Posts filed under 'War'

Wanker Of The Day

Ari Fleischer is so wanky it makes my head spin:

In an interview set to air over the weekend on CNN’s D. L. Hughley Breaks the News, Ari Fleischer admits that the Bush administration was wrong to claim that Saddam Hussein had WMD in the lead up to the Iraq war, but still insists that Saddam was at fault for the war. “Saddam was the big liar here,” Fleischer concludes:

FLEISCHER: We were wrong about weapons of mass destruction being in Iraq. […]

HUGHLEY: When you found out that you were wrong, how did that make you feel?

FLEISCHER: You just scratch your head and say, “How could we be wrong?” It wasn’t just us that thought he had weapons of mass destruction. The Egyptians thought it, the French thought it, the Germans thought it the United Nations thought it, Bill Clinton’s CIA though it. We all thought it. Saddam was the big liar here.

Yeah, Saddam was a big fat liar who cunningly tricked the US into invading his country and executing him by saying that he didn’t have WMDs when, in reality… he didn’t have WMDs.  Brilliant.

February 22nd, 2009 at 03:23pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Iraq,Quotes,Republicans,Wankers,War

Quote Of The Day

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert:

Our fight is not with the people of Gaza.

Well, in all fairness, I can see where a lot of people might get the wrong idea, what with you indiscriminately bombing them to a pulp and all.  But I’m sure the Gazans will all be very relieved to hear that it was all just a big misunderstanding, and you only want to wipe out the government that they democratically elected.  Bygones!

1 comment January 18th, 2009 at 12:42pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Foreign Policy,Wankers,War

Wait, Which Country Was He Talking About Again?

Dubya gets right to the heart of the problem in his farewell address:

The battles waged by our troops are part of a broader struggle between two dramatically different systems. Under one, a small band of fanatics demands total obedience to an oppressive ideology, condemns women to subservience, and marks unbelievers for murder. The other system is based on the conviction that freedom is the universal gift of Almighty God, and that liberty and justice light the path to peace.

I think he might be exaggerating a little bit about conservatives marking unbelievers for murder, but otherwise I think he’s spot on.

January 16th, 2009 at 09:45pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Afghanistan,Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Racism,Religion,Republicans,Sexism,Teh Gay,War

Joe The Plumber Author War Correspondent Strikes Again!

Joe The Whatever-He-Is-This-Week continues to be a humungous tool:

I’ll be honest with you.  I don’t think journalists should be [allowed anywhere near] war.  I mean, you guys report where our troops are at.  You report what’s happening day to day.  You make a big deal out of it.  I-I think it’s asinine.  You know, I liked back in World War I and World War II when you’d go to the theater and you’d see your troops on, you know, the screen and everyone would be real excited and happy for’em.  Now everyone’s got an opinion and wants to downer–and down soldiers.  You know, American soldiers or Israeli soldiers.  I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting.  You know, war is hell.  And if you’re gonna sit there and say, “Well look at this atrocity,” well you don’t know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it.

“Only cheerleaders and partisan hacks like me should ever be allowed to report or comment on wars.”

January 11th, 2009 at 07:34pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Foreign Policy,Media,Politics,Republicans,Wankers,War

Wingnut Logic

(Before I begin, let me just point out that I’m Jewish, so the proper epithet would be “self-hating” rather than “anti-semitic” – just wanted to clear that up in advance.)

Nazis killed Jews.
Hamas kills Jews.
Ergo, Hamas are just like the Nazis, and anyone who opposes Israel bombing Gaza into tiny bloody pieces is objectively pro-Nazi. (Because if there’s one thing the Nazis were known for, it was their excessive pacifism and compassion.)

I really do believe that this false equivalence is at least a piece of the psychology behind Israel’s Gaza policy and those who cheerlead for it – it’s a massive loss of perspective.

In the late 30s and early 40s, Nazi Germany was a heavily industrialized military power, and the Jews had no country, and no army – they were completely defenseless.  Today, the Jews have their own country and not just any army, but the fourth-most powerful military in the world.  They can defend themselves just fine now.

And Hamas and the Gazans?  They’re raggedy and starving, and their Wehrmacht is mostly rocks, light arms, and a few rockets.  Yes, they wish Israel ill, but they are not an existential threat.  (It’s probably also worth mentioning that the Jews in 30s and 40s Germany weren’t restricting the Nazis’ movements or food, much less bombing them.  The Nazis hated the Jews solely for being Jewish.)

But as long as Israel and their apologists can conflate Hamas with the Nazis, then no action against them can ever be excessive.  Bombs away!

2 comments January 8th, 2009 at 09:54pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Foreign Policy,Republicans,Wankers,War

Joe The Plumber Author War Correspondent

Joe The Plumber’s ongoing quest to become The King Of All Media continues…

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, aka “Joe the Plumber,” is taking on a new job as a war correspondent. He is heading to Israel to cover the war for the conservative site PJTV.com. Wurzelbacher said his 10-day journey will help explain why Israeli forces are mounting attacks against Hamas:

I get to go over there and let their “Average Joes” share their story, what they think, how they feel — especially with, you know, world opinion. Maybe get a real story out there.

Yes, I’m sure that with Joe’s l33t journalamism skills, he will surely come up with a scoop or two, if you define “scoop” as “a story that no-one else is reporting,” without imposing any conditions of accuracy or plausibility.  I wonder what kind of unique perspective he might bring to his original reporting…

Last October, Wurzelbacher claimed that Obama’s victory would mean “death to Israel,” leading Fox News reporter Shep Smith to call him “frightening.” Wurzelbacher also questioned Obama’s loyalty to the U.S., and has justified the invasion and occupation of Iraq by claiming “it’s like someone coming to Jesus and becoming saved.”

Yes, he sounds very objective.

This is either a classic case of wingnut welfare, or the GOP’s none-too-subtle attempt to get rid of him…

January 7th, 2009 at 09:15pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Republicans,Wankers,War

It’s On.

Holy crap.

Looks like Israel has decided to invade Gaza to try to take out Hamas once and for all, and too bad for anyone else who happens to be living there.  I guess they were inspired by how well our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq went, and how effective they were at neutralizing terrorism.  Because if there’s one thing we’ve proven, it’s that nothing succeeds like unchecked brutality, right?

Israel has fallen into a trap similar to the one the Bush administration fell into with al Qaeda: elevating their enemies into an existential threat.  Of course, in Israel’s case, Hamas is a democratically-elected government which actually showed some willingness to negotiate.  They are not al Qaeda, and they are not the second coming of Nazi Germany.

But if they weren’t implacable enemies of Israel before, I’m pretty sure they are now – and unlike al Qaeda and the U.S., they’re right next door. Violence will only beget more violence, and death will only beget more death.

Today is a sad and tragic day for Palestine, but the future will be sad and tragic for both Palestine and Israel.

3 comments January 3rd, 2009 at 02:15pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Afghanistan,Iraq,Terrorism,War

Support Our Mercs!

