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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 12/10/2006 - 12/17/2006
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, December 16, 2006

"They're all terrorists," but none have been charged or brought to trial

so, they're clamping down at guantánamo... after all we already know, it's gotta be ugly...
Security procedures have been tightened. Group activities have been scaled back. With the retrofitting of Camp 6 and the near-emptying of another showcase camp for compliant prisoners, military officials said about three-fourths of the detainees would eventually be held in maximum-security cells. That is a stark departure from earlier plans to hold a similar number in medium-security units.

Officials said the shift reflected the military’s analysis — after a series of hunger strikes, a riot last May and three suicides by detainees in June — that earlier efforts to ease restrictions on the detainees had gone too far.

The commander of the Guantánamo task force, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., said the tougher approach also reflected the changing nature of the prison population, and his conviction that all of those now held here are dangerous men. “They’re all terrorists; they’re all enemy combatants,” Admiral Harris said in an interview.

He added, “I don’t think there is such a thing as a medium-security terrorist.”

it's hard to read something like this and see anything but government propaganda... "they're all 'enemy combatants'" is such an empty statement when none of them have been charged or brought to trial...

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Is Lieberman the new Bolton and will that allow Bush to grab the Senate for the R's?

this would be a move worthy of karl rove, who, you can bet your knickers, was the one who thought of it...
While much of Washington kept rapt attention on the health of Democratic Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota, an article in Salon today speculated that President George W. Bush could tip the Senate to a Republican majority via other means -- namely, appointing Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut to be America's next Ambassador to the UN.

Salon political columnist Joe Conason notes that if Lieberman were to leave the Senate, Connecticut's Republican Governor would be able to appoint a Republican to fill his seat. Knowing this, Conason reasons, the White House could use the enticement of the UN posting as a means to encourage Lieberman to exit the US Senate.

and, if rove DIDN'T think of it, thank you, joe conason, for suggesting it...

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The WaPo supports the First Amendment

i wish EVERYBODY would just wake the f*** up and realize that the bush cabal consists of criminals... i realize that more and more people are snapping to that fact every day, but still not a critical mass, and not yet enough outrage to make something happen...
No administration likes leaks. But not since the Nixon administration has the government so aggressively sought to crack down -- not just on leakers, but on reporters and others who obtain leaked material. In the latest manifestation of its disregard for First Amendment principles, the administration has used -- misused, to be more precise -- a grand jury subpoena to retrieve "any and all copies" of a document, marked "secret," obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU's request that a federal judge quash the subpoena should be granted.

The grand jury is an important tool for prosecutors to investigate wrongdoing -- not a vacuum cleaner for material the government wishes hadn't gotten out. The government is seeking to abuse the grand jury process to do an end run around the constitutional prohibition against prior restraint enshrined in the Pentagon Papers case. In that 1971 ruling, the government wanted to stop the New York Times and The Post from publishing classified documents about the Vietnam War; the Supreme Court said no. What if the government, instead of suing to block publication, had simply issued a grand jury subpoena demanding that the newspapers return the Pentagon Papers? If the ACLU, which advocates and litigates on issues of public policy, can be forced to comply with such a subpoena, news organizations would be similarly at risk.

listen, wapo... we are ALL at risk - big-time...

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

A slow to no posting day

Colorado Springs sunset
14 December 2006

i'm hanging out in colorado springs with my daughter and some friends... great weather so far, and, this afternoon, we took a very long walk through some of my growing-up haunts... i keep seeing the focus on the family hq and the spire of ted haggard's old fiefdom, the new life church, as i drive up and down the interstate... unlike previous visits, however, i don't feel the christian fundamentalism and heavy-duty militarism oppressing me as much as i have before... it doesn't make me happy to see, but, at the same time, it's kind of rolling off my back... that's good, right...?

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

$100B MORE for Iraq and Afghanistan...?

the boundary between sanity and complete, full-tilt, barking at the moon insanity has definitely been crossed...
President Bush will soon seek about $100 billion in additional emergency funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a House report Wednesday.

Filed by Democratic staffers for two key panels in the House, the report's revelations mark a rapid escalation in the cost of the Iraq war at a time when public support is plummeting.

In a broad report criticizing Republicans' fiscal decisions, Democratic staffers on the House Appropriations Committee and House Budget Committee also noted that Congress has already appropriated about $379 billion for the war in Iraq.

"The administration is expected to submit an additional request early next year that will total roughly $100 billion. At least three-quarters of this request will support operations in Iraq," according to the report.

