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May 6th, 2003, 09:51 PM
May 6, 2003

Missing in Action: Truth


When I raised the Mystery of the Missing W.M.D. recently, hawks fired barrages of reproachful e-mail at me. The gist was: "You *&#*! Who cares if we never find weapons of mass destruction, because we've liberated the Iraqi people from a murderous tyrant."

But it does matter, enormously, for American credibility. After all, as Ari Fleischer said on April 10 about W.M.D.: "That is what this war was about."

I rejoice in the newfound freedoms in Iraq. But there are indications that the U.S. government souped up intelligence, leaned on spooks to change their conclusions and concealed contrary information to deceive people at home and around the world.

Let's fervently hope that tomorrow we find an Iraqi superdome filled with 500 tons of mustard gas and nerve gas, 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 29,984 prohibited munitions capable of delivering chemical agents, several dozen Scud missiles, gas centrifuges to enrich uranium, 18 mobile biological warfare factories, long-range unmanned aerial vehicles to dispense anthrax, and proof of close ties with Al Qaeda. Those are the things that President Bush or his aides suggested Iraq might have, and I don't want to believe that top administration officials tried to win support for the war with a campaign of wholesale deceit.

Consider the now-disproved claims by President Bush and Colin Powell that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger so it could build nuclear weapons. As Seymour Hersh noted in The New Yorker, the claims were based on documents that had been forged so amateurishly that they should never have been taken seriously.

I'm told by a person involved in the Niger caper that more than a year ago the vice president's office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal, so a former U.S. ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger. In February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported to the C.I.A. and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged.

The envoy reported, for example, that a Niger minister whose signature was on one of the documents had in fact been out of office for more than a decade. In addition, the Niger mining program was structured so that the uranium diversion had been impossible. The envoy's debunking of the forgery was passed around the administration and seemed to be accepted — except that President Bush and the State Department kept citing it anyway.

"It's disingenuous for the State Department people to say they were bamboozled because they knew about this for a year," one insider said.

Another example is the abuse of intelligence from Hussein Kamel, a son-in-law of Saddam Hussein and head of Iraq's biological weapons program until his defection in 1995. Top British and American officials kept citing information from Mr. Kamel as evidence of a huge secret Iraqi program, even though Mr. Kamel had actually emphasized that Iraq had mostly given up its W.M.D. program in the early 1990's. Glen Rangwala, a British Iraq expert, says the transcript of Mr. Kamel's debriefing was leaked because insiders resented the way politicians were misleading the public.

Patrick Lang, a former head of Middle Eastern affairs in the Defense Intelligence Agency, says that he hears from those still in the intelligence world that when experts wrote reports that were skeptical about Iraq's W.M.D., "they were encouraged to think it over again."

"In this administration, the pressure to get product `right' is coming out of O.S.D. [the Office of the Secretary of Defense]," Mr. Lang said. He added that intelligence experts had cautioned that Iraqis would not necessarily line up to cheer U.S. troops and that the Shiite clergy could be a problem. "The guys who tried to tell them that came to understand that this advice was not welcome," he said.

"The intelligence that our officials was given regarding W.M.D. was either defective or manipulated," Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico noted. Another senator is even more blunt and, sadly, exactly right: "Intelligence was manipulated."

The C.I.A. was terribly damaged when William Casey, its director in the Reagan era, manipulated intelligence to exaggerate the Soviet threat in Central America to whip up support for Ronald Reagan's policies. Now something is again rotten in the state of Spookdom. *

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

May 6th, 2003, 09:55 PM
May 6, 2003
Man on Horseback

Gen. Georges Boulanger cut a fine figure; he looked splendid in uniform, and magnificent on horseback. So his handlers made sure that he appeared in uniform, astride a horse, as often as possible.

It worked: Boulanger became immensely popular. If he hadn't lost his nerve on the night of the attempted putsch, French democracy might have ended in 1889.

We do things differently here — or we used to. Has "man on horseback" politics come to America?

Some background: the Constitution declares the president commander in chief of the armed forces to make it clear that civilians, not the military, hold ultimate authority. That's why American presidents traditionally make a point of avoiding military affectations. Dwight Eisenhower was a victorious general and John Kennedy a genuine war hero, but while in office neither wore anything that resembled military garb.

Given that history, George Bush's "Top Gun" act aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln — c'mon, guys, it wasn't about honoring the troops, it was about showing the president in a flight suit — was as scary as it was funny.

Mind you, it was funny. At first the White House claimed the dramatic tail-hook landing was necessary because the carrier was too far out to use a helicopter. In fact, the ship was so close to shore that, according to The Associated Press, administration officials "acknowledged positioning the massive ship to provide the best TV angle for Bush's speech, with the sea as his background instead of the San Diego coastline."

A U.S.-based British journalist told me that he and his colleagues had laughed through the whole scene. If Tony Blair had tried such a stunt, he said, the press would have demanded to know how many hospital beds could have been provided for the cost of the jet fuel.

But U.S. television coverage ranged from respectful to gushing. Nobody pointed out that Mr. Bush was breaking an important tradition. And nobody seemed bothered that Mr. Bush, who appears to have skipped more than a year of the National Guard service that kept him out of Vietnam, is now emphasizing his flying experience. (Spare me the hate mail. An exhaustive study by The Boston Globe found no evidence that Mr. Bush fulfilled any of his duties during that missing year. And since Mr. Bush has chosen to play up his National Guard career, this can't be shrugged off as old news.)

Anyway, it was quite a show. Luckily for Mr. Bush, the frustrating search for Osama bin Laden somehow morphed into a good old-fashioned war, the kind where you seize the enemy's capital and get to declare victory after a cheering crowd pulls down the tyrant's statue. (It wasn't much of a crowd, and American soldiers actually brought down the statue, but it looked great on TV.)

Let me be frank. Why is the failure to find any evidence of an active Iraqi nuclear weapons program, or vast quantities of chemical and biological weapons (a few drums don't qualify — though we haven't found even that) a big deal? Mainly because it feeds suspicions that the war wasn't waged to eliminate real threats. This suspicion is further fed by the administration's lackadaisical attitude toward those supposed threats once Baghdad fell. For example, Iraq's main nuclear waste dump wasn't secured until a few days ago, by which time it had been thoroughly looted. So was it all about the photo ops?

Well, Mr. Bush got to pose in his flight suit. And given the absence of awkward questions, his handlers surely feel empowered to make even more brazen use of the national security issue in future.

Next year — in early September — the Republican Party will hold its nominating convention in New York. The party will exploit the time and location to the fullest. How many people will dare question the propriety of the proceedings?

And who will ask why, if the administration is so proud of its response to Sept. 11, it has gone to such lengths to prevent a thorough, independent inquiry into what actually happened? (An independent study commission wasn't created until after the 2002 election, and it has been given little time and a ludicrously tiny budget.)

There was a time when patriotic Americans from both parties would have denounced any president who tried to take political advantage of his role as commander in chief. But that, it seems, was another country. *

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

May 13th, 2003, 07:33 AM
May 13, 2003

The China Syndrome


A funny thing happened during the Iraq war: many Americans turned to the BBC for their TV news. They were looking for an alternative point of view — something they couldn't find on domestic networks, which, in the words of the BBC's director general, "wrapped themselves in the American flag and substituted patriotism for impartiality."

Leave aside the rights and wrongs of the war itself, and consider the paradox. The BBC is owned by the British government, and one might have expected it to support that government's policies. In fact, however, it tried hard — too hard, its critics say — to stay impartial. America's TV networks are privately owned, yet they behaved like state-run media.

What explains this paradox? It may have something to do with the China syndrome. No, not the one involving nuclear reactors — the one exhibited by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation when dealing with the government of the People's Republic.

In the United States, Mr. Murdoch's media empire — which includes Fox News and The New York Post — is known for its flag-waving patriotism. But all that patriotism didn't stop him from, as a Fortune article put it, "pandering to China's repressive regime to get his programming into that vast market." The pandering included dropping the BBC's World Service — which reports news China's government doesn't want disseminated — from his satellite programming, and having his publishing company cancel the publication of a book critical of the Chinese regime.

Can something like that happen in this country? Of course it can. Through its policy decisions — especially, though not only, decisions involving media regulation — the U.S. government can reward media companies that please it, punish those that don't. This gives private networks an incentive to curry favor with those in power. Yet because the networks aren't government-owned, they aren't subject to the kind of scrutiny faced by the BBC, which must take care not to seem like a tool of the ruling party. So we shouldn't be surprised if America's "independent" television is far more deferential to those in power than the state-run systems in Britain or — for another example — Israel.

A recent report by Stephen Labaton of The Times contained a nice illustration of the U.S. government's ability to reward media companies that do what it wants. The issue was a proposal by Michael Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, to relax regulations on media ownership. The proposal, formally presented yesterday, may be summarized as a plan to let the bigger fish eat more of the smaller fish. Big media companies will be allowed to have a larger share of the national market and own more TV stations in any given local market, and many restrictions on "cross-ownership" — owning radio stations, TV stations and newspapers in the same local market — will be lifted.

The plan's defects aside — it will further reduce the diversity of news available to most people — what struck me was the horse-trading involved. One media group wrote to Mr. Powell, dropping its opposition to part of his plan "in return for favorable commission action" on another matter. That was indiscreet, but you'd have to be very naïve not to imagine that there are a lot of implicit quid pro quos out there.

And the implicit trading surely extends to news content. Imagine a TV news executive considering whether to run a major story that might damage the Bush administration — say, a follow-up on Senator Bob Graham's charge that a Congressional report on Sept. 11 has been kept classified because it would raise embarrassing questions about the administration's performance. Surely it would occur to that executive that the administration could punish any network running that story.

Meanwhile, both the formal rules and the codes of ethics that formerly prevented blatant partisanship are gone or ignored. Neil Cavuto of Fox News is an anchor, not a commentator. Yet after Baghdad's fall he told "those who opposed the liberation of Iraq" — a large minority — that "you were sickening then; you are sickening now." Fair and balanced.

We don't have censorship in this country; it's still possible to find different points of view. But we do have a system in which the major media companies have strong incentives to present the news in a way that pleases the party in power, and no incentive not to. *

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

May 13th, 2003, 05:34 PM
May 13, 2003

Europe Won't Be Fooled Again



After months of cold war with the United Nations, the United States put forth a draft resolution last week to give the international body oversight of efforts to rebuild Iraq. Although this might help the United Nations gain back some credibility, Washington's effort was clearly intended as a peace offering to its former "Old Europe" allies. While the offer is certainly genuine, it is unlikely to thaw relations with Russia, France, Germany and Turkey. The problem is that the Bush administration, while ostensibly trying to get its traditional friends on board, continues to dissemble about where the train is headed.

To understand the problem, one has to consider what the Europeans were presented with in the build-up to war. Beyond polemics and misgivings, the basic problem was that Washington's stated war goals were not logically coherent, and its more intellectually compelling arguments were usually played down or denied.

The official war objectives given to the allies were these: destruction of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction; fighting terrorism; getting rid of a tyrant. The Europeans responded that there were no operational weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that the inspections could have maintained the status quo at a lesser cost than a military campaign; Saddam Hussein was in no way integral to Al Qaeda, which had shifted to Pakistan (as shown by all the recent arrests); and, yes, Saddam Hussein was a bloody tyrant, but who decided not to finish him off in 1991?

For Old Europe, the poverty of the official American arguments gave rise to suspicion that there was a hidden agenda. European public opinion endorsed the idea that the war was about oil, a claim that fed into the good old anti-imperialist reflex from Cairo to Paris.

That oil argument was of course wrong. But that is not to say these Europeans were mistaken about the United States having a broader agenda. And, in fact, there had always been a not-so-hidden agenda, one explicitly expressed by many professional thinkers at the American Enterprise Institute, for example. The idea is that the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate is America's most worrisome foreign entanglement, and can be broken only if the overall existing order in the Middle East is shaken up first.

In this sense, the rationale for the military campaign in Iraq was not that Iraq was the biggest threat but, on the contrary, that it was the weakest and hence the easiest to take care of. The invasion was largely aimed at demonstrating America's political will and commitment to go to war. Reshaping the Middle East does not mean changing borders, but rather threatening existing regimes through military pressure and destabilizing them with calls for democratization.

After Baghdad's fall, Tehran, Damascus and Riyadh should understand that America is back. The Israelis, for their part, are now insisting that the Iranian nuclear program be dealt with immediately. Pentagon officials hint that Syria is the next target. The idea is to force Damascus and Tehran to cut off terrorist groups like Hezbollah, which means depriving both regimes of their ideological legitimacy, which in turn would weaken their grips on their populations. Is it simply a coincidence that the draft resolution on Iraq went to the Security Council just as Secretary of State Colin Powell was heading to Jerusalem?

This American agenda is very risky and full of pitfalls, but it is logical, perhaps laudable, and should have been put on the table. At least then the real issues could have been debated.

The problem is that no American official ever bothered to express the real motivation to the usual allies. One reason for this partial disclosure may have been that the consensus in Washington was built only on the lesser aspect — removing Saddam Hussein. But the broader, regional plan could at least have been privately conveyed by President Bush to his European counterparts. It was not. Mr. Bush does not like to travel and meet his peers, in contrast to his father and Ronald Reagan. No private contacts were maintained where ideas could be put forward without being couched in official statements.

The State Department consistently referred only to the restricted agenda (terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and tyranny) and systematically dismissed any idea of a broader agenda. Any European diplomat or expert who addressed American officials about the broader goals being discussed in the many think tanks close to the Pentagon — democratization, reshaping the Middle East, getting to Iran and Syria after Baghdad — were told that such debates did not reflect official views.

Would Europe have accepted the real agenda? Certainly not. But at least the debate would have been based on the relevant issue: does it make sense to reshape the Middle East through military pressure?

Thus there is no reason for Old Europe to repent today. To join a coalition means, at the very least, being told about the whole strategy and not just being enlisted blindly in battle. Europe has its own concerns: pacifist public opinion, proximity to the Middle East, a large population of Muslim citizens far more vocal than that of the United States.

The fact is, the Bush administration's long-term agenda will be very difficult without real allies and an international umbrella. The situation in Iraq will soon remind the American public that United States troops are, in legal terms, an army of occupation. Hence last week's United Nations olive branch. Unless the traditional allies and the United Nations are given a real role, America will be obliged to rule Iraq for years and to keep tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of troops there.

Washington has claimed that it can create a friendly, democratic and stable Iraq within two years. Forget it: achieve two of those adjectives and consider yourselves lucky. There is no democracy without nationalism, and the Iraqis will sooner or later challenge the American presence. The United States cannot stand alone when dealing with the driving force in the Middle East. This is neither Islamism nor the appetite for democracy, but simply nationalism — whether it comes in the guise of democracy, secular totalitarianism or Islamic fervor.

Olivier Roy is a specialist on the Islamic world at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Lightning Homer
May 14th, 2003, 05:32 AM
"There is no democracy without nationalism, [...]

Who sayed that ? A french Hitler ? Most of nationalist governments on this planet are far from democracy !

[...] and the Iraqis will sooner or later challenge the American presence. "

Well, boys, I think we're getting quite used to ingratitude, aren't we ?

"The United States cannot stand alone when dealing with the driving force in the Middle East."

If nobody else cares, America won't have another choice than stand alone. Thanks to God, we have Great Britain and Poland on our side !

"This is neither Islamism nor the appetite for democracy, but simply nationalism — whether it comes in the guise of democracy, secular totalitarianism or Islamic fervor."

In his country (France), nationalism has a name : Jean-Marie Le Pen. That's what that guy calls democracy ?

"Olivier Roy is a specialist on the Islamic world at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique."

No wonder. And he's also a sucker...

(Edited by Lightning Homer at 1:43 pm on June 5, 2003)

May 14th, 2003, 06:24 AM
There is no democracy without nationalism

That certainly wasn't the case in this country. The sense of America the Nation did not develop until after the Civil War.

Democracy in a diverse place like Iraq won't happen unless their is separation of religion and government.

I agree with the author's assessment of Administration diplomacy.

Lightning Homer
May 14th, 2003, 07:14 AM
"Democracy in a diverse place like Iraq won't happen unless their is separation of religion and government."

Separation of religion and state isn't a warranty of democracy. Saddam Husseïn wasn't religious afterall.

If the majority want a religious state, it would be thoroughly antidemocratic not to let them get what they want.

Some religions are not uncompatible with democracy and freedom (thanks be to God).

(Edited by Lightning Homer at 3:39 pm on May 14, 2003)

May 14th, 2003, 07:20 PM
Quote: from Lightning Homer on 7:14 am on May 14, 2003
Separation of religion and state isn't a warranty of democracy. Saddam Husseïn wasn't religious afterall.

I didn't say democracy would evolve from the separation. I said it would be impossible without it.

There are non religious dictatorships in the world, but there is not one theocracy-democracy.

TLOZ Link5
May 14th, 2003, 08:00 PM
Errr...what about Iran, Zippy?

May 14th, 2003, 11:30 PM
Iran is a good example of what I am saying. It is described as an Islamic Republic. The two key figures are the elected
President, Mohammad Khatami, and the Islamic Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Iranian constitution states that the president is the head of the government, but also that the ayatollah, appointed by a council of clerics, derives his authority from Allah which gives him rule over the government.

This contradiction is the Iranian attempt to form a theocratic democracy, and is the source of conflict between the president and the ayatollah. Democratic reforms can only happen at the expense of religious power.

Iran may be closer to a true democracy than any other Middle East country. Bush sure helped them along with the "Axis of Evil" label.

Lightning Homer
May 15th, 2003, 03:19 AM
There are non religious dictatorships in the world, but there is not one theocracy-democracy.

Ha-haaaaaaaa, there's at least one or two, buddy !
And it's no Iran...

TLOZ, did you smoke crack ? :biggrin:

May 15th, 2003, 07:38 AM
Dammit Homer. Not fair. I've got other things to do today.

I hope it's bigger than Brooklyn.

I guess technically, there are no democracies, only republics.


TLOZ Link5
May 15th, 2003, 09:23 PM
Quote: from Lightning Homer on 3:19 am on May 15, 2003

TLOZ, did you smoke crack ? :biggrin:

Not to my knowledge. *:biggrin:

May 19th, 2003, 06:10 AM
So are you going to tell us the one or two?

Lightning Homer
May 19th, 2003, 10:42 AM
Nope ! 'till you guess one of those, then I'll give ya the second one... :biggrin:

May 19th, 2003, 02:26 PM
Keep grinning, but don't hold your breath.

May 30th, 2003, 05:14 AM
May 30, 2003

Save Our Spooks


On Day 71 of the Hunt for Iraqi W.M.D., yesterday, once again nothing turned up.

Maybe we'll do better on Day 72. But we might have better luck searching for something just as alarming: the growing evidence that the administration grossly manipulated intelligence about those weapons of mass destruction in the runup to the Iraq war.

A column earlier this month on this issue drew a torrent of covert communications from indignant spooks who say that administration officials leaned on them to exaggerate the Iraqi threat and deceive the public.

"The American people were manipulated," bluntly declares one person from the Defense Intelligence Agency who says he was privy to all the intelligence there on Iraq. These people are coming forward because they are fiercely proud of the deepest ethic in the intelligence world — that such work should be nonpolitical — and are disgusted at efforts to turn them into propagandists.

"The Al Qaeda connection and nuclear weapons issue were the only two ways that you could link Iraq to an imminent security threat to the U.S.," notes Greg Thielmann, who retired in September after 25 years in the State Department, the last four in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. "And the administration was grossly distorting the intelligence on both things."

The outrage among the intelligence professionals is so widespread that they have formed a group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, that wrote to President Bush this month to protest what it called "a policy and intelligence fiasco of monumental proportions."

"While there have been occasions in the past when intelligence has been deliberately warped for political purposes," the letter said, "never before has such warping been used in such a systematic way to mislead our elected representatives into voting to authorize launching a war."

Ray McGovern, a retired C.I.A. analyst who briefed President Bush's father in the White House in the 1980's, said that people in the agency were now "totally demoralized." He says, and others back him up, that the Pentagon took dubious accounts from émigrés close to Ahmad Chalabi and gave these tales credibility they did not deserve.

Intelligence analysts often speak of "humint" for human intelligence (spies) and "sigint" for signals intelligence (wiretaps). They refer contemptuously to recent work as "rumint," or rumor intelligence.

"I've never heard this level of alarm before," said Larry Johnson, who used to work in the C.I.A. and State Department. "It is a misuse and abuse of intelligence. The president was being misled. He was ill served by the folks who are supposed to protect him on this. Whether this was witting or unwitting, I don't know, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt."

Some say that top Pentagon officials cast about for the most sensational nuggets about Iraq and used them to bludgeon Colin Powell and seduce President Bush. The director of central intelligence, George Tenet, has been generally liked and respected within the agency ranks, but in the last year, particularly in the intelligence directorate, people say that he has kowtowed to Donald Rumsfeld and compromised the integrity of his own organization.

"We never felt that there was any leadership in the C.I.A. to qualify or put into context the information available," one veteran said. "Rather there was a tendency to feed the most alarming tidbits to the president. Often it's the most ill-considered information that goes to the president.

"So instead of giving the president the most considered, carefully examined information available, basically you give him the garbage. And then in a few days when it's clear that maybe it wasn't right, well then, you feed him some more hot garbage."

The C.I.A. is now examining its own record, and that's welcome. But the atmosphere within the intelligence community is so poisonous, and the stakes are so high — for the credibility of America's word and the soundness of information on which we base American foreign policy — that an outside examination is essential.

Congress must provide greater oversight, and President Bush should invite Brent Scowcroft, the head of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and a man trusted by all sides, to lead an inquiry and, in a public report, suggest steps to restore integrity to America's intelligence agencies. *

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

May 30, 2003

Waggy Dog Stories


An administration hypes the threat posed by a foreign power. It talks of links to Islamic fundamentalist terrorism; it warns about a nuclear weapons program. The news media play along, and the country is swept up in war fever. The war drives everything else — including scandals involving administration officials — from the public's consciousness.

The 1997 movie "Wag the Dog" had quite a plot.

Although the movie's title has entered the language, I don't know how many people have watched it lately. Read the screenplay. If you don't think it bears a resemblance to recent events, you're in denial.

The Iraq war was very real, even if its Kodak moments — the toppling of the Saddam statue, the rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch — seem to have been improved by editing. But much of the supposed justification for the war turns out to have been fictional.

The war was justified to the public by links between Saddam and Al Qaeda, and Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction. No evidence of the Qaeda link has ever surfaced, and no W.M.D.'s that could have posed any threat to the U.S. or its allies have been found.

The failure to find W.M.D.'s has been described as an "intelligence failure," but this ignores the fact that intense pressure was placed on intelligence agencies to tell the Bush and Blair administrations what they wanted to hear. Even before the war began we learned of such pratfalls as the presentation of a plagiarized, decade-old report about Iraqi capabilities as hot new intelligence, and the use of crudely forged documents as evidence of a nuclear program.

Last fall the former head of the C.I.A.'s counterterrorism efforts warned that "cooked intelligence" was finding its way into official pronouncements. This week a senior British intelligence official told the BBC that under pressure from Downing Street, a dossier on Iraqi weapons had been "transformed" to make it "sexier" — uncorroborated material from a suspect source was added to make the threat appear imminent.

It's now also clear that George W. Bush had no intention of reaching a diplomatic solution. According to The Financial Times, White House sources confirm that the decision to go to war was reached in December: "A tin-pot dictator was mocking the president. It provoked a sense of anger inside the White House," a source told the newspaper.

Administration officials are now playing down the whole W.M.D. issue. Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, recently told Vanity Fair that the decision to emphasize W.M.D.'s had been taken for "bureaucratic reasons . . . because it was the one reason everyone could agree on." But it was the W.M.D. issue that stampeded the Senate into giving Mr. Bush carte blanche to wage war.

For the time being, the public doesn't seem to care — or even want to know. A new poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes finds that 41 percent of Americans either believe that W.M.D.'s have been found, or aren't sure. The program's director suggests that "some Americans may be avoiding having an experience of cognitive dissonance." And three-quarters of the public thinks that President Bush showed strong leadership on Iraq.

So what's the problem? Wars fought to deal with imaginary threats have real consequences. Just as war critics feared, Al Qaeda has been strengthened by the war. Iraq is in chaos, with a rising death toll among American soldiers: "We have reports of skirmishes throughout the central region," a Pentagon official told The Los Angeles Times.

Meanwhile, the administration has just derived considerable political advantage from a war waged on false premises. At best, that sets a very bad precedent. At worst. . . . "You want to win this election, you better change the subject. You wanna change this subject, you better have a war," explains Robert DeNiro's political operative in "Wag the Dog." "It's show business."

A final note: Showtime is filming a docudrama about Sept. 11. The producer is a White House insider, working in close consultation with Karl Rove. The script shows Mr. Bush as decisive and eloquent. "In this movie," The Globe and Mail reports, "Mr. Bush delivers long, stirring speeches that immediately become policy." And we can be sure that the script doesn't mention the bogus story about a threat to Air Force One that the White House floated to explain Mr. Bush's movements on the day of the attack. Hey, it's show business.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

(Edited by Christian Wieland at 5:15 am on May 30, 2003)

May 30th, 2003, 07:10 PM
Oh yeah -- Theocracy-Democracy. *Are you being cute and including the UK in that category (the monarchy still has some traditional authority over the church). *Or do you have some better idea?

Lightning Homer
June 2nd, 2003, 03:01 PM
Ah, sorry...
You so clever ! :biggrin:

June 4th, 2003, 07:44 AM
June 4, 2003

Because We Could


The failure of the Bush team to produce any weapons of mass destruction (W.M.D.'s) in Iraq is becoming a big, big story. But is it the real story we should be concerned with? No. It was the wrong issue before the war, and it's the wrong issue now.

Why? Because there were actually four reasons for this war: the real reason, the right reason, the moral reason and the stated reason.

The "real reason" for this war, which was never stated, was that after 9/11 America needed to hit someone in the Arab-Muslim world. Afghanistan wasn't enough because a terrorism bubble had built up over there — a bubble that posed a real threat to the open societies of the West and needed to be punctured. This terrorism bubble said that plowing airplanes into the World Trade Center was O.K., having Muslim preachers say it was O.K. was O.K., having state-run newspapers call people who did such things "martyrs" was O.K. and allowing Muslim charities to raise money for such "martyrs" was O.K. Not only was all this seen as O.K., there was a feeling among radical Muslims that suicide bombing would level the balance of power between the Arab world and the West, because we had gone soft and their activists were ready to die.