Hey, remember those American troops who indiscriminately opened fire on a bunch of innocent Iraqi civilians, killing 14 of them?  Oh, wait, they were Blackwater?  You’d never be able to tell from their defense team’s website:

Take a look at the homepage:

See all the references to Blackwater Worldwide?  Me neither.  All I see are the five seals of America’s Armed Forces and an image of the Marine Corps War Memorial.  Instead of this:

We see this:

(…)

See all those signature Blackwater goatees, baseball caps, and side arms?  Me neither.  I’m only seeing the photos of three marines and two soldiers.  So instead of this:

We see this:

(…)

What we have here is a move to elicit sympathy for the accused guards by painting them as patriotic soldiers and marines who were only doing their duties in Iraq.  We see their initial entry photos, deliberately intended to make them seem younger than they are, even though they’re now much older.  Even the father of one of the accused said he “can’t believe prosecutors are going after such decorated military veterans.”  In fact, every aspect of the portrayal makes it look as though soldiers and marines are going on trial here.  But they’re not.  Rather, these indictments were handed down to five highly-paid contractors who were working for Blackwater Worldwide on behalf of the U.S. State Department.  But they were in no way associated with the U.S. military.

(…)

These guys chose to fight in Iraq for a private company that offered them more money and looser grooming standards.  They left the more disciplined world of the Army or the Corps.  And that’s what they wanted.  That’s fine.  They just need to accept responsibility for the decision.

And they can start by leaving the military and its symbols out of this.  If working for Blackwater is such an honorable endeavor, then they should have no problem providing images of themselves operating in Iraq in the service of the State Department.  Instead of the Marine Corps War Memorial, we should see an image of the Blackwater bear paw.

The problem here is that if these guys are found guilty, because of the way their defense has rolled them out to the public, it’s going to reflect on the military.  And that’s not acceptable.  Because the military had nothing to do with this massacre.

What pisses me off is that by blurring the line, the defense team is trying to include Blackwater in the warm fuzzy glow of “supporting the troops,” even though they’re really highly paid mercenaries who are only in it for the money.

On the other hand, if they get the same kind of support our troops and veterans have been getting, maybe they’ll get what they deserve after all…

December 11th, 2008 at 09:20pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Republicans,Wankers,War

Supporting The Troops Fail

Once again, a couple of sterling examples of just how much our Republican government cares about our troops:

The military ignored steps before the invasion of Iraq that could have prevented the staggering number of casualties from roadside bombs, the Pentagon’s acting inspector general charged Tuesday.

The IG’s report says that the military knew years before the war that mines and homemade bombs, which the military calls “improvised explosive devices,” would be a “threat . . . in low-intensity conflicts” and that “mine-resistant vehicles” were available.

“Yet the military did not develop requirements for, fund or acquire” safer vehicles, the report says. The military invaded Iraq in 2003 “without having taken available steps to acquire technology to mitigate the known mine and IED risk to soldiers and Marines.”

Even after the war was under way, as the devices began taking a deadly toll and field commanders pressed for vehicles that were better protected from roadside bombs, the Pentagon was slow to act, the report says.

(…)

MRAPS are bigger and heavier than the Humvees that troops have used for patrols in Iraq. They’re higher off the ground and designed to deflect an explosion.

The IG report says that the military “stopped processing” a 2005 request for 1,169 MRAPS from commanders in the field. Another request came a year later, according to a letter from Bond and Biden to Gen. James Conway, the Marine commandant.

(…)

Gayl, a former Marine, said that “gross mismanagement” delayed the use of MRAPS in combat. Otherwise, he concluded, “hundreds of deaths and injuries could have been prevented.”

In a 2007 memo from Conway to Gen. Peter Pace, who was then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s top Marine said that MRAPS could cut IED casualties by 80 percent, according to Gayl.

…Or our veterans:

There was nothing dramatic about how Spc. Cristapher Zuetlau’s career in the Army came to an end: he stepped in a hole. But the damage to the tank crewman’s wrenched back was so brutal he can barely walk.

The Army agreed he was no longer fit to serve, but in doing so determined his disability was not severe enough to warrant long-term care by the military. That turned his health care over to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which left him with no retirement benefits and cut off his family from government health care.

Thousands of similar stories caused veterans advocates to protest that the military was manipulating disability ratings to save money, and Congress last year ordered the Pentagon to accept appeals from wounded and injured troops.

So far, officials have yet to examine a single case.

“Congress finally took action to give those troops a fair hearing, and now the Department of Defense is dragging its feet,” said Vanessa Williamson, the policy director at New York-based Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a veterans’ advocacy group. “Establishing the review board was clearly not the Department of Defense’s priority. And that’s a real shame.”

That’s our Bush administration: Supporting the troops as long as it’s not, y’know, too much trouble.

(h/t dakine)

December 10th, 2008 at 09:35pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Republicans,Wankers,War

Tell Me Why We Invaded Afghanistan Again?

We didn’t capture or kill bin Laden.  We didn’t destroy al Qaeda.  Oh, but at least we liberated the country from the Taliban, established democracy, and ended the oppression of women!  Eh, not so much…

The collapse of Afghanistan is closer than the world believes. Kandahar is in Taliban hands – all but a square mile at the centre of the city – and the first Taliban checkpoints are scarcely 15 miles from Kabul. Hamid Karzai’s deeply corrupted government is almost as powerless as the Iraqi cabinet in Baghdad’s “Green Zone”; lorry drivers in the country now carry business permits issued by the Taliban which operate their own courts in remote areas of the country.

The Red Cross has already warned that humanitarian operations are being drastically curtailed in ever larger areas of Afghanistan; more than 4,000 people, at least a third of them civilians, have been killed in the past 11 months, along with scores of Nato troops and about 30 aid workers. Both the Taliban and Mr Karzai’s government are executing their prisoners in ever greater numbers. The Afghan authorities hanged five men this month for murder, kidnap or rape – one prisoner, a distant relative of Mr Karzai, predictably had his sentence commuted – and more than 100 others are now on Kabul’s death row.

This is not the democratic, peaceful, resurgent, “gender-sensitive” Afghanistan that the world promised to create after the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. Outside the capital and the far north of the country, almost every woman wears the all-enshrouding burkha, while fighters are now joining the Taliban’s ranks from Kashmir, Uzbekistan, Chechnya and even Turkey….

(…)

Is it really the overriding ambition of Afghans to have “democracy”? Is a strong federal state possible in Afghanistan? Is the international community ready to take on the warlords and drug barons who are within Mr Karzai’s own government? And – most important of all – is development really about “securing the country”? The tired old American adage that “where the Tarmac ends, the Taliban begins” is untrue. The Taliban are mounting checkpoints on those very same newly-built roads.

(…)

“We” are not winning in Afghanistan. Talk of crushing the Taliban seems as bleakly unrealistic as it has ever been. Indeed, when the President of Afghanistan tries to talk to Mullah Omar – one of America’s principal targets in this wretched war – you know the writing is on the wall. And even Mullah Omar didn’t want to talk to Mr Karzai.

So… after our supposed victory, Karzai was effectively nothing more than the mayor of Kabul.  Now, 7 years later… Karzai is effectively nothing more than the mayor of Kabul.  I think the biggest change that we’ve effected in Afghanistan is to make its people hate us.  Bravo.

