Friday, March 09, 2007
Faux News Hannity and colmes scared to face Rocky.
March 8th, 2007 6:52 pm
Fox News Cancels Rocky's Debate With Sean Hannity
By Doug Ware / KUTV
SALT LAKE CITY - A scheduled showdown between Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and conservative commentator Sean Hannity – to be televised nationally tonight – has been called off.
Mayor Anderson was supposed to appear on the Fox News Channel’s “Hannity & Colmes” political debate program on Thurs. night. However, the cable channel abruptly canceled the event – reportedly due to scheduling problems.
“We were contacted on Monday and they assured us that we were confirmed for the [show],” mayoral spokesman Patrick Thronson told KUTV.com. “We rearranged the mayor’s schedule so he could make it. It is very uncourteous of [Fox] to do this… given the amount of time we spent preparing for their program.”
Thronson said he was informed of the cancellation via voicemail message from Fox News producer Thomas Holmes, who claimed that he was not able to “fill out the segment” for Thursday’s program. However, Thronson said the producer gave little explanation as to what that meant.
However, Thronson said Holmes sounded as if it would be possible to have Mayor Anderson on the program at a future date.
Last week, Anderson traveled to Washington state to support a resolution aimed to impeach President Bush. Thursday, Mayor Anderson wondered whether his left-leaning viewpoint regarding this matter may have played a factor in the cancellation.
"I think Sean Hannity knows we have a strong case [for impeachment]," Mayor Anderson told 2News. "Now they call with some vague message... they are calling it off."
Mayor Anderson said his stance against the president is firm, logical and perhaps something that the conservative talk show host can't face during a live broadcast.
"This is a president who thinks he is above the law. He has taken on the role, basically, of a dictator. And I say that without exaggeration," the mayor said.
Now, Anderson is welcoming other national media venues to spread what he believes is the truth about President Bush.
"Bring me Rush Limbaugh. Bring me Michael Savage. You bring me the worst, the rudest, the most right-wing," he said. "We need to get this information out and it needs to get to the people who are actually listening."
Phone calls by KUTV.com to the Fox News Channel were not immediately returned.
Republicans in Georgia take one step closer to American Theocracy. Democrats apparently aiding and abetting.
ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- Georgia is poised to introduce two literature classes on the Bible in public schools next year, a move some critics say would make the state the first to take an explicit stance endorsing -- and funding -- biblical teachings.
The Bible already is incorporated into some classes in Georgia and other states, but some critics say the board's move, which makes the Bible the classes' main text, treads into dangerous turf.
On a list of classes approved Thursday by the Georgia Board of Education are Literature and History of the Old Testament Era, and Literature and History of the New Testament Era. The classes, approved last year by the Legislature, will not be required, and the state's 180 school systems can decide for themselves whether to offer them.
The school board's unanimous vote set up a 30-day public comment period, after which it is expected to give final approval.
Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams, the Republican who sponsored the plan, said the Bible plays a major role in history and is important in understanding many classic literary works.
"It's not just 'The Good Book,"' Williams said. "It's a good book."
Charles Haynes of the First Amendment Center, a nonpartisan civil liberties group, has said the Georgia policy is the nation's first to endorse and fund Bible classes on a statewide level.
The bill approved overwhelmingly in the Legislature was tailored to make it clear the courses would not stray into religious teaching, Williams said.
The measure calls for the courses to be taught "in an objective and nondevotional manner with no attempt made to indoctrinate students."
But critics say that while the language may pass constitutional muster, that could change in the classroom if instructors stray.
Maggie Garrett, legislative counsel for the Georgia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the curriculum approved Tuesday -- like the Legislation itself -- is vague.
"They didn't put in any outlines describing what they can and can't do constitutionally," she said. "The same traps are there for teachers who decide to teach the class."
Some teachers might seek to include their own beliefs or be pushed by students into conversations that include religious proselytizing, Garrett said.
During last year's campaign-period legislative session, Democrats surprised majority Republicans by introducing a plan to teach the Bible in public schools. Republicans, who control both chambers, quickly responded with their own version, which passed and was signed into law by Gov. Sonny Perdue.
Amendment 1 U.S. Constitution: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Scientific Censorship: Republican War on Science Continues Unabated. Truth apparently needs a little "spin."
By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent Thu Mar 8, 5:27 PM ET
Polar bears, sea ice and global warming are taboo subjects, at least in public, for some U.S. scientists attending meetings abroad, environmental groups and a top federal wildlife official said on Thursday.
Environmental activists called this scientific censorship, which they said was in line with the Bush administration's history of muzzling dissent over global climate change.
