream long before we were a Superpower.

And they are the four freedoms that have been most reduced by this administration and are most under attack.

Paul said he went to Iraq, volunteered to return to his "second family" of the Marines after ten years' absence because of another ideal. One his father taught him. "For to those whom much is given, much is expected." He had a lot, this country had given him a lot, so he wanted to give back.

I haven't heard that lately from the heads of the oil companies, or Haliburten enumeries.

Now Paul says he wants to give back again. He's running for Senator in Ohio, against the incumbant. Because he's looking at his children, and worried where this country is going.

Freedom of speech has been attacked by the administration The IRS threatning to take away a church's tax-exempt status because the had a sermon that was anti-war. The administration visciously attacks those that speak out against them, most notably leaking Valerie Plame's name to Robert Novak for a write up in his column, at every public Presidential event a refusal to let in the public, except for those vetted as pro-Bush, Democrats are accused of threatening America if they disagree or criticize the yesterday suggesting they are "undermining the war effort" (I thought he was doing that all by himself) ...the list goes on and on.

Freedom of and from religion. One of the reasons the constitution is a sacred and unique document. That it is part of Ammendment 1 is noteworthy, as it's all about expression, speech, religion, nothing prohibiting the free expression thereof. Like in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, for exmpale. There are reaons Theocracy's are bad ideas. And this administration is bringing religion into the legislature, attempting to add on a "no abortion" amendment to a UN document about human rights, intervening in a family's life and death struggle with Terri Schiavo, making marriage rights ana election issue, Bill Frist downloading himself live to "just-us-Sunday" and implying the liberals are at war with America.

Woops - the liberals made America. These freedoms were considered very risque before their day and a lot of people died for them, jsut to make sure that he can now take them for granted. (Remember, the illustrious majority leader just came out saying how upset he was that the leak came out about the existence of CIA secret jails around the world, no that they DID exist, unobserved, most likely a human rights violation, but that the leak occured. They voted to go forward with this, but not to look again at prewar inteligence on Iraq).

Freedom from Fear. Protect the country, protect our shores. If we go to war, attack the right country. If youwe're stuck there, handle it well. Try not to generate new enemies every day. The publice says the country does not feel safer.

Freedom from want. The right to be able to feed your family, find work, have a strong economy, fiscal sensibility in government, a gofernment that supports the job market with incentives, that supports corporations to keep jobs in America. It's not a complicated concept. It's not happning here.

Freedom of Speech
Freedom from and of religion
Freedom from fear
Freedom from want

It's why Paul Hackett is running for Senator. It's the core belief of the Democratic party.

They are the Four reason to vote Democrat.


Paul Hackett for U.S. Senate.
For information, support, moral or fiscal: Hackett For Ohio.


Anyone Else Tired of the Bushit?

It keeps raining down on us, thick enough that you better have your umbrella handy or you'll need to take a serious shower after each day's news revelation.

Bush "we dont' torture" speech in Panama. Meanwhile Cheney pleads with GOP star Senator McCain to add an "exception" to his ammendment on the current defense bill outlawing ALL torture, to exempt CIA from non-torture requirement "just in case". Bush has also threatened to veto this bill if McCain refuses. Great column on McCain, and this ammendment in the WP on it here.

Once again: Bush has threatened to veto the bill forbidding torture, and putting us back in line with the Geneva Conventions. Just wanted that to stand out in one sentance.

He has yet to veto a bill in during his Presidency.

Okay, let's move on:

America's perception around the world continues to shine as:

Guantanamo inmates are about to lose all rights, after the Surpeme Court ruled they had rights. This due to a slippery ammendment slapped onto a recently passed defense bill by Lindsey Graham:

The amendment was tabled by Lindsay Graham, a South Carolina Republican, and passed by 49 votes to 42. It reverses the Supreme Court's decision in June last year which affirmed the right of detainees to bring habeas corpus petitions in American federal courts.

As a result, about 200 of Guantanamo's 500 prisoners have filed such cases, many of them arguing that they are not terrorists, as the US authorities claim, and that the evidence against them is unreliable.

None of them were given any kind of hearing when they were consigned to Guantanamo. Instead, the Americans unilaterally declared they were unlawful 'enemy combatants', mostly on the basis of assessments by junior military intelligence personnel, who were often reliant on interpreters whose skills internal Pentagon reports have criticised.

The Supreme Court's 2004 ruling also meant that the handful of prisoners facing trial at Guantanamo by military commissions, which do not follow the normal rules of evidence and due process, have been able to file federal challenges to their legality.

The rest of that story.

Pundits pissed off at Harry Reid for shutting down Congress with Rule 21, demanding final accountability on WH and 9/11. Pundits and WH claim Congress and WH saw same intel on Iraq, so what's the foul? That Bush limited security clearances from most of the Senate:

"President Bush issued an order limiting access to classified intelligence only to 8 members of Congress — the Speaker of the House, House Minority Leader, Senate Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader, and chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees."
Security clearances limited from 96 Senators in October 2001. That number again - 96 - out of 100. So, no one actually saw anything except what the WH wanted.

Ah, let's see. There's so much.

Okay, GOP blocks inquiry into handling of war.
GOP blocks war profiteering ammendment

Aren't you tired yet of the Bushit?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Any Enemy of Bill O'Reilly is a Friend of Mine.

Well, I guess Bill O'Reilly's gotten a lot of complaints about his San Francisco comment. So much so, that he's now threatening his web site will post an enemies list. Gee, just like Santa he's making a list and checking it twice.

