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    14 January 2006
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    President Bush, 10/7/02:
    Tonight I want to take a few minutes to discuss a grave threat to peace…The threat comes from Iraq…It is seeking nuclear weapons.

    President Bush, 1/13/06:
    Iran, armed with a nuclear weapon, poses a grave threat to the security of the world.

    Iraq 9/02
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    Image hosted by Photobucket.com

    Iran 1/06
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    Hit rewind, play it again!!!

    13 January 2006

    Lindsey Graham and his loose view of Senate Ethics

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    The local paper here in Charleston ran a story front page on Lindsey Graham and his performance during the confirmation hearings of Sam Alito. In the story, it offered a weak counter to my claim here that he may have violated Senate Ethics. In one way it said that the 'meeting' was not held at the White house, but rather at in a nearby building. That matters very little in my opinion. The article continues
    In a CNN appearance Thursday, Graham said he hoped his conversation with Alito helped the judge prepare but that it was not coaching.

    "It would be like coaching Michael Jordan on basketball to suggest I could tell him how to interpret the law," he said.

    The issue first came up after The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reported Sunday that Graham had helped prep Alito by participating in a "so-called moot court session at the White House."

    I still have problems with this, and it is an act that should be stopped.

    Here is my next LTTE:
    I am a 'blogger' who called Lindsey Graham's actions surrounding Judge Alito and the Senators 'coaching' questionable; to say the least. Can you indicate why meeting with a judge prior to a nomination hearing in private without bi-partisan attendance is not a violation of Senate ethics rule #37? Even if it wasn't coaching but preparation (as stated by Graham himself) this act still seems to be a conflict of interests for this Senator in this case. Had it been a GOP Senator that wasn't on the Senate Judiciary Committee, this would be less of a story, if a story at all. Furthermore, the whole 'wife-crying' thing that happened during the Senators questioning is highly suspect, almost planned, is it not?

    Now, I don't care if this was a Republican or a Democrat, this behavior is new to me, because I'm so young maybe, and it seems it should be looked at and forbidden. This is especially necessary when he, Senator Graham, holds a seat on such an important committee; one that is supposed to project fairness and balance at a level higher than most other committees; one that has a say in how the Supreme Court of the United States will look long past their term in office. Given the current and empirical evidence of politicians not being very honorable and truthful indicates to me that the official whose actions are being called into question will say anything to get him/her-self out of hot water. Then the traditional media eats it up, the public forgets, and our elected representatives proceed like everything is OK.

    I think it is a problem and it is a disgrace.

    We're waiting Mr. Graham...

    Posted by Geoff

    12 January 2006

    Pray all You Want, In Reality Karma is King

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    Disgraced conservative pretty-boy, Tom DeLay, is feeling the pinch his illegal redistricting scheme has generated. The process of moving democratic support into strong conservative districts of Texas was the center of the gerrymandering plan. This moved Dem support from easily contested seats into fiercely conservative districts, like Delays. This was all before the indictments. Now with his support limp and future in doubt, karma has returned to bite the corrupt, national disgrace of a congressmen right is the ass.
    Representative Tom DeLay is in the toughest re-election campaign of his 11-term House career, a battle that might be decided not only by his legal problems, but also by the Congressional redistricting plan he spearheaded in 2003.

    The redistricting led to the loss of six Democratic seats in Texas in 2004, but it also shifted thousands of Democratic voters to strong Republican districts. Among those, Mr. DeLay's 22nd District added several Democratic-leaning parts of Galveston County; several political analysts estimate they may have raised the district's Democratic vote around 5 percent.


    Posted by Geoff

    CIA Lawyer: Domestic Spying is Illegal

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    One after another; the professionals continue to claim the domestic spying program orchestrated by the Bush administration violates the law and destabilizes the entire premise of check and balances. Thus weakening the Constitution.
    Former CIA General Counsel Jeffrey Smith will testify in House hearings that there is no legal basis for President Bush's controversial National Security Agency domestic surveillance program, ABC News has learned.