NO... NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO...

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American Kristallnacht...

ah, so the halliburton-built detention centers are getting their first workout...
"Stormtroopers came in with machine guns, rounded [the workers] into the cafeterias, separated identified citizens from non-citizens, and then they took away all green cards and put non-citizens onto buses," regardless of the immigrants' legal status, Jill Cashen of the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UCFW) told me this morning.

Cashen said that reports from all six states confirmed that legal immigrants were among those taken away, and have not been returned. "We're still trying to find out where the buses went," she said. "Children have been left at church day cares. Nobody knows where these people are."

Recently unsealed court documents show that DHS had identified 170 identity-fraud suspects it wished to apprehend, but that the agency wanted to round up as many as 5,000 other workers because it "further expect[ed] to apprehend persons who are engaged in large-scale identity theft[.]" Union officials say the total number of detained workers may be higher than 5,000.

they came for the jews...

merry christmas, happy new year, and the very best of the holiday season to you and yours...

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"Get the counterinsurgency strategy right and provide a chance for victory"

give me strength...
As President Bush weighs new policy options for Iraq, strong support has coalesced in the Pentagon behind a military plan to "double down" in the country with a substantial buildup in American troops, an increase in industrial aid and a major combat offensive against Muqtada Sadr, the radical Shiite leader impeding development of the Iraqi government.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff will present their assessment and recommendations to Bush at the Pentagon today. Military officials, including some advising the chiefs, have argued that an intensified effort may be the only way to get the counterinsurgency strategy right and provide a chance for victory.

these people are out of their ever-lovin' MINDS...

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Krugman sidesteps the myths and looks at reality

it's all about power and money, and insuring that the most of both are in the fewest, pre-approved hands...
For the first time in our history, so much growth is being siphoned off to a small, wealthy minority that most Americans are failing to gain ground even during a time of economic growth -- and they know it.


The widening gulf between workers and executives is part of a stunning increase in inequality throughout the U.S. economy during the past thirty years. To get a sense of just how dramatic that shift has been, imagine a line of 1,000 people who represent the entire population of America. They are standing in ascending order of income, with the poorest person on the left and the richest person on the right. And their height is proportional to their income -- the richer they are, the taller they are.

Start with 1973. If you assume that a height of six feet represents the average income in that year, the person on the far left side of the line -- representing those Americans living in extreme poverty -- is only sixteen inches tall. By the time you get to the guy at the extreme right, he towers over the line at more than 113 feet.

Now take 2005. The average height has grown from six feet to eight feet, reflecting the modest growth in average incomes over the past generation. And the poorest people on the left side of the line have grown at about the same rate as those near the middle -- the gap between the middle class and the poor, in other words, hasn't changed. But people to the right must have been taking some kind of extreme steroids: The guy at the end of the line is now 560 feet tall, almost five times taller than his 1973 counterpart.

What's useful about this image is that it explodes several comforting myths we like to tell ourselves about what is happening to our society.

These days, Horatio Alger has moved to Canada or Finland. It's easier for a poor child to make it into the upper-middle class in just about every other advanced country -- including famously class-conscious Britain -- than it is in the United States.

what krugman describes has been one of the core strategies of the r's since reagan: accrue maximum power and insure that unlimited rivers of cash are flowing into the fewest pockets...

(thanks to atrios...)

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General, thanks for the talking point, but will you please stick a sock in it?

look... i have NO DOUBT that the u.s. can CREATE a "generational war," and, in fact, are well on the way to doing just that... the united states' actions in the middle east and elsewhere around the world do nothing if not provoke the very endless war so coveted by the bush administration and the neocons...
The American people need to prepare for a long-duration war against radical Muslims who are set to fight for 50 to 100 years to create an Islamist state in the region, a top Pentagon strategist in the war on terror says.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark O. Schissler said in an interview that the current strategy for fighting Islamists includes both military and ideological components that make it similar to the 40-year Cold War against communism.

"We're in a generational war. You can try and fight the enemy where they are and where they're attacking you, or prevent them and defend your own homeland," said Gen. Schissler, deputy director for the war on terrorism within the strategic plans office of the Pentagon's Joint Staff.

there is nothing i have read, other than the spoutings of warhawks like general schissler, that indicates any desire on the part of anybody for a regional islamist state... it's in the same category as the fundamentalist christian extremist rantings about wanting to turn the u.s. into a theocracy...

imho, this is one general that should not be a "top Pentagon strategist..."

p.s. needless to say, the article appeared in the washington times...

