Friday April 30, 2004

My semester's done, the sun is out, and I have little to talk about that has not already been discussed ad nauseum in other blogs or Air America Radio. I'll post again soon, I'm sure, but for now, read Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert.

Tuesday April 27, 2004

Krugman; Neiwert; 52 diplomats scold Tony Blair

Paul Krugman.

David Neiwert notes: "both Peter J. Schoomaker and William G. 'Jerry' Boykin, key players in the Iraq drama, were the same two men whose advice as Delta Force officers led to the FBI's use of the worst possible tactical approach at Waco. Schoomaker is Donald Rumsfeld's hand-picked Army chief of staff and one of the chief overseers of the Iraq occupation; Boykin -- whose bizarre religious comments last year sparked a brief controversy -- is the deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, the man charged with tracking down terrorist leaders and cracking down on insurgents in Iraq."

52 former British diplomats rebuke Tony Blair in an open letter:

The conduct of the war in Iraq has made it clear that there was no effective plan for the post-Saddam settlement. All those with experience of the area predicted that the occupation of Iraq by the coalition forces would meet serious and stubborn resistance, as has proved to be the case. To describe the resistance as led by terrorists, fanatics and foreigners is neither convincing nor helpful. Policy must take account of the nature and history of Iraq, the most complex country in the region. However much Iraqis may yearn for a democratic society, the belief that one could now be created by the coalition is naive.

Posted at 06:45 AM | Comments (2)

Monday April 26, 2004

Guantanamo detainees to be held indefinitely.

Bush's negligent war planning costs American lives.

Coalition adviser speaks out on bungled post-war planning.

Right-wing terrorists in our country -- gunning for liberals -- can't even make it onto the evening news. They're just going to have to try harder.

Posted at 08:36 AM | Comments (0)

One more week! One more paper!

Posted at 08:30 AM | Comments (0)

Saturday April 24, 2004

Shorter David Brooks on Columbine: Because Eric Harris was a psychopath, any consideration of Harris or Klebold's personal history is wrongheaded.

Posted at 07:42 AM | Comments (11)

The Oakland Tribune details Diebold's shenanigans in California:

Attorneys for Diebold Election Systems Inc. warned in late November that its use of uncertified vote-counting software in Alameda County violated California election law and broke its $12.7 million contract with Alameda County.

Soon after, a review of internal legal memos obtained by the Oakland Tribune shows Diebold's attorneys at the Los Angeles office of Jones Day realized the McKinney, Texas-based firm also faced a threat of criminal charges and exile from California elections.

Yet despite warnings from the state's chief elections officer, Diebold continued fielding poorly tested, faulty software and hardware in at least two of California's largest urban counties during the Super Tuesday primary, when e-voting temporarily broke down and voters were turned away at the polls.

Posted at 07:32 AM | Comments (0)

Thursday April 22, 2004

Tom Friedman has a palliative for Marc Andreesen's facile assessment of John Kerry's economic policies: Silicon Valley entrepeneurs complaining about Bush's myopic economic policy.

(To read that CNET article, start hitting your browser's stop button as soon as the page loads in. Otherwise CNET will forward you on to a new page stating that that article has "expired".)

Posted at 06:12 AM | Comments (0)

Information control

Remember that photo of the flag-draped coffins of the guys recently killed in Iraq?

The woman who photographed them was fired from her contract job at the cargo terminal of the Kuwait National Airport.

Posted at 05:50 AM | Comments (23)

Wednesday April 21, 2004

"Re-baathification"

Two generals in the field in Iraq fault the administration's "de-baathification" of the Iraqi army for the current strife. One says that "it creates a somewhat destabilizing effect." The generals "stopped short of criticizing the policy" of the administration.

There is apparently talk about re-enlisting some two- and three-star generals from the Iraqi Army, but the last paragraph of the article re-iterates how dire the situation is there:

"The problem for American commanders in the Sunni heartland is not just with re-employing former Baathists. American officials are battling a general sense of hopelessness that leads many young Iraqi men to take up arms against United States troops, out of anger or for hire."

