And, yes, I DO take it personally: 12/03/2006 - 12/10/2006
Mandy: Great blog!
Mark: Thanks to all the contributors on this blog. When I want to get information on the events that really matter, I come here.
Penny: I'm glad I found your blog (from a comment on Think Progress), it's comprehensive and very insightful.
Eric: Nice site....I enjoyed it and will be back.
nora kelly: I enjoy your site. Keep it up! I particularly like your insights on Latin America.
Alison: Loquacious as ever with a touch of elegance -- & right on target as usual!
"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
Jennifer Van Bergen : "The choice is not between impeachment and Iraq, or impeachment and ethics, or impeachment and the budget. Impeachment proceedings are not the beginning but the end result of a healing process for the nation that needs to begin now. Impeachment begins with investigations."
David Corn : "The matter of impeachment, like most issues in the real world, cannot be considered in a vacuum. The key question is not whether there is a case, but whether it should be prosecuted. The Democrats would do so at their peril—and at risk to their agenda, which includes stopping the war in Iraq."
personally, i don't believe that, if our country is to ever regain its credibility on the world stage, much less if we, as u.s. citizens, can continue to live with ourselves down the road, we can choose any other road than full accountability for the leaders that have taken us down this dark, dark road... my preference, without question, would be the resignation of bush, cheney, and the entire cabinet... in lieu of that, what other choice do we have but impeachment...?
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Secret talks in which senior American officials came face-to-face with some of their most bitter enemies in the Iraqi insurgency broke down after two months of meetings, rebel commanders have disclosed.
The meetings, hosted by Iyad Allawi, Iraq’s former prime minister, brought insurgent commanders and Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador to Iraq, together for the first time.
At one point the insurgents offered Khalilzad a 10-day “period of grace” in which attacks on coalition forces would be suspended in return for a cessation of US military operations.
They called for a “timetable for withdrawal”, saying that it should be announced immediately although in practice it would be “linked to the timescale necessary to rebuild Iraq’s armed forces and security services”, according to one commander.
“I told Khalilzad that we had the know-how and the manpower to regain control of Baghdad and rid it of the pro-Iranian militias,” one of the insurgent commanders added.
“If he would just provide us with the weapons, we would clean up the city and regain control of Baghdad in 30 days.”
The final blow to the negotiations came in mid-March when Khalilzad said that he would be willing to talk to Iran about resolving the conflict in Iraq. The news came as a bombshell to the Sunni insurgents, who complained to the ambassador at their final meeting.
the last thing i want in a presidential candidate is a well-spoken, slick, fluffball...
It's depressing to think that we'll have to endure Obamaspeak for months, if not years to come: a pulp of boosterism about the American dream, interspersed with homilies about "putting factionalism and party divisions behind us and moving on". I used to think Senator Joe Lieberman was the man whose words I'd least like to be force fed top volume if I was chained next to a loudspeaker in Camp Gitmo, but I think Obama, who picked Lieberman as his mentor when he first entered the US Senate, is worse. I've never heard a politician so desperate not to offend conventional elite opinion while pretending to be fearless and forthright.
when i stop and think that we've got almost two years to drown in candidate blatherings, i get very depressed indeed...
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The major alternatives include a short-term surge of 15,000 to 30,000 additional U.S. troops to secure Baghdad and accelerate the training of Iraqi forces. Another strategy would redirect the U.S. military away from the internal strife to focus mainly on hunting terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda. And the third would concentrate political attention on supporting the majority Shiites and abandon U.S. efforts to reach out to Sunni insurgents.
correct me if i'm wrong, but it seems to me that NONE of those comprised the main thrust of the ISG report... well, we knew he was going to do what he goddam well pleased anyway, so this should come as no surprise to anyone...
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With a tsunami of anti-Americanism headed our way, what to do about Bush...?
it's interesting... i read daily kos, atrios, americablog, think progress, and crooks and liars regularly, and quite a few others sporadically... in so doing, i find myself almost lulled into this sense of eager anticipation that all is going to be set right, but i usually snap back to what i believe is an extremely harsh reality...so far, in my meanderings, i have seen only three "a list" bloggers who share my view of just how critical things are right now for the u.s. - glenn greenwald, jerome a paris, and robert parry... i value parry's perspective highly... he sees what's coming and he isn't afraid to say so...
In Bush’s view, the only resolution is for troublesome Muslims to submit to his terms. But that is a possibility receding with the speed of water being pulled out to sea before the surge of a fast-approaching tsunami. In this case, there is a tidal wave of anti-Americanism about to crash across the Middle East.
While the Democratic congressional election victory and the scathing assessment from the Iraq Study Group may have shifted the political ground in Washington, Bush refuses to let go of his uncompromising vision of an “ideological struggle” requiring a near-endless war against Muslim militants abroad and elimination of constitutional liberties at home.
Bush left little ambiguity about his intent toward the central recommendations from former Secretary of State James Baker, former Rep. Lee Hamilton and the eight other members of the Iraq Study Group, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. Bush has no intention of implementing their comprehensive plan.
Faced with this looming catastrophe, the congressional Democrats may have no choice but to reconsider what incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others have ruled “off the table,” the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Indeed, Bush’s cavalier dismissal of the key Baker-Hamilton recommendations creates a possible framework for a bipartisan impeachment effort.
A less confrontational approach could be Republican and Democratic pressure on Bush and Cheney to agree to sequential resignations, replacing Cheney first with a new Vice President who would then assume the presidency upon Bush’s resignation.
As unlikely – and extreme – as these scenarios may sound, the future of the American Republic may demand nothing less.
If Bush cannot come to grips with reality – and adopt a less ideological approach toward the Middle East – there may be no realistic choice but for the American people and their elected representatives to make clear that it’s time for him to go.
if there was ever a time for bush to go, it was immediately post-katrina... that still stands out in my mind as the single worst example of elected leadership in history... i begged, i pleaded, i prayed, that bush, cheney, and the entire cabinet would resign as the only honorable thing to do... i was so enraged that it took me weeks to settle down... of course, they weren't about to do any such thing, any more than they will do the honorable thing now... pity the poor american citizens who simply cannot come to grips with the fact that we have criminals, very bad, very evil criminals running our country, and that we have been lied to and manipulated at every step, aided and abetted by both democrats and republicans in congress... two more years simply isn't acceptable...