The only way to puncture that bubble was for American soldiers, men and women, to go into the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, house to house, and make clear that we are ready to kill, and to die, to prevent our open society from being undermined by this terrorism bubble. Smashing Saudi Arabia or Syria would have been fine. But we hit Saddam for one simple reason: because we could, and because he deserved it and because he was right in the heart of that world. And don't believe the nonsense that this had no effect. Every neighboring government — and 98 percent of terrorism is about what governments let happen — got the message. If you talk to U.S. soldiers in Iraq they will tell you this is what the war was about.

The "right reason" for this war was the need to partner with Iraqis, post-Saddam, to build a progressive Arab regime. Because the real weapons of mass destruction that threaten us were never Saddam's missiles. The real weapons that threaten us are the growing number of angry, humiliated young Arabs and Muslims, who are produced by failed or failing Arab states — young people who hate America more than they love life. Helping to build a decent Iraq as a model for others — and solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — are the necessary steps for defusing the ideas of mass destruction, which are what really threaten us.

The "moral reason" for the war was that Saddam's regime was an engine of mass destruction and genocide that had killed thousands of his own people, and neighbors, and needed to be stopped.

But because the Bush team never dared to spell out the real reason for the war, and (wrongly) felt that it could never win public or world support for the right reasons and the moral reasons, it opted for the stated reason: the notion that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction that posed an immediate threat to America. I argued before the war that Saddam posed no such threat to America, and had no links with Al Qaeda, and that we couldn't take the nation to war "on the wings of a lie." I argued that Mr. Bush should fight this war for the right reasons and the moral reasons. But he stuck with this W.M.D. argument for P.R. reasons.

Once the war was over and I saw the mass graves and the true extent of Saddam's genocidal evil, my view was that Mr. Bush did not need to find any W.M.D.'s to justify the war for me. I still feel that way. But I have to admit that I've always been fighting my own war in Iraq. Mr. Bush took the country into his war. And if it turns out that he fabricated the evidence for his war (which I wouldn't conclude yet), that would badly damage America and be a very serious matter.

But my ultimate point is this: Finding Iraq's W.M.D.'s is necessary to preserve the credibility of the Bush team, the neocons, Tony Blair and the C.I.A. But rebuilding Iraq is necessary to win the war. I won't feel one whit more secure if we find Saddam's W.M.D.'s, because I never felt he would use them on us. But I will feel terribly insecure if we fail to put Iraq onto a progressive path. Because if that doesn't happen, the terrorism bubble will reinflate and bad things will follow. Mr. Bush's credibility rides on finding W.M.D.'s, but America's future, and the future of the Mideast, rides on our building a different Iraq. We must not forget that. *

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

June 4th, 2003, 07:53 AM
June 4, 2003

Bomb and Switch



Before 9/11, the administration had too little intelligence on Al Qaeda, badly coordinated by clashing officials.

Before the Iraq invasion, the administration had too much intelligence on Saddam, torqued up by conspiring officials.

As Secretary of State Colin Powell prepared to make his case for invading Iraq to the U.N. on Feb. 5, a friend of his told me, he had to throw out a couple of hours' worth of sketchy intelligence other Bush officials were trying to stuff into his speech.

U.S. News & World Report reveals this week that when Mr. Powell was rehearsing the case with two dozen officials, he became so frustrated by the dubious intelligence about Saddam that he tossed several pages in the air and declared: "I'm not reading this. This is $%&*#."

First America has no intelligence. Then it has $%&*# intelligence.

So this is progress?

For the first time in history, America is searching for the reason we went to war after the war is over.

As The Times's James Risen reports, a bedrock of the administration's weapons case — the National Intelligence Estimate that concluded that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and was seeking nukes — is itself being reassessed. The document is at the center of a broad prewar-intelligence review, being conducted by the C.I.A. to see whether the weapons evidence was cooked.

Conservatives are busily offering a bouquet of new justifications for a pre-emptive attack on Iraq that was sold as self-defense against Saddam's poised and thrumming weapons of mass destruction.

Pressed by reporters about whether Tony Blair and President Bush were guilty of hyperbole — Mr. Blair's foreign secretary claimed Saddam could deploy chemical and biological weapons in 45 minutes — Senator John McCain replied, "The American people support what the president did, whether we find those weapons or not, and they did so the day they saw 9- and 10-year-old boys coming out of a prison in Baghdad."

Senator Pete Domenici noted that experts thought that Saddam's overthrow might pave the way for the Middle East road map to work. "For those kind of experts to say that has changed the dynamics in the Middle East, sufficient that we might get peace, seems to me to outweigh all the questions about did we have every bit of evidence that we say we had or not," he said.

In a Vanity Fair interview, Paul Wolfowitz said another "almost unnoticed but huge" reason for war was to promote Middle East peace by allowing the U.S. to take its troops out of Saudi Arabia — Osama's bête noir. But it was after the U.S. announced it would pull its troops from Saudi Arabia that a resurgent Qaeda struck a Western compound, killing eight Americans.

And it was after the U.S. tried to intimidate other foes by stomping on Saddam that Iran and North Korea ratcheted up their nukes. Iran and North Korea actually do have scary nuclear programs, but if we express our alarm to the world now, will we be accused of crying Wolfowitz?

A new Pew survey of 21 nations shows a deepening skepticism toward the U.S. "The war had widened the rift between Americans and Western Europeans, further inflamed the Muslim world, softened support for the war on terrorism, and significantly weakened global public support for the pillars of the post-World War II era — the U.N. and the North Atlantic alliance," said Pew's director, Andrew Kohut.

Brits may be more upset with Mr. Blair than Americans are with Mr. Bush because they have the quaint idea that even if you think war was a good idea, you should level with the public about your objectives.

The Bush crowd practiced bait and switch, leaving many Americans with the impression that Saddam was involved in 9/11.

When James Woolsey, the former C.I.A. director and current Pentagon adviser, appeared on "Nightline" five days after 9/11 and suggested that America had to strike Iraq for sponsoring terrorism, Ted Koppel rebutted: "Nobody right now is suggesting that Iraq had anything to do with this. In fact, quite the contrary."

Mr. Woolsey replied: "I don't think it matters. I don't think it matters." The Republicans will have to follow the maxim of Robert Moses, the autocratic New York builder who never let public opinion get in the way of his bulldozing: "If the ends don't justify the means, what does?" *

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

June 5th, 2003, 09:51 AM
June 5, 2003

Iraq's Weapons: A Vital Inquiry (4 Letters)

To the Editor:

Thomas L. Friedman ("Because We Could," column, June 4) argues that whether or not Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction "was the wrong issue before the war, and it's the wrong issue now."

But can a war, especially a war of choice, that was justified primarily on misleading or erroneous grounds ever be considered legitimate in a democratic society?

And can an administration that deceives the American people on a matter with such great political, economic and security implications be trusted to serve the public interest on any other issue?

Decatur, Ga., June 4, 2003

To the Editor:

Thomas L. Friedman ("Because We Could," column, June 4) illustrates in plain language the correctness and necessity of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

But more important, he points out the divide in what the Bush administration saw fit to sell to the American people and what the true and correct motivations behind invading Iraq were.

Much of the criticism the United States has garnered abroad has come not because Saddam Hussein enjoyed widespread sympathy but because the Bush administration handled many aspects of the process of freeing Iraq from Saddam Hussein's deadly grip so clumsily.

From botched diplomacy to overhype of the wrong issues, President Bush's policies deserve many of the critiques they are getting.

Nothing, however, can apologize for the many innocent deaths that Saddam Hussein was responsible for, and the world should be glad to be rid of him and hope for a brighter future for Iraq and its people.

Athens, Ohio, June 4, 2003

To the Editor:

Thomas L. Friedman feels that it is not necessary to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to justify the war but only to "preserve the credibility of the Bush team, the neocons, Tony Blair and the C.I.A." ("Because We Could," column, June 4).

No, Mr. Friedman, finding those weapons is necessary to preserve the open societies you claim are worth defending from the "terrorism bubble."

Such societies will ultimately be more damaged by lying governments than by any amount of terrorism.

You cannot defend an open society by rendering that society no longer open.

Pound Ridge, N.Y., June 4, 2003

To the Editor:

Thomas L. Friedman (column, June 4) reminds us that "America's future, and the future of the Mideast, rides on our building a different Iraq." He adds, "We must not forget that."

The outlook is not good: we have already forgotten it in Afghanistan.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

(Edited by Christian Wieland at 2:40 pm on June 6, 2003)

June 6th, 2003, 11:19 AM
June 6, 2003

Cloaks and Daggers


On Day 78 of the Search for Iraqi W.M.D., yesterday, once again nothing turned up.

Spooks are spitting mad at the way their work was manipulated to exaggerate the Iraqi threat, and they are thus surprisingly loquacious (delighting those of us in journalism). They emphasize that even if weapons of mass destruction still turn up, there is a fundamental problem —not within the intelligence community itself, but with senior administration officials — particularly in the Pentagon.

"As an employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency, I know how this administration has lied to the public to get support for its attack on Iraq," one of my informants rages. Some others see a pattern not so much of lying as of self-delusion — and of subjecting the intelligence agencies to those delusions.

One has to take the outrage among the spooks with a few grains of salt because the intelligence folks have been on the losing end of a power struggle with the Pentagon. But that's the problem: the Pentagon has become the 800-pound gorilla of the Bush administration, playing a central role in foreign policy and intelligence as well as military matters.

"The basic problem here is that O.S.D. [Office of the Secretary of Defense] has become too powerful," noted Patrick Lang, a former senior official in the Defense Intelligence Agency.

One step came in the Clinton administration, when the defense secretary gained greater control over the handling of images from spy satellites. Mr. Rumsfeld then started up his own intelligence shop in the Pentagon. The central philosophy of intelligence — that it should be sheltered from policy considerations to keep it honest — was deeply bruised.

A commission led by Brent Scowcroft suggested two years ago that intelligence functions be consolidated under the director of central intelligence. It was an excellent idea — killed by, among others, Mr. Rumsfeld.

My own limited encounters with spies reinforce the idea that intelligence needs to be digested by professionals rather than cherry-picked by ideologues. I remember one spy who would call me up periodically for lunch when I lived in China. He would pass on amazing inside tidbits about China's top leaders — and then ask for copies of classified Chinese documents I had obtained.

I kept putting him off because I wasn't going to share my documents — but I did want his scoops. Unfortunately, I could never confirm them, so they were unusable. Finally, it dawned on me that he was simply fabricating juicy tidbits so he would have something to trade.

That's the way the intelligence game sometimes operates: the information is voluminous, confusing and contradictory, and prone to abuse, and it needs to be protected from policy makers rather than massaged to make them feel good.

"The president is a very powerful guy," said Ray Close, who spent 26 years in the C.I.A. "When you sense what he wants, it's very difficult not to go out and find it."

As best I can reconstruct events, Mr. Rumsfeld genuinely felt that the C.I.A. and D.I.A. were doing a horrendous job on Iraq — after all, he was hearing much more alarming information from those close to Ahmad Chalabi. So the Pentagon set up its own intelligence unit, and it sifted through everyone else's information and goaded other agencies to come up with more alarmist conclusions.

"He's an ideologist," one man in the spy world said of Mr. Rumsfeld. "He doesn't start with the facts, even though he's quite brainy. He has a bottom line, and then he gathers facts to support the bottom line."

That is not, of course, a capital offense. Pentagon leaders should feel free to disagree strenuously with foolish judgments by the C.I.A. But for the process to work, top C.I.A. officials need to fight back. Instead, George Tenet rolled over.

"Tenet sided with the D.O.D. crowd and cut the legs out from under his own analysts," said Larry Johnson, a retired C.I.A. analyst.

Does this mean that Mr. Tenet should be fired? I don't think so. Despite his failure to stand up for his people, he should not be made a scapegoat for problems that arose primarily from the Pentagon's zealotry — and ousting him would leave O.S.D. more powerful than ever.

"There was a collective failure here," one senior person in the intelligence world said. "At the end of the day, it should not be George left out to dry." *

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

June 7th, 2003, 01:30 PM
June 8, 2003

Truth Is the First Casualty. Is Credibility the Second?


WASHINGTON — There is a saying here that wars tend to be fought three times. First comes the battle over whether to go to war. Second is the war itself. Third is the battle over the war's meaning once it is over.

Two months after the fall of Baghdad, the third fight is well underway, now that the principal rationale cited by President Bush and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell for war with Iraq — that Saddam Hussein's possession of chemical and biological weapons posed an imminent threat — remains clouded by doubt. No chemical and biological weapons have been found, and some experts say they will never be found.

Before the war, Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, ranking Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the administration was exaggerating its case for war — a war he supported. He cited administration statements that Iraq was "on the verge" of getting nuclear weapons, when in fact it was not close. Also overstated, he said, were the existence of actual chemical and biological weapons and Iraq's links to terrorism.

"It's pretty clear that different administration officials overstated their case," said Kenneth M. Pollack, an Iraq expert at the Saban Center of the Brookings Institution and a member of the National Security Council in the Clinton administration, who was a leading advocate of going to war with Saddam Hussein.

Public opinion surveys suggest that the failure to find these weapons may have little effect on the support Americans have given to Mr. Bush and his conduct of the war, particularly since weapons experts have found evidence for what appear to have been programs and facilities to make chemical and biological arms. Still, if such weapons are not found, some historians, politicians and others worry about what might happen if Mr. Bush or a successor tried to rally American or international backing for another war — say, with Iran or North Korea — using disputed evidence to buttress the case.

So far, said John Lewis Gaddis, a professor of military history at Yale, it appears the administration's intelligence findings about the existence of weapons of mass destruction were either inaccurate or deliberately exaggerated. Either way, he said, "it has an impact on our credibility — the next time there is a crisis, our credibility is going to be questioned, just as it was for Lyndon Baines Johnson at the Gulf of Tonkin."

In 1964, the United States asserted that North Vietnamese torpedo boats carried out unprovoked attacks on two American destroyers in the gulf. Today it is known that some sort of attack did occur, which President Johnson exaggerated, perhaps unintentionally, in his quest for a Congressional resolution that authorized what turned out to be a steady escalation of the Vietnam War. Along with the military's countless claims that the war was being won, the Gulf of Tonkin resolution led to the "credibility gap" that became the president's downfall.

The lesson would appear to be that while false or overblown pretexts for war can work, they may also backfire if a war turns bad.

In 1898, the battleship Maine blew up in Havana Harbor. The blast killed 260 crew members and provoked Congress to declare war on Spain. Historians now generally agree that the explosion was an accident and that President William McKinley and Congress surely did not know the truth at the time. And historians argue that the American march toward becoming a global power would have occurred with or without the Spanish-American War.

This episode contrasts with a well-known case of a deliberate distortion that led to war. In 1870, Kaiser Wilhelm I sent Chancellor Otto von Bismarck of Prussia a report on his conversation with a French diplomat. Bismarck edited the message to make it seem more provocative than it was, simply to rally German support for a war with France. Bismarck got the Franco-Prussian War, and victory.

Still, few historians would contend that a doctored report caused the rise of German nationalism and territorial aggrandizement. And the immediate provocations for a war may in any case bear little relation to its deep-seated causes. Experts, for example, still argue about whether slavery or diverging economic differences led to the Civil War.

Historians also look skeptically on the most earnest reasons for war. In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson took the nation into World War I by portraying it as a crusade against autocracy, even as he allied himself with Czarist Russia and two powers, France and Britain, that were more interested in imperial expansion than democracy.

The American involvement in Iraq seems to be a case of an "overdetermined" war. Though chemical and biological weapons were the main reason presented to the public, they were never the only reason cited. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul L. Wolfowitz, in a recent interview in Vanity Fair, cited the Iraqi regime's support of terrorism and its brutal treatment of the Iraqi people as reasons for the conflict, though he said the brutality by itself would not have justified war.

Other administration officials argue that the war was about sending a message to the Muslim world that the United States will not tolerate violence against Americans or American interests. Still others argue that establishing a democratic Iraq will spread democracy and stability throughout the region, ultimately enabling Israel to live in peace.

There are those who argue that President Bush, perhaps unconsciously, was settling a score left unsettled in the Persian Gulf war by his father. And historians will surely look closely at the need of the United States to secure access to the world's largest oil reserves as a major if wholly unstated factor. [America and Iraq's oil, Page 5.]

Finally, there is politics. When the administration spoke of Iraq's "imminent threat," was it in order to wage a war in 2003 — before the next presidential election?

It may never be known what political factors went into the private thinking of Mr. Bush and his aides, but the nonexistence of chemical and biological weapons will almost certainly force historians to raise such questions.

In the Bush administration, there is a sense today that it may not matter to Americans whether such weapons are found, and that if the peace is as successful as the war, it may not matter to the world either.

"If we succeed in transforming Iraq into a successful, mostly democratic place, a lot of people will be content with that result, even if we can't find weapons of mass destruction," said a senior American official. "But if we do not succeed in Iraq as much as we want, then this issue becomes more significant."

There lies the rub. What if, after a long and unsuccessful occupation, with Americans combat casualties taking a toll on the national psyche, the question "Why are we in Iraq?" becomes the modern equivalent of "Why are we in Vietnam?" Then the issue of the rationale for the war will inevitably come back to the fore.

"I am someone who believes that Saddam Hussein did have these programs," said Samuel R. Berger, President Clinton's national security adviser, referring to the alleged Iraqi drive to make chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. "But whether the weapons were destroyed, or hidden, or we have an intelligence problem, we have to find the answer. Our credibility in the world depends on it. A democracy cannot and should not go to war under false or incorrect premises."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

June 7th, 2003, 10:26 PM
June 8, 2003

Was the Intelligence Cooked?

The latest vogue in Washington is the proposition that it really doesn't matter whether Saddam Hussein maintained an arsenal of unconventional weapons in recent years. American troops may not have uncovered any evidence of the weapons of mass destruction the Bush administration was warning about, the argument goes. But they have found plenty of proof that Iraq suffered under a brutal dictator who slaughtered thousands, perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands of his own people, and that is reason enough to justify the invasion. We disagree. We are as pleased as anyone to see Saddam Hussein removed from power, but the United States cannot now simply erase from the record the Bush administration's dire warnings about the Iraqi weapons threat. The good word of the United States is too central to America's leadership abroad — and to President Bush's dubious doctrine of pre-emptive warfare — to be treated so cavalierly.

Like most Americans, we believed the government's repeated warnings that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction threatened the security of the world. The urgent need to disarm Saddam Hussein was the primary reason invoked for going to war in March rather than waiting to see if weapons inspectors could bring Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs under control.

It would still be premature to conclude that Iraq abandoned its efforts to manufacture and stockpile unconventional arms after the first Persian Gulf war in 1991. But after weeks of futile searching by American teams, it seems clear that Iraq was not bristling with horrific arms and that chemical and biological weapons were not readily available to frontline Iraqi forces.

America's intelligence agencies betrayed little doubt about the Iraqi threat last October when they produced a comprehensive assessment of Baghdad's weapons of mass destruction. A declassified version, while noting that Iraq was hiding large portions of its weapons programs, flatly stated: "Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of U.N. restrictions; if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade." The question today is whether that and other assessments were sound or were influenced by a desire to tailor intelligence findings to policy prescriptions.

By their nature, intelligence reports, in the absence of a smoking gun, are subjective exercises based on ambiguous information that is open to differing interpretations. In the case of Iraq, Washington relied largely on circumstantial data rather than spy satellite photographs or intercepted phone calls that would have proved and pinpointed the existence of unconventional weapons. But given the failure so far to find a single weapon of mass destruction, it is fair to wonder if intelligence analysts might have misread the available data, played down ambiguities or even pushed their findings too far to stay square with Bush policy on Iraq. George Tenet, the director of central intelligence, has said that the C.I.A.'s work was not compromised by politics.

These matters are properly being examined by Congressional committees and a White House advisory board on intelligence practices, as well as by the Central Intelligence Agency itself. It is also reasonable to ask if the administration's fixation on Iraq influenced the way intelligence reports were used by top officials intent on making the case for war. Careful attention should be given to examining the work of a separate Pentagon unit that was created after Sept. 11 to search for terrorist links with Iraq.

The issue goes to the heart of American leadership. Mr. Bush's belief that the United States has the right to use force against nations that it believes may threaten American security is based on the assumption that Washington can make accurate judgments about how serious such a danger is. If the intelligence is wrong, or the government distorts it, the United States will squander its credibility. Even worse, it will lose the ability to rally the world, and the American people, to the defense of the country when real threats materialize.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

June 9th, 2003, 10:47 AM
Captives Deny Qaeda Worked With Baghdad


WASHINGTON, June 8 — Two of the highest-ranking leaders of Al Qaeda in American custody have told the C.I.A. in separate interrogations that the terrorist organization did not work jointly with the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein, according to several intelligence officials.

Abu Zubaydah, a Qaeda planner and recruiter until his capture in March 2002, told his questioners last year that the idea of working with Mr. Hussein's government had been discussed among Qaeda leaders, but that Osama bin Laden had rejected such proposals, according to an official who has read the Central Intelligence Agency's classified report on the interrogation.

In his debriefing, Mr. Zubaydah said Mr. bin Laden had vetoed the idea because he did not want to be beholden to Mr. Hussein, the official said.

Separately, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Qaeda chief of operations until his capture on March 1 in Pakistan, has also told interrogators that the group did not work with Mr. Hussein, officials said.

The Bush administration has not made these statements public, though it frequently highlighted intelligence reports that supported its assertions of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda as it made its case for war against Iraq.

Since the war ended, and because the administration has yet to uncover evidence of prohibited weapons in Iraq, the quality of American intelligence has come under scrutiny amid contentions that the administration selectively disclosed only those intelligence reports that supported its case for war.

Bill Harlow, a spokesman for the Central Intelligence Agency, declined to comment on what the two Qaeda leaders had told their questioners. A senior intelligence official played down the significance of their debriefings, explaining that everything Qaeda detainees say must be regarded with great skepticism.

Other intelligence and military officials added that evidence of possible links between Mr. Hussein's government and Al Qaeda had been discovered — both before the war and since — and that American forces were searching Iraq for more in Iraq.

Still, no conclusive evidence of joint terrorist operations by Iraq and Al Qaeda has been found, several intelligence officials acknowledged, nor have ties been discovered between Baghdad and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on Washington and New York.

Between the time of the attacks and the start of the war in Iraq in March, senior Bush administration officials spoke frequently about intelligence on two fronts — the possibility of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda, and Baghdad's drive to develop prohibited weapons. President Bush described the war against Iraq as part of the larger war on terrorism, and argued that the possibility that Mr. Hussein might hand over illicit weapons to terrorists posed a threat to the United States.

Several officials said Mr. Zubaydah's debriefing report was circulated by the C.I.A. within the American intelligence community last year, but his statements were not included in public discussions by administration officials about the evidence concerning Iraq-Qaeda ties.

Those officials said the statements by Mr. Zubaydah and Mr. Mohammed were examples of the type of intelligence reports that ran counter to the administration's public case.

"I remember reading the Abu Zubaydah debriefing last year, while the administration was talking about all of these other reports, and thinking that they were only putting out what they wanted," one official said.

Spokesmen at the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon declined to comment on why Mr. Zubaydah's debriefing report was not publicly disclosed by the administration last year.

In recent weeks, the director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet, and other officials have defended the information and analysis by the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies in the months before the war. They said reports were not suppressed, and were properly handled and distributed among the intelligence agencies.

The issue of the public presentation of the evidence is different from whether the intelligence itself was valid, and some officials said they believed that the former might ultimately prove to be more significant, since the Bush administration relied heavily on the release of intelligence reports to build its case, both with the American people and abroad.

"This gets to the serious question of to what extent did they try to align the facts with the conclusions that they wanted," an intelligence official said. "Things pointing in one direction were given a lot of weight, and other things were discounted."

June 10th, 2003, 08:03 AM
June 10, 2003

Who's Accountable?


The Bush and Blair administrations are trying to silence critics — many of them current or former intelligence analysts — who say that they exaggerated the threat from Iraq. Last week a Blair official accused Britain's intelligence agencies of plotting against the government. (Tony Blair's government has since apologized for January's "dodgy dossier." ) In this country, Colin Powell has declared that questions about the justification for war are "outrageous."

Yet dishonest salesmanship has been the hallmark of the Bush administration's approach to domestic policy. And it has become increasingly clear that the selling of the war with Iraq was no different.

For example, look at the way the administration rhetorically linked Saddam to Sept. 11. As The Associated Press put it: "The implication from Bush on down was that Saddam supported Osama bin Laden's network. Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks frequently were mentioned in the same sentence, even though officials have no good evidence of such a link." Not only was there no good evidence: according to The New York Times, captured leaders of Al Qaeda explicitly told the C.I.A. that they had not been working with Saddam.

Or look at the affair of the infamous "germ warfare" trailers. I don't know whether those trailers were intended to produce bioweapons or merely to inflate balloons, as the Iraqis claim — a claim supported by a number of outside experts. (According to the newspaper The Observer, Britain sold Iraq a similar system back in 1987.) What is clear is that an initial report concluding that they were weapons labs was, as one analyst told The Times, "a rushed job and looks political." President Bush had no business declaring "we have found the weapons of mass destruction."

We can guess how Mr. Bush came to make that statement. The first teams of analysts told administration officials what they wanted to hear, doubts were brushed aside, and officials then made public pronouncements greatly overstating even what the analysts had said.

A similar process of cherry-picking, of choosing and exaggerating intelligence that suited the administration's preconceptions, unfolded over the issue of W.M.D.'s before the war. Most intelligence professionals believed that Saddam had some biological and chemical weapons, but they did not believe that these posed any imminent threat. According to the newspaper The Independent, a March 2002 report by Britain's Joint Intelligence Committee found no evidence that Saddam posed a significantly greater threat than in 1991. But such conclusions weren't acceptable.

Last fall former U.S. intelligence officials began warning that official pronouncements were being based on "cooked intelligence." British intelligence officials were so concerned that, The Independent reports, they kept detailed records of the process. "A smoking gun may well exist over W.M.D., but it may not be to the government's liking," a source said.