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The "new plan" in Iraq is probably in the same place as the WMD

following on from yesterday's post, it looks like george is taking his sweet time getting his thoughts together, a truly hysterical notion, since we all know how few thoughts he has in the first place, and how widely scattered the precious few he does have are...
The claims of calm deliberation emerging from the White House this week are maddening. The search for a new plan for Iraq seems to be taking place with as much urgency as the deliberations over a new color for the dollar bill.

why does this sound suspiciously like the search for wmd...?

thank god i have a sense of humor...

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"This is not a sign of trouble..."

hahahahahahahahahahahahaha... < snort, sniff, cough >
President George W. Bush is likely to delay the unveiling of a new strategy for Iraq until early 2007, instead of late this year as originally planned, a White House official said on Tuesday.

A senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the plan was now "more likely" to come in the new year.


"This is not a sign of trouble. This is a sign of determination on the part of the president," the official said.

< doubles over > hahahahahahahahahahahahaha...

p.s. yeah, i know... i have a twisted sense of humor...

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Saudi ambassador abruptly resigns...

figure THIS one out... you can bet there's a big, fat backstory here...
Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, flew out of Washington yesterday after informing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and his staff that he would be leaving the post after only 15 months on the job, according to U.S. officials and foreign envoys. There has been no formal announcement from the kingdom.

The abrupt departure is particularly striking because his predecessor, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, spent 22 years on the job. The Saudi ambassador is one of the most influential diplomatic positions in Washington and is arguably the most important overseas post for the oil-rich desert kingdom.

Turki, a long-serving former intelligence chief, told his staff yesterday afternoon that he wanted to spend more time with his family, according to Arab diplomats. Colleagues said they were shocked at the decision.

let's see what's behind this, and my guess it's significant - assuming we ever find out...

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Oh, yeah... The ISG is DEFINITELY in the toilet

when you see a well-spun headline like this on the wapo's front page, you can figure the isg is toast...
Experts Advise Bush Not to Reduce Troops
President Looking Beyond Study Group's Plan

By Michael A. Fletcher and Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, December 12, 2006; Page A01

President Bush heard a blunt and dismal assessment of his handling of Iraq from a group of military experts yesterday, but the advisers shared the White House's skeptical view of the recommendations made last week by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, sources said.

The three retired generals and two academics disagreed in particular with the study group's plans to reduce the number of U.S. combat troops in Iraq and to reach out for help to Iran and Syria, according to sources familiar with the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the session was private.

but, wait, there's more...
[T]he experts agreed that the president should review his national security team, which several characterized as part of the problem.

can i make a suggestion as to whom that team should include...? bush himself, first of all, followed by cheney, hadley, condi, and abe... oh, yes, and rove... yes, i know rove is not officially on the national security "team," but i am sure his influence is in there somewhere...

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The situation in Iraq in a headline and photo nutshell

the juxtaposition IS the story...

Iraqi boys are seen through
the broken window of a car
which was damaged in mortar
attack in southwest Baghdad.
Bomber kills 60 in Baghdad,
Bush to review policy

December 12, 2006 06:32 AM ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A suicide bomber targeting poor laborers killed 60 people in Baghdad on Tuesday hours before President George W. Bush was to review his unpopular Iraq policy in a video teleconference with U.S. military commanders in Iraq.

out, OUT, O-U-T...!

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Can the 'teens be far behind...?

given the free fall over the last month, i would guess not...
Just 21 percent approve of President Bush's handling of the war, the lowest number he's ever received, and an 8-point drop from just a month ago. Most of that drop has been among Republicans and conservatives. Three-quarters of Americans disapprove of how the president is handling Iraq.

8 points in a month, no matter which party is kissing him off, but especially since it's bush's own party, is reasonably staggering...

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Fog in Sofia... (At least SOME of it is fog...)

A view of the city from the 16th floor
of the NGK building in downtown Sofia
on one of the clearer days

in my experience over four separate trips, two in early autumn, one in late spring, and another in winter, sofia suffers from horrible pollution, made much worse by inversions in cold weather... even when there are no clouds, it is sometimes hard to see across downtown from the windows of an office building... the city has tall mountains to the west, south, and east, which, while they provide shelter from prevailing winds, also means that whatever builds up in the air, stays... and, as the article says, the airport isn't equipped for instrument landings (CAT III), as it only has a CAT II capability... adding fog to that mix would make aircraft operations nearly impossible...
Unusually persistent fog has forced the cancellation of 115 flights using Sofia Airport in the past 10 days, almost severing one of Bulgaria's major transport links, officials said on Monday.

