Friday, June 18, 2004

A Distraction?

For most of 2002, President Bush argued against the creation of the 9/11 Commission created saying the investigation would only distract his administration from the post-Sept. 11 War on Terrorism (c). Now to anyone who hasn't chugged down all the Bush Kool-Aid already knows that A)that never was the case and B)The commission have provided a much needed service to our country.

To remind readers, Bush opposed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in early 2002, then decided to do a 180 and use DHS to beat Democrats like Max Cleland over the head with in the fall. Bush also was opposed to the commission, first making that bogus non-argument above and secondly putting Henry Kissenger, who isn't exactly known for his penchant for Open Government, in charge. Both backfired and Bush did a 180 again.

Now the WH is upset that the 9/11 commission restated the obvious: THERE IS NO CONNECTION BETWEEN AL-QAIDA AND THE ATTACKS OF SEPTEMBER 11TH WITH SADDAM HUSSEIN Sorry about the caps, but appearantly 49% of the population still hasn't gotten the information. Even though their own anti-terrorism czar Dick Clarke told Bush repeatedly in 2002 and 2003 that there was nothing, as did Joe Wilson, they still flat out lied to the congress and the public in the "marketing" of going to war in Iraq. The sole example Cheney cited of "numerous contacts" between Hussein and Al Qaida was a meeting between a senior Iraq intelligence agent and bin Laden in Sudan in 1994, one that the commission said went nowhere. Why would an Islamic extremist and a securlarist get along?

The Times' Douglas Jehl's second key graph: "Far from a bolt from the blue, the commission has demonstrated over the last 19 months that the Sept. 11 attacks were foreseen, at least in general terms, and might well have been prevented, had it not been for misjudgments, mistakes and glitches, some within the White House." Some is putting it mildly, although I think the FAA and FBI stunk the most after reading the staff statements and watching the public hearings.

Former Gov. Thomas H. Kean of New Jersey, a Republican, and Lee H. Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana , deserve tons of credit for toning down the partisanship of the other panelists and getting the most information possible out of this secretive White House through subtle pushing and the help of the 9/11 families' media savvy.

Hats off to the staff too, whomever those toiling men and women are. While their bosses go on TV, they wade through thousands of pages of semi-classified stuff, memos, chatter, tapes, bureaucracy, and more. The families want to know more for sure, like why the radios didn't work between NYPD and NYFD that faithful day, but they surely got much more than they would have if Bush had had his way...Which would have exactly nothing.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

It's not just a river in Egypt anymore

Of course, I am talking about denial. Specifically, George W. Bush et al's refusal to face the facts on the utter lack of connections between Al Qaida and Saddam Hussein something that is obvious to slightly more than half the population (the other half voted for Bush in 2000 remember) and anyone in the intelligence community.

Maria Newman of the Times has this in the lede: " day after the commission investigating 9/11 reported that it had found no evidence of a 'collaborative relationship' between Al Qaida and Saddam Hussein, President Bush reiterated today that there were nonetheless links between the terror group and the Iraqi dictator.

"'The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and Al Qaida is because there was a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaida," Mr. Bush told reporters after a cabinet meeting today."

Such as? The truth is, all the wackos at AEI and other neoconservative think tanks can't find any proof that can stand up to the light of a table lamp, and the White House knows. Yet, they think they can still con John Q. Public (and not Jane, but Mr. White Male Middle Class voter in the exurbs) into thinking that was the reason for this horribbly botched occupation of Iraq.

Like the sand dunes in Saudi Arabia, the rationale for this war has shifted almost daily, each less credible than the next. And the most laughable one of them has floated back up the top because it seems to be the most powerful argument, if it were actually true (which it isn't).

Just sit back and think for a second. If were a secular, communist-lite despot of a 3rd world county sitting on a pile of oil (the 3rd largest proven reserves in the world) would A) make friends with Islamic radicals who want to sever Arabs ties to(what in their view is) the corrupting influence of crude that creates cozy relations with the "Infidels" in the West or B)Invade a weak nation with lost of oil to your south (which used to be part of your country many decades ago) and then use weapons or the threat of weapons to expand your control over the Middle East and become a much bigger despot.

Obviously, Saddam chose B...Isn't it what you would do if you liked money, power, writing romance novels, and letting your son strap electrodes to soccer players' testicles? If you chose A, you would have been invade 5 years ago at least and there would have a lot more evidence to prove it.

George W. Bush is a man of convictions alright. He becomes convinced of something, no matter what evidence presents himself, he will never change his mind. As long as he "knows in his heart" that it's true, then that should be good enough for the American people and world, even if its the most obvious and boldfaced lie the world has ever seen.

So why does Bush and Cheney still like to dust off and wheel out this old, tarnished lie? Because it scares the crap out of us and that's still what many of our poor soldiers believe who are dying to avenge 9/11 while getting shot at and blown up in Baghdad.

George W. Bush is a man of convictions alright. He becomes convinced of something, no matter what evidence presents himself, he will never change his mind. As long as he "knows in his heart" that it's true, then that should be good enough for the American people and world, even if its the most obvious and boldfaced lie the world has ever seen.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Alberto Desereto

WH Counsel Alberto Gonzales was, once upon a time, reportedly being considered and groomed for a seat on the Federal Bench and eventually even the Supreme Court. Supposidly he was on Bush's short list for a seat on the Supreme Court even.

