War with IranBrzezinsky testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He opposed the invasion of Iraq and has called the occupation a colossal foreign policy blunder. Today he calls the Iraq occupation a "war of choice" and "a historic, strategic and moral calamity." He says, "Undertaken under false assumptions, it is undermining America's global legitimacy. Its collateral civilian casualties as well as some abuses are tarnishing America's moral credentials. Driven by Manichean principles and imperial hubris, it is intensifying regional instability." He mocks Bush's rhetoric of a "decisive ideological struggle" against radical Islam as "simplistic and demagogic," and calls it a "mythical historical narrative" employed to justify a "protracted and potentially expanding war. ...To argue that America is already at war in the region with a wider Islamic threat, of which Iran is the epicenter, is to promote a self-fulfilling prophecy."
Oil profiteering and the "oiligarchy"Shell, Marathon, and ConocoPhillips did the same. It is likely that the oil corporations took this unusual step in order to influence the midterm elections on behalf of Republicans. The nonpartisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is calling for Congressional investigations to determine whether Exxon and others manipulated the market to effect the election. FTCR notes that, despite the temporary and limited relief of election season pump prices, the record annual profits of Exxon and Shell show once again that last summer motorists were the victims of one of the greatest rip-offs of all time when gasoline prices topped $3 per gallon. The industry has long claimed that gasoline pump prices are attributable to external factors such as the price of crude oil, but the profit data, released today, make it clear that high gasoline prices are directly tied to oil company decisions. "The proof in Exxon's profit report is that oil companies are robbing Americans blind and that the companies can have tremendous influence over gasoline prices at any time they want simply by taking a little less in profits," says FTCR President Jamie Court. "That's a very different portrait than the industry paints of being captive to global economic forces. Congress needs to hold hearings and ask company executives under oath about whether Exxon's sudden profit drop in the fourth quarter was based on a political motivation and subpoena company documents to determine the root of the change." (Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights/CommonDreams)
Iraq war and occupationSo far the Democratic leadership of both houses of Congress have sidestepped serious discussion of taking real measures to curtail Bush's war efforts, most notably cutting funding for the war. "Two years ago, it seemed pretty lonely. Now every politician wants to be seen on television saying something bad about President Bush's handling of the war," says Dr. Rusti Eisenstadt, an activist and professor of US history. "The key now is to get [Congress] to do something instead of hiding behind non-binding resolutions." Peace activists want Congress to come to grips with the need to cut funding for the war. "We are looking at a lot of things that are happening in the Congress right now, from a Senate resolution that opposes an escalation but will allow a war to continue, to other bills out there that talk about bringing the troops home and de-funding the war, but which George Bush can veto," says Nancy Lessing of the group Military Families Speak Out. "The one thing that we see that can end this war is if Congress votes no money on the appropriation that's going to come before them." Michael McPherson, the executive director for Veterans for Peace, is more straightforward. "Legislation is so that Congress has cover," he says. "The bottom line is that we want the troops to come home and we need it to be defunded. All the other stuff is just a game." Eisenstadt, the historian, reminds readers, "People forget that Congress did not vote to stop funding the war in Vietnam until after all the American troops had already left. Instead what happened was that every year more and more members of Congress voted against the war and that pressured President Richard Nixon to pull more and more troops out every year. When President Nixon took office, there were half a million US troops in Vietnam. By the end of his first term it was down to 35,000." (Inter Press Service/CommonDreams)
Iraq war and occupationAccording to Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, deputy director of force health protection and readiness at the Defense Department, "[T]he previous method of tallying casualties was misleading and might have made injuries and combat wounds seem worse and more numerous than they really were." The Web site has now been altered, and shows no total whatsoever for nonfatal casualties. (New York Times/Raw Story)
