Saturday, September 02, 2006


Abu Saida

Two civilians were shot and wounded in Abu Saida, northeast of Baquba.


In northeastern Baghdad on Saturday, two nearly simultaneous explosions killed two people and wounded 19. After the first bomb exploded in the residential neighborhood of Waziriyah, Iraqi police officers and pedestrians rushed to the scene to help the wounded. Minutes later, a second bomb detonated in the same area, wounding a number of people -- including two police officers.


Two people were wounded when gunmen opened fire on their car in a drive-by shooting in Baquba.

Three policemen and three civilians were killed and four policemen and six civilians were wounded in seven separate attacks in Baquba. Three gunmen ambushed a traffic police patrol and killed three policemen, including a major, in the centre of the city. In Baquba's northwestern Yarmuk neighbourhood, gunmen killed two civilians, while another civilian was shot dead in the western Mualimin neighbourhood. Also in Yarmuk, gunmen attacked a police patrol and wounded four policemen, while a mortar attack on a house in the same neighbourhood left two women and two girls wounded. In another attack, gunmen wounded a civilian in the centre of the city, while another Iraqi was wounded in Baquba's western Mafraq area, police said.


Three Iraqi civilians were killed Saturday and their car was destroyed when a US armoured vehicle opened fire on their car in Fallujah. The armoured vehicle opened fire on the civilian car in al-Karma district 15 kilometres north of Fallujah after the car approached the armoured vehicle by mistake.


Three Iraqis were killed and 15 wounded, three of them critically, when a car bomb exploded near a market in northern Hillah in the Mashrouh district.

Several mortar shells fell on a residential area in the Alexandria district in northern Hillah and left one Iraqi dead and 5 wounded.


A mortar attack on an open-air market in Mahmoudiya killed three people and wounded 12.


Gunmen shot and killed two men in center of the Muqdadiya.

Ramadi area

At least 14 pilgrims were killed when gunmen halted a bus headed to the holy Shiite city of Karbala, forced them to leave the bus and then shot them. The pilgrims killed -- 11 Pakistanis and three Indians -- were traveling on a highway west of Ramadi on Friday.


The U.S.-led military command said it conducted an airstrike Friday in Youssifiyah, 12 miles south of Baghdad, killing three suspected insurgents and possibly wounding bystanders. (How did they tell the suspected insurgents from the bystanders? A cynic might suggest it was easy – if they were dead they must have been insurgents. -m)

Expanded security: Iraqi forces will expand their security operation into eastern Baghdad including Shiite militia strongholds, the Defense Ministry said Friday, a day after a barrage of coordinated attacks across those areas killed 64 people and wounded 286.

Rescue crews pulled bodies from the rubble after Thursday night's violence, which police said included explosives planted in apartments, car bombs and several rocket and mortar attacks on mainly Shiite neighborhoods.

The bloodshed capped a violent week that saw hundreds of Iraqis killed, despite a massive security crackdown that has targeted some of Baghdad's most violent neighborhoods.

Innovation: The civil defense men in blue uniforms joined neighborhood volunteers picking through the rubble with their hands, there being no heavy equipment to aid in this desultory task. Dedicated young men used a nylon sack to bag jagged bits of flesh, now destined for a proper Muslim interment. "Why so many explosions at the same time?" asked Mohammed Mayahi, 57, whose sons were among the people burrowing for signs of life and death in the heap of debris that a day earlier had been a two-story apartment building, alive with families, shops and a restaurant. "How can people protect themselves? From which enemy? We must be vigilant, yes, but against which form of killing?"

Such was the doleful and confused scene Friday in the east Baghdad neighborhood of Habibiya, where something--a rocket, a bomb, a mortar shell, no one seemed to know quite what it was--tore into a building just before sundown as residents gathered on the eve of the weekly Islamic day of prayer, rest and contemplation. The day-after canvas through the ruins has become so familiar in this tormented nation that the images might seem to some people a cliche, the grief ritualized. But it was all real enough in Habibiya and other districts of east Baghdad, targets of a highly coordinated bombardment that was stunning even by this capital's gruesome standards. The official toll from Thursday's attack: 63 killed and 282 injured. Of the dead, 19 were children younger than 16 and 24 were women, a police official said. The weapons included rockets, mortars, car bombs and, in a novel twist, bombs placed inside buildings and apparently set off by timers. In some cases, authorities said, the plotters might have rented apartments and shops in the preceding days with the sole intention of blowing them up--embedded bombers, a new and sinister turn in Iraq's cycle of carnage.

