Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Someone in Senate bought and paid for...

From truthout.org :

Energy Bill Aids Expansion of Atomic Power


Edmund L. Andrews and Matthew L. Wald of The New York Times report: "A one-sentence provision buried in the Senate's recently passed energy bill, inserted without debate at the urging of the nuclear power industry, could make builders of new nuclear plants eligible for tens of billions of dollars in government loan guarantees."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Brown tells Bush no...

From truthout.org :

British PM: Troops out of Iraq Regardless of US


Andrew Grice, Belfast Telegraph UK, reports: "Gordon Brown has paved the way for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq by telling George Bush he would not delay their exit in order to show unity with the United States."

[Use link above to continue reading]


From Cheney & Gonzo to Helen Thomas...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

"I’m a big fan of Al's," Vice President Cheney said yesterday, referring to Alberto Gonzales. He dismissed Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy's lack of trust in Gonzales as irrelevant. "I've had my differences with Pat Leahy," Cheney said.

The Iraqi parliament adjourned yesterday for a month-long recess without passing key laws "concerning oil investment and revenue-sharing among regions, the re-integration of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime into government, and provincial elections."

65 percent: Number of people under the age of 30 who are "paying at least some attention to the 2008 presidential campaign," according to a New York Times/CBS News poll. That number is up considerably from July 2003, when just "36 percent of those under age 30 were paying attention to the election."

Federal prosecutors may have differed with their political bosses at the Justice Department over how aggressively to pursue fraud charges against the maker of the narcotic painkiller OxyContin. The NYT reports "higher-ups within the Justice Department appeared initially to favor a less aggressive approach to the case against OxyContin's producer."

The Federal Communications Commission will meet today to "set the rules for the government's biggest auction of wireless airwaves, with Google Inc. fighting against carriers such as AT&T Inc. to force the winning bidders to open up the spectrum to more users."

Former Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty has found a new home. He will be joining the law firm Baker & McKenzie "where he'll work in the business crimes and investigations practice." McNulty, who was embroiled in the U.S. attorney scandal, left the Justice Department, citing the "financial realities of college-age children."

"The U.S. will hit its debt limit of nearly $9 trillion in early October, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told Congress on Monday, and asked lawmakers to raise the limit 'as soon as possible.'" Markos writes. "That's your 'fiscally responsible' [conservatives] once again at work. Record deficits, record debts, record mismanagement of our nation's fiscal health."

And finally: UPI's White House correspondent Helen Thomas is miffed at Garry Trudeau's portrayal of her in one of his comic strips. One of the characters in the strip jokes that Thomas has "been here since the Truman administration! Some say she was Truman's lover." Thomas, who has been covering the White House since 1961, responded, "I wish he'd said I was Jack Kennedy's lover."


And our Intel comes from whom?!!!

From truthout.org :

Bush Outsourcing Intelligence to Private Contractors


"Over the past six years, a quiet revolution has occurred in the intelligence community toward wide-scale outsourcing to corporations and away from the long-established practice of keeping operations in US government hands, with only select outsourcing of certain jobs to independently contracted experts ...

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) revealed in May that 70 percent of the intelligence budget goes to contractors," writes R.J. Hillhouse for The Nation.

[use link above to continue reading]


Monday, July 30, 2007

From Iraqis in bad shape to Colbert's cast...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

Eight million: Number of Iraqis -- nearly a third of the population -- who are "in need of immediate emergency aid." According to the new report by Oxfam and a coalition of Iraqi NGOs, the Iraqi government is "failing to provide basics such as food and shelter."

Some scientists who wish to "test their alternatively derived cells have found themselves stymied by an unexpected barrier: President Bush's stem cell policy. ... As a result, the National Institutes of Health recently refused to consider a grant application for what would have been the first federal study to compare several of the new, less politically contentious stem cell lines."

"After raising the minimum wage by 70 cents an hour this week, many members of Congress are ready to give themselves a pay increase of roughly $4,400 per year. That would take their annual salaries to nearly $170,000."

"Controversy over Gonzales's candor about Bush's conduct or policies has actually dogged him for more than a decade, since he worked for Bush in Texas." The Washington Post recalls Gonzales meeting with a Texas judge to get Bush out of jury service and avoid disclosing a prior DUI conviction. Gonzales, however, "made no mention of meeting with the judge in a written statement submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee."

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales must quickly clarify apparent contradictions in his testimony about warrantless spying or risk a possible perjury investigation. "He has a week," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT). "But you have to follow the law. I have to follow the law. They should have to follow the law. That’s the bottom line."

U.S. and Iraqi officials have erected a "legal Green Zone" in Baghdad, "a heavily fortified compound to shelter judges and their families and secure the trials of some of the most dangerous suspects. ... For Iraqi officials, working at the compound is so fraught with risk that it often requires separating themselves and their families from life outside the complex's gates."

Members of the Bancroft family, which controls Dow Jones & Co. Inc., will likely decide by the end of today "whether they will support News Corp.'s $5 billion bid for the news organization."

And finally: Stephen Colbert "was making the rounds in Washington on Friday," collecting signatures "for the cast encasing his recently broken wrist." While President Bush wasn't around to sign his cast, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was, and "cheekily called the comedian a 'bone-coddling crybaby.'"

BushCo intends to kill government services...

From truthout.org :

Paul Krugman | An Immoral Philosophy


Paul Krugman, writing for The New York Times, argues President Bush, "wants the public to believe that government is always the problem, never the solution. But it's hard to convince people that government is always bad when they see it doing good things. So his philosophy says that the government must be prevented from solving problems, even if it can. In fact, the more good a proposed government program would do, the more fiercely it must be opposed."

[use link above to continue reading]


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Lawyers in DOJ despondent over Gonzales' behavior...

From truthout.org :

DOJ Lawyer: Morale "Worse" Under Gonzales Than Nixon


Philip Shenon and Jim Rutenberg of The New York Times report: "Daniel J. Metcalfe, a lawyer who began his government career in the Nixon administration and retired from the Justice Department last winter, said morale at the department was worse under Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales than during Watergate."

[use link above to continue reading]


Easily hacked voting machines....

From truthout.org :

FOCUS | Scientists Hack Voting Machines to Prove Tech Weaknesses


"Computer scientists from California universities have hacked into three electronic voting systems used in California and elsewhere in the nation and found several ways in which vote totals could potentially be altered, according to reports released yesterday by the state," reports Christopher Drew in Saturday's edition of the New York Times.

[use link above to continue reading]


Friday, July 27, 2007

Bush behaves as tho he's a king....

From truthout.org :

Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Bush Asserts a King's Prerogative


"In theory, President Bush is sworn to faithfully execute the laws of the United States. In reality, he has treated federal law as a menu from which he picks and chooses those laws he likes, while ignoring those that do not suit his taste," writes Jay Bookman for the editorial board of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

[use link above to continue reading]


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sen Reid writes WaPo..&..3 Congressmen win lotteries...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

In a letter to the Washington Post, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) responds to the paper's opposition to the Senate's recent all-night debate on Iraq. "On reading the July 21 editorial 'The Phony Debate,' it became clear why The Post's editorial writers have been such eager cheerleaders for the Bush administration's flawed Iraq policies -- the two share the same disregard for the facts en route to drawing dubious conclusions," Reid writes.

"In a little-noticed addition to legislation requiring the July and September assessments on Iraq from the White House, Congress mandated a third report" from the Government Accountability Office, which has "quietly done the most work to track the missteps, miscalculations, misspent funds and shortfalls of both the United States and Iraq since the 2003 invasion."

As part of the debate over the farm bill, "House Democrats proposed legislation that would make it harder for overseas companies to use tax havens to avoid taxes on U.S. profits, drawing immediate opposition from the Bush administration."

"The commanding general at Fort Lewis, Wash., the third-largest Army base in the nation, on Wednesday rescinded a plan calling for a once-a-month collective memorial service rather than individual ones for soldiers killed in action."

"One of the largest American contractors working in Iraq, Bechtel National, met its original objectives on fewer than half of the projects it received as part of a $1.8 billion reconstruction contract, while most of the rest were canceled, reduced in scope or never completed as designed, federal investigators have found in a report released yesterday."

And finally: The new "CQ's Politics in America 2008: The 110th Congress" is "an intriguing compilation of trivia." One tidbit is that three congressmen -- Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI), and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) -- are all lottery winners. Gregg "donated a portion of his $853,492 in winnings to a charity," Sensenbrenner "put his $250,000 toward charities and investments," and McCarthy used his $5,000 to "open Kevin O's Deli."


A couple more--among numberless--BushCo outrages...

From truthout.org :

Senators Are Asked to Block Bush's EEOC Nominee


President Bush has nominated David Palmer to serve on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but eight former department civil rights employees charged Monday that Palmer undermined the unit's mission of securing the employment rights of women and minorities in the public sector, while defending employers' rights to discriminate based on religion, reports Greg Gordon for McClatchy Newspapers.


Tiny Town Demands Justice in Dioxin Poisoning


Adrianne Appel reports for Inter Press Service that a US health agency has made research subjects of people in Mossville, Louisiana by repeatedly monitoring dangerously high levels of dioxin in their blood while doing nothing to get the community out of harm's way. Further, reports Appel, the agency failed to release important test results for five years, and made it difficult for the community to obtain the actual data.


Man, is this NASA guy in trouble now....

From nbcsandiego.com :

NASA Says Worker Cut Wires In Computer
A subcontractor deliberately sabotaged equipment headed for the space station,
NASA says.



Major voter suppression...so we do what, now?

From truthout.org:

Exclusive | Emails Detail RNC Voter Suppression in 5 States


Truthout's Jason Leopold and Matt Renner report, "Previously undisclosed documents detail how Republican operatives, with the knowledge of several White House officials, engaged in an illegal, racially-motivated effort to suppress tens of thousands of votes during the 2004 presidential campaign in a state where George W. Bush was trailing his Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry."