But the Bush administration found scraps of intelligence suiting its agenda, and officials began making strong pronouncements. "Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons — the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have," Mr. Bush said on Feb. 8. On March 16 Dick Cheney declared, "We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."

It's now two months since Baghdad fell — and according to The A.P., military units searching for W.M.D.'s have run out of places to look.

One last point: the Bush administration's determination to see what it wanted to see led not just to a gross exaggeration of the threat Iraq posed, but to a severe underestimation of the problems of postwar occupation. When Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, warned that occupying Iraq might require hundreds of thousands of soldiers for an extended period, Paul Wolfowitz said he was "wildly off the mark" — and the secretary of the Army may have been fired for backing up the general. Now a force of 150,000 is stretched thin, facing increasingly frequent guerrilla attacks, and a senior officer told The Washington Post that it might be two years before an Iraqi government takes over. The Independent reports that British military chiefs are resisting calls to send more forces, fearing being "sucked into a quagmire."

I'll tell you what's outrageous. It's not the fact that people are criticizing the administration; it's the fact that nobody is being held accountable for misleading the nation into war. *

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

June 11th, 2003, 08:05 AM
The administration needs spin control.

Just say WMD means Weapons of Mediocre Destruction.

June 13th, 2003, 04:57 AM
Or Minor. Minsignificant (they shouldn't shy from enhancing the language as well).

June 13, 2003

The Vanishing Uranium

President Bush cannot be pleased to know that his State of the Union address last January included an ominous report about Iraq that turns out to have been based on forged documents. The incident is an embarrassment for Mr. Bush and for the nation, and he should now be leaning on his aides to explain how they let fabricated information about Iraq's nuclear weapons program slip into his speech. The answer might help explain whether Washington deliberately distorted intelligence to rally the nation for the war against Iraq.

In the address, Mr. Bush said the British government had learned that Saddam Hussein had recently tried to get large quantities of uranium from Africa. It is now clear that this accusation was mainly based on counterfeit papers that falsely implied that the West African nation of Niger could be supplying uranium to Iraq. The documents contained obvious factual errors that should have been readily detectable by intelligence analysts.

The Niger uranium story first started making the rounds of Western intelligence agencies late in 2001. The charges seemed plausible because Iraq was known to have been trying to enrich uranium in the late 1980's and Niger was one possible source of uranium fuel. But the supporting documents never checked out. Some bore what was alleged to be the signature of Niger's minister of energy and mines, but the man in question had been out of office many years before the sales negotiations were supposed to have taken place. And any actual sales contracts would have had to be arranged not with Niger's government, but with the international consortium that actually controls the country's entire uranium supply.

The C.I.A. heard about at least some of these problems from a former ambassador with African experience who looked into the matter at the agency's request in early 2002. His report that Niger denied the allegations was passed along to other government agencies, including the White House. But the C.I.A. appears not to have concluded that the story was unreliable. As a result, no effort was made by administration officials to keep it out of speeches and documents dealing with Iraq, including the State of the Union address.

It remains to be seen whether Iraq pursued a nuclear weapons program in recent years. But along with the many other questions that have arisen about Iraq's unconventional arms since the end of the war, the matter of the forged documents needs to be explored fully by Congress and a White House advisory board that reviews the performance of intelligence agencies. The American people are entitled to know as much as possible about factors that influenced Washington's decision to go to war. It is especially troubling when the president is put in the position of making alarming claims about a nuclear weapons program that do not stand up to serious scrutiny.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

June 13th, 2003, 04:58 AM
June 13, 2003

White House in Denial


Let me give the White House a hand.

Condoleezza Rice was asked on "Meet the Press" on Sunday about a column of mine from May 6 regarding President Bush's reliance on forged documents to claim that Iraq had sought uranium in Africa. That was not just a case of hyping intelligence, but of asserting something that had already been flatly discredited by an envoy investigating at the behest of the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Ms. Rice acknowledged that the president's information turned out to be "not credible," but insisted that the White House hadn't realized this until after Mr. Bush had cited it in his State of the Union address.

And now an administration official tells The Washington Post that Mr. Cheney's office first learned of its role in the episode by reading that column of mine. Hmm. I have an offer for Mr. Cheney: I'll tell you everything I know about your activities, if you'll tell me all you know.

To help out Ms. Rice and Mr. Cheney, let me offer some more detail about the uranium saga. Piecing the story together from two people directly involved and three others who were briefed on it, the tale begins at the end of 2001, when third-rate forged documents turned up in West Africa purporting to show the sale by Niger to Iraq of tons of "yellowcake" uranium.

Italy's intelligence service obtained the documents and shared them with British spooks, who passed them on to Washington. Mr. Cheney's office got wind of this and asked the C.I.A. to investigate.

The agency chose a former ambassador to Africa to undertake the mission, and that person flew to Niamey, Niger, in the last week of February 2002. This envoy spent one week in Niger, staying at the Sofitel and discussing his findings with the U.S. ambassador to Niger, and then flew back to Washington via Paris.

Immediately upon his return, in early March 2002, this senior envoy briefed the C.I.A. and State Department and reported that the documents were bogus, for two main reasons. First, the documents seemed phony on their face — for example, the Niger minister of energy and mines who had signed them had left that position years earlier. Second, an examination of Niger's uranium industry showed that an international consortium controls the yellowcake closely, so the Niger government does not have any yellowcake to sell.

Officials now claim that the C.I.A. inexplicably did not report back to the White House with this envoy's findings and reasoning, or with an assessment of its own that the information was false. I hear something different. My understanding is that while Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet may not have told Mr. Bush that the Niger documents were forged, lower C.I.A. officials did tell both the vice president's office and National Security Council staff members. Moreover, I hear from another source that the C.I.A.'s operations side and its counterterrorism center undertook their own investigations of the documents, poking around in Italy and Africa, and also concluded that they were false — a judgment that filtered to the top of the C.I.A.

Meanwhile, the State Department's intelligence arm, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, independently came to the exact same conclusion about those documents, according to Greg Thielmann, a former official there. Mr. Thielmann said he was "quite confident" that the conclusion had been passed up to the top of the State Department.

"It was well known throughout the intelligence community that it was a forgery," said Melvin Goodman, a former C.I.A. analyst who is now at the Center for International Policy.

Still, Mr. Tenet and the intelligence agencies were under intense pressure to come up with evidence against Iraq. Ambiguities were lost, and doubters were discouraged from speaking up.

"It was a foregone conclusion that every photo of a trailer truck would be a `mobile bioweapons lab' and every tanker truck would be `filled with weaponized anthrax,' " a former military intelligence officer said. "None of the analysts in military uniform had the option to debate the vice president, secretary of defense and the secretary of state."

I don't believe that the president deliberately lied to the public in an attempt to scare Americans into supporting his war. But it does look as if ideologues in the administration deceived themselves about Iraq's nuclear programs — and then deceived the American public as well. *

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

June 14th, 2003, 09:21 AM
June 14, 2003

The Boys Who Cried Wolfowitz


We're now up to Day 87 of the largely fruitless hunt for Iraq's unconventional weapons. Allegations keep piling up that the Bush administration tried to scam the world into war by exaggerating evidence of the Iraqi threat. One critic has pronounced it "arguably the worst scandal in American political history." So you might reasonably ask a supporter of the war, How do you feel about that war now?

Thanks for asking.

One easy answer is that between the excavation of mass graves, which confirms that we have rid the world of a horror, and President Bush's new willingness to engage the thankless tangle of Middle East diplomacy, which raises the hope that Iraq was more than a hit-and-run exercise, the war seems to have changed some important things for the better. This is true, but not quite enough.

Another easy answer is that it's not over yet. Just as we have yet to prove that we can transform a military conquest into a real Mission Accomplished, we have yet to complete our search of a country that, as Californians must be very tired of hearing, is the size of California. This is also true, but likewise inadequate.

I supported the war, with misgivings about the haste, the America-knows-best attitude and our ability to win the peace. The deciding factor for me was not the monstrosity of the regime (routing tyrants is a noble cause, but where do you stop?), nor the opportunity to detoxify the Middle East (another noble cause, but dubious justification for a war when hardly anyone else in the world supports you). No, I supported it mainly because of the convergence of a real threat and a real opportunity.

The threat was a dictator with a proven, insatiable desire for dreadful weapons that would eventually have made him, or perhaps one of his sadistic sons, a god in the region. The fact that he gave aid and at least occasional sanctuary to practitioners of terror added to his menace. And at the end his brazen defiance made us seem weak and vulnerable, an impression we can ill afford. The opportunity was a moment of awareness and political will created by Sept. 11, combined with the legal sanction reaffirmed by U.N. Resolution 1441. The important thing to me was never that Saddam Hussein's threat was "imminent" — although Sept. 11 taught us that is not such an easy thing to know — but that the opportunity to do something about him was finite. In a year or two, we would be distracted and Iraq would be back in the nuke-building business.

Even if you throw out all the tainted evidence, there was still what prosecutors call probable cause to believe that Saddam was harboring frightful weapons, and was bent on acquiring the most frightful weapons of all. The Clinton administration believed so. Two generations of U.N. inspectors believed so. It was not a Bush administration fabrication that Iraq had, and failed to account for, massive quantities of anthrax and VX nerve gas and other biological and chemical weapons. Saddam was under an international obligation to say where the poisons went, but did not.

What the Bush administration did was gild the lily — disseminating information that ranged from selective to preposterous. The president himself gave credence to the claim that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Africa, a story that (as Seymour Hersh's investigations leave little doubt) was based on transparently fraudulent information. Colin Powell in his February performance at the U.N. insisted that those famous aluminum tubes Iraq bought were intended for bomb-making, although the technical experts at the Department of Energy had made an awfully strong case that the tubes were for conventional rocket launchers. And as James Risen disclosed in The Times this week, two top Qaeda planners in custody told American interrogators — one of them well before the war was set in motion — that Osama bin Laden had rejected the idea of working with Saddam. That inconclusive but potent evidence was kept quiet in the administration's zeal to establish a meaningful Iraqi connection to the fanatical war on America.

The motives for the dissembling varied. The hawks hyped the case (profusely) to prove we were justified in going to war, with or without allies. Mr. Powell hyped it (modestly) in the hope that the war, which he knew the president had already decided to wage, would not be a divisive, unilateral exercise. The president either believed what he wanted to believe or was given a stacked deck of information, and it's a close call which of those possibilities is scarier.

Those who say flimflam intelligence drove us to war, though, have got things backward. It seems much more likely that the decision to make war drove the intelligence.

The origins of this may be well intentioned. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, the most dogged proponent of war against Iraq, is also a longtime skeptic of American institutional intelligence-gathering. He has argued over the years, from within the government and from outside, that the C.I.A. and its sister agencies often fail to place adequate emphasis on what they don't know, and that they "mirror-image" — make assumptions about what foreign regimes will do based on what we would do.

One tempting solution has been to deputize smart thinkers from outside the intelligence fraternity — a Team B — to second-guess the analysis of the A Team professionals. Mr. Wolfowitz was part of a famous 1976 Team B that attacked the C.I.A. for underestimating the Soviet threat. These days the top leadership of the Defense Department is Team B. Mr. Wolfowitz and his associates have assembled their own trusted analysts to help them challenge the established intelligence consensus.

Who would argue that the spooks' work should not stand up to rigorous cross-examination? But in practice, B-Teaming is often less a form of intellectual discipline than of ideological martial arts.

Here's how it might have worked in the Bush administration:

The A Team (actually, given the number of spy agencies that pool intelligence on major problems, it's more like the A-through-M team) prepares its analysis of, let's say, the Iraqi nuclear program. The report is cautious, equivocal and — particularly since U.N. inspectors left Iraq in 1998 — based on close calls about defector reports, commercial transactions and other flimsy evidence.

The B Team comes in with fresh eyes, and fresh assumptions. One assumption, another Wolfowitz mantra, is that more weight should be given to the character of the regime — in Saddam's case, his transcendent evil and megalomania. While the C.I.A. may say that we have insufficient evidence to conclude that Saddam has reconstituted his nuclear program, Team B starts from the premise that it is just the kind of thing Saddam would do, and it is dangerous to assume he didn't.

Then Team B dips into the raw intelligence and fishes out information that supports its case, tidbits that the A Team may have rejected as unreliable. The Pentagon takes this ammo to an interagency review, where it is used to beat the A Team (the C.I.A. and the Defense Intelligence Agency) into submission. Maybe the agencies put up a fight, but (1) much of their own evidence is too soft to defend with great conviction, and (2) by this time the president has announced his version of the facts, and the political tide is all running in one direction.

When Team B seems to have the blessing of the boss, it goes from being a source of useful dissent to being an implement of intimidation. As formidable a figure as Mr. Powell, who resisted pressure to include the most arrant nonsense in his U.N. briefing, still ended up arguing a case he told confidants he did not entirely believe, specifically on the questions of Iraq's nuclear program and connections with Al Qaeda.

By the time a Team B version of events has been debunked, it has already served its purpose. That 1976 Team B, by assuming the most dire of Soviet intentions and overlooking the slow collapse of the Soviet economy, came up with estimates of Soviet military strength that we later learned to be ridiculously inflated. But the cold warriors who ran it succeeded in setting back détente and helped to elect Ronald Reagan. The 2003 Team B seems to have convinced most Americans that Saddam had nuclear arms and was in bed with Osama bin Laden.

But the consequences of crying wolf — and the belief is widespread among the dispirited spies of the A Team that the administration did exactly that — are grave. Honest, careful intelligence is our single most important weapon in the global effort against terrorism. It is also critical to winning the support of allies against nuclear proliferation, most urgently in North Korea and Iran. Already rather compelling evidence of Iran's development of nuclear weaponry is being dismissed as just more smoke from the Bush propaganda machine.

So far, the passion to investigate the integrity of American intelligence-gathering belongs mostly to the doves, whose motives are subject to suspicion and who, in any case, do not set the agenda. The pro-war Democrats are dying to change the subject to the economy. The Republicans are in no mood to second-guess a victory. Just when we really need some of that Team B spirit, the hawks have chickened out.

The truth is that the information-gathering machine designed to guide our leaders in matters of war and peace shows signs of being corrupted. To my mind, this is a worrisome problem, but not because it invalidates the war we won. It is a problem because it weakens us for the wars we still face. *

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

June 20th, 2003, 10:03 PM
June 20, 2003

Saddam's Bombs? We'll Find Them

Where are Iraq's weapons of mass destruction? It's a good question, and unfortunately we don't yet have a good answer. There is hope that the capture of Abid Hamid Mahmoud al-Tikriti, Saddam Hussein's closest aide, will provide the first solid clues. In any event, the mystery will be solved in good time; the search for Iraq's nonconvential weapons program has only just begun.

In the meantime, accusations are mounting that the Bush administration made up the whole Iraqi weapons threat to justify an invasion. That is just not the case — America and its allies had plenty of evidence before the war, and before President Bush took office, indicating that Iraq was retaining its illegal weapons programs.

As for allegations that some in the administration may have used slanted intelligence claims in making their case against Saddam Hussein, they seem to have merit and demand further investigation. But if the truth was stretched, it seems to have been done primarily to justify the timing of an invasion, not the merits of one.

The fact that the sites we suspected of containing hidden weapons before the war turned out to have nothing in them is not very significant. American intelligence agencies never claimed to know exactly where or how the Iraqis were hiding what they had — not in 1995, not in 1999 and not six months ago. It is very possible that the "missing" facilities, weaponized agents, precursor materials and even stored munitions all could still be hidden in places we never would have thought to look. This is exactly why, before the war, so few former weapons inspectors had confidence that a new round of United Nations inspections would find the items they were convinced Iraq was hiding.

At the heart of the mystery lies the fact that the Iraqis do not seem to have deployed any stocks of munitions filled with nonconventional weapons. Why did Saddam Hussein not hit coalition troops with a barrage of chemical and biological weapons rather than allow his regime to fall? Why did we not find them in ammunition dumps, ready to be fired?

Actually, there are many possible explanations. Saddam Hussein may have underestimated the likelihood of war and not filled any chemical weapons before the invasion. He may have been killed or gravely wounded in the "decapitation" strike on the eve of the invasion and unable to give the orders. Or he may have just been surprised by the extremely rapid pace of the coalition's ground advance and the sudden collapse of the Republican Guard divisions surrounding Baghdad. It is also possible that Iraq did not have the capacity to make the weapons, but given the prewar evidence, this is still the least likely explanation.

The one potentially important discovery made so far by American troops — two tractor-trailers found in April and May that fit the descriptions of mobile germ-warfare labs given by Iraqi defectors over the years — might well point to a likely explanation for at least part of the mystery: Iraq may have decided to keep only a chemical and biological warfare production capability rather than large stockpiles of the munitions themselves. This would square with the fact that several dozen chemical warfare factories were rebuilt after the first gulf war to produce civilian pharmaceuticals, but were widely believed to be dual-use plants capable of quickly being converted back to chemical warfare production.

In truth, this was always the most likely scenario. Chemical and biological warfare munitions, especially the crude varieties that Iraq developed during the Iran-Iraq War, are dangerous to store and handle and they deteriorate quickly. But they can be manufactured and put in warheads relatively rapidly — meaning that there is little reason to have thousands of filled rounds sitting around where they might be found by international inspectors. It would have been logical for Iraq to retain only some means of production, which could be hidden with relative ease and then used to churn out the munitions whenever Saddam Hussein gave the word.

Still, no matter what the trailers turn out to be, the failure so far to find weapons of mass destruction in no way invalidates the prewar intelligence data indicating that Iraq had the clandestine capacity to build them. There has long been an extremely strong case — based on evidence that largely predates the Bush administration — that Iraq maintained programs in weapons of mass destruction. It was this evidence, along with reports showing the clear failure of United Nations efforts to impede Iraq's progress, that led the Clinton administration to declare a policy of "regime change" for Iraq in 1998.

In 1995, for example, United Nations inspectors found Russian-made ballistic-missile gyroscopes at the bottom of the Tigris River; Jordanian officials intercepted others being smuggled into Iraq that same year. In July 1998, international inspectors discovered an Iraqi document that showed Baghdad had lied about the number of chemical bombs it had dropped during the Iran-Iraq War, leaving some 6,000 such weapons unaccounted for. Iraq simply refused to concede that the document even existed.

These episodes, and others like them, explain why many former Clinton administration officials, including myself (I was on the staff of the National Security Council in the 90's), agreed with the Bush administration that a war would likely be necessary to prevent Iraq from acquiring nuclear and other weapons. We may not have agreed with the Bush team's timing or tactics, but none of us doubted the fundamental intelligence basis of its concerns about the Iraqi threat.

As for the estimates the Bush administration presented regarding Iraq's holdings of weapons-related materials, they came from unchallenged evidence gathered by United Nations inspectors (in many cases, from records of the companies that sold the materials to Iraq in the first place). For instance, Iraq admitted importing 200 to 250 tons of precursor agents for VX nerve gas; it claimed to have destroyed these chemicals but never proved that it had done so. Even Hans Blix, the last head weapons inspector and a leading skeptic of the need for an invasion, admitted that the Iraqis refused to provide a credible accounting for these materials.

And it wasn't just the United States that was concerned about Iraq's efforts. By 2002, British, Israeli and German intelligence services had also concluded that Iraq was probably far enough along in its nuclear weapons program that it would be able to put together one or more bombs at some point in the second half of this decade. The Germans were actually the most fearful of all — in 2001 they leaked their estimate that Iraq might be able to develop its first workable nuclear device in 2004.

Nor was it just government agencies that were alarmed. In the summer of 2002 I attended a meeting with more than a dozen former weapons inspectors from half a dozen countries, along with another dozen experts on Iraq's weapons programs. Those present were asked whether they believed Iraq had a clandestine centrifuge lab operating somewhere; everyone did. Several even said they believed the Iraqis had a covert calutron program going as well. (Centrifuge and calutron operations allow a country to enrich uranium and produce the fissile material for a nuclear bomb.)

At no point before the war did the French, the Russians, the Chinese or any other country with an intelligence operation capable of collecting information in Iraq say it doubted that Baghdad was maintaining a clandestine weapons capability. All that these countries ever disagreed with the United States on was what to do about it.

Which raises the real crux of the slanted-intelligence debate: the timing of the war. Why was it necessary to put aside all of our other foreign policy priorities to go to war with Iraq in the spring of 2003? It was always the hardest part of the Bush administration's argument to square with the evidence. And, distressingly, there seems to be more than a little truth to claims that some members of the administration skewed, exaggerated and even distorted raw intelligence to coax the American people and reluctant allies into going to war against Iraq this year.

Before the war, some administration officials clearly tended to emphasize in public only the most dire aspects of the intelligence agencies' predictions. For example, of greatest importance were the estimates of how close Iraq was to obtaining a nuclear weapon. The major Western intelligence services essentially agreed that Iraq could acquire one or more nuclear bombs within about four to six years. However, all also indicated that it was possible Baghdad might be able to do so in as few as one or two years if, and only if, it were able to acquire fissile material on the black market.

This latter prospect was not very likely. The Iraqis had been trying to buy fissile material since the 1970's and had never been able to do so. Nevertheless, some Bush administration officials chose to stress the one-to-two-year possibility rather than the more likely four-to-six year scenario. Needless to say, if the public felt Iraq was still several years away from acquiring a nuclear weapon rather than just a matter of months, there probably would have been much less support for war this spring.

Moreover, before the war I heard many complaints from friends still in government that some Bush officials were mounting a ruthless campaign over intelligence estimates. I was told that when government analysts wrote cautious assessments of Iraq's capabilities, they were grilled and forced to go to unusual lengths to defend their judgments, and some were chastized for failing to come to more alarming conclusions. None of this is illegal, but it was perceived as an attempt to browbeat analysts into either changing their estimates or shutting up and ceding the field to their more hawkish colleagues.

More damning than the claims of my former colleagues has been some of the investigative reporting done since the war. Particularly troubling are reports that the administration knew its contention that Iraq tried to purchase uranium from Niger was based on forged documents. If true, it would be a serious indictment of the administration's handling of the war.

As important as this debate is, what may ultimately turn out to be the biggest concern over the Iraqi weapons program is the question of whose hands it is now in. If we do confirm that those two trailers are mobile biological warfare labs, we are faced with a tremendous problem. If the defectors' reports about the rates at which such mobile labs were supposedly constructed are correct, there are probably 22 more trailers still out there. Where are they? Syria? Iran? Jordan? Still somewhere in Iraq? Or have they found their way into the hands of those most covetous — Osama bin Laden and his confederates?

Nor can we allow our consideration of weapons of mass destruction and politicized intelligence to be a distraction from the most important task at hand: rebuilding Iraq. History may forgive the United States if we don't find the arsenal we thought we would. No one will forgive us if we botch the reconstruction and leave Iraq a worse mess than we found it.

Kenneth M. Pollack is director of research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and the author of "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq."

Copyright 2003*The New York Times Company

June 24th, 2003, 09:38 AM
June 24, 2003

Truth, Lies and the War (3 Letters)

To the Editor:

The issue raised in "Bush May Have Exaggerated, but Did He Lie?" (Week in Review, June 22) is a distinction without a difference.

Exaggerating and lying are both strategies for the purpose of manipulation. Both, when exposed, lead to reduced credibility; and both contribute to feelings of cynicism and powerlessness.

If manipulated by an exaggeration or by a lie, one feels equally deceived.

It does not make the costs of a pre-emptive war more acceptable to know that it might have been justified to the American public by an exaggeration rather than a lie.

To even have a discussion on whether a president exaggerated or lied concerning war suggests that something is dreadfully wrong with current standards of leadership and the creation of public policy.
Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., June 22, 2003

To the Editor:

Your parsing of the varieties of presidential deceit misses the point ("Bush May Have Exaggerated, but Did He Lie?," Week in Review, June 22).

The president of the United States, when speaking to its citizens on matters of state, is obliged to tell the truth. In that realm, he is not a salesman, and we are not potential buyers.

There's nothing much that we can do about the endless spin that comes our way from the campaign trail. But when it comes from the Oval Office, we are obliged to denounce it loudly and clearly.
New York, June 22, 2003

To the Editor:

Re "Bush May Have Exaggerated, but Did He Lie?" (Week in Review, June 22):

Critics of President Bush err when they focus on weapons of mass destruction. The real lie is about the "imminent threat" to our country. That was the stated justification for the hurry to war.
Castle Rock, Colo., June 22, 2003

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

June 24th, 2003, 09:39 AM
June 24, 2003

Denial and Deception


Politics is full of ironies. On the White House Web site, George W. Bush's speech from Oct. 7, 2002 — in which he made the case for war with Iraq — bears the headline "Denial and Deception." Indeed.

There is no longer any serious doubt that Bush administration officials deceived us into war. The key question now is why so many influential people are in denial, unwilling to admit the obvious.

About the deception: Leaks from professional intelligence analysts, who are furious over the way their work was abused, have given us a far more complete picture of how America went to war. Thanks to reporting by my colleague Nicholas Kristof, other reports in The New York Times and The Washington Post, and a magisterial article by John Judis and Spencer Ackerman in The New Republic, we now know that top officials, including Mr. Bush, sought to convey an impression about the Iraqi threat that was not supported by actual intelligence reports.

In particular, there was never any evidence linking Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda; yet administration officials repeatedly suggested the existence of a link. Supposed evidence of an active Iraqi nuclear program was thoroughly debunked by the administration's own experts; yet administration officials continued to cite that evidence and warn of Iraq's nuclear threat.

And yet the political and media establishment is in denial, finding excuses for the administration's efforts to mislead both Congress and the public.

For example, some commentators have suggested that Mr. Bush should be let off the hook as long as there is some interpretation of his prewar statements that is technically true. Really? We're not talking about a business dispute that hinges on the fine print of the contract; we're talking about the most solemn decision a nation can make. If Mr. Bush's speeches gave the nation a misleading impression about the case for war, close textual analysis showing that he didn't literally say what he seemed to be saying is no excuse. On the contrary, it suggests that he knew that his case couldn't stand close scrutiny.

Consider, for example, what Mr. Bush said in his "denial and deception" speech about the supposed Saddam-Osama link: that there were "high-level contacts that go back a decade." In fact, intelligence agencies knew of tentative contacts between Saddam and an infant Al Qaeda in the early 1990's, but found no good evidence of a continuing relationship. So Mr. Bush made what sounded like an assertion of an ongoing relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda, but phrased it cagily — suggesting that he or his speechwriter knew full well that his case was shaky.

