Iraq war and occupationThe main target is the group of hard-core Ba'athists believed to be behind much of the underground insurgency against the US and British occupation forces. A new Special Forces group, Task Force 121, is assembled from Army Delta Force squads, Navy SEALs, and CIA paramilitary operatives. It is tasked to neutralize Ba'athist insurgents by either capture or assassination. The restructuring is a major victory for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld against the resistance of senior Pentagon officials and generals; Rumsfeld has gotten rid of dozens of senior generals and planners whose opinions he does not like. "The only way we can win is go unconventional," says an American advisor in Baghdad. "We're going to have to play their game. Guerrilla versus guerrilla. Terrorism versus terrorism. We've got to scare the Iraqis into submission." Even those who are against Rumsfeld's ideas of American hit squads patrolling Iraq are displeased with the conventional methodologies being employed in Iraq. "We've got this large conventional force sitting there and getting their *ss shot off," says a former Pentagon official with extensive experience in Special Forces, "and what we're doing is counterproductive. We're sending mixed signals." The biggest problem the US has in fighting the insurgency, he says, is lack of intelligence and "we're too squeamish to operate in this part of the world." Referring to the US retaliation against a suspected mortar site, he says, "Instead of destroying an empty soccer field, why not impress me by sneaking in a sniper team and killing them while they're setting up a mortar? We do need a more unconventional response, but it's going to be messy."
Iraq war and occupationThey are eventually released, but not until US soldiers vandalize the Federation headquarters by painting over the union's marquee. The arrests are part of Bremer's absolute prohibition against any labor union activity. (Greg Palast)
Iraq war and occupation"[H]istorians will also consider the lack of experience and abundant political connections of the hundreds of American bureaucrats sent to Baghdad to run Iraq through the Coalition Provisional Authority," it writes. One example, of many, is the appointment of Simone Ledeen as a senior economic advisor to northern Iraq at the Ministry of Finance. Ledeen, the daughter of neoconservative luminary Michael Ledeen, is 29, with a new MBA and little or no experience in foreign countries: "[b]ut as an advisor for northern Iraq at the Ministry of Finance in Baghdad, she is, in essence, helping shape one quarter of that nation's economy." [Note: On April 17, 2004, I received an e-mail from Ms. Ledeen stating that her position with the Ministry of Finance was misrepresented. She writes, "While it is true I was in Baghdad working for the Coalition Provision Authority, I was never senior advisor for anything. Nor did I control any policy for the north whatsoever. My role as an Advisor to the Ministry of Finance was as a member of a large team working to excute [sic] the 2003 and 2004 Iraqi budget. My boss, many years my senior and with decades more experience was the senior advisor and as such was responsible for all policy decisions. Your readers deserve to know the truth as there is much misinformation floating around on all sides. I appreciate your correcting the error on your site." I appreciate the correction, but it turns out that Ms. Ledeen is lying.]
Jack Abramoff scandalthe following photo, taken at a December fundraiser, disproves that claim. If Bush is lying about his personal knowledge of Abramoff (as he did about his personal relationship with Enron's Kenneth Lay), then it is reasonable to assume he is lying about his lack of connections to Abramoff and Abramoff's lobbying outfit. (CREW)
GOP campaign strategiesUsing the anti-gay sentiment in the election is tricky, and Rove knows it: the question is, how to use the issue to inflame conservatives and drive them to the polls in numbers exceeding their 2000 turnout, without causing a backlash among moderate voters still on the fence as well as mobilizing the one million gays and lesbians who voted for Al Gore in 2000. Rove, of course, is a past master at such election manipulation.