[Use link above to continue reading...
My apologys that the link is not hotlinked, but somehow Blogger turned that feature off and I have not been able to find a way to get them to fix it.]


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Lots of good books coming..including Pelosi's...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Justin Peacock's A CURE FOR NIGHT, in which a fallen lawyer from a white shoe firm lands at the Brooklyn Defenders Office and, when assigned to a drug-related murder case, his past catches up with him with terrifying consequences, to Gerry Howard at Doubleday, by Betsy Lerner at Dunow, Carlson & Lerner (World).

TitanTV SVP of news and programming, and former MSNBC and Washington Post Newsweek VP of News Mark Effron's FOLLOWING THE NEWS: Death at 11, a tale that starts in the newsroom and spills over into many lives as a man uses his "nose for news" to get to the heart of the crime, the first in a series, to Rachel Palmer at Journey Publications, in a very nice deal, by Mark Miller at Mark B Miller Management (NA).

Antony Moore's THE SWAP, centering on an out-of-shape comic book dealer who, haunted by the loss of a priceless comic book, tries to reverse his fortunes at his high school reunion, to Kerri Buckley at Bantam Dell, by Sophie Hicks at Ed Victor Ltd. (NA).

UK rights to Harvill Secker, for publication in July 2007. Foreign rights to Liana Levi in France and to Kowalski at Italy.

Film rights optioned to Columbia Pictures for John Calley to produce, along with Lisa Medwid and Diana Napper.


Bram Stoker Award-winner Jonathan Maberry's PATIENT ZERO, in which a Baltimore police detective is recruited by a secret government organization to help stop a group of terrorists from launching a weaponized plague against America that turns its citizens into zombies, to Jason Pinter at St. Martin's, in a three-book deal, by Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger (world).

Lisa Black's TAKEOVER, about an attractive female forensic scientist, a major bank robbery gone wrong, a cop held hostage, and an unexpected twist, pitched as reminiscent of Kathy Reichs Jeffrey Deaver, to Carolyn Marino at William Morrow, at auction, in a two-book deal, by Elaine Koster at Elaine Koster Agency (NA).


Author of John Crow's Devil Marlon James's THE BOOK OF NIGHT WOMEN, set in Jamaica at the turn of the 19th century about a spirited young slave woman named Lilith, as she becomes embroiled in a long-plotted revolt organized by a group of female slaves, and attempts to find her way through the complicated personal relationships among masters, overseers, and slaves, to Sean McDonald at Riverhead, by Ellen Levine at Trident Media Group (NA).


Former Los Angeles Times coloumnist and founding editor of Truthdig.com's Robert Scheer's THE PORNOGRAPHY OF POWER: How the Military-Industrial Complex Ruins America and Endangers the World, to Jonathan Karp at Twelve, by Steve Wasserman of Kneerim & Williams (world).

Michael Farquhar's untitled book chronicling the history of the British Monarchy, featuring stories about each ruler and highlighting the tragedy, romance, heroism, incompetence, madness, and adventure that have made the British throne the world's most famous, plus a second untitled book, to Jill Schwartzman for Random House Trade Paperbacks, by Jenny Bent at Trident Media Group (world).

Former Los Angeles Times coloumnist and founding editor of Truthdig.com's Robert Scheer's THE PORNOGRAPHY OF POWER: How the Military-Industrial Complex Ruins America and Endangers the World, to Jonathan Karp at Twelve, by Steve Wasserman of Kneerim & Williams (world).


Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi's memoir, covering both her personal and professional life, "telling my story for my grandchildren and in recognition of the contributions of all women across America," to Stephen Rubin at Doubleday, to be edited by Phyllis Grann, by Norman Brokaw, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, and Mel Berger at William Morris Agency (NA).


ABSOLUTELY AMERICAN author David Lipsky's behind-the-scenes hour-by-hour journey into the heart and soul of what makes a great city run throughout the course of a single day -- its water supply, traffic, electricity, food distribution, transportation, crime control, communications -- drawing chiefly on NY and LA, to Tim Bartlett at Random House, in a two-book deal, by Lisa Bankoff at ICM (World).

Film historian David Thomson's THE MOMENT OF PSYCHO, a look at how Alfred Hitchcock's genre-busting 1960 movie changed popular culture, to Lara Heimert at Basic, by Steve Wasserman of Kneerim & Williams (world).


On Contempt for Congress...Power...

From Secrecy News:


A major new report from the Congressional Research Service provides a
detailed account of Congress's contempt power, including the use of
contempt proceedings to coerce compliance with congressional demands
for information or testimony and to punish non-compliance.

"This report examines the source of the contempt power, reviews the
historical development of the early case law, outlines the statutory
and common law basis for Congress's contempt power, and analyzes the
procedures associated with each of the three different types of
contempt proceedings. In addition, the report discusses limitations
both nonconstitutional and constitutionally based on the power."

The 68-page report also examines the Justice Department position that
"Congress cannot, as a matter of statutory or constitutional law,
invoke either its inherent contempt authority or the criminal contempt
of Congress procedures against an executive branch official acting on
instructions by the President to assert executive privilege in response
to a congressional subpoena."

See "Congress's Contempt Power: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure,"
July 24, 2007:



From Troop Memorial Svcs...to Gentleman's attire...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

Lt. Gen. Charles Jacoby, the commander at Fort Lewis in Washington state, is expected to decide today whether to go through with plans to hold memorial services for U.S. troops killed in Iraq once every month, instead of after each death. Military families and others have protested the proposal.

"A federal judge in California ruled Tuesday against the federal government's attempts to stop investigations in five states of President Bush's domestic spying program." The judge ruled that "neither the Supremacy Clause nor the foreign affairs power of the government prevented a state from asking about phone records."

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), who championed the confirmation John Roberts and Samuel Alito, plans to review the Supreme Court justices' Senate testimony to "determine if their reversal of several long-standing opinions conflicts with promises they made to senators to win confirmation."

"The Agriculture Department sent $1.1 billion in farm payments to more than 170,000 dead people over a seven-year period," according to a new Government Accountability Office Report. Forty percent of those payments "went to those who had been dead more than three years."

Since Congress imposed strict new documentation rules, Medicaid rolls declined in many states. But "most of the drop-off appears to be among people eligible for coverage -- not illegal immigrants." The "law that took effect July 1 requires states to obtain evidence of citizenship and nationality when determining whether people are eligible for Medicaid."

"More than a quarter of the computer equipment at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington could not be found by investigators, government auditors reported. Three other agency facilities -- in San Diego, Indianapolis and the agency's headquarters -- could not find up to 11 percent of their equipment."

"In an unusually heated face-to-face meeting, a U.S. ambassador accused Iran on Tuesday of increasing arms shipments for militias who are fomenting violence in Iraq." Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said, "I would not describe this as a shouting match throughout, but we were real clear."

"Days after the Federal Emergency Management Agency's chief spokesman said concerns about formaldehyde would not stop it from selling or donating surplus disaster trailers, the agency said Tuesday that it is reviewing the policy."

And finally: On Monday, Rep. Gary Miller's (R-CA) outfit received disapproving looks from his colleagues. According to Roll Call, Miller sported "a look better suited to a backyard cookout than the House chamber: a loose-fitting Hawaiian shirt, linen pants and slippers." Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), the presiding officer at the time, said, "The chair must remind Members that the proper standard of dress in the chamber is business attire, which includes both coat and tie for gentlemen."


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sheehan against Pelosi...it's a go...

From Information Clearing House:

I Announce My Candidacy Against Nancy Pelosi in California's 8th.

By Cindy Sheehan

I am committed to challenging a two-party system that has kept us in a state of constant warfare for the last 60 years and has become more and more beholden to special interests and has forgotten the faces of the people whom it represents. I am committed to using our strength as a country to wage peace and to elevate the status of every citizen in our country by converting the enduring war economy to a prosperous one with lasting peace.



From Gonzales to Affleck...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee today. "Armed with the president's support, Gonzales has made clear that he does not intend to leave office before Bush does." "This attorney general has a severe credibility problem," said Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), adding that there is an "acute crisis of leadership that has gripped the department under his watch."

Members of the Bancroft family, which "controls financial publisher Dow Jones & Co. is expected to decide within days whether it will relinquish its stake and let Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. get the company for $5 billion." They assembled "for six hours Monday in Boston to hash out whether to accept Murdoch's offer."

"While Washington is mired in political debate over the future of Iraq," Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker have "prepared a detailed plan that foresees a significant American role" through 2009.

"Under a bill the House approved Monday, members of Congress would no longer be able to put their spouses on their campaign payrolls, a practice criticized as a way for lawmakers to profit from political donations." The act would also require the disclosure of all other immediate family members who are employed by the candidate's campaign.

"The campaign of the late congressman Charlie Norwood (R-GA) treated his supporters to a $63,000 thank-you weekend at a golf resort two months after he died -- the same day that the candidate endorsed by Norwood's family held a fundraiser at the same resort, reports and interviews show."

"The worst flooding to hit England in at least 60 years has put tens of thousands of people to flight, many leaving their homes, cars and possessions to the ravages of rising water and looters. Forecasters warned yesterday that more rain is on the way."

And finally: Ben Affleck stars in "corny" environmental ad. In a new ad for the Clean My Ride campaign, actor Ben Affleck "sports a pointy, yellow foam corn hat with leafy green ears and offers to take down Big Oil. 'Congress bows to fear,' Affleck hisses at the hero, who seeks to sweeten lawmakers on corn-based ethanol. 'I bring the fear. Does big oil sleep around? Got bad credit? I'll find the dirt. And I will make big oil regret the day it ever uttered the words price gouging!'"