Posted at 06:16 AM | Comments (2)

The U.S. Treasury is peddling word-for-word propaganda of the Republican National Committee:

From the US Treasury website, dated April 9, 2004:

"America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the President's policies are doing; or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation."

From the GOP website, dated April 2, 2004:

"America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the President's polices are doing; or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation."

Via Boing Boing, via Talking Points Memo.

Posted at 06:08 AM | Comments (12)

Tuesday April 20, 2004

Exhaustion of spirit

An idea that I've been struggling with for some time finds adequate expression in this paragraph from Lewis Lapham's latest editorial in Harper's:

Although I don't doubt that a society in which fewer and fewer people know how to think is probably easier to manage than one in which too many people ask too many questions for which they don't already know the answers, the flight into the self-referential landscapes of wish and dream doesn't hold out much promise for the American future. It speaks instead to the exhaustion of the spirit and intent that framed the Constitution.

Posted at 06:49 AM | Comments (4)

Sunday April 18, 2004

"It's the story of the 21st century," said Bush, out of the blue, to Bob Woodward, regarding his decision to go to war pre-emptively on Iraq.

Posted at 09:56 PM | Comments (0)

Update on the four Italian prisoners in Iraq

The boss of the four kidnapped Italians in Iraq describes the situation in a letter to Josh Marshall:

The guys were returning home to Italy from Baghdad via route 10 to Amman. I don't know why they thought they could make it and I am racked with guilt for not having been there to weigh in on such a simple decision ... it would have been NO! Fly royal Jordanian! Everyone would have gone home happy and safe. They and the other Italians who worked for us were/are consummate professionals and our staff loved them. I can only hope the others make it home in safety and this madness of abduction ends.

Posted at 03:35 PM | Comments (3)

700

The US death toll in Iraq.

Spain's out.

Posted at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)

Saturday April 17, 2004

What comes to mind when you read this?

The following is what one of the Bush administration's representatives told journalist Ron Suskind, regarding their philosophy behind the administration's actions and their relationship with journalists.

I'm quoting from an Air America Radio interview with Suskind:

Suskind: He says, you know, "You, Suskind, you're in what we call the 'reality-based community'" -- that's actually the term he used.

I said, "The WHAT?"

He says, "The 'reality-based community'.". He said, "you all believe" -- now let me see if I can get this right -- "You all believe that answers to solutions will emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality."

I said, "Yeah... YEAH, OF COURSE..."

He says, "Well, let me tell you how we really see it. You see, we're an empire now. And when we act, we kinda create a reality. Events flow from our actions. And because of that, what we do is... essentially... we act, and every time we act we create a whole new set of laws of physics, which you then judiciously study for your solutions, and while you're doing that we'll act again, promulgate a whole other set."

Janine Garofolo: "So you throw a rock in the pond, and the ripples go out..."

Suskind: And this guy said, "and that's where we'll stand ultimately; you'll study us, and we'll act. We'll be the actors, and you will study what we do. And if you're really good -- on good behavior -- maybe thirty years from now one of us will visit that graduate seminar you'll be teaching at Dartmouth in your tweed blazer." That's the thinking.

Posted at 12:06 PM | Comments (16)

Status of 3 remaining Italian hostages

The three Italian contractors, Salvatore Stefio, Maurizio Agliata and Umberto Cupertino still remain hostage to Iraqi kidnappers.

At 4:00pm Italian time (6:00pm Iraq time), Al Jazeera will be televising an appeal from the hostages families to the kidnappers. The Italian foreign minister, Franco Frattini, hopes that "the message will arrive, if we can say it, in the hearts of the kidnappers."

La Repubblica has a reconstruction of the events of their kidnappings:

"The four Italians in the hands of the so-called 'Army of Mohammed' had been abducted at two different times on two different days. Saturday, April 10, Fabrizio Quattrocchi was abducted. Sunday the 11th, Salvo Stefio, Maurizio Agliana, and Umberto Cupertino were taken. Stefio, Agliana and Cupertino had been stopped while trying to "enter into contact" with Fabrizio or with his kidnappers."