(h/t Elliott)

3 comments November 28th, 2008 at 07:13am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Afghanistan,War

What Bob Geiger Said.

You do not get to posture about how you support the troops and Democrats don’t, when you turn around and stab troops and veterans in the back every single chance you get.

Wankers.

November 11th, 2008 at 12:42pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Bush,Politics,Republicans,Wankers,War

Obama And The Arab Blogosphere

The NYT op-ed page has a fascinating selection of Arab blog reactions to Obama’s victory, ranging from Hooray for America to Big deal, America will still treat us like dirt:

Tamem, Egypt (tamem.wordpress.com)

The victory of Barack Hussein Obama that we, along with the rest of the world, are witnessing today is another historic moment, not just for America but for the whole world by virtue of America’s huge influence, whether we like it or not. Personally I, like others, doubted Americans’ ability to overcome racism, but in electing “Abu Hussein,” they created a historic moment by accepting the first black president to govern not just America but the white West as a whole. With this, they removed all such doubts and the impossible dream of Martin Luther King became possible.

Syrian Dream, Syria (syriandream.com)

The world arose today to welcome Barack Obama as the first black president of the United States, and Africa danced with joy.

The whole world is optimistic about what he offers but doubts remain about him, a great question mark.

What will Syria’s fate be under him? Will he give the green light to bombing us?

(…)

Esra’a, Bahrain (mideastyouth.com)

I can honestly say that we can finally wave goodbye to the overwhelming anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bigotry that we have suffered with for the past eight years under the Bush administration. We can expect less wars, less corruption, less political abuse. It won’t be perfect, but it will get better. I am so happy and proud of all the Americans who worked extremely hard for Obama, understanding fully well the importance of change in every sense of the word. This moment is not just historical but crucial to us here in the Middle East.

This is a win for all of us, not just America.

This is a win for civil rights and justice.

For all the pessimists out there, allow us to enjoy this moment. If you learned anything from this campaign, you would learn that it starts with hope — not cynicism. And hope is what I have right now, for America and the Middle East.

We can do it, and this time, we can be sure that we can do it together.

I haven’t said this in a really long time, but I am loving America right now.

(…)

Mashrabeya, Egypt (mashrabeya.blogspot.com)

Only time would tell if Obama is real, or just too good to be true!

Sometimes, it is not enough to have a Big Dream. What matters is to have enough strength to resist the pressures to give up a Big Dream!

Land and People, Lebanon (landandpeople.blogspot.com)

My take on this is that he is the president of the United States, and not Barack Obama. That said, I would really like to hope for change. After all, Obama showed that change was possible: he himself changed from a supporter of Palestinian rights into a man who believes that Jerusalem is the historic capital of Israel. He also changed during his campaign from “No Iraq war for me please, I’m trying to quit” into “All right I’ll have some, but a tiny piece please.”

(…)

But the question that really interests me is about the relationship between Obama and the true center of world power, Kapital. There was an awful lot of money in Obama’s campaign … A great chunk must have come from carefully planned investments by C.E.O.’s and multinationals. Will Obama be able to confront the mega-corporations? Does he want to? The poor and the colored population of the world, including that of the U.S., is the one that suffers most from malnutrition and hunger and food insecurity. We know now that mega-corporations, pushing for more profit at any cost, are responsible for most of the damage. Will Obama do something about that? Does he want to? Can he?

An Arab Woman Blues, Iraq (arabwomanblues.blogspot.com)

(…)

I also said that Obama will strike a deal with Ahmadinejad on Iraq and in particular southern Iraq.

And lo and behold, the vice president for the booma Obama is none other than J. Biden. J. Biden, the Zionist, is an ardent supporter of the partition of Iraq into three statelets. No wonder Maliki & Co. were also backing the booma along with Iran. I also know that Iran had generously contributed to the Obama campaign.

… I shall not congratulate you on your 44th president. He will simply finish off what the other Zionists had started — the final partition of my country.

To hell with all of you and all of your presidents.

Neurotic Iraqi Wife, Iraq (neurotic-iraqi-wife.blogspot.com)

For me, this is not just about history, this is about someone who was able to bring down the very people that broke my country. It’s a great punch to the very people that destroyed the individual Iraqi. And that to me is an enough victory.

I will only have to say to Mr. Obama, don’t let us down.

There’s a lot of hope, but also a lot of well-earned bitterness and cynicism.  I think the reality is probably going to be somewhere in the middle.  I don’t think Obama will stray outside the bounds of our historical Middle East foreign policy, but he also won’t be nearly as callous or malevolent towards Arabs and Muslims as his predecessor.

It won’t be The Dawning Of A Brand New Day in American foreign policy, but at least we won’t be trying to rule by fear and gratuitous violence.  Who knows, we might even stop bombing weddings.

November 8th, 2008 at 09:10pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Elections,Foreign Policy,Iran,Iraq,Obama,War

Sarah Palin Outs The Republican Party

I knew it!

She continued: “And there must be something about San Francisco and he because it’s like I heard on Fox News today, it’s like a truth serum where when he’s there, he seems to be more candid, and remember it was there that he talked about, there you go, the bitter clingers, the cling-ons, all of us, I guess, you know holding on to religion and guns and, um, so something about he being there in San Francisco.”

It sure would explain their foreign policy, although not their complete lack of courage or honor.

(h/t Blue Texan)

November 3rd, 2008 at 07:49pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Foreign Policy,Iran,Iraq,Palin,Politics,Republicans,War

Surprise!

Okay, so let me get this straight: 9 days before the election, our military sends four helicopters into Syria to shoot up a bunch of construction workers?

Does that sound at all… suspicious to anyone?  Like maybe the Bushies want everyone talking shiny new war instead of economic meltdown?

Although it’s probably a tossup at best whether this would actually help McCain or any other Republicans – I think most Americans are pretty damn sick of the Bush Doctrine.

October 26th, 2008 at 04:35pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Elections,Foreign Policy,Politics,Republicans,War

Do Veterans Groups Have A Golden Raspberry?

In case you’re not familiar with it, the “Razzie” is awarded to the worst movies, actors, and directors every year.  I wonder if veterans groups have anything similar – it would be the only possible explanation for this:

Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) held a telephone town hall meeting, in which “thousands” of Nevadans — according to the McCain campaign — called to listen in. Among some of the hostile, pointed, and critical questions came one from a veteran, who challenged McCain on his voting record regarding funding for the Veterans Administration and veterans’ priorities:

Q: I know you voted for lesser increases, and sometimes they were so much less, and our VA desperately needs the money. Can you tell me why you would vote for less money for the VA when there’s a war going on?

M: Well of course I have not and I’m afraid I’ve been endorsed by the VFW in every election that I’ve been in. I have been — received the honors, the highest honor and awards from all our veterans organizations for my consistent support of them. I don’t know what you’re looking at, but the DAV, the VFW, the American Legion, all of them have given me their highest awards for my consistent support of them.