Monday, July 23, 2007

Bunker busting bomb on B-2s...for whom....

From Information Clearing House:

B-2s being fitted for Bunker Buster Bomb:

Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) reveals that the company is undertaking the task of refitting a number of the US Air Force's B-2 Stealth Bombers with new bomb racks able to hold and deliver the Boeing produced 30,000 pound (13,600 kg) Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bunker busting bomb.



DOJ won't prosecute/investigate fraud case...

From truthout.org :

Vast Enron-Like Fraud Probe Abandoned by Justice Dept.


"Two years into a fraud investigation, veteran federal prosecutor David Maguire told colleagues he'd uncovered one of the biggest cases of his career," writes Marisa Taylor of McClatchy Newspapers.

"Maguire described crimes 'far worse' than those of Arthur Andersen, the accounting giant that collapsed in the wake of the Enron scandal. Among those in his sights: executives from a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, the investment empire overseen by billionaire Warren Buffett."

[use link above to continue reading]


From Salesman Bush to Cheney's mix-up....

From American Progress:

Think fast...

Steve Thomma of McClatchy writes, "When pressing a tough sale, Bush is a lousy salesman." "He's never really sold the country or Congress something it didn't already want. And when he's tried to sell something the people or the politicians didn't want, he's fallen flat." Thomma cites Bush's sales pitches on reforming immigration, privatizing Social Security, and staying in Iraq.

The Washington Post reports on an executive order issued by President Bush last week entitled, "Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq." In the extreme, it could be interpreted as targeting the financial assets of any American who undermines the administration's Iraq policy.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, was denied access to the White House plan for operating the government after a terrorist attack. "I just can't believe they're going to deny a member of Congress the right of reviewing how they plan to conduct the government of the United States after a significant terrorist attack," he said.

A few months ago, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice decided to write an opinion piece about Lebanon, but no one would publish it. Price Floyd, the State Department's director of media affairs, said, "I kept hearing the same thing: 'There's no news in this.'" The piece, he said, was littered with glowing references to President Bush's wise leadership. "It read like a campaign document."

"After a rare bipartisan agreement in the Senate to expand insurance coverage for low-income children, House Democrats have drafted an even broader plan that also calls for major changes in Medicare and promises to intensify the battle with the White House over health care."

"Three parked cars exploded in a predominantly Shiite area in Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 12 people and wounding 19, according to police, and the U.S. military said car bombs had killed two troops over the weekend."

"The United States and Iran have set a date for ambassador-level talks in Baghdad on the deteriorating security situation in Iraq -- the first such meeting since late May, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Sunday."

"Major military offensives and a changed focus on increasing security have slowed efforts to train Iraqi forces to take control of Iraq, the top U.S. training official said." Brig. Gen. Dana Pittard told USA Today, "Transitioning [to Iraqi control] is not a main priority, but it's still a priority."

"Under a Senate bill to be introduced today, computer programmers, call-center staffers and other service-sector workers who make up the vast majority of the nation's workforce would for the first time be eligible for a generous package of income, health and retraining benefits currently reserved for manufacturing workers who lose their jobs to international trade."

And finally: What's the difference between Jessica Lynch and Jessica Simpson? "When Cheney threw out the first pitch before a 2003 game between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs, Cheney was first informed that pop singer Nick Lachey "would sing the national anthem before the game and would be accompanied by his girlfriend, Jessica Simpson. Cheney thought Simpson's name sounded familiar. He asked his staff: 'Is that the soldier who was captured in Iraq?'"


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Empty office after empty office at DOJ...

From truthout.org :

DOJ All But "Operating on Autopilot"


The Financial Times UK's Brooke Masters writes: "Resignations and the ongoing furor over allegedly politicized hiring and firing at the US justice department have left so many top positions vacant that the department is all but operating on autopilot."

[click link above to continue reading]


On the matter of Bush's religion....

Liberal Values blog posted a short video clip from the former version of TV's West Wing that is absolutely wonderful.

But it brought up a question. Given that Bush 43 is supposed to be directed by God and is so very religious, I just wonder what church he attends...or if he even attends one. A prayer breakfast or such inside the White House is not going to church. Not even close.

The only times I've seen photos of him in church have been for funerals and such.

So...does he even go to church? If so, where?

It's sort of like him having his "ranch" and chopping brush and burnishing a cowboy type image...but he doesn't even own a horse, much less ride one. Can't even ride a Segway scooter, come to that.

Image...image...image...That's all there is...


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Colorado moves its caucuses up too....

From the Associated Press:

Colorado Democrats Back Early Caucuses
Published: July 21, 2007
Filed at 6:50 p.m. ET

DENVER (AP) -- Colorado Democrats voted Saturday to move their presidential caucuses to February, a month earlier than planned, in hopes of gaining sway with presidential candidates.

The state's Democratic Party head, Pat Waak, said the move would win attention for Colorado's nine electoral votes.

''I've been told by presidential candidates that they aren't coming to states that are not in the early window. They don't have the resources,'' Waak told delegates to the party's central committee.

Most other states in the Rocky Mountain West decided to move up their caucuses or primaries after plans for a Western primary fell apart, Waak said.

Democrats in Colorado have been growing in strength in recent elections. They also have high hopes for their role as host to their party's national convention in Denver next year.

''We feel that the pathway to the presidency is through the West,'' Elbra Wedgeworth, president of the Denver host committee for the Democratic convention, told state delegates.

Dick Wadhams, head of the state Republican Party, said he will mail ballots to the 500 members of his central committee by month's end, asking whether they want to move up their caucuses, too. Wadhams said he favors it and he thinks other party leaders will go along.

A new state law left it to the major parties to decide whether to hold earlier caucuses in presidential election years


Simple question...I hope....about Blogger...

Somehow, one way or another, Blogger has found a way to disable the hot links in my posts.

Does anybody have any idea about how to get them back?

Really would appreciate assistance here, since it seems extremely difficult to contact a tech at Blogger to ask.

Many thanks...

Ah..Fitz...If only....

From Raw Story:

Ex-Gonzales no. 2: Make Fitzgerald Attorney General

The former top deputy to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales suggested that Special Prosecutor and US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald should be Attorney General of the United States, according to a report in Bloomberg News.

"I think he would make a spectacular attorney general," former Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Comey told the news service's Patricia Hurtado and David Voreacos in a Friday article. "He certainly is one of the very best federal prosecutors in America."

[click link below to continue reading]



LA Times always interesting...

From The Los Angeles Times:

Column One, front page, in the LA Times never fails to be interesting to say the least. The one today, I found especially fascinating. Perhaps you will too:



Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bush/Cheney Pentagon is outrageous!!!

From the Associated Press:

Pentagon Rebukes Sen. Clinton on Iraq
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Published: July 19, 2007
Filed at 9:37 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon told Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton that her questions about how the U.S. plans to eventually withdraw from Iraq boosts enemy propaganda.

In a stinging rebuke to a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman responded to questions Clinton raised in May in which she urged the Pentagon to start planning now for the withdrawal of American forces.

A copy of Edelman's response, dated July 16, was obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

''Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia,'' Edelman wrote.

He added that ''such talk understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risks.''

Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines called Edelman's answer ''at once outrageous and dangerous,'' and said the senator would respond to his boss, Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Clinton has privately and publicly pushed Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace two months ago to begin drafting the plans for what she said will be a complicated withdrawal of troops, trucks and equipment.

''If we're not planning for it, it will be difficult to execute it in a safe and efficacious way,'' she said then.

The strong wording of the response is unusual, particularly for a missive to a member of the Senate committee with oversight of the Defense Department and its budget.

Clinton aides said the letter ignored important military matters and focuses instead on political payback.

''Redeploying out of Iraq with the same combination of arrogance and incompetence with which the Bush administration deployed our young men and women into Iraq is completely unacceptable, and our troops deserve far better,'' said Reines, who said military leaders should offer a withdrawal plan rather than ''a political plan to attack those who question them.''

As she runs for president, the New York senator has ratcheted up her criticism of the Bush administration's war effort, answering critics of her 2002 vote to authorize the Iraq invasion by saying she would end the war if elected president.

If she wins, Clinton may find herself overseeing such a withdrawal policy, but she is hardly alone in raising the issue.

Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana warned Thursday at a hearing that if U.S. military leaders and Congress ''are not prepared for these contingencies, they may be executed poorly, especially in an atmosphere in which public demands for troop withdrawals could compel action on a political timetable.''

Edelman's letter does offer a passing indication the Pentagon might, in fact, be planning how to withdraw, saying: ''We are always evaluating and planning for possible contingencies. As you know, it is long-standing departmental policy that operational plans, including contingency plans, are not released outside of the department.''

Edelman is the Undersecretary of defense for policy. He is also a former U.S. ambassador and one-time aide to Vice President Dick Cheney. During the 2004 campaign, Cheney told Iowa voters that electing the Democratic ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards would risk another terrorist attack.

Kerry jumped to Clinton's defense, deriding what he called smear tactics by the administration.

''They will say anything, do anything, and twist any truth to avoid accountability,'' said the Massachusetts senator.


Associated Press Writer Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.


For this CA dumped Gov Davis....

From truthout.org :

Cheney Suppressed Evidence in California Energy Crisis
By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Investigative Report

Thursday 19 July 2007

In-depth investigation shows how Vice President Dick Cheney pressured federal energy regulators to conceal evidence of widespread market manipulation by energy companies during the California electricity crisis in 2001.

In March 2001, while California's two largest utilities were teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and the state's electricity crisis was spiraling out of control, Vice President Dick Cheney summoned Curt Hebert, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), to his office next to the White House for a hastily arranged meeting.