    ABC News has obtained a copy of a 14-page memo Smith wrote to the House Select Committee on Intelligence in which he argues that the wiretaps are illegal.

    Hearings begin on the 20th.

    [UPDATE] In the comments, Lex informed me that ABC had broken their link. No other outlet has a story dedicated to Mr. Smith's activities.

    Here is the 14 page memo (.pdf) and a RAWSTORY link.

    Posted by Geoff

    Torture is a huge issue; goes to the very top

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    We've been continuously told that the disgusting treatment of prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison complex was the result of poor decisions by a few 'bad apples.' We were assured that the problem was limited in nature and was addressed. It would take a lot of alcohol and/or American torture to make me believe that. As if we need more proof that this is a problem embraced by the pentagon if not the White House, we learn that Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller has chosen to plead the military equivalent of the fifth to Avid self-incrimination.
    Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, a central figure in the U.S. detainee-abuse scandal, this week invoked his right not to incriminate himself in court-martial proceedings against two soldiers accused of using dogs to intimidate captives at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, according to lawyers involved in the case.

    The move by Miller -- who once supervised the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and helped set up operations at Abu Ghraib -- is the first time the general has given an indication that he might have information that could implicate him in wrongdoing, according to military lawyers.

    America = Torture. Period. And this administration is to blame.

    Posted by Geoff

    Blog readers survey

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    A virtual friend who blogs at Crack the Bell requested that I request any readers to fill out a short survey. This is for the Palmetto Bloggers blogad network, a bipartisan group of bloggers from South Carolina.
    here is the text of the email:
    I'm surveying South Carolina blog readers. My reason is mercenary - I want a few demographics so I can try to sell some ads for the Palmetto Bloggers blogad network. Will you help me out a bit by mentioning it to your readers? The link to my post is http://www.crackthebell.com/cracked/2006/1/11/take-our-reader-survey.html.

    Take the survey yourself while you're at it. And if I sent you this and you're not a part of the network, contact me about joining.

    Here is the direct link to the survey

    Thank you in advance :)

    Posted by Geoff

    Drinking Liberally - Charleston, SC

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    Come raise your spirits as you raise a pint with the best Democratic drinking club in Charleston!

    Drinking Liberally is an informal, non-programmatic gathering of like-minded left-leaners, an opportunity to share your ideas while you share a pitcher. You don't need to be a seasoned activist or policy wonk to join us in meeting new friends, reconnecting with old ones, and enjoying a stiff mix of socializing with a dash of politics.

    Drinking Liberally now offers social space for progressive pint-pourers in 123 locations across America. And to think ... we have one right here in the Holy City!

    America was born in the taverns...and now we're returning to promote democracy one pint a time.

    We thought this week we'd keep the email simple and just remind everyone of what DL is all about! Hope you'll join us!! The Revolution begins at Happy Hour.

    VooDoo Lounge
    15 Magnolia Dr
    Thursday, January 12
    starting at 5:30 pm

    11 January 2006

    "We don’t govern based on polls"

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    As late as last December '05, the administration line was that the White House doesn't govern by looking at polls. Highlighted here a few days back (edited for time context):
    Bush was against governing based on poll numbers, before he was for it. Flip-flop???
    13 December 2005:
    QUESTION: So what does that say about the hill that you have to climb?

    MCCLELLAN: A couple things. Let me first correct you in terms of saying that we don’t ever look at polls. We don’t govern based on polls. The president does not govern based on polls. The president governs based on a clear set of principles and a clear set of beliefs. [WH Press Briefing, 12/13/05]

    Responding to why Bush is justified in continuing to conduct an illegal wiretapping program:
    MCCLELLAN: I think that clearly the American people strongly support the efforts that we are undertaking to save their lives. I think there actually was a poll last week that said 60 percent — more than 60 percent of the American people support the actions the president is taking to prevent attacks from happening in the first place. That is what this president is committed to doing. This is about saving lives.

