Friday, August 10, 2007


The U.S. Military: Winning Hearts and Minds in Iraq.

McClatchy Washington Bureau
Posted on Fri, Aug. 03, 2007

At U.S. base, Iraqis must use separate latrine

Mike Drummond | McClatchy Newspapers

FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARHORSE, Iraq — The sign taped to the men's latrine is just five lines:


It needed only one: "NO IRAQIS."

Here at this searing, dusty U.S. military base about four miles west of Baqouba, Iraqis — including interpreters who walk the same foot patrols and sleep in the same tents as U.S. troops — must use segregated bathrooms.

Another sign, in a dining hall, warns Iraqis and "third-country nationals" that they have just one hour for breakfast, lunch or dinner. American troops get three hours. Iraqis say they sometimes wait as long as 45 minutes in hot lines to get inside the chow hall, leaving just 15 minutes to get their food and eat it.

It's been nearly 60 years since President Harry Truman ended racial segregation in the U.S. military. But at Forward Operating Base Warhorse it's alive and well, perhaps the only U.S. military facility with such rules, Iraqi interpreters here say.

It's unclear precisely who ordered the rules. "The rule separating local national latrines from soldiers was enacted about two to three rotations ago," Maj. Raul Marquez, a spokesman for the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division, from Fort Hood, Texas, wrote in an e-mail. That was before his brigade or the 3rd Stryker Combat Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, from Fort Lewis, Wash., the other major combat force here, was based at Warhorse.

There's also disagreement on the reason.

Marquez cited security. "We are at war, and operational security (OPSEC) and force protection are critical in this environment," Marquez wrote. "We screen all our local nationals working and living in the FOB, however, you can never know what's in their mind."

Other soldiers traced the regulations to what they called cultural differences between the Iraqis and the Americans.

"We've had issues with locals," said Staff Sgt. Oscar Garcia, who mans Warhorse's administrative hub. "It's not because we're segregating."

Garcia said some Iraqis squatted on the rims of unfamiliar American-style toilets or had used showers as toilets, forcing private contractors who maintain the facilities to clean up after them.

Another soldier at the administrative hub who declined to give his name or rank cited conflicts over hygiene habits. "We can't accept people washing their feet where I brush my teeth," he said.

"It's to keep problems from happening," said Army Capt. Janet Herrick, a public affairs officer. "It's a preventive measure . . . so no one gets belittled."

But the Iraqis who're paid $80,000 to $120,000 a year for their interpreting services are offended.

"It sucks," Ahmed Mohammed, 30, said of the latrine policy. He called the signs — in English and Arabic — "racist."

He's worked as an interpreter for the U.S. military since 2004. He's college educated and well versed in the ways of Western plumbing. He said Warhorse was the only American base where he'd encountered U.S.-only signs on latrines and country-of-origin restrictions on dining hours.

"I live in the same tent with 80 Americans," he said.

Mohammed works for L-3 Titan Group, a unit of New York-based L-3 Communications. He declined to have his picture taken for publication. He fears for his life. He said his brother was killed last year in Baghdad for working for an American company.

Mohammed has sold his house and has squirreled away enough money to buy visas for his family of four. He said he intended to quit soon and emigrate to Germany. The latrine policy is part of the reason, he said.

L-3 officials didn't respond to a request for comment.

"On one hand we're asking Iraqis to help us," often at great risk, said Laila al Qatami, spokeswoman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Washington. "But at the same time we're saying, 'We want to keep you at a distance.' It's a mixed message we're sending.

"I don't understand having separate bathrooms. It seems to go against everything that the United States stands for."

McClatchy Newspapers 2007

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Dick Cheney and War is Like Stacey and Wayne. Somebody get the net.


Get the Net! Cheney wants to bomb Iran.

Cheney urging strikes on Iran

USS Enterprise goes through Suez Canal

Ben Curtis/AP

The USS Enterprise passes behind a mosque Aug. 1 as it makes its way through the Suez canal. It replaced two carriers in a deployment aimed at sending a signal of strength to Iran. | View larger image

WASHINGTON — President Bush charged Thursday that Iran continues to arm and train insurgents who are killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq, and he threatened action if that continues.

At a news conference Thursday, Bush said Iran had been warned of unspecified consequences if it continued its alleged support for anti-American forces in Iraq. U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker had conveyed the warning in meetings with his Iranian counterpart in Baghdad, the president said.

Bush wasn't specific, and a State Department official refused to elaborate on the warning.

Behind the scenes, however, the president's top aides have been engaged in an intensive internal debate over how to respond to Iran's support for Shiite Muslim groups in Iraq and its nuclear program. Vice President Dick Cheney several weeks ago proposed launching airstrikes at suspected training camps in Iraq run by the Quds force, a special unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to two U.S. officials who are involved in Iran policy.

The debate has been accompanied by a growing drumbeat of allegations about Iranian meddling in Iraq from U.S. military officers, administration officials and administration allies outside government and in the news media. It isn't clear whether the media campaign is intended to build support for limited military action against Iran, to pressure the Iranians to curb their support for Shiite groups in Iraq or both.

Nor is it clear from the evidence the administration has presented whether Iran, which has long-standing ties to several Iraqi Shiite groups, including the Mahdi Army of radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr and the Badr Organization, which is allied with the U.S.-backed government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, is a major cause of the anti-American and sectarian violence in Iraq or merely one of many. At other times, administration officials have blamed the Sunni Muslim group al Qaida in Iraq for much of the violence.

For now, however, the president appears to have settled on a policy of stepped-up military operations in Iraq aimed at the suspected Iranian networks there, combined with direct American-Iranian talks in Baghdad to try to persuade Tehran to halt its alleged meddling.