As ThinkProgress has repeatedly documented, McCain is either willfully lying or he is delusional about his record — and the meaning of “highest awards.” In fact, McCain has recently stood on the opposite side of all three of the groups he mentioned:

Disabled American Veterans (DAV): In a list of 36 “key votes,” shows McCain “Voted Against Us” 16 times. (Obama “Voted With Us” 17 times, and against only once.)

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW): Endorsed Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-VA) GI Bill that McCain vigorously opposed; called McCain’s alternative GI Bill “very partisan” and said they “didn’t have much input” in its crafting.

American Legion: Endorsed Webb’s GI Bill and criticized McCain’s concern about how it would affect retention, saying the bill “would encourage young men and women to join the military.”

Just last week, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave McCain a grade of D for his record of voting against veterans. (Obama got a B.) The Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) have noted that in its “Key Votes,” McCain “Voted Against Us” 15 times and “Voted For Us” only 8. (Obama voted for VVA 12 times, and against only once.)

Earlier this month, Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX), a leading veterans advocate, excoriated McCain in an interview with ThinkProgress: “If you look at John McCain’s record on veterans issues, it’s a failed one.” It’s a sentiment IAVA executive director Paul Rieckhoff agrees with. Noting McCain’s dismal voting record on VA funding, Rieckhoff told ThinkProgress, “If he says the VA’s not working, it’s in part because he hasn’t funded it properly.”

Maybe it’s enough just to say that you support veterans.  The “Republicans support the troops and the Democrats don’t” meme has always mystified me, especially when it comes to veterans, who Republicans consistently screw over – even the ones who are veterans themselves.

2 comments October 20th, 2008 at 09:33pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,McCain,Wankers,War

What Worries Lieberman

Joe Lieberman’s worldview in a nutshell:

ASHLEY MARTELLA: Alirght, Iran has sworn to exterminate Israel as well as attack the United States. Does Barack Obama have the right stuff to bomb Iran if it came to that level?

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN: Well, I worry about that. I worry that Sen. Obama’s world view is naive. Sen. McCain has been around awhile. He’s learned some things. I’ve traveled the world with him a lot. He’s, he will be the kind of president who our allies will trust, but who our enemies will fear. And in a dangerous world, al Qaeda, Iran, Iran trying to get a nuclear weapons, we want a president who our enemies will fear. I don’t believe that Sen. Obama will be that kind of president.

I share Lieberman’s faith that John McCain has the right stuff to bomb Iran, so much so that he wouldn’t even need a reason.  Only I don’t think that that’s a good thing.

October 9th, 2008 at 07:32am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Foreign Policy,Iran,Lieberman,McCain,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Wankers,War

Instant Karma

See if you can spot the irony:

He met her in the bar of the swank hotel and invited her to his room. Once there, the woman fixed the drinks and told him to get undressed.

And that, the delegate to the Republican National Convention told police, was the last thing he remembered.

When he awoke, the woman was gone, as was more than $120,000 in money, jewelry and other belongings.

(…)

In a statement released today, Gabriel Nathan Schwartz, 29, of Denver, put the figure at much less.

“It’s embarrassing to admit that I was a target of a crime. I was drugged and had about $50,000 of personal items stolen, not the inflated number that the media is reporting from an inaccurate police report,” he said.

“As a single man, I was flattered by the attention of a beautiful woman who introduced herself to me. I used poor judgment.”

(…)

The haul included a $30,000 watch, a $20,000 ring, a necklace valued at $5,000, earrings priced at $4,000 and a Prada belt valued at $1,000, police said.

(Poor judgment?  By a Republican?  That’s unpossible!)  Now here’s the beauty part:

During the convention, Schwarz wasn’t shy about talking to the media. In an Associated Press article about Sen. John McCain’s acceptance speech, Schwartz was quoted as saying that as far as oratorical skills go, McCain “has more experience in his little pinkie” than Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

In an interview filmed the afternoon of Sept. 3 and posted on the Web site LinkTV.org, Schwartz was candid about how he envisioned change under a McCain presidency.

“Less taxes and more war,” he said, smiling. He said the U.S. should “bomb the hell” out of Iran because the country threatens Israel.

Asked by the interviewer how America would pay for a military confrontation with Iran, he said the U.S. should take the country’s resources.

“We should plant a flag. Take the oil, take the money,” he said. “We deserve reimbursement.”

A few hours after the interview, an unknown woman helped herself to Schwartz’s resources.

It is so refreshing to see one of these Grand Theft Auto Conservatives get a taste of his own ideology.

(h/t Blue Texan)

September 16th, 2008 at 06:48pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Iran,Republicans,Wankers,War

Even Republicans Starting To Notice Bin Laden Still At Large Seven Years Later

Michael Smerconish is not exactly what you’d call a moderate Republican, but he’s apparently so obsessed with bin Laden and Zawahiri that he’s actually noticed that Dubya hasn’t done squat to catch either of them:

Where the hell are Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri? And why does virtually no one ask anymore? … And what happened to President Bush’s declaration to a joint session of Congress nine days after 9/11 that “any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” Doesn’t that apply to Pakistan?

These are things that I wonder as I watch from my perch in Philadelphia, where I’m a talk show host, columnist and MSNBC talking head…. On the day after the Pennsylvania primary, I told Chris Matthews on “Hardball” that this was an issue that could help Barack Obama win support among white male voters; he recognized that it was “[my] issue,” before adding, “And I agree with you completely.”

I can’t help myself. So strong is my belief that we’ve failed in our responsibility to 3,000 dead Americans that I am contemplating voting for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in my life. It’s the chronology I find so compelling.

We’re at the seven-year anniversary of 9/11, lacking not only closure with regard to the two top al-Qaida leaders but also public discourse about any plan to bring them to justice. To me, that suggests a continuation of what I perceive to be the Bush administration’s outsourcing of this responsibility at great cost to a government with limited motivation to get the job done. Of course, I may be wrong; I have no inside information. And I’d love to be proven in error by breaking news of their capture or execution. But published accounts paint an intriguing and frustrating picture.

To begin, bin Laden is presumed to have been in Afghanistan on 9/11 and to have fled that nation during the battle at Tora Bora in December of 2001. Gary Berntsen, who was the CIA officer in charge on the ground, told me that his request for Army Rangers to prevent bin Laden’s escape into Pakistan was denied, and sure enough, that’s where bin Laden went. Then came a period when the Bush administration was supposed to be pressing the search through means it couldn’t share publicly. But as time went by with no capture, the signs became more troubling.

(…)

More than one [military] individual with whom I spoke… raised with me the question of what would happen to public support for the war against radical Islam if we were to find and kill bin Laden and al-Zawahiri. They wanted to know: Would the American people then expect the military to pack up and go home? No one ever told me that we’re not hunting bin Laden because killing him would cause Americans to want to close up shop in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it was absolutely on the minds of our warriors as support for the war in Iraq dissipated.

(…)

The Bush administration’s failure to orchestrate a successful counterterrorism plan — one topped off with justice for Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri — has left me embarrassed of my party and angry. The oft-repeated explanations of the search being nuanced or covering difficult terrain should have worn thin long ago.