So what's that supposed to do I wonder? Scare people away from criticizing him?
Boogah - Boogah!!! Except, I think it's having the opposite effect. Check out this recent poll on DailyKos and click here to vote.

Dear Bill O'Reilly,

Please put me on your Enemies List because:
1. You thought telling an entire city that you didn't think they should be defended if Al Qaeda attacked them would be a funny joke.

2. You thought telling one of of your women coworkers that performing sexual acts using a fried middle eastern food would be a sexy turn on.

3. I read ten pages of your goddamn porno book, and you owe me.

4. You thought I forgot all about that whole "I'll be first to be mad if no WMDs are found in Iraq" thing, but I didn't.

5. I was on McCarthy's Enemies List, and Nixon's Enemies List, and I want to continue the streak.

6. I'm hoping to hasten your rapid descent into madness. Possibly by Christmas, if possible, because I haven't gotten Al Franken anything yet.

Hope to see you on Bill's list in the near future.

Hope For The Future

paul_hackett_head.jpgYears ago I saw Bill Clinton when he was out here campaigning and I was struck with how comfortable he was at it. He was at least an hour late. It was hot. People were fidgety and tired of hanging around. But when he stepped out on that stage, it was showtime. Everyone was riveted by his speech and I walked away thinking,
"There's hope for us after all."

Phil and I had a similar experience this morning. Paul Hackett, a candidate who’s running for Senator in Ohio, was meeting with people in LA and we got to meet him and hear him speak. What a smart guy. Not to mention passionate and funny. He’s tough, too.
He came back from a tour of duty in Iraq and almost immediately decided to run for Congress(And nearly pulled it off in a predominantly Republican district.) He’s got great ideas. And he can actually string whole words together and communicate a coherent thought without having to rely on a teleprompter. I would love to see a ticket one day that includes him and Barack Obama.

I encourage you to watch him, here's his website , donate to his campaign. It's critical that we gain back Ohio. He will not be cowed by the Republicans. He's very honest and thoughtful about his positions. He is an up and comer in this party and would be a real asset in the Senate.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Look who's inciting terrorism

Gee I guess that if you don't get your way on something, or you disagree with how an American city wants to run its life, it's ok to incite terrorists. At least in Bill O'Reilly's version of America...

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

On Tuesday's version of O'Reilly's syndicated radio program, "The Radio Factor," the host vented his exasperation at two ballot measures that San Franciscans were in the process of approving on election day.

If city voters were intent on voting to oppose military recruitment in public schools and to ban handgun ownership, O'Reilly reasoned, then maybe it should be cut off from federal dollars. To illustrate his point, O'Reilly riffed on a vision of a San Francisco nation-state:

"Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead," O'Reilly went on. "And if al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead."

Interesting thing that he chose Coit Tower. Did you know it's a tribute to firefighters? Like the kind of firefighters we lost hundreds of in the 9/11 bombings...

O'Reilly is a man who hemorrhages hate, fear and idiocy. It's time we stopped allowing it to spew. Go to Fox News
And scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on E-Mail Us and tell them what you think about O'Reilly.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Rip Van New York Times Wakes Up

Brilliant editorial by the Times that states what the 62% in this country are thinking.

"After President Bush's disastrous visit to Latin America, it's unnerving to realize that his presidency still has more than three years to run. An administration with no agenda and no competence would be hard enough to live with on the domestic front. But the rest of the world simply can't afford an American government this bad for that long. "


Saturday, November 12, 2005

Tracking the Administration's Deceit in Invading Iraq

My husband Tom and I compiled this information from reliable sources, much of it from former members of the Bush Administration, and the Pentagon, on how the Administration mislead the public in making its case for war with Iraq.

Let me say upfront, if you wish to refute this information in your comments, I expect the same sort of reliable information and links to quotes. Conjecture, fantasy, musings from Bill O’Reilly or other gasbags, or tired stories about Clinton getting a BJ (get over it, already), will not be sufficient to convince me otherwise.

The Preoccupation of War with Iraq.
• The neocons wrote about their desire to take out Saddam in the mid-nineties. This was no secret. Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Advisor to Bush Sr. said:
"… allied to the core of neocons is that bunch who thought we made a mistake in the first Gulf War, that we should have finished the job. There was another bunch who were traumatized by 9/11, and who thought, 'The world's going to hell and we've got to show we're not going to take this, and we've got to respond, and Afghanistan is O.K., but it's not sufficient."
• Paul O’Neil, the former Treasury Secretary in Bush’s first term, said that within days of Bush entering the White House after his first election, (And way before 9/11) the Bush Administration began planning to use U.S. troops to invade Iraq.According to former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind, O'Neill and other White House insiders gave him documents showing that in early 2001 the administration was already considering the use of force to oust Saddam, as well as planning for the aftermath.
"There are memos," Suskind said. "One of them marked 'secret' says 'Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq.'" Suskind cited a Pentagon document titled "Foreign Suitors For Iraqi Oilfield Contracts," which, he said, outlines areas of oil exploration. "It talks about contractors around the world from ... 30, 40 countries and which ones have what intentions on oil in Iraq."
• Richard Clarke has testified under oath before the 9/11 Commission that in the hours after the 9/11 disaster, the president asked him to see if he could link the attacks to Saddam.
• The Downing Street Minutes make it clear that the plan was in place to go to war with Iraq at least a year before the invasion and that the “facts were fixed around the policy”. LINK
• Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former Chief of Staff said in a commentary in the LA Times:
"In PRESIDENT BUSH'S first term, some of the most important decisions about U.S. national security — including vital decisions about postwar Iraq — were made by a secretive, little-known cabal. It was made up of a very small group of people led by Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

When I first discussed this group in a speech last week at the New America Foundation in Washington, my comments caused a significant stir because I had been chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell between 2002 and 2005.