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[W]hen it comes to deploying its Executive power, which is dear to Bush's understanding of the presidency, the President's team has been planning for what one strategist describes as "a cataclysmic fight to the death" over the balance between Congress and the White House if confronted with congressional subpoenas it deems inappropriate. The strategist says the Bush team is "going to assert that power, and they're going to fight it all the way to the Supreme Court on every issue, every time, no compromise, no discussion, no negotiation."
and then has this to say...
The problem is that there's really no independent Constitutional or legal reason why executive branch officials would be compelled to respond to a Congressional subpoena. Congress has only very limited investigatory powers, which the courts typically limit to oversight that has a direct or at least colorable relation to proposed legislation.
very true... and that's why we need to keep impeachment on the table...
Just as it's the threat of a filibuster that ultimately provides the "power" that makes the "Senatorial hold" possible, so is impeachment the power that makes Congressional subpoena power possible for use against the executive branch.
is this what happens when you have a country full of people who are, generally speaking, a bit too tightly-wrapped...?
For the first time ever, Hamburg's mile of sin, the Reeperbahn, has decided to get into the spirit of Christmas by taking part in one of the most charming of German traditions -- the Christkindlmarkt. But as one might expect from a quarter which has become the sine qua non of sin, the market is more of an XXX-mas market than a slice of German holiday magic.
"The market has been a huge success," says Anja Bayer, 40, who was helping customers choose from the various sex toys on display at her booth on Wednesday evening. "It was totally full on the first weekend. And people bought all kinds of stuff for Nikolaus (Dec. 6) and now for Christmas. Not so much the dildos, but the massage oils and the vibrating cock rings have been very popular."
i wonder if they have a gift-wrapping booth... i also wonder what THIS old german would have to say about it...
[A] theology of constant spiritual warfare has led some of his followers to blame Haggard's fall not on any personal weakness but on Satan's cunning. As congregation member Jan Long, 60, put it: "The enemy wants to destroy us."
Such constructions worry the Rev. Tony Campolo, a liberal evangelical leader who helped guide President Clinton's spiritual restoration after the Monica S. Lewinsky affair. "The idea that this is a matter of some evil spirit taking hold of him is setting Ted Haggard up for disaster," Campolo said. "He may have a tendency to pretend that he's been delivered from his homosexual feelings … and all is well."
Campolo said he hoped the restoration team would impress upon Haggard that "there is no easy fix. These are problems he will struggle with for a lifetime."
indeed, there is no easy answer for rev. haggard... coming to grips with one's sexuality is hard enough, but never so much so as when it has been buried in shame and self-loathing, and i suspect the serenity prayer isn't in common usage in fundamentalist christian circles... my crude and uninformed hunch is that the drugs were used to escape the feelings of shame, and that's yet another layer of complexity and plain hard work that rev. haggard has to face... if he chooses the "gay cure" route, again, in my opinion, that will only intensify the shame and cause him to try to bury it even deeper... all in all, not a good prognosis for the rev., but i still wish him the best...
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Some good news - voting paper trail may be required
it's a mystery to me why paper trails haven't been mandated all along... it goes right back to the old cold war maxim about mutual arms pacts - trust but verify...
New federal guidelines, along with legislation given a strong chance to pass in Congress next year, will probably combine to make the paperless voting machines obsolete, the officials say. States and counties that bought the machines will have to modify them to hook up printers, at federal expense, while others are planning to scrap the machines and buy new ones.
Motivated in part by voting problems during the midterm elections last month, the changes are a result of a growing skepticism among local and state election officials, federal legislators and the scientific community about the reliability and security of the paperless touch-screen machines used by about 30 percent of American voters.
the only way to insure fair and reliable voting is to insure that an accurate and comprehensive audit is possible... that's just common sense...
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President Bush vowed yesterday to come up with "a new strategy" in Iraq but expressed little enthusiasm for the central ideas of a bipartisan commission that advised him to ratchet back the U.S. military commitment in Iraq and launch an aggressive new diplomatic effort in the region.
At a time in early 2003 when the Iranian people were looking for a more democratic government, Bush and Congress aided and abetted by many Democrats put the blinders on and cheered mightily as Bush called Iraq and Iran part of the "Axis of Evil." Many of them knew better and capitulated to the political climate at the time. What a monumental blunder for our country and the rest of the world. Anyone who voted for that war should have the good conscience to apologize to the nation and the world.
It is noteworthy that those Democrats with presidential aspirations including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, John Edwards, and Joe Lieberman all voted for the resolution. It is very disheartening to know that the field of Democrats with presidential ambitions in the 2002 Senate all voted for the resolution. Whether it was by design or political expediency, these Democrats need to explain their vote before they have the audacity to expect us to ever trust them again with the future of our country.
but let me emphatically say that it's NOT just the iraq vote that requires an explanation and an apology... no, no, indeed... it's also for sitting on the sidelines while bush and his criminal posse crapped repeatedly on the u.s. constitution, voided the geneva convention, revoked habeas corpus, practiced extraordinary rendition and interrogation torture techniques, lied about nearly everything, and generally took our country to hell in a handbasket... what's even worse is that the war is still going on along with all the rest of bushco's nefarious actions, and we're STILL not hearing them speak out, certainly not the way they NEED to be speaking out...
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At Tuesday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the nomination of Robert Gates to be secretary of defense, I felt as though I were paying last respects to the Constitution of the United States. But there was none of the praise customarily given to the deceased.
It was a sorry spectacle Tuesday, as pretentious, patrician manners trumped courage and vitiated the advise-and-consent prerogative carefully honed by the framers of our Constitution for the Senate.
The U.S. military announced that three more American soldiers were killed Monday, adding to the 13 killed over the weekend. Ten more US soldiers were killed on Wednesday. And five Marines were to be charged with the killing of 24 Iraqis, many of them women and children, in the village of Haditha in November 2005.
No such bothersome details about this misbegotten war were allowed into evidence Tuesday by the stuffed shirts sitting in stuffed seats in a hearing room stuffed with 80 stenographers from our domesticated press. Rather, the hearing room seemed to serve as a kind of funeral parlor for the Constitution. There were plenty of bouquets, but none smelled very genuine.