(…)

Put quite simply, the support for this failed policy is driving me to the edge of my long Republican career. And despite never pulling a lever for a Democratic presidential candidate, I believe the election this November will present the chance to relieve this country of the conventional wisdom that President Bush has offered for seven years and Sen. McCain appears resigned to advance: that President Musharraf was a friend who did what he could to prevent Pakistan from defaulting toward further extremism; that the hunt for Osama bin Laden is nuanced and U.S. forces are doing everything they can to find him; and that the war in Iraq is a necessary one that hasn’t distracted from the fight against those who perpetrated and planned 9/11.

That wisdom has been proven unequivocally wrong.

The kicker? We, the taxpayers, are footing the bill for this negligence. According to a June 25, 2008, article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, a GAO report showed that nearly $2 billion given in aid to Pakistan was spent improperly. The article states:

“‘For a large number of claims, Defense did not obtain sufficient documentation from Pakistan to verify that claimed costs were incremental, actually incurred or correctly calculated,’ the report concluded. ‘It seems as though the Pakistani military went on a spending spree with American taxpayers’ wallets and no one bothered to investigate the charges,’ said Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. ‘How hard would it have been to confirm that a road we paid $15 million for was ever built?'”

(…)

While candidates talk, the dismaying story continues. A recent report from the New York Times in July 2008 suggested that the CIA might not even be receiving proper intelligence on the al-Qaida problem in Pakistan: “The C.I.A. has depended heavily on the ISI for information about militants in Pakistan, despite longstanding concerns about divided loyalties within the Pakistani spy service, which had close relations with the Taliban in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11 attacks. That ISI officers have maintained important ties to anti-American militants has been the subject of previous reports in The New York Times. But the C.I.A. and the Bush administration have generally sought to avoid criticism of Pakistan, which they regard as a crucial ally in the fight against terrorism.” It was reported two days later that officers from this same intelligence service played a role in the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 7, 2008, which left 54 people dead.

(…)

Seven years after 9/11, the country is stoking what was supposed to be a complete and consuming “war on terror” with faint signs of a sustained operation in the country where the bad guys have been hiding for years.

How appalling. I doubt the families of the 3,000 innocents murdered on 9/11 — and of the 4,000 Americans killed in Iraq — are content with it. After all, it’s seven years, thousands of troops and billions of dollars later, and our country has failed to deliver on what we really owe them: justice.

Smerconish is primarily beating the drum for a more aggressive stance towards Pakistan, which he is correct in depicting as… less than helpful in the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban.  Unlike Bush and McCain, Obama has recognized that an “ally” who cuts deals with your enemies and provides them sanctuary is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Obama has actually advocated for a more aggressive and unilateral approach than Bush or McCain, who were both perfectly content to rely on the good faith of Musharraf and the ISI despite the abundant evidence of its nonexistence.  If anything, Obama’s approach is probably too aggressive, but I suspect that his worst instincts would be reined in by congressional Republicans with a newfound respect for sovereignty and multilateralism.  Maybe he could adopt my idea of threatening to take away all of Pakistan’s aid money… and redirect it to India.

Seven years and counting, and we’re no closer to catching bin Laden.  And it is for lack of trying.  My only question is whether it’s simple incompetence, or whether, as Smerconish suggests, that it’s because the Republicans don’t want to lose their boogeyman.

3 comments September 11th, 2008 at 11:52am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Elections,McCain,Media,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Terrorism,War

Irony Continues To Be Dead

If it were almost anyone else, I would be amazed that he could say this with a straight face:

Vice President Dick Cheney, in the sharpest U.S. criticism of Russia since its brief war with Georgia, on Saturday accused Moscow of reverting to old tactics of intimidation and using “brute force.”

(…)

“This chain of aggressive moves and diplomatic reversals has only intensified the concern that many have about Russia’s larger objectives,” Cheney said.

“For brutality against a neighbor is simply the latest in a succession of troublesome and unhelpful actions by the Russian government.”

(…)

“At times it appears Russian policy is based upon the desire to impose its will on countries it once dominated, instead of any balanced assessment of security interests,” Cheney said in his prepared remarks.

He noted that a senior Russian military official threatened Poland with attack over its involvement in the missile defense system. “That is no way for a responsible power to conduct itself,” Cheney said.

“And it reflects the discredited notion that any country can claim an exclusive zone of authority, to be held together by muscle and threats,” he said.

“That is the old thinking,” Cheney said. “The old ways are gone, and the Cold War is over.”

Russia’s leaders should consider whether “bullying others will turn out well for their country’s future” and whether Moscow wants to “operate in the modern world as an outsider,” he said.

“Russia’s leaders cannot have things both ways,” Cheney said. “They cannot presume to gather up all the benefits of commerce, consultation, and global prestige, while engaging in brute force, threats, or other forms of intimidation against sovereign countries.”

I guess it’s only okay to threaten or invade countries that are really far away.

September 6th, 2008 at 02:04pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Iraq,Wankers,War

With Us On Everything Except The War

Pachacutec calls them on it:

We’ve been hearing from the Senate leadership since 2006 that Joe Lieberman is “with us on everything but the war.” We asked Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin to offer an example a piece of critical legislation the Senate had passed with Joe Lieberman’s assistance. The role of the Majority Whip is to count caucus votes and enforce party voting discipline.

Senator Durbin pointedly declined to answer the question and characterized it as illegitimate, ultimately putting his hand in front of the camera and asking me to account for my whereabouts and clothing as of three o’clock yesterday afternoon, as an example of – from his perspective – putting someone on the spot unfairly.

I’m not so sure he’s used to answering questions from people who do … journalism.

Putting him on the spot unfairly?  If Lieberman is with us on everything except the war, then all Durbin had to do is think of one vote about something other than the war.  Surely he should be able to do that in his sleep, right?

I mean, unless it’s total bullshit, of course.

August 28th, 2008 at 10:17pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Democrats,Iraq,Lieberman,Politics,Republicans,Wankers,War

Dubya Vs. Veterans, Part 342

For all their outraged shrieking about how liberals don’t support the troops (because, apparently, the only thing troops want is neverending war), has their ever been a president or party more openly hostile to troops and veterans than Dubya and today’s GOP?  I guess the veterans must have noticed:

On May 5, the department led by James B. Peake issued a directive that bans nonpartisan voter registration drives at federally financed nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and shelters for homeless veterans. As a result, too many of our most patriotic American citizens — our injured and ill military veterans — may not be able to vote this November.

(…)

There are thousands of veterans of wars in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and the current campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan who are isolated behind the walls of V.A. hospitals and nursing homes across the country. We have an obligation to make sure that every veteran has the opportunity to make his or her voice heard at the ballot box.

Connecticut’s attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, and I wrote to Secretary Peake in July to request that elections officials be let inside the department’s facilities to conduct voter education and registration. Our request was denied.

The department offers two reasons to justify its decision. First, it claims that voter registration drives are disruptive to the care of its patients. This is nonsense. Veterans can fill out a voter registration card in about 90 seconds.

Second, the department claims that its employees cannot help patients register to vote because the Hatch Act forbids federal workers from engaging in partisan political activities. But this interpretation of the Hatch Act is erroneous. Registering people to vote is not partisan activity.

