Evolution and Eden: Integrating Genesis with Fossil Records

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hele Thomas: What Planet is Cheney living on?

What Planet Is Cheney Living On?

Vice President Doesn't Understand Reality

POSTED: 4:24 pm EST February 7, 2007
Sometimes you wonder what planet Vice President Dick Cheney is living on.

Last month, speaking of the war in Iraq, Cheney told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in a prickly interview:"(The) bottom line is that we've had enormous successes, and we will continue to have enormous successes. It is hard. It is difficult."

Anyone keeping up with the daily news from Baghdad knows that few people in the last few months -- especially those in the military -- are bragging about big successes to quell the violence in Iraq.Even within the White House, Cheney seems like a man lost in his own little world.

While Cheney is making upbeat assessments of the war, President George W. Bush is giving more downbeat assessments, acknowledging that the military occupation is not going as well as he had hoped.That is why he is asking for more troops to make a last stab at stabilizing Iraq, torn by its civil war.

The vice president has been putting his head in the sand for a long time. When he first came to power as the No. 2 leader of the U.S., he was depicted as Bush's prime minister.After the 9-11 terrorist attacks, it appeared that Cheney was running the show until White House image managers intervened to lessen the perception that Bush was somehow not calling the shots.

Cheney then lowered his profile.His experience has obviously not improved his vision.

After the first Persian Gulf War ended in March 1991, Cheney -- then serving as defense secretary in the first Bush administration -- was asked on ABC-TV why Operation Desert Storm had not gone all the way to remove Saddam Hussein from power.He replied prophetically: "I think for us to get American military personnel involved in a civil war inside Iraq would literally be a quagmire. Once we got to Baghdad, what would we do? Who would we put in power? What kind of government? Would it be a Sunni government, a Shia government, a Kurdish government?"Would it be secular, along the lines of the Baath party? Would it be fundamentalist Islamic?" he asked. "I do not think the United States wants to have U.S. military forces accept casualties and accept responsibility of trying to govern Iraq. It makes no sense at all."So what happened to all those wise observations on the way to the U.S. invasion in 2003?

Well, a lot of things apparently occurred in Cheney's life that must have made him lose the perspective formed in his earlier days, when he started his government career as an obscure, mild chief of staff for President Gerald Ford.Before that, he managed to avoid the Vietnam War, which he supported. Given five draft deferments, he explained to the Washington Post in a 1989 interview that "I had other priorities in the '60s than military service."

During his six terms as a Wyoming congressman, starting in 1979, he touted his conservative credentials so much that he voted several times against Head Start, the federal program for poverty-stricken preschool children.

He went to the Pentagon as secretary of defense in 1989. Some officials who worked closely with him in his previous incarnations say he has changed. Former national security affairs adviser Brent Scowcroft has said he doesn't know him now.It's probably because Cheney was one of the original neo-conservative signers of the Project for A New American Century -- a blueprint published in 1997 for the United State to dominate the Middle East politically and militarily in the aftermath of the Cold War.Cheney has been a lightning rod for many of the ills in this administration. Early on, he built the stonewall of secrecy by refusing to identify members of his energy task force. He also is Bush's strongest backer in sidestepping the law and empowering his role as commander-in-chief.

Cheney's name has cropped up often in the perjury trial of his former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, in connection with the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame. Despite his access to top government secrets, how many times can you be wrong?

Remember last year when Cheney said the Iraq insurgents were in their last throes of resistance? And remember earlier when Cheney knew where Saddam Hussein had stored all those non-existent nuclear weapons?No wonder no one is listening to him any more. Time has passed him by.(Helen Thomas can be reached at the e-mail address hthomas@hearstdc.com).

Discuss Helen Thomas' Opinion

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Those who cannot admit mistakes do not deserve to lead.. some examples: Hilary, McCain, Giuliana. . .

Wrong Is Right
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

Monday 19 February 2007

Many people are perplexed by the uproar over Senator Hillary Clinton's refusal to say, as former Senator John Edwards has, that she was wrong to vote for the Iraq war resolution. Why is it so important to admit past error? And yes, it was an error - she may not have intended to cast a vote for war, but the fact is the resolution did lead to war; she may not have believed that President Bush would abuse the power he was granted, but the fact is he did.

The answer can be summed up in two words: heckuva job. Or, if you want a longer version: Medals of Freedom to George Tenet, who said Saddam had W.M.D., Tommy Franks, who failed to secure Iraq, and Paul Bremer, who botched the occupation.

For the last six years we have been ruled by men who are pathologically incapable of owning up to mistakes. And this pathology has had real, disastrous consequences. The situation in Iraq might not be quite so dire - and we might even have succeeded in stabilizing Afghanistan - if Mr. Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney had been willing to admit early on that things weren't going well or that their handpicked appointees weren't the right people for the job.

The experience of Bush-style governance, together with revulsion at the way Karl Rove turned refusal to admit error into a political principle, is the main reason those now-famous three words from Mr. Edwards - "I was wrong" - matter so much to the Democratic base.