The fact that this report was released on the Friday before a holiday weekend was surely pure coincidence: Sectarian violence is spreading in Iraq and the security problems have become more complex than at any time since the U.S. invasion in 2003, a Pentagon report said Friday.

In a notably gloomy report to Congress, the Pentagon reported that illegal militias have become more entrenched, especially in Baghdad neighborhoods where they are seen as providers of both security and basic social services.

The report described a rising tide of sectarian violence, fed in part by interference from neighboring Iran and Syria and driven by a "vocal minority" of religious extremists who oppose the idea of a democratic Iraq.

Death squads targeting mainly Iraqi civilians are a growing problem, heightening the risk of civil war, the report said.

"Death squads and terrorists are locked in mutually reinforcing cycles of sectarian strife," the report said, adding that the Sunni-led insurgency "remains potent and viable" even as it is overshadowed by the sect-on-sect killing.

"Conditions that could lead to civil war exist in Iraq, specifically in and around Baghdad, and concern about civil war within the Iraqi civilian population has increased in recent months," the report said.

Do tell: Rising sectarian bloodshed has pushed violence in Iraq to its highest level in more than two years, and preventing civil war is now the most urgent mission of the growing contingent of 140,000 U.S. troops in the country, according to a new Pentagon report released Friday.

Executions, kidnappings, and other sectarian attacks targeting Iraqi civilians have soared over the past four months, contributing to a 51 percent rise in casualties among the population, the report said. More than 3,000 Iraqis are killed or wounded each month, with 2,000 of the deaths the result of sectarian incidents, it showed.

The Pentagon report, though consistent with what news media have reported for months, is significant because it represents an official acknowledgment of trends that are widely believed to be driving the country toward full-scale civil war.

Now the mission is to prevent civil war? 140,000 troops in a country of 27 million and their mission is to prevent civil war? How exactly are they going to do that? Wouldn’t it be more fruitful just to have them go look for WMDs? Safer, too. -m

A forehead slapper: The U.S. government should have been quicker to employ local firms to help rebuild Iraq instead of relying on U.S. corporations whose contracts gave them no incentive to minimize costs, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

The top U.S. auditor for Iraqi reconstruction also said it was too early to say whether Iraqis would "get value for money" from the $22 billion Washington is investing on rebuilding postwar Iraq. The program has been beset by complaints of waste, fraud and corruption that his office is investigating.

Thirty percent of the projects inspected by his office had not met the required standard and some were outright failures.

This is an underexamined story: James Baker, the former U.S. secretary of state who is heading a group looking into U.S. policy in Iraq, met with Iraq's deputy prime minister Friday in Baghdad.

Baker sat down with Salam al-Zubaie to discuss protection of Iraq's borders, national reconciliation, peace chances and international donations, Iraqi authorities said.

Baker, a Republican, co-chairs the bipartisan Iraq Study Group with Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman. They are carrying out an independent analysis of the situation in Iraq.

Baker, the Bush family fixer, must have been given the job of bailing Junior out of yet another disaster of his own making. Good luck with that, Jim. I’ll bet you’re kicking yourself in the ass for having done such a good job fixing the 2000 election, you sleazy dick. -m

Ultimately, I think this meeting will have more consequence: Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, has met with the country's most influential Shia cleric, with discussions focusing on the current security situation.

Al-Maliki met Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani on Saturday in Najaf, 160km south of Baghdad.

According to the cleric's office, al-Sistani said: "If the government does not do its duty in imposing security and order to the people and protecting them, it will give a chance to other powers to do this duty and this is a very dangerous matter."


Mother Jones: Lie by Lie: Chronicle of a War Foretold: August 1990 to March 2003

The first drafts of history are fragmentary. Important revelations arrive late, and out of order. In this timeline, we’ve assembled the history of the Iraq War to create a resource we hope will help resolve open questions of the Bush era. What did our leaders know and when did they know it? And, perhaps just as important, what red flags did we miss, and how could we have missed them? This is the first installment in our Iraq War timeline project.

