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    24 February 2007

    US Military Draws Line in Sand

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    This is a brief post for more -- and more discussion -- visit mypost at DailyKos (heh, actually made it to #2 on the reco list; that's a first)...

    From the UK Times Online:
    SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.

    Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

    “There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”

    Read on... More great reporting by Michael Smith.

    Posted by Geoff

    23 February 2007

    The SC Conservative I Know and Duncan Hunter - Part II

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    Talk about pandering to the worst of the worst. Duncan Hunter's recently appointed campaign co-chair thinks you're stupid if you believe in evolution and is virulently anti-Buddhist and Muslim. From May 1997:
    A state Board of Education member, talking Tuesday about displaying the Ten Commandments in public schools, had a ready suggestion for groups who might object to it.

    "Screw the Buddhists and kill the Muslims," Dr. Henry Jordan said during the board's finance and legislative committee meeting. "And put that in the minutes," he added.

    The remarks made Tuesday were expunged from the written minutes, but were recorded on tape. The (Columbia) State obtained the tape under the Freedom of Information Act.
    Jordan also said he didn't mean for his comments to be taken literally.

    "I was expressing my frustration. We can't teach basic Christianity even from a historical standpoint, but they can teach about Muslims and Buddhists," he said. "They can teach any kind of cult. Buddhism is a cult. So is Islam. I'm getting a little tired of it."
    "What I want to do is promote Christianity as the only true religion," he said. "This nation was founded to worship, honor and glorify Jesus Christ, not Mohammed, not Buddha."

    Well Duncan's campaign is anemic country wide, but if he keeps this up he'll sure do well in the South.

    Posted by Geoff

    The SC Conservative I Know and Duncan Hunter

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    Via Thinkprogress.org
    Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) yesterday named the South Carolina advisers to his presidential campaign. One of them, Lois Eargle, boasted about her hard-line views on immigration, explaining that when "an illegal immigrant with three children came to her office this week asking for free legal help for an abused child," she told the immigrant to "get back to Mexico." Another Hunter adviser, Dr. Henry Jordan, declared last year, "I mean you’ve got to be stupid to believe in evolution, I mean really."

    What wackos! I guess they are also part of the 44% of SC Republicans who don't think global warming is happening either...

    It's a good thing that illegal immigration -- or evolution -- is hardly on the radar screen in terms of the 2008 election issues and priorities. Especially with the 10 year surge the course Bush has proposed. Otherwise Rep. Hunter (2%) might stand a chance...

    More on Henry Jordan to come...

    Posted by Geoff

    22 February 2007

    SC Conservatives Join the Mainstream

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    Well at least in one respect...
    A majority of Republican voters in South Carolina believe global warming is occurring, but is a problem people can resolve, according to a new survey.

    Ayres, McHenry and Associates surveyed 500 Republicans likely to vote in the 2008 presidential primary. It found most respondents support a cap on carbon emissions and incentives for companies to stay below the carbon pollution limit.
    According to the survey of 500 South Carolina residents likely to vote in the 2008 Republican presidential primary:

    -56 percent of potential presidential primary voters think global warming is happening

    -53 percent believe it is possible to reduce the effects of global warming

    -81 percent think the United States should take action to reduce carbon dioxide coming from cars, factories and power plants.

    -53 percent supported a plan to cap carbon emissions and allow companies beneath the carbon limit to sell pollution credits to companies over the limit.

    -Nearly 9 out of 10 Republican primary voters say environmental issues are somewhat important

    Posted by Geoff

    The British Withdrawal

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    As we've all heard Tony Blair has decided to begin the redeployment of his military out of Southern Iraq. We've also heard that this is some sort of validation of sound policy or a form progress in Iraq. I won't comment on that point of view because it's stupid. But what I will imply is that this makes the situation we are "surging" our troops into even more difficult. I'll do this by linking to a memo from Wayne White, a senior member of the State Departments Bureau of Intelligence and Research, obtained by Col. Pat Lang and posted to his blog. First the reality of the situation in Southern Iraq:
    The south is not as has been portrayed in some upbeat UK and US official comments today. Southern Iraq is a very much troubled region where most localities are dominated by militias (sometimes rival militias), governance (to the extent governance linked to Baghdad exists at all beyond the symbolic in large areas) is tenuous, security forces are in most cases far more loyal to militias (often local, semi-autonomous militia elements) than legal authorities (such as the mayor of Basrah), criminality (including large-scale oil & fuel smuggling) is endemic, and low-level assassinations of the relatively few Sunni Arabs still present there is ongoing. When, late last year, British forces attempted to turn over a major base to the Iraqi military (and more bases are to be left behind as UK forces phase out), it was thoroughly looted.