The U.S. military launched one such raid Wednesday in Baghdad's predominantly Shiite Sadr City district.

But so far that course has failed to halt what American military officials say is a flow of sophisticated roadside bombs, known as explosively formed penetrators, into Iraq. Last month they accounted for a third of the combat deaths among U.S.-led forces, according to the military.

Cheney, who's long been skeptical of diplomacy with Iran, argued for military action if hard new evidence emerges of Iran's complicity in supporting anti-American forces in Iraq; for example, catching a truckload of fighters or weapons crossing into Iraq from Iran, one official said.

The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to talk publicly about internal government deliberations.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice opposes this idea, the officials said. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has stated publicly that "we think we can handle this inside the borders of Iraq."

Lea Anne McBride, a Cheney spokeswoman, said only that "the vice president is right where the president is" on Iran policy.

Bush left no doubt at his news conference that he intended to get tough with Iran.

"One of the main reasons that I asked Ambassador Crocker to meet with Iranians inside Iraq was to send the message that there will be consequences for . . . people transporting, delivering EFPs, highly sophisticated IEDs (improvised explosive devices), that kill Americans in Iraq," he said.

He also appeared to call on the Iranian people to change their government.

"My message to the Iranian people is, you can do better than this current government," he said. "You don't have to be isolated. You don't have to be in a position where you can't realize your full economic potential."

The Bush administration has launched what appears to be a coordinated campaign to pin more of Iraq's security troubles on Iran.

Last week, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the No. 2 U.S. military commander in Iraq, said Shiite militiamen had launched 73 percent of the attacks that had killed or wounded American troops in July. U.S. officials think that majority Shiite Iran is providing militiamen with EFPs, which pierce armored vehicles and explode once inside.

Last month, Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner, a multinational force spokesman, said members of the Quds force had helped plan a January attack in the holy Shiite city of Karbala, which lead to the deaths of five American soldiers. Bergner said the military had evidence that some of the attackers had trained at Quds camps near Tehran.

Bush's efforts to pressure Iran are complicated by the fact that the leaders of U.S.-supported governments in Iraq and Afghanistan have a more nuanced view of their neighbor.

Maliki is on a three-day visit to Tehran, during which he was photographed Wednesday hand in hand with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Unconfirmed media reports said Maliki had told Iranian officials they'd played a constructive role in the region.

Asked about that, Bush said he hadn't been briefed on the meeting. "Now if the signal is that Iran is constructive, I will have to have a heart-to-heart with my friend the prime minister, because I don't believe they are constructive. I don't think he in his heart of hearts thinks they're constructive either," he said.

Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai differed on Iran's role when they met last weekend, with Karzai saying in a TV interview that Iran was "a helper" and Bush challenging that view.

The toughening U.S. position on Iran puts Karzai and Iraqi leaders such as Maliki in a difficult spot between Iran, their longtime ally, and the United States, which is spending lives and treasure to secure their newly formed government.

A senior Iraqi official in Baghdad said the Iraqi government received regular intelligence briefings from the United States about suspected Iranian activities. He refused to discuss details, but said the American position worried him.

The United States is "becoming more focused on Iranian influence inside Iraq," said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss private talks with the Americans. "And we don't want Iraq to become a zone of conflict between Iran and the U.S."

Proposals to use force against Iran over its actions in Iraq mark a new phase in the Bush administration's long internal war over Iran policy.

Until now, some hawks within the administration — including Cheney — are said to have favored military strikes to stop Iran from furthering its suspected ambitions for nuclear weapons.

Rice has championed a diplomatic strategy, but that, too, has failed to deter Iran so far.

Patrick Clawson, an Iran specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said a strike on the Quds camps in Iran could make the nuclear diplomacy more difficult.

Before launching such a strike, "We better be prepared to go public with very detailed and very convincing intelligence," Clawson said.

McClatchy Newspapers 2007

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Bush and Co: Making Enemies Faster Than We Can Kill Them.

By Jessica Bernstein-Wax, McClatchy NewspapersWed Aug 8, 2:36 PM ET

WASHINGTON — Suicide bombers in Iraq are overwhelmingly foreigners bent on destabilizing the government and undermining American interests there, two independent studies have concluded.

The studies report that the number of suicide bombings in Iraq has now surpassed those conducted worldwide since the early 1980s. The findings suggest that extremists from throughout the region and around the world are fueling Iraq's violence.

"The war on terrorism— and certainly the war in Iraq — has failed in decreasing the number of suicide attacks and has really radicalized the Muslim world to create this concept of martyrs without borders," said Mohammed Hafez , a visiting professor at the University of Missouri in Kansas City and the author of one of the two studies.

Hafez, whose new book is "Suicide Bombers in Iraq ," has identified the nationalities of 124 bombers who attacked in Iraq . Of those, the largest number— 53— were Saudis. Eight apiece came from Italy and Syria , seven from Kuwait , four from Jordan and two each from Belgium , France and Spain . Others came from North and East Africa , South Asia and various Middle Eastern and European countries. Only 18— 15 percent— were Iraqis.

In the second study, Robert Pape , a University of Chicago professor who runs the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism, identified the nationalities of 55 suicide bombers in Iraq . Sixteen were Saudis, seven were Syrians and five were Algerians. Kuwait , Morocco and Tunisia each supplied three bombers. Thirteen— 24 percent— were Iraqi Sunni Muslims.

Hafez and Pape said Iraqi Shiite Muslims hadn't carried out suicide attacks so far and instead had restricted their role in the sectarian violence to militia activity.

Pinning down the nationalities of suicide bombers can be tricky because they leave few physical remains, and extremist groups often don't claim the attacks until much later. The U.S. military says it does some DNA testing to investigate the bombers' identities.