The base is remarkably forgiving toward Democrats who supported the war. But the base and, I believe, the country want someone in the White House who doesn't sound like another George Bush. That is, they want someone who doesn't suffer from an infallibility complex, who can admit mistakes and learn from them.

And there's another reason the admission by Mr. Edwards that he was wrong is important. If we want to avoid future quagmires, we need a president who is willing to fight the inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom on foreign policy, which still - in spite of all that has happened - equates hawkishness with seriousness about national security, and treats those who got Iraq right as somehow unsound. By admitting his own error, Mr. Edwards makes it more credible that he would listen to a wider range of views.

In truth, it's the second issue, not the first, that worries me about Mrs. Clinton. Although she's smart and sensible, she's very much the candidate of the Beltway establishment - an establishment that has yet to come to terms with its own failure of nerve and judgment over Iraq. Still, she's at worst a triangulator, not a megalomaniac; she's not another Dick Cheney.

I wish we could say the same about all the major presidential aspirants.

Senator John McCain, whose reputation for straight talk is quickly getting bent out of shape, appears to share the Bush administration's habit of rewriting history to preserve an appearance of infallibility.

Last month Senator McCain asserted that he knew full well what we were getting into by invading Iraq: "When I voted to support this war," Mr. McCain said on MSNBC, "I knew it was probably going to be long and hard and tough, and those that voted for it and thought that somehow it was going to be some kind of an easy task, then I'm sorry they were mistaken."

But back in September 2002, he told Larry King, "I believe that the operation will be relatively short," and "I believe that the success will be fairly easy."

And as for Rudy Giuliani, there are so many examples of his inability to accept criticism that it's hard to choose.

Here's an incident from 1997. When New York magazine placed ads on city buses declaring that the publication was "possibly the only good thing in New York Rudy hasn't taken credit for," the then-mayor ordered the ads removed - and when a judge ordered the ads placed back on, he appealed the decision all the way up to the United States Supreme Court.

Now imagine how Mr. Giuliani would react on being told, say, that his choice to head Homeland Security is actually a crook. Oh, wait.

But back to Mrs. Clinton's problem. For some reason she and her advisers failed to grasp just how fed up the country is with arrogant politicians who can do no wrong. I don't think she falls in that category; but her campaign somehow thought it was still a good idea to follow Karl Rove's playbook, which says that you should never, ever admit to a mistake. And that playbook has led them into a political trap.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Why Our Counter-Insurgency, despite Military superiority, is futile.

A Brilliant Military Strategist on Why Counter-Insurgency in Iraq is Futile

By Andrew Bard Schmookler

In the February issue of Harpers Magazine, there appears an article by Edward Luttwak entitled "Dead End: Counterinsurgency Warfare as Military Malpractice." In the article, Luttwak argues that there is no way that the United States, despite its superior military power, can prevail against an insurgency such as is ongoing now in Iraq-at least no way that's consistent with American values (and that stops short of the brutal tactics used by the ancient Romans and by the Nazis).

I've been reading Luttwak's writings occasionally for about thirty years, and I have found his thinking to be exceptionally brilliant in his field, which generally involves matters of military strategy. It would be interesting to go back over all his writings and tally up how often history has borne out his analyses, but I virtually always find his thinking to be lucid and persuasive.

In the present article about the counter-insurgency efforts of the United States, Luttwak's analysis seemed to me as lucid and persuasive as always. And I commend that article to your attention. (The article does not appear to be available online.)

The article raised a couple of questions in my mind. As I've had an acquaintanceship with Luttwak since the early 1980s, when we were both working at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington (where he remains), I have approached him with those questions.

My first question was whether, for the reasons given in his article, the American venture in Iraq was doomed to failure from the outset or whether that failure was the result of the various blunders committed by the Bushites in establishing a post-Saddam order-- blunders that allowed considerable space for the insurgency to grow (while Rumsfeld was in his "Stuff happens" mode of denial and incompetence).

Luttwak responded that it was doomed from the outset.

I asked also whether, given the present situation, the best thing to do --even from the standpoint of the Iraqis, who have been plunged by this American invasion into disorder-- is to withdraw now or to stay to try to mitigate the destructive chaos we have unleashed.

Luttwak said we should disengage.

Luttwak referred me to an article of his published at the beginning of 2005 in the journal, FOREIGN AFFAIRS. And he succinctly summed up his analysis there with the words: "Not Germany in 1945 but Spain in 1799--unwilling to modernize, will follow priests and tribals in rejecting democracy." The article is entitled, "Iraq: The Logic of Disengagement."

What follows are some passages from that article, which is available online at www.comw.org/pda/fulltext/0512luttwak.pdf.

Luttwak's overall case for disengagement might be summed up with this quote from the article:

[Once the United States] has declared its firm commitment to withdraw-or perhaps,
given the widespread conviction that the United States entered Iraq to exploit its resources, once visible physical preparations for an evacuation have begun-the calculus of other parties will change. In a reversal of
the usual sequence, the U.S. hand will be strengthened by withdrawal, and Washington may well be able to lay the groundwork for a reasonably stable Iraq.