Global warming and the environmentEnergy Secretary Samuel Bodman warns against "unintended consequences," including job losses, that he says might result if the government requires economy-wide caps on carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. "There is a concern within this administration, which I support, that the imposition of a carbon cap in this country would -- may -- lead to the transfer of jobs and industry abroad [to nations] that do not have such a carbon cap," Bodman says. "You would then have the US economy damaged, on the one hand, and the same emissions, potentially even worse emissions." Bush used the same economic reasoning when he rejected the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, an international treaty requiring 35 industrial nations to cut their global-warming gases by 5% on average below 1990 levels by 2012. The White House has said the treaty would have cost 5 million US jobs, an assessment few agree with. Bodman says, "Even if we were successful in accomplishing some kind of debate and discussion about what caps might be here in the United States, we are a small contributor to the overall, when you look at the rest of the world. And so it's really got to be a global solution." The United States each year contributes about a quarter of the world's greenhouse gases, though the share from China, India and other developing countries also is growing. Instead, Bodman touts vague, unspecified technological advances as working to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
"The Bush administration is doing to the whole world what it did to New Orleans as Katrina began to descend on the city. By altering scientific research on global warming to fit his political agenda and refusing to take necessary steps to protect the public, President Bush has aggravated an impending environmental, public health, and security crisis." -- Green Party co-chair Rebecca Rotzler, quoted by The Nation
"Congress must recognize the Bush administration's tampering with studies on global warming and other scientific research as an impeachable offense. Ever since Vice President Cheney initiated private meetings with oil company representatives to determine energy policy, the administration has placed the demands for corporate profits over urgent human and environmental needs." -- Green Party treasurer Jody Grage, quoted by The Nation
Election fraudInstead, Florida will go entirely to paper ballots counted by scanning machines. The change will be made in time for the 2008 presidential elections. Voting experts say Florida's move, coupled with new federal voting legislation expected this year, could be the death knell for the paperless electronic machines. If, as expected, the Florida legislature approves the $32.5 million cost of the change, it would be the nation's biggest repudiation yet of touch-screen voting, which was widely embraced after the 2000 recount as a state-of-the-art means of restoring confidence that every vote would count. "Florida is like a synonym for election problems. It's the Bermuda Triangle of elections," says Warren Stewart, policy director of VoteTrust USA, a nonprofit group that has advocated optical scanners as more reliable than touch screens. "For Florida to be clearly contemplating moving away from touch screens to the greatest extent possible is truly significant." Other states are following suit. And Democratic House member Rush Holt intends to introduce legislation requiring all voting machines in the US to produce paper ballots that can verify their votes. "You should, when you go vote, be able to have a record of it," Crist says. "That's all we're proposing today. It's not very complicated; it is in fact common sense. Most importantly, it is the right thing to do." (New York Times/San Francisco Chronicle)
Lewis Libby perjury trialLibby's grand jury testimony -- the sworn statements he gave investigators about his conversations with Dick Cheney and journalists -- is at the heart of his perjury trial. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald plans to play hours of recordings of that testimony in court next week to bolster his case that Libby lied and obstructed the investigation. Trial evidence is normally public and all exhibits in Libby's case have been made public so far. Even though Fitzgerald successfully fought to get Libby's full grand jury testimony admitted into evidence, Libby's attorneys say the audiotapes should not be released outside the courtroom. In the tapes, Libby discusses conversations he had regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, the wife of prominent Iraq war critic and former ambassador Joseph Wilson. Plame's identity was leaked to reporters in July 2003 by conservative columnist Robert Novak. Prosecutors have solid evidence showing that Libby learned Plame's identity from Cheney and discussed it with journalists. Libby says he forgot about his conversation with Cheney and, when he heard about Plame from NBC reporter Tim Russert weeks later, it struck him as new information. Libby's defense is, of course, a massive lie. (See related items throughout this site.) Fitzgerald says Libby concocted that story to protect himself from prosecution because repeating rumors from reporters is less serious than repeating sensitive information from Cheney.
Lewis Libby perjury trialThe key question behind the entire debacle is this, he writes: "Why was the White House so nervous in the summer of 2003 about the CIA's reporting on alleged Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Niger to build a nuclear bomb?" Ignatius's conclusion: "The White House was worried that the CIA would reveal that it had been pressured in 2002 and early 2003 to support administration claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and that in the Niger case, the CIA had tried hard to resist this pressure. The machinations of Cheney, Libby and others were an attempt to weave an alternative narrative that blamed the CIA."