Plame outingCritics of the couple pounce: months before, Wilson said that Plame would "rather chop off her right arm than say anything to the press, and she will not allow herself to be photographed." The critics take this as evidence that Plame is not worried about her covert status as a CIA agent (which was terminally breached on July 14 by Robert Novak's column outing her). They accuse the Wilsons of being publicity hounds. Right-wing blogger Glenn Reynolds accuses Plame of being a "self-promoter" before she is a "spy;" Slate columnist Timothy Noah goes further, accusing Plame of performing a "striptease" for the camera and the magazine. He wonders when Wilson and Plame "will start renting themselves out for birthday parties." Plame later apologizes for allowing her photo to be taken; Wilson defends his wife's decision, saying that with her cover already blown, "I saw no reason to deprive ourselves of the pleasure of being photographed together as the happily married couple that we are." (Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
Iraq war and occupationcouncil officials say the council has set up a committee to assess the best way to choose a provisional legislature. A delay or unraveling of the agreement would be a major setback for Iraq's US-led administration. The council is backtracking in part because of objections from Shi'ite religious leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, who demands that the legislature be elected directly. "The members of the Governing Council think that the mechanism proposed by the American administration... will not work as the way to elect the provisional assembly," says a spokesman for council leader Ahmad Chalabi. "An election process would be a much better way than what's on the table." The US says the agreement stands. "We intend to honor the agreement we signed," says a spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority, the real rulers of Iraq. "We are now working on issues related to the implementation of that process." (Guardian)
Prewar intelligence on IraqCommunications director Alastair Campbell was charged by Blair in September 2002 to prepare the dossier for release. On September 5, 2002, Campbell chaired a meeting about the dossier in his office at 10 Downing Street, attended by, among others, senior foreign policy advisor David Manning, later named ambassador to the US; Julian Miller, the head of the assessment staff at the Cabinet Office, an elite bureaucracy that provides administrative support to the government; and John Scarlett, the head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, a secretive body that supplies intelligence assessments to the Prime Minister. The dossier, a draft version provided by British intelligence services and the Foreign Office, read in part, "Iraq has a capability to produce chemical and biological weapons," but did not say that Saddam had actually produced any such weapons in recent years. It also said, "Iraq has a nuclear weapons program," but added that Iraq "will find it difficult to produce fissile material while sanctions remain in place," and went on to say that even if sanctions were lifted "Iraq would need at least five years to produce a weapon."
Terrorism detainees and "enemy combatants"It is unclear if the men and boys to be transferred from "Camp Delta" would face further detention or prosecution in their own countries. "We do expect there will be other transfers but because of operational procedures, I can't talk about any details," says an Army spokesperson. "We only talk about detainee movements after an operation is complete." One recently released prisoner, Canadian citizen Abdulrhaman Khadr, was captured in Afghanistan and held as an "enemy combatant" by US authorities for nine months. Khadr, whose apparent crime was being the son of a suspected al-Qaeda financier, was flown to Afghanistan after US authorities refused to return him to Canada. Khadr went to Iran and then Turkey before arriving late last week in Bosnia; after visiting the Canadian embassy in Sarajevo, he was allowed to return to Canada. The United States holds about 660 prisoners from 44 countries at the base in eastern Cuba but the government declines to provide a breakdown of their citizenship, ages or the reasons they are being held. The government has not charged them or given them access to lawyers. The United States has released 88 of the prisoners since the government began holding suspects at the base in Cuba in January 2002. Major General Geoffrey Miller, the official in charge of the detention mission, says that the three youngest boys at the jail, who range from 13 to 15 would be transferred soon, but he did not give a date. (AP/Guardian)
War in Afghanistanthe war in Afghanistan, dubbed "Operation Enduring Freedom," is going far worse than is widely understood. "We're going to have to refight Enduring Freedom because we didn't finish the job." he predicts. NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson says that NATO countries must send troops of their own to the wartorn country or risk further chaos, as well as undermine the alliance's credibility. US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has suggested that NATO could take over the entire war effort in Afghanistan, a move the rest of the alliance has shown little interest in taking. (Newsweek/MSNBC, CNN)