The idea is that many of these "other parties" presently have no great incentive to create order, but in the absence of U.S. forces their own interest in avoiding anarchy in Iraq will likely lead them to pursue different, more constructive courses of action from their present ones.

Luttwak's analysis of why Iraq has not worked out as the neo-cons had predicted contains these elements:

[In Iraq, in contrast with what happened after the Americans occupied Japan and Germany after World War II,] [a]n already difficult task has been made altogether impossible by the refusal of Iraqi teachers, journalists, and publicists-let alone preachers-to be instructed and to instruct others in democratic ways. In any case, unlike Germany or Japan after 1945, Iraq after 2003 never became secure enough for occupation personnel to operate effectively, let alone to carry out mass political education in every city and town, as was done in Germany and Japan.

The plain fact is that there are not enough aspiring democrats in Iraq to sustain democratic institutions. The Shiite majority includes cosmopolitan figures, but by far its greater part has expressed in every possible way a strong preference for clerical leadership. The clerics, in turn, reject any elected assembly that would be free to legislate without their supervision-and could thus legalize, for example, the
drinking of alcohol or the freedom to change one's religion. The Sunni-Arab minority, for its part, has dominated Iraq from the time it was formed into a state, and its leaders have consistently rejected democracy in principle because they refuse to accept a subordinate status. As for the Kurds, they have administered their separate de facto autonomies with considerable success, but it is significant that they have not even attempted to hold elections for themselves...

And here's a bit of the flesh on that allusion he made to Spain, 1799:

ferocious insurgency of the illiterate Spanish poor against their would-be liberators under the leadership of their traditional oppressors. On July 6, 1808, King Joseph of Spain presented a draft constitution
that for the first time in Spain's history oªered an independent judiciary, freedom of the press, and the abolition of the remaining feudal privileges of the aristocracy and the church. Ecclesiastical overlords still owned 3,148 towns and villages, which were inhabited by some of Europe's most wretched tenants. Yet the Spanish peasantry did not rise to demand the immediate implementation of the new constitution. Instead, they obeyed the priests, who summoned them to fight against the ungodly innovations of the foreign invader-for Joseph was the brother of Napoleon Bonaparte and had been placed on the Spanish throne by French troops a month earlier. That was all that mattered for most Spaniards-not what was proposed, but who proposed it.

Hence, according to Luttwak, the futility of this American venture supposedly to impose democracy on a nation about which the Bushites knew rather little, and did not care to know more.

I am inclined to believe that there is much validity to Luttwak's analysis of the situation in Iraq. In one matter, however, he seems to adhere to a perception of the American invasion that I think mistaken. He writes, in a passage that makes clear the analogy with Spain:

The clerics dismiss all talk of democracy and human rights by the invaders as mere hypocrisy-except for women's rights, which are promoted in earnest, the clerics say, to induce Iraqi daughters and wives to dishonor their families by aping the shameless disobedience of Western women. The vast majority of Iraqis, assiduous mosque-goers and semi-literate at best, naturally believe their religious leaders. The alternative would be to believe what for them is entirely incomprehensible: that foreigners have been unselfishly expending their own blood and treasure to help them. As opinion polls and countless incidents demonstrate, Americans and their allies are widely hated as the worst of invaders, out to rob Muslim Iraqis not only of their territory and oil, but also of their religion and family honor.

This passage seems to imply that Luttwak interprets the Bushite invasion as an "unselfish" expenditure of American blood and treasure undertaken in order to help the Iraqis. Knowing Luttwak, I would be surprised if he actually holds to that interpretation of the Bushite motivations behind the invasion. (Postscript, I have now inquired about his beliefs on this score, and he has responded, saying: "The unrealistic purpose of the US invasion was to establish a successful democracy.")

That is not my reading of the underlying motives and purpose behind the invasion of Iraq. While I believe that this may have been an important part of the motivation for Wolfowitz's endorsement of this invasion, I do not for a second believe it is true for the likes of Bush and Cheney and Rove and Rumsfeld.

Hell, I've never seen them do an unselfish thing even for Americans! (And when it comes to "democracy," can one take seriously the value they place on democracy in view of how systematically they've sought to dismantled OURS?)

When one looks at how the Bushites have dealt with the whole situation --especially how they've dealt with the oil, and their huge investment in permanent bases-- I really cannot see the Iraqis' cynical interpretation of American motives as a sign of some cultural limitation of theirs. I have believed in the relative altruism of come American moves in the international realm in times past, so the idea of our putting soldiers on the ground somewhere to help others is not "incomprehensible" to me. But in this instance, with this invasion by this Bushite gang, I agree with what Luttwak here reports as the Iraqi interpretation.

