If You Want Nick Berg Conspiracy Theory....

Conspiracy Planet seems to be the place to go. For example, the following is posted there tonight, which makes a big leap from my questions earlier to deciding that Berg was executed by Americans:

It's the same chair. Look at this pic that was released today of the latest prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. Notice the white chair in the lower left corner. Now - look at the chair Nicholas Berg is sitting in!! It's the same fucking chair!!

I have some more pics but the walls are the same yellow color and the baseboard is the same color as Abu Ghraib prison. Then - as I've said before - what is Nicholas Berg doing in an orange prison jumpsuit? The orange jumpsuit is the same color as the ones used at the prison!!! Terrorists don't don't put the people they kidnap in orange prison jumpsuits!

Now - put that together with the fact that these "terrorists" are WHITE and FAT and they are wearing BULLET PROOF VESTS!! So who goes around wearing bullet proof vests all the time? People like CIA - Prison guards!

This is enough to scare the shit out of you but - Nicholas Berg was murdered by AMERICANS at Abu Ghraib prison.

New Yorker: The Poor Treatment of Prisoners Goes Right Back to Rumsfeld

That's what Seymour Hersh reports in an article posted today (for the print version of 5-24-04).

The Questions About Nick Berg's Death

I'd advise any interested to read the immediately previous post including the full article on al Jazeera because it raises some of the very points that concern so many of us, including:

    * That curious orange jumpsuit, which would make sense if he was released from US custody (the US uses such jumpsuits standardly for prisoners of all types), but why was he wearing it upon his death a month later?
    * The lack of blood in the tape discussed by those who have seen it (I have not); I exchanged Email with a former pathologist I know who agreed that the type of execution and decapitation cited on the tape should have produced both a wild spray and then a large blood loss
    * The US once told us this "2nd lieutenant" of Osama's had died some months ago but, like Lazarus, is now purported to have risen from the dead
    * Many argue that Zarqawe (so many spellings here, sorry), the al Qaeda associate mentioned above) speaks with a Jordanian accent while the purported executioner does not
    * That this fellow has not been hooded in the past, so why now?
    * That the official US translation insists al Qaeda is mentioned, while other translators insist it does not
    * Why so many versions from the government (ours) about whether Berg was in their custody?

People deserve answers, especially considering the timing of the tape's release.

Al Jazeera on Blogs and Questions about Nick Berg's Death

From (English version) Al Jazeera:

Revolting millions around the world, the video footage of an American citizen's execution has also raised numerous questions concerning its authenticity.

Even at first glance, internet bloggers were asking on Thursday why Nick Berg was wearing an orange jumpsuit – just like US prisoners wear.

Other net surfers point to the unlikely timing of the executioner's dubbed announcement that Berg was to die for "Iraqi prisoner abuse".

Berg was last seen alive on 10 April, when his father Michael Berg believes he was killed - two weeks before the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal broke in the world's media.

Some discussions focus on the timing of the video's release - guaranteed to divert attention from the outrage over US abuse of Iraqis.

Ashcroft on Nick Berg

On the very day his family laid their son and brother to rest, AG John Ashcroft comes out with this:

Federal officials said Friday that they were satisfied that Nicholas Berg, the 26-year-old American decapitated in Iraq, had had no terrorist links even though his computer password had apparently been used by a terror suspect.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation first interviewed Mr. Berg in 2002 after his e-mail password appeared to have been used by that suspect, but the connection "was just a coincidence," a senior official of the bureau said.

Attorney General John Ashcroft echoed that assessment, rejecting any suggestion that Mr. Berg "was in some way involved in terrorist activity."

This case just stinks more and more all the time. If the CPA or CIA or someone held him for 3 weeks for no good reason, I can understand why Nick Berg would not have accepted their alleged offer of safe passage out. After all, Nick probably knew that under Bush and Ashcroft, people disappear in this odd web of secrecy.

This isn't conspiracy theory since there are many documented cases of people without proven links being "lost" in the system, only to be shuffled in and out of different holding places in different countries, including Syria, the country Bush likes to stick in the Axis of Evil category. He (Berg) certainly must have heard about the torture going on, certainly before we did here.

Should Ashcroft have cleared him? Hell, yes. But these folks chase so many normal people like Berg while they don't seem to be able to catch or keep those that really seem to want to do us harm.

A Wave Goodbye as He Goes?

Atrios points us to a piece by USA Today founder Al Neuharth today suggesting Mr. Bush should ride off into the sunset:

As a former combat infantryman in World War II, I've always believed we must fully support our troops. Reluctantly, I now believe the best way to support troops in Iraq is to bring them home, starting with the "hand-over" on June 30.
Only a carefully planned withdrawal can clean up the biggest military mess miscreated in the Oval Office and miscarried by the Pentagon in my 80-year lifetime. In Journalese, the traditional five Ws of Who, What, When, Where, Why:

Who? George W. Bush.

What? His cowboy culture. Ride fast and alone or with just a few buddies. Shoot first. Ask questions later.

When? After 9/11. Bush bravely took on a necessary fight against terrorists who attacked us. But then he diverted his attention to an unrelated and unnecessary "pre-emptive" war.

Where? Iraq. He led us astray by falsely claiming Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that threatened us. After the "Mission Accomplished" boast in May 2003, he put our troops in new jeopardy by taunting terrorists from other countries with his "Bring 'em on!" challenge last July 2. His anything-goes-against-the-bad-guys attitude and his total lack of postwar planning helped prompt the ongoing prison-abuse embarrassments and brutal retaliations.

Why? Because he believes he can be re-elected as a tough-talking, self-proclaimed "War President."

Maybe Bush should take a cue from a fellow Texan, former president Lyndon Baines Johnson, who also had some cowboy characteristics.

LBJ, after mismanaging the Vietnam War that so bitterly divided the nation and the world, decided he owed it to his political party and to his country not to run for re-election. So, he turned tail and rode off into the sunset of his Texas ranch.

More Fighting, More Dead

From CNN:

Three U.S. soldiers and four Iraqi civilians were killed in separate attacks by insurgents in the past 24 hours in Iraq, coalition and Iraqi police sources said today. Two other U.S. troops also died, but not in hostile incidents.

Not in hostile incidents?

Damaging Holy Shrines as the Way to Win Hearts and Minds

From AP:

NAJAF, Iraq - American tanks firing shells and heavy machine guns made their deepest incursion yet Friday into this stronghold of a radical cleric. Apparent gunfire slightly damaged one of Shia Islam's holiest shrines, prompting calls for revenge and even suicide attacks.

In response, cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militiamen attacked U.S.-led coalition headquarters in Nasiriyah, trapping international staff and some Italian journalists inside. Explosions and gunfire rocked Karbala, and al-Sadr's top aides threatened to unleash more attacks across the Shiite south and in Baghdad.

"We will fight and defend the holy shrines until our last breath," al-Sadr said in an interview broadcast late Friday by Al-Arabiya television, widely seen throughout the Middle East. "We are not controlling any holy shrine - we are defending these shrines."

Several large explosions and the roar of high-flying aircraft could be heard in Baghdad before dawn Saturday. The U.S. command issued no statement and the cause of the blasts was unknown.

Democrats for Life

Author and analyst Amy Sullivan is the guest blogger over at Kevin Drum's Political Animal blog at Washington Monthly, and her post, as Kevin cites, is apt to cause some controversy.

Specifically, she talks about the treatment of a couple who brought their two children to a Kerry rally along with signs saying, "Democrats for Life." Namely, that they were made to feel none too welcome.

Look, I feel bringing - or not bringing - a life into this world is a highly personal decision that in no way should be determined by a bunch of fat, fool white men who happily write dumbass laws (and probably are responsible for arranging a few abortions for their paramours in private - since "family values" means something different to these folks) that directly affect a woman's body and the entire rest of her life.

However, with that said, what is the problem with including people who are pro-Dem, pro-Kerry, but who feel differently? Let the GOP be the party of exclusion and hypocrisy.

Adults can disagree on particular issues while still maintaining the same overall goals. Really. It can be done. Without bloodshed, even.

Berg's Murder Sends People Seeking Information

From what I can see here and from what I hear from two friends who work for net analysis and search engine companies, people are logging on en masse to look for information about Nick Berg, the 26-yr-old civilian killed in Iraq supposedly by someone associated with al Qaeda (even though the tape says nothing about al Qaeda and there's some serious question whether this identified bin Laden associate is even really on the tape).