Cheney had just been informed by his longtime friend Thomas Cruikshank, the man who handpicked the vice president to succeed him at Halliburton in the mid-1990s, that federal energy regulators were close to completing an investigation into allegations that Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Williams Companies and AES Corporation of Arlington, Virginia had created an artificial power shortage in California in April and May of 2000 by shutting down a power plant for more than two weeks.

Cruikshank was a member of Williams's board of directors, and perhaps more importantly, had been one of many energy industry insiders advising Cheney's energy task force on a wide-range of policy issues, including deregulation of the nation's electricity sector, that would benefit Williams financially.

Cruikshank informed the vice president he had learned about the preliminary findings of FERC's investigation during a Williams board meeting earlier in March 2001. FERC, Cruikshank told Cheney, was in possession of incriminating audio tapes in which a Williams official and an AES power plant operator discussed keeping a Southern California power plant offline so Williams could continue to receive the $750 per megawatt hour premium for emergency power California's grid operator was forced to procure to keep the lights on in Southern California.

AES was the operator of two power plants in Los Alamitos and Williams marketed the electricity. The power plants were designated by the California Independent System Operator (ISO), the agency that manages the state's power grid, as crucial in order to ensure a reliable flow of electricity in the Southern part of the state. To stave off the potential for blackouts, the ISO was given the authority to pay top dollar for power if the power plants operated by AES, as well as power plants operated by other companies, were not in operation.

California's electricity crisis wreaked havoc on consumers in the state between 2000 and 2001. The crisis resulted in widespread rolling blackouts and forced the state's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, into bankruptcy. California was the first state in the nation to deregulate its power market in an effort to provide consumers with cheaper electricity and the opportunity to choose their own power provider. The results have since proved disastrous. The experiment has cost the state more than $30 billion.

According to a copy of the March 2001 Williams transcript, Rhonda Morgan, a Williams official, told an AES power plant operator "it wouldn't hurt Williams's feelings" if the power plant that was down for repairs was kept offline for an extended period of time so the company could continue to be paid the "premium" for its emergency energy supplies from the ISO. In a separate conversation with Eric Pendergraft, a senior AES official, Morgan said, "I don't wanna do something underhanded, but if there's work you can continue to do ..."

Pendergraft responded to Morgan, saying, "I understand. You don't have to talk anymore."

[click link below to continue reading]



WHY did the Dems do this?!!!

From The Information Clearing House:

Another Step Toward War with Iran

By Joshua Frank

The Democrats certainly don't contest Bush's Middle East foreign policy, they embrace it. Just last week the Senate voted 97-0 in favor of moving toward war with Iran.



Many good films...many good books...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Tara Yellen's AFTER HOURS AT THE ALMOST HOME, about one night, one bar, another round and whether you can ever trust restaurant love, to Greg Michalson at Unbridled Books, by Alice Tasman at Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency.


PEN Hemingway Award and Stephen Crane Prize winner Justin Cronin's apocalyptic trilogy, presupposing that vampires are real, created by a virus that produces profound physical and psychological transformation, beginning with THE PASSAGE, a re-imagining of the traditional Gothic vampire story, considering our contemporary fears of viral epidemics, government ineptitude, scientific knowledge outstripping ethical understanding, and the dissipation of human bonds, offering themes of love, friendship, and sacrifice, set against an epic struggle to heal a broken world, to Mark Tavani at Ballantine, for publication beginning in summer 2009, by Ellen Levine at Trident Media Group (NA).


KILLER WEEKEND author Ridley Pearson's next two books in the Sun Valley thriller series, to Chris Pepe at Putnam, by Amy Berkower at Writers House (NA).

Author of Comes a Horseman and Germ Robert Liparulo's thriller about a military construction project in Illinois where evidence of the oldest known settlement in the Western Hemisphere is uncovered -- as is a recent murder victim -- leading to the archeologists' investigation that find a conspiracy that threatens thousands of lives and the US government itself, based on a screenplay co-written by Liparulo and film director Andrew Davis (The Guardian, The Fugitive, Holes), to Allen Arnold at Thomas Nelson.

Film rights optioned to Mike Medavoy at Phoenix Pictures.

A new James Bond novel by Sebastian Faulks, DEVIL MAY CARE, to Stephen Rubin at Doubleday, with Deb Futter (US), and to Alex Clarke at Penguin UK, for publication on the late Ian Fleming's 100th birthday in May 2008, by Gillon Aitken at Aitken Alexander.


Author of The Interpretation of Murder Jed Rubenfeld's THE DEATH INSTINCT, a sequel set 10 years later, opening with the Wall Street terrorist attack of 1920, to Geoff Kloske at Riverhead, for publication in summer 2009, by Suzanne Gluck at William Morris Agency, and to Mary-Anne Harrington at Headline (the UK edition of his first book sold over 600,000 copies in the UK after being selected by Richard and Judy) by Cathryn Summerhayes at William Morris UK.

Harry Turtledove's THE MAN WITH THE IRON HEART, an alternate history thriller set in post-World War II occupied Germany, in which Nazi "insurgents" attack U.S. forces and other Germans in a brutal campaign of terror, to Fleetwood Robbins at Ballantine, by Russell Galen at Scovil Chichak Galen Literary Agency (NA).
Foreign: barorint@aol.com


Film rights to Sara Gruen's WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, optioned to Andrew Tennenbaum (The Bourne Ultimatum) at Flashpoint Entertainment, with Leonard Hartman (Dragonology) adapting, by Don Laventhall.

Film rights to John Connolly's THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS, about a 12-year-old English boy who is thrust into a realm where eternal stories and fairy tales assume an often gruesome reality, optioned to director John Moore's Point Road Productions, in a very nice deal, by Steve Fisher at APA, on behalf of the Darley Anderson Literary Agency.

Film rights to Angie Sage's planned seven-book SEPTIMUS HEAP middle-grade children's fantasy series (three have been published so far), abou two babies switched at birth: a boy who discovers his birthright as the seventh son of a seventh son, and ultimately, a powerful wizard, and a girl who is destined to become Princess, to Warner Bros., with Karen Rosenfelt ("The Devil Wears Prada") producing, by Ellen Goldsmith-Vein of The Gotham Group on behalf of Joan Rosen at Harper Children's. Sage is represented by Eunice McMullen.

Harper says they have sold over a million copies in the US, and rights have been sold in 28 languages.

Film rights to Joe McGinniss Jr.'s THE DELIVERY MAN, to Thom Mount at Whitsett Hill Films, (who pitches it as "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" meets "Cruel Intentions"), at auction, by Josie Freedman at ICM.

Rob Vlock's OFF STRATEGY, an office-set romance -- pitched as YOU'VE GOT MAIL with the comic tone of THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, to Sony Pictures for Jay Roach (MEET THE PARENTS, AUSTIN POWERS) to produce and Jon Poll (forthcoming CHARLIE BARTLETT) to direct, in advance of the sale of book rights, by Sarah Self at The Gersh Agency, on behalf of Jenny Bent at Trident Media Group.

Contributing writer to Vanity Fair Nina Munk's BENDING HISTORY, a journalistic, behind-the-scenes look at the world's longtime efforts to end global poverty, through the lens of economist/crusader Jeffrey Sachs' Millenium Villages Project, to Bill Thomas at Doubleday, by Elyse Cheney at the Elyse Cheney Agency (World).


Ingrid Law's debut novel SAVVY, about a family that has harbored for generations a magical secret: their thirteenth birthdays bring the emergence of a supernatural power -- their "savvy" (one can make it rain for days; another can create furious gusts of winds) -- and the adventures of a twelve-year-old member on the eve of her birthday as a tragic accident befalls the family, to Lauri Hornik at Dial, with Alisha Niehaus editing, and Micheal Flaherty at Walden Media for their joint venture, in a pre-empt, for two books, for publication beginning in May 2008, by Daniel Lazar at Writers House (NA).

Separately, film rights to Walden Media, by Kassie Evashevski at UTA, on behalf of Writers House. German rights to Carlsen, in a pre-empt, by Thomas Schlueck Agency, on behalf of Writers House.


Germaine Greer's SHAKESPEARE'S WIFE, a polemical book on Ann Hathaway, aiming to reclaim her from scholarly neglect and misogyny, to Jonathan Burnham and Terry Karten at Harper, for publication in spring 2008, along with paperback rights to The Female Eunuch, first published in 1970 by Emma Parry at Fletcher & Parry.

ACE OF SPADES author David Matthews's BROTHER SUPERIOR, the true story about a boy from Baltimore who goes from safecracking, jewel-heisting, deep-sea diving, ultimate-fighting, international playboy to globetrotting humanitarian, to Vanessa Mobley at Penguin Press, by Kate Lee at ICM (NA).


New School professor Thaddeus Russell's A RENEGADE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, a look at key social and political turning points in history, showing how outsider groups such as slaves, immigrants, gays, prostitutes, and criminals have defined mainstream culture and freedoms, to Bruce Nichols at the Free Press, in a pre-empt, by David Kuhn at Kuhn Projects (world).

Former CIA European chief Tyler Drumheller's BLIND TERROR: America after 9/11, the sequel to ON THE BRINK, offering a prescription for reforming the American Intelligence Community and returning its mission to providing intel rather than political cover, to Susan Weinberg and Will Balliet at Public Affairs, by Carmen La Via at Fifi Oscard Agency (world).


Eve Brown's TAKE ME HOME: My search for meaning -- and a decent restroom -- in the Third World, a fish-out-of-water memoir about a pampered, do-gooder-wanna-be, who struggles to rough it in Uganda, Africa, to Christine Pride at Doubleday, at auction, by Laney Katz Becker at Folio Literary Management (World).

Tim Sultan's SUNNY NIGHTS, about the author's experience bartending for thirteen years at the last longshoreman bar in Brooklyn, and his friendship with its larger-than-life owner and eccentric regulars -- set against the backdrop of a transforming neighborhood and a disappearing small town America, to Laura Ford at Random House, by Maria Massie at Lippincott Massie McQuilkin (world English).