This appears to have the potential to become an extremely useful resource. I hadn’t time to examine it in detail – if anyone takes the time to look it over carefully please share your opinions. I wonder if the people putting it together know Today in Iraq exists? -m

US Politics

Good thing Bush is too high minded to politicize the war on terror: The White House is bringing representatives from countries that have suffered terrorist attacks to populate the audience at President Bush's next war-on-terror speech, to emphasize the global nature of the enemy.

Bush often ticks off a list of attacks from recent years, such as those in London, Madrid, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, to demonstrate that the world should be united against Islamic militants who share a purpose if not a common network.

In a speech Thursday that launched a new offensive to build support for the Iraq war and for Republicans in the fall elections, Bush said various factions of terrorists belong under the same umbrella, even though many terrorism experts do not agree.

The president included under that large tent Sunnis who swear allegiance to al-Qaida, Shiites who support groups such as Hezbollah, and so-called "homegrown" terrorists with more local grievances.

Speaking before an American Legion convention in Salt Lake City, Bush said the global war against these terrorists — whom he said share "the rigid conviction that free societies are a threat to their twisted view of Islam" — is today's successor to last century's fights against Nazism, fascism and communism.

No tactic is too sleazy for Karl Rove: President Bush and his surrogates are launching a new campaign intended to rebuild support for the war in Iraq by accusing the opposition of aiming to appease terrorists and cut off funding for troops on the battlefield, charges that many Democrats say distort their stated positions.

With an appearance before the American Legion in Salt Lake City today, Bush will begin a series of speeches over 20 days centered on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But he and his top lieutenants have foreshadowed in recent days the thrust of the effort to put Democrats on the defensive with rhetoric that has further inflamed an already emotional debate.

Bush suggested last week that Democrats are promising voters to block additional money for continuing the war. Vice President Cheney this week said critics "claim retreat from Iraq would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone." And Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, citing passivity toward Nazi Germany before World War II, said that "many have still not learned history's lessons" and "believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased."

Pressed to support these allegations, the White House yesterday could cite no major Democrat who has proposed cutting off funds or suggested that withdrawing from Iraq would persuade terrorists to leave Americans alone.

Bush will be remembered for many things but leading the ‘decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century’ won't be one of them: President Bush said Thursday that withdrawing now from Iraq would leave Americans at risk of terrorist attacks “in the streets of our own cities,” and he cast the struggle against Islamic extremists as the costly but necessary successor to the battles of the last century against Nazism and Communism.

“The war we fight today is more than a military conflict,’’ Mr. Bush said in a speech to veterans at an American Legion convention here. “It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century.’’

The speech, the first of five addresses on national security Mr. Bush plans to deliver between now and Sept. 19, was part of an orchestrated White House offensive to buttress public support for the Iraq war and portray Democrats as less capable of protecting the country, a theme that has proved effective for Republicans in the past two elections.

Even as Mr. Bush spoke, a series of explosions ripped through Baghdad, providing more images of a sort that he acknowledged have been “sometimes unsettling” to the public.

Fingers in his ears, singing “Lalala”: President George W. Bush rejected the idea on Saturday that Iraq had descended into civil war despite bloody sectarian fighting in Baghdad and a grim Pentagon report that found the violence was spreading.

Bush, who has renewed his effort to bolster sagging public support for the war ahead of the Sept. 11 anniversary and crucial U.S. elections in November, framed the debate over Iraq as a choice between staying the course or pulling out precipitously and handing the country over to terrorists.

He cast the war as an integral part of the broader battle against terror and said defeat in Iraq would mean the next generation would face a Middle East "dominated by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons."

"The terrorists understand the threat a democratic Iraq poses to their cause, so they've been fighting a bloody campaign of sectarian violence which they hope will plunge that country into a civil war," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

Assessing the situation in Iraq over the past three months, the Pentagon said on Friday that attacks rose by 24 percent, Iraqi casualties soared by 51 percent and the violence was extending north beyond Baghdad.

The report acknowledged conditions that could lead to civil war were present in Iraq, but said the current conflict did not rise to that level despite attacks that claim about 120 Iraqi lives each day.

"Our commanders and diplomats on the ground believe that Iraq has not descended into a civil war," Bush said. "They report that only a small number of Iraqis are engaged in sectarian violence, while the overwhelming majority want peace and a normal life in a unified country."

Won't work this time: In both national elections since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, President Bush and congressional Republicans successfully played the national-security card to win big victories against the odds. Now, with their party's control of Congress at stake, Republicans are betting on the issue again. But it may not be the trump card it used to be.