Good. People should be asking questions. LOTS of questions. Especially when the media is largely just spouting back whatever the administration tells them, even in the face of evidence that, despite the government's protests to the contrary, they were holding him in custody there until just before this rogue group took him a month before his death.

When I was studying journalism, I met this woman who apparently had some.. ahem.. novel experience. She told a group of us, "I've been a whore and I've been a journalist. Let me tell you, whoring is much easier and pays better."

Now if only someone wanted Mickey Kaus or Tim Russert for their bodies ...

Gee, What a Great Idea

We should send Osama one. Perhaps then Bush could find him "dead or alive".

Lynndie England

In a word, tough:

Army Pfc. Lynndie England — the young female soldier who can be seen smiling in some of the photos depicting the alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners — is said to be "anxious and overwhelmed" by the attention she's received since the images surfaced.

One suspects the prisoners under her care were also anxious, overwhelmed and kinda depressed. The very pregnant Ms. England, seen cavorting with numeroussexual partners, usually naked, and often in front of the prisoners, in those abuse pictures, will no doubt prove to be an exceptional role model to her children. Perhaps Rush Limbaugh, content to call this matter "frat pranks", will marry her and give the child a father.

What a lovely pair they'll make.

Toss Out the Conviction, People

Also from ABC News/AP:

The Connecticut mother who was thrust into the national spotlight when she was convicted of creating an environment that contributed to her 12-year-old son's suicide received a suspended sentence today.

This was an atrocious case that never should have been brought, where a single mother was charged after her son hung himself in 2002. By the end of the case, prosecutors were down to persecuting the woman for keeping a dirty home. All they accomplished was to pile tragedy upon tragedy, while serving no one.

One would imagine that with all we hear about the criminal justice system being so woefully overtaxed, prosecutors might have had better applications for their time. Perhaps such as going after the governor of Connecticut - John Rowland, that great friend of the Bush family - for his egregious conduct. Ah, but we hear precious little of the impeachment proceedings underway for him, do we?

How Do You Spell Scum?

If you're in Portland, apparently you do it with a D and a J:

Two disc jockeys were fired after playing an audiotape of the beheading of American Nick Berg by Iraqi militants, and cracking jokes about the grisly death.
Listeners called the radio station to complain after hearing Berg's bloodcurdling screams in the broadcast of the tape, followed by the DJs laughing and playing musical accompaniments.

One of the DJs apologized on his Web site, posting a statement that read, "I have become so numb to the horrific things that happen in this world that I sometimes forget there are still people who feel. I in no way meant to be insensitive to anyone. My comments on this were inapropriate (sic)."

How do you spell... wait, I know how to spell bullshit already.

A President Only a Mother (His Mother) Could Love

From the Financial Times - of all places - via Charles Pierce on Altercation:

He is not up to the job. This is not a moral judgment, but a practical one. The world is too complex and dangerous for the pious simplicities and arrogant unilateralism of George W. Bush."

You Can Say That Again

From today's New York Times:

Six weeks of military and political reverses seem to have left the Bush administration doing little more in Iraq than grasping at ways to make it past November's presidential election without getting American troops caught in a civil war. The lowering of the administration's expectations might be therapeutic if it produced a realistic strategy for achieving a realistic set of goals. Unfortunately, there appears to be no such strategy, only odd lurches this way and that under the pressure of day-to-day events. That pattern heightens the danger of an eventual civil war or anarchy, the two main things that American forces are ostensibly remaining in Iraq to prevent.

At times, the only unifying theme for Washington's policies seems to be desperation. American field commanders have now signed over the city of Falluja to former officers of the same Baathist army they came to Iraq to fight a little more than a year ago. The original plan of having American marines storm Falluja to avenge the mob murders of four private contractors there was not a wise idea. Handing over the town to these politically ambitious soldiers looks even more shortsighted. Subcontracting security and territory out to rival Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish warlords can only increase the risks of an eventual civil war.

In the diplomatic arena, White House aides are now beseeching the same United Nations they once belittled to rescue the transition, hoping that its special emissary, Lakhdar Brahimi, can somehow produce a plan for an interim government after June 30 that will rescue the nation-building efforts American occupation authorities have badly botched. This could be a positive development. If President Bush is now prepared to yield real authority to the U.N. over transition arrangements, for example, it may create a sense of legitimacy that Washington itself is no longer in any position to bestow. But at this point it may be beyond the U.N.'s power to convince a skeptical world that Iraq will regain any meaningful sovereignty after June 30 if the real decisions on security and reconstruction are still made by Americans.

Members of the discredited, American-appointed Iraqi Governing Council are maneuvering to ensure a share of power for themselves after the council is dissolved next month. This is a terrible idea, linking the new interim government to the occupation regime and prejudicing future elections by giving council members an unfair inside track. Yet the administration seems to be wavering, reluctant to upset the transition timetable by antagonizing any of its few remaining Iraqi allies.

If any of the goals Americans wanted to achieve in Iraq can still be salvaged, it will take more than fumbling crisis management driven by the needs of the Bush re-election campaign. A clear and coherent new course needs to be set without further delay, beginning with aggressive policy and personnel changes to undo the damage of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. The U.N. should be given clear authority over transitional political arrangements after June 30, with Washington fully backing Mr. Brahimi's efforts to assemble a caretaker government of credible Iraqis who are not associated with the occupation and are willing to put aside their own political ambitions.

I Adore Smart, Progressive People

From CNN:

A Colorado Bishop, in one of strongest stands yet taken by a U.S. Roman Catholic church leader, says communion should be denied to people who vote for candidates supporting such issues as abortion rights, gay marriage, euthanasia and stem cell research.

I suggest we ban this bishop from receiving a tax cut for his minister status, end non-profit status for his church, and be sure that if he gets ill with something that can be helped through stem cell research or he asks for a comfortable, dignified ending through euthanasia, it be denied him.

I'm just sick and tired of watching people promote hatred and stupidity in the name of God. How dare this man insert himself into the right to choose? Unless, of course, he hates God.


More Lies?

Via Buzzflash, I saw the quotes below on Democratic Underground, and then went back to read the CNN transcript regarding our government's supposed translation of the audio on the tape of Nick Berg's death.

NASR: Yes, and if you listen to these voices that we're hearing on Arab networks, Iraqis are condemning this execution. And they're saying these are foreigners. These are not Iraqis. They do not represent us and so forth.

Now, of course, the original claim was that Zarqawi is the actual man who performed this execution. Our experts listened to the accent, as you said, and they determined the accent is not Jordanian...

O'BRIEN: He is a Jordanian who is working supposedly, allegedly, at the behest of al Qaeda in Iraq. So go ahead.

NASR: Right, he is very close to bin Laden, and works, you're right, as an agent of al Qaeda in Iraq. Now, the accent is not Jordanian so that takes the Jordanian element out of the story immediately.

O'BRIEN: Interesting. All right, now one final thought here. You did a very careful translation of your own, of the statement. And in it, you see no reference to al Qaeda. And yet the official U.S. government translation does. Explain how that happened.

NASR: Oh, I find it very interesting, because out of the blue, there is a mention of al Qaeda on the U.S. government translation. It says: "Does al Qaeda need any further excuses?" Any speaker of the Arabic language is going to notice a difference between the word al Qaeda, which means "the base," and al qaed, which means "the one sitting, doing nothing."

Something is very fishy. Several folks around the net who did see the tape - I have not, nor could I translate it if I had - say there are Russians or Chechens speaking at different points.

And the man identified as the so-called Jordanian-born Osama bin Laden 2nd lieutenant is not only masked, he's NOT speaking with a Jordanian accent. Then there's the little matter of there being no mention, as the government alleges, of al Qaeda on the tape.

So who then had Nick Berg? Who killed him? Why is the government falling all over itself giving conflicting information? Some of what I'm thinking right now frankly scares me.

Global Dimming

[Ed. note: No, we're not talking about the rise of the Bushies. And I'll spare you my oddball fantasy about cicadas attacking Paul Wolfowitz, chasing him everywhere.]

Researchers tell us that over the past 50 years, we may have lost nearly 40% of the light normally available to us through pollution and increased cloud cover. This at the same time we're experiencing global warming.

June 30th

This administration - and the press - use the June 30th date in Iraq like some magic date. What exactly changes on that date, however, really remains very much to be seen.