But it's absolutely true. I believe that the decisions of this cabal were sometimes made with the full and witting support of the president and sometimes with something less. More often than not, then-national security advisor Condoleezza Rice was simply steamrolled by this cabal.

Its insular and secret workings were efficient and swift — not unlike the decision-making one would associate more with a dictatorship than a democracy. This furtive process was camouflaged neatly by the dysfunction and inefficiency of the formal decision-making process, where decisions, if they were reached at all, had to wend their way through the bureaucracy, with its dissenters, obstructionists and "guardians of the turf."

But the secret process was ultimately a failure. It produced a series of disastrous decisions and virtually ensured that the agencies charged with implementing them would not or could not execute them well.

The administration's performance during its first four years would have been even worse without Powell's damage control. At least once a week, it seemed, Powell trooped over to the Oval Office and cleaned all the dog poop off the carpet. He held a youthful, inexperienced president's hand. He told him everything would be all right because he, the secretary of State, would fix it. And he did — everything from a serious crisis with China when a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft was struck by a Chinese F-8 fighter jet in April 2001, to the secretary's constant reassurances to European leaders following the bitter breach in relations over the Iraq war. It wasn't enough, of course, but it helped.

Today, we have a president whose approval rating is 38% and a vice president who speaks only to Rush Limbaugh and assembled military forces. We have a secretary of Defense presiding over the death-by-a-thousand-cuts of our overstretched armed forces (no surprise to ignored dissenters such as former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki or former Army Secretary Thomas White).

It's a disaster. Given the choice, I'd choose a frustrating bureaucracy over an efficient cabal every time."
• Retired General, Anthony Zinni, handed up a scathing indictment of the push to go to war in Iraq, saying the generals didn’t want this war, but the administration did.
"In the lead up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption.”

Zinni says the Pentagon relied on inflated intelligence information about weapons of mass destruction from Iraqi exiles, like Ahmed Chalabi and others, whose credibility was in doubt. Zinni claims there was no viable plan or strategy in place for governing post-Saddam Iraq. Zinni refers to a group of policymakers within the administration known as "the neo-conservatives" who saw the invasion of Iraq as a way to stabilize American interests in the region and strengthen the position of Israel. They include Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith; Former Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle; National Security Council member Eliot Abrams; and Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Zinni believes they are political ideologues who have hijacked American policy in Iraq.
“I think it's the worst kept secret in Washington. That everybody - everybody I talk to in Washington has known and fully knows what their agenda was and what they were trying to do”

Deceitful Presentation of Intelligence.
• In his State of the Union Address, President Bush says that Saddam was seeking to buy yellowcake uranium from Africa. Joseph Wilson’s trip to Niger the year before dashed this claim. This report was know to the CIA and had been disseminated to various parts of the government including the Office of the Vice President. LINK
• Administration officials say the Saddam has aluminum tubes can only be used for nuclear weapons. Speaking to a group of Wyoming Republicans in September, Vice President Dick Cheney said the United States now had ''irrefutable evidence'' -- thousands of tubes made of high-strength aluminum, tubes that the Bush administration said were destined for clandestine Iraqi uranium centrifuges…. The tubes were ''only really suited for nuclear weapons programs,'' Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, explained on CNN on Sept. 8, 2002. ''We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.'' However:
A NY Times article written in the fall of 2004 puts the lie to this allegation by documenting how one person, a Junior analyst in the CIA floated this idea. When he published his finding, scientists within the Department of Energy shot holes in his argument. The DOE report was given to Ms. Rice’s staff a year before her statements.

• Mobile Weapon Labs. This was also hyped by administration officials including Colin Powel at the UN. The source of this intel was a person known as “Curveball” and it was widely known that he was of suspect value. Again this was known in the fall of 2002, prior to the “selling of the war”. Analysts in the CIA who voiced concern about Curveball were ''forced to leave'' the unit most responsible for analyzing his claims, …. One analyst, after arguing that Curveball might indeed be a fabricator, recalled being ''read the riot act'' by a supervisor. LINK
On Meet The Press, Tim Russert said to Colin Powell:
“It now appears that an agent called Curveball mislead the CIA by suggesting that Saddam had trucks and trains that would deliver biological chemicals and weapons. How concerned are you that some of the information you shared with the world is now inaccurate and discredited?”