The contractors were apparently taken while trying to reach the Jordanian border, after leaving Baghdad. There are questions remaining about their reason for leaving Baghdad, why they apparently left in a hurry, and why they didn't, instead of driving, take four empty seats on a flight to Annan.

The four were apparently private security in Baghdad, although none in the Italian government, even anonymous sources, either know enough or are willing to divulge more about their status in Iraq.

In other Italian news, Berlusconi's corruption trial has recommenced, after an immunity law was rejected earlier this year.

Posted at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

Friday April 16, 2004

More on the Marine photo

A bit more regarding the controversial photo I mentioned on Wednesday. Here is a high-res version of what I think is the original photo.

To the people who said that this image is faked, here are a few quick responses to comments that supposedly "prove" that it is a fake:

1) The K in "killed" and "knocked up" are uppercase, and it is obviously a crude forgery because no one familiar with English would write that way.

response: they are not uppercase. Look at the second 'k' in 'knocked': it is written in exactly the same manner. That's just how this writer writes his lowercase k's.

new1.jpg

2) The boys were pasted in. There is a bit of a wall visible between them that doesn't fit in with the rest of the setting.

response: yes it does. You can see the same wall between the soldier's legs. All of the shadows on the boys and soldier are consistent. There is no sign that they were not there together.

new2.jpg


3) If you look at the "th" in the "then" that is covered with the boy's fingers, there is not even an attempt to run the curve of the "h" up to the edge of the boy's finger.

response: you were looking at a low-res version of the photo. In the high-res version, you can see that it does run up to the edge of the boy's finger, and you can see the end of the 'h' poking out underneath the finger.

new3.jpg


4) Jpeg compression artifacting shows that "killed" and "knocked up" were added after the fact.

response: take a look at the high-res version. The artifacting is consistent around all of the letters.

5) There is crude smudging of the cardboard's grain around "killed" and "knocked up", showing that it is a forgery.

response: again, this is a problem with the lo-res version you were viewing. The high-res version does not exhibit any "smudging" that would give the impression that the words were added later. In fact, the cardboard grain is visible clearly in the high-res version, and it is not distorted, as it would be if someone had erased out portions of the sign.

I find no indications the "killed my father and knocked up my sister" sign was a forgery. I would be interested to hear other opinions, though.

Posted at 12:43 AM | Comments (4)

Wednesday April 14, 2004

Italian hostage killed

Confirmed by the Italian government. Here's an excerpt from La Repubblica:

Killed with a shot to the nape of the neck. According to "The 7", who spoke with the editorial staff of Al Jazeera, the Italian hostage was killed with a shot to the back of the neck. In the clip from satellite tv from Qatar, the four hostages were shown in front of a recently dug pit: then one is killed with a shot to the back of the head from a pistol.

...

The news of the murder of Fabrizio Quattrocchi arrived almost instantly to the flat on Lagustena drive, where the relatives of the murdered hostage have gathered since yesterday evening to follow developments on the tv with great apprehension. A little before, from what we have learned, the brother of the guard, David, received a telephone call that more than likely informed him of the fate of Fabrizio.

The brother of Fabrizio came out to the street only for a moment, burst into tears, and immediately went back into the flat.

An Italian is the first of the hostages to be killed in Iraq.

I'll try to have more when I return.

Posted at 07:52 PM | Comments (12)

Drudge is implying that the infamous photo from Iraq -- that of a soldier with two Iraqi boys, who carry a sign that says "Lcpl Boudreaux Killed my Dad, then he Knocked up my Sister!" -- was faked. He has a link titled "BUT WAIT: THE REAL PHOTO?" that links to this photo.

Unfortunately for Drudge, this "real" image appears to be an obvious fake. Look at the image carefully, specifically at the words "saved" and "rescued".

Why do I think the image is faked?