Look at Bremer's recent comments and those from the administration, and we're hearing things like, "If we were asked to leave Iraq, we would. We don't stay where we aren't wanted." This begs the question about what constitutes "want" since a recent poll tells us 80% of Iraqis want us gone now. At the same time, we're talking about committing thousands of troops there through December 2005.

Peace to You, Nick Berg

The 26-year-old man from West Chester, PA whose body was found in Iraq last Saturday was laid to rest today. I've found myself throughout a very busy day today - as I have the past few days - thinking of the Berg family.

I wish Nick peace and I wish it, too, for his family. They seem like very nice, committed people and I am very sorry for their loss.

About Chris Matthews

Granted, I haven't read former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's new book yet about Plame-gate and the Niger "yellow cake" affair, but I heard something new today: on "Democracy Now" this morning, Joe Wilson said Chris Matthews told him that Karl Rove divulged Wilson's wife name to him specifically as a CIA operative.

Before this, I've only read that certain journalists - unnamed - agreed that Rove or someone near the top at the White House had said Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was fair game. I'd love to hear whether Chris Matthews will address this himself, but as I recall, he's been missing from some of his Hardball shows this week. I also don't see Wilson's interview today referenced on any news sites.

Has anyone read Wilson's book already who can tell me if Wilson identified Matthews and others there?


Funny, if you watched CNN or MSNBC today, you'd think absolutely nothing was happening. Both, I believe, spent more than an hour with a boat rescue off the Oregon coast and when they returned from that, we saw stuff on fashion and movies and racehorses.

But go to CNN's home page, and you see that street fighting is going nuts in Najaf, that in a perhaps knee-jerk reaction, hundreds of prisoners have been set free from Abu Ghraib (which only begs the question of why they were detained in the first place), Israeli soldiers sifting through sand to find remains of colleagues (and lots of Palestinians dead in various response attacks), and concerns about what the upset in the India election means.

I'm mystified, to say the least.

Place Your Bets

Were I a betting person - and I'm not, unless you count writing proposals for publishers - I'd say there's a good chance the president's re-electability chances in the polls actually could slip into the 30s.

Who is to blame? I think the answer rests with Mr. Bush, although his administration takes no accountability for anything.

Oh wait. He does take credit for some issues:

    * the wonderful economy (which explains why so many people I know are either out of work, way underemployed, or working 3 jobs to bring in just some of what they used to make at one)
    * how well Iraq and Afghanistan are doing since we attacked them (!!!)
    * helping kids (not with their education, but with getting them great paying - cough - jobs with the military to fight his wars for him); REMEMBER: about the only part of "No Child Left Behind" that's working properly is the ability for recruiters to torment teens into signing up with the military

More Times

Also from the NY Times editorial page:

atching President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld this week, it was hard to avoid the sinking feeling that they had already moved on from the Abu Ghraib prison mess and were back to their well-established practice of ignoring all bad news and marching blindly ahead as if nothing unusual had happened. That was the impression that emerged from Mr. Bush's disconnected performance on Monday, when he viewed photos and video stills of the atrocious treatment of prisoners by soldiers under his and Mr. Rumsfeld's command, and then announced that the defense secretary was doing a "superb job." It was stronger than ever yesterday, during Mr. Rumsfeld's road trip to Iraq, where he drew a curious parallel between himself and Ulysses S. Grant and announced his approach to the prison scandal: "I've stopped reading newspapers."


Times: Berg Manipulation

From Friday's NY Times editorial page:

...this manipulative attempt to establish a moral equivalence between the gruesome execution of Mr. Berg and the torture of Iraqi prisoners is now being mimicked by some hard-core supporters of the American war in Iraq. They are cynically trying to use the images of Mr. Berg to wipe away the images of Abu Ghraib, turning the abhorrence for the murderers into an excuse for demonizing Arabs and Muslims, or for sanctioning their torture.

Mr. Berg's parents have legitimate questions for the United States government about how he came to be in Iraqi police custody immediately before his kidnapping, what happened to him there and what knowledge American officials had about his situation. The occupation authority needs to stop passing off those questions to the Iraqi police force, which does not exist other than as an agent of American power. The Berg family deserves answers so they can grieve for their son's death in peace.

On a Lighter - and Stranger - Note

First, Osama may still be hiding, Iraq and Afghanistan may be terrible messes at least partially of our own creation, and each American may owe $25K in national debt, but:

Louisiana is considering legislation that would make the wearing of low-slung pants illegal. We're sure this will improve mankind significantly and thereby end the War on (Asscrack) Terrorism. We suspect Mr. Ashcroft gave them his whole-hearted support because, clearly, the only ass Mr. Ashcroft wants to see naked is himself in the mirror when he shaves.


A Catholic priest shot to death the mayor of a town in western Mexico early on Wednesday after the pair got drunk and began punching each other during a religious festival, state officials said.

The Wolfowitz Show

My, that man danced around trying to avoid having to say that any of the interrogation techniques were.. uh... extreme.

Somehow, you're left with the impression, however, that a 92-yr-old woman with severe osteoporosis could probably torture Mr. Wolfowitz with one hand tied to her walker.

If Only...

the US government or CNN had any credibility, I'd put more faith in this CNN photo caption:

The man who beheaded American captive Nicholas Berg was likely al Qaeda associate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a CIA official said. Al-Zarqawi has a $10 million reward on his head. The U.S. government says he has a long-standing connection to al Qaeda.

Unfortunately, anyone this administration doesn't like is called al Qaeda. In fact, I think Mark Racichot is chomping at the bit to suggest John Kerry is a 2nd lieutenant to Osama bin Laden. Sure, it would be false, but that has never, ever stopped Marc.

US Culpability

A CNN poll - which will likely be pulled quickly because they don't like the response (or more accurately, Karl Rove won't like this and will call to complain, which makes Blitzer and Schneider just tingle with self-importance) - right now shows Americans split in whether the US bears some culpability in Nick Berg's death (Yes, 51%, No, 49%).

Maybe people turned off American Idol long enough to pay attention?

Shameless Self-Promotion

Rummy was really full of himself today, telling his relatively captive and definitely hand-picked audience that he's a
survivor because anyone deigned to ask him a few tough questions about his conduct.

This from a man who took a few hours out from his tony DC party circuit and his huge, comfortable, air conditioned office to do a photo opportunity - what Chris Matthews just called a happy-golucky, victory lap, Bob Hope-Bing Crosby road trip moment - to men and women who have been overworked, badly quickly, perhaps even worse informed, and in harm's wife every second of the day. This, while we continue to hear how much worse these other pictures from Taguba are and after we learn that - contrary to what the admin's been telling us - Nick Berg was indeed in US custody.

Nick Berg's Father: Bush Responsible for Son's Death

From Reuters via Yahoo:

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The father of Nick Berg, the American beheaded in Iraq (news - web sites), directly blamed President Bush (news - web sites) and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Thursday for his son's death.

"My son died for the sins of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. This administration did this," Berg said in an interview with radio station KYW-AM.

In the interview from outside his home in West Chester, Pennsylvania, a seething Michael Berg also said his 26-year-old son, a civilian contractor, probably would have felt positive, even about his executioners, until the last minute.

"I am sure that he only saw the good in his captors until the last second of his life," Berg said. "They did not know what they were doing. They killed their best friend."

Rumsfeld Poll

The results of our Rumsfeld poll are in, with "Resign" holding a decent margin over the other two most chosen options (Fired or Sent to Iraq with Wolfowitz).

A new poll will be in place later today (see near top at right).

Apt Analysis

Oliver Willis does a rather apt assessment of right-wing blogs right now:

Reading the rightie blogs right now is like going to Bizarroland. In Bizarroland...

- the war is going perfectly fine, the media just keeps reporting those pesky facts.
- abuse photos aren't so great, but they're not as bad as Saddam Hussein, the new yardstick for American democracy
- liberals are working for the other side, Senator McCarthy told me so
- in light of the fact that everything we said about invading Iraq is exactly the opposite, we're still right
- whatever does go wrong, is not our fault, even though we run the three branches of government

A Correction on Tom, However

One thing about Friedman's post is that he asks why the president didn't think to close down Abu Ghraib (and reopen it as a technical college).

The thing is that they are discussing doing just that, although I've heard the term "raze" rather than open it as a technical college. John McCain and several more GOP Republicans have suggested just that, and that it should be done as soon as possible.