    Levels of overall violence are dramatically lower in the south only because of the area's relatively homogenous Shi'a population and its distance from Sunni Arab insurgent strongholds to the north, not significant advantages in governance and the deployment of security forces loyal to formal civil authority. As British forces gradually pull out, the south will likely fall deeper into misgovernance, militia domination and crime.

    Sorry Mr. Cheney but this is the reality of the situation. The Brits were taking fire yesterday, they took fire today and they'll be takeing fire in the future as they pull out. It's understandable that they want to leave Iraq. They want to fight al Qaeda, they want to fight the War on Terror; not police intra-sectarian tensions.

    But what does this mean for the US? Two things:
    1) Our means of supplying our forces is vulnerable, and

    2) so is our path of exit.

    Back to Wayne White:
    The current problem of resupply from Kuwait aside, when US forces pull out of Iraq (and this is a "when," not an "if," by anyone's definition), it could prove difficult to move large numbers of personnel and millions of tons of weapon systems, equipment and supplies through this volitile area (an otherwise preferred route). In addition, the seemingly inevitable damage to bases and airfields left behind by the British probably would further complicate the issue of withdrawal for the US.

    If all this weren't enough, the current Baghdad surge (an iffy proposition to begin with) also may well be affected adversely. For example, Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army has a large presence in the south--even near-control in some neighborhoods and localities. To the extent Sadr's organization and its Mahdi Army are pressured in Baghdad, and with the British presence thinning in the south, many leaders and cadres can simply take refuge with even greater ease beyond the effective reach of US forces and what passes for a government in Baghdad for the duration of the surge.

    Let me end by reminding the reader that the State Departments Bureau of Intelligence and Research was the only member of the intelligence community (IC) that got the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq correct and/or they were the only ones with the balls to actually voice their concerns.

    Posted by Geoff

    Blaming Murtha: A Straw Man, No Plan, and Intellectual Ignorance

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    I was turned on to a post at Chip's blog (h/t Postscripts) that went through a typical laundry list of complaints about Democrats (particularly Rep. Murtha), liberals, and -- well -- most of America nowadays.

    It starts out by claiming that Rep. Murtha wants to fail in Iraq. "[H]e makes it quite obvious that defeat is the object of his desire. In fact, in an online interview, this is what he had to say about his new "funding standards..." Chip asserts, going on to quote the Congressman from an article he found. Well this "online interview" is actually a quote in an article by conservative blowhard Robert Novak and reads like so:
    In his interview, Murtha, chairman of the appropriations subcommittee on defense, did not hide the purpose of setting standards for training, equipping and resting troops: "They won't have the equipment, they don't have the training and they won't be able to do the work."

    Well that is the power allotted to the House to check the president’s power in a time of war and when arrogance trumps advice and reality, then desperate times call for desperate measures. But context is key here as well; Murtha could well have been saying that the administration hasn't provided the proper equipment or training to do the work in Iraq. The work that, I'll remind everyone, the military wasn't and isn't supposed to be doing at this point in history or ever. That aside, we do not know because, as mentioned, the "online interview" is MIA and exists at this point as a quote in a Robert Novak column.

    Chip continues to create a liberal/Democratic straw man for him to beat around a little. You know the usual claim of a "far, far, far left" who hate America. After that fun, he admits that "...everything we've tried since Shock and Awe has been lackluster at best, and miserable failure at worst. ... We know that what we were doing was not working." He continues to advocate that we stay the new course and play in the sand potentially until we are monetarily insolvent, completely owned by China, and/or overrun by the terrorists of our own creation. All this because we need to win in Iraq...

