Friday, August 29, 2003

So, a war based on hand-picked intelligence based on.......false tips?

Before the war, there were a lot of people questioning not only the accuracy of the WMD information, but the sources of this information. Could insiders lie about the quantity and location ofWMD for their own benefit, for their own place in the new regime? From the LA Times:

"WASHINGTON — Frustrated at the failure to find Saddam Hussein's suspected stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, U.S. and allied intelligence agencies have launched a major effort to determine if they were victims of bogus Iraqi defectors who planted disinformation to mislead the West before the war.

The goal, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official, "is to see if false information was put out there and got into legitimate channels and we were totally duped on it." He added, "We're reinterviewing all our sources of information on this. This is the entire intelligence community, not just the U.S."

The far-reaching review was started after a political firestorm erupted this summer over revelations that President Bush's claim in his State of the Union speech that Iraq had sought to import uranium from Niger was based on forged documents.

Although senior CIA officials insist that defectors were only partly responsible for the intelligence that triggered the decision to invade Iraq in March, other intelligence officials now fear that key portions of the prewar information may have been flawed. The issue raises fresh doubts as to whether illicit weapons will be found in Iraq.

As evidence, officials say former Iraqi operatives have confirmed since the war that Hussein's regime sent "double agents" disguised as defectors to the West to plant fabricated intelligence. In other cases, Baghdad apparently tricked legitimate defectors into funneling phony tips about weapons production and storage sites.

"They were shown bits of information and led to believe there was an active weapons program, only to be turned loose to make their way to Western intelligence sources," said the senior intelligence official. "Then, because they believe it, they pass polygraph tests ... and the planted information becomes true to the West, even if it was all made up to deceive us."

Critics had charged that the Bush administration exaggerated intelligence on Iraq to bolster support for the war. The broader question now is whether some of the actual intelligence was fabricated and U.S. officials failed to detect it."

Holy crap. Click on the above link and read this excellent piece.........So folks like Chalabi (whom the Iraqi's detest with a passion) repeatedly told the US what they wanted to hear, along with the nice little fairy tale about "remove Saddam, and everything will fall neatly into place."

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

"Mission Accomplished"

The above phrase was spelled out in large letters on a banner behind Bush as he declared the end to combat actions in Iraq on that aircraft carrier many months ago. We have now had more soldiers die since he made that statement than the time before his "Top Gun" landing.....

"BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The number of U.S. service members who have died in Iraq since the end of the major phase of the war now surpasses the toll in the first phase of the conflict.

U.S. Central Command said a 3rd Corps Support Command soldier was killed Tuesday and two were wounded in an improvised explosive device attack on a military convoy near the town of Hamariyah.

The town is between Fallujah and Ar Ramadi.

The number of war dead after the major conflict was declared over May 1 by President George W. Bush is now at 139, surpassing the 138 U.S. service members to die during the first phase of warfare.

Between March 20, when the war began, and May 1, 138 U.S. service members died, according to the U.S. military.

Meanwhile, UK-based charity and relief organization Oxfam said Tuesday it has pulled its 10-member international staff from Iraq because of security concerns."

The Color of Money

After being told by the Bush administration that Iraq's vast oil reserves would help pay for the reconstruction, it turns out that surprise, surprise, it is going to cost a hell of a lot more to rebuild that country than was forecasted!

"Bremer said Iraqi revenue will not nearly cover the bill for economic needs "almost impossible to exaggerate." Just to meet current electrical demand will cost $2 billion, Bremer said, while a national system to deliver clean water will cost an estimated $16 billion over four years.

The figures, which must be added to the $4 billion the Pentagon (news - web sites) spends each month on military operations in Iraq, offer the latest evidence that the price of the Iraqi occupation is growing substantially. A State Department official said the Bush administration is preparing to seek a "huge" supplemental spending bill from Congress. Administration sources also said the U.S.-controlled Coalition Provisional Authority is running so low on funds that the White House is considering seeking an emergency infusion next month to cover the organization's bills.

Bremer's comments, in an interview with Washington Post reporters and editors, came on a day when the Congressional Budget Office (news - web sites) said the federal government will post a record deficit next year of $480 billion. Wary of revealing specifics, neither Bremer nor President Bush (news - web sites) -- who referred to "substantial" new costs in a St. Louis speech -- would give details."

Do you all remember what Dubya campaigned on? Besides chastising Gore for supporting "nation building" with US troops, he told everyone that he was a "uniter, not a divider" and that he felt that the US should never act arrogant in the eyes of the world, lest we lose face. Guess what? Those are solid statements! Bush has acted 180 degrees from his campaign promises, telling the world that either you "are with us or against us." And when the rest of the world told Bush to slow down, show us more proof about the WMD issue, Dubya basically gave the world the finger as he rode off on his high horse.

Well, the chickens are coming home to roost, as we are pouring billions of dollars into Iraq, Afganistan with no end in sight. We need the support of our allies and the world, both financially and spiritually. The more we act like Romans guarding the latest outpost in our Empire, the more we lose credibility with the world, and the Iraqi people. We need a multilateral force with experts from all nations willing to quickly rebuild the infrastructure of Iraq: electrical grids, water, hospitals, etc. To act like a spoiled kid who won't share his toys is just wrong.

Monday, August 25, 2003

New Blog from Iraq
Came across this blog posted by a 24-year old woman living in Iraq........

Oh, this will work.......