The public's patience has frayed as the Iraq war grows bloodier in its fourth year, eroding confidence in Mr. Bush's stewardship of national security. Mismanagement of the response to Hurricane Katrina contributed. Democrats, having ceded the security issue to Republicans in the past, now are on the offensive. They're attacking the administration's competence at home and abroad and fielding candidates with military experience.

Democrats are also pressing an argument opposite to the president's: that Iraq isn't central to the broader war on terror but distracts from it, and breeds more terrorists. How voters ultimately decide on that issue is "one of the most important dynamics of this election," says Republican pollster David Winston.

Gutless bastards need to take a leaf from Rocky’s book: Under assault from Republicans on issues of national security, congressional Democrats are planning to push for a vote of no confidence in Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld this month as part of a broad effort to stay on the offensive ahead of the November midterm elections.

In Rumsfeld, Democrats believe they have found both a useful antagonist and a stand-in for President Bush and what they see as his blunders in Iraq. This week, Democrats interpreted a speech of his as equating critics of the war in Iraq to appeasers of Adolf Hitler, an interpretation that Pentagon spokesman Eric Ruff disputed. But Democrats said the hyperbolic attack would backfire.

But even before that, Democrats and some Republicans had maintained that Bush has never held anyone in his administration accountable for decisions in the Iraq war that many military analysts say went disastrously wrong. The decisions include not mobilizing enough troops to keep the peace, disbanding the entire Iraqi army and purging all members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party -- including teachers and low-level technocrats -- from the Iraqi government.

What is wrong with these people? Why attack a stand-in for Bush? Attack Bush! The war is his baby, he wanted it, he got it, he’s responsible! What, are they afraid someone might call them appeasers or something? -m

Rats in the lifeboat: Like many Republicans seeking re-election this year, U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi is distancing himself from President Bush.

Tiberi, of Genoa Township, said yesterday that he does not support Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and thinks new leadership is needed at the Pentagon. He also fired some shots at Bush.

"I can’t defend how the president laid out the need for (going to war in Iraq). I don’t support Rumsfeld," Tiberi said.

The comments from the three-term congressman came during a meeting before the Dispatch editorial board with challenger Bob Shamansky, whose spokesman revealed that the Bexley Democrat has committed more than $1 million of his own money to the race.

Asked whether Bush has operated above the law regarding government surveillance, Tiberi responded: "He might have."

The comments signaled a clear effort by Tiberi, a longtime Bush loyalist, to separate himself from the president.

It’s a growing trend.

But this is what will save their fat white Republican asses – the United States of Apathy: It was almost painful the other night to hear Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sing about a war whose purpose Americans never really understood, started by a president who didn’t tell the truth and then waged the war ineptly. And that was before they sang about Iraq.

The audience rose for Neil Young’s blast at George Bush, “Let’s Impeach the President,” and sang the words displayed on a huge TV screen, even the 20-something in front of us who had been text-messaging throughout the concert. That same screen also displayed thumbnail photos of slain soldiers while a counter ran up the most recent toll. It takes longer than you might think to count to 2,600.

It was a surprisingly political moment for a rock concert in 2006. But when those four men sang their protest songs four decades ago, their lyrics echoed and personified a powerful political movement sweeping America. Now they are entertainment, something to leave behind in the concert hall.

There were a few political booths outside the Theater at Madison Square Garden. But the concert-tour T-shirt salesmen were getting all the business. The most noticeable sound was the cellphones being restarted by those few who had bothered to turn them off during the concert.

This, perhaps, is the ultimate difference between the Vietnam generation and the Iraq generation: When you hear Young and Company sing of “four dead in Ohio,” their Kent State anthem, it’s hard to imagine anyone on today’s campuses willing to face armed troops. Is there anything they care about that much?

The Other War – The One Being Waged On Our Civil Liberties

Nationalizing the Guard: The nation's governors sought help Thursday from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in their ongoing fight against proposals in Congress to give President Bush more control — and governors less — over the National Guard during disasters.

A letter from the two chairpersons of the National Governors Association, along with the two governors who head the group's work on the Guard, asked Rumsfeld to join the unanimous opposition of governors to proposed changes spurred by the chaos and delays in sending help that followed Hurricane Katrina.