But H. Dale Hall, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said this policy was a long-standing one, meant to honor international protocols for meetings where the topics of discussion are negotiated in advance.
The matter came to light in e-mails from the Fish and Wildlife Service that were distributed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center for Biological Diversity, both environmental groups.
Listed as a "new requirement" (Editor's Note: Doesn't this make H. Dale Hall a liar for saying it's a longstanding policy?) for foreign travelers on U.S. government business, the memo says that requests for foreign travel "involving or potentially involving climate change, sea ice, and/or polar bears" require special handling, including notice of who will be the official spokesman for the trip.
The Fish and Wildlife Service top officials need assurance that the spokesman, "the one responding to questions on these issues, particularly polar bears" understands the administration's position on these topics.
Two accompanying memos were offered as examples of these kinds of assurance. Both included the line that the traveler "understands the administration's position on climate change, polar bears, and sea ice and will not be speaking on or responding to these issues."
ARE POLAR BEARS 'THREATENED'?
Polar bears are a hot topic for the Bush administration, which decided in December to consider whether to list the white-furred behemoths as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act, because of scientific reports that the bears' icy habitat is melting due to global warming.
Hall said a decision is expected in January 2008. A "threatened" listing would bar the government from taking any action that jeopardizes the animal's existence, and might spur debate about tougher measures to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that spur global warming.
Hall defended the policy laid out in the memos, saying it was meant to keep scientists from straying from a set agenda at meetings in countries like Russia, Norway and Canada.
For example, he said, one meeting was about "human and polar bear interface." Receding Arctic sea ice where polar bears live and the global climate change that likely played a role in the melting were not proper discussion topics, he said.
"That's not a climate change discussion," Hall said at a telephone briefing. "That's a management, on-the-ground type discussion."
The prohibition on talking about these subjects only applies to public, formal situations, Hall said. Private scientific discussions outside the meeting and away from media are permitted and encouraged, he said.
"This administration has a long history of censoring speech and science on global warming," Eben Burnham-Snyder of the Natural Resources Defense Council said by telephone.
"Whenever we see an instance of the Bush administration restricting speech on global warming, it sends up a huge red flag that their commitment to the issue does not reflect their rhetoric," Burnham-Snyder said.
"The honest answer is yes," Gingrich, a potential 2008 Republican presidential candidate, said in an interview with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson to be aired Friday, according to a transcript provided to The Associated Press. "There are times that I have fallen short of my own standards. There's certainly times when I've fallen short of God's standards."
Gingrich argued in the interview, however, that he should not be viewed as a hypocrite for pursuing Clinton's infidelity.
"The president of the United States got in trouble for committing a felony in front of a sitting federal judge," the former Georgia congressman said of Clinton's 1998 House impeachment on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. "I drew a line in my mind that said, 'Even though I run the risk of being deeply embarrassed, and even though at a purely personal level I am not rendering judgment on another human being, as a leader of the government trying to uphold the rule of law, I have no choice except to move forward and say that you cannot accept ... perjury in your highest officials.”
Widely considered a mastermind of the Republican revolution that swept Congress in the 1994 elections, Gingrich remains wildly popular among many conservatives. He has repeatedly placed near the top of Republican presidential polls recently, even though he has not formed a campaign.
Gingrich has said he is waiting to see how the Republican field shapes up before deciding in the fall whether to run.
Reports of extramarital affairs have dogged him for years as a result of two messy divorces, but he has refused to discuss them publicly.
Gingrich, who frequently campaigned on family values issues, divorced his second wife, Marianne, in 2000 after his attorneys acknowledged Gingrich's relationship with his current wife, Callista Bisek, a former congressional aide more than 20 years younger than he is.
His first marriage, to his former high school geometry teacher, Jackie Battley, ended in divorce in 1981. Although Gingrich has said he doesn't remember it, Battley has said Gingrich discussed divorce terms with her while she was recuperating in the hospital from cancer surgery.
Gingrich married Marianne months after the divorce.
"There were times when I was praying and when I felt I was doing things that were wrong. But I was still doing them," he said in the interview. "I look back on those as periods of weakness and periods that I'm ... not proud of."
Gingrich's congressional career ended in 1998 when he abruptly resigned from Congress after poor showings from Republicans in elections and after being reprimanded by the House ethics panel over charges that he used tax-exempt funding to advance his political goals.
Associated Press Writer
March 9, 2007, 8:00 AM EST
GUATEMALA CITY -- Mayan priests will purify a sacred archaeological site to eliminate "bad spirits" after President Bush visits next week, an official with close ties to the group said Thursday.
