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    06 October 2006

    Well, well, well. Maybe a change of course isn't a bad idea after all

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    Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee John Warner (R-VA): "I assure you, in two or three months, if this thing hasn't come to fruition and if this level of violence is not under control and this government able to function, I think it's a responsibility of our government internally to determine: Is there a change of course that we should take?" ... "And I wouldn't take off the table any option at this time."

    Well, shoot! A change of course? Where have I heard that before?

    Tim chimes in, pointing out that this "emboldens the terrorists and evildoers." I agree, this Democrat is obviously a traitor and buying into the enemy's propaganda... umm... oh.

    Col. Lang adds his $.02 speaking from Virginia, Warner's home state.
    John Warner is my senator and I have always respected him greatly. I continue to do so. In my view he has labored mightily to keep the ship of state afloat in spite of the Utopian nonsense that has dominated the Bush Administration. He has done so in spite of the disrespectful way that Rumsfeld and company have treated his opinions and nominations of people for important jobs, for example, Secretary of the Army.

    For him to say that the Maliki government has 90 days to get control of the situation or the United States should reconsider it options is a major step. The bomb throwers may not think it is a big deal, but it is. He says that "no option should be off the table."
    So far, we have been following a policy that envisions revolutionary change in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East leading to a Utopian and Earthly Paradise of the sort fantasized by Frum and Perle in their egregious book, "The End of Evil." The military strategy we have been following was inflicted on the armed forces by the Bush Administration in pursuit of that goal. Large forces were not thought necessary because Iraq, like the rest of the Middle East, was thought by the Bush Administration to be a "pile of tinder" awaiting only a match in order to burst into revolutionary flames. That did not happen. Instead the various "centrifugal" forces of tribal, and sectarian Iraq are tearing the country apart while at the same time protesting the authenticity of their "Iraqiness."

    Briefly. Remember the tactics Saddam had to use to keep the country in check. That alone is indicative of the quagmire we're in. One we mistook as a "slam-dunk."
    The game is actually over in Iraq. It has been decided in the streets and its outcome is symbolized by the piles of tortured corpses "discovered" each day by the same police who may well have been complicit in the "drillings" and shootings of the previous night.

    Iraq is going to be partitioned. This may be either de facto or de jure but it will be partitioned.

    I could have told you that in 2003.

    Pat opines on what this partition will look like:
    What will the partitioned Iraq look like?

    -A Kurdish region either completely or nearly independent with massive oil assets and the city of Kirkuk. Will Turkey accept that? Ah. That should be the subject of creative diplomacy on all sides.

    -A "rump" state of Iraq extending from (but not necessarily including) Baghdad to the Kuwait border. Wealthy in oil, dominated by the Shia Arabs and friendly to Iran, it may be impossible for this state to maintain its capital in Baghdad. So far, its security forces show no sign of being able to control the situation there.

    -An insurgent "redoubt area" dominated by Sunni Arabs and international jihadis will cover all of what is now called the "Sunni Triangle" and perhaps much of Baghdad as well. This "land of insolence" will be poverty stricken but supported by many states and individuals in the Sunni Islamic world as a bulwark against further expansion of the area of Shia triumphalism. The idea has been "floated" of an economic compact between these three successor entities which would provide the Sunni Arabs with considerable oil revenue. This idea underestimates the actual hatred among these groups, but, nevertheless, such an accord should also be the subject of creative diplomacy.

    A recognition that this partition of Iraq has now become inevitable and beyond the ability of the United States to prevent is a pre-condition for the adoption of a "reality based" policy which can deal with the vital issue of American relations with the pieces of Iraq. Equally important are the issues of relations among the states which surround, and influence the tri-partite Mesopotamia of the future.

    I'll say it here again, we need a change of course. This will only happen when we change the leadership or the apperatus that enables this leadership to ignore reality. Till that day, we'll continue to see unpleasant fatality metrics from Iraq, metrics that are not reported out of glee, but out of concern for my friends, and your famlies and friends.

    Posted by Geoff

    Openthread: The Cheney Ratio

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    For fun.

    Dick Cheney says the Republicans "...will retain control of both houses."

    Now there have been many, umm, statements from Mr. Cheney. Many have been completely wrong. (e.g. last throes)

    So, let's compare notes. When was he correct and when was he wrong?

    Full disclosure: I think the Republicans will retain control of both chambers.

    Posted by Geoff

    05 October 2006

    FOX: Republicans could lose 50 seats

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    FOX: "The data suggests Americans have bailed on the speaker," a Republican source briefed on the polling data told FOX News. "And the difference could be between a 20-seat loss and 50-seat loss."