All 50 governors earlier this month signed a formal letter opposing a House provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that would let Bush federalize the Guard without governors' consent in the event of a "serious natural or manmade disaster, accident or catastrophe."

Adding to their worries, the NGA said, the Senate approved-version of the legislation would give Bush similar powers by redefining the Insurrection Act, a Civil War-era law that's rarely used.

"It's a basic reshuffling of the balance between the states and the federal government," said Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, chairwoman of the NGA. "It's ill-advised. It's a bad idea."

Project Strikeback: The Federal Education Department shared personal information on hundreds of student loan applicants with the Federal Bureau of Investigation across a five-year period that began after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the agencies said yesterday.

Under the program, called Project Strikeback, the Education Department received names from the F.B.I. and checked them against its student aid database, forwarding information. Each year, the Education Department collects information from 14 million applications for federal student aid.

Information collected on federal financial aid applications includes names, addresses, Social Security numbers, incomes and, for some students, information on parents’ incomes and educational backgrounds.

Generally, only United States citizens and permanent residents are eligible to apply for federal student financial aid.

We will spy on you for your own good: The government needs broader access to airline passenger information to identify potential hijackers, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in an article published Tuesday.

"How do we thwart a terrorist who has not yet been identified?" Chertoff wrote in an op-ed article in Tuesday's editions of The Washington Post.

"One way is by using more of the detailed information collected by airlines and travel agencies when an individual books a flight," Chertoff wrote. "These passenger name records contain information, such as travel itineraries and payment details, that can be analyzed in conjunction with current intelligence to identify high-risk travelers before they board planes."

They’re terrorist organizations if Rumsfeld says so. What, you want proof, you cowardly appeasers?: For the past four years, the U.S. military has held Adel Hassan Hamad in the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, based in part on allegations that he worked for two charity groups in Afghanistan that the U.S. military says support terrorism, according to the military's summary of evidence against Hamad.

But neither of the charity groups for which Hamad worked appears on the State Department's list of designated terrorist organizations.

In the case of another Guantánamo prisoner, whose name does not appear in the record, the U.S. military states in its summary of evidence that the man should be held as an enemy combatant in part because he worked for the International Islamic Relief Organization. This is a global relief organization whose branches in the Philippines and Indonesia have been linked by the U.S. Treasury Department to terrorism.

But that group is also one of the largest charities in Saudi Arabia, which participates in a United Nations council on economic and social issues. The group also is not on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations.

Scores of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay have been accused of belonging to terrorist networks posing as humanitarian organizations, according to transcripts of military hearings. Many of the prisoners worked for groups with established terrorist links, but others were employees of legally recognized Muslim charities that are considered mainstream in the Middle East, are not on the State Department's terrorist list, and employ relief workers around the world.


LA Times: One effect of Rumsfeld's outburst was to serve as a reminder that he is still in office. Once the public face of the war in Iraq, he lately has been AWOL from the administration's public advocacy, ceding the spotlight to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The assumption was that, although Rumsfeld remained fireproof, his cocksure contempt for criticism was out of favor now that Bush has acknowledged that the prolonged U.S. presence in Iraq is "straining the psyche of our country." Maybe Rumsfeld never got the memo, or, if he did, he crumpled it up. His speech was vintage Rumsfeld. It was also unfair and, in places, inane. Take the suggestion that critics of Bush's Iraq policy are the moral equivalent of those who refused to stop Hitler. There's a reason why high school debaters are warned away from Nazi analogies: They're almost always disproportionate. Even Bush, who recently raised eyebrows by identifying "Islamic fascism" as America's enemy, stopped short of referring to critics of his policies as latter-day Neville Chamberlains. Even more offensive is Rumsfeld's "blame America first" canard. Who exactly has been pushing what he called "the destructive view that America — not the enemy — is the real source of the world's troubles"? Certainly no one in mainstream American political discourse, not even those members of Congress who want to set a date for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Their argument, right or wrong, is that Iraq is descending into civil war and that the U.S. presence there is unavailing and a drain on resources better expended elsewhere, including on counter-terrorism at home. The Bush administration can and should respond to that argument without recourse to overheated analogies and straw men like the "blame America first" crowd. Rumsfeld is obviously unwilling to step down. Could he at least pipe down?