Global warming and the environmentAEI is also offering additional payments and expense reimbursements. The report, due to be released on February 5 by UN's Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), is likely to give a bleak assessment of the damage to the future of the environment. (See the January 31 item for more information.) It is the culmination of four days of debate between more then 500 scientists at a closed-door meeting in Paris, who have been poring over the first review of the scientific evidence for global warming in six years. Ben Stewart of Greenpeace says angrily, "The AEI is more than just a think tank, it functions as the Bush administration's intellectual Cosa Nostra. They are White House surrogates in the last throes of their campaign of climate change denial. They lost on the science; they lost on the moral case for action. All they've got left is a suitcase full of cash." (AFP/Yahoo! News, Guardian/Truthout)
Iraq war and occupationAdministration officials have long complained that Iran was supplying Shi'ite Muslim militants with lethal explosives and other materiel used to kill US military personnel. But despite several pledges to make the evidence public, the administration has twice postponed the release -- most recently, a briefing by military officials scheduled for last Tuesday in Baghdad. "The truth is, quite frankly, we thought the briefing overstated, and we sent it back to get it narrowed and focused on the facts," says national security advisor Stephen Hadley. Defense Secretary Robert Gates concedes that US officials can't say for sure whether the Iranian government is involved in assisting the attacks on US personnel in Iraq. "I don't know that we know the answer to that question," he says. Earlier this week, US officials acknowledged that they were uncertain about the strength of their evidence and were reluctant to issue potentially questionable data in the wake of the intelligence failures and erroneous assessments that preceded the US-led invasion of Iraq. "I and Secretary Rice and the national security advisor want to make sure that the briefing that is provided is absolutely accurate and is dominated by facts -- serial numbers, technology and so on," Gates says.
Congressional DemocratsMore than $10 billion is included for such programs as health care for wounded Iraq war veterans, Pell grants for students and housing vouchers for the poor, and for 500 additional health research grants. Democrats save two vital Census Bureau initiatives that Republicans had tried to kill: the running survey of the effect of government programs on the poor and disabled, and the testing of new technology needed for the 2010 census. The New York Times observes, "This bill has been the subject of much GOP whining about the additions for such thinks as helping wounded Iraq vets and health care and about the limited time allowed for debate. Let them whine! The GOP dominated 109th abrogated their responsibility to pass the 2007 budget in a shameful move to bog down the Democratic dominated 110th in a fiscal morass. While this bill may leave much to be desired, Democrats cut a lot of pork, kept budgetary spending from increasing for the first time since the Republican Revolution of 1994, included some needed social measures, and did it all in record time. If you remember, when the GOP was angry with Clinton, they refused to pass a budget, missed the Feb. 15 deadline, and allowed the government to grind to a halt. The Democrats could have done the same thing to embarrass Bush and the GOP, but they put the country first." (New York Times/Politics Plus)
War with IranThey write that the crisis over tehran's nuclear program must be resolved through diplomacy, and urge Washington to start direct talks with Iran. The three signatories are Lieutenant General Robert Gard, a former military assistant to the US defense secretary; General Joseph Hoar, a former commander-in-chief of US Central Command; and Vice Admiral Jack Shanahan, a former director of the Center for Defense Information. "As former US military leaders, we strongly caution against the use of military force against Iran," the authors write. "A strategy of diplomatic engagement with Iran would serve the interests of the US and the UK and potentially could enhance regional and international security." The three retired military officials add that "the British government has a vital role play in securing a renewed diplomatic push and making it clear that it will oppose any recourse to military force." (BBC/CommonDreams)
Iraq war and occupationThe planners acknowledge that the strategy depends on a series of rapid and dramatic political and economic reforms that are unlikely to happen. Instead, the officials say that the likely failure of the plan will result in a repeat of last year's unsuccessful Baghdad offensive, when efforts to consolidate military gains with lasting stability on the ground did not work. This time, they acknowledge, there will be no second chance.
War in AfghanistanThe US, which has just doubled its forces in Afghanistan by extending tours of duty, fears a vicious spring offensive from the resurgent Taliban. While Bush officials have demanded that NATO allies send more troops to Afghanistan, only Britain and Poland have committed to sending more troops, and France is removing its special forces troops entirely. "From the beginning, the United States did not put sufficient forces in Afghanistan in order to prevent a counter-insurgency from resurging," says Sean Kay, an international security expert and professor of international relations at Ohio Wesleyan University. "NATO continues to suffer from this -- there are simply not enough troops to carry on a successful counter-insurgency campaign in the south. As the Taliban get further entrenched, the public there gets further drawn into their grip. And when we don't have enough troops to accomplish the mission, those that are taking risks do not have adequate reinforcements other than heavy airpower, which when applied doesn't exactly fit into a successful hearts and minds strategy." (Reuters/Truthout)
War with IranMany Iraqis believe Sharafi was not kidnapped by insurgents, but by Iraqi -- or perhaps US -- forces. The incident threatens to escalate into a major diplomatic crisis for Iraq's fragile Shi'ite-dominated government. Iran accuses the US of kidnapping or arresting Sharafi, the second secretary at the Iranian embassy, and says it holds the US responsible for Sharafi's safety. The US denies any role in Sharafi's disappearance. It is hard to know which government has less credibility. "We don't really know a whole lot about it at this point," says White House spokesman Tony Snow. "We know that the Iraqi government is investigating." The Iraqi government is keeping mum on the entire incident."