While I can understand that, since our forces were there and they needed some holding facility, they immediately pressed Abu Ghraib into service. But Abu Ghraib is well known throughout Iraq as one of Saddam's worst prisons and torture facilities. It seemed like a bad choice in the beginning and an extremely poor one in retrospect with the news of the abuse upon us.

Here's a thought: rather than the US doing something to Abu Ghraib, why don't we let the people of Iraq decide what to do with it. It's their country. Razing the building will not raze it from memories - theirs or ours. But let the Iraqis decide. They might even keep it open as a museum to remind them of the tortures of both Saddam and their post-Saddam occupiers. We as Americans might not like that last part, but it's their history, and they should be the ones to choose what to do.

A Rare Moment of Tom Friedman Clarity?

I'm not sure and just as I was about to drop a post about this, I see that Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly already did so. Read from Tom below and then go check out Kevin (not like he needs the hits, of course, but Kevin's very good and if you haven't happened to discover him yet, you should).

It is time to ask this question: Do we have any chance of succeeding at regime change in Iraq without regime change here at home?

"Hey, Friedman, why are you bringing politics into this all of a sudden? You're the guy who always said that producing a decent outcome in Iraq was of such overriding importance to the country that it had to be kept above politics."

Yes, that's true. I still believe that. My mistake was thinking that the Bush team believed it, too. I thought the administration would have to do the right things in Iraq — from prewar planning and putting in enough troops to dismissing the secretary of defense for incompetence — because surely this was the most important thing for the president and the country. But I was wrong. There is something even more important to the Bush crowd than getting Iraq right, and that's getting re-elected and staying loyal to the conservative base to do so. It has always been more important for the Bush folks to defeat liberals at home than Baathists abroad. That's why they spent more time studying U.S. polls than Iraqi history. That is why, I'll bet, Karl Rove has had more sway over this war than Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Bill Burns. Mr. Burns knew only what would play in the Middle East. Mr. Rove knew what would play in the Middle West.

I admit, I'm a little slow. Because I tried to think about something as deadly serious as Iraq, and the post- 9/11 world, in a nonpartisan fashion — as Joe Biden, John McCain and Dick Lugar did — I assumed the Bush officials were doing the same. I was wrong. They were always so slow to change course because confronting their mistakes didn't just involve confronting reality, but their own politics.

Why, in the face of rampant looting in the war's aftermath, which dug us into such a deep and costly hole, wouldn't Mr. Rumsfeld put more troops into Iraq? Politics. First of all, Rummy wanted to crush once and for all the Powell doctrine, which says you fight a war like this only with overwhelming force. I know this is hard to believe, but the Pentagon crew hated Colin Powell, and wanted to see him humiliated 10 times more than Saddam. Second, Rummy wanted to prove to all those U.S. generals whose Army he was intent on downsizing that a small, mobile, high-tech force was all you needed today to take over a country. Third, the White House always knew this was a war of choice — its choice — so it made sure that average Americans never had to pay any price or bear any burden. Thus, it couldn't call up too many reservists, let alone have a draft. Yes, there was a contradiction between the Bush war on taxes and the Bush war on terrorism. But it was resolved: the Bush team decided to lower taxes rather than raise troop levels.

Why, in the face of the Abu Ghraib travesty, wouldn't the administration make some uniquely American gesture? Because these folks have no clue how to export hope. They would never think of saying, "Let's close this prison immediately and reopen it in a month as the Abu Ghraib Technical College for Computer Training — with all the equipment donated by Dell, H.P. and Microsoft." Why didn't the administration ever use 9/11 as a spur to launch a Manhattan project for energy independence and conservation, so we could break out of our addiction to crude oil, slowly disengage from this region and speak truth to fundamentalist regimes, such as Saudi Arabia? (Addicts never tell the truth to their pushers.) Because that might have required a gas tax or a confrontation with the administration's oil moneymen. Why did the administration always — rightly — bash Yasir Arafat, but never lift a finger or utter a word to stop Ariel Sharon's massive building of illegal settlements in the West Bank? Because while that might have earned America credibility in the Middle East, it might have cost the Bush campaign Jewish votes in Florida.

And, of course, why did the president praise Mr. Rumsfeld rather than fire him? Because Karl Rove says to hold the conservative base, you must always appear to be strong, decisive and loyal. It is more important that the president appear to be true to his team than that America appear to be true to its principles. (Here's the new Rummy Defense: "I am accountable. But the little guys were responsible. I was just giving orders.")

Add it all up, and you see how we got so off track in Iraq, why we are dancing alone in the world — and why our president, who has a strong moral vision, has no moral influence.

The President Knew

That's what Josh Marshall says after analysis regarding the Iraqi prison torture that the military's Carbone insisted did not make it as far as senior positions in the Bush administration:

Okay, I think the wheels are now officially off this car. The Baltimore Sun quotes Colin Powell as saying that "we kept the president informed of the concerns that were raised by the ICRC and other international organizations as part of my regular briefings of the president, and advised him that we had to follow these issues, and when we got notes sent to us or reports sent to us ... we had to respond to them, and the president certainly made it clear that that’s what he expected us to do."

Powell further said that he, Rice and Rumsfeld kept Bush “fully informed of the concerns that were being expressed, not in specific details, but in general terms.”

Not only does that contradict what the White House and the president have said. It contradicts the testimony of one of Don Rumsfeld's principal deputies from only yesterday.

When asked by Sen. John Warner whether the ICRC's concerns had made their way to the Secretary's level, Stephen Cambone replied: "No, sir, they did not. Those reports -- those working papers, again, as far as I understand it, were delivered at the command level. They are designed -- the process is designed so that the ICRC can engage with the local commanders and make those kinds of improvements that are necessary in a more collaborative environment than in an adversarial one."

Commit a Generous Act of Inhofe-enestration

If you're so inclined, sign the petition stating loudly and clearly that Senator Inhofe (who isn't outraged at the torture, just outraged that we'd be upset about it) does NOT speak for you. Thanks to the mighty Atrios for the link.

The Donald Rumsfeld World Tour

Whether he thinks he's a rock star or whether he's just trying to save the job many feel he should lose, The Donald flew to Iraq today (by surprise) and is speaking now with Gen Richard Myers.

While Rummy did his usual fire thing, Myers said one thing that was really dumb. To the GIs, he said, "I hope you haven't been tortured by the [Taguba Senate hearings] testimony..."

It just seemed like an extraordinarily bad choice of words. Yes, I can understand why GIs not involved in this mess who are just trying to do good jobs would be bothered. But tortured is a very bad word to toss around right now, eh, General?

Bill Moyers

I caught just part of this on "Democracy Now" on Free Speech TV this morning, but if you get a chance - and I'll post it if I find a transcript - locate and read Bill Moyers' recent speech in which he discusses how an extreme right wing administration has so easily joined forces with an increasingly right wing and apologetic corporate media to assume its the voice of the people.

George Bush, Bill O'Reilly, and such will never, ever speak for the majority of people here. The sooner we understand that and condemn the practice, the better for all of us. Heck, it might even lead to us being hated less in the rest of the world.

Three Arab States Go on Record Condemning Berg's Execution

While the right wing loves to say that the prisoner abuse scandal is no big deal considering Nick Berg's execution sometime last week, three Arab states - Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE - have gone on record, along with the groups mentioned in an earlier post, to condemn Berg's death.

If you look at Arab-language newspapers, you also see the condemnation. Yes, it's sometimes couched in other rhetoric, but look at people like Inhofe and Limbaugh here regarding the Iraqi prison abuse scandal. You're always going to have voices saying something different. But that doesn't mean the Arab world is wrong when they do it and we're glorious and righteous when we do.

India Changes Hands

India's Vajpayee is expected to resign today after his ruling party lost in elections. What this will ultimately mean for the fractious relationship with Pakistan, of course, remains to be seen.

Islamic World Condemns Berg's Execution

From Juan Cole's Informed Comment:

Muslim authorities at al-Azhar Seminary, the preeminent center of learning for Sunni Islam, vehemently condemned the brutal murder of Nick Berg by terrorists in Iraq, according to Sobhy Mujahid.