Both researchers relied on extremist Web sites, "martyr" videos, news reports and statements to compile the data on nationalities. Hafez also gathered some information from online chats and discussion forums.

U.S. intelligence estimates based on interviews with detainees and captured documents indicate that most suicide bombers in Iraq are non-Iraqi, said a senior defense official who can't be named because of departmental rules

Suicide attacks more than doubled each year from the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to 2005, Pape said. In 2006, he said, they jumped just under a third. The American military has reported more than 1,400 since January 2004 . Before the U.S.-led invasion, there had been no suicide bombings in Iraq .

Pape attributed the attacks to the presence of some 150,000 American troops in the region.

The notion that most of the suicide bombers are foreigners engaged in a global movement is exaggerated, he said, since about 75 percent come from the Arabian Peninsula, which is close to the U.S. forces in Iraq .

"The Arabian Peninsula isn't that big: It's somewhat bigger than Texas ," Pape said. "The Americans have all the capability and are right there. That's what allows terrorist leaders to build a sense of urgency."

After losing safe havens in Afghanistan , Pakistan and Europe , militant organizations needed a new base for their operations, Hafez said. U.S. intelligence analysts, however, have concluded that al Qaida has built new training camps along the Afghan-Pakistani border, and that the group al Qaida in Iraq operates for the most part independently.

According to Hafez, extremist groups in Iraq conduct suicide bombings against fellow Muslims rather than U.S. troops to destabilize the fledgling government and spark sectarian warfare.

The groups' objectives in Iraq are different from "other places like in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict or in Lebanon ," he said.

In Lebanon , Shiite suicide bombers helped drive U.S., British, French, Italian and Israeli troops out of the country with a series of attacks. Sunni Palestinian suicide bombers have attacked in Israel and the Palestinian territories in an effort to loosen Israel's grip on what they say are Arab lands.

There's widespread agreement that Saudis are represented more heavily than any other nationality among the bombers, said Assaf Moghadem, a research fellow at Harvard University who studies suicide bombers' motivations. Insurgent groups sometimes recruit Saudis because of their relative prosperity, he said.

The ultra-conservative brand of Sunni Islam that's prevalent in Saudi Arabia also accounts for the large number of Saudis who participate in suicide bombings and the insurgency in Iraq , said Mike Davis , a University of California at Irvine professor who wrote a recent history of car bombs.

"The religious current in modern Islam that encourages this kind of sectarian attitude toward the Shiites is the religious orthodoxy enshrined in Saudi Arabia ," Davis said.

Most experts say that while the American presence in Iraq has radicalized Muslims, withdrawing the troops may not stem the number of suicide attacks, at least not right away.

Extremist groups in Iraq have a common goal of expelling foreign occupiers and destabilizing what they see as a U.S.-controlled government, Pape said. But if the U.S. withdraws, insurgent organizations probably will engage in a bloody power struggle, he added.

"If we stay, that tends to encourage people to flock to Iraq ," Hafez said. "Leaving will mean genocidal violence for the Iraqi people. It will mean a failed Iraqi state. The jihadists will declare, `We drove out America.' "

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Ugh. Young Republican Perverts Grow Up To Be Old Republican Perverts. Read the list if you've got the stomach for it.


What is it with the Young Republicans?

Michigan Young Republican pleads guilty in sex case

Posted by Jim Nichols July 24, 2007 17:26PM

Categories: Breaking News, Crime

The former head of the Michigan Federation of Young Republicans admitted today that he sexually abused a colleague during a national convention here last summer.

Michael Flory, a 32-year-old attorney from Jackson, Mich., pleaded guilty to sexual battery on the day he was to stand trial for rape.

The teary-eyed college student he overpowered in a downtown hotel room gasped and dabbed her eyes as Flory replied to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Peter Corrigan's question, "Are you indeed guilty?"

Michael Flory

"Sure - yeah," Flory said.

Corrigan set sentencing for Sept. 13. Flory faces a sentence that ranges from probation to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Flory is also a licensed insurance broker; Corrigan warned him that the guilty plea places both professional licenses in jeopardy of revocation.

Assistant County Prosecutor Carol Skutnik said Flory's lawyers, Henry Hilow and Bill McGinty, surprised her with a plea offer as trial witnesses from several states were arriving to testify.

The plea bargain, she said, doesn't include any suggestion of leniency, and the state will seek incarceration. She also said she hopes to present evidence of several "other incidents of sexual misconduct" in which Flory took advantage of vulnerable young women.

The victim, who is 22, declined to speak after Flory's guilty plea.

She and some supporters lamented when the incident became public last winter that Flory and his followers within the Republican organization had been smearing her reputation in retaliation for accusing Flory of rape. Skutnik said she found that to be true.

"People were using every opportunity to try to trash her, on Web sites or whatever," the prosecutor said. "He's been running around telling everybody what a piece of trash she is, so she was very happy to see him plead guilty."

The defense can say little until sentencing, Hilow said.

"He would just like to put this in the past for everybody," the defense attorney said.

Flory gained some notoriety at age 18 when he gave a televised speech to the Republican National Convention in the Houston Astrodome in 1992. The Michigan Young Republicans' Web site once hailed him as "one of the rising stars of GOP politics in America" and declared that "Mike has earned a great name for himself."

Flory, the victim and other members of Michigan's delegation to the national Young Republicans convention were partying in the Warehouse District last July 6, police and prosecutors said. The victim became so intoxicated that she headed back to her hotel room. Flory escorted her.

But when she lay down to sleep, he "violently forced several sex acts upon her," Skutnik said.


Glenn Murphy. President of Young Republicans Federation. Twice Accused Non-Consensual Cocksucker. Likes to use "Gay Issues" as a Wedge Issue.