    Well bailing on the speaker is one thing, but a 50 seat loss? Come on.

    03 October 2006

    New Information Re: the White House and 9/11

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    Today former CIA chief George Tenet comes out of hiding to dispute Woodward's, and backup Dr. Rice's, account claiming that he and his counterterrorism coordinator, J. Cofer Black, didn't feel brushed-off by then National Security Advisor Rice. This is beginning to line up now with the accounts from yesterday that caused a little flip-floppery from the State Department on the validity of Dr. Rice's claim that she wasn't briefed by the two in July 2001. That said, if it is claimed by Dr. Rice that the threat wasn't decisive, then how do you explain an official who prepared the briefing describing it as a "10 on a scale of 1 to 10" and collection of intelligence that "connected the dots" to a point that where they were able to conclude that al Qaeda was poised to strike again? Anyway, that is but a footnote now I believe...

    Today Tenet says:
    "He did not feel she ignored him, he felt that she took the meeting seriously and understood the gravity of the threat," said the former official.

    That was also what Tenet told the Sept. 11 Commission on Jan. 28, 2004, during an interview with commission members and staff at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Va., according to a person who has seen parts of the transcript.

    So now this falls on two people and two entities. Both Ashcroft and Rumsfeld were briefed on this. Yesterday, Ashcroft commented on the briefing, complaining about how disappointing it was that he wasn't approached with "...this type of information." The problem is that he did receive the briefing.

    There is no record of this meeting in the 9/11 Commissions report, that is very troubling. It, however, is in the transcript of a meeting between Tenet and the Commission that took place on 28 January 2004 according to someone familiar with the transcripts.

    So the 9/11 Commission actually knew about this briefing but failed to report it and no one is willing to comment as to why that is. The person familiar with the transcripts adds this to top it all off. Contrary to Woodward's impression, the person familiar with the transcripts is quoted as saying, "There is no suggestion in there that [Tenet] felt 'brushed off.' ... On the contrary, he was asked whether the White House understood the severity of the threat and he said yes, they did."

    So now we come to a familiar question; that of what one knew before the fact. This type of question has hung around this Administration like a fly to shit. It was around for some time in the Plame leak (it still is in many circles), it continues to linger around the Presidents final decision to wage war on Iraq, and now it enters the discussion surrounding the events leading up to 9/11, again.

    Mr. President and all your women and men; regarding the threat facing our country before 9/11, what exactly did you know and when did you know it? And the same goes for the 9/11 Commission.

    Digg it!
    [UPDATE] This may be big. From the Wapo:
    At one point in the lengthy session, Tenet recalled a briefing he was given on July 10 by Black and his staff, according to the transcript. He said the information was so important that he quickly called for a car and telephoned Rice to arrange for a White House meeting to share what he had just learned, according to the transcript and Ben-Veniste.

    According to the transcript, Tenet told Rice there were signs that there could be an al-Qaeda attack in weeks or perhaps months, that there would be multiple, simultaneous attacks causing major human casualties, and that the focus would be U.S. targets, facilities or interests. But the intelligence reporting focused almost entirely on the attacks occurring overseas, Tenet told the commission.

    It was at this session that Tenet said "the system was blinking red," which became a chapter title in the commission report, according to the official who saw the transcript. [in full]

    Yet the relevant info never made it into the report.

    In combination with the August 2001 PDB, this is pretty damning. From a lens looking at the WH and the 9/11 Commission who both failed to report it to the public

    Posted by Geoff

    14 [UPDATED]

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    The number of US military personnel killed this month as of 3 October.

    I hope this peace plan has teeth!

    [UPDATE] Chip just couldn't resist. He says,
    You know, it's one think [sic] to debate policy.

    It's another entirely to put up smarmy little posts celebrating the deaths of people who gave their lives to make sure he has the right to be such an asshat.

    Really, you're a dipshit.

    Jeez, I hope a peace plan works in the face of mass killings of Americans, and I get called a dipshit by a conservative Republican.

    My only crime, I guess, was reporting the news. My bad...

    One question, does this kind of personal attack count as someone unsuccessfully attempting to crush dissent?

    Posted by Geoff

    02 October 2006

    Rice DID receive warning that she denied... or forgot... or...

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    And so did John Ashcroft, contradicting prior statements, it would seem.