Iraq war and occupationArmy Lieutenant Antonio Hardy says, "To be honest, it's going to be like this for a long time to come, no matter what we do. I think some people in America don't want to know about all this violence, about all the killings. The people back home are shielded from it; they get it sugar-coated." Soldiers interviewed across east Baghdad, home to more than half the city's 8 million people, say the violence is so out of control that while a surge of 21,500 more American troops may momentarily suppress it, the notion that US forces can bring lasting security to Iraq is misguided. "What is victory supposed to look like? asks Sergeant Herbert Gill. "Every time we turn around and go in a new area there's somebody new waiting to kill us. Sunnis and Shi'ites have been fighting for thousands of years, and we're not going to change that overnight. ...Once more raids start happening, they'll [insurgents] melt away. And then two or three months later, when we leave and say it was a success, they'll come back." Private Zach Clauser says, "We can go get into a firefight and empty out ammo, but it doesn't accomplish much. This isn't our war -- we're just in the middle." Sergeant Chance Oswalt adds, "They can keep sending more and more troops over here, but until the people here start working with us, it's not going to change."
Medicare and Medicaid cuts; health careDemocrats immediately denounce the proposals. "This is exactly the wrong approach," says Senator Hillary Clinton, who cites the proposals as evidence of what she calls "the president's misplaced priorities." And Democratic representative Pete Stark describes the Medicare and Medicaid proposals as "declaring war" on the poor and on Democrats. Administration officials say that Bush would ask Congress to squeeze more than $70 billion from Medicare and Medicaid over five years, in an attempt to rein in soaring budget deficits. The actual budget documents show that the real figure is much larger: $101.5 billion of savings over five years. Bush's budget includes legislative proposals that would save $78.6 billion over the next five years, taken from government subsidies for both Medicare and Medicaid. And Bush intends to propose changes in federal regulations to save $22.9 billion more over the next five years. The Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides health care for indigent children, will also suffer severe cuts, prompting Democratic senator Max Baucus to say, "Simply put, Congress must do more to fund the Children's Health Insurance Program than the president suggests here." In addition, the budget adds no new spending for biomedical research, slashes proposed health services block grants to states, and an 18% cut in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps poor Americans pay their heating bills. (New York Times/Truthout, AP/Truthout)
US veteransCurrently the DVA has a backlog of 400,000 cases. A returning soldier has to wait an average of 165 days for a VA decision on initial disability benefits, and an appeal can take up to three years. An American Medical Association assesment finds that of over 220,000 military personnel returning from Iraq, nearly 20% -- nearly 44,000 -- suffers from significant mental health problems. And repeated tours of duty increase the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder by 50%. But instead of these soldiers receiving the treatment they need, too often they are harassed and punished for seeking help for psychological problems triggered by their service in Iraq. A number of the traumatized soldiers' supervisors have acknowledged the callous treatment. A recent national study by the Government Accountability Office found that most of the troops who show signs of PTSD were not referred to mental health professionals, despite Pentagon claims that providing support to emotionally wounded soldiers is a "top priority."
John McCainOn ABC's This Week, McCain tells host George Stephanopoulos that it is unrealistic to expect the escalation strategy to change the situation in Iraq in "a few months," saying, "Took us a long time to get in the situation we're in, and to say that -- and somehow assume that in a few months, that things are going to get all better I think is not realistic." 47 seconds later, McCain says that we will indeed know if the escalation strategy is working "in a few months." Stephanopoulos asks, "You say it's all in. How long are you going to give it to work?" to which McCain replies, "I think in the case of the Iraqi government cooperating and doing what's necessary, we can know fairly well in a few months." (ABC/Think Progress [link to video])
Iraq war and occupationIn October 2002, Armey gave an emotional speech to the House that helped convince his colleagues to authorize Bush to invade Iraq. But Armey now has a great deal of criticism both for the Bush policies in the Middle East, and towards Republicans in general.