Glenn Murphy: Non-Consensual Cocksucker. Recently Elected to head the Young Republicans National Federation.

Check out his myspace profile cached by Google. My favorite is the picture of him and W.

It's Glenn265 at Myspace.

For More info check:
Taking Down Words who broke the Scandal.

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More Republican Hypocrites. I say the more homophobic you are, the more likely you are to be a closet case.

Questions Surround Rising Indiana GOP Star

The newly-elected president of the Young Republican National Federation, Glenn Murphy, has stepped down as the group's president less than a month after being elected to the post at the group's convention in Florida last month amid a sex scandal involving him, which may prove as embarrassing to the national Republican Party as the Mark Foley scandal did during last year's congressional elections. Murphy, who also serves as chairman of the Clark Co. Republicans, has been viewed as a rising star in the Indiana and national GOP. His consulting firm has advised congressional candidates like that of former U.S. Rep. Mike Sodrel (R). He is fond of using divisive wedge issues, such as gay marriage, to promote his candidates. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels once said of Murphy: "Glenn Murphy is one of the most well-respected Republican leaders in Indiana. His media savvy and grassroots skills helped transform Southeast Indiana from a Democrat stronghold to a Republican growth area. He shoots for the 'impossible', and more often than not, he succeeds. I wholeheartedly endorse Glenn Murphy for Chairman of the Young Republican National Federation and his team for national leadership."

In a shocking police report filed by the Clark Co. Sheriff's office, Murphy is accused of sexually assaulting another man on July 29, 2007, while he lay sleeping in his bed. The alleged assault of the 22-year-old man took place in the Jeffersonville, Indiana home of his sister following a Young Republican party in which both Murphy and the 22-year-old man had been in attendance. The victim's sister had urged both men to spend the night at her home because of the amount of alcohol the two had consumed during the party. The victim awoke in the morning to find Murphy performing oral sex on him according to the report. When the victim asked Murphy what he was doing, he responded: "He was holding his dick with one hand and sucking my dick with his mouth." The victim then pushed Murphy away, gathered his personal belongings and left. Murphy was later confronted with the charges by the victim's sister according to the report. The sister says Murphy admitted to her that he performed the sex act on her brother. Taking Down Words reports Murphy is being charged with criminal deviate conduct, a Class B felony. The police report also notes that Murphy was accused of committing a very similar act on another man back in 1998. It is unclear why Murphy was not prosecuted for the 1998 incident.

Murphy is shown in the photo above being interviewed during last month's YR convention at which he was elected the organization's president. Murphy, whose mother emigrated from Hong Kong, was raised in southern Indiana and was the first Republican in a Democrat family according to Asian Week. "At Indiana University, he majored in journalism and joined the College Democrats. But he soon realized that the Republican Party’s values were more in line with his own and promptly joined the College Republicans." "Parties and their names change, but your values will always remain the same," he said. "You have to remain true to your values." After college, Murphy started a public relations firm, in addition to establishing the Indiana Federation of Young Republicans, which grew in two years to more than 200 members according to the Asian Week story. "At age 27, he became county chair of the Clark County (Indiana) GOP, a post that he still holds." At least at this moment. When he was elected president of the YRs last month, he told his hometown newspaper, “I will essentially be the mouthpiece and effective leader for the tens of thousands of Young Republicans, 18 to 40, across the country.”

"Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita traveled to Las Vegas to deliver Murphy's nominating speech. Rokita said on the floor of the convention, "Without Glenn Murphy, Jr. and the Young Republicans I wouldn't be Secretary of State. The Young Republican National Federation needs Glenn Murphy's leadership."

Murphy, 31, is the President of December Media, an advertising and media consulting firm near Louisville, KY. He also serves as the Secretary of the Ninth District Republican Party.

Mr. Murphy's Attorney Larry Wilder commented on the blog that posted this story by stating "Mr. Murphy contends that the events that took place that evening were as between two consenting adults." Nice.

And if that wasn’t enough Hypocrisy………

GOP St. Legislator: Fear of Black Man Made Me Pay for Blowjob!

08.06.07 -- 12:33PM
By Josh Marshall

You remember a little while back we brought you the story of Florida McCain campaign co-chair, Rep. Bob Allen (R). Right on the heels of Giuliani Southern Regional Chairman David Vitter's exposure as a serial user of prostitutes, Allen got caught in a Titusville park restroom offering to pay an undercover police officer to allow him to perform oral sex on him.

Now it turns out that Allen revealed the true reason for the alleged park-john-offer in a tape recorded statement he made just after his arrest.

"This was a pretty stocky black guy, and there was nothing but other black guys around in the park," said Allen, according to this article in the Orlando Sentinel. Allen went on to say he was afraid of becoming a "statistic."

I guess this raises the question of whether if you thought you were about to get mugged by a group of stocky black guys, your first plan of escape would be to try to give one of them a blowjob. But I guess maybe you had to be there.

In any case, we now have this further account of the negotiation from the police report ...

In a written statement released Thursday, Titusville Officer Danny Kavanaugh recalled entering the restroom twice and said he was drying his hands in a stall when Allen peered over the stall door.

After peering over the stall a second time, Allen pushed open the door and joined Kavanaugh inside, the officer wrote. Allen muttered " 'hi,' " and then said, " 'this is kind of a public place, isn't it,' " the report said.

The officer said he asked Allen about going somewhere else and that the legislator suggested going "across the bridge, it's quieter over there."

"Well look, man, I'm trying to make some money; you think you can hook me up with 20 bucks?" Kavanaugh asked Allen.

The officer said Allen responded, "Sure, I can do that, but this place is too public."