    And the right still doesn't get it. Most people have no problem with legal wiretapping, it's the illegal, above the law wiretapping that is a problem. Reword the question correctly and I'll bet a lunch at the local restaurant of your choice that the results would be a lot different.

    The sentence in bold has happened. According to an AP-Ipsos poll
    A majority of Americans want the Bush administration to get court approval before eavesdropping on people inside the United States, even if those calls might involve suspected terrorists
    56 percent of respondents in an AP-Ipsos poll said the government should be required to first get a court warrant to eavesdrop on the overseas calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens when those communications are believed to be tied to terrorism.

    42% see it the other way, and a safe conclusion is that most of these people have been scared into submission by this President or are fierce partisans that sense that the President and his team are in real trouble over this. Thus they feel it is appropriate to ignore America rights and the Constitution in order to soften the blow to this Imperial President.

    I can't wait to hear Scotty's spin when the press calls him out on his statements highlighted above. I bet he'll answer by, well, doing what he is trained to do; talk without saying anything.

    Posted by Geoff

    10 January 2006

    Lindsey Graham Violates Rules of Senate Ethics

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    Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has engaged in questionable actions as a sitting member of the Judiciary Committee in the hype surrounding the Supreme Court nominee, Samuel Alito. Today, at the Alito hearings Sen. Graham admitted in his opening statements:
    I don’t know what kind of vote you’re going to get, but you’ll make it through. It’s possible you could talk me out of voting for you, but I doubt it. So I won’t even try to challenge you along those lines.

    It is obvious that he has already made up his mind. But for safe measure a Wall Street Journal article reports (subscription req.) that Sen. Graham participated in a "moot court session at the White House" last Thursday. There is the questionable action.

    I take this news as a Judiciary Committee member coaching the nominee. I believe we, his constituents, deserve an explanation from the Senator as to why my following claim is incorrect. Subsequently, if I am coming to the correct conclusion I would request a statement to the public as well as a punitive action appropriate in the honor and spirit of the Senate.

    I believe that the actions noted above constitute a violation of Senate ethical guidelines. The Senate Ethics Manuel states in Rule 37 (Conflicts of Interest):
    Paragraph 2 sets forth the axiom that conflicts of interest must be avoided: "No Member, officer, or employee shall engage in any outside business or professional activity or employment for compensation which is inconsistent or in conflict with the conscientious performance of official duties." The legislative history of this provision states that it "should be read to prohibit any outside activities which could represent a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest." The Committee has interpreted this paragraph to prohibit compensated employment or uncompensated positions on boards, commissions, or advisory councils where such service could create a conflict with an individual’s Senate duties due to appropriation, oversight, authorization, or legislative jurisdiction as a result of Senate duties.
    (Senate Ethics Manual, p. 66-7)

    I request Sen. Graham or a spokesperson of, clarify the events of Thursday or explain how his actions did not cross the line from "impartial evaluator" to "partisan advocate" of issue within his jurisdiction. [via Think Progress]

    Posted by Geoff

    09 January 2006

    Cut N Run, Stay the Course...OR

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    While both sides of the congressional aisle debate how fast we’re going to “cut n run” from Iraq, I can’t help but wonder why discussion on how to change our policy to succeed has evaporated. It may be that congress, even Republicans, have given up on trying to influence one of the most insulated, thick-headed and stubborn administrations in modern American history. An executive branch as close-knit as that of Bush II has no dissenters left, having frustrated Powell out of government and closed ranks even tighter in the second term. It appears as though all hope for a positive influence emerging from within Washington is gone. The disengagement speed may just come down to domestic politics and the 2006 mid-term elections. But we are in this together, like it or not, from Pat Robertson to Cindy Sheehan, and the world’s only Superpower should be able to turn Iraq around.