Lewis Libby perjury trialBudowsky writes that the trial has proved that Cheney "was so deeply involved and obsessed with discrediting Joe Wilson that the impact and implications are enormous and underestimated. The Vice President was choreographer of the attack on Wilson. He acted as though he was the deputy White House political director and the deputy White House press secretary. He was organizing meetings, drafting talking points and assigning which staff would talk to which reporter. This is not what Vice Presidents do. This is more than an attack on his enemy Wilson. Most of us who have had high government positions have faced these situations, and launching a counter-attack could have been done far more discreetly and professionally." Budowsky writes that Cheney, Libby, and Karl Rove launched their attack with never a thought to the damage it would do to national security: "The minute the Vice President, Libby and Rove knew Valerie Plame worked at the CIA in a bureau that insiders would know immediately was highly sensitive that without any doubt triggered red lights, immediately.
Iran's nuclear programBush officials claim that the centrifuges prove Iran's intent to build nuclear weapons, but Iranian officials say the new developments are merely to further Iran's attempt to build nuclear power plants. The IAEA says it cannot be sure if the centrifuges are to be used for weapons or power plants. Regardless of the Iranians' intent, the centrifuges are a direct challenge to the UN Security Council, which late last month imposed limited sanctions targeting programs and individuals linked to tehran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs and warned of stricter penalties within 60 days unless Iran freezes enrichment. David Albright, the former UN nuclear inspector whose Institute for Science and International Security tracks Iran's nuclear activities, says Iran is likely capable of hooking up 300 to 500 centrifuges a month, allowing it to reach its goal of a 3,000-machine linkup this year. Such an operation could be used to produce fissile material for two bombs a year, but Albright, like other analysts, say that it could take longer as the Iranians have had only limited success in running the machines for prolonged periods without breakdowns in aboveground tests at Natanz. Albright says Iran could opt to create a large stockpile of low-enriched uranium which it could then use to "break out" and re-enrich to weapons grade at any time. The International Institute for Strategic Studies estimates that Iran is two to three years away from having the capacity to build a nuclear weapon; the outgoing head of US national intelligence, John Negroponte, has said Iran could take as long as four years. (AP/ABC News)
Iraq war and occupationDemocrats need 60 votes to stop the Republicans from blocking the debate, but the vote to bring the measure to the floor was 49-47 in favor -- 11 short. Democrats had thought they has a dozen Republicans on board with the resolution, but many of those Republicans, who had told the Democrats they would support the resolution, turn and vote against it when the vote comes around. Moments after the Republicans block the debate, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who spearheaded the blocking tactics, calls the block merely a "bump in the road" and says he and other GOP senators "welcome the debate and are happy to have it." So happy that they bring debate to a screeching halt.
Iraq war and occupationFeingold says, "This is an important moment to see if we're going to try and end this war. Frankly, I'm disappointed that Democrats are playing it safe on this one. We need to play hardball on this. We're gonna have to take the lead on this issue and we're gonna need to tie this place up as long as it takes," describing what he sees as a fear and timidity in his colleagues who now hold a slight majority in the Senate. "The problem is a whole lot of middle-of-the-road Democrats who refuse to pull the trigger, who refuse to do what needs to be done. Even people who voted against the war [seem afraid]. It requires courage. It requires brinksmanship." He says the advice of the "media consultants" and "power structure in Washington" has led fellow Democrats to believe they'll be criticized if they withhold funding for a war they previously supported. These Washington insiders previously supported the war themselves, he says, and are now terrified about what would happen if their clients -- many of whom who have now admitted their initial support for the war was a mistake -- now take a tough stand to undo that mistake. "They want their cake and to eat it too since they voted for the war," he says. "They're trying to have it both ways. That has to end because Americans are dying unnecessarily. Too many of my colleagues are trying to massage this and have it both ways. That has to end."
Lewis Libby perjury trialLibby testified to the grand jury that he largely "could not recall" several details of conversations he had with Dick Cheney and others regarding former ambassador Joseph Wilson, the war critic who accused the administration of twisting intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. Libby says he did remember his boss, Cheney, telling him in June 2003 that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. But Cheney said it in "sort of an offhand manner, as a curiosity," Libby testified to the grand jury. Presiding US District Judge Reggie Walton rules that after the grand jury tapes are heard in his courtroom, they will be released to the media.