And Powell replied:
“ I’m very concerned when I made that presentation in February 2003, it was based on the best information the essential intelligence agency made available to me. We studied it carefully, we looked at the sourcing, the case of the mobile trucks and trains, there was multiple sourcing for that. Unfortunately that multiple sourcing over time has turned out to be not accurate. And so I’m deeply disappointed. But I’m also comfortable that at the time I made the presentation, it reflected the collective judgment the sound judgment of the intelligence community. But it turned out that the sourcing, was inaccurate and wrong and in some cases, deliberately misleading.”
• What's more, according to a lengthy US News & World Report Article:
"The policy decisions weren't matching the reports we were reading every day," says an intelligence official. In September 2002, U.S. News has learned, the Defense Intelligence Agency issued a classified assessment of Iraq's chemical weapons. It concluded: "There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons . . . ." At about the same time, Rumsfeld told Congress that Saddam's "regime has amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX, sarin, cyclosarin and mustard gas." Rumsfeld's critics say that the secretary tended to assert things as fact even when intelligence was murky. "What we have here is advocacy, not intelligence work," says Patrick Lang, a former top DIA and CIA analyst on Iraq. "I don't think [administration officials] were lying; I just think they did a poor job. It's not the intelligence community. It's these guys in the Office of the Secretary of Defense who were playing the intelligence community."
• Saddam al Qaeda connection. The president stated in his Cincinnati speech in October of 2002 that al Qaeda was training in Iraq. The NY Times, in a November 6th article, stated that the source, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, was highly suspect. This was known since February of 2002, yet the Bush Administration used it as one of the justifications for the imminent threat Iraq posed. LINK

• And finally, The writings of Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski shed a unique spotlight on the deceitfulness of the whole operation. She was in the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans and chronicles the cherry-picked intelligence used for the justification of the war.
“From May 2002 until February 2003, I observed firsthand the formation of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans and watched the latter stages of the neoconservative capture of the policy-intelligence nexus in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. This seizure of the reins of U.S. Middle East policy was directly visible to many of us working in the Near East South Asia policy office, and yet there seemed to be little any of us could do about it.
I saw a narrow and deeply flawed policy favored by some executive appointees in the Pentagon used to manipulate and pressurize the traditional relationship between policymakers in the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies.
I witnessed neoconservative agenda bearers within OSP usurp measured and carefully considered assessments, and through suppression and distortion of intelligence analysis promulgate what were in fact falsehoods to both Congress and the executive office of the president.
While this commandeering of a narrow segment of both intelligence production and American foreign policy matched closely with the well-published desires of the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party, many of us in the Pentagon, conservatives and liberals alike, felt that this agenda, whatever its flaws or merits, had never been openly presented to the American people. Instead, the public story line was a fear-peddling and confusing set of messages, designed to take Congress and the country into a war of executive choice, a war based on false pretenses, and a war one year later Americans do not really understand. That is why I have gone public with my account.”

According to Newsweek this morning, 68% of the American people are dissatisfied with the direction of the country. LINK

Wow, I Can CopyPaste Whole Articles Too!

Dear Person Who Must Not Be Peter:

I can't believe you've copied Podhoretz. Once I stopped laughing, I did about an eight second search, and came up with this. We could do this all day. Why not try thinking for yourself for a while?

Oh, that's right...

I forgot who I was talking to.

I eagerly await the next spewing of GOP talking points.

Just out of do you know shawn?


Yes, They Lied
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Tuesday 08 November 2005

The President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true, and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it.

- Ari Fleischer, 12/4/2002
Find a defender of the White House on your television these days, and you are likely to hear them blame Bill Clinton for Iraq. Yes, you read that right. The talking point du jour lately has focused on comments made by Clinton from the mid-to-late 1990s to the effect that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was a threat. The pretzel logic here, of course, is straightforward: this Democratic president thought the stuff was there, and that justifies the claims made by the Bush crew over the last few years about Iraqi weapons.

Let's take a deeper look at the facts. Right off the bat, it is safe to say that Clinton and his crew had every reason to believe Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction during the 1990s. For one thing, they knew this because the previous two administrations - Reagan and Bush - actively assisted the Hussein regime in the development of these programs. In other words, we had the receipts.

After the first Gulf War, the United Nations implemented a series of weapons inspections under the banner of UNSCOM, and scoured Iraq for both weapons and weapons production facilities. They lifted bombed buildings off their foundations, they used a wide range of detection technologies, and after seven years of work, they disarmed Iraq.

A good place to start any detailed discussion of this matter is with former UNSCOM chief weapons inspector Scott Ritter, who spent seven years in Iraq searching out and destroying Iraq's weapons and weapons manufacturing capabilities. "After 1998," Ritter reports in a book I wrote in 2002 titled War on Iraq, "Iraq had been fundamentally disarmed. What this means is that 90%-95% of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capability, including all of their factories used to produce chemical, biological, nuclear long-range ballistic missiles, the associated equipment of these factories, and the vast majority of the product produced by these factories, had been verifiably eliminated."

The Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame scandal that has recently encompassed the White House stems from claims made by Bush in 2003 that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger for use in a nuclear weapons program. In 2002, Ritter described the status of Iraq's nuclear program. "The infrastructure, the facilities, had been 100% eliminated," he said. "In this, there is no debate. All of their instruments and facilities had been destroyed. The weapons design facility had been destroyed. The production equipment had been hunted down and destroyed, and we had in place one of the more effective monitoring mechanisms - gamma detection - that we operated in Iraq both from vehicles and airborne, looking for gamma rays that would be emitted if Iraq was seeking to enrich uranium or plutonium. We never found anything. The fact is, in terms of the industrial infrastructure needed by Iraq to produce nuclear weapons, this had been eliminated."

Ritter went into great detail on the status of Iraq's chemical weapons capabilities during our 2002 interview. "The Iraqis were able to produce a nerve agent of sarin and tabun successfully and stabilize it," said Ritter, "but even stabilized stuff stored under ideal conditions will degenerate within five years. The sarin and tabun were produced in the Muthanna State establishment - a massive chemical weapons factory - and this place was bombed during the Gulf War, and then weapons inspectors came and completed the task of eliminating this facility. What that means is that Iraq lost its sarin and tabun manufacturing base."