' "Islam respects the human being, dead or alive, and cutting off the American's head was an act of mutilation forbidden by Islam," [said] Ibrahim Al-Fayoumi, a member of Al-Azhar's Islamic Research Academy . . . '

Sobhi adds, ' Mahmoud Emara, another member of the Academy [said] "The mutilation even of enemies is rejected by Islam. A mistake could not justify another . . . " The scholar cited the respect Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had paid to bodies in the battle of Badr when he ordered the burial of the dead irrespective of their religion. The Prophet urged his Companions on the day of Badr to be kind to their captives and treat them with clemency. '

These scholars are major voices of the Muslim mainstream. They should be listened to on such matters.

Even the much more radical Lebanese Shiite Hizbullah (Hezbollah), according to the Sydney Morning Herald, ' harshly criticised the beheading and questioned the timing of a "horrible" act which drove the torture of Iraqi prisoners by US-led forces from the headlines. "Hezbollah denounces this horrible act which does an immense wrong to Islam and Muslims by a group which falsely pretends to follow the precepts of the religion of pardon and essential human values," the party said in a statement. ' (Hizbullah, as Shiites, has nothing but contempt for the Sunni radical Zarqawi).

Karen Hughes, Bush's Other Brain

James C. Moore in Salon offers a fascinating look at a woman I consider more robotic in her devotion than fascinating. The more I read, the more it scared me how Bush is surrounded by people like this.


Opportunistic Logic?

GOP leaders such as Bill Frist (mind you, I think the Humane Society would like to try him on charges of torturing some of the cats he lied to obtain from them) are saying now that the execution of Nick Berg offers sound reason for not releasing any additional Iraqi prison torture images.

Yes, I'd say it's proper to weigh the idea but before I can even answer that question, it strikes me as awfully opportune that the Berg pictures came out on the heels of Rumsfeld's announcement that the worst of these images was yet to come. Berg's body was discovered Saturday. It's unclear when exactly he was executed - at least from sources I've read. Considering the prison abuse has been known in Iraq and elsewhere for sometime before it penetrated the protective blanket of the US media, I can't even feel for certain that the tape - which refers to the execution as being in part in retribution for such abuse - necessarily means it occurred just before Berg's body was discovered.

Nor do I believe some of the poppycock coming out of Washington that it's an error that the US held Berg for a period of time or that the State Department offered to rush him right out of the country to safety. Are we usually in the habit of rushing people who've chosen to go somewhere else back to the U.S.?

This whole thing reeks of the CYA mentality that runs rampant in Washington at anytime, and particularly during this administration.

My Definition of Torture

I think I've just decided that my own personal definition of torture is trying to make sense from the posters on the FreeRepublic site.

Uh... ok... I don't think everyone who posts there is a rabid nut, but it seems to help you feeling welcome there. I also think I figured out what some people do when Lucianne Goldberg's blog is down. Cough.

One fellow's questioning whether Nick Berg was a plant. Another's snarking about a Village People person who got married to another man (not Barry Manilow, btw), and damn it, no one there saw the humor in a post that said Mr. Bush started his day promoting a "Reading First" program in NH. If only Mr. Bush could/would read, the world might be a better, safer place...

Enemies List?

There is an odd story floating about today that Nick Berg's company, for which his anti-war father served as business manager, was on some right-wing enemies list, presumably for the father's viewpoint.

Here's the link provided by Buzzflash, and if you go to the Free Republic site, you'll note that someone there - who's worried about "trolls posting" - says he or she was contacted by Salon.

One Strange Kerry (Cough) Support Blog

Skippy gives us a review of a Kerry blog whose name I'll let you read for yourself. My take on it is enough like Skippy's that I'll spare you mine.

One Mo' Time

Well, I have to say that based on comments - mostly sent to me in Email which may indicate something right there - about the new Blogger-based commenting system, I've decided to give the much-vaulted Haloscan a try.

I've installed it, configured it, and it appears to be working. If it seems to do the trick, you won't be forced between registration or just "anonymous" for postings, plus Haloscan allows me to do management that the others I tried did not.

So... break away. Ahem.

Lynndie England's First Interview

I've seen parts of that interview she gave with a Denver station, and I'm not impressed on a whole lot of levels. Yes, she's 21, but she seems to have made an extraordinary number of bad choices, even given her age and situation. I might be tempted to believe the pictures were posed, but how many of the pictures of her purportingly having sex with several different GIs were posed?

Hand it Over, Buddy

Right now, the bill of each American's share of the national debt is just under $25,000 and climbing each and every day. This means that if you've got a four person household, your share's $100,000 with the interest meter ticking rapidly.

Bear in mind that when Mr. Bush came into office, he came in with a surplus.

I'm Outta Here

Well, for the day anyway. I'm making my homage to the doctor's office to hear again why a bad respiratory infection 10 months ago still has me in constant pain.

I'm telling you, this whole situation has given me a great deal more respect for those who suffer with chronic pain. Mine's just every time I breathe; some people fare far, far worse than that.

Another "60 Minutes II" to Watch

Tonight's broadcast will again depict Iraqi prison abuse, including video shot by a soldier in which a female soldier makes some rather strong remarks:

The video shows a young soldier's disdain for the Iraqi prisoners. She says: "We've already had two prisoners die...but who cares? That's two less for me to worry about."

But before you ask, "So, what's new?", understand this isn't at Abu Ghraib but at Camp Bucca.

We Have Met Our Enemies and They are Democrats

From The Times editorial page this morning:

he administration and its Republican allies appear to have settled on a way to deflect attention from the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib: accuse Democrats and the news media of overreacting, then pile all of the remaining responsibility onto officers in the battlefield, far away from President Bush and his political team. That cynical approach was on display yesterday morning in the second Abu Ghraib hearing in the Senate, a body that finally seemed to be assuming its responsibility for overseeing the executive branch after a year of silently watching the bungled Iraq occupation.

There Goes CNN (Again)

It's poignant poll of the day: Should the Geneva Conventions apply to the men who beheaded Nicholas Berg?

"Look, it's a UFO!"

Mexican pilots have filmed what they believe to be a UFO (11 of them, in fact).

Of course, if they were here searching for intelligent life, they may have flown over the White House and determined it was a lost cause.

Makes You Want to Move There, No?

A Florida community has - after just a year - decided to get rid of the "Martin Luther King" name on a busy avenue, with some insisting any roadway named for the slain civil rights leader becomes the center of poorer neighborhoods (CNN doesn't translate this into "black-owned" but you have to wonder). At least one angry resident of Zephyr Hills says the lid is finally off the racism brewing in the town.


Boykin Rears at Least One of His Ugly Heads Again

From a Reuters piece posted at Pacific Views:

The U.S. Army general under investigation for anti-Islamic remarks has been linked by U.S. officials to the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal, which experts warned could touch off new outrage overseas.

A Senate hearing into the abuse of Iraqi prisoners was told on Tuesday that Lt. Gen. William Boykin, an evangelical Christian under review for saying his God was superior to that of the Muslims, briefed a top Pentagon civilian official last summer on recommendations on ways military interrogators could gain more intelligence from Iraqi prisoners.

Critics have suggested those recommendations amounted to a senior-level go-ahead for the sexual and physical abuse of prisoners, possibly to "soften up" detainees before interrogation -- a charge the Pentagon denies.

A Karl Rove Explanation Guide

Wonkette offers an excellent guide to understanding Karl Rove's twisted psychology.

Due to Technical Problems Perfectly Within Our Control

Considering what I do for a living (explain how to make computers and software work for you), I'm chagrined to admit that I enabled the new comment system only to discover everyone needed to set up their own Blogger account to post comments.

Hopefully, this has been resolved now so that anyone can post without putting down their first born child or BMW for collateral.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming already in progress (unless you're watching Joe Scarbrough on MSNBC right now and then, well... you're really past the point of an easy Betty Ford Center cure, aren't you?).

Changes Made

While I've started the changes here, obviously some fine tuning will be needed. Before I changed comment systems, I copied out links and such to reference again later, as needed.

Yell, scream, or dress up in a black organdy dress and call yourself Mary like J. Edgar Hoover, as you like.

Currently 25-30 Investigations Ongoing

That's how many investigations into Abu Ghraib sort of abuse in Iraqi detainee facilities are going on, according to Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). And even Saxby Chambliss seemed to shudder a bit when he said the next pictures we'll see at some point are so much worse than what we've already viewed.

More on Taguba

Senator Mark Dayton on Hardass er.. Hardball just now basically confirmed my take on the Taguba appearance today: Taguba can only speak about what he investigated, which was fairly insulated from any other incidences of abuse (and we know - although it's not widely touted - occurred at more than Abu Ghraib).