Then Kavanaugh said he told Allen, "I wanna know what I gotta do for 20 bucks before we leave.' " He said Allen replied: "I don't know what you're into."

According to Kavanaugh's statement, the officer said, "do you want just [oral sex]?" and Allen replied, "I was thinking you would want one."

The officer said he then asked Allen, "but you'll still give me the 20 bucks for that . . . and that the legislator said, "yeah, I wouldn't argue with that."

As Allen turned and motioned for the officer to follow him to his car, Kavanaugh identified himself as a police officer by raising his shirt and exposing his badge.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007


"None of you should believe we are winning this war. There is no evidence that we are winning this war" - Newt Gingrich. Seriously?

Gingrich says war on terror 'phony'
Former speaker says energy independence is key

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 08/03/07

Washington — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Thursday the Bush administration is waging a "phony war" on terrorism, warning that the country is losing ground against the kind of Islamic radicals who attacked the country on Sept. 11, 2001.

A more effective approach, said Gingrich, would begin with a national energy strategy aimed at weaning the country from its reliance on imported oil and some of the regimes that petro-dollars support.

More Nation/World news

"None of you should believe we are winning this war. There is no evidence that we are winning this war," the ex-Georgian told a group of about 300 students attending a conference for collegiate conservatives.

Gingrich, who led the so-called Republican Revolution that won the GOP control of both houses of Congress in 1994 midterm elections, said more must be done to marshal national resources to combat Islamic militants at home and abroad and to prepare the country for future attack. He was unstinting in his criticism of his fellow Republicans, in the White House and on Capitol Hill.

"We were in charge for six years," he said, referring to the period between 2001 and early 2007, when the GOP controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. "I don't think you can look and say that was a great success."

Thursday's National Conservative Student Conference was sponsored by the Young America's Foundation, a Herndon, Va.-based group founded in the 1960s as a political counterpoint to the left-leaning activists who coalesced around the civil rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam War.

Gingrich retains strong support among conservatives and ranked fifth among possible Republican nominees behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, with the backing of 7 percent of those queried in a ABC News/Washington Post poll taken last week. The poll surveyed 403 Republicans and Republican-leaning adults nationwide and has a 5 percentage-point margin of error.

"I believe we need to find leaders who are prepared to tell the truth ... about the failures of the performance of Republicans ... failed bureaucracies ... about how dangerous the world is," he said when asked what kind of Republican he would back for president.

Gingrich has been promoting a weekly political newsletter he calls "Winning the Future." It's available free to those who leave their e-mail addresses at, one of several Web sites he is connected with or operating. Gingrich began writing the newsletter in April 2006, and it now goes out to 311,000 readers each week, said Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler.

Political salon

At another Web site — www.americansolutions

.com — Gingrich is running a virtual political salon, with video clips, organizational information and contacts revolving around his conservative vision for the country's future. It asks supporters to join in an Internet "Solutions Day" on Sept. 27, the anniversary of Gingrich's so-called Contract With America, a slate of conservative policies he led through Congress as speaker of the House a decade and a half ago.

"What I'm trying to start is a new dialogue that is evidence-based," Gingrich said Thursday. "It doesn't start from the right wing, it doesn't start from the left wing," he said, but is an effort to get politicians and voters to "look honestly at the evidence of what isn't working and tell us how to change it."

Gingrich was interrupted with applause once, when he called for an end to the biting partisanship critics say has polarized national politics and paralyzed the workings of government.

"We have got to get past this partisan baloney, where I'm not allowed to say anything good about Hillary Clinton because 'I'm not a loyal Republican,' and she's not allowed to say anything good about me, or she's not a 'loyal' Democrat. What a stupid way to run a country."

He reserved his most pointed criticism for the administration's handling of the global campaign against terrorist groups.

"We've been engaged in a phony war," said Gingrich. "The only people who have been taking this seriously are the combat military."

His remarks seemed to reflect, in part, the findings of a National Intelligence Estimate made public last month.

In the estimate, the U.S. intelligence community concluded that six years of U.S. efforts to degrade the al-Qaida terrorist group had left the organization constrained but still potent, having "protected or regenerated" the capability to attack the United States in ways that have left the country "in a heightened threat environment."

"We have to take this seriously," said Gingrich.

"We used to be a serious country. When we got attacked at Pearl Harbor, we took on Imperial Japan, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany," he said, referring to World War II.

"We beat all three in less than four years. We're about to enter the seventh year of this phony war against ... [terrorist groups], and we're losing."

Successful approach

Gingrich said he would lay out in a Sept. 10 speech what a successful U.S. approach to this threat would have looked like over the past six years.

"First of all, we have to have a national energy strategy, which basically says to the Saudis, 'We're not going to rely on you,' " he said.

The United States imports about 14 million barrels of oil a day, making up two-thirds of its total consumption.

Monday, August 06, 2007


With Friends Like These...

190,000 weapons 'missing in Iraq'
The US military cannot account for 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols given to the Iraqi security forces, an official US report says.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says the Pentagon cannot track about 30% of the weapons distributed in Iraq over the past three years.

The Pentagon did not dispute the figures, but said it was reviewing arms deliveries procedures.

About $19.2bn has been spent by the US since 2003 on Iraqi security forces.

GAO, the investigative arm of the US Congress, said at least $2.8bn of this money was used to buy and deliver weapons and other equipment.

Correspondents say it is now feared many of the weapons are being used against US forces on the ground in Iraq.


The GAO said weapons distribution was haphazard and rushed and failed to follow established procedures, particularly from 2004 to 2005.

AK-47 rifles: 110,000
Pistols: 80,000
Body armour pieces: 135,000
Helmets: 115,000

During this period, security training was led by Gen David Petraeus, who now commands all US forces in Iraq.