Gates may have "fresh eyes," but if past is precedent he will add but marginally to the flavor of the self-licking ice cream cone that passes for Bush's coterie of advisers.
What Bush has done is replace Rumsfeldian Tart with Sugary Gates. Otherwise, the Cheney/Bush recipe is likely to remain the same as the U.S. draws nearer and nearer to the abyss in Iraq.
two disasters this week... one, the isg report and all the fol-de-rol that's going along with it, especially ridiculous when you consider that what it's REALLY calling for is iraqi oil privatization... two, the gates confirmation... so much for turning the corner after the mid-term elections...
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Eagleburger said after the event that when the group met with Bush, "I don't recall, seriously, that he asked any questions." Even the loyal Baker had to advise his friend's son that "it is time to find a new way forward."
Norman Bailey, a Latin American specialist and Cold War expert, will be "mission manager" for the two countries, responsible for "leading the Intelligence Community at a strategic level, by integrating collection and analysis of data, identifying and filling gaps in intelligence and planning and ensuring the implementation of strategies."
Otto Reich, former assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere and an Iran-Contra affair alumnus (along with Negroponte), praised the former Mobil Oil Company employee as being "very knowledgeable."
''He understands political action, he understands public diplomacy, he understands the psychological aspects of the world we're in,'' Reich told The Miami Herald.
Bailey, while working for the National Security Council in the 1980’s, had the opportunity to work with perennial presidential candidate Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. and his "followers". He described LaRouche’s intelligence organization as "one of the best…in the world."
Larouche is known to have accused former presidential candidate Walter F. Mondale of being a Soviet agent and Queen Elizabeth II of England of being a dope dealer.
Here's how I see Iraq playing out in the short term: The president makes an announcement within a month about his "new" plan. Washington is ever so pleased with a new approach. But the a la carte plan is seen by the Iraqis for what it is; it is not a U.S. timetable for withdrawal. It is not an unequivocal pledge not to establish permanent bases. It is sovereignty and authority in name only for Iraq with continued American control behind the scenes. I can't see how any of this equivocation will deflate the insurgency or stem the hatred for America that is fueled by our presence.
The "plan," in other words, is neither what the American people nor the Iraqi people want.
trust me, i don't have $100 to spare, if that gives you any idea about my level of confidence...
Does Bush get the "Worst President Ever" medal or does he get justice...?
look, i'm not convinced that impeachment per se is the right way to go... but, i do know that jerome is dead on in the essence of what he's saying...
So Democrats also think it's okay to go invade another country, to get several hundred thousand of its inhabitants killed, to proudly practice and promote torture around the world, to tear up the Geneva Conventions and a whole load of international treaties, and to go grab random foreigners around the world to put them in Guantanamo and throw away the key?
So not only was Bush reelected with a real majority, but the opposition essentially says that what he did is not so profoundly illegal that it deserves to be duly sanctioned?
Way to go.
The world is watching. And it will not forget.
Fear will not be enough when the whole world is convinced that America will not correct its current ways, and that the problem is not just the current administration.
let me expand on this a little bit... yes, the u.s. does need to take global perceptions into account, not because other countries should be the ones setting our course, but because the u.s. has such a disproportionate influence on the rest of the world and we ignore that at our peril... but, even more than that, we are doing a very bad thing even INSIDE our country if we allow the criminals currently in charge to fade away without the most severe of consequences... there have been a number of other really bad eggs who got off scott-free (mcnamara comes to mind) and we blew it then too... it's time that those who commit what can only be called atrocities (and, yes, i'm talking about iraq, guantanamo, abu ghraib, and black sites), be brought to justice... it isn't about a vendetta, goddamit... it's about JUSTICE... like i said above, i don't know if impeachment is the justice that's called for, but i do know that justice is most definitely called for...
We can spend 2007 either pushing impeachment (which isn't as popular as Zogby claims, see Bowers' piece), or we can use it educating the American people about what a Democratic government would look like -- passing meaningful legislation that would improve their lives like the minimum wage, health care reform, ethics reform, stem cell research funding, policies that help families and the middle class.
Impeachment does none of that.
In a perfect world, we could do all of the above. But we don't live in a perfect world. And the second we start impeachment proceedings, the media will focus on that. Heck WE'LL focus on that, and the Democratic legislative agenda will fade into the background, ignored. A perfect opportunity to brand the Democratic Party in a positive light will be forever squandered.
So what is more important, proving that we can govern and making the case for future Democratic majorities? Or a high-profile vendetta campaign against Bush? It really is just one or the other.
It's an easy call.
Don't worry about Bush and company. Congress will pursue its oversight duties. Waxman and Slaughter and Conyers and the rest of those guys aren't about to take the next two years off. People will be held accountable. Impeachment isn't the old path to accountability.
And Bush? He's going down as the nation's Worst President Ever. We don't need "impeachment" to make that case, Bush has done a great job of it all by himself.
my faith in waxman, slaughter, and conyers, given the unfortunate number of duplicitous dems they have as colleagues, isn't nearly as strong as markos, i'm afraid... whether or not bush is tagged with the "worst president ever" medal means little to me... what does mean a great deal is that he and his criminal compadres have to face the real, very serious consequences, of their actions... that is the only thing that makes sense to me...
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Thursday's front page of the New York Post depicts the two chairman of the Iraq Study Group as "surrender monkeys," suggesting that the bipartisan independent panel has urged the U.S. to "give up" and admit defeat in the war in Iraq.
According to the paper, the ISG "counsels cowardice - and, ultimately, a shameful defeat."
ah... even more cover for bush to decide that, rather than succumbing to ignominious defeat, the u.s. must continue to fight the good fight and spread the message of democracy to the heathens in the middle east...
"I think it's mainly window dressing," said a onetime adviser to George H.W. Bush who, prior to the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, had also worked with the current president on defense matters. "He might improve the Pentagon's image and morale. But will he be able to salvage Iraq? No way."
Additionally, speaking of the administration's aversion to negotiating with unfriendly regimes in the Middle East, the source added, "Will he be able to drastically alter the policy direction? With this administration I just don't see how he could."