    While disputing the claims made in Woodward's new book, Dr. Rice and John Ashcroft both have said that they either didn't get a warning from George Tenet, didn't remember it, or that the warning wasn't of imminent threat to the Country.
    "What I am quite certain of is that I would remember if I was told, as this account apparently says, that there was about to be an attack in the United States, and the idea that I would somehow have ignored that I find incomprehensible," Rice said.

    But now, the State Department has concluded that in a "...review of White House records ... George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, did brief Condoleezza Rice and other top officials on July 10, 2001, about the looming threat from Al Qaeda".

    According to two former intelligence officials, Mr. Tenet told those assembled at the White House about the growing body of intelligence the Central Intelligence Agency had collected pointing to an impending Al Qaeda attack.

    To her credit, and perhaps proof that she was misleading us a little, Dr. Rice actually acted on the intel and had Tenet brief AG John Ashcroft and Sec. of Def. Don Rumsfeld.

    But earlier today, John Ashcroft said "...how disappointing it was that they didn't come to me with this type of information".

    So what have we here?

    Posted by Geoff

    Is Afghanistan 1/7 as important as Iraq? [UPDATED]

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    I know "Iraq is the central front in the War on Terror," which seriously underestimates numerous threats to attaining our goal of containing and/or eliminating the Jihadists, but is Afghanistan not important at all? Reason I ask is because developments there of late should alarm the entire spectrum here in the States and in the free West, et cetera... in general.

    First there is the Waziristan Accord. Here is a more recent assessment of the situation in the NWFP of Pakistan.

    Second, as John points out, the British may have made a secret deal with the Taliban in Southern Afghanistan after facing fierce opposition from Taliban forces.

    Finally, Bill Frist concludes today that we need to support efforts to bring the Taliban into the new Afghanistan government. "[I]f that's accomplished, we'll be successful" he says.

    I don't know that I'd call that a success, would you? Let's at least get them to quit killing people first, or flip moderate entities within the Taliban to push for some change in course from within the group to bring them into the political fold. May not be possible, and may have already been tried...

    I have serious concerns that if they are brought into the weak Afghanistan government, then they'll destroy it and with it all progress made. And is a Taliban -- or even a neoTaliban -- in Afghanistan acceptable in any way, anyway?

    [UPDATED] Dr. Frist didn't like how that sounded either. But still, Afghanistan has a lot of work to do and should get more attention, IMO.

    Posted by Geoff

    When was our fate set for the fiasco in Iraq?

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    A question that will be debated for a long time, but it is quite evident that the war was planned, and the plan activated, long before diplomatic avenues were exhausted.

    We all remember Paul O'Neill who revealed that, then newly inaugurated, President bush pushed for the plans to "invade Iraq within days" after taking office. Well before 11 September 2001; but just before then National Security Advisor Rice was warned about a possible attack by George Tenet and Bush received the infamous PDB of August 2001 entitled "Bin Laden determined to strike in US." But I digress...

    But who cares right? O'Neill was an ex-administration official who may have an axe to grind so he doesn't count, right? R i g h t... And Rice and Bush both forgot about the warnings so that's all kosher as well. O K...

    Then Woodward came along in '04 with a book that the White House proclaimed, according to CNN's John King, people should "...read the book." Because "[t]hey believe it shows - it paints the picture of a president who asks the right questions, the tough questions, before going to war and then decided that he was right in launching that war." Dr. Rice gushed about the publication of the new Woodward book stating "He is terrific. He's a great journalist, and I look forward to reading it." This same book also concluded that planning for the invasion of Iraq began in December 2001, apparently without planning for the occupation, and was in no going back mode by January 2003.

    Now, and john beat me to it, emails between Rove and Abramoff reveal that a year before going to war with Iraq, the plans were set. A lobbyist knew before the public or most of Congress.

    But the question stands unanswered, when was the war actually planned and operational and why were we told it wasn't?

    Posted by Geoff

    "dead on"

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    If you can't criticize a Representative pursuing a 16 year-old page and your leadership apparently covering it up, there is absolutely no hope that you'll be able to do so with more complicated issues such as Iraq and detainee torture. I make this point with respect to both the conservative bloggers and those in Congress who covered this story up. Go team.

    I thought you people got freaked out about sex. (See: Monica Lewinski, gay marriage, etc.) What's counter-balancing that in this story for you?

    Simple: You can't leave behind the team mentality long enough to be honest about these issues. Even with yourself. This story, which should push all your buttons, is about a team member.