"Let's also keep in mind," he continued, "that we destroyed thousands of tons of chemical agent. It's not as though we said, 'Oh we destroyed a factory, now we're going to wait for everything else to expire.' No. We had an incineration plant operating full-time for years, burning tons of the stuff every day. We went out and blew up in place the bombs and missiles and warheads filled with this agent. We emptied out SCUD missile warheads filled with this agent. We destroyed this stuff - we hunted it down and we destroyed it."

"Now, there are those who say that the Iraqis could have hid some of this from us," continued Ritter. "The problem with that scenario is that whatever they diverted would have had to have been produced in the Muthanna State establishment, which means that once we blew up the Muthanna State establishment, they no longer had the ability to produce new agent, and in five years science takes over. Sarin and tabun will degrade and become useless sludge. It's no longer a viable chemical agent that the world needs to be concerned about."

"So," concluded Ritter, "all this talk about Iraq having chemical weapons - most of it is based upon speculation that Iraq could have hid some of this from UN weapons inspectors. That speculation is no longer valid, not in terms of the Iraqi ability to hide this stuff from inspectors - although I believe we did such a good job of inspecting Iraq that if they had tried to hide it, we would have found it. But let's just say that they did try to hide it, and we never found it. So what? It's gone today, so let's throw out that hypothetical. It's not even worth the time to talk about it anymore."

On the subject of Iraqi biological weapons, Ritter said in 2002, "The two main biological weapons weaponized by the Iraqis were anthrax and botulinin toxin. Both factories have been destroyed, the means of production destroyed, and even if Iraq was able to hide these weapons, they're useless today. For Iraq to have biological weapons today, they would have had to reconstitute a biological manufacturing base. And again, biological research and development was one of the things most heavily inspected by weapons inspectors. We blanketed Iraq - every research and development facility, every university, every school, every hospital, every beer factory, anything with a potential fermentation capability was inspected, and we never found any evidence of ongoing research and development or retention."

That's a lot of information, so let's boil it down. Yes, Iraq was at one time in the business of manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. By 1998, however, those weapons had been destroyed. The manufacturing base for the production of these weapons had been destroyed. Even if Iraq had been able to squirrel away a portion of these weapons, the basic chemistry involved means that the stuff degraded to utter uselessness within five years. Without a manufacturing base for the production of weapons material, said base having been eliminated by 1998, anything stashed away was pudding by 2003.

If Bush's people are going to argue that invading Iraq in 2003 because of weapons of mass destruction was the responsible thing to do, they must certainly acknowledge that the efforts of the Clinton administration and UNSCOM to eliminate these weapons was also responsible. The tough talk from the Clinton administration in 1998 regarding Iraq's WMD was of a piece with this process; they were keeping the heat on to make sure the threat was eliminated.

Flip to the end of the chapter, however, and you'll come across the pages being left out of the discussion by Bush's defenders. One, the stuff was destroyed by 1998, a fact that weapons inspections in 2003 could have easily established (and did establish, thanks to Bush's inspector, Dr. David Kay, who stated bluntly the stuff wasn't there, but only after the killing had begun). Two, Clinton did not invade Iraq and throw the United States into a ridiculous, endless, bloody quagmire. He managed to disarm Hussein without taking this disastrous step.

In short, the contortions that defenders of Bush are going through to justify the invasion do not hold water. Further, evidence that the Bush administration lied with their bare faces hanging out to get this war is piling up in snowdrifts.

Take, for example, the dire claims made by Bush administration officials about the imminent threat posed by Iraq, claims made as early as 2002. "The Iraqi regime," said Bush in October of 2002, "possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas."

If the threat was so dire, why is Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain's ambassador to Washington in the run-up to the war, claiming that the Bush administration would have been happy to hold off on invading Iraq until after the presidential election? Meyer, according to the UK Guardian, "reveals that Karl Rove, the political advisor to the president, told him there would have been no problem for Mr. Bush in waiting until the end of 2003 or even early 2004 and this would not have risked entanglement in the US presidential campaign."

Some dire threat.

Finally, there is the recent report in the New York Times about an al Qaeda operative captured in 2001 who deliberately lied to US interrogators about an al Qaeda presence in Iraq. The operative, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, was exposed as a liar by the Defense Intelligence Agency in February of 2002. Their report bluntly stated that al-Libi was deliberately misleading interrogators, and any information he provided was not to be trusted. By 2004, al-Libi had completely recanted all of his testimony.

"The (Defense Intelligence Agency) document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi's credibility," reported the Times. "Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi's information as 'credible' evidence that Iraq was training al Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons. Among the first and most prominent assertions was one by Mr. Bush, who said in a major speech in Cincinnati in October 2002 that 'we've learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases.'"

It makes you wonder. Why did al-Libi lie about an al Qaeda presence in Iraq? Did he do this in order to help push the US into an invasion of that country? If true, this means that Bush, by invading Iraq, did exactly what Osama bin Laden wanted him to. He gave bin Laden the war, and the rallying cry, he was looking for. That's leadership.

The stuff was destroyed by 1998. Bush and his crew were prepared to delay the invasion if it meant smoother sailing for the election, despite all their claims of an imminent threat. They used a fully discredited source to justify the invasion, even after being told the source was certainly making things up as he went along.