    The issue of whether or not we should have invaded Iraq is now totally inconsequential. If the democrats succeed in showing that Bush deliberately misled the public to sell the Iraq war, as they surely can, it will do nothing to change the mess we’re in. Past Presidents have used flimsy pretexts to start wars, such as the accidental explosion of the battleship Maine and the overblown and grossly misrepresented Gulf of Tonkin incident. McKinley and Johnson both used exaggerated/bogus claims to get a democracy to enter a war because they thought it was in the best interest of our nation. The time to inject these thoughts into the public debate was before the war started, when most Democrats were goose-stepping along with Bush or too afraid to speak up for fear of being labeled unpatriotic or weak on national security.

    If you remember the Vietnam War, it would not have mattered if we would have poured twice as many human and financial resources into the situation. We failed because our policy, at its base, was utterly malformed. If that is the case with Iraq, as it appears to be, and our policies are set in stone, as Bush presents them to be, we should withdraw promptly. However, Bush’s policy is not fully fixed, evidence being the Republican guard re-enrollment, reintroduction of former Baath party members to various offices and pledge to not negotiate with the insurgents/terrorists.

    As much as it may seem, the casualties we are taking in Iraq are nothing compared to past conflicts. The Brits lost about a fifth as many men in one month trying to control the immature American insurgency at Lexington / Concord and Breeds’ Hill (~400 KIA) as we have lost in 3 years in Iraq. In the 80’s, the Russians lost thousands of troops to Bin Laden and the U.S. funded mujahidin (taking casualties at nearly the same rate as we are in Iraq). However, the financial costs have been tremendous and many of the expenditures are entirely ridiculous.

    We are paying American and British multinationals billions to build infrastructure that the Iraqis could and have built for millions. Iraq had functioning electrical and water systems before we destroyed them as well as the capacity to build and maintain them. Those systems are still not fully rebuilt. What systems are rebuilt have different technology than Iraqi engineers are accustomed. Some Army Corps and other US military units have recognized that Iraqis need to be able to run their own country and have worked well to include them, but not hard enough. In Sadr City, hundreds of young potential militiamen have been put to work digging their own sewage system. Iraq doesn’t need state of the art, just the basics. We have simultaneously managed to waste billions of dollars (at least investors in Bechtel and Halliburton saw some of that money on the other side) while disengaging Iraqis from the rebuilding of their own country.

    We sent to Iraq the most pampered military forces that have ever set foot on a ‘battlefield’. I know I’ll catch some flak for saying this, but it’s true. Our troops can play Xbox, talk to home via satellite phones, eat Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, watch flat-screen TV’s, play foosball and sleep in climate controlled rooms on proper beds. In Vietnam-esque appropriations, we are spending billions extra on non-military “necessities” supposedly to boost the morale of our troops who are fighting insurgents that are more than willing to die because they have a sense of purpose, however malformed that sense may be. Can you imagine a soldier from the 101st Airborne who fought his way through Normandy to the Rhine complaining because he can’t get a Meatlovers® pizza?? Soldiers that fight well, do so because they believe in their country and purpose, not because Halliburton will supply them with video games and a comfortable single-wide trailer.

    This is why you can’t blame Bush and Cheney for repeating the bogus claim that Iraq was in cahoots with Al-Qaeda. The Armed forces needs that connection more than anyone so that they don’t miss their recruiting goals by even more. Most soldiers on the ground know that assertion is hogwash, but they also realize that now there is a definite and strong link between Iraq and Al-Qaeda. Again, it gives Democrats epileptic fits to look past the untruths of the administration, but the country needs them focus on the future.

    The Democrats need to stop re-arguing the past and develop a real positive vision for the future. Iraq is not a total loss…yet. Sure, the pre-war planning and post-“Mission Accomplished” results indicate an amazingly incompetent executive policy apparatus. Heck, Paul Bremer just said that the US did not expect an insurgency in Iraq! However you go to war with the President you have, not the President you might want or wish to have at a later time as Rumsfeld would say. We can’t give up on this President because we are stuck in a war and we are stuck with him, love him or hate him, for 3 more years.