Other commentators suggest that Mr. Bush may have sincerely believed, despite the lack of evidence, that Saddam was working with Osama and developing nuclear weapons. Actually, that's unlikely: why did he use such evasive wording if he didn't know that he was improving on the truth? In any case, however, somebody was at fault. If top administration officials somehow failed to apprise Mr. Bush of intelligence reports refuting key pieces of his case against Iraq, they weren't doing their jobs. And Mr. Bush should be the first person to demand their resignations.

So why are so many people making excuses for Mr. Bush and his officials?

Part of the answer, of course, is raw partisanship. One important difference between our current scandal and the Watergate affair is that it's almost impossible now to imagine a Republican senator asking, "What did the president know, and when did he know it?"

But even people who aren't partisan Republicans shy away from confronting the administration's dishonest case for war, because they don't want to face the implications.

After all, suppose that a politician — or a journalist — admits to himself that Mr. Bush bamboozled the nation into war. Well, launching a war on false pretenses is, to say the least, a breach of trust. So if you admit to yourself that such a thing happened, you have a moral obligation to demand accountability — and to do so in the face not only of a powerful, ruthless political machine but in the face of a country not yet ready to believe that its leaders have exploited 9/11 for political gain. It's a scary prospect.

Yet if we can't find people willing to take the risk — to face the truth and act on it — what will happen to our democracy? *

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

June 24th, 2003, 01:50 PM
For some, war is an unjustifiable evil; there are no circumstances under which violence is acceptable, in a word pacifism. *If that is the noble position from which one opposes US agression -kudos. *But if one uses specious and deceptive arguements to achieve this aim, (nonviolence), how does the use of manipulative information in this case trump its use in justifying war? *Imbedded within the arguements against Bush's justification is a moral judgement- the means to nonviolence do not need to be justified, for the existence of a wonderfully idealistic world in which wars don't exist will be the ultimate justification. *For the sake of honesty I wish this dovish opposition would, rather than finger wagging about deception, wag away about violence in all its forms, from oppresion to genocide. *I think it is fair to say the loudest detractors of the Iraq war would find lying to prevent a war totally acceptable.

June 24th, 2003, 01:59 PM
There is no sign of pacifism in any of those texts. Your assumption rests on nothing objective.

June 24th, 2003, 02:09 PM
Ok let me try again if Bush were prevented from being re-elected by deception or lying, that would be justifiable as a greater good.

What I am trying to hone in on, is the lack of intellectual honesty involved in most, if not all morally based arguements, and I mean of all stripes and positions. *Most things can be read two ways.

(Edited by Jasonik at 2:11 pm on June 24, 2003)

June 26th, 2003, 05:41 PM
In other words, lying to achieve a goal one believes in is a justifiable means to an end. Someone else lying to achieve a goal one disagrees with is however completely unacceptable. That being said of partisans on both the right and the left. Lying on ones own part is always acceptable, because one considers oneself to be right, and pursuing the just cause, while ones opponent is clearly wrong in priciple and therefor any lie or thier part merely exposes their unjust intent.

In a word: hypocrisy.

June 26th, 2003, 08:38 PM
Are these pompous lectures supposed to have any relevance or are you two just frustrated that your side is under criticism?

June 26th, 2003, 09:35 PM
> ...your side is under criticism...

My side?

Your choice of words is so revealing about how partisan your position is. I'm an independent. I have no party affiliation. I did not even vote for the current administration. I was also very careful in the neutrality with which I crafted my statement, yet you will respond as you do, regardless.

It also humours me because I was realy just elaborating with Jasonik, anyway.

(Edited by chris at 9:39 pm on June 26, 2003)

June 26th, 2003, 10:14 PM
Yes, well, if your post is restricted to such a limited public, send a personal message instead. "Your side", that is, the pro-war party - as the context suggests. You have the nerve to proclaim neutrality after a lesson on honesty, as if the latter came out of nowhere. You can conjecture hypocrisy if you want, or elaborate a trite theory, but if it bears no factual relation to the topic at hand, keep it to yourself.

June 28th, 2003, 04:31 PM
I was merely questioning the 'objective' tone of the articles posted. *There seemed an air of moral indignation, and victimization in the Op-Ed pieces. *The right to question the Gov't is a much heralded way to be American, but somehow questioning unelected columnists is not beyond reproach? *I question everyone and everything, and I was not fooled by President Bush, I saw it for what it was, and is. *The amazing thing is that he got away with it in front of the whole world. Point, shame, and snicker all you want, but the post-rationalizing and Machiavellian thinking chris and I were referring to is a fact of humanity, and like it or not, quite a few people in this country don't read the Times, so you'll have to forgive them for not knowing the correct way to think.
By the way I was just as amazed at the things Clinton got away with. *I don't believe in judging anyone based on party line moral relativism, that stuff is for the birds...err sheep.

Am I advocating for a "side"?

What I was trying to do was deconstruct the fallability of arguments based on moralization. *

June 28th, 2003, 06:52 PM
What I was trying to do was deconstruct the fallability of arguments based on moralization.
Some or all of the authors may be lying themselves, but I read no argument in any of the articles as to the morality of truth.

If war is to be accepted as immoral, but sometimes necessary, then truth must be viewed as the necessary data needed to make informed decisions.


June 29th, 2003, 01:04 AM
Denial and Deception

In particular, there was never any evidence linking Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda; yet administration officials repeatedly suggested the existence of a link.

Consider, for example, what Mr. Bush said in his "denial and deception" speech about the supposed Saddam-Osama link: that there were "high-level contacts that go back a decade." In fact, intelligence agencies knew of tentative contacts between Saddam and an infant Al Qaeda in the early 1990's, but found no good evidence of a continuing relationship. So Mr. Bush made what sounded like an assertion of an ongoing relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda, but phrased it cagily — suggesting that he or his speechwriter knew full well that his case was shaky.

These two excerpts are from the same article. In the first, the author states "there was never any" link between Iraq an Al Qaeda, the second states, "in fact, intelligence agencies knew."

Is the author being deceptive or was the first statement a lie? *The first could be true if interpreted to mean 'never presented.' *This type of statement parsing is exactly the type Bush is criticized for, so what gives?

If one is able to notice this type of shady phraseology, that individual is not the victim of Bush's deception, or Krugman. *On the other hand if some dimwit is duped and feels betrayed, in swoop the Democrats to take advantage of this undiscerning soul and dupe them into deserting the President. *
Interesting strategy, I guess a vote is just a vote in the end. To feign the role of the truth teller and truth exposer, by twisting the truth seems disingenuous at the very least. *

Generally the arguments don't appeal to the intellect but to the emotions, maybe I'm not touchy-feely enough to buy into it.

June 29th, 2003, 07:32 AM
I hate to repeat, but morality has not been the issue - not the morality of war, Bush, or the columnists.

I will draw the line on the standards used for electing a president and going to war. Elections have long since become
a joke, prime time media events run by entertainment experts. Decisions on war, at a time when the national emotional state is already elevated, should be made more carefully.

July 1st, 2003, 04:41 PM
I guess my assumtion that lying is wrong because it is immoral is not shared. *I don't want to get all philosophical, but why then is lying wrong? *Isn't this what Bush is accused of?

If we don't want a President who lies, we must demand more from candidates. *How are the two separated?

July 1st, 2003, 05:01 PM
Your quote:

What I am trying to hone in on, is the lack of intellectual honesty involved in most, if not all morally based arguements, and I mean of all stripes and positions. *Most things can be read two ways.
The articles posted in this thread were not morally based.
It does not mean that there is no moral component to lying.

July 2nd, 2003, 11:25 AM
I feel kind of stupid for belaboring this point, but I think in some way we are not speaking the same language. *
By any chance do you hold the term 'moral' to be religious? *I don't, but think of it in terms of 'social contract.' *Would 'public trust' be a more euphemistically secular term for the same thing? *Would breaching the public trust be equivalent to immoral behavior? *I think yes. *
I am in no way defending lying, or Bush's tactics, just trying to question the assumptions of columnists, and fellow forum members. *I am also trying to identify the position from which the vitriol that repeatedly excoriates Bush emmanates from. *IMO it is morally based judgement. *
I am not looking for agreeance, just a tacit acknowledgement that my reasoning is not fallacious, or an education as to why my points or lines of investigation are misguided. *I have mentioned intellectual honesty, and practice what I preach as best I can, and welcome critique. *What I will not stand for is simple dismissal. *
I like to believe the time I spend writing this is not wasted and everything discounted because I might cause examination of deeply held assuptions, that some are umcomfortable questioning. *To these people I am sorry for offending your sensibilities. *To the others, think and read with a grain of salt what I have written, just as you should everything. * *

July 2nd, 2003, 12:02 PM
Interesting that you ask whether there is a religious overtone against lying. *I have always found it intriguing that there is no "thou shalt not lie" commandment.

I also tend to agree with your statement that arguments are often emotionally based, rather than being factual. *I have discovered for myself that it is pointless to listen for a politician's reasons for advocating a certain course of action. *Instead, it is important to learn all the facts, and then form an independent opinion as to whether such a course of action is warranted, or necessary. *I, for one, have always supported the war in Iraq, though never for the reasons that Bush commonly states.

Freedom Tower
October 6th, 2003, 05:50 PM
Kay: Clues Exist on Anthrax, Missiles Still in Iraq

Monday, October 06, 2003

WASHINGTON — Weapons hunters in Iraq are pursuing tips that point to the possible presence of anthrax (search) and Scud missiles (search) still hidden in the country, the chief searcher said Sunday.

David Kay (search) told Congress last week that his survey team had not found nuclear, biological or chemical weapons so far. But he argued against drawing conclusions, saying he expects to provide a full picture on Iraq's weapons programs in six months to nine months.

While lacking physical evidence for the presence anthrax or Scuds, Kay said tips from Iraqis are motivating the search for them.

Critics, including many in Congress, say Kay's findings do not support most of the Bush administration's prewar assertions that the United States faced an imminent, serious threat from Iraq's Saddam Hussein because of widespread and advanced Iraqi weapons programs.

President Bush has said the U.S.-led war on Iraq was justified despite the failure to find weapons.

Kay reported that searchers found a vial of live botulinum (search) bacteria that had been stored since 1993 in an Iraqi scientist's refrigerator. The bacteria make botulinum toxin, which can be used as a biological weapon, but Kay has offered no evidence that the bacteria had been used in a weapons program.

The live bacteria was among a collection of "reference strains" of biological organisms that could not be used to produce biological warfare agents.

Kay said Sunday the same scientist told investigators that he was asked to hide another much larger cache of strains, but "after a couple of days he turned them back because he said they were too dangerous. He has small children in the house."

Kay said the cache "contains anthrax and that's one reason we're actively interested in getting it." Kay, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," did not say whether the anthrax was live or a strain used only for anthrax research.

Before the war, Iraqis said they had destroyed their supply of anthrax. Inspectors haven't found any and Iraqis haven't been able to provide evidence to satisfy investigators that they did destroy it. Experts note that old supplies of anthrax would have degraded by now.

While the Bush administration argued before taking the country to war that Iraq's arsenal posed an imminent threat, much of what Kay discovered is that Iraq had interest in such weapons and was researching some agents.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said Kay's report shows Saddam's clear intent to develop chemical and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them. He said, however, that the administration didn't tell the public the whole truth.

"There is some evidence that the Bush administration exaggerated unnecessarily," he told "Fox News Sunday." Lieberman, a presidential candidate, said the exaggeration "did discredit what was otherwise a very just cause of fighting tyranny and terrorism."

Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell have contended the vial of botulinum bacteria that Kay's team found is one strong piece of evidence of Saddam's weapons intent.

Searches have been unsuccessful for the kind of long-range Scud missiles the Iraqis fired at Saudi Arabia and Israel in 1991. Many were destroyed during and after the Persian Gulf War, but the Bush administration had accused Iraq of continuing to hide Scuds.

Kay said there are indications there may still be Scuds even though Iraq declared it got rid of them in the early 1990s.

"We have Iraqis now telling us that they continued until 2001, early 2002, to be capable of mixing and preparing Scud missile fuel. Scud missile fuel is only useful in Scud missiles," he said. "Why would you continue to produce Scud missile fuel if you didn't have Scuds? We're looking for the Scuds."

Kay's report to Congress said the information on fuel production came from Iraqi sources and has not been confirmed with documents or physical evidence.

Weapons hunters still are looking for chemical weapons at scores of large ammunition storage sites throughout Iraq. Because of the size of the depots, searchers have examined only 10 of 130 sites so far, Kay said.

"These are sites that contain -- the best estimate is between 600,000 and 650,000 tons of arms," he said. "That's about one-third of the entire ammunition stockpile of the much larger U.S. military."

The Iraqis stored chemical weapons, often unmarked, among conventional munitions, so "you really have to examine each one," Kay said. He said 26 sites are on a critical list to be examined quickly.

Freedom Tower
October 8th, 2003, 04:04 PM
White House Highlights Progress on Iraq

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

WASHINGTON — The White House launched a public relations campaign on Wednesday, sending out National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to describe the details of the interim report by chief weapons inspector in Iraq David Kay.

Rice told a foreign policy forum in Chicago that Saddam Hussein harbored ambitions to use unconventional weapons despite their not having been found yet.

More importantly, Kay, whose team has been on the ground for three months, "is finding proof that Iraq never disarmed and never complied with U.N. inspectors."

In fact, Rice suggested, if the U.N. Security Council knew last winter what Kay's group has uncovered now, it never would have rejected the U.S. call for war.

"Right up until the end, Saddam lied to the Security Council. And let there be no mistake, right up to the end, Saddam Hussein continued to harbor ambitions to threaten the world with weapons of mass destruction and to hide his illegal weapons activity," she told the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations.

Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the increase in speeches by Bush and his senior advisers is the president's way of fulfiling his promise to keep Americans informed about the war on terrorism.

"This is a time when we are accelerating our efforts on a number of fronts and as we do, it's important to keep the American people informed," presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said.

But, privately, aides say Rice's speech to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations marks the launch of a public relations campaign to counteract what officials see as largely negative media coverage of Kay's report on the hunt for Iraq's chemical and biological weapons. Bush himself said he is determined to break through what he called "the filter" that deprives Americans of a true sense of the accomplishments in Iraq.

Kay spent two days on Capitol Hill last week in closed door meetings with legislators who said they were generally impressed with Kay's remarks despite the fact that no actual weapons of mass destruction have been found.

Still, polls suggest fewer and fewer people feel reconstruction efforts in Iraq are going well, and Democrats have increased their attacks on the administration.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said the multi-billion dollar post-war reconstruction effort shows that Iraq was never the threat it appeared to be.

"Some people are not opposed to fixing that which we bombed and which we destroyed," Waters said. "But to go in and create an infrastructure that they have never had is a hard pill to swallow for the American public."

Part of the public's hesitation comes from the growing number of U.S. military casualties. Three more U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq this week, adding to the number killed since the war ended, though not all from hostile action.

In the meantime, Democrats are criticizing the administration's $87 billion supplemental budget request for Iraq as a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution intended to generate more international support falters.

"Why should American troops take virtually every risk and the American taxpayer pay virtually every cost of what is happening in Iraq?" asked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Turkey has offered troops to take the load off U.S. forces, but the Iraqi Governing Council opposes having its neighbors on Iraqi soil.

Rice reported that Kay did find that Saddam Hussein had continued dozens of activities related to weapons of mass destruction and the inspectors found indications that he had committed chemical weapons tests on people.

"Today, in Iraq, the killing fields are yielding up their dead," she said.

Rice also seemed to indicate that the prior Bush administration had not finished its task when it originally went to war.

"You don't leave a man with those ambitions, with that technology, with that history, with those weapons, with that ability to pull this all together with $3 billion in illegal revenues every year. You don't leave that threat in the middle of the Middle East," she said.

Rice challenged the notion that Bush took the world to war in Iraq, saying that since the Gulf War ended 12 years ago, the United States and Britain maintained large naval forces in the Persian Gulf and enforced two no fly zones over Iraq.

It was "hardly a state of peace," she said.

The security adviser also said that while no evidence yet exists linking Saddam Hussein to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the possibility of a future attack "beyond the scale of 9-11 ... could not be put aside."

Bush will give his own spin on the Kay report in an address to Thursday to National Guardsmen in New Hampshire. Friday is Vice President Cheney's turn in a speech in Washington.

The PR campaign continues with high-profile trips to Iraq by Cabinet secretaries to illustrate areas of progress, such as the reopening of schools and the introduction of a new currency.

Bush at times will reach beyond the Washington media to try to drive his point home with regional and local press corps, the officials said. The United States is also beefing up press operations in Baghdad to provide more live video opportunities and greater access to U.S. and Iraqi officials.

Bush will devote all of his Saturday radio addresses in October to Iraq and will sit down for a series of interviews with regional media Monday to press his case.

Fox News' Wendell Goler and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

October 9th, 2003, 07:25 AM
October 9, 2003

Is Condi Gaslighting Rummy?



It's easy to see why the Bush crowd is getting so tetchy.

The itch to ditch officials who fritter away the public trust is growing, as Arnold and his broom bear down on Sacramento.

And we know now that our first pre-emptive war was launched basically because Iraq had . . . a vial of Botox?

Just about the scariest thing the weapons hunter David Kay could come up with was a vial of live botulinum, hidden in the home of an Iraqi biological weapons scientist.

This has very dire implications for Beverly Hills and the East Side of Manhattan, areas awash in vials of Botox, the botulinum toxin that can either be turned into a deadly biological weapon or a pricey wrinkle smoother.

And it may have dire implications for the Pentagon and White House if Americans come to believe that their trust was betrayed when the president and his team spread the impressions that Saddam was about to blow us up and that he was behind the 9/11 attacks.

It doesn't help to have a former-NATO-commander-turned-presidential-contender running around telling the country that the Bush dream team is a bunch of dunces. Or a former-diplomat-turned-angry-husband-of-an-outed-spy running around telling the country that the Bush dream team is a bunch of backstabbing lawbreakers who are dead wrong on Iraq.

The administration that never let you see it sweat is sweating, as two of its control freaks openly tug over control. The president's foreign policy duenna and his grumpy grampy over at the Pentagon are suddenly mud wrestling.

Women who are discouraged at the ascension of Conan the Barbarian in Cal-ee-fornia can take heart. In this delicious gender-bender, Condoleezza Rice triumphs as the macho infighter, driving Rummy into a diva-like meltdown.

The trigger was Monday's coverage of the Iraq Stabilization Group (a.k.a. Fat Chance Group); the group is a desperate bid to get a grip on Baghdad before the campaign starts by transferring power for postwar Iraq from the Pentagon to the national security adviser's office inside the White House.

Condi used a trick she learned from Rummy: pre-emption. She outflanked the famous Washington infighter by talking about the new alignment to The New York Times before he had a chance to object.

It was the first time the chesty defense czar — who had tried to freeze out the softies at State, which the Pentagon sneeringly refers to as "the Department of Nice" — had been downgraded by the president and outmaneuvered by a colleague.

"And because he is a cantankerous egomaniac," one longtime Rummy watcher said, "he compounded his own problems by acknowledging it in public, further undermining his own stature."

President Bush clearly realizes that Mr. Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz have gotten him into a fine mess. He wants his trusted Mother Hen, as he calls Condi, the woman who probably spends as much time with him as Laura — weekends at Camp David, vacations at the ranch, workouts at the gym — to make it all better. This will be the first time Ms. Rice, a Soviet expert who has functioned mostly so far as First Chum, will have her reputation on the line.

Some Republicans worry that it's risky to move accountability for postwar Iraq closer to the Oval Office because then there's no one else to blame.

In a meeting with foreign reporters on Tuesday in Colorado Springs, Rummy made no effort to mask his displeasure, saying he had not been consulted, even though Condi said he had, and cattily referring to the "little committees" of the N.S.C. When a German broadcast reporter pressed the defense secretary, he hissed: "I said I don't know. Isn't that clear? You don't understand English?"

One of Rumsfeld's Rules is: "Avoid public spats. When a Department argues with other government agencies in the press, it reduces the President's options." Hmm.

Maybe Rummy hasn't brushed up lately on the Washington rulebook he wrote in the 1970's — after his stints as President Gerald Ford's chief of staff and secretary of defense. Otherwise, he might have recalled this Rumsfeld rule before he bullied the world and ripped up Iraq: "It is easier to get into something than to get out of it."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

October 13th, 2003, 10:16 AM
Rumsfeld 'Roller Coaster' Ride Takes Downward Turn

Sun Oct 12, 9:59 AM ET - Reuters

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was asked recently to explain why he is taking such heat after enjoying "rock-star popularity" not too long ago among his admirers following U.S. military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Well, that's life, isn't it?" Rumsfeld told reporters.

"Life's a roller coaster."

In the roller coaster ride of Washington politics, Rumsfeld appears to be on a downward trajectory, according to U.S. officials and analysts.

They cite as evidence President Bush's formation of an interagency Iraq Stabilization Group headed by Condoleezza Rice, the White House national security adviser, to coordinate policy in Iraq, until now largely an in-house operation for Rumsfeld's Pentagon.

"You have to view this as just taking Rumsfeld down a notch," Brookings Institution defense analyst Michael O'Hanlon said. "It certainly reflects a little bit less confidence in Rumsfeld. I think it would be pretty hard to portray it any other way. ... Rumsfeld's star has dimmed just a little."

Rumsfeld has exerted considerable muscle in molding U.S. national security and foreign policy, often reaching into realms ordinarily left to other parts of the government such as the State Department and the CIA.

His detractors inside and outside the administration are wondering whether Rumsfeld's frosty relations with Congress, alienation of U.S. allies, bruising battles with Secretary Colin Powell's State Department and stubborn refusal to change course in postwar Iraq are finally catching up with him.

"I wonder how long he's going to have his job," said one administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "He's become a bit of a political liability."

The White House has given Rumsfeld a public expression of confidence, although that does not always guarantee the safety of a Cabinet secretary's job.

Republican consultant Charlie Black said he did not think Bush was dissatisfied with Rumsfeld or poised to fire him, but did not rule out Rumsfeld leaving the administration if Bush is re-elected in November 2004.

"From everything I see and observe and hear from people, I think he's perfectly safe," Black said.

No one doubts Rumsfeld's continuing clout. Even with the organizational change, instituted amid mounting public concern about the cost of efforts in Iraq in terms of U.S. money and lives, the White House said the Pentagon retains primary responsibility in Iraq policy.


Rumsfeld initially displayed annoyance over the announcement of Rice's Iraq Stabilization Group and said Bush never talked to him about it beforehand, then later clarified that he did not believe the White House was going behind his back to diminish his power. O'Hanlon said Rumsfeld's public complaints only drew attention to the situation "and he essentially contributed to his own humbling."

Even before the U.S.-led invasion that toppled President Saddam Hussein, Bush assigned Rumsfeld, rather than Powell, the lead role in postwar Iraq. But the six months since the fall of Baghdad have been difficult ones, with the 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq facing continued guerrilla attacks while ordinary Iraqis complain about lingering lawlessness in some places and slowness in restoring basic services.

Critics have questioned the quality of the Pentagon's postwar planning, anticipation of problems and speed in addressing them. In fact, some House of Representatives Republicans, displeased with Rumsfeld's progress in Iraq, recently contemplated giving Powell rather than Rumsfeld control over the $20.3 billion Bush is seeking for Iraqi reconstruction.

Defense analyst Charles Pena of the Cato Institute said if things were going really well in Iraq, the White House would not be making any changes.

"But what's driving the train is an election a year away," Pena said.

"The White House is looking at the poll numbers. The president's approval rating, not just on Iraq but everything else, has been in steady decline since May 1 (when he declared major combat over in Iraq). Whereas previously Iraq and the war on terrorism were seen by the political operators in the White House as what would win the president re-election, they are now seen as what could lose this election for the president."

Defense analyst Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute said Rumsfeld's actual policy influence has not receded.

Thompson said the White House, despite assuming more responsibility for Iraq decisions, has made no policy changes. He noted U.S. policy will continue to be administered on the ground in Iraq primarily by the Defense Department.

And Thompson said Rumsfeld remains very much in harmony ideologically with Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney on national security issues -- much more so than Powell.

Copyright © 2003 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

Freedom Tower
October 14th, 2003, 06:08 PM
Army Letter-Writing Campaign Draws Criticism

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

WASHINGTON — A battalion commander took it upon himself to provide form letters for his troops to send to their hometown newspapers, the White House said Tuesday.

The identical letters, which were discovered in a series of Gannett publications (search) over the weekend, paint a glowing picture of progress in Iraq and say U.S. forces are being welcomed with open arms there.

The series of letters-to-the-editor from soldiers in Iraq raised questions about whether the Bush administration has tried to get troops on the ground to join in on a newly-launched public relations campaign in which the administration is trying to promote positive developments in Iraq.

The White House launched its campaign last week to counter what President Bush called a negative "filter" in the mainstream press that has prevented the good news in Iraq from reaching the American public.

On Monday, Bush spoke one-on-one with reporters from smaller news organizations. He said not only is the press not presenting a full picture, but he is willing to go around it.

"We'd like the people to know the truth about what's going on. I am mindful of the filter through which some news travels and sometimes you have to go over the heads of the filter and speak directly to the people," Bush said.

On Tuesday, Press Secretary Scott McClellan sidestepped questions about whether the president believes "the truth" is being told by major press outlets, but said it certainly isn't getting the notice it deserves.

"There is a part of the story that is not getting the attention that we believe it should receive. But on the security front, we are continuing to make important progress there as well because we're taking the fight to the Saddam [Hussein] holdouts, the remnants of the former regime. We are taking the fight to the foreign terrorists," McClellan said.

Officials at the Pentagon and the White House have said the administration was not involved in the letter-writing campaign by some soldiers in Company A, 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment (search). The letters, bearing the names and signatures of soldiers on the ground in the city of Kirkuk (search), were written by some of the unit's officers. They were then forwarded to the military's "Hometown News Release Program," based at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

The Hometown News Release Program (search) encourages soldiers to write their local newspapers to announce promotions and personal milestones as well as other slice-of-life stories.