Saxby Chambliss keeps telling us, no no, Taguba said he knew of none others. But everything I've read and heard of Taguba indicates he can only speak of Abu Ghraib.

West Chester PA Man Beheaded

He was 26 and a civilian worker. From CNN:

An Web site linked to al Qaeda and affiliate groups showed a video Tuesday of an American being beheaded. His captors said the killing was in part retaliation for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. His captors said the U.S. refused to exchange him for prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison.

Of Two Minds

My partner and I were arguing different points this afternoon following Taguba's testimony. While he (partner) feels more reassured that the orders for the brutality didn't come down through the core, I'm not. I think Maj. Gen. Taguba's testimony was extremely carefully worded and made me think a great deal about what was not said or left incomplete from answers.

Wash. Post Holding Back Lots of Photos

According to Joe Strupp in Editor and Publisher, the Washington Post has nearly 1,000 photographs from the Iraqi prisons yet has printed just 10, choosing not to air those that show injuries or lack, they say, certain information.

No Accountability = No Repair

From George S. Will (OK, this is a record; I've quoted him twice in less than a week to agree with something he's said or written which, to me, is mind-boggling):

When there is no penalty for failure, failures proliferate. Leave aside the question of who or what failed before Sept. 11, 2001. But who lost his or her job because the president's 2003 State of the Union address gave currency to a fraud -- the story of Iraq's attempting to buy uranium in Niger? Or because the primary and only sufficient reason for waging preemptive war -- weapons of mass destruction -- was largely spurious? Or because postwar planning, from failure to anticipate the initial looting to today's insufficient force levels, has been botched? Failures are multiplying because of choices for which no one seems accountable.

Cuba: Bush About to Make it Worse

Only one phenomenon has kept Fidel Castro in power in Cuba for the past four decades: the American reaction to him. We've tried to assassinate him, invade him, make fun of him, starve his people, allow Cubans who reach shore to get a fast track to citizenship enjoyed by no other refugees, and for awhile there, it looked like we were going to allow relatives in Miami to "steal" the Gonzalez boy because the boy's father chose to live in Cuba.

Bush, whose ranking among Latinos isn't so hot and has been dropping among the anti-Fidel brigades in Florida, is now prepared with a new initiative that - with the way things have gone thus far - will help Fidel stay in office there until he's 105.

Read this column in the New York Daily News by Albor Ruiz:

In a few days, "the dumbest policy on the face of the Earth" - as Colin Powell's chief of staff Larry Wilkerson called the U.S. Cuba policy - is bound to become even dumber.
Come May 20, President Bush will fly to Miami to share with an audience of ultraconservative Cuban-Americans a series of new measures supposed to "hasten" the demise of the Fidel Castro regime.

Among them are increasing anti-Castro propaganda, giving greater support to "dissidents" on the island and - listen to this - initiating clandestine operations to keep money from relatives from falling into the government's hands.

Creepy Memo

Posted by Roger Ailes:
This is not a satire:

-----Original Message-----
From: Information Services Customer Liaison, ISD
Sent: Thursday, May 06, 2004 12:45 PM
To: MLA dd - USD(I) - ALL; MLA dd - NII ALL
Subject: URGENT IT BULLETIN: Tugabe Report (FOUO)
Importance: High


All ISD Customers

Fox News and other media outlets are distributing the Tugabe report (spelling is approximate for reasons which will become obvious momentarily). Someone has given the news media classified information and they are distributing it. THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS REPORT IS CLASSIFIED. ALL ISD CUSTOMERS SHOULD:

2) NOT comment on this to anyone, friends, family etc.
3) NOT delete the file if you receive it via e-mail, but

This leakage will be investigated for criminal prosecution. If you don't have the document and have never had legitimate access, please do not complicate the investigative processes by seeking information. Again, THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS REPORT IS CLASSIFIED; DO NOT GO TO FOX NEWS TO READ OR OBTAIN A COPY.

Do not look upon the Gubata Report, or thou shalt surely turn to stone. Because we take criminal offenses seriously. Starting .... now! No, really. For the love of Zeus, do not go to the Fox News website, click on the link marked Butaga Report on Prisoner Abuses, having previously installed the free Adobe Reader (available here), and open the linked .pdf file.

P.S. We didn't say anything about reading the report elsewhere. And please feel free to forward this e-mail to the press.

My favorite bit, of course, "please do not complicate the investigative process by seeking information."

What was that again about openness and accountability in a democracy?


I was aghast today during the hearings into the Taguba report when Sen. Inhofe (R-OK if you torture) said he was more outraged at the outrage than at the treatment, insisting the prisoners were all serious insurgents. But they aren't, even by the military's own statements and the International Red Cross has said the military acknowledged that between 70-90% of prisoners at Abu Ghraib were "false pickups".

John McCain walked out in disgust at his remarks, while several Democrats just stared at Inhofe.

Already, there is talk in the blogs about Inhofe getting the great honor of dumbest senator ever.


Max is Having a Pool

Max Sawicky is running a Rummy Death Watch Pool. I don't think Rummy's going down for this (hell, if Bush could find a way to promote him that would completely fire up the Arab world, he'd do so), so I'm not wagering. But if you've got a PayPal account, and $5 itching to part ways with you, go.

I hope Max doesn't run a Bush Resign pool, because I'd take a wager on every single day just because I like the idea so very, very much. [grin]

And God Said to George, "You're a Schmuck!"

Er... uh... seriously, CNN reports that Mr. Bush's approval ratings have miraculously reached new lows:

President Bush holds a single-point lead over Democratic challenger John Kerry in the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of likely voters, but voters' approval of Bush's performance and support for the war in Iraq dropped to new lows in the survey.

I hope George remembers to buy Scalia lots of nice trips so the Supremes will make certain he's re-selected. In my lifetime, an election's never been this nasty this far away from pull-the-lever day.

Quite scarily, more and more people seem to openly say they expect a September or October "surprise" that will miraculously return Bush to the White House. I was talking to a rather openly Republican store clerk the other day, and she said, "Oh, I think it's a given that something will happen this fall."

What did she mean, I asked.

"Well, some people are saying there will be a terrorist attack."


Altercation Sends a Memo to the Prez

From Eric Alterman today:

Cut the crap about our good “hearts” Mr. Excuse-Maker-In-Chief. Nobody cares what’s in the heart of a torturer when he is sticking a cattle prod into your genitals. We are no more “moral” than the French in Algeria, the British in Northern Ireland, the Israelis on the West Bank, or our former selves in Vietnam. (Too bad you and Mr. Cheney were busy elsewhere during that one, sir.) War crimes are a part of war, especially guerrilla war. Buy one, get the other one free. (And by the way, these abuses could have been stopped a long time ago if anyone in the administration had cared. As the WSJ reported, the Red Cross informed the administration of these types of abuses over a year ago.)

The Economist's Take on Abu Ghraib

Here's a bit:

YOU are fighting against international terrorists in a battle that both they and you describe as being one about values. You fight a war against Saddam Hussein at your initiative, not his, and you say that it is a war about law, democracy, freedom and honesty. A big metaphorical banner hangs above both wars proclaiming that your aim is to bring freedom, human rights and democracy to the Arab world. All of that sets admirably high standards for the conduct of your forces as well as of your government itself. Now, however, some of your own armed forces are shown to have fallen well below those standards. What do you do?

One answer is exactly what George Bush has done in response to revelations of torture and humiliating treatment of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib jail (see article): to make it clear, in public, that you find such action abhorrent and unacceptable, and that the perpetrators of it will be punished. That has also been the approach of the British government in response to the publication of photographs that may well be fakes but that could nevertheless indicate that genuine abuses have taken place (see article). Yet such statements are not enough, especially in the American case. The scandal is widening, with more allegations coming to light. Moreover, the abuse of these prisoners is not the only damaging error that has been made and it forms part of a culture of extra-legal behaviour that has been set at the highest level. Responsibility for what has occurred needs to be taken—and to be seen to be taken—at the highest level too. It is plain what that means. The secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, should resign. And if he won't resign, Mr Bush should fire him.

Please Say Something Nice About Mr. Bush... Please!

Again pointed out from Buzzflash, this Wisconsin paper is literally begging for letters favorable to Mr. Bush. I don't think I've ever seen such a thing before.