Now he doesn't stand a chance in h-e-double hockey sicks in getting confirmed by the senate to be the President's Dog Catcher. Why? Slate's Alan Berlow explains:

"In the burgeoning Abu Ghraib prison scandal, Gonzales has surfaced as the author of one highly controversial memo and co-author of a second, both of which raise serious questions as to whether the president authorized or condoned the use of torture, a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. Although the president said he's only approved actions consistent with U.S. and international law, that hasn't settled the matter because the main thrust of the memos crafted by Gonzales as well as Justice, Defense, and intelligence agency lawyers, seems to have been to come up with justifications for torture within the law. It remains to be determined whether these memos, individually or collectively, provided the legal go-ahead for the policies that culminated in the abuses at Abu Ghraib. "

This wasn't the first time Gonzales had written currious legal opinions regarding international law. Back when Bush was governor of Texas, Alberto decided that these same Geneva Conventions didn't apply to the state of Texas, even though Texas is a part of the US via that whole constitution thing. The issue was a Mexican National who had put on Death Row and the Mexican Consolate in TX had never been notified of even his arrest. And just for fun, let me add that this man, Irineo Tristan Montoya, signed a English confession to brutally stabbing and murdering John Kilheffer in Brownsville, Texas, in 1985, despite the fact that he spoke only Spanish (he thought it was an imigration form, gee I wonder how he got that idea). By the way, two days after Gonzales' memo, Montoya was executed, over protestrations of Mexico and the State Department (even Albright herself tried to get involved). What's worse, Gonzales' interpetation of the constitution, or Bush's apparant repeated agreement with his interpetations?

Berlow sums up the longer term implications of Gonzales and Bush nicely: "Much more will be at stake if Gonzales' interpretation of the Constitution and international law is allowed to take root in the loosely defined war on terrorism. With the U.S. image worldwide at what may be an historic nadir, it is hard to imagine how a decision by the president to abrogate one of the cornerstones of international human rights law would either enhance that image or encourage other nations to shoulder any of the costs of the ongoing Iraq adventure. In the end, however, what is most important is what these memos say about who we are as a nation. If the president has, in fact, rationalized a decision to abandon the Geneva Conventions on Prisoners of War and the U.N. Convention Against Torture for the poisoned promise of torture, he should explain to the American public how that squares with this country's commitment to the most fundamental principles of justice and decency."

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Dick and Scooter's Haliburden

It seems that not only has no-bid contractee Haliburton overcharged the Pentagon for gasoline to the tune of $61 million (by buying it on the cheap in Kuwait and then charging several dollars more per gallon in the field in Iraq). But now the LA Times reports that the Department of Defense (DoD)'s Contract Audit Agency "found that Halliburton's system of billing the government for billions of dollars in contracts was 'inadequate in part,' failing to follow the company's internal procedures or even to determine whether subcontractors had performed work." And four Halliburton employees "signed statements charging that the company had routinely wasted money." Among the overcharges, the employees said that Halliburton had paid $45 for a case of soda, $100 "per bag of laundry" and had "abandoned nearly new, $85,000 trucks in the desert for lack of spare parts." Ex-Halliburton employee Marie De Young: "There was this whole thought process that we can spend whatever we want because the government won't crack down in the first year of a war."

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), (the guy who would be grilling the Bush administration into next Tuesday if the Democrats were in power in the House)on the reported involvement of Cheney's office with the Halliburton contracts: "He has insisted for months now that he and his office had nothing to do with the award of the sole source contract to Halliburton, and people in the administration have also insisted that this was done by the career people in the Army and not by political people. Well, we now have information from a briefing our staff received last week that, in fact the whole thing was brought to a meeting of the political appointees, including Scooter Libby, who is Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, and the reason it was brought to them is that they wanted to be sure that they didn't have any objection that they were going to go to Halliburton, even though there are other companies that could do the job. So I've written to Vice President Cheney and asked him for a full explanation."

More Waxman: "I've made no allegations. I'm simply reporting what the fellow that works for the Defense Department has told us in a meeting, that he brought this to Mr. Cheney's chief of staff, he brought it to the political people, and the decision was not made by the career people, but by the political people. So I've asked Vice President Cheney, without making any accusations about him, because we don't really know the truth at this point, we don't know the full story. But we do know that what he's been saying is inconsistent with the facts as we've now learned them."

CNN's Lou Dobbs responded: "Congressman Waxman, only in Washington could that be considered not an allegation, to suggest the facts are not in accordance with the statement. ... In other parts of the country, that could be called an outright lie"

So is Lou, who is on a personal cursade against job exporting companies, saying Cheney and Libby are liars? These are also the two who are under investigation by a grand jury for revealing the identity of Valerie Plame to scare ex-Ambassador Joe Wilson and others like him to reveal the truth about intelligence on Iraq. Something tells me these two are the center of all the bad things coming from this White House.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Best President in my life time, and Best First Lady

Prove me wrong Dubya, prove me wrong.
Quote of the Day

"Everybody knows that I've been given a gift by God, by God himself, to lead" -- ex-DC Mayor Marion Barry, announcing his DC Council bid (

Runner up

"It's to draw attention to the fact that the media wants to draw attention to naked people, but the fact that there's an illegal war going on is not important. Plus, it's really fun to ride your bike naked" -- World Naked Bike Ride spokesperson Sasha Webb

Go Granny D!

According to the Manchester Union Leader, 94-year-old Dorris "Granny D" Haddock (a big advocate of Campaign Finace Reform) and two others filed for the NH SEN Dem nod after the lone Dem "suddenly dropped out" ( Burt Cohen dropped out "after his campaign manager disappeared."

From the "Yeah Right" Department

There have been 17 car bombs in Iraq this month. And several members of the Iraqi Government (current and post-June 30th) have been either killed or targeted.

Meanwhile, a State Dept report claimed that said terrorist attacks worldwide had decreased in '03 According to the LA Times, Sec/State Colin Powell "blamed mistakes in data collection, not political considerations," for a "very embarrassing" report.

Sunday, June 13, 2004