We the People Congress ... is planning to inform people about the Right to Petition and the D.C. "V" rally in 2007 to the thousands of people shopping this holiday season in NYC. We would like it if we could all do this together. Dates: Saturday and Sunday Dec. 16th & 17th Time: Gather between 11:00 - 11:30 am (meeting location TBA) for you to obtain the signs, disperse to designated spots, and re-group at 5 pm to hand in signs. Where: Flyer at Times Square, Rockefeller Center, in the Village, Staten Island ferry, near Fox News Room, etc.
What: In groups of 2-4 people, in our "V" costumes with hand signs and flyers, distribute flyers to inform people about the RTP, the D.C. "V" rally in 2007, and the We the People Foundation. We are looking for people to come dressed in their "V" costumes, if you do not have one that is OK too, we will pair you with someone who is wearing one. Sign Up: RSVP by December 13th at email@example.com and let me know which days you will be available and whether or not you have a costume. I will send each of you an electronic copy of the flyer for you to print out. If you are coming from Long Island and plan on taking the train, please indicate that as well, if we get over 30 people we may be able to get a discount rate on the LIRR.
unfortunately, i'm going to be 2/3 of the way across the country, but i really like that this is happening...
if you're not familiar with we the people, here's a bit of info...
1. To protect, preserve and enhance the unalienable rights, liberties and freedoms of the people. 2. To teach people that under our system of governance all power comes from the people and all government is limited by our written constitutions. 3. To help people become better informed about the history and meaning of every provision of the Declaration of Independence and their State and federal constitutions. 4. To help people become better informed about what is really going on in government. 5. To help people become better informed about how to confront unconstitutional and illegal behavior by those wielding power in government at all levels. 6. To institutionalize vigilance by the ordinary, nonaligned citizen-voter-taxpayers.
Gates is a member of the board of directors of NACCO Industries, the Cleveland-based parent of the NACCO Materials Handling Group, a lift-truck company and Defense Department contractor. He holds stock worth $100,000 to $250,000 and earned $134,750 in director fees from the company since 2005, the financial report he filed with the federal government shows.
Gates is part of BLO Family Properties, a family owned company in Mount Vernon, Wash. He described that asset as worth $1 million to $5 million.
Other assets and earnings detailed in Gates' financial report from 2005 to the present include:
$752,788 in salary as president of Texas A&M University.
$137,469 in a lump sum from a Texas A&M deferred compensation plan.
$397,834 in compensation from Fidelity Investments, where he is chairman of the board of trustees.
$163,000 from a total of 10 speeches, including $16,000 each in speaking fees from National Pest Management, AIM Investments, Mellon Financial, Target Corp. and others and $20,000 for addressing the Securing America's Future Energy Foundation.
$91,000 in director fees from Parker Drilling Co.
$80,033 in director fees from Brinker International [Chili's, Macaroni Grill, etc.].
$64,749 in consulting fees from The Mitchell Group, an energy consulting group in Houston.
A $5,000 consulting fee from Temple Inland, a real estate firm in Austin, Texas.
not using a calculator and having no head for numbers, that looks like an income of upwards of $1.8M in, what, maybe a year and a half...? not too shabby... ya think he can relate to those poor grunts dying or coming back wounded from iraq...? < ponders > nah...
It's difficult to tell whether the ISG report ultimately represents a failure of brainpower or a failure of nerve. The point of the group's report was to explain the current situation in Iraq and how to best move forward, but instead it ultimately (if unsurprisingly) became a political entity. They took into account political positions in an attempt to craft solutions that would be politically palatable, rather than stating their unvarnished findings. In other words, either all these smart people took eight months to tell us what we all already knew, or they watered down their opinion for the sake of not making waves. Neither option is especially heartening.
[T]o some extent the report is the worst of all worlds, because it caved to political pressures but has no implementation power, which leaves the Bush administration able to pick and choose, creating a bad version of some of the recommendations while claiming to adhere to the report.
I would like to be wrong about these things, I really would. I would like to, just once, express skepticism about a centrist or bipartisan or blue-ribbon effort on Iraq and have it come out better than I expected. It's no fun being right when the result is bad for the country.
i think it's been clear from the outset that the isg was intended to be nothing but smoke and mirrors, to buy time and provide cover for the bush administration to keep on doing exactly what it pleases, but i disagree that the group "caved..." i think they "caved" before they started, and we americans, endlessly hopeful that the wise ones sitting on the dais really do know best, ate it up, hook, line, and sinker... we've been hoodwinked and bamboozled yet again... everyone's aflutter - over nothing...
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after having my camera stolen out of my luggage the end of july, fighting with american airlines about getting reimbursed, waiting until i got back to the states to replace it, and then having ups take two weeks to get around to delivering it, i finally have a good camera again...
RECOMMENDATION 22: The President should state that the United States does not seek permanent military bases in Iraq. If the Iraqi government were to request a temporary base or bases, then the U.S. government could consider that request as it would in the case of any other government.
RECOMMENDATION 40: The United States should not make an open-ended commitment to keep large numbers of American troops deployed in Iraq.
hmmmmm...? whaddaya think...? will these be implemented...? i think the answer is clear... no way in hell... i also think it's tremendously disingenuous to imply that the u.s. is at the mercy of the iraqis REQUESTING bases or troop commitments when it's patently clear that the u.s. is, essentially, IMPOSING those bases and those troop commitments...
WASHINGTON - The United States faces a "grave and deteriorating" situation after nearly four years of war in Iraq, a high-level commission warned bluntly on Wednesday, prodding President Bush to launch a diplomatic offensive to stabilize the country and allow withdrawal of most combat troops by early 2008. "There is no path that can guarantee success, but the prospects can be improved," the commission said after an eight-month review of a war that has resulted in the deaths of more than 2,900 U.S. troops and grown so unpopular at home that it helped trigger a Democratic takeover of Congress in last month's elections.
Congress seemed eager yesterday to embrace the new Baker-Hamilton report as a possible way out of the morass in Iraq, while the White House is increasingly insistent that the document is but one of several suggestions President Bush will review as he ponders changes to a policy widely seen as not working in Iraq.