0) UPDATE: So obvious that I didn't even notice it. The ligatures in "saved" and "rescued" incline towards the left. Even the backwards-leaning letters in the original, because of the tilt of the sign, lean towards the right.

1) The first few letters of those two words ("saved" and "rescued") are written practically parallel to the photo's horizontal axis, even though the sign is inclined 8 degrees. The words then curve around to come into line with the surrounding text.

2) The "a" in "saved" and the "ue" in rescued appear lighter than the surrounding text, and smudged.

3) There is much less JPEG artifacting around "saved" and "rescued" than there is around the other words. These letters suffer less artifacting because they were added after-the-fact. You'll need to blow up the image in an image editor to see this.

4) The text on the "he rescued my" line is centered on the cardboard panel; the other lines are not.

I'm making no claims on the image that caused the controversy to begin with. But to me this supposedly "real" image seems to be an obvious forgery.

Posted at 03:45 PM | Comments (11)

Campaign aikido

A number of people have asked me questions about John Kerry and what his campaign should be doing, and what the "antiwar" Left should be doing to counter George Bush and win the White House in November.

My answer has been simple: very little. In fact, I think that any sign of overkill will work against the Left come election time.

As usual, America is faced with an evenly divided electorate and a muddled middle. Kerry has his base locked up. There's no denying it; there's not a Nader voter out there (who is in any way "Left") who will vote for Nader on election day.

So Kerry is playing to the middle, and this is where he has to be smart. The middle never likes to be told what is right and wrong; they like to live under the pretense that they are figuring it out for themselves. So any attempt by Kerry to paint Bush will probably work against him, just as Bush's ads don't seem to be getting him much traction -- they're all "define our opponent" ads, lacking any policy substance.

There's another factor that needs to be considered: Bush's implosion. As we speak, the Bush White House has at least 8 wounds (mostly self-inflicted) from last week alone: Condi. The PFB. Hostages. Sister soldiers. Bush's grammatically-challenged comments Sunday. Abizaid. 73. Rumsfeld's "good days and bad days." Bush's press conference Tuesday. The American people are seeing the mask start to slip, and it is important that Kerry doesn't overreach at this point. Let the muddled middle come to its own conclusions, and Kerry will be better off.

My main concern is nothing going on now, but an event a few months away: the Republican Convention in New York. If the protests there are too out-of-hand, if the rhetoric of the Left is too extreme, it will be playing right into the Republicans' hands, because if we have learned anything, it's that the Republicans are best when they are demonizing. And if they are given the opportunity to paint the Left as unpatriotic, hateful, and disrespectful of the 9/11 dead, then the Left loses. If anyone protests, let the 9/11 familes do the talking. Keep ANSWER far far away, if at all possible.

Prime example of how not to win over the muddled middle? Drudge, yesterday, pointed to an ad by the "St. Petersburg Democratic Club"... well, see for yourself. (To me, this looks like a Republican-planted ad. If not, then these folks are truly morons.)

If the left doesn't make their targets so obvious, when the Right starts its demonizing campaign, it will be harder for them to gain converts from the muddled middle, because it will be harder for those in the middle to see the Left with the well-defined edges that the Republicans want to give them.

Campaigns aren't all slugfests; sometimes more subtle thinking is required. People complained that Kerry wasn't spending enough on ads countering Bush's attacks. But Bush's ads were less-than-effective, and now he's cutting back his ad buys drastically. Sometimes a little rope-a-dope is important. Let the opponent come in and wail on you for a while, and wear himself out. From the speech last night, it's clear that Bush is spent. He ran out of useful things to say to the American people during his first campaign, and he's lived from speech to speech ever since, dodging press conferences and giving non-answers to practically every question thrown at him. He has nothing.

You don't counter nothing with everything -- the effect would simply be to offend the muddled middle. Kerry is doing fine letting the Bush's administration's bungling speak for itself. It's as much a kind of campaign aikido as it is rope-a-dope. Let the opponent's momentum carry him forward, and then use it against him. Allow Bush to make the mistake, allow its momentum to carry through, and then use suppleness and just the right amount of force to counter the attack. The best practitioners can disable their opponents with barely a touch.