Tack this to the wall:

How the United States should react if Iraq acquired WMD. The first line of defense ... should be a clear and classical statement of deterrence - if they do acquire WMD, their weapons will be unusable because any attempt to use them will bring national obliteration.

- Condoleeza Rice, 2/1/2000
We are greatly concerned about any possible linkup between terrorists and regimes that have or seek weapons of mass destruction ... In the case of Saddam Hussein, we've got a dictator who is clearly pursuing and already possesses some of these weapons. A regime that hates America and everything we stand for must never be permitted to threaten America with weapons of mass destruction.

- Dick Cheney, 6/20/2002
Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.

- Dick Cheney, 8/26/2002
There is already a mountain of evidence that Saddam Hussein is gathering weapons for the purpose of using them. And adding additional information is like adding a foot to Mount Everest.

- Ari Fleischer, 9/6/2002
We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.

- Condoleeza Rice, 9/8/2002
Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.

- George W. Bush, 9/12/2002
Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons, and is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons. We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons - the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have.

- George W. Bush, 10/5/2002
And surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it had used to produce chemical and biological weapons.

- George W. Bush, 10/7/2002
After eleven years during which we have tried containment, sanctions, inspections, even selected military action, the end result is that Saddam Hussein still has chemical and biological weapons and is increasing his capabilities to make more. And he is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon.

- George W. Bush, 10/7/2002
We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas.

- George W. Bush, 10/7/2002
Iraq could decide on any given day to provide biological or chemical weapons to a terrorist group or to individual terrorists ...The war on terror will not be won until Iraq is completely and verifiably deprived of weapons of mass destruction.

- Dick Cheney, 12/1/2002
If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world.

- Ari Fleischer, 12/2/2002
We know for a fact that there are weapons there.

- Ari Fleischer, 1/9/2003
The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.

- George W. Bush, 1/28/2003
Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.

- George W. Bush, 1/28/2003
We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more.

- Colin Powell, 2/5/2003
There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more. And he has the ability to dispense these lethal poisons and diseases in ways that can cause massive death and destruction. If biological weapons seem too terrible to contemplate, chemical weapons are equally chilling.

- Colin Powell, 2/5/2003
If Iraq had disarmed itself, gotten rid of its weapons of mass destruction over the past 12 years, or over the last several months since (UN Resolution) 1441 was enacted, we would not be facing the crisis that we now have before us ... But the suggestion that we are doing this because we want to go to every country in the Middle East and rearrange all of its pieces is not correct.

- Colin Powell, 2/28/2003
Let's talk about the nuclear proposition for a minute. We know that based on intelligence, that has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He's had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.

- Dick Cheney, 3/16/2003
Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.

- George W. Bush, 3/17/2003
Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly ... all this will be made clear in the course of the operation, for whatever duration it takes.

- Ari Fleischer, 3/21/2003
We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.

- Donald Rumsfeld, 3/30/2003
We are learning more as we interrogate or have discussions with Iraqi scientists and people within the Iraqi structure, that perhaps he destroyed some, perhaps he dispersed some. And so we will find them.

- George W. Bush, 4/24/2003
I'm absolutely sure that there are weapons of mass destruction there and the evidence will be forthcoming. We're just getting it just now.

- Colin Powell, 5/4/2003
It's going to take time to find them, but we know he had them. And whether he destroyed them, moved them or hid them, we're going to find out the truth. One thing is for certain: Saddam Hussein no longer threatens America with weapons of mass destruction.

- George W. Bush, 5/25/2003
But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them.

- George W. Bush, 5/30/2003
No one ever said that we knew precisely where all of these agents were, where they were stored.

- Condoleeza Rice, 6/8/2003
Yes, they lied.

Friday, November 11, 2005

A Strong Word...


It's possibly my least favorite word. One that I wish to never use.

It is not the opposite of love. There is no opposite to love.

Hate, for me, comes from a combination of fear, desperation, anger and frustration.

It's not a healthy feeling.

Think about the following:

Our President says we do not torture, but the Vice President twists arms in the senate to remove a resolution barring America from using torture.

When someone (possibly a member of the CIA who doesn't like what's going on) reveals that, well, yeah, I guess we do torture after all, the Senate Majority Leader is pissed off about the leak, NOT the torture camps.

When the Supreme Court says that, yes, these detainees have the right to ask why they're being held, and can be released if the government can't come up with a reason, the Senate votes to change that law.

And even though its proponents insist that it's not about bringing religion into the classroom, one of the leaders of the evangelical christian movement that helped bring this group to power is prophesizing doom for Dover Pa, because voters removed the school board members who tried to foist Intelligent Design on its students.

Today, the President will tell us why, despite the fact that every previous reason given being proven to be inaccurate, misleading, or an outright lie, the war in Iraq is justified.

He will tell us why the war, which has cost us billions of dollars we don't have, killed more than two thousand Americans, wounded thousands more, killed tens of thousands of Iraqis, brought scorn upon this country from most of the rest of the civilized world, and has actually increased the terror threat, is justified.

Hate is a strong word.

But I use it here.

I hate what these people are doing.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Sad Veteran's Day Tribute

Why do the Republicans seem intent on shooting themselves in the foot? I can't say I really mind. But it is mind-boggling. This is the latest affront. And it's directed at a group that has made many sacrifices for our country. I'm talking about our military veterans.

It seems that Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind), the new House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman, (Tom DeLay appointed him) announced Tuesday that the groups would no longer have the opportunity to make legislative recommendations at joint House-Senate hearings. The following comes from The Hill.