Flights to Vienna, Frankfurt and Athens were cancelled on Monday morning alone because of the fog hanging over the area, said Monika Pelinkova, spokeswoman for Sofia Airport.

"It is a force majeure situation. For each flight we decide separately," she said. "There is nothing else that can be done."

Weather forecasters said December is normally foggy in Bulgaria, but this year was worse than usual because there has been no wind, and because economic growth has resulted in worsening air pollution around the capital.

Sofia airport has undergone significant modernization over the past two years, including building a new terminal and runways, but it does not have a certified system for landing in poor visibility.

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"Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free. AND WE'LL LOCK THEM UP."

it's an ugly business and, to all intents and purposes, completely below the media radar...
Thanks to the DHS' Operation Reservation Guaranteed, the number of immigrants in detention has risen from 18,000 when the operation was launched in July 2006, to 25,000 by the end of September. President Bush's budget for 2007 includes funds to increase detention bed space by 25 percent.

Facilities are going up faster than one can imagine. Last June a 2,000-bed detention center was approved for Raymondville, Texas, 45 miles from my office. I thought it would take a couple years to build, but I was wrong. By August 3, 2006, the facility was up and running. It¹s now at or very near its 2,000-bed capacity.

Texas seems to be the ideal place for detention centers. In 2005 a new facility opened in Pearsall, with space for 1,200. The center in Los Fresnos was recently expanded from 800 to 1,200 beds. Hutto, Texas is home to a new family detention center where DHS can hold people who have been apprehended with their children. If you¹ve never heard of these places, there¹s a reason.

Immigration detention is big business. Many detention centers are operated by for-profit companies. The federal government pays the companies, which in turn often pay the counties. Since Texas has plenty of poor rural counties with cheap real estate, it's not surprising that thousands of immigrants are detained here. But Texas isn't alone. There are immigrant detention facilities nationwide, including county jails, holding thousands.

While the federal government spends millions to jail immigrants, the other costs are far more troublesome. Families that lose the main breadwinner may have to seek public assistance such as food stamps or welfare. Some people lose their homes or are evicted after falling behind on mortgage or rent. Employers lose valuable workers and productivity decreases. Children of detained single parents may end up in foster care.

after all, they're only poor, illegal immigrants, and we've got more important things to worry about, right...?

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SCOTUS gives big oil a lump of coal for Christmas

well, well, well... whaddaya know...
The Supreme Court ruled against the oil and gas industry Monday in a dispute over how many years into the past the government can reach to collect money for leases on federal land.

In a 7-0 decision, the court refused to limit the number of years the government can reach back to collect unpaid royalties. The ruling applies to administrative proceedings the Interior Department brought against two companies.

$5M isn't exactly chump change, altho' in light of the federal deficit, i suppose it is...

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Stop lying, George - der Spiegel looks at the ISG

how very interesting...! somehow, the u.s. media didn't quite lay it out like this...
We were particularly drawn to Recommendations 46, 72 and 78. Under separate headings dealing with the military, the federal budget and the nation's intelligence agencies, they share one basic idea: Government officials should not lie to the public or each other, especially in matters of war.

One should not need a blue ribbon commission to know that. But the fact that it had to be said, and so often, in the report goes a long way toward explaining how Bush got the country into the Iraq mess and why it is proving so hard to dig out of it.

it might also go a long way toward explaining why the white house is so very cool on accepting any of the isg recommendations...

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Calling Iraq's mess a "civil war" is NOT a moral judgment

according to juan cole, it's a social science question...
First-rate Iraq historian Sarah Shields argues that Iraq is not having a civil war so much as it is living through the consequences of the US having destroyed its functioning state. I agree with her that the framework for the fighting was set by Rumsfeld/Cheney/Bush policies in Iraq. But you could say that and still admit that they are now fighting a civil war. The latter is a social science question, not a moral judgment. Avoiding the appearance of a moral judgment of a negative sort that might attach also to the US effort is also the reason that the Right won't call it a civil war.

excellent points, all... the u.s. did indeed create a civil war in iraq by its invasion and what was done - and not done - subsequently... disregarding for a moment that it was an illegal, unprovoked invasion, by failing to factor in that we were taking the lid off of a pressure cooker, thus opening a pandora's box of violence and death, we most certainly are responsible for what is going on now... calling it a civil war is not a moral judgment... creating the conditions for hundreds of thousands of people to die unnecessarily IS...