"I don't think that the Hamilton-Baker report, or Baker-Hamilton report, is the last word," Robert M. Gates, Bush's choice for defense secretary, said yesterday at his nomination hearing on Capitol Hill.
The ACLU is goosing the Privacy Board on civil liberties
gee... the aclu would like the privacy and civil liberties oversight board, undoubtedly created by bush as a sop to those terrorist sympathizers who are are always whining about how he's trampling on the constitution, to be more than just window dressing...
"This hearing is a welcome but long overdue first step to air just some of the civil liberties transgressions of this administration," said Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "Our democracy is at risk when the unprecedented threats to privacy and civil liberties undertaken in the name of the war on terror go unanswered and unchecked. We ask today: when did the American people become the enemy?"
Specifically, Fredrickson raised concerns about several issues the board has ignored since its creation, including the warrantless wiretapping of Americans and data mining of call information. Fredrickson also said the board should examine the ongoing practices of torture, kidnapping and detention by the government, the growth of a "surveillance society" in America, and the lack of transparency and sunshine in the government. As well, she said the board should speak out against the use of flawed no fly lists; and raised civil liberties concerns with the Patriot Act and the Real ID Act.
The board was created on December 17, 2004, when President Bush signed into law the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. However, since its creation, the administration has done little to actually implement the launch of the board, with members not appointed until June 10, 2005. The ACLU noted that the White House also failed to include specific funding for the board in its budget for 2007.
The ACLU has been critical of the board because its members are appointed by the incumbent president and serve at the president's pleasure and because its powers to obtain documents and testimony are subject to a veto by the attorney general.
"As it stands, this board lacks both bark and bite," added Fredrickson. "History has shown that a nation that compromises freedom unnecessarily only comes to regret it. And history will show this administration is on the wrong side of civil liberties. America has been kept in the dark, and we urge this panel to bring some sunshine to the government's abuses."
urge away, caroline... urge away... at least they're actually holding a hearing and at least you got to say your piece... now, let's see what kind of stuff they're made of... my guess...? dream whip...
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Though the Democrats won the Nov. 7 elections largely because of public anger over the Iraq War, President George W. Bush has prevailed in the first post-election showdown over Iraq. He got the Senate Armed Services Committee to unanimously approve his new choice of Robert M. Gates as Defense Secretary, with Democrats failing to nail Gates down on any substantive point about war strategy. In effect, Bush has bought himself at least several months to continue his "stay-until-victory" plan, even as more American soldiers and Iraqis die.
why have i been feeling like gates' confirmation is a foregone conclusion...? i had to ask myself that question today as the senate armed services committee voted 21-0 to recommend his approval... the answer, sadly, is that, in my gut, i simply don't believe the dems, flush from their election victory as they are, have yet mustered the necessary huevos to face down george bush and give someone like gates the grilling he so richly deserves... sure enough, they didn't...
Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee floundered though inept questioning of former CIA Director Robert M. Gates, Bush’s new choice for Defense Secretary, failing to nail down the nominee’s precise thinking on any aspect of the war strategy or even to secure a guarantee that the Pentagon would turn over documents for future oversight hearings.
Among many gaps in the questioning, the Democrats didn’t press Gates on whether he shared the neoconservative vision of violently remaking the Middle East, whether he endorsed the Military Commissions Act’s elimination of habeas corpus rights to fair trials, whether he supports warrantless eavesdropping by the Pentagon’s National Security Agency, whether he agrees with Bush’s claim of “plenary” – or unlimited – powers as a Commander in Chief who can override laws and the U.S. Constitution.
When Gates did stake out substantive positions, he almost invariably lined up with Bush’s “stay-until-victory” plan in Iraq. Though insisting that “all the options are on the table,” Gates rejected any timetable for military withdrawal as some Democrats have recommended. He also echoed Bush’s argument that an American pullout would lead to a regional cataclysm.
if democratic "bipartisanship" means turning a blind eye to the constitutional abuses and criminal activities of the bush administration and putting someone like gates in as secdef without performing due diligence, i wonder what difference taking back the house and senate is really going to make...
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Weak...? Disorganized...? No plan...? That's our CONDI...!
this isn't the first time i've seen comments to this effect...
But let me just put something out there that I learned this evening during a 90 minute discussion from one of the most prominent incumbent national security officials in the Middle East:
This senior policy official stated that he had never seen a Secretary of State as weak, disorganized, and without a plan of any kind than Condoleezza Rice -- and this from someone who strenuously insists that he and many other regional foreign policy officials want to be supportive of her and the U.S.
oh, man... what a stinging indictment...! do ya suppose stuff like this is why she wants to head back to stanford, where she can be weak, disorganized, and plan-less - with TENURE...?
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Great, Bobby...! Just exactly what George wants to hear...! [w/UPDATE]
george will be so happy that you're following the script... he wouldn't have nominated you if he thought you wouldn't, but ya never know... when it's crunch time, you find out just how much loyalty some people REALLY have...
When asked by incoming Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) if he believed that the United States was winning the war in Iraq, Gates replied with a terse "no."
"What we are now doing is not satisfactory," Gates said.
"In my view, all options are on the table, in terms of how we address this problem in Iraq," the former CIA director added.
well, that little bit about not winning the war was a bit harsh, but, hell, with the rest of it, it's not a biggie... let's hope the first one gets the headlines and folks won't pay much attention to the rest...
damn...! i sure called THAT one right...! i've just cruised through at least a half dozen blogs and every single one of them is highlighting gates' comment on NOT winning in iraq and virtually NONE of them are talking about the u.s. "going to have some presence in iraq for a long time..." (and, no, i'm not going to provide links... go find them youselves... i'm having coffee at borders...!)
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why in hell would there be a deadlock...? to me, an "independent means of verifying" voter results is a no-brainer... this doesn't smell good to me...
A federal advisory group rejected a measure yesterday that would have discouraged states from using electronic voting systems that lack an independent means of verifying their results, according to a spokeswoman for the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Members of the Technical Guidelines Development Committee, a group created by Congress to advise the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, deadlocked 6 to 6 on the proposal at a meeting held at the NIST headquarters in Gaithersburg. Eight votes are needed to pass a measure on the 15-member committee.