If the department does not want to burden its staff, there are several national organizations with a long history of nonpartisan advocacy for veterans and their right to vote that are eager to help, as are elected officials like me.

The department has placed an illegitimate obstacle in the way of election officials across the country and, more important, in the way of veterans who want to vote. A group of 21 secretaries of state — Republicans and Democrats throughout the country, led by me and my counterpart in Washington State, Sam Reed — has asked Secretary Peake to lift his department’s ridiculous ban on voter registration drives.

(…)

The federal government should be doing everything it can to support our nation’s veterans who have served us so courageously. There can be no justification for any barrier that impedes the ability of veterans to participate in democracy’s most fundamental act, the vote.

Yes, that’s right, the Bush administration is using the most transparently flimsy and dishonest of excuses to make it difficult, if not impossible, for elderly and disabled veterans to vote.  It’s like Starship Troopers (where only soldiers and veterans are allowed to vote) turned upside down.

Again, I ask for someone to please explain to me how Republicans are the party of Supporting Our Troops.  I’m pretty sure that yellow ribbons, flag lapel pins, and the occasional stage-managed surprise visit just don’t cut it.

August 11th, 2008 at 06:33pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Elections,Republicans,Wankers,War

When Will Reality Be Post-Partisan?

Marty Kaplan points out the sad reality of our time:

Ron Suskind’s new book reports that in 2003, the White House ordered the CIA to forge a letter to “prove” that Iraq had a hand in 9/11 and that Saddam was buying yellowcake uranium from Niger for his WMD program with the help of Al Qaeda.

When this came up on MSNBC, moderator Chuck Todd asked Politico’s Mike Allen whether this would lead “the anti-war crowd” in Congress to call for impeachment. Allen replied that it would “give the lefty blogosphere something to grab onto.”

And so, in less time than it takes to say “Dick Cheney,” the subject is changed from what would be one of the most outrageous violations of the Constitution in the history of the Republic to a left/right issue. Instead of taking a breath to consider the merits and consequences of Suskind’s charges, MSNBC’s It’s-Always-Super-Tuesday-Over-Here reframing machine instantly transforms a shocking allegation about the abuse of power into a piece of political football, a tactic, an occasion for the players in the grand political theater that cable news says Washington really is to assume their designated roles, like a Punch and Judy show.

…If the White House asked the CIA to cook up this disinformation aimed at the American people, why shouldn’t the righty blogosphere, too, be up in arms? Why doesn’t every American, regardless of political party, have a stake in the truth and the rule of law?

…Unfortunately, the closest that the MSM usually comes to weighing the evidence is saying: Ron Suskind charges X, and the White House denies it. This is what is now called reporting.

Every time the Bush administration gets caught breaking the law, conservative pundits and bloggers are either excusing it or pretending that it never happened.  Never do they say, “Okay, yeah, they’re on my team, but this really is so far beyond the pale as to be despicable and criminal.”  It just doesn’t happen.  (They do slam BushCo. with that kind of hyperbole sometimes, but it’s usually for stuff like trying to compromise on immigration or negotiate with North Korea.)

When did reality become so irrelevant to our discourse?  Was it just during the Bush administration, or during the Clinton administration, or has it always been like that and I just never noticed it?

August 6th, 2008 at 10:40pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Media,Republicans,Terrorism,Wankers,War

Bush Administration Objectively Pro-Rape

This is utterly disgusting, yet so true to form for the Bush administration.  Apparently “support our troops” only applies to male ones – or perhaps this is a passive-aggressive Republican strategy to get women out of the military:

There was quite a struggle in Congress this week. The Department of Defense refused to allow the senior civilian in charge of its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) to testify in Thursday’s hearing on sexual assault in the military. Rep. John Tierney, chair of the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, angrily dismissed Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Michael Dominguez from the hearing when Dominguez said that he, the DoD chief of legislative affairs and the chief of public affairs, had ordered Dr. Kaye Whitley, chief of SAPRO, to refuse to honor the subpoena issued by the subcommittee for her appearance.

Full committee Chairman Henry Waxman called the DoD’s decision to prevent Whitley from testifying “ridiculous and indicating DoD is covering something up.” It could also place Whitley in contempt of Congress. Rep. Christopher Shays said the DoD’s decision was “foolish.”

One of the questions that would have been put to Whitley was why DoD had taken three years to name a 15-person civilian task force to look into allegations of sexual assault of military personnel. The panel was finally named early in 2008 but has yet to meet. She would have also been queried on the SAPRO program’s failure to require key information from the military in order to evaluate the effectiveness of sexual assault prevention and response programs.

(…)

Rep. Jane Harman cited Veterans Administration statistics that one in three women in the military has been sexually assaulted. She said the prosecution rate of those accused of raping fellow military service members is abysmally low. Of the 2,212 reported rapes in the military in 2007, only 8 percent of the cases ended in court-martial of the perpetrator, while the rate of prosecution in civilian courts is 40 percent.

(…)

Rep. Shays said he had no confidence in DoD or the military services and their policies of prevention of sexual assault, and asked how recruiting will fare when young women learn that one in three women is sexually assaulted and when young men find out that one in 10 men is raped while in the military.

Recruitment of rapists would certainly improve…

VetVoice wants to know where Bob Gates is:

Now, granted, Gates is a busy man with competing priorities–and two ongoing wars.  So maybe this hasn’t crossed his desk yet.  Maybe this is an issue that hasn’t risen above the Undersecretary level yet.  But if it hasn’t, it needs to.

This type of conduct by the Defense Department is despicable, and it’s indicative of a Presidential administration that has no respect for the American people or their elected Representatives.  Congressmen Tierney and Waxman should not only hold Deputy Undersecretary Dominguez in contempt, but they should subpoena Secretary Gates on this one.  As Congressman Waxman said, this is “ridiculous.”

(…)

With three female troops having been murdered this year stateside, and with the long list of rapes and suspected murders in theater, it’s clear that something needs to be done.  And what the Defense Department is doing now is far worse than simply ignoring the problem: They’re actively attempting to obstruct Congress from investigating it.

Many of us have been pleased with the moderate (non-neo-con) stances Secretary Gates has taken since he assumed the role from Rumsfeld over a year and a half ago.  But now he must step up and show the leadership that the troops and their families expect of him.  He needs to rectify this situation.  And quickly.

If he doesn’t, he will show that the Defense Department has no respect for its female troops, and, more importantly, that he’s going to allow murderers and rapists to sully the name and reputation of America’s Armed Forces. And no one wants to join an organization like that.

Here’s what I said about Gates during his confirmation hearing:

The thing is, while yes, Rummy was incompetent and awful, most of what went wrong with Iraq was dictated from above. If we venture for a moment into Magical Sugarplum Fantasyland and imagine that The Donald was the smartest, most competent SecDef in the history of all the universes, and told Dubya that his plan was Teh Suck, and refused to invade without a better plan, our clueless leader would have immediately shitcanned him and replaced him with Harriet Miers, or Joe Lieberman, or Jeff “Bulldog” Gannon, or Ryan Seacrest DSV.