The GAO reached the estimate - 111,000 missing AK-47s and 80,000 missing pistols - by comparing the property records of the Multi-National Security Transition Command for Iraq against records maintained by Gen Petraeus of the arms and equipment he ordered.

Deputy Assistant Defence Secretary Mark Kimmitt told AFP the Pentagon was "reviewing policies and procedures to ensure US-funded equipment reaches the intended Iraqi security forces under the Iraq program".

Weapons delay

The report comes as a political battle rages in Washington over the progress of the war in Iraq.

Gen Petraeus and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker are scheduled to report to Congress by mid-September on the success of efforts to halt sectarian violence and return Iraq to viable self-governance.

Meanwhile, at the end of July, the US Defence Department admitted that the US-led coalition in Iraq had failed to deliver nearly two-thirds of the equipment it promised to Iraq's army.

The Pentagon said only 14.5m of the nearly 40m items of equipment ordered by the Iraqi army had been provided.

The US military commander in charge of training in Iraq has asked for help in speeding up the transfer of equipment.

Iraq's ambassador to the US said the delays were hindering the fighting capacity of its armed forces.

Story from BBC NEWS:

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Warrantless Surrender

Warrantless Surrender
Congress is stampeded into another compromise of Americans' rights.

Monday, August 6, 2007; A16

THE DEMOCRATIC-led Congress, more concerned with protecting its political backside than with safeguarding the privacy of American citizens, left town early yesterday after caving in to administration demands that it allow warrantless surveillance of the phone calls and e-mails of American citizens, with scant judicial supervision and no reporting to Congress about how many communications are being intercepted. To call this legislation ill-considered is to give it too much credit: It was scarcely considered at all. Instead, it was strong-armed through both chambers by an administration that seized the opportunity to write its warrantless wiretapping program into law -- or, more precisely, to write it out from under any real legal restrictions.

Administration officials, backed up by their Republican enablers in Congress, argued that they were being dangerously hamstrung in their ability to collect foreign-to-foreign communications by suspected terrorists that happen to transit through the United States. The problem is that while no serious person objects to intercepting foreign-to-foreign communications, what the administration sought -- and what it managed to obtain -- allows much more than foreign-to-foreign contacts. The government will now be free to intercept any communications believed to be from outside the United States (including from Americans overseas) that involve "foreign intelligence" -- not just terrorism. It will be able to monitor phone calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens or residents without warrants -- unless the subject is the "primary target" of the surveillance. Instead of having the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court ensure that surveillance is being done properly, with monitoring of Americans minimized, that job would be up to the attorney general and the director of national intelligence. The court's role is reduced to that of rubber stamp.

This is as reckless as it was unnecessary. Democrats had presented a compromise plan that would have permitted surveillance to proceed, but with court review and an audit by the Justice Department's inspector general, to be provided to Congress, about how many Americans had been surveilled. Democrats could have stuck to their guns and insisted on their version. Instead, nervous about being blamed for any terrorist attack and eager to get out of town, they accepted the unacceptable. Most Democrats opposed the measure, but enough (16 in the Senate, 41 in the House) went with Republicans to allow it to pass, and the leadership enabled that result.

There is one small saving grace here: These sweeping new powers expire after six months. Of course, having dropped the audit requirement, lawmakers won't have a good way of knowing how many Americans had their communications intercepted. The administration will no doubt again play the national security card. Democratic leaders say they want to move quickly to fix the damage. If only we could be more confident that they won't get rolled again.

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Bush Wants To Know Who Confirmed He Was Acting Illegally...

Payback Time: FBI Raids Home of Suspected NSA Leaker
Sun Aug 05, 2007 at 09:41:16 AM PDT
by Avenging Angel @ Daily Kos

This past week, the Bush administration added insult to injury over its illegal program of NSA domestic surveillance. During the very time Congress was debating codifying President Bush's lawbreaking by revising the FISA law many of his allies have been afraid to publicly challenge as unconstitutional, Alberto Gonzales' DOJ was raiding the home of a former Justice official to identify the person who first brought the illicit program to light.

As Michael Isikoff details in Newsweek, a team of FBI agents raided the home of Thomas M. Tamm, a veteran prosecutor and former official of the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review (OIPR) within DOJ:

The agents seized Tamm's desktop computer, two of his children's laptops and a cache of personal files. Tamm and his lawyer, Paul Kemp, declined any comment. So did the FBI. But two legal sources who asked not to be identified talking about an ongoing case told NEWSWEEK the raid was related to a Justice criminal probe into who leaked details of the warrantless eavesdropping program to the news media. The raid appears to be the first significant development in the probe since The New York Times reported in December 2005 that Bush had authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on the international phone calls and e-mails of U.S. residents without court warrants.

Even as Alberto Gonzales was feebly deflecting perjury charges by apologizing for "creating confusion" with his comments about "no serious disagreement" in 2004 within the administration over its NSA homeland spying scheme, the Attorney General was dispatching the FBI to investigate one of those purportedly disagreeable officials. At its worst, the campaign to punish NSA whistle-blowers reflect not only the administration's misplaced priorities, but its absolute commitment to seeking vengeance against its opponents:

The raid also came while the White House and Congress were battling over expanding NSA wiretapping authority in order to plug purported "surveillance gaps." James X. Dempsey of the Center for Democracy and Technology said the raid was "amazing" and shows the administration's misplaced priorities: using FBI agents to track down leakers instead of processing intel warrants to close the gaps. A Justice spokesman declined to comment.