VoteVets.org: Iraq veterans today blasted the Administration for its recent rhetoric on the war in Iraq. Republican Senior Advisor to VoteVets.org, Sam Schultz, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, released the following statement:

"I am a proud Republican, who ran for my party's nomination for Congress in Indiana, because I believe in traditional values.

I also believe we need to be vigilant in defending America. That is why I feel I must speak out about the Administration's recent contention that the war in Iraq is part of the fight against "Islamic fascism."

First, we are not fighting an enemy that fits the definition of fascist, nor does Iraq resemble anything close to Hitler's Germany or Mussolini's Italy. Second,I do not believe the war in Iraq has furthered our war against radical Islamism. I can attest to the fact that after my time in Iraq, when I served in Afghanistan, we did not have enough people on the ground there to secure the border with Pakistan, and as a result, many terrorists slipped through our grasp, most likely including Osama bin Laden.

Because we have so many troops committed in Iraq, not only have we failed to bring those who did us harm on 9/11 to justice, but Iran has continued to pursue a nuclear program. Our preoccupation with Iraq, and this administration's unwillingness to devise a victory plan for that war, has reduced us to a paper tiger in the eyes of the Iranians. They do not fear military action against them, because they know we are too overextended to wage an effective battle with them.

The only way to combat the threat of Islamic radicalism around the world, and protect America, is to draw up a plan for victory in Iraq, which will allow for our troops to redeploy from the region as quickly and safely as possible. This will show Muslims there that we are dedicated to providing them the very things they want - a flourishing, free, and independent nation. Then, and only then, can we recommit our forces to an all-out manhunt for the head of Osama bin Laden, and offer a real deterrent towards the further development of a nuclear Iran.

Until the administration realizes this, the lives of every American are at grave risk."

Robert Parry: In a world that wasn’t upside-down, the editorial page of Washington’s biggest newspaper might praise a whistleblower like former Ambassador Joseph Wilson for alerting the American people to a government deception that helped lead the country into a disastrous war that has killed 2,627 U.S. soldiers.

The editorial page also might demand that every senior administration officials who sought to protect that deception by leaking the identity of a covert CIA officer (Wilson’s wife) be held accountable, at minimum stripped of their security clearances and fired from government.

But the United States, circa 2006, is an upside-down world. So the Washington Post’s editorial page instead makes excuses for the government deceivers, treats their exposure of the CIA officer as justifiable – and attacks the whistleblower by recycling the government’s false spin points against him.

If future historians wonder how the United States could have blundered so catastrophically into Iraq under false pretenses and why so few establishment figures dared to speak out, the historians might read the sorry pattern of the Post’s editorial-page attacks on those who did dissent.

Media Matters for America: Following the disclosure by Newsweek that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was columnist Robert Novak's original source for Valerie Plame's identity, a Washington Post editorial asserted that this revelation proved "untrue" the notion that White House officials disclosed Plame's identity to reporters in an effort to "ruin [Plame's] career" and "punish" her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.

A September 1 Washington Post editorial asserted that the revelation that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was columnist Robert D. Novak's original source for former CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity proved "untrue" the notion that White House officials disclosed Plame's identity to reporters in an effort to "ruin [Plame's] career" and "punish" her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. To support its assertion, the editorial quoted from an August 29 Post article by staff writer R. Jeffrey Smith, in which Smith wrote that Armitage disclosed Plame's identity "in an offhand manner, virtually as gossip." However, the assertion that it is "untrue" that White House officials "orchestrated the leak of Plame's identity" is contradicted by many other Post articles published in the three years since Novak's column, as well as by court documents filed by special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald -- which the Post acknowledged later in the same editorial.

John Prados: The correct lesson to be drawn from Munich today is that when presidents and their administrations raise its specter, it is a sure sign they want to pursue extravagant policies, usually of violence, based on narrow grounds with shaky public support. Today the Munich analogy functions as a provocation, a red flag before a bull. It is dangerous because it claims that the only solution to any situation is to fight—Cheney’s point exactly. Having done nothing beyond silly propaganda—despite its own claims—to undermine the jihadists by eliminating the economic and political oppression that form the basis of jihadist appeal, the Bush people counsel that the fight is everything and that talking is “appeasement.” We have seen in Lebanon lately just how misguided is that approach.