Islamist terrorismsaying that more and more children are being educated in the ways of radical Islam and brought up to hate America. One putative ally in the US's efforts to combat the teachings of the madrassas has been Pakistan, but its president, General Pervez Musharraf, recently formed a political alliance with the schools' radical Islamist supporters against the mainstream secular opposition. One principal of a Peshawar madrassa says, "Musharraf talks a lot, but nothing happens." (In the last few weeks, Pakistan has moved much more strongly, closing down a dozen madrassas affiliated with extremist groups and promising harsh reprisals on those that continue to teach extremism. Newsweek writes, "Many [madrassas] are peaceable institutions wishing only to train devout Muslims, not warriors or terrorists. But others steep their students in the doctrine of holy war and function openly as jihad enlistment centers. Many youngsters take inspiration from older schoolmates. Zahidullah, 31, a grad student in Islamic law at the Bahrul Uloom madrassa in Pakistan's northern mountains, boasts of how many recruits he has gained for the outlawed Kashmiri guerrilla force Harkatul Mujahedin: 'Many youths here are anxious to join the jihad when I tell them stories of our heroic Islamic resistance against Indian aggression.'" In recent months, thousands of young Afghan men have filled the madrassas of eastern Pakistan, absorbing the radical teachings that many of these schools impart and often returning to their home country to join the Taliban. (Newsweek/MSNBC)
Iraq war and occupationwas a rocket-propelled grenade that struck one of the copters. Colonel Joe Anderson says that though the investigation cannot be conclusive, it appears that "some form of groundfire," likely an RPG, hit one of the helicopters, sending it into the path of the other Black Hawk. "Obviously it was a collision, and it appears that the collision was caused by one of them being hit by something from the ground, probably a rocket," says Anderson, whose 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division controls Mosul. (CNN)
US intelligenceAnthony Cordesman, a Middle East and intelligence expert who is a senior fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, says that "even a cursory review" of charges the US and British governments made in white papers released before the Iraq war "shows that point after point that was made was not confirmed during the war or after the first [six] months of effort following the conflict." Although the US has the most sophisticated technical systems for collecting and analyzing intelligence, Cordesman found, Iraq shows that US intelligence is "not yet adequate to support grand strategy and tactical operations against proliferating powers or to make accurate assessments of the need to pre-empt." Pre-emption, or waging war to prevent an enemy from attacking, is a key part of George Bush's war on terrorism. A second study proves that the Bush administration deliberatly drew false claims regarding the well-known aluminum tubes acquired by Iraq, supposedly for use in building nuclear weapons but actually for use in making conventional rockets. (Washington Post/Agence France-Presse/Sydney Morning Herald)
Iraq war and occupationand puts their faith in religious leaders instead. Nearly half regard the removal of former president Saddam Hussein as the best thing to have happened in the last 12 months while a third said the war, bombings and defeat of the Iraqi army in April was the worst. The survey authors say, "Interestingly, there appears no obvious link between best and worst thing. ...The very troops which liberated Iraqis from Saddam are the most mistrusted institution in Iraq today." Less than 1% want a religious regime similar to the theocracy in Iran. Two thirds of Iraqis regard "regaining public security" as the country's top priority and few seemed concerned with vendettas against the old regime -- 91 percent said dealing with members of the previous government was "of no priority at all." (Daily Mirror)
Military-industrial complexHyde reportedly believes that the move would make it easier for terrorists and international criminals to get their hands on the material. In a May 5 letter to Powell, Hyde wrote that a trend toward relaxing arms export controls "seems unwise and particularly incongruous with the increased threats to U.S. security and foreign policy interests since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. ...Lowering our country's standards for munitions and other arms-related transfers in part because it is advantageous to US companies can only make more complicated the already difficult job you have'' in persuading other nations to tighten export controls. "This is a moment in our nation's history when it behooves us to strengthen, not relax, international standards for nonproliferation and military export controls." (New York Times)