After the revelations about the NSA program by the New York Times in December 2005, On December 19th, President Bush raged about what he deemed "a shameful act" that is "helping the enemy". Claiming he didn't order an investigation, Bush added "the Justice Department, I presume, will proceed forward with a full investigation" At a subsequent press conference that same day, Alberto Gonzales suggested the retribution that was to come:

"As to whether or not there will be a leak investigation, as the President indicated, this is really hurting national security, this has really hurt our country, and we are concerned that a very valuable tool has been compromised. As to whether or not there will be a leak investigation, we'll just have to wait and see."

The disturbing irony, of course, is that the vendetta against leakers by President Bush and his allies is highly selective. In 2003, Vice President Cheneyfamously authorized the cherry-picked declassification of elements of the 2002 Iraq NIE as part of a campaign to smear Ambassador Joseph Wilson over his public decimation of the White House's uranium in Niger canard. As the National Journal reported in April 2006, leak plugging stalwart and Kansas Senator Pat Roberts (then the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman) leaked details regarding Saddam Hussein's whereabouts on March 20, 2003 even as the Iraq war was just underway. And just last week, House Minority Leader John Boehner described classified details of the supposed "intelligence gap" created by a FISA judge's ruling, all in an effort to pressure his Democratic opponents to cave to President Bush's demands for expanded domestic surveillance authority.

Which, as it turned out, is exactly what came to pass. So while Congressional Democrats blinked by cowardly ratifying the lawlessness of an unpopular President and his Attorney General on life support, the White House continued its policy of payback - without blinking.

** Crossposted at Perrspectives **

UPDATE #1: Several readers have already commented about PlameGate and President Bush's supreme hypocrisy when it comes to his selective crusade against leakers. As you might recall, a nonchalant President Bush had this to say about the person(s) who outed covert CIA operative Valerie Plame on October 7, 2003:

"I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official. Now, this is a large administration, and there's a lot of senior officials. I don't have any idea. I'd like to. I want to know the truth. That's why I've instructed this staff of mine to cooperate fully with the investigators -- full disclosure, everything we know the investigators will find out."

Perhaps Vegas will start taking odds on a pardon for the NSA leaker...

UPDATE #2: Ballerina X below asks if the Thomas M. Tamm whose home was raided by the FBI last week is the same Thomas M. Tamm who commented at Media Matters on July 25th. There, Tamm identifies himself as a "former DOJ lawyer" and raises the issue of political interference inherent in Gonzales' blocking U.S. prosecutors from pursuing Congressional contempt charges.


The Surge is Working!

From Democratic Underground:

The surge is working! The surge is working! Last week the New York Times reported that "The death of a marine in western Iraq brought the American military death toll to 74 so far in July, on course to be the lowest monthly figure this year."

On July 26, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the second-ranking American commander in Iraq, said that the lower death toll was a "positive sign" but that it was too early to say whether the reduction was a "true trend."

So let's take a look at the number of America soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq this year, and reflect upon this "positive sign."

July: 80
June: 101
May: 126
April: 104
March: 81
February: 81
January: 83

Hmm, so there was one fewer troop killed in the month of July than in the months of February and March. Well I guess the surge must be working!

Now let's compare July 2007 with previous years:

July 2007: 80
July 2006: 43
July 2005: 54
July 2004: 54
July 2003: 48

The surge is working I tells ya!


Democrats Roll Over and Play Dead... Again.

David Bromwich @ Huffington Post
Wanted: a Constitutional Democrat
Posted August 4, 2007

On Friday, by a vote of 60-28, the Senate passed the measure that President Bush had requested to enhance his powers of warrantless wiretapping. It is said that these new powers will not cover phone calls made within the United States; but the effect of the vote is certainly to remove a constitutional check. We now have the president's word that he will act with restraint.

Two small concessions were granted by the administration to the cooperative lawmaking body. First, in the revised legislation, the attorney general is no longer the sole official charged with oversight; Alberto Gonzales will share authority with the director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell. Second, the change in the law is not permanent but comes up for renewal in six months.

Such allowances hardly compare to what was extracted in return. The FISA court will be permitted to review the president's wiretaps only after the fact; and the court is restricted to a generic review of the warrants, with no power to inquire into individual cases.

This latest understanding with the President (which will not be any easier to reverse six months from now than it was to oppose yesterday) was approved by sixteen Democrats to make the required majority of 60--among them Senators Bayh, Webb, and Feinstein. The unintimidated opposition was led by Russell Feingold.

By what force was the Democratic majority effectively split? The answer lies in part in the nature of President Bush's appeal to fear. He has frightened many people into believing that if America is ever hit by another attack, the blame should fall on every lawmaker who ever opposed his will on national security. The Cheney-Bush campaign of fear is relentless, but not entirely disingenuous. President Bush is frightened, and the public has seen it; Vice President Cheney is frightened, and his bunker shows it.

Intimidation apart, a cynical prudence clearly drove some of the crossover votes. Many Democrats believe the party's best strategy is to run out the clock. Let the president have everything he wants between now and November 2008; watch politely, and show a seemly disappointment; and count the profits at election time. The same goes for the president's men, from Petraeus down to Gonzales: give them all they want for the next fifteen months and see where it lands us. That is one reason why impeachment has been taken "off the table."

Of course, impeachment was put into the Constitution partly as a remedy against the rashness and ambition of just such an administration as this; the shadow of impeachment, it was supposed, might curb the desperate attempts of bad men to shore up their power by fresh adventures. But here once more the Democratic calculation appears to be: the worse it gets, the better for us in the end.

In a recent talk with liberal journalists, Nancy Pelosi offered a second kind of prudential reservation: impeachment or censure, of either Cheney or Bush, would "divide the country." That is the same species of wisdom that prevailed with Al Gore when he withheld his support from the late petitions charging voter fraud in Florida in the election of 2000. He was choosing not to divide the country.