“We think it’s an absolutely abhorrent idea. These things were initiated somewhere around 1950, and they represent a crowning moment for our grassroots membership,” said Dennis Cullinan, national legislative director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).

Buyer is replacing the joint hearings with a February series in which veterans groups would outline their budget priorities just as the White House finishes sending its budget request to Congress. In the past, that series of budget hearings has been held in March, after lobbyists for veterans groups have fully examined the president’s request.

The lobbyists dismissed Buyer’s explanation that the earlier hearings would allow their groups greater influence on the VA’s annual budget. The chairman, the lobbyists charge, is seeking to avoid the public-relations headache of having disappointed veterans groups repeatedly blasting the White House budget.

“Some people don’t want to be criticized for being deficient,” said Richard Fuller, legislative director for Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). “What they want to do is get rid of these [joint] legislative presentations because they have become, unfortunately now in the climate on Capitol Hill, very partisan.”

So let's understand this. The Republicans wanted this war, and now they're giving the
vets the cold shoulder. And earlier this year, Veteran's Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson conceded the department was already $1 billion short for 2005.

The Republicans love to talk how much they love the troops. But what they really love is the Defense Industry. They would happily reduce benefits for the soldiers, and jack up defense budgets. And meanwhile more and more guys come home terribly maimed from this insane war.

The Dominoes Continue to Fall

Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve Drilling plan DROPPED from budget bill.

WASHINGTON - House leaders late Wednesday abandoned an attempt to push through a hotly contested plan to open an Alaskan wildlife refuge to oil drilling, fearing it would jeopardize approval of a sweeping budget bill Thursday....

...The actions were a stunning setback for those who have tried for years to open a coastal strip of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, to oil development, and a victory for environmentalists...

--msnbc (link from crooks and liars)
Wow. Shouldn't someone set up a net to catch the falling poll numbers, second term agenda hallmarks and empty phrases like "political capital?"

Getting the feeling that Bush is a little bit radioactive? And that his own side is beginning to sidestep and shuffle away from him? "Who'll join me on my photo op in Pennsylvania? Show of hands? No one? Hello - the room's empty?" (Rick Santorum has already made a point of stating he's not joining Bush in his own state on Veteran's day - Democratic Underground,) Hello, Rick is the #3 Republican in the Senate.

(Also New Mexico GOP has said they don't want Bush to come right now and campaign on immigration...these will be the first of many)

I mean, you can't top showing up to campaign for your GOP brother, the candidate for Governor of Virginia, and then he loses the next day.

You know the old Laurel and Hardy joke when they're soldiers in a long line of soldiers and the sergeant asks for volunteers and everyone else takes a step back except them? Watch the GOP step back from their genius leader.

Politics is rarely pretty, and selfishness and me-first is not uncommon. But the GOP has so drenched themselves in the coating of "values", "unity", "if you're not with us you're against us" "America first - we're here for you", that their sudden fractious splitting and everyone running for the hills, seems to play with a particular hypocrisy.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hasta La Vista, Baby

All 4 of Arnold’s propositions were rejected by the California voters last night. All 4. Maybe Schwarzennegger’s going to have to work with the legislature like most governors in their states do – instead of grandstanding and calling them names, like Girly Men. Well who’s the Girly Man now, Arnold?

Arnold had a big old bag of Republican tricks, too. He tried to call Nurses, Policemen and Firefighters Special Interests. Like his corporate sponsors, who were his big contributors, weren’t. He actually told a crowd of supporters that he enjoyed kicking the Nurses' butts.
Hello? Who's got a big old footprint on his behind?

He’d hold these phony town hall meetings that were more like autograph signing sessions where only Arnold groupies and the major media were allowed in. God forbid you showed up with a dissenting point of view. Security people would swoop down and haul your ass out of there faster than you could say Gestapo. But that didn't stop the nurses, cops and firefighters - even Warren Beatty from dogging his heels and holding him accountable.

His special election cost the state 50 million dollars – money we could ill afford - because his ideas were so important they couldn’t wait until the 2006 election. Well, apparently the voter’s didn’t think so…

Arnold’s a lot like Bush. Neither one really likes to govern. They like to travel around, hog the spotlight and act like they’re real tough.
Yeah, bring it on.
The fact is, they're both a couple of bad actors. And people want more substance. They want their elected officials to actually do something. Like make life better, safer. They don’t want recycled movie lines from really stupid films…and when there’s a terrible hurricane that takes out a major US city, they don’t want their president remaining on vacation like its no big whup.

I sense a change in the wind. Americans everywhere are getting savvy to the BS.

Democrat Tim Kaine in Virginia won despite the local Republican’s dirty trick of splicing his comments out of context and putting together a phony telephone campaign message. Despite a negative campaign commercial that said he would have refused to execute Adolf Hitler (???). And despite some last minute campaigning by Bush for his opponent. Ooh that’s got to sting…

Democrat Jon Corzine won big (10 points ahead) of his mudslinging opponent Doug Forrester who had the temerity to quote Corzine’s ex-wife in a campaign commercial.

Maine voted to preserve the state's new gay-rights law.

Randy Kelly, the St. Paul, Minnesota Mayor who supported Bush last year was defeated by Democrat Chris Coleman by a margin of 69% to 31%. Ouch!

And in a recent poll, 4 out 5 Americans said what Scooter Libby did was indeed a big deal.