"That a person like (Bush), with the persecution of our migrant brothers in the United States, with the wars he has provoked, is going to walk in our sacred lands, is an offense for the Mayan people and their culture," Juan Tiney, the director of a Mayan nongovernmental organization with close ties to Mayan religious and political leaders, said Thursday.
Bush's seven-day tour of Latin America includes a stopover beginning late Sunday in Guatemala. On Monday morning he is scheduled to visit the archaeological site Iximche on the high western plateau in a region of the Central American country populated mostly by Mayans.
Tiney said the "spirit guides of the Mayan community" decided it would be necessary to cleanse the sacred site of "bad spirits" after Bush's visit so that their ancestors could rest in peace. He also said the rites -- which entail chanting and burning incense, herbs and candles -- would prepare the site for the third summit of Latin American Indians March 26-30.
Bush's trip has already has sparked protests elsewhere in Latin America, including protests and clashes with police in Brazil hours before his arrival. In Bogota, Colombia, which Bush will visit on Sunday, 200 masked students battled 300 riot police with rocks and small homemade explosives.
The tour is aimed at challenging a widespread perception that the United States has neglected the region and at combatting the rising influence of Venezuelan leftist President Hugo Chavez, who has called Bush "history's greatest killer" and "the devil."
Iximche, 30 miles west of the capital of Guatemala City, was founded as the capital of the Kaqchiqueles kingdom before the Spanish conquest in 1524.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
All Americans want to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons and interfering on the ground inside Iraq. Yet President Bush’s saber rattling gives the US little additional leverage to engage and dissuade Iran, and, more than likely, simply accelerates a dangerous slide into war. The United States can do better than this.
Whatever the pace of Iran’s nuclear efforts, in the give and take of the Administration’s rhetoric and accusations, we are approaching the last moments to head off looming conflict.
Cannot the world’s most powerful nation deign speak to the resentful and scheming regional power that is Iran? Can we not speak of the interests of others, work to establish a sustained dialogue, and seek to benefit the people of Iran and the region? Could not such a dialogue, properly conducted, begin a process that could, over time, help realign hardened attitudes and polarizing views within the region? And isn’t it easier to undertake such a dialogue now, before more die, and more martyrs are created to feed extremist passions?
Please join the Iraq War veterans at VoteVets.org and me and sign the petition to President Bush today. Military force against Iran is not the solution now, and if we adopt the right strategy, perhaps it need never be. Urge him to work with our allies and use every diplomatic, political, and economic option at our disposal to deal with Iran. War is not the answer.
This week, two of the right wing's most extreme voices are learning the hard way that eliminationism no longer pays nearly as well as it used to. And the left wing is proving its skill with a new tactic in the war against eliminationist pundits. To coin a phrase, we might call it "getting Spockoed."
First, Michael Savage sent Media Matters a letter accusing them of "stalking," which would be funny if it weren't so predictable (a conservative shucking personal responsibility for his own public rantings…where have we seen this before?). Apparently, Mr. Weiner (uh, Savage) got on the air after the Oscars with a homophobic rant about Melissa Etheridge, in which he called her gay marriage "digusting" and "nauseating" and a form of "child abuse."
In his rabid lather, Savage apparently forgot that he and Ms. Etheridge are both represented by the same talent agency, CAA. Which, understandably, felt the need to take sides in this dispute -- especially after Media Matters dutifully recorded Savage's rantings and brought them to their attention. And which, also understandably, chose to respond by standing with its new Oscar winner and with its gay talent in general.
So Mr. Savage was unceremoniously dropped from his spot with the world's top agency. And he's blaming Media Matters for all this. After all, it couldn't be anything he said himself that caused all the ruckus; it's just those "scum-sucking vermin," those "left-wing rats," who insisted that he be held accountable for polluting the public airwaves -- and the public discourse -- with his hateful verbal sewage.
There was, of course, a parting shot, featuring that old-time eliminationist invective that earns Savage millions each year:
You ought to be happy, you liberal SOBs, that I am only a talk-show host. You ought to thank God that I have no avariciousness in my soul. You ought to thank God that I'm not power mad like you liberals, because if I ever ran for office, I can guarantee you, you wouldn't be in business too long. I can guarantee you you'd be arrested for sedition within six months of my taking power. I'd have you people licking lead paint, what you did to this country.Curiously: he can't quite figure out what it is about this that we find so offensive. Perhaps his new agent (if he finds one) can explain it to him.
Then, there's Ann Coulter, who is positively on a tear this week. On March 2, of course, she got up at CPAC and called John Edwards a "faggot." This is, of course, business as usual for Ann -- but, like Savage, this time, her words went on the record.