Sen. Sam Brownback joined the ever-growing group of politicians with an eye on the White House by announcing the creation of an exploratory committee for a presidential run yesterday.
The Kansas Republican made clear that he will focus on the socially conservative themes that have formed the foundation of his career in elected office. "There is a real need in our country to rebuild the family and renew our culture, and there is a need for genuine conservatism and real compassion in the national discussion," he said.
so, just for chuckles and grins, let's take a look at what those "socially conservative themes" might be... (this is taken from a lengthy post i made on this back last march...
Brownback seeks something far more radical: not faith-based politics but faith in place of politics. In his dream America, the one he believes both the Bible and the Constitution promise, the state will simply wither away. In its place will be a country so suffused with God and the free market that the social fabric of the last hundred years -- schools, Social Security, welfare -- will be privatized or simply done away with. There will be no abortions; sex will be confined to heterosexual marriage. Men will lead families, mothers will tend children, and big business and the church will take care of all.
He tells a story about a chaplain who challenged a group of senators to reconsider their conception of democracy. "How many constituents do you have?" the chaplain asked. The senators answered: 4 million, 9 million, 12 million. "May I suggest," the chaplain replied, "that you have only one constituent?" Brownback pauses. That moment, he declares, changed his life. "This" -- being senator, running for president, waving the flag of a Christian nation -- "is about serving one constituent." He raises a hand and points above him.
The most bluntly theocratic effort, however, is the Constitution Restoration Act, which Brownback co-sponsored with Jim DeMint, another former C Streeter who was then a congressman from South Carolina. If passed, it will strip the Supreme Court of the ability to even hear cases in which citizens protest faith-based abuses of power. Say the mayor of your town decides to declare Jesus lord and fire anyone who refuses to do so; or the principal of your local high school decides to read a fundamentalist prayer over the PA every morning; or the president declares the United States a Christian nation. Under the Constitution Restoration Act, that'll all be just fine.
Brownback explains that with the help of the VAT [the Values Action Team, a group Brownback chairs, is composed of representatives from leading organizations on the religious right], he's working to defeat a measure that would stiffen penalties for violent attacks on gays and lesbians. Members of VAT help by mobilizing their flocks: An e-mail sent out by the Family Research Council warned that the hate-crime bill would lead, inexorably, to the criminalization of Christianity. [...] Working almost entirely in secret, the group has directed the fights against gay marriage and for school vouchers, against hate-crime legislation and for "abstinence only" education.
Brownback recently muscled through the Judiciary Committee a proposed amendment to the Constitution to make not just gay marriage but even civil unions nearly impossible. "I don't see where the compromise point would be on marriage," he says. The amendment has no chance of passing, but it's not designed to. It's a time bomb, scheduled to detonate sometime during the 2006 electoral cycle. The intended victims aren't Democrats but other Republicans. GOP moderates will be forced to vote for or against "marriage," which -- in the language of the VAT communications network -- is another way of saying for or against the "homosexual agenda." It's a typical VAT strategy: a tool with which to purify the ranks of the Republican Party.
let's not lose sight of what's going on BEHIND the scenes, ok...?
But dammit, whatever happened to the concept of accountability for catastrophic failure? This administration has been by far the most incompetent, inept, and with more moral cowardice, and obsequiousness to their wealthy contributors, and obliviousness to the public interest of any administration in modern history, and probably in the entire history of the country!
Even if he doesn't intend to turn what appears to be the best pre-campaign campaign I've ever seen into a real campaign, he's rehabilitated as a public servant and a politician.
yeah, sounds good, but he's got a lot more 'splainin' and rehabilitatin' to do as far as i'm concerned...
on another subject, i remain to be convinced that the bush administration is either incompetent or inept... i think they've been extraordinarily successful at getting exactly what they set out to get - global chaos, endless war, a fearful and cowed population willing to give up fundamental rights for questionable safety, and vast rivers of money flowing into both their and their supporters pockets...
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President Bush met with Fox News anchor Brit Hume on Sunday for a "sit down" interview, Fox News Channel is reporting, and the full interview is scheduled to be aired early Monday evening, beginning at 6 PM EST.
As Variety reported yesterday, the "sit down" will mark the "second time the Administration has turned to Fox in a time of trouble...Vice President Dick Cheney visited with Hume exclusively after his hunting accident."
there would have been a time, not so very long ago, when bush running to fox would have provoked my outrage at the administration's attempt to manipulate the news... now, it's just sad... whatever he has to say, he clearly believes won't hold up in a setting where he's asked serious, difficult questions, so he has to go where somebody will hold his hand and assure him that no big, bad newspeople are going to make him feel (or look) bad... so much for tough, swaggering, manly-man george...
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cry me a river, build me a bridge, and GET OVER IT...
"I am deeply disappointed that a handful of United States Senators prevented Ambassador Bolton from receiving the up or down vote he deserved in the Senate," Bush said in the statement. "They chose to obstruct his confirmation, even though he enjoys majority support in the Senate, and even though their tactics will disrupt our diplomatic work at a sensitive and important time."
first of all, george, if he actually "enjoyed" (now, THERE'S an odd choice of words) the requisite majority support in the senate, you wouldn't have had to sneak him through last year in a recess appointment... secondly, he "enjoys" virtually NO support among his peers and colleagues in the united nations, and they have made no secret of their disdain... third, how you can use the words "diplomatic" and "sensitive" in the same sentence when talking about bolton, only displays your complete disconnection from any grasp of the impact of this man... "diplomacy" and "sensitive" in conjunction with "bolton" is an extreme oxymoron... there are many other highly qualified and skilled people you could have nominated in bolton's place, but, even when it became clear that bolton was a loser, you kept right on pushing him... THAT'S obstructionism...
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Department of Defense spokesmen would not say when -- if ever -- the Pentagon had last invoked similar authority.
Nor would they specify which military construction already approved by Congress would be frozen to fund the courtroom project, which could cost as much as $125 million, according to U.S. government documents.
But, in a Nov. 17 letter to several Republican and Democratic senators and House members, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England explains the unusual move this way:
"Due to national security implications and extreme urgency, emergency construction was authorized pursuant to Section 2808 of title 10, United States Code."
the news that it was being planned smelled rotten enough... now, it's starting to smell like a dead skunk under the back porch...