For those who complain that Kerry and the Left aren't doing enough, my message is simple: "Be more afraid that we do too much."

Posted at 07:00 AM | Comments (0)

Tuesday April 13, 2004

Oh shit. CNN's website states that 4 missing contract workers were found dead. Not sure who it is yet. Hopefully Hammill isn't among them.

Posted at 05:22 PM | Comments (0)

Sunday April 11, 2004

Is John McCain aware that those children released from that "prison" in Iraq after the war were actually released from an orphanage?

Apparently not, because he just repeated that canard on Meet the Press.

Posted at 09:24 AM | Comments (4)

Saturday April 10, 2004

NYTimes has the latest update on Thomas Hammill.

He's an employee for Kellogg, Brown & Root, a division of Halliburton.

"The tape of the American, broadcast on the Arab TV station Al-Jazeera, showed him identifying himself as Thomas Hamill, 43, from Mississippi. In other footage with no audio, he stood in front of an Iraqi flag, his expression calm but wary as his captors announced their threat on his life."

Posted at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

Kidnapped American update

The kidnapped American civilian contractor, Thomas Hammill, who was mentioned in a previous post, has shown up in a new videotape from his captors, Australian Broadcasting Corporation's News website is reporting.

Iraqi kidnappers say in a tape aired on an Arabic television station they will kill a US hostage they are holding unless US forces lift the siege of Fallujah.

"Up to now your prisoner is being dealt with in the tolerant manner specified by Islamic law ... our one request is to break the siege of the city of the mosques (Fallujah) during the 12 hours from 6:00pm (local time) Saturday evening," a voice on a tape shown on Qatar-based Al Jazeera said.

"If not, he will be dealt with worse than those who were killed and burned in Fallujah."

...

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has shown footage of the hostage saying he had been seized after a convoy was attacked.

Speaking with a southern American accent, he gave his name as Thomas Hamill.

Al Jazeera said the man had confirmed this name in the tape it received from the group, whose name was given as "the Mujahedeen Group - Kidnappings" and said he worked for a private company which had dealings with the US-led coalition in Iraq.

Al Jazeera said Mr Hamill, who looked to be in good condition, said he was the only survivor of an ambush on his convoy.

The same article is reporting that the kidnappers of the Japanese civilians plan to release them within 24 hours: "A statement issued by the 'Mujahedeen Brigades' said that they responded to a request from the Council of Muslim Ulema in Iraq to free the trio, Al Jazeera said." Good news!!

Posted at 05:36 PM | Comments (4)

Mark Kleiman says that Reuters has yet to report anything backing up River's assertion that mosques across Iraq are calling for Jihad.

If you get a chance, check out the video at the Australian news website that I mentioned in the last post. (It's the second video link on the right, the text before it starts, "In this exclusive report from the outskirts of Baghdad...") Near the end you will see thousands (the report says 10's of thousands) of Iraqs at the largest Sunni mosque in Baghdad, screaming for Jihad. You can see it at about the 2 min. point in the report.

Posted at 03:25 PM | Comments (0)

Australian Broadcasting video of kidnapping, 10s of thousands of Sunnis calling for Jihad

Australian TV has a harrowing video of a kidnapped American civilian. While an Australian news team was recording the scene of the attack on the fuel convoy, a car drove up alongside the team, and a number of men, their faces obscured by headdresses, got out brandishing guns. They motioned the news crew towards the car, and inside was an American civilian, Thomas Hammel, dressed in blue jeans and a dark, collared shirt. His right arm was bandaged, and his left arm cradled it. His eyes were covered by a blindfold, but as the cameraman approached the blindfold was removed. Hammel answered a few questions for the crew before the kidnappers jumped in the car and whisked him away.

"What's happened?"

"They attacked our convoy. (pause) That's all I'm going to say."

"Do you want to give us your name?"

"Hammil. Thomas."