And so, finally, as impressed as I generally am by Luttwak's analytic abilities, his interpretation of American motives opens the door just a crack with respect to my original question about whether the failure in Iraq was inevitable (whether the blunders were, as Luttwak says, "irrelevant"), or whether the way the Bushites have gone about it is what doomed the mission to failure.

That uncertainty creeps in thusly: If Luttwak has misinterpreted the signs of what this invasion was about, as I believe he has-- if he himself has bought into the altruistic motives the Bushites have advanced-- perhaps that indicates that he's not read correctly all the factors that turned this Iraq venture sour. Perhaps, for example, he's not recognized all the ways the execution of this occupation has created an enmity that was not inevitable and has failed to contain that part of the enmity that, while inevitable, might --just perhaps-- have been nipped in the bud.

So I'm left half willing to defer to Luttwak's answers to my two questions, while harboring some lurking doubts.

Authors Website: http://nonesoblind.org/

Authors Bio: Andrew Bard Schmookler's website www.nonesoblind.org is devoted to understanding the roots of America's present moral crisis and the means by which the urgent challenge of this dangerous moment can be met. Dr. Schmookler is also the author of such books as The Parable of the Tribes: The Problem of Power in Social Evolution (SUNY Press) and Debating the Good Society: A Quest to Bridge America's Moral Divide (M.I.T. Press). He also conducts regular talk-radio conversations in both red and blue states.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

BBC Iraqi Invation planning 'delusional' (and enormously costly to our military)

Iraq invasion plan 'delusional'
The US invasion plan for Iraq envisaged that only 5,000 US troops would remain in Iraq by December 2006, declassified Central Command documents show.

The material also shows that the US military projected a stable, pro-US and democratic Iraq by that time.

The August 2002 material was obtained by the National Security Archive (NSA). Its officials said the plans were based on delusional assumptions.

The US currently has some 132,000 troops in the violence-torn state.

'Completely unrealistic'

The documents - in the form of PowerPoint slides - were prepared by the now-retired Gen Tommy Franks and other top commanders at the time.

All of these were delusions
Thomas Blanton, National Security Archive

The documents were presented at a briefing in August 2002 - less than a year before the US invasion of Iraq in April 2003.

The commanders predicted that after the fighting was over there would be a two- to three-month "stabilisation" phase, followed by an 18- to 24-month "recovery" stage.

They projected that the US forces would be almost completely "re-deployed" out of Iraq at the end of the "transition" phase - within 45 months of invasion.

"Completely unrealistic assumptions about a post-Saddam Iraq permeate these war plans," NSA executive director Thomas Blanton said in a statement posted on the organisation's website.

"First, they assumed that a provisional government would be in place by 'D-Day', then that the Iraqis would stay in their garrisons and be reliable partners, and finally that the post-hostilities phase would be a matter of mere months'," Mr Blanton said.

"All of these were delusions," he added.

The NSA said it received the documents last month, after making a request in 2004.

The NSA is an independent research institute at George Washington University.

It obtained the papers under the Freedom of Information Act.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/02/15 12:41:14 GMT



Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Libby Trial and the Syncophant Washington Press

Scooter Libby and the media debacle

by Eric Boehlert, Media Matters website

The New York Times made headlines last week when it tapped a new D.C. bureau chief. But if the paper of record really wanted to jump-start its Beltway news operation, maybe it should have tried to lure Patrick Fitzgerald away from the Department of Justice.

Let's face it, as special counsel in charge of investigating the Valerie Plame CIA leak, and now the lead prosecutor in D.C. federal court methodically laying out the damning evidence of perjury, obstruction, and lying against Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, Fitzgerald has consistently shown more interest -- and determination -- in uncovering the facts of the Plame scandal than most Beltway journalists, including the often somnambulant D.C. newsroom of The New York Times.

Indeed, for long stretches, the special counsel easily supplanted the timid D.C. press corps and become the fact-finder of record for the Plame story. It was Fitzgerald and his team of G-men -- not journalists -- who were running down leads, asking tough questions and, in the end, helping inform the American people about possible criminal activity inside the White House.

It's true that Fitzgerald's team had subpoena power that no journalist could match. But reporters in this case had a trump card of their own: inside information. Sadly, most journalists remained mum about the coveted and often damning facts, dutifully keeping their heads down and doing their best to make sure the details never got out about the White House's obsession with discrediting former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV by outing his undercover CIA wife, Valerie Plame.

So as the facts of the White House cover-up now tumble out into open court, it's important to remember that if it hadn't been for Fitzgerald's work, there's little doubt the Plame story would have simply faded into oblivion like so many other disturbing suggestions of Bush administration misdeeds. And it would have faded away because lots of high-profile journalists at The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, and NBC wanted it to.

In a sense, it was Watergate in reverse. Instead of digging for the truth, lots of journalists tried to bury it. The sad fact remains the press was deeply involved in the cover-up, as journalists reported White House denials regarding the Plame leak despite the fact scores of them received the leak and knew the White House was spreading rampant misinformation about an unfolding criminal case.