As they also did the very next day, March 3, when she got up in front of Dr. James Kennedy's "Reclaiming America for Christ" conference, and announced that she can "understand" the assassination of doctors who perform legal abortions. Talk2Action's Fredrick Clarkson described the scene:
In demagogic fashion, Coulter first presented the shocking view -- and then wink, wink -- said she didn't really mean it; but in doing so, still held fast to the argument that leaders of the underground Army of God have used for years to justify the murder of abortion providers -- which she calls "a procedure with a rifle…."It's quite possible that Coulter has been out there saying this stuff to conservative groups, every week, every day, for years, without ever being called to account for it. But those days are clearly over.
"…Those few abortionists were shot, or, depending on your point of view, had a procedure with a rifle performed on them. I'm not justifying it, but I do understand how it happened...."
Coulter's being Spockoed courtesy of the Human Rights Campaign, which claims it's written 20,000 letters to seven newspapers carrying her column. So far this week, at least three of them have already dropped it; and HRC says they're not done yet. (Coulter claims that her column is carried by over 100 papers; but HRC's researchers could only find seven. The others may be too small to be picked up by Lexis-Nexis.) In a mailing to their members, HRC made it crystal clear what's at stake here:
"Coulter’s use of the demeaning and harmful word 'faggot' is so beyond the pale that anyone who uses it should not be given a platform as a respected voice in the political discourse of our country. ... The news media has a responsibility to not simply become an avenue that allows Ann Coulter the opportunity to broadcast her vile slurs."Over at Street Prophets, commenter Vagrarian reports that the damage is spreading.
Major corporations are pulling ads from her website, including Verizon, AT&T, and Sallie Mae.(Curiously, some of these papers have said that they're on the lookout for another female conservative columnist to fill Coulter's size 11 stilettos on their pages. Paging Michelle Malkin...)
As of writing, four newspapers have dropped her column, finding her vicious personal attacks and over-the-top rhetoric unsuitable, unsavory, and unacceptable. The editor of the Times of Shreveport, LA, said, "This isn't some liberal vendetta. If it was, we would have dropped her long ago....she's simply worn a hole in the welcome mat."
The HRC has launched a protest.
And a cadre of conservative bloggers, including a number of gay Republicans, has issued an open letter to CPAC organizers, asking that she never be invited back to the event, and basically kicking her out of the conservative movement (as far as they're concerned).
Reportedly she's losing fans at a rapid rate; people are rejecting and repudiating her hate-filled rantings. Her career seems to be on the verge of a meltdown.
To which I say: Too bad. You reap what you sow.
Shrill, dissonant, and increasingly playing false notes, the Mighty Wurlitzer, which has pumped out the right wing's gaseous chords day in and day out for a quarter of a century, has finally begun to run out of hot air. Coulter and Savage are going down. O'Reilly's numbers are in free fall. Creating our own progressive media machine was the first phase of regaining control of the national conversation (and that work will be ongoing). But the second phase -- which is now beginning -- will see us using our power to re-draw the parameters of the national discourse, and re-define what is and is not acceptable political debate. Without the hatemongers and potty-mouths throwing tantrums that foreclose any adult conversations, we might finally get down to discussing the real obscenities -- poverty, global warming, Iraq, bad immigration policy, and all the other horrors this administration has left unaddressed.
It's predictable that, as their popularity starts to fade, the right-wing bloviators will attempt to regain their audiences by doing more of what made them so popular in the first place. Turning up the outrage -- and outrageousness -- always worked before. It'll work now (won't it?) if they just go out and push the dial all the way to 11.
They don't realize that the landscape has changed around them -- and that even their allies in management and the ad agencies have limited tolerance for bad behavior. Liberals understand eliminationist rhetoric now for the danger it is -- and we're learning where to push, and how, and who, to exact a severe career price from anyone who engages in it.
Getting Spockoed. We're going to get better at it. They better get used to it.
The Fall Guy
March 7th, 2007 8:15 pm
Prosecutor says lies shielded Cheney
By R. Jeffrey Smith / Washington Post
WASHINGTON — In late March 2004, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald asked I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby three separate times whether his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney, had discussed telling reporters that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA in an undercover role.
Fitzgerald was unconvinced by Libby's response that even though he "may have" had such a conversation with Cheney, it probably occurred after Plame's identity as a CIA employee had been published in a newspaper column.
Almost three years later, Fitzgerald told the jury at Libby's trial that Libby's lies had effectively prevented him from learning about all of Cheney's actions in the administration's campaign to undermine Plame's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a critic of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Jurors on Tuesday convicted Libby of obstruction of justice, lying to the FBI and perjury for lying under oath to a grand jury. They acquitted him on another charge of lying.