"Think about how terrific it would be for your family to see their loved one's "story" in print," the program's Web site reads, adding that "more than 500,000 releases are mailed annually to 10,000-plus daily and weekly newspapers across the country, promoting the accomplishments of more than 150,000 military personnel."

Staffers with the program forward the letters to the papers, but it is up to the newspaper to publish the letters or discard them.

According to news reports, the identical letters were discovered in various papers owned by the same companies. Some soldiers said that their platoon sergeant asked them to sign the letters if they agreed, and so they did. Others said they were not aware their names were on the letters until family back home congratulated them on having their letters published, reported USA Today.

The Hometown News Release Program was not meant for letters to the editor, officials at the Pentagon told Fox News. But sending an opinion letter does not necessarily violate the rules of the program.

However, officials said they do believe that sending such letters violates common sense.

"What they did wasn't illegal, but it also didn't live up to the intent of the program," a senior defense official said. "They didn't maliciously do anything wrong. What they did was within their rights, but they shouldn't have used this program to do it. This wasn't the venue.

"It would have been better still if each [serviceman] had written and signed his own letter," the official added.

The U.S. military's public affairs office in Baghdad has slapped the 503rd Regiment on the wrist, telling the unit not to send anymore of them, but no action will be taken against the 503rd. Officials said the Pentagon considers the matter closed.

Fox News' Wendell Goler, Bret Baier and Ian McCaleb contributed to this report.

October 14th, 2003, 11:59 PM
October 15, 2003

Holding Our Noses


I haven't written about Iraq lately because, frankly, it felt like shooting fish in a barrel.

It was sporting to write columns opposing the war back in January, when the White House was conjuring enough Iraqi anthrax "to kill several million people," as well as hordes of cheering Iraqis casting flowers on our soldiers. These days, with that anthrax as elusive as Saddam himself, with the people we've liberated busy killing us, with the bill for Iraq coming in at $90,000 a minute — well, criticizing the war just seems too easy, like aiming a bomb at Bambi.

So I won't do it.

In any case, the real question that confronts us now is not whether invading Iraq was the height of hubris, but this: Given that we are there, how do we make the best of it?

I'm afraid that too many in my dovish camp think that just because we shouldn't have invaded, we also shouldn't stay — or at least we shouldn't help Mr. Bush pay the bill. Mr. Bush's $87 billion budget request for Iraq and Afghanistan is getting pummeled on Capitol Hill this week, partly because people are angry at being misled and patronized by this administration.

Granted, some elements of the budget (like much of our Iraq operation) seem too rooted in our own expectations. In northern Iraq, U.S. engineers reported that it would take $50 million to bring a cement factory in the area to Western standards. The U.S. general there, lacking that kind of money, found some Iraqis who got it going again for $80,000.

And people like those in my hometown of Yamhill, Ore., have trouble understanding why the administration wants to buy Iraqis new $50,000 garbage trucks. On my last visit, I was struck how Oregonians, seeing their local school programs slashed, resent having to subsidize Iraq. That resentment runs deep: the latest USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll shows Americans opposing the Iraq budget request, 57 to 41 percent.

So my fear is that we will now compound our mistake of invading Iraq by refusing to pay for our occupation and then pulling out our troops prematurely. If Iraq continues to go badly, if Democrats continue to hammer Mr. Bush for his folly, if Karl Rove has nightmares of an election campaign fought against a backdrop of suicide bombings in Baghdad, then I'm afraid the White House may just declare victory and retreat.

In that case, Iraq would last about 10 minutes before disintegrating into a coup d'etat or a civil war.

Couldn't happen, you say? We let Afghanistan fall apart after the victory over the Soviet-backed government in 1992. We let Somalia disintegrate after our pullout in 1993-94. And right now, incredibly, the administration is letting Afghanistan fall apart all over again.

If that happens in Iraq, American credibility will be devastated, Al Qaeda will have a new base for operations, and Iraqis will be even worse off than they were in the days of Saddam Hussein.

Hmm. Who knows? In that event, Saddam might return as the warlord of Tikrit.

How do we reduce the chance that Iraq will collapse? First, by holding our noses and passing the president's budget request for Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraqis I've interviewed are often suspicious of U.S. intentions ("You're planning to steal our oil!"), but they're willing to give us a chance if we can stop rapes and get factories open. Slashing that budget — or turning it into a loan to be repaid with oil revenues — would destroy the Iraqi economy and convince many wavering Iraqis that we are conquerors who are best dealt with by blowing us up.

We can also shore up Iraq by arranging an early transfer of sovereignty back to Iraqis, as Kofi Annan and others have suggested — a move the administration initially sputtered about but now seems to accept. Sure, it may be only a symbolic gesture, but anyone who says symbols don't matter doesn't understand nationalism.

The greatest foreign policy mistake the U.S. has made over the last half-century has been its obliviousness to nationalism. Today as well, plenty of ordinary Iraqis would prefer to be misruled by Iraqis than ruled by Americans.

Above all, to stave off catastrophe in Iraq, we must keep our troops there and provide security, for that is the glue that keeps Iraq together. I believe that President Bush was wrong to go into Iraq, but he's right about staying there.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

October 16th, 2003, 12:31 AM

Bill Berkowitz

Bush's good news offensive

Series of orchestrated happy-talk media events can't hide daily reality of U.S. soldiers and Iraqis killed and wounded

It appears I spoke too soon. In a recent column, I wrote that President Bush's campaign to spread the good news about Iraq was on its last legs. In reality, Phase One of Operation Good News appears to have played poorly, but in the past week the administration has bounced back with a series of high-profile speeches and piercing jabs at the media.

On Friday, October 10, vice president Dick Cheney wowed a Heritage Foundation audience with a reminder that the war on terrorism still has a long way to go. The following day, President Bush's weekly radio address focused on some of the everyday successes of the occupation. By Tuesday, the president was giving interviews to regional television outlets, sidestepping what he believes is the major networks' predilection for reporting only the bad news. At the same time, form letters in support of the administration's policy in Iraq -- purported to be written by soldiers in Iraq -- were published in a batch of newspapers around the country.

By the end of the first days of the new PR offensive, several public opinion polls showed the president regaining some of his lost support.

The good news offensive

According to Reuters, President Bush's weekly radio address "hailed the launch of the country's new currency as a sign of economic promise." Removing the image of Saddam Hussein from the Iraqi dinar was "helping Iraqis to rebuild their economy after a long era of corruption and misrule," Bush said. "For three decades, Iraq's economy served the interest only of its dictator and his regime. The new currency symbolizes Iraq's reviving economy."

"With our assistance, Iraqis are building the roads and ports and railways necessary for commerce," said Bush. "We have helped to establish an independent Iraqi central bank. Working with the Iraqi Governing Council, we are establishing a new system that allows foreign investors to confidently invest capital in Iraq's future."

The vice president showed up at the Washington, DC-based Heritage Foundation to remind his buds that we are still deeply involved with the war on terrorism. Characterized by The New York Times' Maureen Dowd as a "masterpiece of demagogy," Cheney stirred up his audience by telling them that "Terrorists are doing everything they can to gain even deadlier means of striking us. From the training manuals we found in the caves of Afghanistan to the interrogations of terrorists that we've captured, we have learned of their ambitions to develop or acquire chemical, biological or nuclear weapons."

The vice president once again trucked out the administration's many unproven assertions, including the ones that Saddam Hussein "had an established relationship with Al Qaeda, providing training to Al Qaeda members in... poisons, gases, and making conventional bombs." It is clear that when you're in the middle of a handsomely designed PR campaign, the truth matters little.

By Tuesday, ABC News.com was reporting that the president had tired of the "filter" of news reports coming from Iraq and he was attempting to "go around the press... through television outlets that do not routinely cover the White House."

"There's a sense that people in America aren't getting the truth," he told Hearst-Argyle Television. "I'm mindful of the filter through which some news travels, and sometimes you just have to go over the heads of the filter and speak directly to the people."

It has also been reported that first lady Laura Bush may be enlisted for the new offensive.

What's next? Might the president pop up as an umpire during the World Series or a referee on Monday Night Football? Will he don an apron and cook up one of his specialty dishes with Emeril? Turn up hawking the 12-inch President George W. Bush Elite Force Aviator doll complete with naval aviator flight uniform on the Home Shopping Network? Will the first couple show up on Friends, The Simpsons or Queer Eye for the Straight Guy?

The reality of bad news

Wherever he and the vice president choose to perform their rhetorical jujitsu, you can bet they won't mention any of the following:

# On October 14, a 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment soldier was found dead in the Euphrates River near Hadithah and two 1st Armored Division soldiers were killed in the Kadhimyah district of Baghdad. On October 13, four British soldiers were wounded in two separate explosions in Basra; a US soldier was killed and another wounded when their Bradley fighting vehicle hit a landmine near Baiji, 220 kilometers north of Baghdad; one 4th Infantry Division soldier was killed and two were wounded in a mid-morning attack; one Fourth Infantry Division soldier was killed in Tikrit at 1:15 PM; U.S. soldiers were ambushed northeast of Baghdad, killing two and wounding two.

# Three hundred and thirty-two U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq since the March 20 invasion -- nine since October 9. More than 1,830 soldiers have been wounded since the start of the war -- an average of nearly nine a day. To my knowledge, the president has made just one visit to see the wounded.

# The military recently launched an investigation into the unusual number of suicides among U.S. military personnel in Iraq. To date, according to USA Today, at least 11 soldiers and three Marines have committed suicide and another dozen deaths are under investigation. Another 478 soldiers have been sent home from Iraq for mental-health issues.

The number of suicides has caused the Army to be concerned," Lt. Col. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, psychiatrist at the Army's Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., told USA Today. "They are ... looking at the stresses on the troops, how well the troops are coping and how well the basic principles of battlefield psychiatry are working," Ritchie added.

# According to the Associated Press, there have been at least eight major bombings in Iraq since May:

"Oct. 12: A suicide car bomber attacked the Baghdad Hotel in downtown Baghdad, killing himself and one other person, at least 32 were wounded.

Oct. 9: A suicide bomber drove his Oldsmobile into a police station in Baghdad's Sadr City district, killing himself and nine other people.

Sept. 25: A planted bomb damaged a hotel housing the offices of NBC News, killing a Somali guard and slightly injuring an NBC sound technician.

Sept. 22: A suicide car bomber struck a police checkpoint outside U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, killing himself and an Iraqi policeman who stopped him, and wounding 19 people.

Sept. 9: A suicide bomber targeted a U.S. intelligence compound in northern Iraq, killing three people and seriously wounding four American intelligence officers.

Aug. 29: A car bomb explodes outside a mosque in the Shiite Muslim holy city of Najaf, killing more than 85 people including Shiite leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim.

Aug. 19: A truck bomber struck at the headquarters of the United Nations at the Canal Hotel, killing 23 people, including the top U.N. envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Aug. 7: A car bomb shattered a street outside the walled Jordanian Embassy, killing at least 19 people including two children."

The form letter flap

Lt. Col. Dominic Caraccilo, the commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Infantry Regiment, has now acknowledged that he orchestrated the bogus letter writing campaign. The letters -- all written in the same words -- discussed the successes the soldiers experienced in rebuilding Iraq: "The quality of life and security for the citizens has been largely restored, and we are a large part of why that has happened.

"The majority of the city has welcomed our presence with open arms," the letters read.

Prior to Lt. Col. Caraccilo's admission, an investigation by Washington state-based newspaper, The Olympian, found that the form letters "describing their successes rebuilding Iraq" had appeared "in newspapers across the country as U.S. public opinion on the mission sour[ed]." Lt. Col. Caraccilo emailed ABC News that the letter was drafted by his staff and he edited it and reviewed it and then provided it to the soldiers. "Every soldier who signed that letter did so after a careful read," he said. "Some, who could find the time, decided to send their own versions, while others chose not to take part in the initiative."

Putting 'bad news' in perspective

Counterspin Central put the administration's whining about wanting to hear more good news from Iraq in perspective:

"What if, on September 11, 2001...someone had told us:

'Hey...things are not so bad in the United States. You have the world's largest economy. The most powerful military in the world. A thriving Democracy, clean water, a good health system. Stop focusing on one TINY part of the United States [The New York/Washington D.C./Pennsylvania triangle], where a measly 3000 people were killed...and tens of billions of dollars in destruction was caused... by terrorist attacks using hijacked commercial aircraft.'

Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement. His WorkingForChange column Conservative Watch documents the strategies, players, institutions, victories and defeats of the American Right.

(c) 2003 Working Assets Online. All rights reserved

Opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of Working Assets, nor is Working Assets responsible for objectionable material accessed via links from this site.

October 22nd, 2003, 06:52 AM
October 22, 2003


A Double-Barreled Attack on American War Policy


The Bush Assault on the World Order"
By John Newhouse
194 pages. Alfred A. Knopf. $23.

As the burdens of stabilizing Iraq mount, many Americans are wondering whether their government has gone off course. John Newhouse's indictment of President Bush's foreign policy thus appears at an opportune moment, offering a lucid and accessible account of how he says the administration has done more to imperil the United States than to enhance its security.

Mr. Newhouse begins with the ideas that inform policy, exposing the dangers in the Bush doctrine's twin pillars of preventive war and pre-eminence. By embracing the principle of prevention, Mr. Bush risks mayhem by setting a precedent that individual countries can decide for themselves when to start a war against a suspected threat.

The author says that a doctrine of prevention also hampers democratic oversight by making decisions of war and peace depend on intelligence information not open to public scrutiny. (Several of the intelligence reports that Mr. Bush made public to justify the Iraq war were of dubious reliability.) Mr. Newhouse additionally points out that Mr. Bush's penchant for prevention skews priorities, soaking up resources to rebuild Iraq that should be spent countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

A doctrine of American pre-eminence is similarly problematic. The United States does have uncontested military dominance, but Mr. Bush's exaggeration of "the role and utility of raw military power" has fueled his dismissive attitude toward allies. An illusory sense of omnipotence has also made the administration underestimate the importance of diplomacy, leading to the uncompromising stances that have cost the United States so much good will abroad.

Mr. Newhouse notes that America's standing abroad will begin to recover "only if and when Washington softens its approach to the world by becoming less unilateral and threatening and more inclined to operate with sensitivity to the views of others."

Mr. Newhouse next moves from principle to practice, cataloging the unwelcome effects of Mr. Bush's doctrinal excesses. His critique of the Iraq war contends that Mr. Bush predicated military action on faulty assumptions, bungled prewar diplomacy at the United Nations and failed to prepare for postwar reconstruction. The Democrats come in for their own criticism when he says they were "intimidated, reluctant to take on a president who had with some skill made national security the consuming issue."

In the strongest section of "Imperial America" Mr. Newhouse recounts the lost opportunities arising from Mr. Bush's fixation on Saddam Hussein. The list is long and troubling.

At its top is Pakistan, a country that "is likely to stand out in the years ahead as the single most dangerous place in today's world" because of a volatile mix of nuclear weapons, political instability, terrorist networks and Islamic radicalism, but Washington focused instead on the lesser danger that emanated from Baghdad. The same goes for North Korea. Despite Pyongyang's open efforts to build nuclear weapons, Mr. Bush played down that threat to keep Americans focused on the impending campaign against Iraq.

Meanwhile, Mr. Newhouse contends, the Bush administration missed a chance to recast relations with Iran, a country whose intellectual and social capital gives it the potential to anchor regional stability. After the events of Sept. 11, the Iranian government supported — although tentatively — the American campaign in Afghanistan, and moderates in Tehran were gaining ground against the radical clerics. Nonetheless Mr. Bush branded Iran a member of the axis of evil, undercutting the reformers and scuttling chances for rapprochement between Washington and Tehran.

These lost opportunities are all the more worrisome against the backdrop of the damage that Mr. Bush has done to the Atlantic alliance, Mr. Newhouse says. With the United States and its key partners in Europe already drifting apart before the Iraq war, it remains to be seen whether the alliance survives the strategic rift that has opened across the Atlantic.

Mr. Newhouse's account of the political and ideological sources of these strategic missteps is less compelling than his critique of American policy. He tends to assign a false uniformity to Mr. Bush and his advisers, lumping them together (except Secretary of State Colin L. Powell) as hawkish neoconservatives.

Mr. Newhouse insists, for example, that Mr. Bush "arrived in Washington a convinced unilateralist." But Mr. Bush hails from America's inward-looking heartland, explaining why, before Sept. 11, his isolationist instincts were far more pronounced than his appetite for global dominion. The heartland's distaste for imperial adventure is one of the main reasons Mr. Bush's popularity is now lagging.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul D. Wolfowitz, may both be conservative hawks. But Mr. Rumsfeld, it has been reported, holds a more circumscribed notion of America's role in the world and shares little of Mr. Wolfowitz's enthusiasm for an expansive American effort to bring democracy and pluralism to the greater Middle East. Their disagreements over the scope of the American mission in Iraq contributed to the inadequacy of planning for postwar stabilization.

Mr. Newhouse might have drawn more heavily on his long and distinguished career as a journalist to explore these differences and shed more light on the internal workings of Mr. Bush's foreign policy team. The White House's tight-fisted approach to the flow of information keeps it on message but leaves the American people in the dark about how policy is formulated and how much influence is wielded by key players like Vice President Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser.

Americans need to know more about what goes on behind the scenes if they are to act on Mr. Newhouse's ominous warning that "American military power is constantly growing, although the country's overall security may be declining, if only because its priorities are skewed and unbalanced."

Charles A. Kupchan is a professor of international affairs at Georgetown University and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Freedom Tower
October 22nd, 2003, 05:10 PM
Rumsfeld Memo Questions U.S. Terror Fight

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

WASHINGTON — The United States faces "a long, hard slog" in the fight against Al Qaeda, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in a pointed memo raising questions about the future of the war on terrorism.

Rumsfeld said the U.S.-led coalitions would win in Afghanistan and Iraq, but so far have had mixed results. He wrote that the United States "has made reasonable progress in capturing or killing the top 55 Iraqis" but has made "somewhat slower progress" tracking down top Taliban leaders who sheltered Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

"My impression is that we have not yet made truly bold moves, although we have made many sensible, logical moves in the right direction, but are they enough?" Rumsfeld wrote.

The defense secretary also raised the possibility of creating a new team or agency in the federal government specifically to fight terrorism worldwide.

The Pentagon released a copy of the memo, dated Oct. 16 and first reported by USA Today on Wednesday. The memo was addressed to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz (search), Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers (search) and two of their deputies. In it, Rumsfeld offered a much more stark assessment of the global war on terrorism than he often gives publicly.

"It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog," he wrote.

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (search), Joe Biden of Delaware, said the memo "is a little different than the sort of self-assurance that was communicated to us in Congress."

"This is the first sort of introspection that I have even whiffed coming out of the civilian side of the Defense Department," Biden told reporters on Capitol Hill.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan, traveling with President Bush in Australia, voiced support for Rumsfeld. "That's exactly what a strong and capable secretary of defense like Secretary Rumsfeld should be doing," said McClellan.

"The president has always said it will require thinking differently. It's a different type of war," McClellan said.

Bush talked about the war on terrorism with reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Canberra, where he planned to discuss it with Prime Minister John Howard.

"I've always felt that there's a tendency of people to kind of seek a comfort zone and hope that the war on terror is over," Bush said. "And I view it as a responsibility of the United States to remind people of our mutual obligations to deal with the terrorists."

Rumsfeld's spokesman, Larry Di Rita, told reporters the memo was meant to raise "big questions that deserve big thinking" and preserve a sense of urgency about where the war is heading.

Rumsfeld wrote "we are just getting started" in battling Ansar al-Islam (search), an Iraq-based terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda.

And he asked: "Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?"

Madrassas are Islamic religious schools. Rumsfeld and other U.S. officials say some schools run by radical groups indoctrinate students to join in an anti-American holy war.

Rumsfeld's memo raises the possibility of creating "a private foundation to entice radical madrassas to a more moderate course" and questions how to block the funding of the extremist schools.

Sounding a theme Rumsfeld repeatedly has voiced in the past two years, the memo says the Defense Department is too big and slow to effectively fight small groups of terrorists.

"An alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution, either within DoD or elsewhere," Rumsfeld wrote.

This article is exactly true. Everyone who says that the war has gone too far is 100% wrong. It hasn't yet gone far enough. There are still terrorists being trained and recruited in the Phillipines, Chechnya, Kashmir, some parts of Africa, and over much of the Middle East. Until people stop complaining and criticizing and let this President fight the terrorists we probably will not solve any of these problems. If the President said he wanted to send troops into the Northern Pakistan border with Afghanistan, where many think Bin Laden is hiding, people would probably complain they want the war to be over. It's the same case if he would want to go after one of the many terrorist groups in Iran, Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad in Syria, Abu Sayyaf in the Phillipines. People would protest. If people really want to stop terrorists they have to stop whining about the war taking too long. Because it will never be completed if they keep whining.

October 22nd, 2003, 06:53 PM
Rumsfeld's memo raises the possibility of creating "a private foundation to entice radical madrassas to a more moderate course" and questions how to block the funding of the extremist schools.
And this won't cause a backlash? How can we insure funding won't be funnelled by corrupt clerics, etc.

Sounding a theme Rumsfeld repeatedly has voiced in the past two years, the memo says the Defense Department is too big and slow to effectively fight small groups of terrorists.

"An alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution, either within DoD or elsewhere," Rumsfeld wrote.
A secret worldwide terror fighting force... with full Patriot act priveleges and classified clearance? I'm not even a terrorist and I'm terrified. :shock:

Freedom Tower
October 23rd, 2003, 04:46 PM
That's funny, I'm more afraid of terrorists than people trying to protect me from terrorists. In fact, I am grateful to people trying to fight terrorists. Not only that, but if our current military is too big and bulky to do the anti-terrorist job then I would hope there'd be a change. After all when you have a problem you should do something to fix it instead of whine and complain. If we need a more nimble military or a seperate institution to fight terrorists then we should create that institution. The Homeland Security Department is new and great for defending against terrorism, however in the case of terrorists the best defense is a good offense. We need to improve our anti-terrorist capabilities for the offensive side of the war. I'm surprised this hasn't happened sooner.

October 23rd, 2003, 07:38 PM
And he asked: "Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?"

I think it's rather hypocritical for Rumsfeld to worry about dissuading potential terrorists when he was the chief architect of the recruiting slogan. He may be trying to distance himself from a difficult situation.

October 24th, 2003, 11:37 AM
Times article: Rumsfeld Draws Republicans' Ire


Freedom Tower
October 24th, 2003, 04:28 PM
"The chief architect of the recruiting slogan"? Are you suggesting that the head of the US military is trying to sponsor terrorists to fight against his army and country? I'm confused as to what you are trying to say.

October 24th, 2003, 10:07 PM

Freedom Tower
October 24th, 2003, 11:13 PM
OK, well I'm glad that's not what you meant, but do you mind telling me what you did mean? I can't argue unless I can decipher first ;) I'm automatically assuming we'll argue because we disagree on this topic so much. So whatever the meaning is, I'll probably wind up disagreeing with it, but can you please explain it first?

October 25th, 2003, 08:26 AM
Rumsfeld (correctly) states that part of the war against terrorism involves stopping people from becoming terrorists. Killing or capturing terrorists will never win this war as long as there are others willing to take their place.

One of the recruiting slogans used by Bin Laden was the presence of US forces in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf war - the infidels are in the holy land. It doesn't matter that their presence was beneficial; it's easy to convince impressionable people that the Great Satan is the cause of their problems. The Saudi ruling hierarchy allowed this rhetoric to deflect criticism from their own corrupt government.

That situation is developing in Iraq today. The borders were not secured (maybe it's unrealistic to think they could have been), so terrorists are entering the country, recruiting among the population. Drive the conquering infidels out of your country. Some people will still blame Americans when a car bomb kills Iraqis instead of US soldiers. They will rationalize that all this chaos didn't exist under Saddam Hussein, and now does with Americans in the country. Once that happens, they are a step closer to becoming terrorists themselves.

Rumsfeld is the architect because he was the major proponent of this war that was going to remove a major threat to our security. If he believed at the time that these problems would develop, he did not relate that to the American people, or at least to members of Congress. There are Republicans in the Armed Forces Committee who have become increasingly upset with Rumsfeld's you don't have a need to know attitude.

In regard to his memo: Sometimes documents are "leaked" by the originator, to disguise the intent of the information becoming public. Rumsfeld may be saying, "Don't blame me, I told you so."

Freedom Tower
October 25th, 2003, 11:48 AM
Yes, obviously stopping the recruitment of terrorists is just as important as killing or capturing them. However, I would not use that as an excuse not to do what is necessary. Some could argue that if we fought terrorits in Afghanistan that more Arabs would be angry. Maybe they were, but it was a necessary step in the war on terror, just like Iraq. Had we not gone into either of those countries we'd probably be a lot worse off today. There would be even more terrorists and more attacks at home. Obviously we must stop the recruitment but we can't be afraid to do what is necessary. It's too bad though, it seems that many Muslims in the middle east believe everything Al Jazeera tells them. I see propoganda stations like them as being the real problem. Instead of stopping our war on terror, I think we should shut down terrorist propoganda centers.

October 28th, 2003, 10:07 PM
From Reuters:

Bush Says Americans Not Misled on Iraq Campaign

Tue Oct 28, 2:25 PM ET

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Struggling to maintain public support for his Iraq policy, President Bush vowed on Tuesday U.S. forces would not leave Iraq and said he never misled Americans about the difficulties of occupying the country.

During a subdued Rose Garden news conference, Bush tempered his oft-stated refrain that major progress is being made in Iraq nearly six months after standing on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and declaring major combat operations over.

"Iraq is dangerous, and it's dangerous because terrorists want us to leave, and we're not leaving," he said.

The president sought to drive home a "stay the course" message a day after suicide bombers drove carloads of explosives into five buildings around Baghdad, killing 35 people and wounding 230 in the bloodiest day since President Saddam Hussein was ousted in April.

The extent of the coordinated attacks stunned the White House as Bush strove to maintain Americans' backing for keeping U.S. forces in Iraq to create conditions for a democratic government and search for alleged weapons of mass destruction that the war was fought over and that have not been found.

Reflecting some sensitivity, Bush said it was not White House staff who put up a "Mission Accomplished" banner on the Abraham Lincoln during his May 1 appearance, adding it was the aircraft carrier's staff who hung the sign because the ship itself was concluding a long overseas mission.