    Somebody needs to step forward. The Republicans won’t criticize the President and present a new plan for success in Iraq, although recently there has been a little noise from the GOP ranks. The Democrats focus on past mistakes and misleading statements while they seem to be concentrating on ways to withdraw from Iraq. Because most Dems have stopped trying to positively alter our President’s Iraq policy to ensure victory, the Republicans should step into the void. The GOP has control of all three branches of government, the power is in their hands, somebody prominent within the party must stand up. Failure in Iraq would lead to a region worse off than before the war. How do we get a real plan for success in Iraq when both sides of the aisle have given up the discussion?

    It is obvious that our approach to Iraq can be improved. Whatever that entails, be it a more unified command structure, better engagement of Iraqis in reconstruction, training Iraqi troops out of theater, giving the Sunnis political footing similar to Lebanese Christians, sustained communication with the insurgents, seriously enforcing the ban on armed militias, changing the Iraqi constitution to make oil revenues the property of the central government or many of the other sensible ideas out there, somebody should be a figurehead for positive change. Enter John McCain?

    B. Strosnider & G. Miller

    NYT reporter murdered - GOP involvement?

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    If Abramoff could have some guy whacked any other GOP operative could have killed David E. Rosenbaum. Of course I doubt and hope that they wouldn't do such a thing, nut when the idea of being above the law is ingrained in people, they act accordingly.

    Recent article:
    Alito Defended Wiretap Protections In 1984 Memo

    One question. Was his phone ever, accidentally or not, tapped?

    Posted by Geoff

    What about this Rev. Robertson

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    Vice President Cheney Hospitalized

    Looks to be a simple problem with medication, but Mr. Cheney had a lot to do with the Palestine-Israel issue and the division of God's land." I guess this is God's way of getting even.

    If that is someone's logic, wouldn't Bush be next?

    All the best to the VP, may he have a quick recovery.

    Posted by Geoff

    08 January 2006

    Uncertainty Throughout the Middle East This Weekend

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    - Israeli PM Ariel Sharon's status changed very little over the weekend, I'd say that he will be out of Israeli politics forever; except for being an icon or something. It is certain that he will be out of the upcoming elections being held in ~3 months. His Kadima party was born from the hopes of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. They outnumbered the two traditional party's in the polling; projected to take a third of the seats. But now who knows...?


    - Good LTTE editorial in WaPo
    CHRISTIAN television evangelist Pat Robertson and the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have a well-established affinity for the outrageous. This time their mutual embrace of indecency places them in a category all to themselves. As Ariel Sharon lies hospitalized and critically incapacitated by a massive stroke, Mr. Robertson, one of America's best-known religious extremists, and his Iranian counterpart -- no slouch when it comes to religious demagoguery -- suggested that Israel's prime minister had it coming. Speaking on his TV show, "The 700 Club," on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Mr. Robertson said the Bible "makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who 'divide my land.' " Mr. Sharon, Mr. Robertson asserted, "was dividing God's land, and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course." As Mr. Robertson was offering up his thoughts about a man fighting for his life, Iran's president was expressing unrestrained hope that Mr. Sharon would simply die.

    - In Syria, the next Chalabi has emerged. Brought up late last year by Col. Pat Lang and more recently here in the BBC. Abd al-Halim Khaddam is a Sunni Baathist and loved Bashar's Father Hafez al-Assad (even murdered for him), but wasn't happy with the new (younger) Assad leadership in Syria. Khaddam has called for the Sunni majority and any opposition groups in Syria to rise up and overthrow the Alawi Baathist minority government. That's a sure way to get yourself killed in Syria and the rest of the Middle East for that matter.

    We'll have to see if the US picks Khaddam up as an agent, if they haven't already. Would a Sunni/Muslim Brother led Syria be a good thing? Of course not. Does the US know that? Yes. Will the neocons listen? Nope. Will the Israelis be pissed? You betcha!