More than he had previously, Fitzgerald made clear in his summation that his search for truth about Cheney was a goal of his investigation, and that his inability to get it was a key provocation for Libby's indictment. Although Cheney was the target, Fitzgerald's inquiry could not reach him because of Libby's duplicity.
Fitzgerald's summation explained, in part, why he brought charges based on imperfect evidence against Libby, even though Libby was not a source for Robert Novak, the author of the July 14, 2003, newspaper column that outed Plame as a CIA employee.
The jury's verdict addresses Fitzgerald's first conclusion — that Libby lied deliberately and did not misspeak from faulty memory. But the trial showed that the prosecutor finished his investigation with his mind made up that Libby's account was meant to hide his own involvement as well as to conceal the potential involvement of the vice president.
At the trial's close, Fitzgerald expressed his concern in unusually blunt terms. After Libby's lawyers complained that he was trying to put a "cloud" over Cheney without evidence to back it up, Fitzgerald told the jury on Feb. 20, "We'll talk straight."
There was, he said, "a cloud over what the vice president did" during the period before the publication of Novak's column, and it was created by testimony showing that Cheney directed Libby and others at the White House to give out information about Wilson and Wilson's criticisms.
"We didn't put that cloud there. That cloud remains because the defendant obstructed justice and lied about what happened," Fitzgerald added.
The notion that Libby was merely a courtroom stand-in for Cheney infuriated Libby's lawyers, who sought in their courtroom statement to defend both men. "Nobody in the office of the vice president is concerned about" Plame, Libby attorney William Jeffress Jr. said. "She never was part of the story they were trying to put out." (Editor's Note: Anyone else find it odd that Libby's Lawyers would try to defend the VP? They're supposed to be defending Libby, not Cheney.)
Fitzgerald disagreed. Suppose, Fitzgerald said, you were probing whether a pitcher had purposely beaned a batter, and if so, why?
"As you sit back, you want to learn why was this information going out. Why were people taking this information about Valerie Wilson and giving it to reporters?" Fitzgerald asked at a news conference in October. "What we have when someone charges obstruction of justice is the umpire gets sand thrown in his eyes. He's trying to figure out what happened, and somebody blocked their view."
Randall Eliason, a former chief prosecutor of public corruption and fraud in the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, said Fitzgerald "would not have been doing his job" if he had not brought the charges. If "witnesses believe they can lie to the FBI and lie in the grand jury and there will be no consequences, then it becomes impossible to investigate any criminal activity, from terrorism to shoplifting."
Americans often suspect that their political leaders are arrogant and out of touch. But even then it is nearly impossible to fathom what self-delusion could have convinced Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico that he had a right to call a federal prosecutor at home and question him about a politically sensitive investigation.
That disturbing tale is one of several revealed this week in Congressional hearings called to look into the firing of eight United States attorneys. The hearings left little doubt that the Bush administration had all eight — an unprecedented number — ousted for political reasons. But it points to even wider abuse; prosecutors suggest that three Republican members of Congress may have tried to pressure the attorneys into doing their political bidding.
It already seemed clear that the Bush administration’s purge had trampled on prosecutorial independence. Now Congress and the Justice Department need to investigate possible ethics violations, and perhaps illegality. Two of the fired prosecutors testified that they had been dismissed after resisting what they suspected were importunings to use their offices to help Republicans win elections. A third described what may have been a threat of retaliation if he talked publicly about his firing.
David Iglesias, who was removed as the United States attorney in Albuquerque, said that he was first contacted before last fall’s election by Representative Heather Wilson, Republican of New Mexico. Ms. Wilson, who was in a tough re-election fight, asked about sealed indictments — criminal charges that are not public.
Two weeks later, he said, he got a call from Senator Pete Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, asking whether he intended to indict Democrats before the election in a high-profile corruption case. When Mr. Iglesias said no, he said, Mr. Domenici replied that he was very sorry to hear it, and the line went dead. Mr. Iglesias said he’d felt “sick.” Within six weeks, he was fired. Ms. Wilson and Mr. Domenici both deny that they had tried to exert pressure.
John McKay of Seattle testified that the chief of staff for Representative Doc Hastings, Republican of Washington, called to ask whether he intended to investigate the 2004 governor’s race, which a Democrat won after two recounts. Mr. McKay says that when he went to the White House later to discuss a possible judicial nomination (which he did not get), he was told of concerns about how he’d handled the election. H. E. Cummins, a fired prosecutor from Arkansas, said that a Justice Department official, in what appeared to be a warning, said that if he kept talking about his firing, the department would release negative information about him.