We’ve been getting more letters critical of President Bush than those that support him. We’re not sure why, nor do we want to guess. But in today’s increasingly polarized political environment, we would prefer our offering to put forward a better sense of balance.

Since we depend upon you, our readers, to supply our letters, that goal can be difficult. We can’t run letters that we don’t have.

Oops, Our Mistake

The International Red Cross said today that they've been telling the military for months - and the military supposedly admitted - that up to 90% of the detainees held in conditions like that at Abu Ghraib have done nothing wrong; they just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and got dragged in.

So not only did we torture them, there was no reason for 9 out of 10 Iraqis to be detained at all.

Yet, said Mr. Bush today, "Mr. Rumsfeld has done a superb job." Mr. Cheney over the weekend said Mr. Rumsfeld was the best secretary of defense in the history of the U.S.

Vote for these two men, and it's a vote for the complete dismantlement of the American values we claim to hold so dearly.


I'm sure Mr. Lynn thinks he has a good idea here. But I'm not sure how valuable it is to advertise it so far in advance, and to a GOP-oriented NY newspaper:

As Web master of Shadow Protest I am urging people to volunteer for the Republican National Convention, attend all the volunteer orientation sessions but not show up for their assigned volunteer shift.

Rumsfeld Paying the Price

From Bob Novak's column today:

While the White House officially vowed Rumsfeld's retention, there was no reinforcement in his natural political constituency. Last week, I talked to Republican members of Congress, GOP fund-raisers and contributors, defense consultants and even one senior official of a coalition partner. The clear consensus was that Rumsfeld had to go. ''There must be a neck cut,'' said the foreign official, ''and there is only one neck of choice.''

Rumsfeld is paying the price for the way he has run the Department of Defense for more than three years, but the price is also being paid by George W. Bush. From the first months of the Bush administration, I have heard complaints by old military hands that the new secretary's arrogance and insularity were creating a dysfunctional Pentagon. That climate not only limits the government's ability to deal with the prisoner scandal but also may have been its cause.

The Right's Wrong Turn

I appreciated this Los Angeles Times piece by a conservative about how much modern conservatism has changed since the time of Barry Goldwater. Thanks to Buzzflash for the link.

Court Martial

The first court martial trial in the Iraqi abuse scandal is scheduled to begin shortly (May 19th). But, while the trial is open, it isn't going to be televised and there seems some uproar about that.

Thing is, court martials aren't typically televised. Rumsfeld last week testified that he's got files just right now on more than 3,000 people up for such trials (obviously, not all related to the abuse scandal, one hopes).

I'm not certain what immediate purpose it would serve to televise this one lone person's trial than could not be served by other means: reporting from the courtroom, etc. Well, there is one immediate purpose it would serve. It would allow those who choose to focus on "these few bad apples" blow the court martial trial out of proportion and pretend that through the process - which I'm sure probably won't examine how far up the chain of command the orders went on this - we've kissed it and made it all better.

NBC News tonight had a former contractor/interrogator who quit early this year telling tonight that a lot was going on wrong in that prison, and that contract companies were so desperate for results, they were very willing to break rules.

What these men and women appear to be doing is heinous. But I want this fully investigated. I don't simply want to hang these men and women out to dry if the problem didn't stop with them.

Why Rumsfeld Staying On is Probably Wise (for the Sane)

After giving it a great deal of thought over the weekend, I pretty much agree with Kos at this point:

So Rumsfeld probably stays, which is good. There's no way we have gotten to the bottom of this story. And we can't risk the investigations being shortcircuited by a change of leadership at the Pentagon. Rummy's presence ensures the press will keep on digging.

My only equivocation would be on the last point.

Besides Robert Fisk (UK) and Sy Hersh (New Yorker), I'm not sure the press will keep digging. They've dropped so many damned balls so many times, you'd think this is a dummies-level juggling course where the students all have their hands tied behind their backs (wait.. I don't want to give Rumsfeld any additional ideas for "treating" prisoners) instead of a free press.

More Resources

[Ed: I guess you can tell I'm not getting much of my real work done today.]

Here are some additional good articles to read:

Sy Hersh's followup in The New Yorker

Frank Rich's perspective in yesterday's New York Times

Bush: We Owe Donald Rumsfeld a Debt of Gratitude

Thank you, Donald Rumsfeld!

Photo from The New Yorker.

Faith Without Doubt = Moral Arrogance, Ignorance

That's one of the clear messages from this Joe Klein piece in Time, The Perils of a Righteous President.

Exactly. I don't care what faith a person is (or isn't). One thing any sane person must acknowledge is that we (if we're fortunate, and most of us are) arrive on this planet with a brain and free will. If you believe, you have to use your brain and that free will accordingly or you denegrate what you supposedly believe in.

Unlike President Bush and notable others who claim the Almighty talks to them regularly, God doesn't talk to me. He (or She) doesn't tell me what to do. In those dark moments when I practically beg for a few choice words from that greater power, the only information I get back is "I gave you a brain. Use it!"

Thus, I'm just a tad distrustful of those who would like us to believe they're right because "God told me so." An incredible amount of evil has been done by those who claim they're on a mission from God.. or Allah... or Jehovah... or or or

Keith Olbermann

From the Countdown daily roundup:

Three lines of reporting emerge today which, if true, will assure that the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal will dog our troops and present the current administration with far more than a few bad apples for months, if not years, to come.
* A confidential and previously undisclosed Red Cross report delivered to the Bush administration earlier this year concluded that abuse of Iraqi prisoners in the military's custody was widespread, contradicting the administration's insistence and Donald Rumsfeld's recent testimony to the contrary. (Wall Street Journal - but here's a link where you don't have to go through that annoying registration process http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/a/2004/05/10/international0712EDT0464.DTL )
* Soldiers assigned to Abu Ghraib prison say they were given little guidance by superiors. If true, what superiors will ultimately be held accountable, and how high will that accountability reach? And P.S.: Neither Rumsfeld's Friday testimony nor President Bush's support of him at the Pentagon this morning have stopped calls for his resignation. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4855930/
* Major General Geoffrey Miller was brought into Abu Ghraib prison to "Gitmo-ize" the place, to teach the soldiers manning the prison his best psychological and physical techniques for squeezing information out of the detainees. Thus, a 'corporate culture' of abuse may have been the norm, one coming straight from the military leadership. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4934436/

Right Now the Bush administration is struggling to decide whether or not to release remaining images and video of prisoner abuse.
The first court-martial case, set for May 19 in Baghdad, will not be televised.

Either Way, You Lose

From Kevin Drum, our political animal at The Washington Monthly:

And of course, serious criticism has been brewing for quite a while in the ranks of influential neocons, originally the most enthusiastic supporters of the "democracy at gunpoint" school of international relations.

So: support for Bush's vapid, gentleman's-C approach to war is now rapidly declining among our allies, among the uniformed military, and among hawkish neocons. Liberals were mostly against the war to begin with, and moderates increasingly think it was a mistake too.

So who's left? There's National Review, which still clings to the Bush-as-rockjawed-leader storyline, but that seems to be about it.

Bottom line: if you were against the idea of transforming the Middle East via war, you should be against Bush because he had the wrong idea. Conversely, if you were in favor of transformation you should be against Bush for making such a total hash of the idea.

However, if the reality is that you don't seriously care about the war at all, but instead harbor only a fuming, obsessive desire to keep Democrats out of office at all costs, Bush is your man. I wonder how many of those people there are?

$1 for Homeland Security, $3 for Iraq

From TBogg via the San Francisco Chronicle:
Just put it on our tab:

With troop commitments growing, the cost of the war in Iraq could top $150 billion through the next fiscal year — as much as three times what the White House had originally estimated. And, according to congressional researchers and outside budget experts, the war and continuing occupation could total $300 billion over the next decade, making this one of the costliest military campaigns in modern times.

As a measure of the Bush administration’s priorities in the war on terrorism, it has spent about $3 in Iraq for every $1 committed to homeland security, experts say.


Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a hawk on defense issues, said in an interview that his concern is that the administration has not been including the war’s costs in the Defense Department’s regular budget, but instead has been seeking special supplemental appropriations, which it has asked for as late as possible to delay the public release of financial information on the war.

Worse, he said, by providing funding so late, the administration has placed further stress on the military itself, which is having to scramble and transfer money from other accounts to temporarily cover some war costs.