And that's why the Plame investigation then, and the Libby perjury trial now, so perfectly capture what went wrong with the timorous press corps during the Bush years as it routinely walked away from its responsibility of holding people in power accountable and ferreting out the facts.

Why the early press silence regarding Plame? I think that like Bush, who publicly expressed doubt in 2003 that "we'll find out who the leaker is," it's likely most reporters never thought the case would be cracked, since leak inquiries were historically toothless and futile. (It appears Libby made the same miscalculation, misleading FBI investigators in 2003, never suspecting Fitzgerald would take over the case the following year and uncover Libby's perjury.)

So if the leakers weren't going to be found out, what was the point of reporters going public with their information and angering a then-popular White House that had already established a habit for making life professionally unpleasant for reporters who pressed too hard? Reporters all over Washington, D.C., were more than willing to drop the story and look away. So instead, it fell to Fitzgerald to do the watchdog work traditionally overseen by the press corps.

Nobody would argue that the story is being ignored today. Far from it: The press is gorging on details from the Libby trial, which makes sense considering it's the most significant criminal case to spring from the Bush White House. The case also goes straight to the administration's signature attempt to mislead the country into war, in this case by airing the totally bogus allegation that Saddam Hussein had attempted to purchase uranium from Niger to kick-start his nuclear weapons program. Yet for years, while support for the war remained strong, the press was alternately cautious, misleading, and even contentious about covering the crucial story.

For instance, the press often described the Plame leak as a well-kept mystery that had journalists completely stumped. As late as July 12, 2005, ABC's Nightline reported that, "For two years, it's been unknown who told reporters the identity of Valerie Plame," which was just silly. First, it took me about three days in the fall of 2003 to figure out Libby was the likely culprit, and I had no heavyweight sources helping me. Second, here's a partial list of D.C. journalists who had personal, inside information about the case and could have unwrapped the Plame leak mystery, or at least advanced parts of the story in real time: syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak; NBC's Tim Russert, Andrea Mitchell, and David Gregory; MSNBC's Chris Matthews; Time's Matthew Cooper, along with Michael Duffy, John Dickerson, and Viveca Novak; The New York Times' Judith Miller, and The Washington Post's Bob Woodward.

They could have, but none of them did. Instead, at times there was an unspoken race away from the Bush scandal, a collective retreat that's likely unprecedented in modern-day Beltway journalism.

As for mainstream journalists who didn't have inside info, many of them were busy rooting for the White House and sniping at Fitzgerald. In the days and weeks before the Libby indictments were announced in October 2005, it was media elite columnists who urged Fitzgerald to go easy with any charges. The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof (subscription required) didn't want people to "exaggerate" the leaking of Plame's identity, arguing White House insiders probably didn't know she was undercover. ("Negligence rather than vengeance.") Newsweek echoed that defense, insisting that neither Cheney nor Libby ever meant any harm by initiating their Plame whispering campaign. Instead, the newsweekly reported, "It is much more likely they believed that they were somehow safeguarding the republic." [Emphasis added]

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen dismissed the criminal investigation as banal and trivial. "The best thing Patrick Fitzgerald could do for his country is get out of Washington, return to Chicago and prosecute some real criminals," he wrote. Fellow Post columnist Michael Kinsley agreed, wondering whether the "whole prosecution is nuts."

Online at Slate, which strives mightily to match the clubby, insider tone of traditional media outlets such as the Post, editor Jacob Weisberg in 2005 obediently fretted over what kind of "creative crap charges" Fitzgerald might lodge against Bush administration officials.

More recently, The Washington Post's David Broder dismissed the entire affair as "overblown" and a "tempest in a teapot," while calling on some journalists to apologize to White House senior adviser Karl Rove for suggesting he was part of the campaign to leak Plame's identity, despite the fact Rove did play a central role in the leaking. And just last week, the Post's Cohen dismissed the Libby trial as "silly," while Kinsley, now at Time, suggested that Libby, by leaking to reporters, was "a martyr of press freedom."

As blogger Marcy Wheeler writes in her revealing new Plame/Libby book, Anatomy of Deceit (Vaster Books, January 2007), it was as if the media were "making the case that the press should retain exclusive judgment on the behavior of politicians, with no role for the courts." Unfortunately, the press has shown it's no longer up to fulfilling that important role.

Journalists remain mum during Bush's re-election

In 2004, Time magazine's Cooper was subpoenaed to appear before Fitzgerald's grand jury and answer questions about the Plame leak he received in 2003. Cooper and Time initially refused to cooperate and fought the subpoena in court. Cooper agreed to testify during the summer of 2005 after receiving a waiver from his source, Karl Rove, who assured him it was OK to disclose their confidential conversation. Of course, Cooper could have asked for that same waiver in 2004, which would have significantly quickened the pace of the investigation. But Cooper did not, according to a Los Angeles Times report, because "Time editors were concerned about becoming part of such an explosive story in an election year."