The trouble is that Cheney and Bush are happy to divide the country. They mean to play their terrible hand to the end; and they do not take no for an answer. Compromise with them, and you are the one who is compromised. The statement by Dick Cheney in January 2007, about the impact of the election on his plans for the Middle East, showed the curious streak of frankness that marks his political character. "It won't stop us," he said.

Now, in a constitutional democracy, there are two ways of stopping the claims of a leader out of control. One is by an appeal to the voters; the other is by an appeal to the laws. The vice president (and, therefore, the president) having declared his independence of the people, it would seem that the best remaining protection is the laws. If, on the other hand, the opposition are unwilling to resort to the laws--if, from a combination of timidity and tactical reasoning, they refuse to defend their own function as lawmakers--for what purpose do they exist?

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Sunday, August 05, 2007


Enough Already with the Pathetic Excuses

Sun Aug 05, 2007 at 05:50:52 AM PDT

I know what a lot of you 57 Democratic Representatives and Senators are going to be saying over the next month while you’re speaking on the home turf. You did it to protect Americans. You didn’t want to take a chance. You had to stand up to the terrorists. You really had no choice.

If anybody asks why in hell you chose to legalize what the Cheney-Bush team has been doing illegally since 2001, you’re going to tell us you did it for our own good. You amended the 29-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act – originally passed to put some modest restrictions on agencies whose outrageous and frequently illegal behavior had been exposed by journalists and the Church Committee – to make us safe. You’re going to tell us you’ve got our backs.

You’re going to claim we can depend on you to be tough against terrorists even though you just put your foreheads to the floor at the feet of the most loathsome duo ever to sink their talons into the office of the Presidency. You’re going to tell us you couldn’t stand up to the blackmail, although that's not what you'll call it. You’re going to say Democrats can’t afford to appear weak.

At which point, if I happen to be in the back of the room, your bodyguards will probably have to drag me off. Because I cannot imagine how I will be able to quiet my laughter long enough for you to get on to the next question.

Frankly, you epitomize weak. Your every pore exudes feebleness. You are surrender monkeys. And you’ve just casually tossed away a basic protection as if it were a banana peel.

Pressed, I suspect that over the next month some of you will defend this pitiful capitulation with the argument that it’s only for six months, and that you’ll have a chance to amend the amendment, to rewrite the law more properly. You'll pretend that you won’t kiss the President’s ass half a year from now when he comes back and says exactly what he said this time: Give me what I want or I’ll blame you the next time terrorists kill Americans. Weak is bad enough. Must you be simpletons as well? How many times has he marketed this crap? How many times have you bought it? Do you also fall for those late-night $19.95 television deals for a double-set of knives that never need sharpening?

In short, what in the name of the sweet green earth makes you, in the perfect description of Glenn Greenwald, so self-destructive? What makes you think that giving in equates with standing firm in the public eye? What makes you believe that your appeasement offers the Democrats a better chance of winning a larger majority in the House and Senate, a better chance of returning to the White House? Do you really suppose that your "aye" for this law, and your other capitulations in the past seven months, will smooth the way for those of us who every other year use everything in our repertoire to persuade people that voting Democratic will change things for the better?

If your behavior were mere self-destructiveness, it wouldn’t matter quite so much. But you’re taking all Americans down with you. The White House still refuses to even say what it is doing. As Greenwald points out:

Vast abuses and criminality in surveillance remain undisclosed, uninvestigated and unimpeded because Congressional Democrats have stood meekly by while the administration refuses to disclose what it has been doing in how it spies on us. ...

Congressional Democrats know virtually nothing about how the Bush administration has been eavesdropping on our conversations because the administration refused to tell them and they passively accepted this state of affairs.

Unfortunately, you 57 are not the only Democrats at fault for enabling these unconstitutional abuses. Party leaders bear responsibility for not playing hardball. For not using every technique and every bit of clout at their command to at least attempt to block amendments like this atrocity from becoming law. You leaders don’t have to explain about the paper-thin majority. You don’t have point out that it’s important to choose your fights. Understood. But this isn’t about corn subsidies, or earmarks or resolutions establishing Soap Carvers of America Day. Constitutional protections are at stake. Most people won’t blame you for losing if you put up a good fight. But how can you expect to avoid blame when you don’t?

The Church Committee noted in 1976:

This Committee has examined a realm of governmental information collection which has not been governed by restraints comparable to those in criminal proceedings. We have examined the collection of intelligence about the political advocacy and actions and the private lives of American citizens. That information has been used covertly to discredit the ideas advocated and to "neutralize" the actions of their proponents. As Attorney General Harlan Fiske Stone warned in 1924, when he sought to keep federal agencies from investigating "political or other opinions" as opposed to "conduct . . . forbidden by the laws":

When a police system passes beyond these limits, it is dangerous to the proper administration of justice and to human liberty, which it should be our first concern to cherish.

... There is always a possibility that a secret police may become a menace to free government and free institutions because it carries with it the possibility of abuses of power which are not always quickly apprehended or understood.

Our investigation has confirmed that warning. We have seen segments of our Government, in their attitudes and action, adopt tactics unworthy of a democracy, and occasionally reminiscent of the tactics of totalitarian regimes. We have seen a consistent pattern in which programs initiated with limited goals, such as preventing criminal violence or identifying foreign spies, were expanded to what witnesses characterized as "vacuum cleaners"," sweeping in information about lawful activities of American citizens.

The tendency of intelligence activities to expand beyond their initial scope is a theme which runs through every aspect of our investigative findings. Intelligence collection programs naturally generate ever-increasing demands for new data. And once intelligence has been collected, there are strong pressures to use it against the target.

There comes a time when giving in to the demolition of constitutional protections can no longer be considered a matter of being weak or unthinking. Rather it must be considered complicity.

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