Judge dismisses Plame suit....

From SacBee.com :

Valerie Plame's lawsuit dismissed
A federal judge dismissed former CIA operative Valerie Plame's lawsuit against members of the Bush administration Thursday, eliminating one of the last courtroom remnants of the leak scandal....(more)


[to continue reading click link above]


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Kucinich in hospital...

From Associated Press:

Kucinich hospitalized with apparent food poisoning
Associated Press

CLEVELAND - Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, who is a vegan, has been hospitalized with "severe" effects of apparent food poisoning.

The 60-year-old congressman from Cleveland became sick Sunday night while flying to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to address the national Longshoremen's convention. He went ahead with the speech Monday but immediately returned home and was hospitalized in the Cleveland area.

The name of the hospital wasn't disclosed. Andy Juniewicz, a campaign spokesman, said Kucinich was improving Tuesday night and said no medical update was available Wednesday morning.

Kucinich, a former Cleveland mayor, typically polls in the low single digits.


Congress just an advisory body for BushCo?

From International Herald Tribune:

Contempt for Congress

Published: July 18, 2007

The Bush administration's disregard for the rule of law hit another low when Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, defied a congressional subpoena. A second former official, Sara Taylor, did testify, but she inappropriately invoked executive privilege to dodge key questions. Congress should take firm action to compel Miers and Taylor to provide the testimony it is entitled to hear.

Congress has been conducting a much-needed investigation of last year's dismissal of nine top prosecutors. The evidence so far strongly suggests that the firings were done for improper, political reasons, and that Miers and Taylor were involved. As part of its supervisory authority, Congress is entitled to question the two women.

Miers refused to appear before the House Judiciary Committee after President Bush, claiming executive privilege, took the extraordinary step of ordering her not to testify. If Congress is seeking any privileged information, Miers can decline to answer those specific questions. But executive privilege did not negate her legal duty to appear when Congress subpoenaed her.

The House of Representatives should vote to hold Miers in contempt. The Senate Judiciary Committee should review Taylor's testimony and demand answers to the legitimate questions she refused to answer. If she continues her recalcitrance she, too, should face contempt.

Any lesser response would be an invitation to this executive branch, and every future one, to treat Congress not as a co-equal branch of government, but as little more than an advisory body.


Blackwater has the $$$$$$$..........

From Voice of San Diego. com :

Blackwater Greases County Wheels

If you can make a lot of money doing something, is it ever wrong? Some people in San Diego County offices say "No," and they run their offices that way too. In fact, you could argue that county systems are put in place to grab as much cash as possible, regardless of any ethics concerns. I really don't know how much lining of pockets is done in private, but it seems there is probably no end to the corruption.

The proposed Blackwater West training camp is a great example. This project was started in June 2006, but it didn't reach the light of day until it was already approved by the Potrero Planning Group in December. We learned that Blackwater met with big-wheels Rep. Duncan Hunter and Supervisor Dianne Jacob in May 2006. No one will admit what was discussed at that meeting, and it's a bit strange that Hunter was involved as it isn't even his congressional district. (The project is in the 51st congressional district, represented by Bob Filner.) But I imagine that a great deal of taxpayer money siphoned into Blackwater's accounts were under the control of Hunter's Armed Services Subcommittee, at least until November 2006. So maybe that's why he was there.

Apparently, it's okay for Blackwater to talk to these decision makers prior to the start of a project, but once it is entered into the Department of Planning and Land Use, the public is censored from even mentioning it. This happened at Jacob's "Backcountry Revitalization Meeting" in Campo, a meeting that was invaded by backcountry residents unhappy with the prospect of having a paramilitary training camp in their quiet residential neighborhood.

Although on the surface, Jacob wants public participation in the meeting, she had the county counsel tell us that the "informal" meeting was not subject to the open-meetings law -- the Brown Act -- and therefore it was inappropriate for Jacob to allow anyone to mention Blackwater. Wouldn't that be terrible if she heard something from the public on this matter?

They say there are laws on the books that require that nothing be said about a pending development project to our representatives prior to the official hearings. If you ask me, the law is absurd, especially since Blackwater met with the representatives prior to the start of the project. Any citizens should be able to speak at these meetings about whatever they please. What happened to the freedom of speech? Oh, I guess it doesn't apply if the meeting is informal, that's all. What?

Revolving Door

Our county government has an amazing "revolving door" policy. Attorney Lori Spar is a particularly ugly example of using such a door. In her case, she was initially working for Blackwater's law firm and involved in processing the Blackwater West project through the DPLU. Suddenly, she decided to scrap her position as a high-paid attorney, scrap the work she did to pass the bar exam, scrap all her years in law school, and return to her previous position as lowly planner at the DPLU. And, you guessed it, also working on the Blackwater West project."There's nothing illegal about that," DPLU officials said. But to avoid the "perception of impropriety" they decided to put her on another project. Honestly, I'd be surprised if Spar is even working for the DPLU in any capacity. Revolved in, busted, and revolved back out. Is this unusual? I'm sorry to say that it hardly raises an eyebrow among county workers. There seems to be no ethical standards anymore. If you can make a lot of money doing something, it is probably right.


It turns out that the Blackwater project is slated to be constructed in a sensitive mountain valley, an important watershed and entryway to the Hauser Wilderness. Part of the property is within the Cleveland National Forest. This valley is designated as an agricultural preserve in an attempt to hold off development. To even allow the project to be opened, the DPLU says that the training facility is accurately defined as a "utility."

What a joke! Ask anyone what a utility is, and they'll come up with ideas like a cell-phone tower, power substation, or even the infamous Sunrise Power Link. They won't tell you that a training camp with dormitories for 300 trainees, 15 shooting ranges, a 2.5-mile driving track, live-fire shoot houses, urban simulation areas, ship simulators and an 18,000-square-foot armory building (almost half an acre for guns and ammunition) qualifies as a "utility." Again, it seems that if you can make a lot of money by lying, then that's what they'll do.

This project is more like a 300-room hotel, with the water use, sewage, traffic and evacuation requirements that go with it, not an unoccupied cell phone tower.

But why start a project that is not a "utility" when it is required to be one to get out of the starting gate? It has to do with how the DPLU is funded. The department gets paid by the developer for every hour it puts in on these projects. The staff consider the developer to be their "customer." And, as you know, the customer is always right, aren't they? It seems smart to allow Blackwater to pay for a lot of work on a project that is apparently doomed to be stopped by anyone observing that it is not a "utility."

It only speaks to the point that most of all this work, CEQA, etc. they do is just window-dressing, to make it appear that they are doing what is right. In the end, money talks, and probably the utility issue will be ignored. Or perhaps the dictionary definition will be revised to include such a mercenary boot camp.

Fast-Track=New Criteria

The DPLU says the Blackwater project will be processed like any other project. Again, they are twisting the facts. It turns out that the DPLU is implementing "Business Process Re-engineering -- BPR", otherwise known as "fast-tracking." They want to reduce the time to process a project from four years down to two. That sounds great! A department that will be improving its performance! Sorry, folks. It is improvement only in the eyes of the developer. From the standpoint of the citizen, this allows less time to get the facts and challenge unwise projects.

But time is not all they're changing. They are reviewing and potentially changing all the criteria for allowing projects to proceed. And isn't it interesting that the Blackwater project will be one of the first ones to be processed with these new standards? It doesn't seem like it is being reviewed "just like any other project" does it?

Dollar Signs

To top all this off, the Potrero Community Planning Group, the government entity that is supposed the best representatives of the people, has been apparently corrupted by visions of dollar signs dancing in their heads. "Noise is the only real issue" said Gordon Hammers, chairman of the group. We noticed that the live-fire noise test was not conducted, and it never would have save for the petitions of nearly half of the affected residents. For some reason, the group made no real comments about the huge project in Form 534, their official communication to the DPLU. Why?

They were courted by Blackwater, giving them a tour of their yacht and freebie dinners at the contrived tour of the 7,000-acre Moyock, N.C., facility. Residents' mouths were agape as they noticed planning group member Mary Johnson wearing a Blackwater-logo T-shirt at the May 10 meeting. Do you think she was trying to be an impartial representative of the public? No wonder they are being recalled.

At least there is hope. Some residents of Potrero are smarter than that. They don't buy into the concept that money and power always mean you are doing the right thing. Thank God.You can find more information about the Blackwater West project here.


Wednesday, July 18 -- 6:37 pm


Cheney...Bully and Coward....

In These Times:

July 12, 2007
Is Cheney Evil or Just a Weasel?
By likening Dick to He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, we confirm the bully’s power rather than undermine it
By Susan J. Douglas

Cheney has done some scary things, but likening to him to He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, we confirm his power rather than undermine it.

The Dark Lord. Voldemort. Darth Vader. The Shadow President. These threatening, macho soubriquets have been applied to Dick Cheney over the past six years, and are in rapid circulation in the wake of recent charges that Cheney’s office, beginning in 2003, refused to submit annual reports about how it classifies secret documents to the National Archives’ Security Oversight Office. Turns out Cheney claims to be above such laws. The Washington Post’s June 24-27 series by Pulitzer Prize winner Barton Gellman and Jo Becker about Cheney’s ruthless and determined consolidation of power in the White House has further burnished the Dark Lord aura.

But the time has come to dispatch these heavily armored nicknames and go with another. I propose “Weasel.” In an era when image is everything, it’s time to change the image and attack the power.

Yes, Cheney has been scary for a long time, has done evil things, and his iron-jawed, gravel-voiced, unflinching assertion of certitude (often in clear contradiction to the Constitution) has protected him and his policies. But by likening him to He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, we confirm his power rather than undermine it. That’s why I like “Weasel.” Other comparable nominations are most welcome, as long as they convey furtiveness, evasion, prevarication and cowardice.