As blogger Steve Soto wrote at The Left Coaster, "Time magazine's editors knew that Matt Cooper had a huge story on their hands about Rove's involvement and the lengths the White House went to in order to discredit an opponent, but they sat on the story until after the election for fear of becoming part of a story that might affect the election."

Note that when announcing the indictment of Libby on Oct. 29, 2005, Fitzgerald stressed that his two-year investigation could have been over 12 months earlier if reporters had cooperated. "We would have been here in October 2004 instead of October 2005," Fitzgerald said. [Emphasis added.]

NBC's Russert was another prominent Beltway reporter who could have made life very uncomfortable for the White House in 2004 by publicizing his first-hand knowledge about key disputes regarding the Libby investigation. Instead, Russert -- host of Meet the Press, which at the time enjoyed a very close working relationship with Libby's boss, Cheney -- chose to remain silent regarding central facts.

Russert's bombshell was that when cooperating with Fitzgerald during the summer of 2004, Russert detailed under oath a key phone conversation he had with Libby the previous summer. In 2004, Russert knew his testimony would likely ensnare Libby because the two men two gave contradictory answers regarding the conversation. Indeed, the conversation became the linchpin for the perjury charges because Libby told investigators it was during his phone call with Russert that Libby first learned about Plame's identity. Russert, though, testified the two men never even discussed Plame that day on the phone. (Or any other day.)

Following his testimony, NBC released a statement in which the network stressed Russert never received a leak from Libby and that Russert did not give Libby any information about Plame.

But why, in the name of transparency, didn't the network issue a statement that made clear Russert and Libby never even discussed Plame? Why was that glaringly important point left unsaid since it would have raised all sorts of questions about Libby's testimony? Why, during an election year, didn't Russert appear on Meet the Press and say, "Based on questions posed by special prosecutor Fitzgerald, it seemed clear Libby had testified that he and I spoke about Plame in July 2003, when in fact we did not"?

If Fitzgerald or NBC's lawyers didn't want Russert to talk publicly about his testimony, Russert should have said so. If Russert didn't want to embarrass Libby politically, he should have said so. Instead, for more than a year prior to the indictments, Russert simply pretended to be upfront about his involvement.

Russert is expected to take the stand in the Libby trial this week.

And then there was the sad display put on by The Washington Post's Bob Woodward who, in various television appearances during the investigation, made it quite clear that he thought little of Fitzgerald's efforts, that it was "disgraceful," that Fitzgerald was a "junkyard prosecutor," and that the leak had caused the CIA no harm. In fact, Woodward boldly predicted that when "all of the facts come out in this case, it's going to be laughable because the consequences are not that great."

What the famed Beltway insider forgot to tell television viewers -- not to mention his Post editor -- was that Woodward himself had received a leak about Plame way back in 2003, which meant Woodward, the former sleuth, had been sitting been sitting on a sizeable scoop for more than two years.

If at any point prior to the Libby indictments Woodward had come forward with his information, it would have been politically devastating for the White House. Instead, Woodward remained mum about the facts while publicly mocking Fitzgerald's investigation.

Regardless of the outcome from the Libby perjury case, the trial itself will be remembered for pulling back the curtain on the Bush White House as it frantically tried to cover up its intentional effort to mislead the nation to war. Sadly, the trial will also serve as a touchstone for how the Beltway press corps completely lost its way during the Bush years and became afraid of the facts -- and the consequences of reporting them.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

How we were misled by the "Independent" press and Colin Powell

FLASHBACK: 4 Years Ago Editorials Hailed Powell's Iraq Speech

By E&P Staff

Published: February 05, 2007 7:55 PM ET
NEW YORK Today is the fourth anniversary of former Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and "mobile biological labs" at the United Nations, a crucial moment in greasing the path to war in 2003 -- although much of it was later found to be wildly inaccurate.

Although some doubts were raised about the evidence from some media outlets -- including E& P -- the 80-minute multimedia event quieted concerns that had been rising on many newspaper editorial pages, as the following article, carried by E&P a few days after the speech, shows. It was written by Ari Berman, then an E&P intern.

Ironically, on the fourth anniversary, the U.S. Senate refused to debate and vote on a resolution opposing the latest escalation in Iraq, with even some Republicans who had voice opposition to the war, such as Chuck Hagel and Gordon Smith, voting to deny the move.

Here is the Feb. 10, 2003, E&P article.

The day after Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech before the U.N. Security Council Wednesday, daily newspapers in their editorials dramatically shifted their views to support the Bush administration's hard-line stance on Iraq, a new E&P survey has found.

These results come in stark contrast to those of E&P surveys on Jan. 31 and Jan. 20. Those surveys identified strong opposition to President Bush's plans for a quick war in the majority of the country's largest newspapers. The number of newspapers advocating the use of force seemingly has grown faster in the last day or so than it had in the last month.