In the same report, the video shows the scene of TENS OF THOUSANDS of Sunni Muslims outside a rally at the largest Sunni mosque in Baghdad. The crowd is chanting for Jihad, and the speaker says, "We will say 'No!' with one voice, you Americans will not pass through here. There is no legitimacy in the new Iraq, except for those who fight."

The video can be found here. (Both for RealPlayer and Windows Media Player.)

UPDATE: Here's the story from Reuters.

Most American accounts of the story leave out any mention of the man's name, and many are digitally covering his face. But it is included in Reuter's newswire, and the Miami Herald and Atlanta Journal Constitution, in an Associated Press piece, are giving his name as well.

Posted at 01:52 PM | Comments (5)

No new news on the four Italian hostages. A representative of Reuters attempting to meet with them was turned away.

Posted at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)

Bush Was Warned

He was warned. "President Bush was told more than a month before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that supporters of Osama bin Laden planned an attack within the United States with explosives and wanted to hijack airplanes, a government official said Friday."

Posted at 07:50 AM | Comments (0)

Friday April 09, 2004

4 Italians, 2 Americans taken hostage

From the Corriere della Sera: "Our reporter, affirmed Baker [of Reuters], spoke with two hostages who said they were Italians. The two, he added, were wearing dark blue uniforms like those of the "Carabinieri", even if it's not clear that they are Carabinieri."

La Stampa "Iraqi guerrilas say they have kidnapped 6 foreigners at Abu Gharib, in the suburbs west of Baghdad: four Italians and two Americans. Two hostages were seen crying in a mosque, according to a witness cited by Reuters. One was wounded in one shoulder."

La Repubblica says the hostages may be private security contractors: "The four italians (that according to witnesses were kidnapped in Iraq) could have worked as private guards for companies assigned to security, companies that were maintaining a low profile and not in contact with the Italian embassy."

UPDATE: CNN has news, but they aren't clear on the nationality of the 4 non-Americans.

Posted at 09:42 PM | Comments (5)

And here it is, after initial denials.

Posted at 08:39 PM | Comments (0)

Fuel convoy hit; kidnappings; Rice bull; Clarke weighs in; Kerry's plan; tours extended; brotherly love; IW II

Reuters is reporting that a fuel convoy was attacked west of Baghdad, killing at least 9.

German television has a much-less-redacted video of the kidnapping of the Japanese civilians. (Requires RealPlayer). No overt violence, but nonetheless disturbing.

The Center for American Progress fact-checked Condoleeza Rice's testimony.

Richard Clarke weighs in.

Tim Grieve thinks that John Kerry is MIA regarding the growing crisis in Iraq. I think he's letting Bush hang himself with his own rope.

Congratulations, guys! You've just won an all-expense-paid extension of your tour of duty in Iraq!

Baghdad Shiites donated blood to help Sunni insurgents. "Solemn announcements boomed from mosques across Baghdad on Thursday beseeching Iraqis for donations of blood, money and medical supplies for 'your sons and brothers in struggling Fallujah.' And across the capital, Shiite Muslims joined Sunnis in rolling up their sleeves and reaching into their pockets."

The idea of a "second Iraq war" seems to be picking up steam in the world of punditry. David Ignatius at the Washington Post talks about it. So does Bill O'Reilly.

Posted at 06:50 AM | Comments (0)

Thursday April 08, 2004

35; Six months of work is completely gone; Rumsfeld-speak; puppet regime

35 Americans have been killed in Iraq since Sunday.

Things turn sour in southern Iraq:

An official in the occupation authority said Wednesday that allied and Iraqi security forces had lost control of the key southern cities of Najaf and Kufa to the Shiite militia, conceding that months of effort to win over the population with civil projects and promises of jobs have failed with segments of the population.

"Six months of work is completely gone," the official said. "There is nothing to show for it."

He cited reports that government buildings, police stations, civil defense garrisons and other installations built up by the Americans had been overrun and then stripped bare, of files, furnishings and even toilet fixtures.

