Iraq war and occupationMost of the comments from troops assigned to the 9th Cavalry Regiment, interviewed by reporters from Agence France-Presse, are too littered with profanity to be reproduced, but one vehicle commander says, "We just want to get out of here as soon as possible. ...It's because the Iraqi army is so scared that we have to come here to die. Ninety-five percent of Iraqis are good but five percent are bad. But the 95% are too weak to stand up to the five percent." Another soldier says, "Bush should send all the Death Row prisoners here and they can be killed fighting the terrorists. We've had enough." A third adds, "Bush can come fight here. He can take my $1,000 a month and I'll go home." One of the unit commanders, Lieutenant Brian Long, says the anger is understandable. "One of the men has five children, another has three. Another has a boy aged four -- he's missed two of those years. He'll never get them back. It is like the movie Groundhog Day. Each day is the same and nothing ever changes. It's tough. Everyone just wants to get home to their families."
US Attorney firingsThe Senate passes a bill that cancels a Justice Department-authored provision in the Patriot Act that had allowed the attorney general to appoint US attorneys without Senate confirmation, and sets a 120-day deadline for the administration to appoint an interim prosecutor. If the interim appointment is not confirmed by the Senate in that time, a permanent replacement would be named by a federal district judge. Democrats say the Bush administration abused that authority when it fired the eight prosecutors and proposed replacing some with White House loyalists. "If you politicize the prosecutors, you politicize everybody in the whole chain of law enforcement," says Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy. The bill will move to the House of Representatives for consideration. The bill in essence returns the law regarding the appointments of US attorneys to where it was before Congress passed the Patriot Act, including the unilateral appointment authority the administration had sought in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. (AP/Breitbart, AP/KTVA-TV)
US Attorney firingsHe says, "I am confident he acted appropriately" in firing the attorneys, and says the only problem with the firings is that "it turned into a public spectacle." Bush says that after reviewing the matter, "There is no indication that anyone did anything improper." He also says he will fight to keep top political adviser Karl Rove and former White House counsel Harriet Miers from being interviewed under oath. "I will oppose any attempts to subpoena White House officials," he says flatly.
US Attorney firingsIn a chart sent to the White House in March 2005, Fitzgerald, one of the nation's most highly accomplished criminal prosecutors, was ranked among prosecutors who had "not distinguished themselves. The ranking placed Fitzgerald below "strong US Attorneys...who exhibited loyalty" to the administration but above "weak US Attorneys who...chafed against Administration initiatives, etc." The chart, a plain piece of evidence showing that the 93 US attorneys were being ranked in order of their loyalty to the Bush administration and not by their performance, was the first step in an effort to identify US attorneys who should be removed. Two prosecutors who received the same ranking as Fitzgerald were later fired. It seems clear that at least some at the White House and the DOJ wanted Fitzgerald fired as well as the others. DOJ officials, however, claim that the documents, including the chart, prove that there were no political motivations behind the firings. The chart was drawn up by Gonzales's then-chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, and sent to then-White House counsel Harriet Miers. The reference to Fitzgerald is one of many documents that the White House has refused to turn over to Congress.
US Attorney firingsYang resigned in October 2006 before eight US attorneys were fired by the Justice Department. "I have questions about Debra Yang's departure and I can't answer those questions right at this time," Feinstein says. "Was she asked to resign, and if so, why? We have to ferret that out."
US Attorney firingsReid writes, "Time and again, members of the Bush administration have failed to level with the American people on the events surrounding the dismissal of eight US attorneys. Here are the facts." (Much of this information is spread out elsewhere in this and earlier pages, but this summation adds some facts not previously covered, and serves as a nice compendium of the case against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the Justice Department, and the White House so far.)
US Attorney firingsIn 2003, an Asheville, North Carolina lawyer accused the US attorney for that region of personally intervening in the investigation of a local bank-fraud case that involved former Republican House member and multimillionaire Charles Taylor, and stopped investigators from questioning Taylor. US attorneys in North Carolina have frequently gone after Democratic targets, but rarely after Republicans. The Taylor case seems particularly egregrious.