    So here is the question, what are the means to a win here? And how will putting under-supplied and under-prepared troops in the theater with basically the same mission as we have given them in the past fix this mess; especially when they are under-supplied and under-prepared? Note that this is NOT a result of an act of Congress but by inaction by the Department of Defense, since March of 2003; and note that they are immersed in a mess NOT created by Murtha and liberals but by the incompetence of this administration, the DoD, and those who supported them. The point many are making is that we have been starving our troops of the resources that they need throughout this war and the Democratic Congress is now going to make sure that if troops are sent into Iraq or anywhere, they be properly prepared and equipped. This is a common sense notion and if they are not prepared and equipped then that is an administrative failure that is in the national interest to address prior to putting our soldiers in harms way.

    Back to the new plan, it seems that until you have an actual plan that has some chance of success (by saying this, I’m stating that I believe that if we could muster enough man power to match the recommendations of the counterinsurgency manual, then we would be looking at a statistical chance of military success; at least one worth looking into provided we reassess what the final result in Iraq will look like and lose the rose-colored glasses), advocating for the redeployment of the main if not only means this administration is willing to use to fight the WoT to the sidelines and away from someone else's civil war might be a pertinent choice. NO war has ever had the characteristic of total and complete victory or perfection; and anyone who says otherwise or hopes for this end is, well, they are "delusional". The fundamental problem is that no level of military successes will ever win this war. There has to be political progress and the likelihood of that happening is slim, even with zero or a million troops in Iraq.

    Now, what is so bad about stating the obvious, cutting our losses and continuing to fight the real WoT rather than fueling it by refereeing a civil war? Pride should not be a variable here and neither should the fear tactic that claims that if we do redeploy out of Iraq then we loose the WoT. That is childish. We can still act in Iraq w/out having 150k troops there; in fact the government there will probably be begging for it as it faces its own realities that it has been able to ignore for months now. Furthermore, once we're out of there, al Qaeda will loose a major rational for being there, along with a huge recruiting tool, and the Shi'a will loose the 'crutch' they've been using to further consolidate their power. A compromise then becomes a logical/rational avenue to address the issue, especially when the outside interests engage the problem rather than watching it from the sidelines. Could this all end up in a regional war, of course. I've been saying that this will ultimately end up as such since 2002; our presence is delaying the inevitable. But at least this course offers some hope and not the preservation of the status quo which has failed so far.

    Finally, let's be honest; the ONLY valid reason Iraq can be characterized as the center stage in the WoT is because it is in the middle of the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia; the real threats to our national interest are in no way dependent on the situation in Iraq, be it good or bad; and the presence of al Qaeda and more importantly its ideology in any country worldwide is a given until you address the rational of that ideology instead of validating it.

    I'm not supporting a redeployment, withdrawal, or an escalation. I'm just wondering what the plan is here? Besides, of course, that goal of shifting blame and supporting failed policies, which Chip, et al. have done so masterfully since 2003.

    Posted by Geoff

    20 February 2007

    Following the Accused Terror Financing Republican Fundraiser

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    Since the blogosphere is ahead on this story lets go through the latest (here is a good place to get caught up).

    The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has released a statement reading
    We are extremely concerned and disturbed by these charges but we need to be careful not to rush to judgment as the judicial process moves forward. If the individual in question is actually found guilty of a crime, it is our intent to donate the money to charity. (h/t TPM)

    So they'll just hold on to the money until guilt is found. Much like the last member of a Republican group that was charged with aiding and abetting terrorist, they'll wait. Fair enough, but...

    Wait is there a cycle here?! You ask, you bet!

    The LA Times reported in 2005 (via TPMmuckraker; more from The Agonist):
    Before his federal indictment this week [Yasith Chhun] had raised $6,550 for the National Republican Congressional Committee and was invited to sit on the group's Business Advisory Council, which has tens of thousands of members nationwide, said Carl Forti, a spokesman for the committee....

    Chhun attended the annual meeting of the National Republican Congressional Committee's business advisory council in Washington, D.C., last year. [NRCC Spokesman Carl] Forti said the committee did not know Chhun's group had been designated a terrorist organization, saying it was impossible to do background checks on all its members.