Rumsfeld-speak: this "is one moment, and there will be other moments. And there will be good moments and there will be less good moments."

Robin Cook, Tony Blair's former foreign secretary, says that the US in Iraq is acting to prop up a puppet regime, and that "[t]here is no point in saying we are going to stay the course if we are on the wrong course."

"We need to adopt a policy of peacekeeping and minimum force and try and defuse the situation, rather than ... escalating the situation. The second big priority for me would be to restore some legitimacy to the governing authorities in Iraq. The problem we have at present is we are dealing with a puppet regime installed by the US which doesn't appear to command much support from its own people."

Posted at 07:01 AM | Comments (3)

Wednesday April 07, 2004

30; It's all bad; it's all good; release the speech; Nader implodes; no legitimate authority

At least 30 soldiers have been killed since the weekend in Fallujah, with 12 Marines killed there yesterday. "Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, responded to calls for reinforcements by saying that the US military presence in Iraq was unusually high at 135,000." That's up from a just a few months ago, right? Weren't they touting that we were down to 100,000 -- or 110,000 -- at some point?

"I told them that they had done some good over there. This was met with spontaneous laughter, and their leader shook his head and told me that no one had done any good over there... that nothing good had happened... that it was all bad." From DailyKos.

"But now that the Saddam restorationists and Islamic fundamentalists have made their terrorist move on both fronts, we can counterattack decisively." William Safire. 'sall Kennedy's fault. Damn apostle of retreat.

The Bush administration won't release the text of a speech that Condoleeza Rice intended to give on September 11, 2001, in response to a foreign policy speech given by Joe Biden on September 10th. "[T]he White House has so far refused on the grounds that draft documents are confidential, the sources said."

Nader couldn't get on the ballot in Oregon, when only 741 supporters showed up to a rally in Portland (1000 are needed at one rally for him to qualify). David Neiwert notes Nader's willingness to bed down with whatever party will help him get on the ballot.

From letters to the editor at the NYTimes: "No legitimate authority exists in Iraq. Our invasion introduced anarchy that is now drifting as could have been foreseen into chaos. The calendar is right for a United Nations resolution condemning our invasion of Iraq. "L. Paul Bremer III, the civilian administrator for Iraq, claims that Moktada al-Sadr is an 'outlaw,' resisting what Mr. Bremer calls 'legitimate authority.' No legitimate authority exists in Iraq. Our invasion introduced anarchy that is now drifting as could have been foreseen into chaos. The calendar is right for a United Nations resolution condemning our invasion of Iraq."

And there's this: "A year ago, it was a terror-linked, weapon-holding madman who posed an imminent threat to America. Today, this enemy is described as an 'insurgent,' 'remnant,' 'holdout' or 'foreign element.' Given the way that Bush administration officials misused intelligence to get us into Iraq, why should we be confident that our president understands the enemy keeping us there?"

Posted at 06:02 AM | Comments (12)

Monday April 05, 2004

Selective Service update...

I got a letter from a reader, regarding my request for people to look into applying for positions on Selective Service boards in their areas. I have redacted some names for privacy's sake:

Thought you would like to know. Remember awhile back when you pointed out that Selective Service was recruiting candidates for local boards? There was a short discussion thread about applying and trying to get people onto the boards with progressive and fair attitudes, in hopes of changing things. Well, I went to the website and applied. After that there were a few spurts of activity, each followed by so much dead time I figured it was over. Long story short, after filling out two different sets of papers, and speaking with a local SS/Army Major, I got a letter 2 weeks ago from the governor of my state notifying me that he was nominating me for a presidential appointment to my local board. Although I have not been given any official notice of approval from SS, [the governor's] letter reads as though I already have the spot. Hopefully, I'll know soon. Anyway, I wouldn't have even tried if it hadn't been for you, and I thought I'd let you know. Maybe I CAN make a difference.

Thanks for the note! That makes my day.