In other words, the Defense Secretary does not set the Iraq policy; he merely executes it (or tortures it, as the circumstances require). It really doesn’t matter whether Gates has a plan for Iraq or not. Bush will do What Bush Wants To Do, which will inevitably be the most foolhardy and disastrous course possible.

Replacing the SecDef is all well and good, but we won’t have any chance of a least-bad outcome until we replace his boss.

In other words, I’m not convinced that Gates is responsible for this disgraceful rape-and-murder-enabling coverup – I would not be at all surprised if he were just following orders from the most secretive and amoral administration in American history.  Still, Gates isn’t resigning in protest, so his hands are not exactly clean either.

9 comments August 4th, 2008 at 10:19pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Republicans,Sexism,War

Casus Belli Dancing

Hey, remember when we learned that before the Iraqupation, Dubya suggested painting a U2 spyplane with UN colors and trying to bait Saddam into shooting at it, thus providing a clear-cut case for war? (Never mind the fact that the UN would be well aware that it wasn’t their plane that got shot out – remember who we’re talking about here.)

Well, now Seymour Hersh says that Cheney’s staff talked about going him one better to start his much-coveted war with Iran.  Not satisfied to rely on Iran to be foolish enough to fire the first shot, this plan required no Iranian participation whatsoever!

There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up. Might cost some lives.

(…)

Look, is it high school? Yeah. Are we playing high school with you know 5,000 nuclear warheads in our arsenal? Yeah we are. We’re playing, you know, who’s the first guy to run off the highway with us and Iran.

Actually, I’m pretty sure that the game of Chicken requires two willing participants.

And, of course, as Drum points out in referring back to the U2 plane plan:

In the end, of course, we didn’t do this. We just didn’t bother with any pretext at all.

Pretext is for sissies.

July 31st, 2008 at 09:48pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Iran,Iraq,Republicans,Wankers,War

I Realize That… Now.

This just in: Military action not the best way to combat terrorism:

The United States can defeat al-Qaida if it relies less on force and more on policing and intelligence to root out the terror group’s leaders, a new study contends.

“Keep in mind that terrorist groups are not eradicated overnight,” said the study by the federally funded Rand research center, an organization that counsels the Pentagon.

Its report said that the use of military force by the United States or other countries should be reserved for quelling large, well-armed and well-organized insurgencies, and that American officials should stop using the term “war on terror” and replace it with “counterterrorism.”

Wow, no kidding.  I seem to recall John Kerry being ridiculed for saying this in 2004, and I seem to recall Bill Clinton being ridiculed for practicing it prior to 2001.

So how’s Dubya’s completely-ignore-terrorism-then-start-invading-people strategy working out for us, then?

(h//t Phoenix Woman)

1 comment July 29th, 2008 at 07:11am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Bush,Iraq,Republicans,Terrorism,Wankers,War

Juxtaposition Of The Day

From the Washington Post:

The Air Force’s top leadership sought for three years to spend counterterrorism funds on “comfort capsules” to be installed on military planes that ferry senior officers and civilian leaders around the world, with at least four top generals involved in design details such as the color of the capsules’ carpet and leather chairs, according to internal e-mails and budget documents.

(…)

Air Force documents spell out how each of the capsules is to be “aesthetically pleasing and furnished to reflect the rank of the senior leaders using the capsule,” with beds, a couch, a table, a 37-inch flat-screen monitor with stereo speakers, and a full-length mirror.

(…)

Air Force officials say the program dates from a 2006 decision by Air Force Gen. Duncan J. McNabb that existing seats on transport planes, including some that match those on commercial airliners, may be fine for airmen and troops but inadequate for the top brass….

And from the NYT:

Shoddy electrical work by private contractors on United States military bases in Iraq is widespread and dangerous, causing more deaths and injuries from fires and shocks than the Pentagon has acknowledged, according to internal Army documents.

During just one six-month period — August 2006 through January 2007 — at least 283 electrical fires destroyed or damaged American military facilities in Iraq, including the military’s largest dining hall in the country, documents obtained by The New York Times show. Two soldiers died in an electrical fire at their base near Tikrit in 2006, the records note, while another was injured while jumping from a burning guard tower in May 2007.

And while the Pentagon has previously reported that 13 Americans have been electrocuted in Iraq, many more have been injured, some seriously, by shocks, according to the documents. A log compiled earlier this year at one building complex in Baghdad disclosed that soldiers complained of receiving electrical shocks in their living quarters on an almost daily basis.

Electrical problems were the most urgent noncombat safety hazard for soldiers in Iraq, according to an Army survey issued in February 2007. It noted “a safety threat theaterwide created by the poor-quality electrical fixtures procured and installed, sometimes incorrectly, thus resulting in a significant number of fires.”

The Army report said KBR, the Houston-based company that is responsible for providing basic services for American troops in Iraq, including housing, did its own study and found a “systemic problem” with electrical work.

But the Pentagon did little to address the issue until a Green Beret, Staff Sgt. Ryan D. Maseth, was electrocuted in January while showering. His death, caused by poor electrical grounding, drew the attention of lawmakers and Pentagon leaders after his family pushed for answers. Congress and the Pentagon’s inspector general have begun investigations, and this month senior Army officials ordered electrical inspections of all buildings in Iraq maintained by KBR.

(…)

Since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, tens of thousands of American troops have been housed in Iraqi buildings that date from the Saddam Hussein era. KBR and other contractors have been paid millions of dollars to repair and upgrade the buildings, including their electrical systems. KBR officials say they handle the maintenance for 4,000 structures and an additional 35,000 containers used as housing in the war zone.

The reports of shoddy electrical work have raised new questions about the Bush administration’s heavy reliance on contractors in Iraq, particularly because they come after other high-profile disputes involving KBR. They include accusations of overbilling, providing unsafe water to soldiers and failing to protect female employees who were sexually assaulted.

Officials say the administration contracted out so much work in Iraq that companies like KBR were simply overwhelmed by the scale of the operations. Some of the electrical work, for example, was turned over to subcontractors, some of which hired unskilled Iraqis who were paid only a few dollars a day.

Government officials responsible for contract oversight, meanwhile, were also unable to keep up, so that unsafe electrical work was not challenged by government auditors.

Several electricians who worked for KBR have said previously in interviews that they repeatedly warned KBR managers and Pentagon and military officials about unsafe electrical work. They said that supervisors had ignored their concerns or, in some cases, lacked the training to understand the problems.

So, to sum up: The Pentagon spares no expense to make sure Air Force generals can fly anywhere in the lap of luxury, but can’t be bothered to ensure that Army grunts don’t get electrocuted in the shower.  Fantastic.  That should do wonders for morale.

So tell me again which troops it is we’re supposed to be supporting? ‘Cuz it seems like there might be some kind of minimum rank requirement.