So now we're recruiting Mukhabarat members in Iraq???? That very name will bring back some nasty memories for the Iraqi people.....According to the Washington Post:

"While not disclosing how they check the operatives, U.S. officials said they believed some agents remained "fairly untainted" by Hussein's government. But they said they recognized the potential pitfalls in relying on an instrument loathed by most Iraqis and renowned across the Arab world for its casual use of torture, fear, intimidation, rape and imprisonment.

"We have to be very careful in how we vet them, in how we go through their backgrounds," the senior American official said. "We don't want to put a cancer right in the middle of this."

Yeah, wouldn't want to do that.........

"Give him a break!"

I've heard that from many folks who think that everyone is too hard on Bush, trying to play "gotcha!" with the facts and figures, as once was the charge about Dubya's dad.....here's an example:

"I think I've answered the question, and yes, [Arnold Schwarzenegger] would be a good governor, as would others running for governor of California. Like you, I'm most interested in seeing how the process evolves. It's a fascinating bit of political drama evolving in the state -- in the country's largest state." Dubya, Crawford, Texas, Aug. 13, 2003

Of course most third-graders know that Alaska is the largest state, followed by Dubya's own Texas, then California. Is that nit-picking? Are we so obsessed with perfection that we don't allow anyone any slack? Do we all make mistakes? Of course we do, but this is only a small fragment of Bush's dislexicon...there are literally hundreds of websites devoted to recording Bush's butchering the English language, even folks suggesting that he has a serious reading or learning disability. All that aside, my point about all of this is:

This fellow campaigned for the job, fought hard for the job, and was elected (oops, sorry! selected!) for the Presidency of the United States! This isn't a part-time summer job, and so I think most people would expect a president to be chugging huge cups of coffee, cramming every weeknight as if a test on middle-east politics was coming up. I'm not expecting Bush to be instantly verbose, speaking Latin as he questions God in a church (as seen on West Wing, our fantasy ideal of a well-educated president), but dammit man! At least act like you're trying to learn on the job!

The last solo news conference he held was just his ninth......his ninth! During the same span of time in office, Clinton held 30-plus solo news conferences, and Bush Sr. held over 60!

All I'm saying is that I would love a President to one day, during a press conference, come out and say, "You know, this Country has made plenty of bonehead foreign policy mistakes. I'm going to review exactly what has happened, where we might make changes, and admit error. As a humble nation, it is the least we can do." Ha! Don't hold your breath on that.....

Friday, August 22, 2003

More on the Dubya Action Doll!!

"It's true. It's real. The Bush action figure is a genuine serious item and not, as you would fully expect, a joke, not a parody, not necessarily meant to be a gag gift you would give to your favorite rabid pro-military war aficionado to make them cheer and stroke the flag and sigh wistfully for a time when men were men and Uzis were legal.

There he is, all faux manly and squinty and artificially buffed up, his gull-wing ears toned down and the thin-lipped brow-furrowed monkey confusion so common to his scrunched little face apparently erased by expert doll craftsmen and/or a drunken 50-cents-an-hour sweatshop employee somewhere in China."

Yep, we've all seen that "Action Doll" (or, more appropriately, "AWOL Doll") making the internet rounds.....go read the above article at the Smirking Chimp..........

Go check out Steve Gilliard's News Blog

"US Marine was killed in Hilla yesterday.

In the last few weeks, a Danish soldier died in preventing looting, a British officer was killed by an improvised explosive devise (IED) and now a Marine killed in Hilla, a Shia town 100 miles south of Baghdad.

This is bad news in the extreme. The war is moving to the Shia heartland and while the clerics are not asking for people to kill Americans, the guerrillas clearly have the ability to roam at will in their areas. That is no accident.

Time is running out. We're not talking next year any more. We're talking weeks. Once the weather cools down, the pace and number of guerrilla operations is likely to increase. With increasing hours of darkness, cooler weather and increasing anger, the Americans in Iraq could face more explosions, more attacks, more firefights.

Our friends, the Saudis, have been herding their extremists north to prevent an ongoing bombing campaign at home.

Anyone talking about years, or even months, isn't getting it."

Steve goes on to explore a frightening chain of possible events.....

Keeping Informed

In this "Fair and Balanced" world of agenda-driven misinformation, the best thing that any citizen can do is keep informed......is it a lot of work? Damn straight! It is much easier to sit back and let the news come to you, as little "News McNuggets" served up fresh for your pleasure. Take a look at the blogs on the right....these are some of my most-visited blogs out there because of their up-to-the-minute news items or fantastic writing (often both). If you've never vistited any of them, take a moment this morning and do so. Here's a brief rundown:
"BuzzFlash," "Cursor" and "Smirking Chimp" offers up links to the latest news items, with brief headline commentary.
"Daily Kos," "Steve Gilliard's News Blog," TomDispatch" and "Orcinus" all are excellent blogs, well-written and very insightful. This is just a tip of the iceburg of great writers who you would never see otherwise.
"This Modern World" is the blog of one of my favorite political cartoonists - Tom Tomorrow. I'll be adding additional cartoon sites later.

As I mentioned earlier, it is hard work to keep up with current events and place them in their historical context....exactly why are these things happening, and how in the hell can we learn from them? Isn't that what we adults are supposed to do? I've always considered Bush as a role model for bad parenting (if the US was his kid): offering up monetary bribes in the form of $400 checks to get us to like him, avoiding all blame whatsoever for mistakes, showing that, yes indeed, "might makes right" no matter what he told us when we were little kids! So where the hell are all of the adults?????

Thursday, August 21, 2003

testing, testing....

OK folks, here is the latest blog..............we'll tackle a wide range of subjects, from wildland fire issues to Carl Barks, with politics, religion and M.C. Escher in-between! I hope to stimulate some good discussions.............

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?