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"The government's treatment of Mr. Padilla has robbed him of his personhood."
this isn't the kind of p.r. the bush administration needs right now, but, nevertheless, we desperately need to see the reality of the horrors that have been unleashed by the criminals sitting in the white house...
Still video images of alleged terror operative Jose Padilla in chains and wearing headphones and blacked-out goggles demonstrate the harsh tactics used by U.S. interrogators while he was in military custody as an "enemy combatant," his lawyers said in court papers.
"The extended torture visited upon Mr. Padilla has left him damaged, both mentally and physically," Padilla lawyer Orlando do Campo said in one court filing. "The government's treatment of Mr. Padilla has robbed him of his personhood."
Padilla claims, among other things, that he was forced to stand in painful stress positions, given LSD or some other drug as a "truth serum," subjected to loud noises and noxious odors and forced to endure sleep deprivation, extreme heat and cold, and harsh lights.
Federal prosecutors and Pentagon officials have repeatedly denied that Padilla was tortured, contending in their own court filings that he was humanely treated and that the tactics used were for "safety and security" reasons.
let's take a moment, shall we, and put ourselves in this guy's shoes... even without physical abuse, can you imagine being taken from place to place in the manner shown in the picture...? no wonder his attorney claims he has been "robbed of his personhood..." his guilt or innocence notwithstanding, human beings must not be treated this way...
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President Jalal Talabani, Foreign Minister Barham Salih, and leader of the United Iraqi Alliance Abdul Aziz al-Hakim have all rejected United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's call for an international conference on Iraq. Talabani said, "We are an independent and a sovereign nation and it is we who decide the fate of the nation . . ."
If Talabani can decide the fate of Iraq, he should please go ahead and do it. It looks pretty out of control to the rest of us, and we don't think he's in a position to turn down Annan's offer of help. In fact there is something sinister about the top Kurdish and Shiite leaders rejecting an international conference that might help stop the Night of the Living Dead. Basically, they seem to be saying that they've come out on top and are happy with the status quo, and aren't interested in compromise or negotiation.
and there's no end to the killing...
Historians think that between 80,000 and 100,000 Lebanese were killed in the Civil War of 1975-1989, 20,000 of them during Israel's 1982 invasion. The death toll in Iraq since March, 2003, has likely been at least 420,000. Even the recent figure announced by the Ministry of Health in Iraq, of 150,000 Iraqis killed by Sunni Arab guerrillas or "insurgents, " is larger than that for Lebanon (and it does not count those killed by the US military and by the Shiite militias).
Words that should never have to be written about a President
possibly hundreds of thousands dead, american and iraqi, half a trillion dollars spent, and over three and a half years down the road, the future of the unqualified disaster that is iraq depends on the "personality" of the president...?
The debate that will engulf Washington and much of the country this week centers on a question that lurks at the intersection of war strategy and the personality of the commander in chief...
now, THERE'S the material for bush's graveyard epitaph, or, possibly, for words to be engraved in stone at the entrance to the bush library:
The White House resubmitted Bolton's nomination last month. But with Democrats capturing control of the next Congress, his chances of winning confirmation appeared slight. The incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, said he saw "no point in considering Mr. Bolton's nomination again."
While Bush could not give Bolton another recess appointment, the White House was believed to be exploring other ways of keeping him in the job, perhaps by giving him a title other than ambassador. But Bolton informed the White House he intended to leave when his current appointment expires, White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said.
Bush planned to meet with Bolton and his wife later Monday in the Oval Office.
As late as last month, Bush, through his top aides, said he would not relent in his defense of Bolton, despite unwavering opposition from Democrats who view Bolton as too combative for international diplomacy.
Tens of millions of Americans want President George W. Bush to be impeached for the lies and deceit he used to launch an illegal war and for violating his oath of office to uphold the US Constitution.
Millions of other Americans want Bush turned over to the war crimes tribunal at the Hague. The true fate that awaits Bush is psychiatric incarceration.
The president of the United States is so deep into denial that he is no longer among the sane.
Delusion still rules Bush three weeks after the American people repudiated him and his catastrophic war in elections that delivered both House and Senate to the Democrats in the hope that control over Congress would give the opposition party the strength to oppose the mad occupant of the White House.
what sirota describes in his daily kos diary articulates precisely what's been churning around in my head for a very long time but hadn't thought through enough to get articulate about it...
The fact that our nation's politics is divided not between Democrats and Republicans but between the People Party and the Money Party is obvious to anyone who looks at the political system honestly (which is to say, not most journalists or Washington political hacks). Calls for "bipartisanship" and faux "centrism" that has nothing to do with the actual center of American public opinion are most often moves to prevent the political debate from analyzing the People vs. Money divide that actually fuels our politics.
he goes on to list those he pegs on one side or the other, or who seem to be leaning one way or another, and then concludes with this...
It will be up to us to support those representing the People Party with everything we've got. At the same time, we as a movement must have the courage to go up against those in the Money Party who are working against us - even if they have a D behind their name. This People Party-Money Party chasm is the one that means the difference not between which lawmakers get which parking spots on Capitol Hill - but between whether the American people get real change or not.
one of the beautiful things about the internet is that we can dig in and see for ourselves who is just going for the bucks and who displays a glimmer of what the term "common good" is really all about... and, i agree with david, just because they have a D behind their name doesn't mean diddly-squat to me... i want people with PRINCIPLES who give a damn about the people of this country, and who will stand up and denounce the criminals who've been running it at the expense of everyone else...
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To Middle East observers, Bush can no longer speak for the United States as he did before because of the domestic pressure for a change of course in Iraq, said Nathan Brown, a specialist on Arab politics at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
"He can talk all he wants about 'staying until the job is done,' but these leaders can read about the American political scene and see that he may not be able to deliver that," Brown said.
but, guess who's still solidly in george's corner (besides laura and barney, of course)...?
The only regional leader to voice unqualified support for the Bush administration has been Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has gone so far as to say that the Iraq invasion contributed to regional stability.
everybody knows israel is a u.s. proxy... (or is it the other way around, i forget...)
The last time Bush changed course was when he quit drinking
and there's some question that he's stuck with it since...