Congress must keep demanding answers. It must find out who decided to fire these prosecutors and why, and who may have authorized putting pressure on Mr. Cummins. And it must look into whether Senator Domenici and Representatives Wilson and Hastings violated ethics rules that forbid this sort of interference. We hope the House committee will not be deterred by the fact that Mr. Hastings is its ranking Republican. The Justice Department also needs to open its own investigation. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s claim that these prosecutors were fired for poor performance was always difficult to believe. Now it’s impossible.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
More FOX News Propaganda
The jury rejected claims of memory lapses by Vice President Dick Cheney’s ex-chief of staff.
Monday, March 05, 2007
by Glenn Greenwald
On Friday, Condoleezza Rice announced that Eliot Cohen has been chosen to be the new Counselor of the State Department. It is not hyperbole to say that Cohen is as extremist a neoconservative and warmonger as it gets. Even The New York Sun's Eli Lake -- in an article claiming that Cohen's replacement of Philip Zelikow signals a more militaristic approach for the administration -- points out that Cohen " intellectually is neoconservative" and that "he was an early supporter of the military intervention in Iraq and came out against recommendations from the Iraq Study Group in December to launch negotiations with Iraq's neighbors," i.e., Iran and Syria -- especially Iran.
But Cohen's record is far more extremist than just that. In a November, 2001 Wall St. Journal Op-Ed, Cohen criticized the attempts up to that point to name "The new War" -- all the names chosen were far too limiting and unglorious. Rejecting all the possibilities, Cohen insisted that "a less palatable but more accurate name is World War IV." Even back then, look at what was on Cohen's mind:
Afghanistan constitutes just one front in World War IV, and the battles there just one campaign. . . . First, if one front in this war is the contest for free and moderate governance in the Muslim world, the U.S. should throw its weight behind pro-Western and anticlerical forces there. The immediate choice lies before the U.S. government in regard to Iran. . . . The overthrow of the first theocratic revolutionary Muslim state and its replacement by a moderate or secular government, however, would be no less important a victory in this war than the annihilation of bin Laden.Cohen's second priority -- after Iran -- was changing the government of Iraq, and he showcased what would be the false war-justifying propaganda before Don Rumsfeld, Doug Feith and Paul Wolfowitz began the process of feeding it to the President:
The U.S. should continue to target regimes that sponsor terrorism. Iraq is the obvious candidate, having not only helped al Qaeda, but attacked Americans directly (including an assassination attempt against the first President Bush) and developed weapons of mass destruction.
Cohen was most worried that Afghanistan would be the only real Churchillian war we would fight, rather than getting on with World War IV in all its glory: "if after the Afghan campaign ends, the government lapses into a covert war of intelligence-gathering, arrests, and the odd explosion in a terrorist training camp, it will be a sign that it would rather avoid calling things by their true name."
Over the next several years, Cohen became one of the most militant advocates of expanded regional war in the Middle East. A 2003 Asia Times article by Ahmad Faruqui called him "the most influential neoconservative in academe":
Cohen refers to the war against terrorism by a chilling name: World War IV (citing the Cold War as the third world war). . . . Cohen claims that America is on the good side in this war, just like it has been in all prior world wars, and the enemy is militant Islam, not some abstract concept of "terrorism".It likely goes without saying by now that the reason Iraq was so quickly at the forefront of Cohen's mind in the aftermath of 9/11 was because invading Iraq and changing its government was long one of Cohen's dreams, and the 9/11 attacks became the pretext dressed up as the "justification" for Cohen's dream to come true.
Cohen argues that the US should throw its weight behind pro-Western and anticlerical forces in the Muslim world, beginning with the overthrow of the theocratic state in Iran and its replacement by a "moderate or secular" government. After September 11 he was one of the first neoconservatives to call for an attack on Iraq, even though there was no credible evidence linking Iraq with the attacks on the US or al-Qaeda.
This continues to be the most astounding, significant, and alarming trend -- as the recognition grows even in Beltway elite media circles that the people who designed and sold the Iraq war to the American public are completely untrustworthy and discredited figures, they are exactly the ones who continue to exert the most influence, by far, on the President, and their influence seems only to be growing. Here is a question which Tim Russert asked Lindsay Graham this weekend -- a question that is three years overdue but nonetheless welcome -- after Graham kept insisting that Americans give the Great Surge Plan " a chance" to succeed:
MR. RUSSERT: But many Americans will say that those who supported the war are saying, "Trust us, see this through," the same people who said, "There are weapons of mass destruction. General Shinseki's wrong, we don't need hundreds of thousands of troops. We will be greeted as liberators."The premise of Russert's question is exactly right, and it is one of the most crucial propositions to emphasize -- "Why should the American people continue to believe in those same people who had so many misjudgments leading up to and executing the war?" They should not, of course. And we know exactly who "those same people" are. Eliot Cohen is not just one of them, but he is one of their leaders. He has been wrong about everything. If he had his way, we would have far more wars than we have already.