Bush administration history is like their reality—faith-based. President Bush himself, along with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, characterized those who saw and spoke the truth about the run-up to the Iraq war as “revisionists”—historians who try to change the conventional wisdom about the past. Cheney not long ago declared it was “inexcusable” to repeat that truth. The same speeches that contain the Munich claims portray the Iraqi and Afghan people as “awakening to a future of hope and freedom” (Cheney) and say the U.S. strategy in Iraq “has not changed” (Rumsfeld).

The faith is that if you repeat falsehoods enough times the public will believe them. There is another historical analogy there—a real one—to Adolf Hitler’s henchman, Josef Goebbels. He called it the “Big Lie.” No wonder the administration’s flacks need friendly audiences.

Peter W. Galbraith: In his most recent justification of his Pentagon stewardship, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reached back to the 1930s, comparing the Bush administration's critics to those who, like US Ambassador to Britain Joseph P. Kennedy, favored appeasing Adolf Hitler. Rumsfeld avoided a more recent comparison: the appeasement of Saddam Hussein by the Reagan and first Bush administrations. The reasons for selectivity are obvious, since so many of Hussein's appeasers in the 1980s were principals in the 2003 Iraq war, including Rumsfeld.

In 1983, President Reagan initiated a strategic opening to Iraq, then in the third year of a war of attrition with neighboring Iran. Although Iraq had started the war with a blitzkrieg attack in 1980, the tide had turned by 1982 in favor of much larger Iran, and the Reagan administration was afraid Iraq might actually lose. Reagan chose Rumsfeld as his emissary to Hussein, whom he visited in December 1983 and March 1984. Inconveniently, Iraq had begun to use chemical weapons against Iran in November 1983, the first sustained use of poison gas since a 1925 treaty banning that.

Rumsfeld never mentioned this blatant violation of international law to Hussein, instead focusing on shared hostility toward Iran and an oil pipeline through Jordan. Rumsfeld apparently did mention it to Tariq Aziz, Iraq's foreign minister, but by not raising the issue with the paramount leader he signaled that good relations were more important to the United States than the use of poison gas.

This message was reinforced by US conduct after the Rumsfeld missions. The Reagan administration offered Hussein financial credits that eventually made Iraq the third-largest recipient of US assistance. It normalized diplomatic relations and, most significantly, began providing Iraq with battlefield intelligence. Iraq used this information to target Iranian troops with chemical weapons. And when Iraq turned its chemical weapons on the Kurds in 1988, killing 5,000 in the town of Halabja, the Reagan administration sought to obscure responsibility by falsely suggesting Iran was also responsible.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: There are at least three pieces of falsely based rhetoric that are beginning to emerge in the fall political campaign that need to be put into context now, early in the game.

All three are being put forward by senior U.S. government officials or Republican candidates, notably Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Pennsylvania's own nonresident peddler of nontruths, Sen. Rick Santorum.

The first of these is that any American who does not believe that the United States should stay in Iraq, to pursue President Bush's vanity war to the end and continue to lose young fighting Americans as well as burn up formidable amounts of cash, is somehow not only wrongheaded but also a traitor who does not really love freedom.

This is a scurrilous lie, insulting and a disgusting slur on good Americans -- Democrats, Republicans or independents -- who believe that it is time the nation found a way to bring an end to a war that is now more than 3 years old.

A second, very misleading, line that, notably, Republican Senate candidate Santorum is using, most recently at a talk in Harrisburg on Monday, is that America's current war is against "Islamic fascism." This concept is inaccurate and unhelpful to the United States in both of its words. Anyone with half a brain can see that Islam is by no means unified or unanimous in its support of al-Qaida, terrorism or even Hezbollah and Hamas. Think of the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Or think of Indonesia, Bangladesh and Malaysia, majority Islamic countries that have offered troops to the United Nations to stand between Hezbollah and the Israeli Defense Forces in defending the integrity of southern Lebanon.

In addition, what is going on in the Middle East does not meet the definition of fascism. Fascism is a political philosophy, albeit a scrofulous one, and is generally a national phenomenon, not cross-national and religious in its scope.

Mr. Santorum has given no previous indication of any knowledge of foreign affairs, but waving around the words "Islamic fascism" may take the cake.