    - to top everything off I thought I'd highlight the shortsightedness and incompetence that got us into Iraq in the first place. Paul Bremer, failure, has now dropped this bombshell.
    When asked who was to blame for the subsequent Iraqi rebellion, in which thousands of Iraqis and Americans have died, Bremer said "we really didn't see the insurgency coming," the network [NBC] said in a news release.

    I mean come on. They may have told us this would be easy, but that is the style of this administration. But for someone on the inside to be this clueless is a real embarrassment. Hey Paul, if you invade a country, some portion of that countries population will resent you. It's common sense.

    Christ! These neocon's and their Republican, right-wing enablers are going to get us all killed.

    Posted by Geoff

    Domestic Spying gets Reviewed as does the Iraqi Civil War (older news)

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    - A Report released by the Congressional Research Service (Congress's research arm) came to the same conclusion as so many others re. 'Snoopgate' (domestic spying). It writes that the legal footing used by the administration was shaky at best.
    that Bush probably cannot claim the broad presidential powers he has relied upon as authority to order the secret monitoring of calls made by U.S. citizens since the fall of 2001. Congress expressly intended for the government to seek warrants from a special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before engaging in such surveillance when it passed legislation creating the court in 1978, the CRS report said.

    The report also concluded that Bush's assertion that Congress authorized such eavesdropping to detect and fight terrorists does not appear to be supported by the special resolution that Congress approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which focused on authorizing the president to use military force.

    "It appears unlikely that a court would hold that Congress has expressly or impliedly authorized the NSA electronic surveillance operations here," the authors of the CRS report wrote. The administration's legal justification "does not seem to be . . . well-grounded," they said.

    Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has pledged to hold hearings on the program, which was first revealed in news accounts last month, and the judges of the FISA court have demanded a classified briefing about the program, which is scheduled for Monday.

    Along with your normal group of level-headed Republicans, McCain and Graham to name two, Senator Brownback (Kan.) has expressed some discomfort with the program
    "I do not agree with the legal basis on which they are basing their surveillance — that when the Congress gave the authorization to go to war that that gives sufficient legal basis for the surveillance," he said.

    He said if the justification holds up, "you’re going to have real trouble having future Congresses giving approval to presidents to go to war."

    That's a good point, but this is where he hits it out of the park
    Brownback said he wasn’t opposed to the administration conducting surveillance but that the legal basis had to be straightened out.

    What he means is; to spy, an important weapon against crime particularly organized crime, is appropriate provided you do so through legal channels. Something not done in this case, and that's why it is in the news.

    The executive branch is drunk with power and must be stopped. We've already slipped into a totalitarian democracy; we can't let ourselves dive deeper into tyranny. If we do then the terrorists of 11 September have won.

    - In a side story relating to 'Snoopgate,' the question of who was violated by this act has been on many peoples minds. Andrea Mitchell dropped a bomb when she asked James Risen
    MITCHELL: Do you have any information about reporters being swept up in this net?

    RISEN: No, I don't. It's not clear to me. That's one of the questions we'll have to look into the future. Were there abuses of this program or not? I don't know the answer to that

    MITCHELL: You don't have any information, for instance, that a very prominent journalist, Christiane Amanpour, might have been eavesdropped upon?

    RISEN: No, no I hadn't heard that.

    This was then purged from all transcripts like it never happened. Fortunately several bloggers saw it and called MSNBC out. See Josh Marshall for the rest.

    - Two American military 'yes men', one remaining in Iraq the other set to leave made conflicting statements recently. Lt General Ricardo Sanchez told incoming soldiers on Tuesday that "The country’s on the verge of a civil war." Meanwhile, Gen. George Casey stated no CNN that the upsurge (I'm guessing all of them) in violence "is an anomaly" and he doesn't think Iraq is "on the brink of civil war." Two Generals, One gets to leave the other must stay, who do you believe?

    Now that Casey has attacked Patriotic Senator John Murtha (PA) re. his comments about the war and blaming him for recruitment woes, I'd expect the same for Sanchez.


    Posted by Geoff


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