SEN. GRAHAM: Mm-hmm.
MR. RUSSERT: "The cost of the war," according to Lawrence Lindsey, "won't be more than $200 billion."
SEN. GRAHAM: Yeah.
MR. RUSSERT: "There won't be any sectarian violence." All those judgments were wrong. Why should the American people continue to believe in those same people who had so many misjudgments leading up [to] and executing the war?
The Cohen appointment is clearly another instance where neoconservatives place a watchdog in potential trouble spots in the government to ensure that diplomats do not stray by trying to facilitate rapproachments between the U.S. and the countries on the neoconservative War hit list. In that regard, behold the head-patting reaction to the Cohen appointment from one of the country's most radical Iran obsessives:
Michael Ledeen, a former government official and conservative scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said Cohen's appointment was good news.Unlike the more political neoconservatives, who are very careful about what they say and go to great lengths to conceal their ultimate goals, Cohen has been an academic and thus more explicit about the theoretical underpinnings of his worldview. In a 1998 essay in (fittingly enough) The New Republic, Cohen called for the U.S. to build up and modernize its military capabilities faster and more aggressively, and to "justify" that plan, he laid out his neoconservative vision of the role of the United States in the world:
"You want your leaders to hear disagreements," he said. "You don't want monotonous conformity."
Another way to put it is that the United States needs an imperial strategy. Defense planners could never admit it openly, of course, and most would feel uncomfortable with the idea, but that is, in fact, what the United States at the end of the twentieth century is--a global empire.Even Cohen recognized what a profound departure from America's founding principles it is to call for America to dominate the world as The Great Imperial Power:
Talk of "cooperative security" masks the reality that in any serious military confrontation, the central question is whom the United States asks to cooperate. . . . One cannot separate the so-called "soft power" of the United States--the global dominance of its culture, beginning with its language--from its military strength.
Rock fans around the world listen in English; so do fighter pilots. The same information technologies that make the Internet a decidedly American phenomenon provide the nervous systems of American military power. Free trade rests on common consent, to be sure, but would it exist absent America's military dominance?
The United States is today by far the most powerful state on the planet. If it chooses to remain so, citizen and soldier alike must brace themselves for the occasional imperial fiasco. More important, they will have to accept the uncomfortable notion that they are wielding military power in a way that is historically unusual for a country that has long viewed empires with proper republican suspicion. America's strategic vision will thus have to peer inward, as well as out, if we are to play our new role in the world successfully.These are the radical principles laid out unabashedly by the Bush State Department's new Counselor, which are the same principles still driving the administration. We are in the middle of World War IV. We have numerous countries against whom we must wage war. The highest strategic priority is to change the government of Iran, with whom we can never negotiate. And the ultimate goal is to rule the world with our military force as the Supreme Imperial Power.
That is the neoconservative vision at its core. And the untold damage it has wreaked on our country has not diminished their influence in any way in this administration. They are still in control, particularly in the area they care about most -- the Middle East. And they have dealt with their greatest fear -- war-avoidance with Iran prior to regime change -- by installing one of their very own extremists to scrutinize and check the State Department.
This is really the debate America needs most, but is also the one we are furthest away from being able to conduct -- is the goal of the U.S. really to maintain and expand imperial world domination? The dangers to our country from that pursuit are grave and obvious. They are precisely the ones about which, among others, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Dwight Eisenhower most urgently warned, and Jefferson similarly emphasized continuously that the most important obligation a country has is to avoid war except when the nation's security is directly attacked.
But that, more than anything, accounts for the current predicament of America. We have ceased adhering in these matters to the principles of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Dwight Eisenhower, and have instead become a nation of Dick Cheneys, Victor Davis Hansons, Richard Perles, and Eliot Cohens.
These are -- to use Russert's phrase -- "those same people" who caused the Iraq disaster and have their sights set on further damage still. They do not want to avoid war at all, but instead believe that it's glorious and elegant and empowering. They want to ensure a state of Permenant War, complete with all of the internal constrictions of liberty which wars inevitably entail, because they view the United States not as a republic, but as an empire which -- in order to fulfill all sorts of agendas -- can, should and must rule the world with superior military force. There is a temptation to dismiss "those same people" as irrelevant extremists, but as Cohen's Friday-announced appointment reflects, they are anything but irrelevant.