Posted at 08:32 PM | Comments (7)

8; 1; 1; 1; rise in militants; more on Sadrist uprising

8 American soldiers dead after fighting in Baghdad on Sunday. They were killed by Shiite militiamen.

This morning, an American patrol vehicle was seen burning, and an Iraqi was seen running off with a heavy machine gun, presumably from the wreck.

From the same article:

Another Marine was killed today in the Anbar province (where Fallujah is located).

In Kirkuk on Sunday a suicide bomber detonated himself, killing one American soldier and wounding 6 Americans and 6 Iraqis.

And a roadside bomb killed a soldier in Mosul.

The death toll now is at least 613. According to the article, the threat for the past few months has been from within the Sunni population. But these latest clashes "threatened to open a dangerous new front: a confrontation with Iraq's powerful Shiite Muslim majority, which has until now largely avoided violence with the Americans."

Here is more on the fight between the Spanish and Salvadoran garrisons and a Shiite group.

The CIA is reporting a rise in sentiment favoring Osama Bin Laden's anti-Americanism and his group Al-Quaeda, following the US-led invasion of Iraq. Donald Rumsfeld was on Face the Nation just two weekends ago denying this very thing. From the article: "The result, according to the senior intelligence analyst, is that the U.S. war on terrorism after Iraq 'may transition from defeating a group to fighting a movement.' Black said the spread of bin Laden's ideology 'greatly complicates our task in stamping out al Qaeda and poses a threat in its own right for the foreseeable future.'"

Juan Cole has disturbing news regarding the fighting in the Sadr city area of Baghdad yesterday, and other clashes with followers of Muqtada Al-Sadr:

Earlier Muqtada Al-Sadr, the movement leader, had called on his forces to avoid violence against Coalition forces. As of Sunday, he has decided that the Coalition means permanently to exclude his group from power, and has decided to launch an uprising. This uprising involves taking over police stations in Kufa, Najaf, Baghdad and possibly elsehwere. The Sadrist militia now controls Kufa, according to the New York Times, and probably controls Sadr City or the slums of East Baghdad, as well.

...

There were also large protests in Baghdad, and it is reported that 3 Sadrist protesters threw themselves under American tanks, so as to become "martyrs." AP said, ' In central Baghdad's Firdaus Square, police fired warning shots during a protest by hundreds of al-Sadr supporters against al-Yacoubi's arrest. At least two protesters were injured, witnesses said. ' In Sadr City, gunfire was heard all afternoon and into the evening on Sunday, and a US military jeep was set on fire.

Posted at 08:42 AM | Comments (1)

Friday April 02, 2004

So my hit rate has jumped (just a tad) over the past few days, but unfortunately it's not because of Air America. It's because of sick folks looking for pictures of the mutilated bodies of the civilian security guys in Fallujah.

If you are here looking to satisfy your twisted fetish, get lost.

Posted at 03:39 PM | Comments (4)

Thursday April 01, 2004

Bush administration priority? Missile Defense

According to a report in today's Washington Post, on September 11, 2001 Condoleeza Rice was going to give a speech on the threat of missile defense:

The text also implicitly challenged the Clinton administration's policy, saying it did not do enough about the real threat -- long-range missiles.

"We need to worry about the suitcase bomb, the car bomb and the vial of sarin released in the subway," according to excerpts of the speech provided to The Washington Post. "[But] why put deadbolt locks on your doors and stock up on cans of mace and then decide to leave your windows open?"

Posted at 06:38 AM | Comments (3)

CNN; another attack

If anyone was wondering if CNN had truly become an apologist for the administration, view the story at the top of their website: "Missing College Student Found Alive." The story of the mutilations in Fallujah is already off the page.

They've got their priorities straight.

And why is it that the first question out of Wolf Blitzer's mouth when he confronts a liberal is, "You don't deny that the world is a better place now that Saddam Hussein is gone, do you?"

In other news, the people killed yesterday turned out to be American security guards, part of the "outsourced" military contingent, according to a report on NPR.

And NPR is now reporting another attack on troops in Fallujah; a burning Humvee was sighted.

Posted at 06:34 AM | Comments (2)
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