The third falsely based line that some Republicans are throwing around is an effort to draw a link between the situation in Europe in the 1930s -- Hitler, British Prime Minister A. Neville Chamberlain's 1938 Munich deal, the Holocaust carried out by Germany and other nations against the Jews of Europe -- and some Americans' advocacy of a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. The two situations have nothing whatsoever in common -- even the fact that Mr. Chamberlain saw himself as trying to preserve peace in Europe, whereas the Bush administration is trying to find a way to say it's been successful in Iraq despite the fact that none of its stated invasion objectives (apart from the overthrow of Saddam Hussein) have been achieved.

What would be most useful for America at this point is that its 2006 electoral campaign be waged on the basis of truths -- about its economic situation, of primary importance, as well as the current position of the United States in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. Feeding lies into the system -- with claims that advocacy of withdrawal is disloyalty, "Islamic fascism" is the problem or the situation in the Middle East is like that in 1930s Europe -- is stupid and counterproductive to useful debate among competing candidates. It needs to stop now before it goes any further.

The Capital Times: When will the Bush administration acknowledge that Iraq is experiencing a civil war?

Not, it seems, until it is much too late to save the lives of thousands of young American servicemen and women who will die in someone else's fight.

Just last week, top military and civilian apologists for the White House's misguided mission in the Middle East were claiming that new tactics had begun to reduce violence in the country.

They were, as has so frequently been the case since the president ordered U.S. troops into what was destined to become a quagmire, completely wrong. Iraqis were dying by the dozens.

Brent Budowsky: We should ask the president, who dares to compare himself with the leaders of the Second World War: why do you send our troops to war without enough armor, bandages and helmets? Why do you mismanage the war you wanted so desperately that the Marine Corps estimates that 70% of our casualties were preventable?

We should ask the President, who presumes to compare himself to the great generation: how can you permit up to 19% of active duty troops to be paid so poorly, and treated so badly, that they are forced to desperately borrow money at Mafia-like interest rates of 300 to 400% while you go to your glitzy fundraisers and tell millionaire contributors eating filet mignon how much you support the troops?

We should demand of this man who dares to compare himself to those who rallied a united America in the 1940's: why do you permit oil company executives to pay each other hundred million dollar packages, while Middle America gets ripped off at the pump, poor Americans must choose between hunger and freezing in the winter, vets get hurt by closing military hospitals, and troops get hurt by Republicans pushing to cut funding for brain injured heroes?

We should challenge this partisan, who compares himself to Eisenhower and to Roosevelt: why don't you put war profiteers in jail, rather than taking their money in campaign contributions, while they cheer you on at champagne fundraisers, as you boast of the wars you fight, while troops ask Mom and Dad to find the supplies you never provided?

We should demand of this partisan who compares himself to the founders of NATO: why did you almost completely ignore the advice of our democratic allies, why did you so shamelessly demean the Chief of Staff of the Army and others who warned you, and why have you totally and completely failed to exercise the diplomatic and political leadership that is a prime duty of the leader of the free world?

We should challenge this partisan whose mistakes, blunders and wrongs have created so many new terrorists around the world, and done so much damage our reputation and credibility everywhere, and imposed so much harm to our military families and troops: exactly how many more wars do you want to fight?

We should ask the President, Republican Congress and their talk show warriors: If you want war with Iran, where will you find the troops, and will you bring back the draft?

If you want war with Syria, where you will find the troops, and will you bring back the draft?

If you want war with Korea, where will you find the troops, and will you bring back the draft?

If you want world war, permanent war, and endless war while you oppose every diplomatic opening urged by our allies: who will fight, who will sacrifice, and who will pay for this war fever and war partisanship that has done so much damage to our nation, our security and our military families already?

Casualty Reports

Private First Class Colin Wolfe, 18, died Wednesday while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province. Wolfe was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Four soldiers were killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near their M2A3 Bradley Vehicle during combat operations in Taji, Iraq, on Aug. 27. They included Spc. Shaun Novak, 21, of Two Rivers, WI; Sgt. Moises Jazmin, 25, of Providence, R.I.; Spc. Qixing Lee, 20, of Minneapolis, Minn.; and Spc. Tristan C. Smith, 23, of Bryn Athyn, Pa. The soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Residents of Dent, Minn., are remembering Staff Sgt. Joshua Robert Hanson, a National Guard soldier who died when a roadside bomb ripped through his Humvee in Iraq. Hanson died Wednesday near Khalidiyah, the National Guard said Friday. The attack wounded six other National Guard soldiers from Minnesota, though they were able to return to duty.


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