    The broader point, apart from the Foley news, is that the silly cheerleading has supplanted any real analysis of policy, of what's right and wrong. It's much more akin to the guy at Williams Brice stadium screaming his lungs out for his beloved "Cocks" than it is to anything the founding fathers had in mind when they anticipated open policital debate. And it's hurting our country. [link]

    And if they can't protect a teenage page, how are we supposed to believe that they can protect America? Just saying...

    To be fair, there has been some criticism, but it's been selective and calculated.

    Posted by Geoff

    01 October 2006

    "State of Denial" - An appropriate title

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    Let's have a look at some of the revelations that Bob Woodward reveals in his new book "State of Denial". These points will certainly control much of the political discourse -- along side Foley's folly and the subsequent cover-up -- for the next week.

    FYI: Here is a summary of Woodward's article from today's WaPo (directly below this post).

    Some revelations:

    Two attempts were made on Rumsfeld's job. One was led by Andrew Card in '04 but was thwarted by Rove and Cheney for political reasons. The book also claims that another effort was supported by Laura Bush and made in '05; this is said to be untrue by Tony Snow. The first account was not commented on or denied. [link, link]

    Woodward describes Rumsfeld as a "bully and control freak" who is unwilling to take responsibility for his actions. [link]

    The book reports that American commander for the Middle East, Gen. John P. Abizaid, told visitors to his headquarters in Qatar that "'Rumsfeld doesn't have any credibility...' to make a public case for the American strategy for victory in Iraq." [link]

    A NY Times book review paints Bush as a "passive, impatient, sophomoric and intellectually incurious leader, presiding over a grossly dysfunctional war cabinet." It continues to point out the all to apparent "religious certainty" that places him "in a state of willful denial about the worsening situation in Iraq" making him unwilling to reassess his many failures in the War. A trait mimicked by his followers.

    Mr. Woodward reveals an instance in July 2001 where CIA chief George Tenet and his counterterrorism coordinator were "brushed off" during an attempt to warn Dr. Rice -- then National Security Advisor -- of a possible terrorist attack. The book describes Tenet as feeling like she didn't understand the threat that was being described to her. Tenet's counterterrorism coordinator is quoted saying of this meeting with Dr. Rice, "The only thing we didn't do was pull the trigger to the gun we were holding to her head." This memo was possibly hidden from the 9/11 Commission by Bush officials, which is a cover-up. [link, link, link]

    Woodward describes the inner circle of the Bush Administration as unable to speak truth to Bush and other power-wielders within. He describes the management of the administrations war on Iraq as similar to a "pickup basketball game" while deceiving the public on the truths taking place within Iraq. [link]

    The book describes the top Iraq advisor on the National Security council, Robert D. Blackwill, and L. Paul Bremer III, then the top American official in Iraq, requesting more troops for Iraq. The response from the White House was nothing. [link]

    Woodward describes the presence of former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger in frequent discussions with Bush on foreign policy effectively giving the former Nixon official a retry at the Vietnam War. This is likely where Bush got the 'stay the course' rhetoric. [link, link]

    Woodward points out an instance where Dr. Rice (NSA) was complaining to Bush about the Secretary of Defense not returning her phone calls, meanwhile Bush and Karl Rove exchanged fart jokes. [link]

    Woodward reported that the Joint Chief's intelligence division circulated an intelligence estimate that concluded that violence in Iraq would continue and increase, along with painting a bleak future for oil production, electricity generation and the political situation in Iraq. [link]


    I doubt "State of Denial" will be recommended on any Bush websites, as Woodward's other books have been. That must be because they're in a "State of Denial."

    For instance:
    Rice: He is terrific. He's a great journalist, and I look forward to reading it. He's talking about a pretty complex set of discussions about military issues and diplomatic issues, and I'm sure it will be - be fantastic. [04/25/04]

    Dan Bartlett: We're urging people to buy the book. What this book does is show a president who was asking the right questions and showing prudence as well as resolve during very difficult times. This book undermines a lot of the critics' charges. [04/21/04]
    (h/t ThinkProgress)

    Posted by Geoff

    A tale of two stories, one from Woodward and another from them

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    Bob Woodward took the front page in Sunday's WaPo and revealed a little bit of Rumsfeldian shenanigans, among other things. After the formation of the so-called unity government in Iraq, Administration officials, in their delusional and disconnected way, asserted that "the forces of terror [had begun] their long retreat" and other rose-colored rhetoric so common from the White House and Pentagon. However, a secret intelligence document was circulating a few days later that said otherwise. It forecasted an increase in violence, a deterioration of infrastructure, and a lack of political progress. In hindsight the forecast was pretty accurate.