Obsessed with secrecy and domination, Cheney is a bully. And within every bully lies a coward, someone, for example, who waits 20 hours before notifying the media that he has accidentally shot a friend and then has a woman make the announcement for him. Macho, macho man.

Cheney’s long overdue need for ridicule is why we should be grateful that so many young people get their news from The Daily Show. Cheney’s office made the preposterous assertion that he didn’t have to comply with the Executive Order mandating the annual reports to the National Archives because he wasn’t part of the executive branch. Unfortunately for a dignified correspondent like ABC’s Martha Raddatz, the constraints of her job confined her to reporting, with a straight face, that Cheney has used “the opposite argument in the past, citing executive privilege when asked for information about his travel and visitors to his office.”

Jon Stewart, under no such proscriptions, can provide the level of disbelief that matches the outrageousness of this latest Cheney gambit. What The Daily Show consistently does best is juxtapose video of administration officials making their bogus pronouncements with video clips from the past, showing them saying the exact opposite. So Stewart showed Cheney on tape emphatically asserting executive privilege because he’s in the, er, executive branch. Stewart then looked into the camera to tell Americans that Cheney has always meant “to come up to us personally and say ‘go fuck ourselves.’ “

Now, for the sake of comparison, let’s imagine an administration official who has made a decision that goes very wrong, one in which people, including children, die. This official, only on the job for a month, could have blamed the FBI, which had urged the disastrous course of action, but did not. Instead, the official said, simply, “I’m responsible.”

That official was Janet Reno and she immediately admitted that the decision to assault the Branch Davidian compound in Waco with tear gas, leading to a conflagration that killed more than 80 people, was “obviously wrong.” The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had begun the confrontation with the Branch Davidians on Feb. 28, 1993, two weeks before Reno was even confirmed; this was a catastrophe she inherited and yet came to own. She did not hide from the press or retreat to an undisclosed location; she appeared on CNN and “Nightline,” and told Ted Koppel, “I think it’s one of the great tragedies of this time.” As Laura Blumenfeld wrote for the Post, “It is clear that a different kind of bird has nested at Justice … . The attorney general’s candor may surprise those used to politicians who duck and cover when things go wrong.”

Several months later Reno’s approval ratings were higher than Clinton’s and she had one of the lowest unfavorable ratings of anyone in his administration. Nonetheless, because Reno was also deeply threatening to American gender norms—she simply looked at the masquerade of femininity women are supposed to don and said “No thanks”—she was the ongoing butt of jokes on Leno, Letterman and, of course, Will Ferrell’s SNL “Janet Reno’s Dance Party.” No protective covering for her.

Commentary about Dick Cheney should now strip him of his various creepy veneers because they give him the cover that makes his power seem all that much more unassailable. As the indefatigable Rep. Henry Waxman, the Post and others go after him for his serial assaults on democracy and the rule of law, the macho language surrounding him should give way to images evoking an utter inability to ever face the music. Cheney et al. have attacked others who threaten their power with variations on the “girly-man” slur. But when you think about standing tall and alone, having true courage and taking the heat for your mistakes, who is the true girly-man: Janet Reno or Dick “Weasel” Cheney?

Susan J. Douglas is a professor of communications at the University of Michigan and author of The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How it Has Undermined Women.

More information about Susan J. Douglas


Don't mess with the Jihadists....

From Stratfor:

State Sponsors of Jihadism: Learning the Hard Way
By Kamran Bokhari

In the short period of time since some Muslim states began to employ jihadists to further their domestic and foreign policy objectives -- in the late 1970s and early 1980s -- none of these states has been able to quit the relationship and remain unscathed. For various reasons, the once-symbiotic relationships between the governments of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and their jihadist proxies have turned adversarial, while in Syria's case the storm is brewing. In essence, the jihadists have come back to bite the hand that fed them.

An examination of the development of these relationships reveals a similar path. The security and intelligence apparatuses in each of these countries played the lead role in supporting these militant Islamist entities -- in some cases even helping to create them. Over time, these intelligence agencies developed a considerable degree of influence among such groups, though the groups enjoyed significant influence within the security establishment as well.

For domestic reasons, most of these governments aligned themselves with religious extremist forces to consolidate their power and counter challenges from mainstream opposition forces. But more important, the alignment served to further the geopolitical objectives of the state in its region. In the beginning, such relationships tended to go well -- until the state ceased to have a major use for the jihadist group or the group became too powerful to manage. Normally, despite the ups and downs in the relationship between a country and its allied terrorist entity, the state maintains the upper hand. This is because, although their ideology and interests differ from those of the state, the jihadist groups depend on the state for their survival and prosperity.

The Afghanistan Legacy

Such equilibrium, however, exists as long as the affair remains limited to a one-on-one relationship between the state and its proxy, or only one or two neighboring states get involved. Over time, however, the explosive cocktail of religion and geopolitics has allowed Islamist militant nonstate actors to seek help from other like-minded groups outside their areas of operation, which has helped them consolidate their positions at home. It all began with the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan in 1979, when the United States, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia supported Islamist rebels fighting the Moscow-backed Marxist stratocracy in Kabul.

For its part, Washington provided weapons and training to the insurgents it called "freedom fighters," while Riyadh funneled money to them and Islamabad provided logistical assistance. Moreover, these countries made a concerted effort to unite a broad range of Islamist groups. In the process, these groups -- which until then had limited horizons -- got their first real taste of transnationalism. Not only did the decade-long Afghan experience connect the groups, it also laid the foundation for a transnational network -- one that later emerged as a global jihadist network, with al Qaeda as its vanguard.

Although by empowering the jihadists the Afghan venture altered the nature of the relationship between Muslim states and their nonstate proxies, many states continued to do business with their proxies. Even U.S.-led international pressure on countries -- mostly Muslim ones -- to abandon their sponsorship of terrorist entities was not serious enough to force the states to shut down these operations.

The Saudis continued to bankroll Arab legions fighting in Central Asia, South Asia, the Far East, the Caucasus and the Balkans. Pakistan continued to back the Afghan and Pakistani militant Islamist groups, with an eye on securing the now-infamous objective of "strategic depth" in Afghanistan. Islamabad also aimed to counter Indian military superiority by backing Kashmiri separatist groups. Yemen sought the help of jihadist forces to defeat Marxists in the 1994 civil war. Meanwhile, the 1991 Persian Gulf War played a key role in creating friction between many of these states and their jihadist proxies. The falling out between Osama bin Laden and the Saudi royal family is a classic case. Jihadist groups by then had gained sufficient strength to begin asserting their autonomy, especially in areas where their ideologies and objectives clashed with those of their state patrons.

The evolving relationship between Islamist groups and Muslim states also had a direct impact on the domestic sociopolitical conditions in the concerned countries, which led to the rise of religious conservatives, radical Islamists and other extremist forces. A situation developed in which the very religious ideology the ruling elites had used to consolidate their hold on power was beginning to undercut the state. Because the Islamist militants did not completely turn against the state, however, the situation remained tenable.

The Watershed

Then came 9/11.The attacks against the United States completely altered the global geopolitical landscape and forced governments in Islamabad, Riyadh, Sanaa and elsewhere to act against their jihadist allies. In the beginning, these Muslim governments tried to make do by simply convincing the Islamist groups to lie low. Some complied, though many others did not -- because by then they had established autonomous operating environments and, more important, they had been emboldened by al Qaeda's 9/11 attacks. The state patrons, then, were finding that many of their former proxies were going rogue, and that a realignment of the jihadist universe was taking place.

Whereas many jihadist groups and factions in the past had "special" relationships with the state, they now found an ally in al Qaeda and its band of transnational jihadists. This pursuit of transnational objectives brought the jihadists in direct confrontation with states whose past relationships with the jihadists were motivated by national interest. The jihadists, in other words, represented no more than instruments through which governments could pursue their goals. Over time, especially during the period following the invasion of Iraq by the United States and its allies, these Muslim governments increased the pressure on the jihadists.

That said, the break between the jihadists and their patron governments was neither quick nor absolute, which explains why it took some time before the jihadists redirected their actions against the states that were responsible for their initial rise. Despite their growing distaste for their former patrons, the jihadists still needed to maintain operational links with their contacts inside the states' security and intelligence networks.

In many cases, intelligence operatives and security officers who had managed the jihadist groups sympathized with the newly shunned nonstate actors, giving the jihadists significant access to resources that helped them continue to operate -- even under the global counterjihadist regime being imposed by the United States. Although some of these officials were purged and others were transferred, still others managed to balance their official duties with their sympathies to the jihadists. The Pakistani intelligence directorates, particularly the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), continues to be plagued by this problem, which would explain the jihadists ease in staging attacks against Pakistani security forces since the Musharraf government began operations against Islamist militant interests in the country's northwest.

Even though the official policy in these states now is based on the conviction that Islamist extremists and terrorists represent a grave national security threat -- and the governments are mobilizing resources to counter the threat -- to varying degrees, the jihadists have sufficiently penetrated the state systems to the point that they still can conduct business. The fatal mistake governments make is that they try to distinguish between "good" and "bad" jihadists. For the Pakistanis, the Taliban in Afghanistan constitute a resistance movement, though they want the Taliban operating in Pakistan wiped out. Similarly, the Yemenis hunt down some al Qaeda-linked jihadists, but not those who form a crucial support base for the government of President Ali Abdallah Saleh or those who make up an integral part of Yemen's intelligence services. In the same way, the Saudis have undertaken a massive counterjihadist effort in the kingdom, though they still support jihadists in Iraq as a means of containing the rise of the Shia there -- and, by extension, Iran.