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I believe everything, I believe nothing about 9/11, but how about some answers?

i am as skeptical of those trying to debunk the 9/11 truth movement as i am of those trying to push it...
The danger is that the more this government's cynicism and deception are laid bare, the more people -- on the left in particular and among the public in general -- will be drawn down the rabbit hole of delusion of the 9/11 Truth Movement.

to me, the "rabbit hole of delusion" is when the american people, having been force-fed the belief that our country is fundamentally good and that our leaders, while they may be incompetent, could never stoop to such dastardly deeds, refuse to accept that these same leaders could indeed be capable of genuine atrocities... the united states is not immune to a pinochet, particularly when it's the u.s. who often gives a pinochet the means to carry out his crimes...

do i believe our leaders are capable of atrocities...? yes... do i believe our current leaders have committed atrocities...? yes, and from all that's come out so far, they indeed HAVE committed atrocities... do i believe there's a great deal we still don't know...? yes... do i believe that what we still don't know will horrify us even more than what we already know...? yes... do i believe our government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks...? i don't know... do i believe it's possible...? yes... do i WANT to believe they did it...? no... do i believe there's too many unanswered questions about 9/11...? yes, absolutely... and that last point is where i find myself aligned with the 9/11 truth movement... i want those answers, and i don't believe that seeking them is falling down "the rabbit hole of delusion..."

in closing, am i skeptical of those insisting that 9/11 was a conspiracy of the u.s. government...? yes... am i skeptical of those insisting it WASN'T...? yes...

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Just say no to the war on terror

good move...
Cabinet ministers have been told by the Foreign Office to drop the phrase 'war on terror' and other terms seen as liable to anger British Muslims and increase tensions more broadly in the Islamic world.


Cabinet ministers have been told by the Foreign Office to drop the phrase 'war on terror' and other terms seen as liable to anger British Muslims and increase tensions more broadly in the Islamic world.

The shift marks a turning point in British political thinking about the strategy against extremism and underlines the growing gulf between the British and American approaches to the continuing problem of radical Islamic militancy. It comes amid increasingly evident disagreements between President George Bush and Tony Blair over policy in the Middle East.

Article continues
Experts have welcomed the move away from one of the phrases that has most defined the debate on Islamic extremism, but called it 'belated'.

'It's about time,' said Garry Hindle, terrorism expert at the Royal United Services Institute in London. 'Military terminology is completely counter-productive, merely contributing to isolating communities. This is a very positive move.'

A Foreign Office spokesman said the government wanted to 'avoid reinforcing and giving succour to the terrorists' narrative by using language that, taken out of context, could be counter-productive'. The same message has been sent to British diplomats and official spokespeople around the world.

'We tend to emphasise upholding shared values as a means to counter terrorists,' he added.

a very good move, in fact...

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Human Rights and Impeachment Day

This Sunday, Human Rights Day has been renamed "Human Rights and Impeachment Day," as groups hold rallies from coast to coast across the United States calling for President Bush and Vice President Cheney to be impeached.

"The purpose of the events is to organize people to lobby their Congress Members for investigations and impeachment and to lobby their local and state governments for resolutions in support of impeachment," co-founder Bob Fertik writes.

(thanks to raw story...)

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Evidently it's official: ISG in the round file

i haven't read anything that spells it out quite like this does...
Administration officials say their preliminary review of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group’s recommendations has concluded that many of its key proposals are impractical or unrealistic, and a small group inside the National Security Council is now racing to come up with alternatives to the panel’s ideas.

In interviews over the last two days with officials from the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon and foreign diplomats, President Bush and his top aides were described as deeply reluctant to follow the core strategy advocated by the study group: to pressure Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to rein in sectarian violence faced with reduced United States military and economic support.

so much for THAT little bit of wasted effort...

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Providing cover for the Prez on the ISG

in all seriousness, i don't think it matters to him whether he has the cover or not, but i suppose it's useful in making it easier for him to do what he is going to do anyway, isg, mid-term elections, polls, congress, and the american people be damned...
Many Republican and Democratic lawmakers have embraced the panel's report, but the almost uniformly negative reaction from some of Bush's strongest conservative supporters means the president may have some political flexibility to depart from the group's major recommendations, according to some GOP operatives.

and, i don't suppose condemnation of the isg coming from iraq hurts either...
The Iraqi president [Jalal Talabani] said Sunday the bipartisan U.S. report calling for a new approach to the war offered dangerous recommendations that would undermine his country's sovereignty and were "an insult to the people of Iraq."

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