"My statement was a clear statement, basically recognizing that this phase of the war for Iraq was over, and there was a lot of dangerous work," he said.

Bush, under fire from Democratic presidential candidates who said he needs to put forward a plan to stabilize Iraq, said the strategy for dealing with attacks was to increase security around potential targets with blockades and checkpoints and keep U.S. strike forces ready to move against the guerrillas.

"But as well, we've got to make sure that not only we harden targets but that we get actionable intelligence to intercept the missions before they begin. That means more Iraqis involved in the intelligence-gathering systems in their countries, so that they are active participants in securing the country from further harm," he said.

Bush seemed to be using the news conference to underscore that much hard work remains in Iraq, a day after he told reporters that the guerrilla attacks should be seen as a sign of progress because they show the desperation of those trying to drive out the Americans.

"It's dangerous, and it's tough," he said.

Bush, who has complained in the past that foreign militants were crossing into Iraq from Syria and Iran to take up arms against U.S. forces, said he expected those two countries to enforce border controls to stop infiltrators, but toned down his rhetoric against them.

"We're working closely with those countries to let them know that we expect them to enforce borders, prevent people from coming across borders if, in fact, we catch them doing that," he said.

Bush gave no sign that he intends to either withdraw some U.S. troops or send in more as some military analysts have suggested. Asked about increasing troop strength, Bush said he constantly asks Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld if this was needed and has been told there are sufficient forces there.

He said Army Gen. John Abizaid, the top commander for U.S. forces in Iraq, "makes the decision as to whether or not he needs more troops."

Bush also defended the $20 billion in reconstruction money for Iraq he has proposed. Some members of Congress want to make some of the money in loans instead of grants.

Bush said this would saddle the Iraqi people with unnecessary debt, and he compared the situation to postwar Japan, saying the United States has a close relationship with Japan now because of postwar assistance.

Copyright © 2003 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

That's great. Blame the military.
Live by the photo-op; die by the photo-op.

January 12th, 2004, 12:14 AM
From CBS News 60 Minutes

Bush Sought ‘Way’ To Invade Iraq?

Jan. 11, 2004

A year ago, Paul O'Neill was fired from his job as George Bush's Treasury Secretary for disagreeing too many times with the president's policy on tax cuts.

Now, O'Neill - who is known for speaking his mind - talks for the first time about his two years inside the Bush administration. His story is the centerpiece of a new book being published this week about the way the Bush White House is run.

Entitled "The Price of Loyalty," the book by a former Wall Street Journal reporter draws on interviews with high-level officials who gave the author their personal accounts of meetings with the president, their notes and documents.

But the main source of the book was Paul O'Neill. Correspondent Lesley Stahl reports.

Paul O'Neill says he is going public because he thinks the Bush Administration has been too secretive about how decisions have been made.

Will this be seen as a “kiss-and-tell" book?

“I've come to believe that people will say damn near anything, so I'm sure somebody will say all of that and more,” says O’Neill, who was George Bush's top economic policy official.

In the book, O’Neill says that the president did not make decisions in a methodical way: there was no free-flow of ideas or open debate.

At cabinet meetings, he says the president was "like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people. There is no discernible connection," forcing top officials to act "on little more than hunches about what the president might think."

This is what O'Neill says happened at his first hour-long, one-on-one meeting with Mr. Bush: “I went in with a long list of things to talk about, and I thought to engage on and as the book says, I was surprised that it turned out me talking, and the president just listening … As I recall, it was mostly a monologue.”

He also says that President Bush was disengaged, at least on domestic issues, and that disturbed him. And he says that wasn't his experience when he worked as a top official under Presidents Nixon and Ford, or the way he ran things when he was chairman of Alcoa.

O'Neill readily agreed to tell his story to the book's author Ron Suskind – and he adds that he's taking no money for his part in the book.

Suskind says he interviewed hundreds of people for the book – including several cabinet members.

O'Neill is the only one who spoke on the record, but Suskind says that someone high up in the administration – Donald Rumsfeld - warned O’Neill not to do this book.

Was it a warning, or a threat?

“I don't think so. I think it was the White House concerned,” says Suskind. “Understandably, because O'Neill has spent extraordinary amounts of time with the president. They said, ‘This could really be the one moment where things are revealed.’"

Not only did O'Neill give Suskind his time, he gave him 19,000 internal documents.

“Everything's there: Memoranda to the President, handwritten "thank you" notes, 100-page documents. Stuff that's sensitive,” says Suskind, adding that in some cases, it included transcripts of private, high-level National Security Council meetings. “You don’t get higher than that.”

And what happened at President Bush's very first National Security Council meeting is one of O'Neill's most startling revelations.

“From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go,” says O’Neill, who adds that going after Saddam was topic "A" 10 days after the inauguration - eight months before Sept. 11.

“From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime,” says Suskind. “Day one, these things were laid and sealed.”

As treasury secretary, O'Neill was a permanent member of the National Security Council. He says in the book he was surprised at the meeting that questions such as "Why Saddam?" and "Why now?" were never asked.

"It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this,’" says O’Neill. “For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap.”

And that came up at this first meeting, says O’Neill, who adds that the discussion of Iraq continued at the next National Security Council meeting two days later.

He got briefing materials under this cover sheet. “There are memos. One of them marked, secret, says, ‘Plan for post-Saddam Iraq,’" adds Suskind, who says that they discussed an occupation of Iraq in January and February of 2001.

Based on his interviews with O'Neill and several other officials at the meetings, Suskind writes that the planning envisioned peacekeeping troops, war crimes tribunals, and even divvying up Iraq's oil wealth.

He obtained one Pentagon document, dated March 5, 2001, and entitled "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield contracts," which includes a map of potential areas for exploration.

“It talks about contractors around the world from, you know, 30-40 countries. And which ones have what intentions,” says Suskind. “On oil in Iraq.”

During the campaign, candidate Bush had criticized the Clinton-Gore Administration for being too interventionist: "If we don't stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road. And I'm going to prevent that."

“The thing that's most surprising, I think, is how emphatically, from the very first, the administration had said ‘X’ during the campaign, but from the first day was often doing ‘Y,’” says Suskind. “Not just saying ‘Y,’ but actively moving toward the opposite of what they had said during the election.”

The president had promised to cut taxes, and he did. Within six months of taking office, he pushed a trillion dollars worth of tax cuts through Congress.
But O'Neill thought it should have been the end. After 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan, the budget deficit was growing. So at a meeting with the vice president after the mid-term elections in 2002, Suskind writes that O'Neill argued against a second round of tax cuts.

“Cheney, at this moment, shows his hand,” says Suskind. “He says, ‘You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don't matter. We won the mid-term elections, this is our due.’ … O'Neill is speechless.”

”It was not just about not wanting the tax cut. It was about how to use the nation's resources to improve the condition of our society,” says O’Neill. “And I thought the weight of working on Social Security and fundamental tax reform was a lot more important than a tax reduction.”

Did he think it was irresponsible? “Well, it's for sure not what I would have done,” says O’Neill.

The former treasury secretary accuses Vice President Dick Cheney of not being an honest broker, but, with a handful of others, part of "a praetorian guard that encircled the president" to block out contrary views. "This is the way Dick likes it," says O’Neill.

Meanwhile, the White House was losing patience with O'Neill. He was becoming known for a series of off-the-cuff remarks his critics called gaffes. One of them sent the dollar into a nosedive and required major damage control.

Twice during stock market meltdowns, O'Neill was not available to the president: He was out of the country - one time on a trip to Africa with the Irish rock star Bono.

“Africa made an enormous splash. It was like a road show,” says Suskind. “He comes back and the president says to him at a meeting, ‘You know, you're getting quite a cult following.’ And it clearly was not a joke. And it was not said in jest.”

Suskind writes that the relationship grew tenser and that the president even took a jab at O'Neill in public, at an economic forum in Texas.

The two men were never close. And O'Neill was not amused when Mr. Bush began calling him "The Big O." He thought the president's habit of giving people nicknames was a form of bullying. Everything came to a head for O'Neill at a November 2002 meeting at the White House of the economic team.

“It's a huge meeting. You got Dick Cheney from the, you know, secure location on the video. The President is there,” says Suskind, who was given a nearly verbatim transcript by someone who attended the meeting.

He says everyone expected Mr. Bush to rubber stamp the plan under discussion: a big new tax cut. But, according to Suskind, the president was perhaps having second thoughts about cutting taxes again, and was uncharacteristically engaged.

“He asks, ‘Haven't we already given money to rich people? This second tax cut's gonna do it again,’” says Suskind.

“He says, ‘Didn’t we already, why are we doing it again?’ Now, his advisers, they say, ‘Well Mr. President, the upper class, they're the entrepreneurs. That's the standard response.’ And the president kind of goes, ‘OK.’ That's their response. And then, he comes back to it again. ‘Well, shouldn't we be giving money to the middle, won't people be able to say, ‘You did it once, and then you did it twice, and what was it good for?’"

But according to the transcript, White House political advisor Karl Rove jumped in.

“Karl Rove is saying to the president, a kind of mantra. ‘Stick to principle. Stick to principle.’ He says it over and over again,” says Suskind. “Don’t waver.”

In the end, the president didn't. And nine days after that meeting in which O'Neill made it clear he could not publicly support another tax cut, the vice president called and asked him to resign.

With the deficit now climbing towards $400 billion, O'Neill maintains he was in the right.

But look at the economy today.

“Yes, well, in the last quarter the growth rate was 8.2 percent. It was terrific,” says O’Neill. “I think the tax cut made a difference. But without the tax cut, we would have had 6 percent real growth, and the prospect of dealing with transformation of Social Security and fundamentally fixing the tax system. And to me, those were compelling competitors for, against more tax cuts.”

While in the book O'Neill comes off as constantly appalled at Mr. Bush, he was surprised when Stahl told him she found his portrait of the president unflattering.

“Hmmm, you really think so,” asks O’Neill, who says he isn’t joking. “Well, I’ll be darned.”

“You're giving me the impression that you're just going to be stunned if they attack you for this book,” says Stahl to O’Neill. “And they're going to say, I predict, you know, it's sour grapes. He's getting back because he was fired.”
“I will be really disappointed if they react that way because I think they'll be hard put to,” says O’Neill.

Is he prepared for it?

“Well, I don't think I need to be because I can't imagine that I'm going to be attacked for telling the truth,” says O’Neill. “Why would I be attacked for telling the truth?”

White House spokesman Scott McClellan was asked about the book on Friday and said "The president is someone that leads and acts decisively on our biggest priorities and that is exactly what he'll continue to do."

© MMIII, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.

January 12th, 2004, 02:56 AM
ironic title--sounds like O'Neill couldn't get what he was asking. Oh well, one more gaffe.

January 12th, 2004, 06:45 AM
January 12, 2004

Bush Sought to Oust Hussein From Start, Ex-Official Says


WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 — President Bush was focused on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq from the start of his administration, more than seven months before the terrorist attacks that he later cited as the trigger for a more aggressive foreign policy, Paul H. O'Neill, Mr. Bush's first Treasury secretary, said in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

"From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," Mr. O'Neill said in an interview with the CBS program "60 Minutes."

Mr. O'Neill, who was dismissed by Mr. Bush more than a year ago over differences on economic policy, said Iraq was discussed at the first National Security Council meeting after Mr. Bush's inauguration. The tone at that meeting and others, Mr. O'Neill said, was "all about finding a way to do it," with no real questioning of why Mr. Hussein had to go or why it had to be done then. "For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap," Mr. O'Neill said.

Mr. O'Neill gave the interview to "60 Minutes" to promote a new book, "The Price of Loyalty," by Ron Suskind. Mr. O'Neill cooperated extensively on the book, turning over 19,000 documents from his two years as Treasury secretary, including transcripts of National Security Council meetings, Mr. Suskind told "60 Minutes."

Mr. O'Neill also gave an interview to Time magazine, which quoted him as casting doubt on the strength of the evidence Mr. Bush cited in making the case for war with Iraq.

"In the 23 months I was there, I never saw anything that I would characterize as evidence of weapons of mass destruction," Mr. O'Neill told Time, speaking of his tenure in the administration. "There were allegations and assertions by people. But I've been around a hell of a long time, and I know the difference between evidence and assertions and illusions or allusions and conclusions that one could draw from a set of assumptions.

"To me there is a difference between real evidence and everything else," he continued. "And I never saw anything in the intelligence that I would characterize as real evidence."

Mr. O'Neill, a former chairman of Alcoa, served in the Nixon and Ford administrations and was close to Vice President Dick Cheney and Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman. Mr. O'Neill had a rocky tenure as Treasury secretary. His departure came after he made it clear he differed with the White House over the need for more tax cuts. In his typically blunt style, he made no effort at the time to pretend he was not angry and hurt over being forced out.

But the account of his service to Mr. Bush, as given to Mr. Suskind, whose book is to be published Tuesday, is the first by a former senior Bush administration official. It is sure to fuel questions from Mr. Bush's political opponents about the administration's rationale for invading Iraq, and to focus new attention on Mr. Bush's management style and the balance in the White House between politics and policy.

A White House spokesman, Ken Lisaius, said on Sunday night that the administration "simply is not in the business of doing book reviews."

Mr. Lisaius said the book and the interviews appeared to be "an attempt to justify the former secretary's own opinions instead of the results this administration has achieved on behalf of the American people."

In the interviews and in excerpts from the book, Mr. O'Neill described Mr. Bush as hard to read and seemingly disengaged from the details of many policy debates. He portrayed Mr. Cheney as unwilling to serve the role of honest broker during those debates.

In the interviews on Sunday, Mr. O'Neill did not describe in depth the early discussions about removing Mr. Hussein from power. Mr. Suskind told "60 Minutes" that he had documents dating from before Sept. 11, 2001, showing planning for the aftermath of a war with Iraq, covering peacekeeping forces, war crimes tribunals and Iraqi oil fields.

Since the Clinton administration, the official position of the United States, backed by bipartisan votes in Congress, has been to call for "regime change" in Iraq. Even before taking office, Mr. Bush had spoken to exiled Iraqi opponents of Mr. Hussein about his desire to drive the Iraqi leader from power.

But the administration has disclosed few details of its early thinking about war with Iraq and did not publicly raise the prospect of such a war seriously until August 2002.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

January 12th, 2004, 12:02 PM
September 11 was almost too convenient for Bush.

January 12th, 2004, 12:09 PM
I think I have to read the book, to get it all in context.

January 12th, 2004, 09:10 PM
I think I have to read the book, to get it all in context.
I'm really interested in this book my-self. I've been anti-war, but I thought that 9-11 was the cause. It's insulting how Bush would use 9-11 as an excuse to go to war.

February 9th, 2004, 02:31 AM
February 9, 2004

Mr. Bush's Version

When Americans choose a president, their most profound consideration is whether a candidate can make the wisest possible decisions when it comes to war. In the case of George W. Bush, they will not only judge whether the invasion of Iraq was the right decision, but what our president has brought away from that experience. If there were misjudgments about the nature of Iraq's weapons programs or in the ways the administration presented that intelligence to the public, we need to know whether he recognizes them and has learned from them. Yesterday, in an interview with NBC's Tim Russert, after a week in which it became obvious to most Americans that the justifications for the war were based on flawed intelligence, Mr. Bush offered his reflections, and they were far from reassuring. The only clarity in the president's vision appears to be his own perfect sense of self-justification.

Right now, the questions average Americans are asking about Iraq seem much clearer than the ones Mr. Bush is willing to confront. People want to know why American intelligence was so wrong about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Mr. Bush didn't have a consistent position on this pivotal issue. At some points during his Oval Office interview, he seemed to be admitting that he had been completely wrong when he told the public just before the war started that the intelligence left "no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." At other moments he suggested the weapons might still be hidden somewhere, or that they may have been transported to another country. At times he depicted himself as having been misled by intelligence reports. But he insisted that George Tenet, the director of central intelligence, was doing a good job and deserved to keep his job.

Average Americans are also asking themselves whether invading Iraq would have seemed like the right decision if we knew then what we know now. Mr. Bush doesn't seem willing to even take on this critical question. He repeatedly referred to Saddam Hussein as a dangerous madman, without defining the threat that even a madman, without any weapons of mass destruction, posed to the United States. At one point, his reasoning seemed to be that even if the dictator did not have the feared weapons, he could have started manufacturing them on a moment's notice. To bolster his position, he cited David Kay, the American weapons inspector, as reporting that "Saddam Hussein was dangerous with the ability to make weapons." In fact, Mr. Kay said that Iraq's weapons program seemed to have ground to a halt under the pressure of the United Nations inspections and sanctions that Mr. Bush and his staff disdained last year. Mr. Kay said Saddam Hussein retained only the basic ability to restart weapons programs if that pressure were removed.

At other times, the president seemed to argue that the invasion was necessary simply to demonstrate that Americans did not back down from a fight. "In my judgment, when the United States says there will be serious consequences, and if there isn't serious consequences, it creates adverse consequences," he said. Although Mr. Bush tried to portray himself as a man who exhausted every peaceful solution, the "serious consequences" were threatened in a United Nations resolution in late 2002 that Mr. Bush was forced to seek to mollify nervous allies after the decision to have a war was essentially made.

Mr. Bush's explanation of how he reconciled the current activities in Iraq with his 2000 campaign rejection of "nation building" was simply silly. (American troops are building a nation in Iraq, he said, but they are also "fighting a war so that they can build a nation.") And it's very hard to take seriously Mr. Bush's contention that he was not surprised by the intensity of the resistance in Iraq.

The president was doing far more yesterday than rolling out the administration's spin for the next campaign. He was demonstrating how he is likely to think if confronted with a similar crisis in the future. The fuzziness and inconsistency of his comments suggest he is still relying on his own moral absolutism, that in a dangerous world the critical thing is to act decisively, and worry about connecting the dots later. Mr. Bush said repeatedly that he went to the United Nations seeking a diplomatic alternative to war. In fact, the United States rejected all diplomatic alternatives at the time, severely damaging relations with some of its most important and loyal allies. "I believe it is essential that when we see a threat, we deal with those threats before they become imminent," he said. "It's too late if they become imminent."

Another question average Americans will be asking themselves this election year is whether the Bush administration, which wanted to invade Iraq even before Sept. 11, manipulated the intelligence reports to frighten Congress and the public into supporting the idea. The president's claim yesterday that Congress had access to exactly the same intelligence he had was inaccurate, and his comments about the new commission he has appointed to look into intelligence gathering made it clear that he has no intention of having his administration's actions included in the probe.

Some of Mr. Bush's comments yesterday raise questions even more disturbing than the idea that senior administration members might have misled the nation about the intelligence on Iraq. The nation obviously needs a leader who is always alert to the threat of terrorism from abroad. But it cannot afford to have one who responds to the trauma of 9/11 by overreacting to the possibility of danger. In the coming campaign, Mr. Bush, who described himself as a "war president," is going to have to show the country that he is capable of distinguishing real threats from false alarms, and has the courage to tell the nation the truth about something as profound as war. Nothing in the interview offered much hope in that direction.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 15th, 2004, 09:05 AM
February 15, 2004


The Thief of Baghdad



In the Ford White House, Dick Cheney's Secret Service name was Backseat, because he was the model of an unobtrusive staffer, the perfect unflashy deputy chief of staff for that lord of the bureaucratic dance, Donald Rumsfeld.

As James Mann writes in his new book, "The Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet," Mr. Cheney started out supervising such lowly matters as fixing a stopped-up drain in a White House bathroom sink; getting a headrest for Betty Ford's helicopter seat; and sorting out which salt shakers — the regular ones or, as he put it, the "little dishes of salt with funny little spoons" — would be best for stag dinners in the president's private quarters.

Rummy's alter ego rose quickly, though, because he seemed to have no ego. Good old Dick could be counted on to be the man behind the man, a butler to power. The new President Bush, a tabula rasa in foreign affairs, put himself in Mr. Cheney's hands.

But W. had barely settled into the Oval when Backseat clambered into the front seat. Retracing the rush to war, the names Cheney and Chalabi are entwined in bold relief.

Back when Dick Cheney was fiddling with salt shakers, Ahmad Chalabi, a smooth-talking and wealthy young Iraqi M.I.T. graduate, was founding the Petra Bank in Jordan.

As Mr. Cheney moved up in the capital, Mr. Chalabi was tripped up in Jordan by a small matter of embezzlement from his own bank. Jordanian officials have said that the crime rocked their economy and that they paid $300 million to depositors to cover the bank's losses. By the time Mr. Chalabi was convicted and received a sentence of 22 years of hard labor, he was a fugitive in London.

During the early 90's, when Mr. Cheney was a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Chalabi was in a full courtship press with Washington's conservative and journalistic elites. He saw them as a springboard for his triumphant return to Iraq.

After 9/11, his passionate desire to take out Saddam coincided with that of conservatives. All they needed for their belli was a casus, so Mr. Chalabi obligingly conned the neocons.

He hoodwinked his pals Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle into believing Iraq would be a flowery cakewalk to democracy.

A wily expert in the politics of the bazaar, he knew he had to sell his scheme on what was good for Americans and their security. He was happy to funnel information to the vice president that painted a picture of Saddam hunkered on a hair-raising stockpile of W.M.D. His group, the Iraqi National Congress, tried to spin our government and media through its "information collection program." Intelligence officials now say that the prewar information provided to Washington by this group was suspect and useless, even disinformation.

But here's the wild thing: the propaganda program was underwritten by U.S. government funds. So Americans paid Ahmad Chalabi to gull them into a war that is costing them a billion a week — and a precious human cost. Cops dealing with their snitches check out the information better than the Bush administration did.

Mr. Chalabi's séances swayed the political set, the intelligence set and the journalistic set. In an effect Senator Bob Graham dubs "incestuous amplification," the bogus stories spewed by Iraqi exiles and defectors ricocheted through an echo chamber of government and media, making it sound as if multiple, reliable sources were corroborating the same story. Rather, one self-interested source was replicating like computer spam.

The C.I.A. was stung to find out its analysts had mistakenly thought that Iraq weapons information had been confirmed by multiple sources, when it came from only a single source; that analysts had relied on a fabricating Iraqi defector and spin material from Iraqi exiles; and that this blather made its way into documents and speeches used by the Bush administration to justify war. George Tenet ordered a major change in procedure last week, removing barricades so that analysts can know more about the identities of clandestine agents' sources, and their possible motives.

But even incestuous amplification could not have drowned out reality if Bush officials had not glommed onto the Chalabi flummery for their own reasons — to feed their fantasies about refashioning America's power, psyche and military, and making over the Middle East in our image.

Swept up in big dreams, the foreign policy dream team became dupes in Ahmad Chalabi's big con.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 16th, 2004, 01:53 AM
Peace to the ones in Iraq right now, bring them back home.....the Somalia fiasco should never be forgotten.

March 4th, 2004, 07:32 PM
Yes, obviously stopping the recruitment of terrorists is just as important as killing or capturing them. However, I would not use that as an excuse not to do what is necessary. Some could argue that if we fought terrorits in Afghanistan that more Arabs would be angry. Maybe they were, but it was a necessary step in the war on terror, just like Iraq. Had we not gone into either of those countries we'd probably be a lot worse off today. There would be even more terrorists and more attacks at home. Obviously we must stop the recruitment but we can't be afraid to do what is necessary. It's too bad though, it seems that many Muslims in the middle east believe everything Al Jazeera tells them. I see propoganda stations like them as being the real problem. Instead of stopping our war on terror, I think we should shut down terrorist propoganda centers.

First, I'll state that I question whether the wars in Afghanistan were "the necessary thing to do" or not, but let's say it is. It's inevitable that waging war in Afghanistan and Iraq will make people of those countires angry at us, to make an understatement. That's how people become driven to terrorism, when they find a reason to see us as the devil. Despite our "smart bombs" mistakes are made, and innocent people are killed. Are we to expect that a child orphaned by one of our tomohawk missiles will rationalize "The Americans are just defending themselves in the fight against terrorism", or some guy's wife and children are killed by stray fire will rationalize "It was only a mistake, the Americans didn't mean it." No, there will be masses of disgruntled people affected by this violence who will become completely obsessed with our destruction. Bombing where we think Al-Quieda might be might hinder the terrorists, or at worst it might not, but there is no doubt that it will strengthen their future following. Do we want to hand the recieving end of this much larger vendetta down to our next generation?

March 4th, 2004, 07:39 PM
Did I mention that according to sources an average of 2,000 civilians were killed in Iraq in the first month of the war? Imagine how screwed we'll be in the future if the families of those 2,000 people in that month alone decide to act out of their anger? By the way, our country's government, and major news stations have avoided venturing guesses or estimations as to the number of civilians killed, so outside sources are all that anyone can go on.

March 5th, 2004, 04:12 AM
[quote=" Do we want to hand the recieving end of this much larger vendetta down to our next generation?

The anger is not only valid for iraki's next generation but, helas, for many other generation.

For an european (most of us) the US dream is still alive.
For the muslim world, it's the opposite i'm afraid....

March 19th, 2004, 01:11 PM
March 19, 2004


The Price of Freedom in Iraq



This week, as we mark the one-year anniversary of the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, it is useful to recount why we have fought. Not long ago I visited South Korea, just as the Korean government was debating whether to send troops to Iraq. In Seoul, I was interviewed by a Korean journalist who was almost certainly too young to have firsthand recollection of the Korean War. She asked me, "Why should Koreans send their young people halfway around the globe to be killed or wounded in Iraq?"

As it happened, I had that day visited a Korean War memorial, which bears the names of every American soldier killed in the war. On it was the name of a close friend of mine from high school, a wrestling teammate, who was killed on the last day of the war. I said to the reporter: "It's a fair question. And it would have been fair for an American to ask, 50 years ago, `Why should young Americans go halfway around the world to be killed or wounded in Korea?' "

We were speaking on an upper floor of a large hotel in Seoul. I asked the woman to look out the window — at the lights, the cars, the energy of the vibrant economy of South Korea. I told her about a satellite photo of the Korean peninsula, taken at night, that I keep on a table in my Pentagon office. North of the demilitarized zone there is nothing but darkness — except a pinprick of light around Pyongyang — while the entire country of South Korea is ablaze in light, the light of freedom.

Korean freedom was won at a terrible cost — tens of thousands of lives, including more than 33,000 Americans killed in action. Was it worth it? You bet. Just as it was worth it in Germany and France and Italy and in the Pacific in World War II. And just as it is worth it in Afghanistan and Iraq today.