One of the myths that the Bush camp has tried to perpetuate over the years is that the president follows the model, learned as a student at Harvard Business School, of a chief executive who delegates, listens to advice and only then decides. Bush is the "decider," as he calls himself, but there is little evidence that he listens to advice that he doesn't want to hear. It may be that the last really serious call for a midcourse correction heeded by George W. Bush was the hangover he experienced at Colorado's Broadmoor Hotel one morning in the summer of 1986, when he decided to quit drinking—a decision that put him on the path to the presidency. That was indeed a momentous example of evaluating options and choosing to change, but it happened two decades ago.
any evidence that shows he might be willing to change course now...? damn little...
[E]ven Bush's most loyal lieutenants can only point to relatively minor examples such as the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (which Bush initially opposed) and the doomed Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers as instances of a president's being, as the Bush friend said, "willing to change his mind." (Other Bush confidants point to his decision to fire longtime chief of staff Andy Card and Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld as evidence of his willingness to change, but both were drawn-out decisions that many friends believed came too late.)
i still maintain that pulling out of iraq would mean pulling the rug out from under the bush administration... without the cover of the aumf, the doors of every cupboard and closet filled with noxious bushco misdeeds and unconstitutional overrides would come popping open, and bush would have no choice but to resign... imho, he's going to stay in iraq and keep his war on no matter what...
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A horror story from the OTHER war - the war on drugs
it's too bad that stories like these seem to fall through the cracks of media and public attention... they're clear evidence, as if we need any, that the other "endless war" is just as illegal and destructive as the one that hogs the media stage... this one, however, show just how far up the chain the accountability goes... again, no surprise...
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Bush won't leave Iraq because his presidency is BUILT on war
hard on the heels of my previous post comes this from robert parry, who believes, as i do, that there is no way in hell that bush is going to leave iraq, no matter how much he wants us to believe that he is considering other options... parry also suggests, quite perceptively, that the reason gates was nominated was to back bush up in his decision to stay the goddam, friggin' course...
Senators, who were inclined to rubber-stamp Gates’s nomination, may have reason to think twice. Indeed, the evidence now suggests that Washington’s conventional wisdom about Gates as “a realist” clambering onboard to put Bush’s war strategy on a new course was dead wrong. Rather than a sign of a new direction, Bush may have picked Gates as a yes man who will continue the war pretty much as is.
Bush may have enlisted someone to join him, Laura Bush and the dog, Barney, lashed to the mast of the Iraq War as it continues to founder.
Author Bob Woodward reported that Bush told key Republicans in late 2005 that “I will not withdraw even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me.”
if Bush has ruled out a significant policy shift and still wants Gates to be his man at the Pentagon, then either Gates has bought into Bush’s vision of an open-ended war or he will almost certainly fail as Defense Secretary.
Either way, the Senate Armed Services Committee might want to use the Gates confirmation hearings on Dec. 5 to review not only Gates’s fitness for the job but Bush’s strategies for waging what some administration supporters call the “Long War” and others have labeled “World War III.”
and, if gates sails through, god help us all...
Once Bush secures the Senate’s consent on Gates, the only practical moves left to Congress – besides time-consuming subpoena battles fought through the federal courts – will be withholding money from the war effort or impeachment – two drastic steps that the Democrats have signaled they won’t do.
In other words, Bush will be in a much stronger position to continue his war policies, while making the Democrats look weak and ineffectual as they flail about in 2007 seeking his cooperation on hearings.
the entire foundation of bush's presidency REQUIRES that we be at war... that's the very point that almost everybody is missing... if we are NOT AT WAR, bush's presidency collapses... his unlimited executive power claim, bolstered by the aumf, is considerably diminished, and he is left to fall back on the bogus "unitary executive" theory... announcement of a withdrawal from iraq would flash-cook bush's goose and he knows it...
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Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has begun a calculated series of meetings with top New York Democratic officials to signal that she is likely to run for the presidency in 2008 and to ask for their support if she does, according to one state Democratic official who spoke with her and two others who have been briefed on her plans.
she should NOT be president... but, of course, she has every right to be a candidate and to run... that's what our free election system is all about... she's just not the one, that's all... we need somebody with genuine, solid principles, someone who has taken a solid stand against the criminals in the white house, someone who has clearly and visibly spoken out about the unconstitutional activities of the bush administration, someone who has consistently opposed the illegal war in iraq... that isn't hillary...
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President Bush is open to some of the major changes in Iraq policy that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld suggested in a classified memo days before he resigned, the White House's national security adviser said Sunday.
"Of course they're being considered," Bush adviser Stephen Hadley said.
but, guess what...? "cut and run" is still part of the lexicon, and that, by itself, speaks volumes...
"The president really wanted us to open the aperture, consider all ideas, and it was input by Secretary Rumsfeld, helpful input into that process," he said.
As for the commission's upcoming report, Hadley said Bush wants to know what congressional leaders think of the recommendations. "He'll want to hear more what the Iraqi government will want to do. All of these things he will put together in the way forward on Iraq."
Hadley said the administration will not use the widely anticipated bipartisan report as political cover for withdrawing of U.S. troops. He said that is why Bush dismissed the idea of a "graceful exit" from Iraq after reports about the panel's conclusions began to emerge.
"The president felt he needed to stop that right there," Hadley said. "That isn't graceful withdraw. That's cut and run. And as the president has said, cut and run is not his cup of tea."
what a bunch of filthy hogwash... if past is prelude, bush and his criminal cronies are only going through the motions, making it LOOK like they're open to input, when, after six years, they have been open to NO input... they have zero credibility on being receptive to reasonable input - none, zip, nada... for this administration, words mean NOTHING, and anybody who thinks otherwise is seriously deluded... the only thing that's worth watching with this gang is concrete action, but, of that, so far, we have NOTHING... plenty of words, plenty of foreplay, but no concrete action... whatever the action steps that are taken, if any, will determine whether the words mean anything or not... my bet, based on the track record, is they will amount to nothing, and the press and the american people will, once again, have spent thousands of hours, mega-gallons of printers ink, and untold terabytes of bandwidth, chasing down the red herring trail of the isg, photo-op summits, leaked memos, spun statements, and lying press conferences...