July 18th, 2008 at 07:19am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Republicans,Wankers,War

Foreign Policy Wisdom

No-one could have possibly anticipated…

Jim Dobbins – A man who has just a bit of history of dealing with some pretty bad guys and doing it effectively – then chimed in arguing that the whole idea that blatant military threats had to be a part of effective negotiations was simply ahistorical.  He argued that we never used military threats when negotiating with the Russians or Chinese during the Cold War.  We just made clear what our redlines were and that worked pretty well, but we never in negotiations actually threatened them.  He then said that in his forty year career he had negotiated with Soviet Apparatchiks, Afghan warlords, Somali warlords, Serbs and Bosnians.  He found that when explicit military threats were part of the negotiations the negotiations would fail. So we should just stick the military threat back in the drawer.  The Iranians know it’s there.  We don’t need to waive it in their face.

Gee, who ever would have thought that threatening people would make them less receptive.  Crazy, innit.

June 12th, 2008 at 07:24pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iran,War

Supporting The Troops… Dubya-Style

Yeah, Dubya loves the troops so much that he’s using them as hostages…

President Bush is threatening the lives of American troops if Congress doesn’t give him the money he wants for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan….  The Commander-in-Chief  has also pledged to stop paying troops in combat if America’s wallet isn’t handed over straightaway.

From The Hill:

Bush said that if Congress does not act promptly, “critical accounts at the Department of Defense will soon run dry.” He added that civilian employees may face “temporary layoffs,” and the Pentagon would be forced to “close down a vital program that is getting potential insurgents off the streets and into jobs.” If the supplemental spending bill is not enacted after July, Bush said, the department would “no longer be able to pay our troops,” including ones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I just want to be clear about two points:

1. Insurgents kill Americans.  So when the President says that the Pentagon would be forced to “close down” a program that gets “potential insurgents off the streets,” he’s really saying that he’ll deliberately allow the threat to American troops in Iraq increase if he doesn’t get his money.  He’s playing chicken with Congress at the expense of American lives in Iraq.  Make no mistake about it: More insurgents on the streets would lead to more American deaths.

(…)

2. Bush is also threatening to stop paying troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This is funny, because I don’t hear him threatening to cut the contracts of Halliburton, Blackwater, SAIC, and DynCorp–and thus cutting their employees’ inflated salaries.

This is a clear indication that the Bush administration is more loyal to contractors than to soldiers. When forced to cut spending, Bush would rather starve members of the Armed Forces than cut the exorbitant pay checks given to those who work for privatized military companies.

Impeachment is too late at this point, but there’s no reason that this appalling behavior shouldn’t be hung around John McCain’s neck–thus ensuring that the betrayal of the American military doesn’t extend past January 2009.

At the very least, Obama needs to put McCain on the spot and force him to either repudiate Bush on this and pledge that he would never make these kinds of threats if he became president.  Either McCain helps pressure Dubya to abandon this stance, or he clings to him and destroys what’s left of his own pro-troop, independent-from-Dubya reputation even further (opposing the new GI Bill really didn’t help).

True, it’d be giving McCain an opportunity to score some points at Dubya’s expense, but I don’t think he’d take it.

2 comments June 8th, 2008 at 01:13pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,McCain,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Wankers,War

Pat Roberts Accidentally Sabotages McCain

Hey, remember this?

The [Senate] Intelligence Committee began a comprehensive investigation nearly five years ago. Initially, the committee was prepared to release one authoritative document on the Iraq intelligence, what it said, and how it was handled. With the 2004 presidential election looming, then-Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) split the report in two — one on how wrong the intelligence community and agencies were (released before the ‘04 election) and another on how the White House used/misused/abused the available information (to be released after the ‘04 election).

Roberts played fast and loose for years. First he said publicly that he’d “try” to have Phase II available to the public before the 2004 election. He didn’t. Roberts then gave his word, in writing, that members of the Senate Intelligence Committee would have a draft report on controversial “public statements” from administration officials by April 2006. That didn’t happen, either. Then he indicated that he wanted to give up on the second part of the investigation altogether. (In January, we learned that the investigation was impeded by the Vice President.)

Well, it finally came out, and it pretty much confirmed what most reality-based people already believed:

[Y]ou’ll never guess what investigators found.

A long-awaited Senate Select Intelligence Committee report made public Thursday concludes that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney made public statements to promote an invasion of Iraq that they knew at the time were not supported by available intelligence.

In a statement, Intelligence Committee Chairman John Rockefeller (D- W. Va.) said, “There is no question we all relied on flawed intelligence. But, there is a fundamental difference between relying on incorrect intelligence and deliberately painting a picture to the American people that you know is not fully accurate.”

Key points from the report, by way of Rockefeller’s office:

* Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa’ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.

* Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.

* Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.

* Statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community’s uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing.

* The Secretary of Defense’s statement that the Iraqi government operated underground WMD facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional airstrikes because they were underground and deeply buried was not substantiated by available intelligence information.

* The Intelligence Community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001 as the Vice President repeatedly claimed.

To this day, Still-President Bush will talk about his obviously false pre-war claims in the context of mistaken intelligence, which “everybody” believed at the time. But this long-overdue report is a reminder of just how wrong the Bush defense is — he (and his team) weren’t fooled by errors, they fooled others with arguments they knew had no foundation in fact.

Now here’s the beauty part:

And then, of course, there’s John McCain, who’s running on his national security expertise and judgment on military matters, who bought every line Bush told him, then parroted it to the nation. Worse, McCain has assured voters that “every [intelligence] assessment” justified the 2003 invasion. Today reminds us how wrong this is.

Or as Joe at Americablog puts it:

Republican Senators fought very hard to prevent the release of this intel report back in 2004 to insure Bush’s re-election. And, they wouldn’t release this report back in 2006 to protect their own re-elections. All that delay has resulted in the release of this report in 2008 — leaving John McCain to defend the Bush Iraq war agenda. In some ways, it was worth the wait.

This report makes the illegitimacy of the Iraq invasion even more mainstream and “official” (as opposed to being something that can be dismissed as a dirty hippie conspiracy theory), and makes McCain’s claim that “every assessment” justified it even more untenable.  I wonder if he’ll keep saying that – I hope he does.

2 comments June 5th, 2008 at 06:38pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Elections,Iraq,McCain,Politics,Republicans,War

I Wonder What It Was Like…

To be Landay & Strobel in the early days of BushCo’s drumbeating for the Iraq invasion.  I figure that at first they must have been racing to get their stories out, afraid that some other news organization would beat them to the explosive scoop: White House Lying About Case For War!

And then, gradually, realizing that they weren’t actually racing against anybody.  No-one was trying to beat them to the story, no-one else wanted anything to do with it.  I wonder if they doubted their own sanity a little bit, the way that you do when you’re the only person who sees something, or thinks a certain way.  Hell, I wonder if either one of them could have sustained it alone, without someone else to reassure him that they were seeing the same things, that he wasn’t deluding himself and chasing shadows.

How sad is that, really?  The biggest story of the decade, and nobody wanted to cover it.

May 30th, 2008 at 10:18pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Media,War

Next Posts Previous Posts


Contact Eli





Feeds

Linkedelia!

Most Recent Posts

Archives

Categories

Calendar

February 2020
M T W T F S S
« Apr    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
242526272829  


Thinking Blogger

Pittsburgh Webloggers

Site Meter


View My Stats *