2004 presidential electionsRight-wing pundits will later claim, simplistically, that Kerry was "for it, then against it," as part of their orchestrated attempt to paint Kerry as a "flip-flopper." Kerry tells an audience at Iowa State, "I voted for the Patriot Act right after September 11 -- convinced that, with a sunset clause, it was the right decision to make. It clearly wasn't a perfect bill, and it had a number of flaws, but this wasn't the time to haggle. It was the time to act. But George Bush and John Ashcroft abused the spirit of national action after the terrorist attacks. They have used the Patriot Act in ways that were never intended and for reasons that have nothing to do with terrorism. That's why, as president, I will propose new anti-terrorism laws that advance the war on terror while ending the assault on our basic rights." While many on the left -- the editor of this Web site included -- opposed the Patriot Act from the outset, and disagree with Kerry's position, Kerry's explanation of why he voted for it, and why he feels the Bush administration abused its trust in implementing it, is clear and straightforward. To dismiss his position as "for it, then against it" is ridiculous. (Al Franken)
Conservative media slant (backlash)"We're steady as she goes to have a broadcast debut in early 2004, which gives us time to be part of the election year," says CEO Mark Walsh. The network plans to present a daily schedule filled with liberal personalities as hosts of a range of programs, including news analysis segments, talk shows and entertainment programs in the spirit of "The Daily Show," the spoof news program on cable television's Comedy Central that skewers Washington. Jon Sinton, Progress Media's president, said the company had hired Lizz Winstead, one of the creators of "The Daily Show," to oversee entertainment programming. Shelley Lewis, a longtime network news producer who was most recently in charge of "American Morning" on CNN, will oversee news programming. A deal is in the works to give comedian Al Franken a daily talk show; outspoken comedian Janeane Garofalo is also being courted. Martin Kaplan, an associate dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California and a former speechwriter for Walter Mondale as well as a Disney studio executive, has already been signed to host an evening segment. Kaplan says that part of his charge would be to address some of the more extreme voices on the right. "It will be a chance to make fun of the pomposity and the bullying which the right has engaged in, and which a good chunk of the mainstream media has bought into," he said. "The self-righteousness of the right is now their greatest weakness, and I think we need to put those people on a whoopee cushion." Conservative Rush Limbaugh says shows like his merely provide a balance to the liberal bias in the mainstream media: "Please! On TV you own C-Span, PBS, C-Span 2, CNN, ABC, CNNfn, CBS, MSNBC, CNN Headline News, NBC, CNBC, Bloomberg, Lifetime, Oxygen, etc.," he wrote on his Web site this year. "simply for giving the conservative point of view equal time, you call Fox 'conservative.' You have radio guys on NPR 24/7!" Sinton responds, "While individuals on those networks may occasionally express views that are left of center, on balance we find those organizations to be pretty centrist. Our task is more than to be left leaning —- with the exception of Al, who wants to call his show 'The Liberal Show.' Our task is to be funny and entertaining, a no-sacred-cows sort of thing." Progress Radio will eventually be known as Air America Radio. (New York Times/CommonDreams)
Iraq war and occupation"From the beginning, the Bush administration's inability to talk straight about its Iraq policy has generated deep and valid suspicion. Good policy doesn't need to be defended by deception; the truth will do just fine. We didn't get the truth a year ago, when Bush officials implausibly claimed that Saddam Hussein posed a dire threat to US security. We're not getting the truth today, as President Bush and others depict our struggle in Iraq as some sort of defense of the American homeland. 'We are aggressively striking the terrorists in Iraq, defeating them there,' Vice President Dick Cheney said a week ago, 'so we do not have to face them on the streets of our own cities.' 