UPDATE: Over at This Modern World, Jonathan Schwarz cites an anecdote from Gen. Wesley Clark which reflects both the radicalism and (one must never forget) the sheer ineptitude that has driven this administration's Cohenesque War project from the start.
UPDATE II: Unrelated (mostly, not completely) to the topic of this post, The Washington Post's media critic, Howard Kurtz, will be hosting his weekly chat today at 12:00 noon EST, where readers can pose questions to him regarding his column.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
The Bush Administration's drive for privatization may be responsible for the "deplorable" outpatient care for soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, according to a top Democratic Congressman investigating the scandal, which has already led to the resignation of the Secretary of the US Army.
A five-year, $120 million contract awarded to a firm run by a former executive from Halliburton – a multi-national corporation where Vice President Dick Cheney once served as CEO – will be probed at a Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs hearing scheduled for Monday.
A letter sent by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to Major General George W. Weightman, the former commander at Walter Reed, asks him to "address the implications of a memorandum from Garrison Commander Peter Garibaldi sent through you to Colonel Daryl Spencer, the Assistant Chief of Staff for Resource Management with the U.S. Army Medical Command" in order to better prepare himself for his testimony at the hearing.
"This memorandum, which we understand was written in September 2006, describes how the Army's decision to privatize support services at Walter Reed Army Medical Center was causing an exodus of 'highly skilled and experienced personnel,'" Waxman's letter continues. "As a result, according to the memorandum, 'WRAMC Base Operations and patient care services are at risk of mission failure.'"
Waxman's letter states that "several sources have corroborated key portions of the memorandum."
"We have learned that in January 2006, Walter Reed awarded a five-year $120 million contract to a company called IAP Worldwide Services for base operations support services, including facilities management," Waxman continues. "IAP is one of the companies that experienced problems delivering ice during the response to Hurricane Katrina."
Waxman notes that IAP "is led by Al Neffgen, a former senior Halliburton official who testified before our Committee in July 2004 in defense of Halliburton's exorbitant charges for fuel delivery and troop support in Iraq."
Before the contract, over 300 federal employees provided facilities management services at Walter Reed, according to the memorandum, but that number dropped to less than 60 the day before IAP took over.
"Yet instead of hiring additional personnel, IAP apparently replaced the remaining 60 federal employees with only 50 IAP personnel," Waxman writes.
Waxman adds that "the conditions that have been described are disgraceful," and that the Oversight Committee will "investigate what led to the breakdown in services."
"It would be reprehensible if the deplorable conditions were caused or aggravated by an ideological committment to privatized government services regardless of the costs to taxpayers and the consequences for wounded soldier," Waxman writes, alluding to the Bush Administration's push for privatization.
A year ago, the Government Accountability Office "dismissed a protest filed on behalf of employees at the Army's Walter Reed Medical Center, ruling that the employee group had no standing to challenge the outcome of a public-private job competition initiated prior to January 2005," GovExec.com reported.
"The American Federation of Government Employees, which provided funding to back the protest, said the impetus to appeal came from Walter Reed managers who were disappointed to see how the competition process played out," Jenny Mandel reported in February of 2006. "While the initial employee bid was $7 million less than that of IAP Worldwide Services, a mid-stream solicitation change resulted in a recalculation of the bids by all parties and in IAP's bid coming in $7 million lower, said John Threlkeld, a lobbyist for AFGE."
The article continues, "Threlkeld said the process for recalculating the employee bid was flawed, resulting in the inflation of the estimate that rendered it uncompetitive with IAP's bid."
On Saturday, the Army Times revealed that the Garibaldi memorandum cited by Waxman states that "the push to privatize support services there accelerated under President Bush’s ‘competitive sourcing’ initiative, which was launched in 2002."
Excerpts from Army Times article:
The letter said the Defense Department “systemically” tried to replace federal workers at Walter Reed with private companies for facilities management, patient care and guard duty – a process that began in 2000.
“But the push to privatize support services there accelerated under President Bush’s ‘competitive sourcing’ initiative, which was launched in 2002,” the letter states.
During the year between awarding the contract to IAP and when the company started, “skilled government workers apparently began leaving Walter Reed in droves,” the letter states. “The memorandum also indicates that officials at the highest levels of Walter Reed and the U.S. Army Medical Command were informed about the dangers of privatization, but appeared to do little to prevent them.”
The memo signed by Garibaldi requests more federal employees because the hospital mission had grown “significantly” during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It states that medical command did not concur with their request for more people.
“Without favorable consideration of these requests,” Garibaldi wrote, “[Walter Reed Army Medical Center] Base Operations and patient care services are at risk of mission failure.”