Today, in a world of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and states that sponsor the former and pursue the latter, defending freedom means we must confront dangers before it is too late. In Iraq, for 12 years, through 17 United Nations Security Council resolutions, the world gave Saddam Hussein every opportunity to avoid war. He was being held to a simple standard: live up to your agreement at the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf war; disarm and prove you have done so. Instead of disarming — as Kazakhstan, South Africa and Ukraine did, and as Libya is doing today — Saddam Hussein chose deception and defiance.

Repeatedly, he rejected those resolutions and he systematically deceived United Nations inspectors about his weapons and his intent. The world knew his record: he used chemical weapons against Iran and his own citizens; he invaded Iran and Kuwait; he launched ballistic missiles at Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain; and his troops repeatedly fired on American and British aircraft patrolling the no-flight zones.

Recognizing the threat, in September 2002 President Bush went to the United Nations, which gave Iraq still another "final opportunity" to disarm and to prove it had done so. The next month the president went to Congress, which voted to support the use of force if Iraq did not.

And, when Saddam Hussein passed up that final opportunity, he was given a last chance to avoid war: 48 hours to leave the country. Only then, after every peaceful option had been exhausted, did the president and our coalition partners order the liberation of Iraq.

Americans do not come easily to war, but neither do Americans take freedom lightly. But when freedom and self-government have taken root in Iraq, and that country becomes a force for good in the Middle East, the rightness of those efforts will be just as clear as it is today in Korea, Germany, Japan and Italy.

As the continuing terrorist violence in Iraq reminds us, the road to self-governance will be challenging. But the progress is impressive. Last week the Iraqi Governing Council unanimously signed an interim Constitution. It guarantees freedom of religion and expression; the right to assemble and to organize political parties; the right to vote; and the right to a fair, speedy and open trial. It prohibits discrimination based on gender, nationality and religion, as well as arbitrary arrest and detention. A year ago today, none of those protections could have been even imagined by the Iraqi people.

Today, as we think about the tens of thousands of United States soldiers in Iraq — and in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world fighting the global war on terrorism — we should say to all of them: "You join a long line of generations of Americans who have fought freedom's fight. Thank you."

Donald H. Rumsfeld is the secretary of defense.

March 19, 2004


Taken for a Ride


"Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." So George Bush declared on Sept. 20, 2001. But what was he saying? Surely he didn't mean that everyone was obliged to support all of his policies, that if you opposed him on anything you were aiding terrorists.

Now we know that he meant just that.

A year ago, President Bush, who had a global mandate to pursue the terrorists responsible for 9/11, went after someone else instead. Most Americans, I suspect, still don't realize how badly this apparent exploitation of the world's good will — and the subsequent failure to find weapons of mass destruction — damaged our credibility. They imagine that only the dastardly French, and now maybe the cowardly Spaniards, doubt our word. But yesterday, according to Agence France-Presse, the president of Poland — which has roughly 2,500 soldiers in Iraq — had this to say: "That they deceived us about the weapons of mass destruction, that's true. We were taken for a ride."

This is the context for last weekend's election upset in Spain, where the Aznar government had taken the country into Iraq against the wishes of 90 percent of the public. Spanish voters weren't intimidated by the terrorist bombings — they turned on a ruling party they didn't trust. When the government rushed to blame the wrong people for the attack, tried to suppress growing evidence to the contrary and used its control over state television and radio both to push its false accusation and to play down antigovernment protests, it reminded people of the broader lies about the war.

By voting for a new government, in other words, the Spaniards were enforcing the accountability that is the essence of democracy. But in the world according to Mr. Bush's supporters, anyone who demands accountability is on the side of the evildoers. According to Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House, the Spanish people "had a huge terrorist attack within their country and they chose to change their government and to, in a sense, appease terrorists."

So there you have it. A country's ruling party leads the nation into a war fought on false pretenses, fails to protect the nation from terrorists and engages in a cover-up when a terrorist attack does occur. But its electoral defeat isn't democracy at work; it's a victory for the terrorists.

Notice, by the way, that Spain's prime minister-elect insists that he intends to fight terrorism. He has even said that his country's forces could remain in Iraq if they were placed under U.N. control. So if the Bush administration were really concerned about maintaining a united front against terrorism, all it would have to do is drop its my-way-or-the-highway approach. But it won't.

For these denunciations of Spain, while counterproductive when viewed as foreign policy, serve a crucial domestic purpose: they help re-establish the political climate the Bush administration prefers, in which anyone who opposes any administration policy can be accused of undermining the fight against terrorism.

This week the Bush campaign unveiled an ad accusing John Kerry of, among other things, opposing increases in combat pay because he voted against an $87 billion appropriation for Iraq. Those who have followed this issue were astonished at the ad's sheer up-is-down-ism.

In fact, the Bush administration has done the very thing it falsely accuses Mr. Kerry of doing: it has tried repeatedly to slash combat pay and military benefits, provoking angry articles in The Army Times with headlines like "An Act of `Betrayal.' " Oh, and Mr. Kerry wasn't trying to block funds for Iraq — he was trying to force the administration, which had concealed the cost of the occupation until its tax cut was passed, to roll back part of the tax cut to cover the expense.

But the bigger point is this: in the Bush vision, it was never legitimate to challenge any piece of the administration's policy on Iraq. Before the war, it was your patriotic duty to trust the president's assertions about the case for war. Once we went in and those assertions proved utterly false, it became your patriotic duty to support the troops — a phrase that, to the administration, always means supporting the president. At no point has it been legitimate to hold Mr. Bush accountable. And that's the way he wants it.

E-mail: krugman@nytimes.com

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

March 20th, 2004, 01:46 AM
March 20, 2004


Blix Blames Politicians, Not Intelligence, for Iraq


According to the jacket flap of Hans Blix's new book, Mr. Blix is arguably the only key player to emerge from the Iraq crisis "with his integrity intact." Whether or not that is true, this is a good book and a useful memoir, clearly describing the process leading up to last March's invasion of Iraq from the perspective of the United Nations employee charged with trying to verifiably disarm Saddam Hussein's regime.

As is well known, Mr. Blix was not happy with the United States and Britain's decision to go to war, seeing the invasion as premature and perhaps unnecessary. Unlike his former colleague David Kay, he does not place primary blame for the rush to war on the world's intelligence services. Rather, he convincingly places the responsibility where it belongs, squarely on the backs of political leaders.

"I am not suggesting that Blair and Bush spoke in bad faith," he writes, "but I am suggesting that it would not have taken much critical thinking on their own part or the part of their close advisers to prevent statements that misled the public." Continuing his critique of Washington's and London's prewar diplomacy, he writes, "It is an interesting notion that when a small minority has been rebuffed by a strong majority, it is the majority that has failed the test."

Mr. Blix's main argument will not come as a surprise to those who followed last year's debate. He claims that the United Nations weapons inspections that resumed in November 2002 after a four-year hiatus were working reasonably well and certainly had not run their course when the United States and Britain decided to invade Iraq. While recognizing that the demise of Mr. Hussein's regime removed a monster from power, he also argues that the world could have lived with a defanged Baathist regime.

Mr. Blix may be too multilateralist and legalistic for many, including me. But his book makes clear that he is not simply naïve or categorically opposed to the use of force. He understands that the world could not inspect Iraq forever, and his thinking on what should have happened in 2002-03 is neatly summarized in the book's introductory chapter:

"Without a military buildup by the U.S. in the summer of 2002, Iraq would probably not have accepted a resumption of inspections. However, if we assume this buildup and the return of inspectors, it is conceivable that a moderate continued buildup, continued inspections with no denials of access, and a guarantee of large-scale interviews with technical people in Iraq could have shown in time that there were no weapons of mass destruction. It would surely have been difficult to persuade both inspectors and the world, let alone the U.S., but if there had not been hopeful results by, say July 2003, it seems likely that a majority in the Security Council might have been ready to authorize armed action, which could have started with U.N. legitimacy after the summer heat — and revealed that there were no weapons."

In reviewing what he and his colleagues were able to do in Iraq from November 2002 through March 2003, he generally gives the Iraqis high marks for allowing quick and unconditional access to all sites. He criticizes them for often failing to make weapons scientists available for interviews without minders present; for resisting inspectors' demands that reconnaissance planes like the U-2 be assured safe passage in Iraqi airspace; for failing to provide more documentation about what they had done with stocks of chemical and biological agents, which he himself thought might well still exist; and for possessing illegal stocks of Al Samoud 2 missiles.

But the United States and Britain receive ample criticism too: for exaggerating the dependability and accuracy of their intelligence, for insisting that Iraq possessed mobile biological weapons factories and nuclear weapons programs when in fact it did not, for trusting the reports of defectors too much and for disparaging the track record and the future potential of weapons inspections.

While his narrative is generally accurate, his analysis suffers from some problems. He gives too little weight to the fact that Mr. Hussein impeded inspections for more than a decade after the Persian Gulf war (to say nothing of Mr. Hussein's massacres of his own people, attempted assassination of former President George H. W. Bush and occasional aggressive moves toward Kuwait and Kurdistan). His suggestion that the United States never really worried about Iraq before 9/11, and that it might have been vigilant to a fault after, ignores the fact that the Clinton administration and many independent analysts were indeed seriously concerned about Mr. Hussein.

Mr. Blix's observation that inspections, which cost $80 million a year, should have been given more time to work before an $80 billion-a-year military solution was adopted ignores his own earlier observation that the inspections would never have had a chance without a large military buildup that was itself costing billions a month even before the invasion. And his depiction of the previous policy of containment as low cost ignores the harm it did to the Iraqi people as well as to the image of America in the Arab world. In fact, by keeping United States military forces in Saudi Arabia for so long, containment policy gave Al Qaeda a rallying cry.

Mr. Blix's confidence that the Security Council would eventually have done the right thing if only Washington and London had been more patient and reasonable is also overstated. He fails to acknowledge that France was visibly and vocally bent on constraining American power as much as it was on disarming Iraq. Not only that, Germany's Gerhard Schröder made strong, categorical opposition to a possible Iraq war the centerpiece of his re-election campaign in 2002.

But to understand how they are seen abroad Americans should read this book. Indeed, its critique of how Washington handled the Iraq crisis is genteel and fair compared with how most observers overseas have viewed the matter.

Michael O'Hanlon is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

By Hans Blix
285 pages. Pantheon Books. $24.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

March 22nd, 2004, 09:31 AM
Excerpts from 60 Minutes interview with Richard Clarke

Did Bush Press For Iraq-9/11 Link?

March 21, 2004

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, President Bush ordered his then top anti-terrorism adviser to look for a link between Iraq and the attacks, despite being told there didn't seem to be one.

The charge comes from the adviser, Richard Clarke, in an exclusive interview on 60 Minutes.

The administration maintains that it cannot find any evidence that the conversation about an Iraq-9/11 tie-in ever took place. (see following article)

Clarke also tells CBS News Correspondent Lesley Stahl that White House officials were tepid in their response when he urged them months before Sept. 11 to meet to discuss what he saw as a severe threat from al Qaeda.

"Frankly," he said, "I find it outrageous that the president is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11. Maybe. We'll never know."

Clarke went on to say, "I think he's done a terrible job on the war against terrorism."

The No. 2 man on the president's National Security Council, Stephen Hadley, vehemently disagrees. He says Mr. Bush has taken the fight to the terrorists, and is making the U.S. homeland safer.
Clarke says that as early as the day after the attacks, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was pushing for retaliatory strikes on Iraq, even though al Qaeda was based in Afghanistan.

Clarke suggests the idea took him so aback, he initally thought Rumsfeld was joking.

Clarke is due to testify this week before the special panel probing whether the attacks were preventable.

His allegations are also made in a book, "Against All Enemies," which is being published Monday by Free Press, a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster. Both CBSNews.com and Simon & Schuster are units of Viacom.

Clarke helped shape U.S. policy on terrorism under President Reagan and the first President Bush. He was held over by President Clinton to be his terrorism czar, then held over again by the current President Bush.

In the 60 Minutes interview and the book, Clarke tells what happened behind the scenes at the White House before, during and after Sept. 11.

When the terrorists struck, it was thought the White House would be the next target, so it was evacuated. Clarke was one of only a handful of people who stayed behind. He ran the government's response to the attacks from the Situation Room in the West Wing.

"I kept thinking of the words from 'Apocalypse Now,' the whispered words of Marlon Brando, when he thought about Vietnam. 'The horror. The horror.' Because we knew what was going on in New York. We knew about the bodies flying out of the windows. People falling through the air. We knew that Osama bin Laden had succeeded in bringing horror to the streets of America," he tells Stahl.
After the president returned to the White House on Sept. 11, he and his top advisers, including Clarke, began holding meetings about how to respond and retaliate. As Clarke writes in his book, he expected the administration to focus its military response on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. He says he was surprised that the talk quickly turned to Iraq.

"Rumsfeld was saying that we needed to bomb Iraq," Clarke said to Stahl. "And we all said ... no, no. Al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan. We need to bomb Afghanistan. And Rumsfeld said there aren't any good targets in Afghanistan. And there are lots of good targets in Iraq. I said, 'Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with it.

"Initially, I thought when he said, 'There aren't enough targets in-- in Afghanistan,' I thought he was joking.

"I think they wanted to believe that there was a connection, but the CIA was sitting there, the FBI was sitting there, I was sitting there saying we've looked at this issue for years. For years we've looked and there's just no connection."

Clarke says he and CIA Director George Tenet told that to Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Clarke then tells Stahl of being pressured by Mr. Bush.

"The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, 'I want you to find whether Iraq did this.' Now he never said, 'Make it up.' But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.

"I said, 'Mr. President. We've done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There's no connection.'

"He came back at me and said, "Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there's a connection.' And in a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that answer. We wrote a report."

Clarke continued, "It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, 'Will you sign this report?' They all cleared the report. And we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer. ... Do it again.'

"I have no idea, to this day, if the president saw it, because after we did it again, it came to the same conclusion. And frankly, I don't think the people around the president show him memos like that. I don't think he sees memos that he doesn't-- wouldn't like the answer."
Clarke was the president's chief adviser on terrorism, yet it wasn't until Sept. 11 that he ever got to brief Mr. Bush on the subject. Clarke says that prior to Sept. 11, the administration didn't take the threat seriously.

"We had a terrorist organization that was going after us! Al Qaeda. That should have been the first item on the agenda. And it was pushed back and back and back for months.

"There's a lot of blame to go around, and I probably deserve some blame, too. But on January 24th, 2001, I wrote a memo to Condoleezza Rice asking for, urgently -- underlined urgently -- a Cabinet-level meeting to deal with the impending al Qaeda attack. And that urgent memo-- wasn't acted on.

"I blame the entire Bush leadership for continuing to work on Cold War issues when they back in power in 2001. It was as though they were preserved in amber from when they left office eight years earlier. They came back. They wanted to work on the same issues right away: Iraq, Star Wars. Not new issues, the new threats that had developed over the preceding eight years."

Clarke finally got his meeting about al Qaeda in April, three months after his urgent request. But it wasn't with the president or cabinet. It was with the second-in-command in each relevant department.

For the Pentagon, it was Paul Wolfowitz.

Clarke relates, "I began saying, 'We have to deal with bin Laden; we have to deal with al Qaeda.' Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, said, 'No, no, no. We don't have to deal with al Qaeda. Why are we talking about that little guy? We have to talk about Iraqi terrorism against the United States.'

"And I said, 'Paul, there hasn't been any Iraqi terrorism against the United States in eight years!' And I turned to the deputy director of the CIA and said, 'Isn't that right?' And he said, 'Yeah, that's right. There is no Iraqi terrorism against the United States."

Clarke went on to add, "There's absolutely no evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda, ever."

When Stahl pointed out that some administration officials say it's still an open issue, Clarke responded, "Well, they'll say that until hell freezes over."
By June 2001, there still hadn't been a Cabinet-level meeting on terrorism, even though U.S. intelligence was picking up an unprecedented level of ominous chatter.

The CIA director warned the White House, Clarke points out. "George Tenet was saying to the White House, saying to the president - because he briefed him every morning - a major al Qaeda attack is going to happen against the United States somewhere in the world in the weeks and months ahead. He said that in June, July, August."

Clarke says the last time the CIA had picked up a similar level of chatter was in December, 1999, when Clarke was the terrorism czar in the Clinton White House.

Clarke says Mr. Clinton ordered his Cabinet to go to battle stations-- meaning, they went on high alert, holding meetings nearly every day.

That, Clarke says, helped thwart a major attack on Los Angeles International Airport, when an al Qaeda operative was stopped at the border with Canada, driving a car full of explosives.

Clarke harshly criticizes President Bush for not going to battle stations when the CIA warned him of a comparable threat in the months before Sept. 11: "He never thought it was important enough for him to hold a meeting on the subject, or for him to order his National Security Adviser to hold a Cabinet-level meeting on the subject."

Finally, says Clarke, "The cabinet meeting I asked for right after the inauguration took place-- one week prior to 9/11."

In that meeting, Clarke proposed a plan to bomb al Qaeda's sanctuary in Afghanistan, and to kill bin Laden.
The president's new campaign ads highlight his handling of Sept. 11 -- which has become the centerpiece of his bid for re-election.

Does a person who works for the White House owe the president his loyalty? "Up to a point. When the president starts doing things that risk American lives, then loyalty to him has to be put aside," says Clarke. "I think the way he has responded to al Qaeda, both before 9/11 by doing nothing, and by what he's done after 9/11 has made us less safe. Absolutely."

Hadley staunchly defended the president to Stahl: "The president heard those warnings. The president met daily with ... George Tenet and his staff. They kept him fully informed and at one point the president became somewhat impatient with us and said, 'I'm tired of swatting flies. Where's my new strategy to eliminate al Qaeda?'"

Hadley says that, contrary to Clarke's assertion, Mr. Bush didn't ignore the ominous intelligence chatter in the summer of 2001.

"All the chatter was of an attack, a potential al Qaeda attack overseas. But interestingly enough, the president got concerned about whether there was the possibility of an attack on the homeland. He asked the intelligence community: 'Look hard. See if we're missing something about a threat to the homeland.'

"And at that point various alerts went out from the Federal Aviation Administration to the FBI saying the intelligence suggests a threat overseas. We don't want to be caught unprepared. We don't want to rule out the possibility of a threat to the homeland. And therefore preparatory steps need to be made. So the president put us on battle stations."

Hadley asserts Clarke is "just wrong" in saying the administration didn't go to battle stations.

As for the alleged pressure from Mr. Bush to find an Iraq-9/11 link, Hadley says, "We cannot find evidence that this conversation between Mr. Clarke and the president ever occurred."

When told by Stahl that 60 Minutes has two sources who tell us independently of Clarke that the encounter happened, including "an actual witness," Hadley responded, "Look, I stand on what I said."

Hadley maintained, "Iraq, as the president has said, is at the center of the war on terror. We have narrowed the ground available to al Qaeda and to the terrorists. Their sanctuary in Afghanistan is gone; their sanctuary in Iraq is gone. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are now allies on the war on terror. So Iraq has contributed in that way in narrowing the sanctuaries available to terrorists."
Does Clarke think that Iraq, the Middle East and the world is better off with Saddam Hussein out of power?

"I think the world would be better off if a number of leaders around the world were out of power. The question is what price should the United States pay," says Clarke. "The price we paid was very, very high, and we're still paying that price for doing it."

"Osama bin Laden had been saying for years, 'America wants to invade an Arab country and occupy it, an oil-rich Arab country. He had been saying this. This is part of his propaganda ... we stepped right into bin Laden's propaganda," adds Clarke. "And the result of that is that al Qaeda and organizations like it, offshoots of it, second-generation al Qaeda have been greatly strengthened."

When Clarke worked for Mr. Clinton, he was known as the terrorism czar. When Mr. Bush came into office, though remaining at the White House, Clarke was stripped of his Cabinet-level rank.

Stahl said to Clarke, "They demoted you. Aren't you open to charges that this is all sour grapes, because they demoted you and reduced your leverage, your power in the White House?"

Clarke's answer: "Frankly, if I had been so upset that the National Coordinator for Counter-terrorism had been downgraded from a Cabinet level position to a staff level position, if that had bothered me enough, I would have quit. I didn't quit."

Until two years later, after 30 years in government service.

A senior White House official told 60 Minutes he thinks the Clarke book is an audition for a job in the Kerry campaign.

"I'm an independent. I'm not working for the Kerry campaign," says Clarke. "I have worked for Ronald Reagan. I have worked for George Bush the first, I have worked for George Bush the second. I'm not participating in this campaign, but I am putting facts out that I think people ought to know."

60 Minutes received a note from the Pentagon saying: "Any suggestion that the president did anything other than act aggressively, quickly and effectively to address the al Qaeda and Taliban threat in Afghanistan is absurd."

MMIV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Bush Aides Deny He Ignored Qaeda

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2004

The White House is disputing assertions by President Bush's former counterterrorism coordinator that the administration failed to recognize the risk of an attack by al Qaeda in the months leading up to Sept. 11, 2001.

The point-by-point rebuttal confronts claims by Richard A. Clarke in a new book, "Against All Enemies," that is scathingly critical of administration actions.

The White House said in a statement Sunday that national security deputies worked diligently between March and September 2001 to develop a strategy to attack the terror network, one that was completed and ready for Mr. Bush's approval a week before the suicide airliner hijackings.

The administration is so concerned about the charges that they released this four-page document called "Set the record straight," countering these charges point by point, reports CBS News White House Correspondent Bill Plante.

The White House said the Bush administration kept Clarke as a holdover from the Clinton era because of its concerns over al Qaeda.

"He makes the charge that we were not focused enough on efforts to root out terrorism," Bush communications director Dan Bartlett said Sunday. "That's just categorically false."

The White House statement said the president told national security adviser Condoleezza Rice early in his administration he was "'tired of swatting flies' and wanted to go on the offense against al Qaeda, rather than simply waiting to respond."

Clarke wrote that Rice appeared never to have heard of al Qaeda until she was warned early in 2001 about the terrorist organization and that she "looked skeptical" about his warnings.

"Her facial expression gave me the impression that she had never heard the term before," Clarke said in the book, going on sale Monday.

Clarke said Rice — an expert on nuclear security and Russia — appeared not to recognize post-Cold War security issues and effectively demoted him within the National Security Council staff. He retired last year after 30 years in government.

Clarke, who is expected to testify Tuesday before a federal panel investigating the attacks, recounted his early meeting with Rice as support for his contention the administration failed to recognize the risk of an attack by al Qaeda. Rice has refused to meet with that panel.

Clarke said that within one week of Mr. Bush's inauguration he "urgently" sought a meeting of senior Cabinet leaders to discuss "the imminent al Qaeda threat." Clarke says his request was never taken seriously.

Rice disputes that.

"We were all very aware of the al Qaeda threat. What I asked Richard Clarke to do was develop ideas that we could use to push forward the strategies against al Qaeda," Rice told the CBS News Early Show.

Rice said Clarke's response was a list of ideas that had been around for several years.

"The president needed more," Rice said. "He needed a strategy for al Qaeda that was going to eliminate al Qaeda."

Three months later, in April 2001, Clarke met with deputy secretaries. During that meeting, he wrote, the Defense Department's Paul Wolfowitz told Clarke, "You give bin Laden too much credit," and he said Wolfowitz sought to steer the discussion to Iraq.

Clarke told CBS News' 60 minutes that immediately after the attacks on 9/11, the administration wanted to retaliate against Iraq.

"Well, (Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld was saying that we needed to bomb Iraq. And — and we all said, 'But no, no. Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan. We need to bomb Afghanistan.' And Rumsfeld said, "There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq."

Clarke says he told the president there was no connection between Iraq and al Qaeda, but that apparently wasn't what Mr. Bush wanted to hear.

"He came back at me and said 'Iraq. Saddam. Find out if there's a connection!' And in a very intimidating way — I mean, that we should come back with that answer."

Clarke's claims echoed those of another former administration official, one-time treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who in a book last year claimed overthrowing Saddam was discussed at Mr. Bush's first national security council meeting.

"It makes perfectly good sense that when you're thinking about against whom you are going to retaliate that you keep an open mind. And the president asked about Iraq," Rice told the Early Show. "It was a logical question, given our history with Iraq. But I can tell you #&151; that when we got to Camp David on Sept. 15th, it was a map of Afghanistan that was spread out on the table."

Clarke harshly criticizes Mr. Bush personally in his book, saying his decision to invade Iraq generated broad anti-American sentiment among Arabs. He recounts that the president asked him directly almost immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks to find whether Iraq was involved in the suicide hijackings.

"Nothing America could have done would have provided al Qaeda and its new generation of cloned groups a better recruitment device than our unprovoked invasion of an oil-rich Arab country," Clarke wrote.

He added: "One shudders to think what additional errors (Mr. Bush) will make in the next four years to strengthen the al Qaeda follow-ons: attacking Syria or Iran, undermining the Saudi regime without a plan for a successor state?"

Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman said Sunday he doesn't believe Clarke's charge that Mr. Bush — who defeated him and former Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 election — was focused more on Iraq than al Qaeda during the days after the terror attacks.

"I see no basis for it," Lieberman said on Fox News. "I think we've got to be careful to speak facts and not rhetoric."

Unlike Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell. Rice will not testify before the Sept. 11 commission.

She told the Early Show, "it is really not appropriate for me to testify in the open."

©MMIV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

March 22nd, 2004, 03:39 PM
I saw this last night. It would have been shocking except this is exactly what many people suspected all along.

More psycho Rumsfeld:

"Rumsfeld was saying that we needed to bomb Iraq," Clarke said to Stahl. "And we all said ... no, no. Al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan. We need to bomb Afghanistan. And Rumsfeld said there aren't any good targets in Afghanistan. And there are lots of good targets in Iraq. I said, 'Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with it.

The Bush attack dogs are going to tear this guy apart.

Freedom Tower
March 23rd, 2004, 05:09 PM
The guy who wrote that is just trying to make an issue. He had the same position during the Clinton administration. Meanwhile he does not complain about Clinton not responding to the USS Cole bombing, the 1993 WTC bombing, or the 1998 embassy bombings. The BUsh administration DID respond, and he makes them seem like people who dont consider al qaeda a threat. That guy can't be trusted. He was also pissed off cause they demoted him.