However, maintaining an ambivalent policy toward jihadism, while tempting, can be deadly. From a policy point of view, it is easy to box jihadists into the neat categories of good and bad. In reality, however, the jihadist goal is to overthrow secular governments and establish Islamist states, which is why these states cannot hope to do business with jihadists and expect to maintain internal security and stability. Of course, different governments faced with varying domestic and foreign policy circumstances will have different levels of success.

The Unique Situations

Despite having the social, political and economic environment that is most conducive to jihadist activity, Saudi Arabia has been the most successful in combating jihadism. In an effort to undercut the Islamist militants, the kingdom's General Intelligence Directorate has skillfully made use of the same religious, tribal and financial channels that the jihadists use to stage attacks. It is not surprising, then, that the Saudis have been ahead of the curve since June 2004 and have managed to thwart attacks and launch successful pre-emptive strikes against jihadist personnel and infrastructure. Since the beginning of the jihadist insurgency in the country, Riyadh's security forces have eliminated some half-dozen successive commanders of the kingdom's al Qaeda node. Much of the Saudi success can be attributed to the government's handle on the various cross sections of society. Moreover, the Saudis have had sufficient experience in dealing with rogue Islamist militants.

The kingdom's founder, King Abdel-Aziz bin Abdel-Rehman, successfully quashed the Ikhwan movement (not to be confused with the Muslim Brotherhood) when it began to threaten the interests of the state. The militant Wahhabi movement played a major role in King Abdel-Aziz's attempts to conquer most of modern-day Saudi Arabia in the early 1900s. But when the group wanted to expand its operations into Iraq (then under British control) -- a move that threatened the interest of the king's British allies -- and when it wanted to impose its own brand of Islamic law in the kingdom, King Abdel-Aziz had its members annihilated.

Many decades later, in 1979, when the Kaba in Mecca was taken over by a militant Wahhabi group led by Juhayman al-Utaibi, the Saudis were again able to act against the group, even storming the Kaba to flush out the militants. The situation in Yemen is not that bad either. Like Saudi Arabia, attacks still continue -- most recently against energy-related targets -- but what has helped the Yemenis is that a significant population in the country is Zaydi, an offshoot of the Shiite sect of Islam. Additionally, the Yemeni government is not supporting jihadists for foreign policy purposes, but to ensure domestic political stability. Thus, the jihadists do not engage in active combat. Nevertheless, the country sits on the crossroad of four major jihadist theaters -- Iraq, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Somalia and Saudi Arabia -- and the transnational elements from each arena could link up with the locals to create problems for Sanaa in the future.

By far, the most serious threat is that faced by Pakistan. There, the historic mullah-military alliance has fallen apart in recent months. In fact, in the wake of the operation against Islamabad's Red Mosque, the jihadists have taken off the gloves and declared war against the Pakistani state. While successive governments dating back to the country's creation in 1947 have used religious groups and the ulema class to standardize Pakistan's nationalism as one rooted in Islam, the 11-year rule (1977-88) of former military dictator President Gen. Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq played a crucial role in creating the Islamist Frankenstein. Though many governments before and after Zia flirted with Islamist actors to pursue foreign policy objectives, it was the Zia regime that empowered Islamists and mullahs at home.

In many ways, the current polarization of Pakistani society is the logical culmination of two competing views of the Pakistani state. Throughout their country's nearly 60-year history as a nation-state, Pakistanis have struggled over whether Pakistan was created to be an "Islamic" polity in which its majority Muslim population could live in accordance with its cultural norms as codified by state law, or whether its founders envisioned Pakistan as a secular state in which the Muslims of British India could safeguard their economic interests.

This situation continues to force the state's hand, and the government is attempting to gain control over the jihadists who are striking at the very security forces that nurtured them in the past. Therefore, given the magnitude of the problem, it is not surprising to see that many Pakistanis are beginning to wonder about the future survivability of their country. Pakistan is unlikely to become a failed state as a result of the social chaos and the weakening of the military-dominated establishment, but the country is headed for serious trouble.

However, it is too soon to say whether Pakistan will face a situation like Algeria did in the 1990s, when some 200,000 people died before the government could contain the Islamist insurgency there, or whether it will encounter a more benign insurgency, like that in Egypt in the 1980s and 1990s. Another state that has recently begun using jihadist elements to pursue its foreign policy objectives is Syria. The government not only has allowed jihadists to use Syrian territory as a conduit to Iraq, but also has in recent months redirected some of that traffic toward Lebanon in a bid to regain control of its smaller neighbor -- control it lost in the storm that erupted after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

Syria in the 1970s became the first Arab state to face a serious challenge from homegrown jihadists, which is why former President Hafez al Assad decided to strike hard at Islamist forces in 1982 -- an act that led to the killing of tens of thousands of people. The senior al Assad was motivated by the fact that his Alawite-Baathist regime was a minority government in a country where 85 percent of the population was Sunni. His son, President Bashar al Assad, however, is ignoring that statistic and is participating in a dangerous game of backing jihadists in Iraq and Lebanon. It will not be long before these same forces begin to threaten domestic security and stability in Syria, especially with Iraq exploding.

States that have exploited jihadists to further their own interests have derived some short-term benefits, but in the long run, these groups have come back to haunt their former sponsors -- in some cases even threatening the security and stability of the state. In either creating or supporting these groups, the states tend to forget that their proxies will have their own agendas. Given their ideology and transnational links, jihadists groups have proven to be the most deadly proxies.

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Ending the Iraq War...Who and How?

From Secrecy News:


Does Congress have the constitutional authority to legislate limits on the conduct of the war in Iraq?

The answer may seem obvious. But to resolve any lingering doubt, the Congressional Research Service gave the topic a thorough analytic treatment in a newly updated report and concluded that Congress does have such authority."It has been suggested that the President's role as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces provides sufficient authority for his deployment of troops, and any efforts on the part of Congress to intervene could represent an unconstitutional violation of separation-of-powers principles."

"While even proponents of strong executive prerogative in matters of war appear to concede that it is within Congress's authority to cut off funding entirely for a military operation, it has been suggested that spending measures that restrict but do not end financial support for the war in Iraq would amount to an 'unconstitutional condition'."

To rebut any such suggestion, the newly updated CRS report "provides historical examples of measures that restrict the use of particular personnel, and concludes with a brief analysis of arguments that might be brought to bear on the question of Congress's authority to limit the availability of troops to serve in Iraq."

"Although not beyond debate, such a restriction appears to be within Congress's authority to allocate resources for military operations,"the report stated.

See "Congressional Authority To Limit U.S. Military Operations inIraq," updated July 11, 2007:


See, relatedly, "Defense: FY2008 Authorization and Appropriations,"updated July 13, 2007:


and "FY2007 Supplemental Appropriations for Defense, Foreign Affairs, and Other Purposes," updated July 2, 2007:



Dow Jones & Murdoch to Senators too tall for cots...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

"The board of Dow Jones said late Tuesday it was ready to sign off" on Rupert Murdoch's proposal to buy the company for $5 billion. "However, the key remains with the Bancroft family, whose three dozen members have been deeply divided over whether to sell to Murdoch."

The National Intelligence Estimate released yesterday warned that Hezbollah could be "more likely to consider attacking the homeland" if it sees the United States as a threat to the group or to Iran. Slate's Fred Kaplan says that "this amounts to a direct warning to the White House: Don't attack Iran."

Resentment toward American forces remains "fierce" as "Iraqis endure their fifth blazing summer without sufficient power." The LA Times writes, "If anything is seen as symbolic of the United States' failure to deliver on its promise that life would be better without Saddam Hussein, it is the lack of reliable electricity."

The White House yesterday "played down the importance of President Bush's proposal for a Mideast peace conference and said it was too early to say where or when it would take place."

"Rapidly rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are driving noxious poison ivy and those annoying patches of dandelion to grow taller, lusher and more resilient, according to two new studies."

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) continues to maintain a "hold" on a bill that would cut down the lengthy wait time that plagues the Freedom of Information Act system. "Following easy passage by the House of Representatives and the Senate Judiciary Committee, however, the FOIA fix has been halted. Despite recent reports detailing delays and difficulties in getting government information, the Department of Justice has objected to the new legislation."

And finally: While Senate staffers were busy yesterday rolling out cots for the chamber's all-night Iraq debate, many senators said they didn't plan on using them. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who "towers at 6-feet-7-inches tall," said, "I don't fit on a cot." Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) admitted, "I've got a couch in my hideaway." Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) lives just four blocks from the Capitol and planned on slipping home to catch a nap.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

This Al Qaeda, that Al Qaeda, the other Al Qaeda....

From Stratfor:

Week out of Focus: Washington, Iraq and Al Qaeda
By George Friedman

Last week, the United States focused on the state of the war -- not just the one in Iraq, but the broader war against al Qaeda. A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) was released asserting that al Qaeda has reconstituted itself in Pakistan and is either at or near its previous capabilities.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his gut told him there is an increased risk of an al Qaeda attack in the United States this summer. President George W. Bush said at a press conference that the July 15 status report on Iraq would show that progress is being made in the war.

When the report actually was released, it revealed a somewhat more pessimistic picture in some areas. Meanwhile, the Republican Party was showing signs of internal strain over the war, while the Democrats were unable to formulate their own collective position. So, it was a week in which everyone focused on the war, but not one that made a whole lot of sense -- at least on the surface.

In some ways, the most startling assertion made was that al Qaeda has reconstituted itself in Pakistan. What is startling is that it appears to acknowledge that the primary U.S. mission in the war -- the destruction of al Qaeda -- not only has failed to achieve its goal, but also has done little more than force al Qaeda out of Afghanistan and into Pakistan.

Chertoff's statement that there is a high threat of an attack this summer merely reinforces the idea that the administration is conceding the failure of its covert war against al Qaeda. This is not an impossible idea. A recent book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tim Weiner, "Legacy of Ashes," provides an extraordinary chronicle of the CIA's progressive inability to carry out its mission. So the NIE claim might well have been an admission of failure.