As recently as a week ago -- following weapons inspector Hans Blix's report to the United Nations and the president's State of the Union address -- more than two-thirds of the nation's editorial pages refrained from hawkish support, calling for the release of more detailed evidence and increased diplomatic maneuvering. The 80-minute presentation by Powell seems to have silenced many of the critics.

While newspapers unanimously praised Powell and criticized Saddam Hussein, they still disagreed over how to act, and when. The latest E&P survey of 40 of the top 50 newspapers (by circulation), found that while three groups -- very pro-war, cautiously pro-war, and war skeptics -- remain, the size of each indicates shifting levels of support in favor of the administration's policy on Iraq.

A once-tiny hawkish faction has grown to include 15 newspapers, three times as many as the five identified in the Jan. 31 E&P survey. The mildly hawkish category also grew, to 14. The dovish contingent slid to 11.

The Dallas Morning News strongly reflected the sentiment behind calls for quick force: "The U.S. Secretary of State did everything but perform cornea transplants on the countries that still claim to see no reason for forcibly disarming Iraq."

Other surveyed newspapers shifting from a hesitant to a ready-for-war stance included The Washington Post, The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, The Oregonian in Portland, the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, and The Denver Post.

The Washington Post editorial opened: "After Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's presentation to the United Nations Security Council yesterday, it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.... Mr. Powell's evidence, including satellite photographs, audio recordings and reports from detainees and other informants, was overwhelming. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., the senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, called it 'powerful and irrefutable.'"

The cautiously pro-war camp expanded to 14 from 11 members, who generally advocated the forceful overthrow of Hussein while contending that maximal international support and preparation still should be prerequisites for any invasion.

"The go-it-alone ultimatum is one the U.S. and the international community would do well to avoid -- and one that Powell's much-needed presentation should help head off," USA Today wrote. The Miami Herald praised Powell's presentation for laying the groundwork for war, while saying that any attack should be a last resort.

Others in the cautiously pro-war camp -- such as Newsday in Melville, N.Y., the Detroit Free Press, and The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee -- called for a second U.N. resolution to authorize the use of force. Some previous supporters of U.N. weapons inspectors, such as The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., now dismiss their effectiveness.

Even the shrinking number of war skeptics, down to 11 in this survey from 29 in the last one, seemed unsure of how to bring about a peaceful solution to the conflict.

The Boston Globe still hoped for either a coup or Hussein's exile. The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch all advised the president to let diplomacy work. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, The Seattle Times, and The Hartford (Conn.) Courant all echoed France's proposal, calling for the return of a beefed-up weapons-inspection team.

The surprisingly vocal dissenters at The Orange County Register in Santa Ana, Calif., claimed Powell's case still did not justify a pre-emptive attack. The Register argued that too many unanswered questions need tackling, including whether terrorism, chemical-and-biological-weapon attacks, and other world problems such as in North Korea might increase due to this use of U.S. force.

Bridging the gap between those that oppose further inspections but still fear the consequences of all-out war, the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News called for precision air strikes -- such as those used to patrol the already-existing Iraqi no-fly zones -- on suspected weapons facilities.

NOTE: Many pundits also were persuaded by Powell.

These included liberals at The Washington Post, Richard Cohen ("The evidence he presented to the United Nations -- some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail -- had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn't accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them. Only a fool -- or possibly a Frenchman -- could conclude otherwise.") and Mary McGrory ("I can only say that he persuaded me, and I was as tough as France to convince.").

Friday, February 02, 2007

On Molly Irvins, by Paul Krugman

. . . .

Molly never lost sight of two eternal truths: rulers lie, and the times when people are most afraid to challenge authority are also the times when it’s most important to do just that. And the fact that she remembered these truths explains something I haven’t seen pointed out in any of the tributes: her extraordinary prescience on the central political issue of our time.

I’ve been going through Molly’s columns from 2002 and 2003, the period when most of the wise men of the press cheered as Our Leader took us to war on false pretenses, then dismissed as “Bush haters” anyone who complained about the absence of W.M.D. or warned that the victory celebrations were premature. Here are a few selections:

Nov. 19, 2002: “\"The greatest risk for us in invading Iraq is probably not war itself, so much as: What happens after we win? ... There is a batty degree of triumphalism loose in this country right now."

"Jan. 16, 2003: “I assume we can defeat Hussein without great cost to our side (God forgive me if that is hubris). The problem is what happens after we win. The country is 20 percent Kurd, 20 percent Sunni and 60 percent Shiite. Can you say, ‘Horrible three-way civil war?'"

July 14, 2003: "I opposed the war in Iraq because I thought it would lead to the peace from hell, but I’d rather not see my prediction come true and I don’t think we have much time left to avert it. That the occupation is not going well is apparent to everyone but Donald Rumsfeld. ... We don’t need people with credentials as right-wing ideologues and corporate privatizers — we need people who know how to fix water and power plants."

Oct. 7, 2003: "Good thing we won the war, because the peace sure looks like a quagmire. ...