'You are defeating the terrorists in Iraq, so we don't have to face them in our country,' President Bush likewise told US troops during his lightning visit to Baghdad. Such statements are simply false. Our men and women in uniform are not fighting for their lives against international terrorists in Iraq. They are not fighting the people who attacked us on Sept. 11, nor are they fighting allies of those people. Instead, the guerrillas who are launching mortars at our military bases, attacking our troops on patrol or hiding booby traps on Iraqi highways are native Iraqis who are trying to evict American troops from their country. Despicable and cowardly as their tactics are, the Iraqi resistance is almost entirely Iraqi. They are not attacking us because they hate Americans. They are attacking us because they hate Americans who are occupying their country. ...Here is what the Bush administration does not want to admit to the American people: We are fighting two different wars today, against two very different enemies. The first war, against international terror, was brought to our shores by the attacks of Sept. 11, and we had no choice but to respond aggressively, with every bit of power we could muster. The invasion of Afghanistan, the toppling of its Taliban government and the destruction of al-Qaida bases in that country were justified and necessary responses, and if anything should have been prosecuted even more aggressively than they were. The war against Iraq, on the other hand, has been a war of choice, a war of opportunity launched by the Bush administration because the events of Sept. 11 gave it the cover to do so. If Iraq is now 'the central front on the war on terror,' it is because the Bush administration made it so by invading that country and threatening to turn it into the type of 'failed nation' that produces terrorism. ...The war on Iraq and the war on terror are two different struggles. Tackled separately, either would have taken us years to win. Tackling them simultaneously was tragic foolishness on a very large scale, no matter how much the president claims otherwise." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Information Clearinghouse)
Media manipulation and marketing by GOPHe castigates the press for going along with the Bush Thanksgiving PR stunt: "The proper thing to do in this case is to refuse the secrecy agreement and say we're not going to be participants in a photo opportunity, which is merely done to help your re-election campaign, and if that aborts the trip, well, it aborts the trip. [Instead,] the White House press corps, being what it is, they went along for the ride and agreed to play press agent." Most editors were not informed that their journalists were going to Baghdad with the president, but one, John Moody, the senior vice president of Fox News, was so informed. MacArthur responds, "Well, he [the Fox reporter] was probably permitted to do that, because Fox is so in the bag, so pro-administration, that they didn't see any particular security risk in telling the head office..." He continues, "[T]he point here is that the press...we don't have reporters anymore in the White House, and I'm afraid that we don't have reporters anywhere in Washington these days or hardly anywhere on the big papers anyway, and more and more, I'm thinking that the proper response for Americans, for readers and viewers of the news, is to ...assume that the press is now part of the government. ...You know, we are still at the point now where the phony atomic bomb threat story, the phony unconventional weapons story has just disappeared from the news. Why isn't anybody talking about that anymore? The fraudulent pretext for going to Iraq in the first place has disappeared as an item. T hat's, of course, because the big papers, particularly The New York Times, has so much to do with promoting the fraud. They have no interest in going back over the record and until the media admits that they were had or admits that they participated in the con job.... ...[T]hink of the poor guys of the 101st Airborne Division stuck in Baghdad. They're used as a photo op, as an advertising platform, as they may get killed in next day, the next three weeks, the next six months, and at this point, what good is George Bush's Thanksgiving visit for them? I don't see what material -- what material advantage there is to having the president come and have his picture taken with them. It's kind of cruel in a way." (Democracy Now)
Media manipulation and marketing by GOP"While much of the focus of the president's trip to Iraq (rightly so, and primarily because it is so obvious) has centered on the fact that the very nature of the trip demonstrates how dire the security situation in Iraq truly is," he says, "there hasn't been as much mention as to how this 'nature' undermines the administration's claims to the contrary." Basham is livid at the news coverage of Bush's PR stunt: "Listen to this first line in a story from London's 'The Telegraph' on Friday: 'President George W. Bush was back at his Texas Ranch yesterday basking in the most adulatory coverage in months, as an admiring American media described his surprise trip to Iraq as one of the boldest ever presidential forays.' BOLD?!?! Doesn't anybody get it? Let's put the pieces together. First piece... I remember this pathetic, cowardly little man in the White House standing before the cameras and saying, 'Bring 'em on.' And I remember how his mindless boot lickers praised him for his bravado -- too damn stupid to realize that a comment like this was putting our troops in FAR more danger than any 10 stories the media could report - the same media who essentially handed Bush his war on a silver platter -- the same media this administration and their apologists now like to blame for the deaths or our soldiers.