Now let’s carry this momentum into 2006…

Truth & Reality Part One

My friend Joan sent me another email. I wrote about her once before, a post called "Painful Truths and Comfortable Lies" (posted May 9th, if you're at all interested in reading it. It was one of my better efforts).

She sent it to my work email, which is having some problems. So I'm not able to repost the actual email. Luckily, this sort of glurge appears all over the place, so here is a version which appears courtesy of Truth or Fiction. For the sake of brevity, I'm going to cut out a lot of the litany of attacks. You can read the whole thing at the website if you're truly interested.

America WAKE UP!

That's what we think we heard on the 11th of September 2001 and maybe it was, but I think it should have been "Get Out of Bed!" In fact, I think the alarm clock has been buzzing since 1979 and we have continued to hit the snooze button and roll over for a few more minutes of peaceful sleep since then.

It was a cool fall day in November 1979 in a country going through a religious and political upheaval when a group of Iranian students attacked and seized the American Embassy in Tehran. This seizure was an outright attack on American soil; it was an attack that held the world's most powerful country hostage and paralyzed a Presidency. The attack on this sovereign US embassy set the stage for the events to follow for the next
23 years.

America was still reeling from the aftermath of the Viet Nam experience and had a serious threat from the Soviet Union when then, President Carter, had to do something. He chose to conduct a clandestine raid in the desert. The ill-fated mission ended in ruin, but stood as a symbol of America's inability to deal with terrorism. America's military had been decimated and downsized / right sized since the end of the Viet Nam war. A poorly trained, poorly equipped and poorly organized military was called on to execute a complex mission that was doomed from the start.

Shortly after the Tehran experience, Americans began to be kidnapped and killed throughout the Middle East. America could do little to protect her citizens living and working abroad. The attacks against US soil continued.


The terrorists are getting braver and smarter as they see that America does not respond decisively. They move to coordinate their attacks in a simultaneous attack on two US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. These attacks were planned with precision, they kill 224. America responds with cruise missile attacks and goes back to sleep.

The USS Cole was docked in the port of Aden, Yemen for refueling on 12 October 2000, when a small craft pulled along side the ship and exploded killing 17 US Navy Sailors. Attacking a US War Ship is an act of war, but we sent the FBI to investigate the crime and went back to sleep.

And of course you know the events of 11 September 2001. Most Americans think this was the first attack against US soil or in America. How wrong they are. America has been under a constant attack since 1979 and we chose to hit the snooze alarm and roll over and go back to sleep.

In the news lately we have seen lots of finger pointing from every high official in government over what they knew and what they didn't know. But if you've read the papers and paid a little attention I think you can see exactly what they knew. You don't have to be in the FBI or CIA or on the National Security Council to see the pattern that has been developing since 1979. The President is right on when he says we are engaged in a war. I think we have been in a war for the past 23 years and it will continue until we as a people decide enough is enough.

America has to "Get out of Bed" and act decisively now. America has changed forever. We have to be ready to pay the price and make the sacrifice to ensure our way of life continues. We cannot afford to hit the Snooze Button again and roll over and go back to sleep. We have to make the terrorists know that in the words of Admiral Yamamoto after the attack on Pearl Harbor "that all they have done is to awaken a sleeping giant."

The email I received went on to exhort the reader to support the troops and the President, and to pass this along. I chose to not do that. Instead, I did some research, and then I responded to Joan. I'll get to that in a minute.

First, I wanted to see if this was in fact the opinion of a high-ranking member of the military.

I didn't find this information right away. It took some digging. The email said it was from "Naval Captain Ouimette" who was Commanding Officer at Pensacola Naval Air Station. That's an important job. Pensacola is the premier Naval Installation. It's where the Blue Angels live. The CO of the NAS is an important man. When I went to the NAS Pensacola website, I discovered that CO is a Captain Peter Frano.


So I dug a bit further. I did a search for Ouimette at Navy.Mil, but all I found was a press release. From Meridian Mississippi. Capt. Ouimette had gone from CO of NAS Pensacola, to Commodore of Training Air Wing One, in a very short time.*

Wow. Not the CO of the most important Naval Air Station, but instead the principal of the flight school.

Except the Commodore of NAS Meridian is Captain Curt Goldacker. So where's Captain Ouimette?


From Truth and Rumor: According to the U.S. Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, Captain Dan Ouimette made this speech on a couple of occasions, one is 2002 and again in 2003.
At the time, he was the Executive Officer there.
According to the NASP, the speech was not meant to be a political statement but was circulated quite a bit during the Presidential elections.
Captain Ouimette has retired from the Navy and has not given anyone permission to reprint his speech.


Not the CO, but the XO. An important position, nonetheless. So he went from XO in at Pensacola in 2003, to Commodore of the Training Wing in 2004, to retired in July 2005. There could be a lot of reasons for this sudden shift, but to me it appears that Captain Dan was politely promoted out of the Navy. I wonder why?

As for what I wrote to Joan: I told her that I didn't agree with most, if not all of the conclusions drawn here. But, for the sake of argument, let's say he's right. I then asked her these three questions:
  1. Why has the United States been attacked?
  2. Are our actions the best way to respond?
  3. If so, how will we know when we've won?
I told her I have my own answers to these questions. I'll send them to her soon. What about you? I'd love to read your opinions.

I hope my email's fixed tomorrow.


*Rank factoid: There is no rank of Commodore in the modern Navy; only the title. Once upon a time, it was the equivalent rank to a Brigadier General; but now that position is filled by the Rear Admiral Lower Half. (Insert scatalogical/anal joke here. )