War with IranLooking at Cheney's actions as vice president, Kristof says the idea is more tenable than one might think. The Bush administration's first major military action was to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan, and its second, to overthrow Iraq's Saddam Hussein -- both intractable enemies of Iran. "Moreover, consider how our invasion of Iraq went down," Kristof writes. "The US dismantled Iraq's army, broke the Ba'ath Party and helped install a pro-Iranian government in Baghdad. If Iran's ayatollahs had written the script, they couldn't have done better -- so maybe they did write the script.... We fought Iraq, and Iran won. And that's just another coincidence?"
Mercenaries and "private armies"Scahill says that the extensive outsourcing and privatization of the Iraq and, to a lesser extent, the Afghan wars and occupations to firms like Blackwater "represents the life's work of the neoconservative core that has guided the Bush administration since it first took power in 2000." When Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense under the elder Bush, he worked to privatize the military through the firm he would go on to head, Halliburton. With his mentor Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney worked with the neoconservative Project For the New American Century and the American Enterprise Institute to push "this privatization agenda while they themselves were not in government." On September 10, 2001, Rumsfeld, the new Secretary of Defense, told the group of corporate CEOs and executives that he was bringing in to make up the core of the Pentagon's civilian leadership, "I have no desire to attack the Pentagon; I want to liberate it. We need to save it from itself." Rumsfeld meant that he would revolutionize the American military: to increase the reliance on special forces units as opposed to large numbers of ground troops, increase the privatization of the military, and increase the reliance on private soldiers and contractors in future wars. The day after his speech, the 9/11 attacks occurred, giving Rumsfeld and the administration what Scahill calls "a blank slate on which to paint its radical overhaul of how the United States wages its wars. Now, six years later, we have upwards of 100,000 private contractors in Iraq. They are subjected to no effective laws. There's almost no oversight. They operate with almost no transparency. What's the difference between having covert operators in clandestine operations, and overt operators over which there's no oversight or transparency, or effective legal mechanisms to control what they're doing? It really boils down to an absolute subversion of the nation-state and what little semblance of democracy we have in this country. The American people are against the war. But the administration no longer needs to turn to the army of the country to fight its wars. It can now hire mercenaries from all over the world. So we really are seeing a subversion of democratic processes, a subversion of the electoral system in this country, and a waging of aggressive, offensive wars using private soldiers."
Conservative smear campaignsThe parody is sparked by a March 19 Los Angeles Times editorial that says Obama, whose father is African-Americans, is "running for an equally important unelected office, in the province of the popular imagination -- the 'Magic Negro'...." The term "Magic Negro" is used by critics of pop culture to describe certain benevolent African-American characters. Limbaugh tells his listeners, "The term 'Magic Negro' has been thrown into the political presidential race in the mix for 2008. And the term 'Magic Negro,' as applied to Barack Obama has been done by an L.A. Times columnist, David Ehrenstein. ...I'm going to keep referring to him as that because I want to make a bet that by the end of this week I will own that term." He ads, "If I refer to Obama the rest of the day as the 'Magic Negro,' there will be a number of people in the drive-by media and on left-wing blogs who will credit me for coming up with it and ignore the L.A. Times did it, simply because they can't be critical of the L.A. Times, but they can, obviously, be critical of talk radio." Limbaugh uses the term 27 times throughout his broadcast, and sings the parody song to the tune of "Puff, the Magic Dragon." He defends his racist slur by saying, "Well, that's what we always do here. We do parodies and satires on the idiocy and phoniness of the left."
Conservative media slantSchwarzenegger makes his characterization of Limbaugh after the radio host termed Schwarzenegger a "closet liberal." Schwarzenegger says of Limbaugh, "I'm not his servant. I am the people's servant of California."