But it was an odd admission and was not couched as a failure.What made this odd is that the administration is not known to concede failure lightly. During the same week, it continued to assert the more dubious proposition that it is making progress in Iraq. Why, therefore, was it releasing such pessimistic reports on al Qaeda, and why was Chertoff saying his gut tells him an attack this summer is possible? Why make the best-case scenario for Iraq and the worst-case scenario for al Qaeda?

There is nothing absurd about a gut call in intelligence, and much of the ridicule of Chertoff was absurd. Intelligence analysis -- particularly good intelligence analysis -- depends on gut calls. Analysts live in a world of incomplete and shifting intelligence, compelled to reach conclusions under the pressure of time and events. Intuition of experienced and gifted analysts is the bridge between leaving decision-makers without an analysis and providing the best guess available. The issue, as always, is how good the gut is.

We would assume that Chertoff was keying off of two things: the NIE's assertion that al Qaeda is back and the attacks possibly linked to al Qaeda in the United Kingdom. His gut told him that increased capabilities in Pakistan, coupled with what he saw in England and Scotland, would likely indicate a threat to the United States.

One question needs to be asked: What should be made of the NIE report and the events in the United Kingdom? It also is necessary to evaluate not only Chertoff's gut but also the gut intuitions of U.S. intelligence collectively. The NIE call is the most perplexing, partly because the day it appeared Stratfor issued a report downplaying al Qaeda's threat. But part of that could well be semantics. Precisely what do we mean when we say al Qaeda?

When U.S. forces talk about al Qaeda, they talk about large training camps that move thousands of trainees through them. Those are not the people we talk about when we discuss al Qaeda. The people who go through the camps generally are relatively uneducated young men being trained as paramilitaries. They learn to shoot. They learn to devise simple explosives. They learn infantry tactics. They are called al Qaeda but they are more like Taliban fighters.

They are not trained in the covert arts of moving to the United States, surviving without detection while being trained in flying airliners, and then carrying out complex missions effectively. They are al Qaeda in name and, inside Afghanistan or Pakistan, they might be able to do well in a firefight, but they are nothing like the men who struck on 9/11, nor are they trained to be.

When the U.S. government speaks about thousands of al Qaeda fighters, the vision is that the camps are filled with these thousands of men with the skill level of the 9/11 attackers. It is a scary vision, which the administration has pushed since 9/11, but it isn't true. These guys are local troops for the endless wars of the region.

When we think of al Qaeda, we think of the tiny group of skilled operatives who gathered around Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mohammed Atef in the 1990s. That group was capable of planning attacks across continents, moving money and men around the world -- and doing so without being detected. Those people have been the target of U.S. intelligence. The goal has been to capture, kill or bottle up those men in inaccessible places in order to prevent another attack like 9/11 or worse. If the NIE report meant to say this group has reconstituted itself, it would be startling news.

One of the ways this group survived is that it did not recruit new members directly into the core organization. One of the ways Palestinian terrorist organizations have been destroyed is by allowing new personnel into the core. This allowed intelligence agencies to vector agents into the core, map them out and destroy them. Al Qaeda was not going to make the same mistake, so it was extremely reluctant to expand.

This has limited its operations. It could not replace losses and therefore weakened as it was assaulted. But it did protect itself from penetration, which is why capturing surviving leaders has been so difficult.

If the NIE report is true, then the NIE is saying al Qaeda not only has been recruiting members into the core group, but also that it has been doing so for some time. If that is true then there have been excellent opportunities to penetrate and destroy what is left of it. But we don't think that is true, because al-Zawahiri and others, possibly bin Laden, are still on the loose. Therefore, we think the NIE is saying that the broad paramilitaries are active again and are now located in Pakistan.

Strange Week in Washington

Alternatively, the NIE is saying that a parallel covert group has been created in Pakistan, is using al Qaeda's name and is mounting new attacks. The attacks in the United Kingdom might have been part of its efforts, though they are an example of why we have always argued that terrorism is technically much more difficult to carry out than it might seem. Those attacks were botched from beginning to end. Unlike strikes by al Qaeda prime -- the core group -- these attacks, if they represent an effort by a new al Qaeda, should be a comfort. It was the gang that couldn't shoot straight operating globally.

If Chertoff's gut is speaking about a secondary group in Pakistan carrying out attacks similar to those in the United Kingdom, then certainly there is cause for concern, but nothing like the concern that should be felt if al Qaeda prime is active again. But then we don't think it can be, unless it has recruited new members. And if it has been recruiting new members and U.S. intelligence hasn't slipped someone inside during the process, then that would be not only a shame but also the admission of a major intelligence fiasco. We don't think that is what the NIE is discussing.

It is a warning that a group calling itself al Qaeda is operating in Pakistan. That can be called a revived al Qaeda, but only if one is careless with terminology.

It should also be remembered that the United States is placing heavy pressure on the Pakistanis. A report leaked early last week by the New York Times confirmed what Stratfor said as early as January 2004, that a major incursion into northwestern Pakistan had been planned by the United States but was called off at the last minute over fear of destabilizing President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Or, more precisely, it was called off after Musharraf promised to carry out the operation himself.

He did so, but ineffectively and half-heartedly, so that al Qaeda prime was not rooted out. By leaking the report of the planned incursion, the United States was reminding Musharraf of his guarantee. By issuing the NIE report, it was increasing pressure on Musharraf to do something decisive about militant Islamists in Pakistan -- or the United States would have to do something.

Already heavily pressured by domestic forces, Musharraf ordered the raid on the Red Mosque last week, demonstrating his commitment to contain radical Islamism in Pakistan and root out al Qaeda -- or at least that part of al Qaeda that is not part of the isolated primary group. Between the implicit threat of invasion and the explicit report that Pakistan is the center of a new al Qaeda, Pakistan got the message. Whether Islamabad will be able to act on it is another question.

So the NIE report was meant to pressure Pakistan, even if it looked like an admission of the total failure of the intelligence community's mission. Chertoff's warning of attacks this summer was partly an attempt to warn that there might be attacks like those that happened in the United Kingdom -- to which the answer is that one can only hope that they would be exactly like those. Even had they been successful, they would not have risen to the level of 9/11 or even close. And they failed.

The fact is that, in a simple empirical sense, the one thing that has been successful in this war is that there has not been a single follow-on attack to 9/11 in the United States. The reason might be because al Qaeda either doesn't want to attack or lacks the resources. Another answer might be that it has been stopped by effective U.S. counterterrorism activities. This is a subject that needs analysis. In our view, it is the latter.

But the simple fact is that the one mission achieved by the administration is that no attacks have occurred.There have been numerous warnings of potential attacks. Such warnings are always interesting. They imply that the United States has sufficient intelligence to know that attacks are being planned but insufficient intelligence to block them. The usual basis of these warnings is an attack elsewhere. The second is access to a fragmentary bit of intelligence, human or electronic, indicating in a nonspecific way that an attack is possible. But such warnings usually are untrue because an effective terrorist group does not leak information. That is its primary defense.

So chatter about attacks rarely indicates a serious one is imminent. Or, and this happens, a potential attack was aborted by the announcement and by increased security. We have no idea what Chertoff saw to lead him to make his announcement. But the fact is that there have been no attacks in six years -- and should there be a strategic attack now, it would represent not a continuation of the war but a new phase.

All of this neatly intersected with Bush's discussion of Iraq. He does not want to withdraw or announce a time line for withdrawal. His reason should be that a withdrawal from Iraq would open the door to Iranian domination of Iraq and a revolution in the geopolitics of the Arabian Peninsula. Bush has not stated that, but it is the best reason to oppose a withdrawal. Not announcing a timetable for withdrawal also makes sense because it would be tantamount to announcing a withdrawal. It tells Iran to simply sit tight and that, in due course, good things will come to it.

The primary U.S. hope for a solution to Iraq is an understanding with Iran. The administration both hates the idea and needs it. A withdrawal would make any such understanding unnecessary from the Iranian point of view and end any chance that Iran will reach an agreement. In our view, Iran appears to have decided not to continue the negotiating process it began precisely because it thinks the United States is leaving anyway. Therefore, Bush must try to convince the Iranians that this isn't so.

Bush has not given a straightforward justification for his concerns from the beginning, and he is not starting now, although the thought of an Iran-dominated Iraq should give anyone pause. But in arguing that the war in Iraq is a war against al Qaeda, and that al Qaeda is getting stronger, he justifies the continuation of the war. In fact, Bush explicitly said that the people who attacked the United States on 9/11 are the same ones bombing American troops in Iraq today.

Therefore, the NIE report and Chertoff's warning of attacks are part of the administration's effort to build support for continuing the fight.

Bush's problem is that the idea that Iraq is linked to al Qaeda rests on semantic confusion -- many things are called al Qaeda, but they are different things. Something called al Qaeda is in Iraq, but it has little to do with the al Qaeda that attacked the United States on 9/11. They share little but the name.

U.S. policy on Iraq and the war is at a turning point. There would normally be a focusing down to core strategic issues, such as a withdrawal's consequences for the strategic balance of power. That not only is not happening, but Bush, for whom this is the strongest argument against withdrawing, also seems incapable of making the argument. As a result, the week saw an almost incoherent series of reports from the administration that, if examined carefully, amounted to saying that if you think the war in Iraq is going badly, you should take a look at the war against al Qaeda -- that is a total failure.

We simply don't think that is true. Of course, you can never prove a negative, and you cannot possibly prove there will be no more attacks against the United States by the original al Qaeda. Also, you can claim anything you want on a gut call and if it doesn't happen, people forget.The intellectual chaos is intensifying -- and with it, the casualties on the ground.