Lewis Libby perjury trialThe two pieces of evidence are not classified documents or sensitive national security reports; they are two Washington Post articles, from October 4 and 12, 2003, that Fitzgerald's investigators obtained from Libby's personal files. The articles in question, written by Post reporters Walter Pincus and Mike Allen, are damaging to Libby's defense, Fitzgerald says, because they contain specific passages that Libby had underlined concerning the harm caused by Plame's identity becoming public and the possibility that whoever was responsible for the leak may have violated a federal law. Fitzgerald says the articles with the underlined passages prove Libby feared he was responsible for the damage to national security the leak caused and therefore concocted a story about learning Plame's identity and work with the CIA from NBC's Tim Russert in order to save his job. Libby claims not to have found the articles until he was preparing for his first interview with FBI agent Deborah Bond on October 14, 2003. The articles and other documents show Libby was actually told Plame's name and her employment status with the CIA by Cheney far earlier than the July 2003 timeframe Libby maintains he first learned about her from Russert. Libby's defense is that he was wrapped up with more pressing issues, such as the war in Iraq and national security, and innocently forgot that Cheney had told him about Plame on numerous occasions in June and July 2003. Fitzgerald says the articles in question established a motive for Libby to lie to Bond because the substance of the news reports was damning.
"I'm not accusing you of committing a crime [in the Plame CIA leak]. But there are serious questions here, and you owe the nation not legalisms, but that 'stiff dose of truth' If you continue to stonewall, then you don't belong in office and you should resign." -- New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to Dick Cheney, quoted by Editor and Publisher
"Unitary executive"While major media coverage was going on, Elwood and his cohort, Georgetown law professor Nicholas Rosenkranz, were circumspect, acknowledging that Bush's signing statements have no legal standing and telling the committee, falsely, that Bush has obeyed to the letter each law he has signed, even if he added a "signing statement" maintaining his right not to obey sections of that law. Elwood even says that if Bush were to act contrary to the original law, he would notify Congress that he was doing so.
Bush administration's contempt for democracyAn executive order mandates that each federal agency contain a "regulatory policy office run by a political appointee," a change that "strengthens the hand of the White House in shaping rules that have, in the past, often been generated by civil servants and scientific experts," according to tne New York Times. And the Times also reports that the rapid growth of federal contracting is fed "by a philosophy that encourages outsourcing almost everything government does." These actions were taken by Bush to ensure that a properly conservative agenda permeates every action taken by the US government.
Secrecy of Bush administrationThe documents include 270 million pages of FBI files, including material covering everything from the Cuban Missile Crisis to government surveillance of antiwar and civil rights activists in the '60s and '70s. Researchers and archivists considered the declassification a "Cinderella moment." But none of the documents have been actually released yet. As of mid-February, the documents are still not available.
Iraq war and occupationOn February 4, Klein once again staked out his position, saying of John McCain and his support for the Iraq occupation, "I disagreed with him about going to war in 2003...." Except Klein didn't. In February 2003, he told Meet the Press's Tim Russert, "This is a really tough decision. War may well be the right decision at this point. In fact, I think it -- it's -- it-it probably is." Klein explained why the invasion of Iraq was the "right war," saying, "Because sooner or later, this guy has to be taken out. Saddam has -- Saddam Hussein has to be taken out.... The message has to be sent because if it isn't sent now, if we don't do this now, it empowers every would-be Saddam out there and every would-be terrorist out there." Meanwhile, along with his easily-refuted claim that he has always opposed the war, Klein attacks "the liberal left" and "the leftists" for their own, presumably less principled, opposition, saying in January 2007 that he abhorred "the left wing tendency to assume every US military action abroad is criminal." Even then, he said, "The fact that I've been opposed to the Iraq war ever since this 2002 article in Slate just makes it all the more aggravating." And yesterday he complimented McCain on his own "consistency" on the war, saying, "McCain, whether you agree with him or not, has been entirely consistent about the war." (Arianna Huffington provides multiple links to sources showing how McCain himself has flip-flopped on the war -- apparently Klein doesn't even know what the word "consistent" means.) Huffington writes, "There were many great journalists who had the courage to stand up against the pro-war fever that swept the country in the run-up to the war. They deserve our praise and our gratitude. But Joe Klein is not among them, no matter how hard he insists that he is." (Huffington Post [multiple sources])