    Then, and now, reality was not convenient for Administration officials. Just days after the intelligence assessment came out -- and before that, Bush's claim of freedom gaining foothold gibberish -- the Pentagon, as required by law, delivered a report that flat out lied to Congress, reporting the opposite of what the intelligence document said.

    That's but one of the revelations in Bob Woodward's damning expose in Sunday's Post.

    Another instance happened years before. It began with what Jay Garner called "three tragic decisions" all made by L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer who was sent by Rumsfeld to replace Garner early on in the occupation. [L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer is a Kissinger protege] The first, debathification; two, disbanding the standing (non-Republican Guard) army; and three, the dismissal of the Iraqi leadership group in favor of Bremer to be the face of the transitional government. [Talk about not understanding the region! If there is one thing Middle Easterners hate it's the impression of colonialism or imperialism. Pick which ever word you like best; Bremer was the epitome of it to the Iraqis.] Garner pleaded to Rumsfeld that the decisions were reversible. Rumsfeld, as expected, refused. "They didn't see it coming," Garner concluded, "[a]s the troops said, they drank the Kool-Aid." [Pat Lang is going to love that quote!]

    Continuing, on our Iraq strategy, or lack there of.

    Moving forward from '03 to '04, just about everyone with a conscience and not blinded by faith or loyalty to the Bush Administration had realized that Iraq was a fiasco. Then deputy National Security Advisor, Stephen J. Hadley, is quoted saying "If we have a military strategy, I can't identify it ... I don't know what's worse -- that they have one and won't tell us or that they don't have one" in reference to the Pentagon and the main policy makers in the White House.

    After the reelection of George Bush, in February 2005 now Secretary of State Rice sent a friend, Dr. Philip D. Zelikow to Iraq to get the facts. He returned with a long memo of observations and conclusions. He delivered this assessment, "[a]t this point Iraq remains a failed state shadowed by constant violence and undergoing revolutionary political change ... [the insurgency was] being contained militarily [but remained] quite active." It's been obvious for some time at this point that we were, and still are, locked in the Green Zone and unable to exert our authority outside of Baghdad effectively. Zelikow added that the "[m]obility of coalition officials is extremely limited, and productive government activity is constrained" noting that "the war can certainly be lost in Baghdad, but the war can only be won in the cities and provinces outside [of] Baghdad."

    The article continues to discuss the presence of Henry Kissinger in the White House and the so-called (by some, not Woodward, anyone in his piece or me) Vietnamization of Iraq.

    It goes into some depth regarding the views of Centcom commander Gen. Abizaid who is quoted in a discussion with old Army buddies saying that "[w]e've got to get the [expletive] out" of Iraq. When pressed on the strategy of winning in Iraq, Abizaid replied, "[t]hat's not my job" it's the job of "[t]he president and Condi Rice, because Rumsfeld doesn't have any credibility anymore."

    After Murtha came to the conclusion that we need to go through a process of redeployment of our troops in Iraq, Abizaid sought out the Pennsylvania Congressman and according to Murtha, "Abizaid raised his hand for emphasis, held his thumb and forefinger a quarter of an inch from each other and said, 'We're that far apart.'" If true, now we know why the usually hawkish Murtha came out for troop redeployment. And so many called him a traitor.

    This was a summary of Woodward's article in today's Post. Watch 60 Minutes for the TV version tonight, or any news channel for coverage all next week.

    Posted by Geoff

    Foley's folly fingers nearly a dozen Republicans

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    via Roll Call:
    As of Saturday evening, nearly a dozen House GOP lawmakers and staffers have acknowledged that they knew of the initial batch of non-sexually explicit messages from Foley to a 16-year-old former House page, some of them for a year or more. These include Hastert; Majority Leader John Boehner (Ohio); National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.); Reps. Rodney Alexander (La.) and John Shimkus (Ill.); Mike Stokke, the Speaker’s deputy chief of staff; Ted Van Der Meid, Hastert’s counsel; Paula Nowakowski, Boehner’s chief of staff; Jeff Trandahl, the former Clerk of the House; and another Hastert aide and Alexander’s chief of staff, according to public statements and GOP insiders.

    Christopher Shays, a Republican of Connecticut, concludes that "[i]f [any leader] knew or should have known the extent of this problem, they should not serve in leadership."

    Similarly, Rep Peter T. King of New York determined that “[a]nyone who was involved in the chain of information should come forward and tell when they were told, what they were told and what they did with the information when they got it.”

    Posted by Geoff


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