“Somehow, they have come to think that it’s politically embarrassing that they need more money to pay for this war,” Weldon said of President Bush and his aides. “If they’re doing this for political purposes, I think it’s stupid. It’s shortsighted.”


Yeah. You could say that.

Gotta Love Wingnut Spam

From Email:

The world is outraged because some of our troops embarresed some Iraqi

These are the same people that kill American tourists and troops
celebrating while they drag their bodies through the streets,the same ones who hate
America so they feel good when they blow up our buildings and aircraft.

The same people we send aid to and rebuild their country.

I am not the least bit embarressed by the actions of Pfc. Lynndie England,
try to remember while she was embarrsing a few of the captives their comrads are
out looking for hostages and ambushing convoys, killing civilians while our troops
die trying to help them.

Give her your support,don't let the world constantly tell the US what we do wrong
while they do whatever they want to our people.These people hate us and do not think any American
has the right to live,they do not deserve our sympathy.


Gee, where do you start?

I'm embarrassed that this person is a product of the American public school system. I am not terribly proud of Ms. England and, as other posters here have noted, the American hostage, Hamill, fared far better in Iraqi captivity than these prisoners did under Ms. England's expert care.

The thing is, I suspect these dumbass spams are actually the work of people ultimately tied to Karl Rove and Tom DeLay, people who would subvert anything to get the results they want.

A Difference Between Bush and Blair

When it comes to Iraqi abuse, Blair can apologize directly to Britons, while Bush tells us second-hand he apologized to King Abdullah II (if he did, and we don't know he did, he just said he did).

See, Rumsfeld and everyone under Rumsfeld serves at the president's discretion. Remember? Our president? The one who loves to call himself the Commander in Chief? The one who loves to don military clothing (jackets and flight suits) even though he evaded real service himself?

Someday, the buck really DOES have to stop with Bushie-poo. And until we hold him to that, he'll continue to get away with (relatively figurative) murder.

What, You Don't Want an Assault Weapon?

CNN is asking if the assault weapon ban should expire (as desired so strongly by Tom - "my rifle's tiny and limp so I need a gun" - DeLay) or be extended. Almost 80% right now say it should be extended.

Gee, I can't imagine why everyone wouldn't want an uzi or two for their home, plus one for the glove compartment of their honking SUV, plus a couple for work, one for the laptop case and the 9-year-old's school lunchbox and ...


DNC Convention in Boston

I tend to agree with both the New York Times and Pandagon on the issue of Boston as a selection for the DNC national convention being held in Boston.

Yeah, as a New Englander, I'm tired of being cut out of the loop of so damned much. But Boston was too easy a pick, and as the article states, Kerry is preaching to the choir up here. Even New Hampshire looks like it could become a temporarily blue state this time around, which pretty much sets up all of New England as guaranteed non-Bush territory (and our economy reflects that, trust me).

Key battleground states would have made a much better choice this time around: Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, to name a precious few. Even California or... God help me... Texas would have been better.

The GOP, at least, is taking a risk with NY. Sure, the mayor's a Republican (now, anyway.. he used to be a Dem) and so is the governor. But even if you cancel out all the protestors likely to descend on Gotham City, many New Yorkers are pissed with Bush, including the ones who supported him in 2000. Bush was there to take credit many days AFTER 9/11, but has had the big "screw you" middle finger aimed at them since. Even some dimbots are apt to see the GOP convention being held on the reasonably hallowed ground of the World Trade Center to be opportunism at its least righteous.

Questions, Questions

From CBS News:

A senior general and a Republican senator say the United States could lose in Iraq, and are pointing the finger at Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

“I think we are right on the edge in Iraq right now,” says Sen. Chuck Hagel.

Rumsfeld and his staff didn’t listen to military planners, and now the United States is “in a mess,” the Nebraska Republican said on CBS News’ Face The Nation.

“What is our policy? What are we doing? What is the possibility of us winning? That's all still in question,” said Hagel, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I think it's still in question whether Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and, quite frankly, General [Richard] Myers, [the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,] can command the respect and the trust and the confidence of the military of the American people to lead this country.”

A senior general at the Pentagon tells the Washington Post he believes the United States is on the path to defeat – and Rumsfeld and his advisers are to blame. The Post reports great anger is building at Rumsfeld and his top advisers among career Army officers.

Thomas Friedman, Inspired By His Own Sense of Brilliance

Why are the Japanese making robots into humans, while Muslim suicide squads are making humans into robots?

That's today's question from Tom, whose hands are so very exhausted from wringing them. Ah, another person I used to think what wise who... well, he's just not that wise after all.

Any Statisticians Out There?

I found myself wondering tonight just exactly how many times the F word gets used between the two back-to-back hours of The Sopranos and Deadwood on HBO? Not, of course, apparently enough to bother to count myself (I've sworn off The Sopranos but Swearengen on "Deadwood" is a fascinating if totally reprehensible character, plus the interaction between The Doc and Calamity Jane, plus the addition of Powers Boothe and Ricky Jay often make me lose periods of productivity on Sunday night from 10 to 11 PM ET) but still.

The New Blogger

Well, true to their estimates, Blogger went down (for posting only) for two hours, and returned with more features.

However, before I make any radical changes, I thought I should warn you that when the change takes place, all current comments will be lost (in favor on a comment system that probably will work a bit better than the one I installed less than two weeks ago).

I'm in the process of saving some good information currently stored in comments now. But between now and Tuesday evening, I would recommend folks post only those things they would not feel crushed in losing. The intent here isn't to inhibit conversation... just as a heads-up.

Another Important Piece

This one is in today New York Times (thanks to TChris at TalkLeft for the link since we hadn't gotten around to The Times yet today), and talks about how ill prepared Donald Rumsfeld's War on the Cheap left the so-called weekend warriors and other GIs installed in Iraq.

That Unwinnable Thing

When a long-time Democrat suggested last week that the war was unwinnable, wingnuts jumped all over him, questioning his patriotism and dismissing it as politics. They cared little that the man is one of the relative few on the Hill who bothered to ever fight in a real war, so perhaps knows a bit of which he speaks.

But this article in The Post today has a subtitle of "U.S. May Be Winning Battles in Iraq But Losing the War, Some Officers Say". It's a long piece, but an important read.

Right On

What Skippy says:

    not that we're fans of the nurenburg defense, but we happen to think the guys at the bottom of the chain of command in this scandal were, if not following orders, at least working within the parameters set (or ignored by) their superior officers.

    in other words, why are the privates and specialists bearing the brunt of the repsonsibility for the attitudes at abu ghraib?

    as for lynndie england, we're having trouble buying her "my boyfriend made me do it" defense. if we were her, we'd (1) talk about what our immediate superior officers had to say about our actions before, during and after they happened, and (2) get a better hair cut that doesn't accentuate our baby fat.

My Excuse: I Didn't Get the Memo

But Atrios tells us Blogspot (the host of this blog and many thousands of others) will go down for at least a few hours tonight. Whether it affects reading, posting, or both remains to be seen - as are the new features Atrios says they're talking about.

Sharon Postpones US Trip

[Ed note: Sharon visits the US so often, he really ought to rent a place in Dupont Circle or Ambassadors Row.]

Israeli PM Ariel Sharon has postponed a second planned trip to DC in as many months while he reorganizes a pull-out plan from occupied territories. As you'll remember, Bush said yes to everything he said last trip, then Bush seemed to back off a little when Abdullah was here, and probably would agree to all of Sharon's requests again when next he comes. It's like a tennis match, except that real live human beings are dying on each side.

Chechnyan President Among Those Killed

Methinks someone was watching "Sum of All Fears" on cable last night: the Chechnyan president was one of 20 killed in a blast in Grozny today.

Stem Cell Research

Nancy Reagan, the wife of the so-called greatest right-wingnut of all time, came out last night at a public event supporting the stem cell research Bush and his backers insist is against God.

Bush Speak

Lawrence Eagleberger just said, "We're going into paroxysms of guilt over this and that's not who we are." Oh good, so we don't have to feel guilt for what even Eagleberger calls horrendous acts (the Iraqi abuse).

However, as much as I hate to say this again, we all share some blame for this. After 9/11, we allowed the word "torture" to come into the public debate over how we could treat anyone we thought might have some issue against us. And large numbers - in some polls, a good majority - of Americans said it was all right. Hell, Alan Dershowitz, the lawyer too often identified as a serious leftist - said torture was acceptable if it got us the information we wanted.