    Clearly now might be a good time to do some checking, guilty or not. We know they have the resources and capacity.

    Paul Kiel reports that Chhun's trial will start next month. In the meantime that cash is safe in Republican coffers; along with Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari.

    But back to Alishtari. Josh Marshall dug up some more muck on the defendant, including this press release from the NRCC Business Advisory Council highlighting the "crucial role" he'll play in the NY Republican party. Marshall also notes that on Alishtari's site he "..apparently had copies of signed photos from President Bush as well as a note from President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush thanking Alishtari for contributing to the Republican party."

    The TPM Media researchers have been all over this. Props and thanks!

    Posted by Geoff

    Iraq War Winners and a Timetable?

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    Foreign Policy has its new issue up online (limited for those w/o subscriptions) of the 10 winners of the US occupation of Iraq. The list includes states, people, NGOs, and other 'entities.' The list goes as follows with links if the essay is open to the public:
    1. Iran

    2. Moqtada al-Sadr (who office has been -- claimed to have been -- attacked by US and Iraqi forces)

    3. al Qaeda (Duhhh)

    4. "mad man" Samuel Huntington

    5. China

    6. Arab Dictators (Duhh, goes hand in hand with #7)

    7. The price of oil

    8. The UN

    9. Old Europe (an early Rumsfeld blunder)

    10. Israel

    So out of that we get 2: Israel, and we helped the Arab dictators which are our closest allies in the region. This war should be the the new definition of a foreign policy disaster.

    FP doesn't say it so bluntly but it points out that the ultimate price to one of the -- in my honest opinion -- biggest loser -- behind only the Iraqi people perhaps -- is the US tax payer.
    The White House estimated that the Iraq war would cost $50 billion. Today, it’s closing in on 10 times that amount. And those are just the costs we know about.

    On a somewhat related note, the BBC is anticipating the UKs timetable for withdrawal from Iraq as early as Wed (21 February 2007).

    Mainstream Media Finally Picks Up Republican Terror Donor Story

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    Took them long enough...

    Posted by Geoff

    Big day for me with respect to politics

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    I just, literally, met and spoke briefly with James Clyburn. I told him how my parents were family friends with John Boehner; I went to high school with his daughter. He had nice things to say about Boehner, a golfing buddy; but qualified that by saying "...for a Republican."

    And earlier we heard a Turkish delegation speak. no surprise that their politics are quite contentious when compared to ours. But they were civil; no fistfights broke out. However, one of the members went as far as blaming the US for arming Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) with heavy weapons. Now I'm not often in the position to defend our foreign policy but that, to me, is a ridiculous claim.

    Back to school...

    Posted by Geoff

    19 February 2007

    White House Committee Member - Terrorist Links?

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    Via the Cunning Realist playing on the post below:
    ..."GlobalProtector.Net", one of the companies listed on this CV (link), claimed to have "provided a product demonstration for the United States SouthCom in Miami, Florida." Here's the news release. A few months later, according to another news release here, "Chief Executive Officer Mr. AT Alishtari authorized a new Boca Raton, Florida Office sales team of under a new Federal Sales EVP with web technical support from GlobalProtector.Net’s Chief Technical Group Director, Mr. Romel Roberts, to meet with the US Department of Defense covering web filter technology for various uses internally and those meetings were met favorably in general for the agenda set forth by the Department of Defense for those items."

    Both of those news releases are from 2003 -- the same year this person says he was appointed to the "White House Business Advisory Committee" and became a "US National Republican Senate Inner Circle Member for Life."

    Oh, and be sure to check out this news release, noting particularly the references to "anthrax patents" and "Homeland Security."

    White House press corps, over to you....

    What did they know, when did they know it?

    Posted by Geoff

    18 February 2007

    Republican "Emboldening the Enemy" | White House Connections

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    This is a far more serious charge than the typical rhetoric that emanates from Republican politicians (like the Congressman who uses fake Lincoln quotes in a lame attempt to ignore the obvious), pundits, and operatives about Democrats. No, this time it appears to be serious and based on reality.

    Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari, 53, of Ardsley, N.Y., pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to an indictment accusing him of terrorism financing, material support of terrorism and other charges. The charges carried a potential penalty of 95 years in prison.

    On NewsMeat I found this:

    (Click to go to Newsmeat)

    And CBS dug up this...
    CBS News has confirmed that Alishtari is a donor to the Republican Party, as he claims on his curriculum vitae. Alishtari gave $15,500 to the National Republican Campaign Committee between 2002 and 2004, according to Federal Election Commission records. That amount includes $13,000 in 2003, a year when he claims to have been named NRCC New York State Businessman of the Year.

    Alishtari also claims to be a lifetime member of the National Republican Senate Committee's Inner Circle, which the NRCC describes as "an impressive cross-section of American society – community leaders, business executives, entrepreneurs, retirees, and sports and entertainment celebrities – all of whom hold a deep interest in our nation's prosperity and security."

    I've sent a question to the "inner circle" asking if all members "embolden the enemy." I'm eagerly awaiting their reply.


    In a later addition, the Cunning Realist (h/t TPM) finds the defendants purported CV and notes:
    Now check out this CV posted by someone with the same name (note: I have no idea if it's authentic or represents the same person) which notes a 2003 appointment to the "White House Business Advisory Committee."

    Note the entrepreneurial business background with a focus on technology/security. Have any of those businesses ever received government contracts or funds? Any direct or indirect contact in the past with anyone from the Bush administration or Congress?

    Soooo... we'll see where this goes but if the defendant was committing and/or under investigation for fraud as pointed out in the AP coverage and was close to the White house as the CV suggests, then we're back where we often end up with this administration: What did they know and when did they know it?

    [Final Update]
    Josh Marshall points us to what may be the defendant's blog: Alishtari's blog (which is now offline). It talks about some supposed connection with VP Cheney:
    ...in a rather rambling post there's a reference to an alleged meeting with VP Dick Cheney. "When I went to DC in the Fall of 2003 and met with VP Cheney, I was first in a room full of advisors where I asked how to resolve this and they advised me to talk to counsels which led to this solution."

    So we have a NRCC champion, VP Cheney friend, and a national security related contractor allegedly donating money to terrorist. This... this would be a problem.


    Additional media coverage:

    The Blotter
    The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) won't say what it plans to do with thousands of dollars in campaign donations it received from an accused terror financier...

    NY Post (no mention of Republican connections)

    Reuters (no mention)

    Newsday (no mention)

    The NY Journal News
    On his blog and on an MSN group titled "atalishtarispeeches," Alishtari calls himself a "conservative Republican" and a "Reagan Republican" devoted to peace, dedicated to halting child slavery as well as "Internet fraud, violence and online scams hurting innocent children, women, and families so help me God."

    CT Blog
    Elsewhere, on an Internet forum, Alishtari described himself as "ex-victim" of identity theft and claims the following, which might also havae a connection to his case: "Mr. Abdul Tawala Alishtari successfully stopped crooks using his good name but they still scammed hundreds of millions USD from innocents victims woldwide from their ID theft trying to blame anyone but themselves for their scams and ID theft done with impunity and hubris. In the specific case, the pertinent government authorities, in that instance, caught one felon who later on admitted his crime in written settlement. That agency, OSC, in Canada sent release letters to Mr. Alishtari's company."

    I wish I had time to pursue both of those statements.

    Alishtari was no simple businessman; he used his money, in part, to buy a seat at some interesting political tables, all Republican and all after the 9-11 attacks. He made $15,250 in political contributions to GOP entities between April 2002 and the end of 2004 (see the details here). A resume that he posted at MSN Groups boasts of membership in GOP groups open only to high-rollers. It would be interesting to determine which Congressmen and Bush Administration officials met with Alishtari and what they discussed, and whether his companies were awarded major federal government contracts in the past 5 years.


    Those freeper's got wind of this and then once the defendant was identified as a Republican they -- like nothing happened -- brushed it aside. I wonder why?

    Here is some of the defendants poetry.

    Posted by Geoff


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