"I’ve got an even-money bet out that says more Americans will be killed in the peace than in the war, and more Iraqis will be killed by Americans in the peace than in the war. Not the first time I’ve had a bet out that I hoped I’d lose."

So Molly Ivins — who didn’t mingle with the great and famous, didn’t have sources high in the administration, and never claimed special expertise on national security or the Middle East — got almost everything right. Meanwhile, how did those who did have all those credentials do?

With very few exceptions, they got everything wrong. They bought the obviously cooked case for war — or found their own reasons to endorse the invasion. They didn’t see the folly of the venture, which was almost as obvious in prospect as it is with the benefit of hindsight. And they took years to realize that everything we were being told about progress in Iraq was a lie.

Was Molly smarter than all the experts? No, she was just braver. The administration’s exploitation of 9/11 created an environment in which it took a lot of courage to see and say the obvious.

Molly had that courage; not enough others can say the same.

And it’s not over. Many of those who failed the big test in 2002 and 2003 are now making excuses for the “surge.” Meanwhile, the same techniques of allegation and innuendo that were used to promote war with Iraq are being used to ratchet up tensions with Iran.

Now, more than ever, we need people who will stand up against the follies and lies of the powerful. And Molly Ivins, who devoted her life to questioning authority, will be sorely missed.

Amen. Amen, Amen. We will always lack those with integrity to question authority in this nation as too many of us live inside our own bubbles to question anything but an increase in price of gas. Paschal Feb. 2, 2007

Thursday, February 01, 2007

JImmyCarter's new book and discussion by Alan Dershowitz

The truth is that President Carter and I agree on many issues. We both want a two-state solution to the conflict. We both want the occupation to end. We both oppose new Israeli settlements. We both wish to see the emergence of a democratic, economically viable Palestinian state.

Fundamentally, we are both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine. There need not be any contradiction between the two.

But President Carter and I have our differences, too. I favored a compromise peace based on the offer by President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 2000-2001. Carter, however, defends Yasser Arafat's refusal to accept these generous terms, or to make a counteroffer.

In fact, Carter never mentions in his book that the Palestinians could have had a state in 1938, 1948, 1967 and on several other occasions. Their leaders cared more about destroying Israel than they did about creating Palestine.

That is the core of the conflict. It is Palestinian terror, not Israeli policy, which prevents peace.

Carter chooses to believe Arafat's story over that of Clinton, Barak and Saudi Prince Bandar, who called Arafat's refusal a "crime." Why?

We know from Carter's biographer, Douglas Brinkley, that Carter and Arafat strategized together about how to improve the image of the PLO. It is highly likely, therefore, that Arafat sought Carter's advice on whether to accept or reject the Clinton/Barak offer.

Did Carter advise Arafat to walk away from a Palestinian state? Did he contribute to the new intifada, which claimed thousands of lives on both sides? That is an important question-one I would have asked Carter had I been given the chance.

President Carter also told the audience at Brandeis that he wanted to reduce America's role in the peace process in favor of Russia, the United Nations and the European Union. To me, that is not a serious proposal. As Carter himself showed during his presidency, American leadership is both positive and necessary.

I give President Carter credit for the concessions he made in his speech. He acknowledged that the use of the word "apartheid" in the title of his book might have caused offense. He apologized for the infamous passage on page 213, which condones Palestinian terrorism.

But the President Carter we saw at Brandeis was different from the President Carter the world has seen on Al-Jazeera. The Al-Jazeera Carter said that Palestinian missiles fired at Israeli civilians are not terrorism. The Al-Jazeera Carter refused to condemn suicide bombings on moral grounds.

Even at Brandeis, President Carter continued to make the kinds of inaccurate claims that run throughout his book. He said, for example, that Hamas began a sixteen-month a cease-fire in August 2004. He said nothing about Hamas rocket attacks in the weeks and months that followed, which killed innocent Israeli women and children.

He claimed that Israel's security barrier was designed to seize land, when in fact it was proposed by liberal and left wing Israelis, and aims only to protect civilians from bombings and sniper fire. Every inch of the barrier's route has to be justified by security needs, according to Israel's highest court.

President Carter also left out some important details. Not once, for example, did he mention the Palestinian refugee problem, which the Arab states still exploit against Israel. And not once did he mention Iran and the nuclear threat it poses-not just to Israel, but to the entire world.

It was not Israel that rejected U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, which called for Israel to withdraw from territories-allowing for adjustments-that it won in 1967. It was the Palestinians, together with the other Arab nations, that said "no" to recognition, negotiation and peace.

I would like to join with President Carter in working for peace in the Middle East. But peace will not come if we insist on blaming one side in the conflict. And real dialogue, at Brandeis or in the Middle East, means talking with people you might not agree with.

It also means recognizing those who are real friends of peace and those who are its enemies.

Carter may not be responsible for the views of those who support his book-most recently, the terrorist group Islamic Jihad, who just claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Eilat-but he should have known that his book would become a rallying cry for some of the most bigoted, anti-Semitic and extremist groups


www.gather.com for more.