Freedom Tower
March 23rd, 2004, 05:19 PM
Yes, obviously stopping the recruitment of terrorists is just as important as killing or capturing them. However, I would not use that as an excuse not to do what is necessary. Some could argue that if we fought terrorits in Afghanistan that more Arabs would be angry. Maybe they were, but it was a necessary step in the war on terror, just like Iraq. Had we not gone into either of those countries we'd probably be a lot worse off today. There would be even more terrorists and more attacks at home. Obviously we must stop the recruitment but we can't be afraid to do what is necessary. It's too bad though, it seems that many Muslims in the middle east believe everything Al Jazeera tells them. I see propoganda stations like them as being the real problem. Instead of stopping our war on terror, I think we should shut down terrorist propoganda centers.

First, I'll state that I question whether the wars in Afghanistan were "the necessary thing to do" or not, but let's say it is. It's inevitable that waging war in Afghanistan and Iraq will make people of those countires angry at us, to make an understatement. That's how people become driven to terrorism, when they find a reason to see us as the devil. Despite our "smart bombs" mistakes are made, and innocent people are killed. Are we to expect that a child orphaned by one of our tomohawk missiles will rationalize "The Americans are just defending themselves in the fight against terrorism", or some guy's wife and children are killed by stray fire will rationalize "It was only a mistake, the Americans didn't mean it." No, there will be masses of disgruntled people affected by this violence who will become completely obsessed with our destruction. Bombing where we think Al-Quieda might be might hinder the terrorists, or at worst it might not, but there is no doubt that it will strengthen their future following. Do we want to hand the recieving end of this much larger vendetta down to our next generation?

I hope you're not serious. if you are then you really need to learn a little about the world. Im not even gonna respond to that nonsense. Terrorists mass murdered 3,000 Americans, if you think they should not be punished then all I can say to you is that you should have been there on 911. The war in afghanistsan was 100% necessary to protect americans, and punish those responisble for the attacks. It is inevitable in any war that a certain number of civilians will be killed. Does that mean we should never defend ourselves from mass murdering psycopaths, obviously you think so. I dont know where you live cough -Al qaeda training camp -cough, or what station you watch cough - al jazeera - cough or what your motives are. But tyring to scare americans into not fighting terrorists by saying even more people will be angry at them for their actions sounds an awful lot like Senior al qaeda leader's messages. Thats all i have to say to you

Freedom Tower
March 23rd, 2004, 05:21 PM
Did I mention that according to sources an average of 2,000 civilians were killed in Iraq in the first month of the war? Imagine how screwed we'll be in the future if the families of those 2,000 people in that month alone decide to act out of their anger? By the way, our country's government, and major news stations have avoided venturing guesses or estimations as to the number of civilians killed, so outside sources are all that anyone can go on.

Did I mention that 3,000 americans were killed on 911? Hey if the US government did not respond to the attacks maybe the family membors of those 3,000 americans would have flown planes into buildings in the mideast. Why dont you take your nonsense elsewhere.

March 23rd, 2004, 06:12 PM
Actually, it is not nonsense. You would be right in the perfect world. In that world, all the people that commit crimes get caught and punished, there is no (ahem) colateral damage, and everyone understands intentions. But we don't live in the perfect world.

I told you last year in this forum that all Bush was doing in Iraq was building a terrorist factory. Well, that factory is in production now. There were no Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq last March, but thanks to Bush they're there now - and killing Americans. How does Al Qaeda recruit? They tell the people that all America wants to do is invade and occupy your land. So that's exactly what we do, and validate their propaganda.

I also told you that the war would become an election year issue. Since we can't just leave Iraq, there is a danger that expedient solutions will be implimented that are tailored more toward getting Bush reelected than establishing self rule in Iraq.

Clarke said we should have been fighting in Afghanistan, not Iraq, and that's what Bush is doing now - a mad scramble to get Bin Laden, which would probably lock the election for Bush. But will that make us safer? Events in Madrid indicate otherwise.

Finally, if you're going to state that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power, you can say the same for the slease-bags running Pakistan. They not only have WMD, but were selling them to the highest bidder.

Freedom Tower
March 23rd, 2004, 10:20 PM
Actually, it is not nonsense. You would be right in the perfect world. In that world, all the people that commit crimes get caught and punished, there is no (ahem) colateral damage, and everyone understands intentions. But we don't live in the perfect world.

I told you last year in this forum that all Bush was doing in Iraq was building a terrorist factory. Well, that factory is in production now. There were no Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq last March, but thanks to Bush they're there now - and killing Americans. How does Al Qaeda recruit? They tell the people that all America wants to do is invade and occupy your land. So that's exactly what we do, and validate their propaganda.

I also told you that the war would become an election year issue. Since we can't just leave Iraq, there is a danger that expedient solutions will be implimented that are tailored more toward getting Bush reelected than establishing self rule in Iraq.

Clarke said we should have been fighting in Afghanistan, not Iraq, and that's what Bush is doing now - a mad scramble to get Bin Laden, which would probably lock the election for Bush. But will that make us safer? Events in Madrid indicate otherwise.

Finally, if you're going to state that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power, you can say the same for the slease-bags running Pakistan. They not only have WMD, but were selling them to the highest bidder.

I agree we do not live in a perfect world, I even said that there are no wars in which all civilians will escape unharmed. Then it comes down to which wars are important enough and are so necessary that it is worth every bad thing involved. It's obvious there is debate about whether it was worth it in Iraq, some think so, some think not.

However, JCDJ was questioning the war in AFGHANISTAN. That war, both the majority of republicans and democrats agree on this!, and so do nearly all Americans, was 100% justified and necessary. It was specifically aimed at rooting out and destroying al qaeda and the taliban. While it did not get bin laden, or the #2 man, it did bring great success. The terrorist harboring government was thrown out, so were many terrorists, and many others were caught or killed. Those were undeniably the people who planned 9/11 and they deserved what they got.

In regards to Pakistan, currently IT SEEMS as if they are making much more of an effort to root out al qaeda as seen recently. But I too am becoming suspicious. First there are reports al zawahiri is there, then reports he is wounded, then dead, and now escaped :x. Whether or not pakistanis took bribes is unknown to us, but it wouldnt shock me the least. And about the selling of nuclear weapons, I agree that that is just as bad as what saddam was doing. However, the question is if Musharaff was not in power, who would be? He is one of the more responsible politicians in that country, bleieve it or not, many fundamentalists if they ever came to power would probably nuke india!

The events in madrid were horrible, but its important to remember that it hasnt happened here in the 4 years so far. Also, the response to the madrid bombings was awful. Instead of criticizing the terrorists who killed them, they criticized their government. Basically, they not only gave in to the terrorist demands - withdrawing troops from iraq, which may soon happen for spanish troops, but they also showed terrorism can win. Our response to 911 was about right, and not only did it cripple al qaeda, maybe not permanently yet, but it definately helped secure the country too. Spain on the other hand gave in to the terrorists, which is a bad precedent to set.

March 23rd, 2004, 10:45 PM
You know what the problem is with the war in Iraq is. There were too many lies about it. One there were no WMDs, two Iraq was not harbouring any Al-Queda terrorist, and Saddam was not a threat to America.

March 29th, 2004, 12:26 AM
March 28, 2004


Operation Iraqi Infoganda

Real journalism may be reeling, but faux journalism rocks. As an entertainment category in the cultural marketplace, it may soon rival reality TV and porn. Television is increasingly awash in fake anchors delivering fake news, some of them far more trenchant than real anchors delivering real news. Even CNBC, a financial news network, is chasing after the success of Jon Stewart; its new nightly fake newscast, presided over by a formerly funny "Saturday Night Live" fake anchor, Dennis Miller, is being promoted with far more zeal than was ever lavished on CNBC's real "News With Brian Williams."

Turn on real news shows like "Dateline NBC" and "Larry King Live," meanwhile, and you're all too likely to find Jayson Blair, the lying former reporter of The New York Times, continuing to play a reporter on TV as he fabricates earnest blather about his concern for journalistic standards. Elsewhere on the dial you'll learn that a fake news show ("The Daily Show") has been in a booking war with a real news show ("Hardball") over who would first be able to interview the real (I think) Desmond Tutu. At such absurd moments, and they are countless these days in our 24/7 information miasma, real journalism and its evil twin merge into a mind-bending mutant that would defy a polygraph's ability to sort out the lies from the truth.

This phenomenon has been good news for the Bush administration, which has responded to the growing national appetite for fictionalized news by producing a steady supply of its own. Of late it has gone so far as to field its own pair of Jayson Blairs, hired at taxpayers' expense: Karen Ryan and Alberto Garcia, the "reporters" who appeared in TV "news" videos distributed by the Department of Health and Human Services to local news shows around the country. The point of these spots — which were broadcast whole or in part as actual news by more than 50 stations in 40 states — was to hype the new Medicare prescription-drug benefit as an unalloyed Godsend to elderly voters. They are part of a year-plus p.r. campaign, which, with its $124 million budget, would dwarf in size most actual news organizations.

When one real reporter, Robert Pear of The Times, blew the whistle on these TV "news" stories this month, a government spokesman defended them with pure Orwell-speak: "Anyone who has questions about this practice needs to do some research on modern public information tools." The government also informed us that Ms. Ryan was no impostor but an actual "freelance journalist." The Columbia Journalism Review, investigating further, found that Ms. Ryan's past assignments included serving as a TV shill for pharmaceutical companies in infomercials plugging FluMist and Excedrin. Given that drug companies may also be the principal beneficiaries of the new Medicare law, she is nothing if not consistent in her journalistic patrons. But she is a freelance reporter only in the sense that Mike Ditka would qualify as one when appearing in Levitra ads.

As for the mystery of Alberto Garcia's journalistic bonafides, it remains at this writing unresolved. His reporting career has not left a trace on any data bank. Perhaps he is the creation of Stephen Glass, the serial fantasist who once ruled the pages of The New Republic.

Back at Comedy Central, Jon Stewart was ambivalent about the government's foray into his own specialty, musing aloud about whether he should be outraged or flattered. One of his faux correspondents, though, was outright faux despondent. "They created a whole new category of fake news — infoganda," Rob Corddry said. "We'll never be able to keep up!" But Mr. Corddry's joke is not really a joke. The more real journalism declines, the easier it is for such government infoganda to fill the vacuum.

George W. Bush tries to facilitate this process by shutting out the real news media as much as possible. By the start of this year, he had held only 11 solo press conferences, as opposed to his father's count of 71 by the same point in his presidency. (Even the criminally secretive Richard Nixon had held 23.) Mr. Bush has declared that he rarely reads newspapers and that he prefers to "go over the heads of the filter" — as he calls the news media — and "speak directly to the people." To this end, he gave a series of interviews to regional broadcasters last fall — a holding action, no doubt, until Karen Ryan and Alberto Garcia could be hired to fill that role. When the president made a rare exception last month and took questions from an actual front-line journalist, NBC's Tim Russert, his performance was so maladroit that the experiment is unlikely to be repeated anytime too soon.

There's no point in bothering with actual news people anyway, when you can make up your own story and make it stick, whatever the filter might have to say about it. No fake news story has become more embedded in our culture than the administration's account of its actions on 9/11. As The Wall Street Journal reported on its front page this week — just as the former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke was going public with his parallel account — many of this story's most familiar details are utter fiction. Mr. Bush's repeated claim that one of his "first acts" of that morning was to put the military on alert is false. So are the president's claims that he watched the first airplane hit the World Trade Center on TV that morning. (No such video yet existed.) Nor was Air Force One under threat as Mr. Bush flew around the country, delaying his return to Washington.

Yet the fake narrative of 9/11 has been scrupulously maintained by the White House for more than two years. Although the administration has tried at every juncture to stonewall the 9/11 investigative commission, its personnel, including the president, had all the time in the world for the producer of a TV movie, Showtime's "DC 9/11: Time of Crisis." The result was a scenario that further rewrote the history of that day, stirring steroids into false tales of presidential derring-do. Kristen Breitweiser, a 9/11 widow, characterized one of the movie's many elisions in Salon. To show the president continuing to sit and read with elementary school kids "while people like my husband were burning alive inside the World Trade Center towers," she wrote, "would run counter to Karl Rove's art direction and grand vision."

To shore up the Rove version of 9/11 once Richard Clarke went public with his alternative tale on last Sunday's "60 Minutes," the White House placed Condoleezza Rice on all five morning news shows the next day. The administration is confident that it can reinstate its bogus scenario — particularly given that Ms. Rice, unlike Mr. Clarke, is refusing to take the risk of reciting it under oath to the 9/11 commission.

After 9/11, similar fake-news techniques helped speed us into "Operation Iraqi Freedom." The run-up to the war was falsified by a barrage of those "modern public information tools," including 16 words of Tom Clancy-style fiction in the State of the Union. John Burns of The Times, speaking by phone from Iraq to a postmortem on war coverage sponsored by the University of California journalism school in Berkeley this month, said of the real press back then: "We failed the American public by being insufficiently critical about elements of the administration's plan to go to war." What few journalistic efforts were made to penetrate the trumped-up rationales for war were easily defeated by the administration's false news reports of impending biological attacks and mushroom clouds. To see how the faux journalism sausage was made, go to www.reform.house.gov/min , where a searchable database posted by Representative Henry Waxman identifies "237 specific misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq made by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary Powell and National Security Adviser Rice in 125 separate public appearances."

Once the war began, the Defense Department turned a warehouse in Qatar into a TV studio, where it installed a $250,000 Central Command briefing stage, shipped from Chicago by FedEx for an additional $47,000. The set was lent authority by a real-news set designer, whose previous credits included ABC's "World News Tonight" and "Good Morning America." As for the embedded journalists who filled in the rest of the story, a candid assessment was delivered by Lt. Col. Rick Long, the former head of media relations for the Marine Corps, also speaking at Berkeley 10 days ago: "Frankly, our job is to win the war. Part of that is information warfare. So we are going to attempt to dominate the information environment. . . . Overall, we were very happy with the outcome."

The "news" of the war included its fictionalized Rambo, Pfc. Jessica Lynch, and its fictionalized conclusion, the "Mission Accomplished" celebration led by the president on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. (Mr. Bush said that the premature victory banner was the handiwork of the ship's crew when in fact it was the product of the White House scenic shop.) But for all that fake news, we still don't know such real news as how many Iraqi civilians were killed as we gave them their freedom. We are still shielded from images of American casualties, before or after they are placed in coffins.

Now that the breakdown in pre-9/11 security is threatening to dominate the real news, the administration is working overtime to overwhelm it with its latest, thematically related fake story line. Time magazine reports that employees of the Department of Homeland Security have been given the goal of providing the president "with one homeland-security photo-op a month." The Associated Press reports that the department is also hiring a "liaison to the entertainment industry" — with a salary as high as $136,000, plus benefits — "to make sure that dramatic portrayals of it are as accurate as possible." (The deadline for applications, do note, is tomorrow.) Of course "accurate" in that job description should be read as "inaccurate," since the liaison's real task, like that of the intrepid reporter Karen Ryan, will be to make sure that any actual news of our homeland security's many holes is kept on the q.t. According to E! entertainment news, we can even expect a new TV show, "D.H.S. — the Series," to which both Mr. Bush and Tom Ridge will contribute endorsements and sound bites.

When it comes to homeland security, you can be sure that the administration's faux news will always be good news — though this is the one story in which the real news can sometimes become just too intrusive to ignore.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

April 19th, 2004, 08:27 AM
April 19, 2004

Airing of Powell's Misgivings Tests Ties in the Cabinet


WASHINGTON, April 18 — For more than a year, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and his aides have tacitly acknowledged that he was concerned before the war about what could go wrong once American forces captured Iraq.

But Mr. Powell's apparent decision to lay out his misgivings even more explicitly to the journalist Bob Woodward for a book has jolted the White House and aggravated long-festering tensions in the Bush cabinet. Moreover, some officials said, the book has created problems for the secretary inside the administration just as the situation in Iraq is deteriorating and President Bush is plunging into his re-election drive.

Mr. Powell has not acknowledged that he cooperated with Mr. Woodward, but the book presents the secretary's reservations in such detail that it leaves little doubt. A spokesman for Mr. Powell said again Sunday that he would not comment on the book, "Plan of Attack."

Critics of Mr. Powell in the hawkish wing of the administration said they were startled by what they saw as his self-serving decision to help fill out a portrait that enhances his reputation as a farsighted analyst, perhaps at the expense of Mr. Bush. Several said the book guaranteed what they expected anyway, that Mr. Powell will not stay as secretary if Mr. Bush is re-elected.

The view expressed Sunday by people in the administration that Mr. Bush comes across as sober-minded and resolute in the book, asking for contingency plans for a war early on but not deciding to wage one until the last minute, saves Mr. Powell from any immediate difficulties that might grow from seeming to betray his confidential relationship to a president who prizes loyalty, several officials said.

"Look, a lot of people have been struck by the degree to which Secretary Powell is using this book as an opportunity — to be fair — to clarify his position on the issues," said an official. "But what this book does is muddy the water internally, which is very unfortunate and unhelpful."

Another official, who like others declined to be identified because of the political sensitivity of their criticism, accused Mr. Powell of having a habit of distancing himself from policies when they go wrong. "It's such a soap opera with him," this official said.

Democrats seized on Mr. Powell's portrayal, saying it would give them ammunition to criticize the administration for going to war without broad international backing or adequate planning for an occupation.

Throughout the day Sunday, Senator John Kerry brought up the Woodward book, mentioning it twice in his interview on "Meet the Press" on NBC and once at an outdoor rally at the University of Miami.

"Here we have a book by a reputable writer," Mr. Kerry told several thousand students at the afternoon campus rally. "We learn that the president even misled members of his own administration."

Asked if material in Mr. Woodward's book would be grist for his party, Jano Cabrera, the spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said in an interview: "Absolutely. It's one thing for us to assert it. It's another thing for it to be stated as fact by his secretary of state."

And Steve Murphy, who managed the presidential campaign of Representative Richard A. Gephardt, said: "The strongest criticism of Bush is that he did not have a plan for the aftermath of the war. And that was exactly what Powell was pointing out to him. He is a credible source. This intensifies the backdrop between Bush and Kerry."

People close to Mr. Powell said Sunday that they had no doubt he would weather any criticism from within over his apparent cooperation with Mr. Woodward, an assistant managing editor at The Washington Post. Polls show that he is one of the most popular and best-known figures in government. The people close to him note that most people following the situation closely knew that he had misgivings about the war.

"Is the secretary going to be undercut for having been right?" asked an official close to Mr. Powell. "I don't think so. Undercut compared to who? Donald Rumsfeld? Dick Cheney? These are people who have some real problems right now. They're not reading Bob Woodward's book. They're reading the dispatches from the field."

Other officials close to Mr. Powell say his strained relations with Mr. Rumsfeld, the defense secretary, and Vice President Cheney are common currency among Washington insiders, though they say the suggestion that Mr. Cheney and Mr. Powell are barely on speaking terms is highly exaggerated.

"I don't think there will be much change in his dealings with Cheney and Rumsfeld," said one person close to Mr. Powell. "People already thought it was this bad. It doesn't change things for them to find out that it really was. They know how to deal with each other, and they've been through quite a bit together."

When asked on "Fox News Sunday" about Mr. Woodward's contention that Mr. Cheney and Mr. Powell are so distant on policy matters that they do not talk, Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, described the men's relationship as "friendly."

"I can tell you," she said, "I've had lunch on a number of occasions with Vice President Cheney and with Colin Powell, and they are more than on speaking terms. They're friendly."

But another official said Mr. Powell's dealings internally with Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld especially had made life difficult for people inside the administration.

"The day-to-day nattering of the Defense Department trying to take over the business of diplomacy at every level, it's just difficult to be on the inside," said an administration official who defends Mr. Powell's actions. "Every day is difficult. The byplay at the meetings is difficult."

Mr. Powell's standing around the world was less easy to measure this weekend. But a European diplomat said he thought the secretary's standing in Europe especially would only be enhanced because he would be seen as sharing the view of many there that the administration had been overly optimistic about subduing dissidents in Iraq.

For the people long familiar with Mr. Powell's thinking, his misgivings about an American occupation of Iraq, and his insistence on getting full international backing for American actions, goes back many years. So, they note, does his fighting with Mr. Cheney.

For example, Mr. Powell's memoir, "My American Journey," published in 1995 after he retired as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that he had opposed a final push to oust Saddam Hussein in the 1991 Persian Gulf war on the ground that an occupation would provoke a counterinsurgency and criticism among Americans.

In addition, many accounts of the planning for the first gulf war say that Mr. Cheney, then secretary of defense, opposed going to the United Nations or Congress for backing to remove Iraq from Kuwait, fearing that failure would weaken the first President Bush's administration's ability to go to war.

In 2002, Mr. Cheney was openly disdainful of Mr. Powell's insistence on getting approval of the United Nations Security Council before going to war, spreading consternation at the State Department. Mr. Powell won that argument, and President Bush authorized a bid to get a Security Council resolution supporting war.

Mr. Powell's memoir also recalls an exchange in the early 1990's, in which Mr. Powell accused Mr. Cheney — jokingly, he insisted — of being surrounded by "right-wing nuts like you." In the last year, the Woodward book says, Mr. Powell referred privately to the civilian conservatives in the Pentagon loyal to Mr. Cheney as the Gestapo.

The Woodward book also attributes to Mr. Powell the belief that although he had misgivings about going to war, it was his obligation to support the president once Mr. Bush decided to do so.

Mr. Bush told Mr. Woodward that he did not ask the secretary's opinion on whether to go to war because he thought he knew what that opinion would be: "no."

But a senior aide to Mr. Powell asserted this weekend that the secretary was not as opposed to war as some people presume, no matter what the implications in the book.

"The portrait of Powell in the Woodward book is pretty consistent with what everybody knows," the official said. "We were with the president if we had to do this. We set up an exit ramp for Saddam, and he didn't take it. Powell in the end was very comfortable knowing that."

Adam Nagourney contributed reporting from Washington for this article and Jodi Wilgoren from Miami.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

April 21st, 2004, 09:59 AM

Pentagon Deleted Rumsfeld Comment

Remark to Saudi About War's Certainty Is Not in Internet Transcript of Interview

by Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 21, 2004; Page A01

The Pentagon deleted from a public transcript a statement Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld made to author Bob Woodward suggesting that the administration gave Saudi Arabia a two-month heads-up that President Bush had decided to invade Iraq.

At issue was a passage in Woodward's "Plan of Attack," an account published this week of Bush's decision making about the war, quoting Rumsfeld as telling Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, in January 2003 that he could "take that to the bank" that the invasion would happen.

The comment came in a key moment in the run-up to the war, when Rumsfeld and other officials were briefing Bandar on a military plan to attack and invade Iraq, and pointing to a top-secret map that showed how the war plan would unfold. The book reports that the meeting with Bandar was held on Jan. 11, 2003, in Vice President Cheney's West Wing office. Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also attended.

Pentagon officials omitted the discussion of the meeting from a transcript of the Woodward interview that they posted on the Defense Department's Web site Monday. Rumsfeld told reporters at a briefing yesterday that he may have used the phrase "take that to the bank" but that no final decision had been made to go to war.

"To my knowledge, a decision had not been taken by the president to go to war at that meeting," Rumsfeld said. "There was certainly nothing I said that should have suggested that, and any suggestion to the contrary would not be accurate."

Woodward supplied his own transcript showing that Rumsfeld told him on Oct. 23, 2003: "I remember meeting with the vice president and I think Dick Myers and I met with a foreign dignitary at one point and looked him in the eye and said you can count on this. In other words, at some point we had had enough of a signal from the president that we were able to look a foreign dignitary in the eye and say you can take that to the bank this is going to happen."

The transcript made it clear that the foreign dignitary Woodward was discussing was Bandar, although Rumsfeld would not say that. "We're going to have to clean some of this up in the transcript," Rumsfeld said in the omitted passage. "We'll give you a -- I mean you just said Bandar and I didn't agree with that so we're going to have to -- I don't want to say who it is but you are going to have to go through that and find a way to clean up my language too."

All told, the Pentagon transcript omits a series of eight questions and answers, some of them just a few words each. Yesterday Rumsfeld described the deleted passages as "some banter."

Larry DiRita, the Pentagon's chief spokesman, said the deletion was an honest disagreement and defense officials were reviewing the passage to determine whether to restore it to the published version.

"I had discussions with the author about passages that would be excluded from the transcript by mutual agreement, and this passage was one of those sections," he said. "It was excluded specifically because the secretary was not in a position to validate or confirm the details that the author was raising."

Woodward said: "As the transcript shows, it was not off the record. I was surprised that it was deleted because it obviously dealt with a critical issue and was important corroborating information for the book. I asked DiRita to restore it on the Pentagon Web site."

Rumsfeld's comments came on a day when fallout from the book's many disclosures continued to dominate conversations throughout Washington. Rumsfeld, who gave Woodward two lengthy interviews after Bush asked his Cabinet to cooperate, was a rare dissenter in an administration that has embraced the book despite the mixed portrayal it offers of Bush's campaign to unseat Saddam Hussein.

Stephanie Cutter, communications director for Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry, said the book "raises serious doubts about the president's planning for war with Iraq, and what his war cabinet knew or didn't know."

But Bush's closest aides, who typically resist efforts to pull back the Oval Office curtains, are actively promoting sales of the book.

"We're urging people to buy the book," White House communications director Dan Bartlett said. "What this book does is show a president who was asking the right questions and showing prudence as well as resolve during very difficult times. This book undermines a lot of the critics' charges."

An official involved in the negotiations said the administration cooperated so completely that Bush asked Cheney to grant Woodward an interview, which Cheney did, although he is not named as a source. Woodward writes in the book that information came from "more than 75 key people directly involved in the events," most of whom spoke on the condition that they not be identified.

The Pentagon posted transcripts of both Woodward interviews with Rumsfeld, and they show that Rumsfeld was more recalcitrant than other administration figures. He complained about Woodward's questions in a past meeting, saying that "almost everything you asked me was premised with an assertion that was either incomplete or wrong." Woodward is quoted as gently reminding Rumsfeld that the president "wants me to do this."

At Rumsfeld's briefing yesterday, he said that he remembered the session in Cheney's office with Bandar but that it was not unlike others "we had with any number of neighboring countries as the buildup towards the -- to support the diplomacy, the flow of forces was taking place.

"We had the obligation to try to do it in the most cost-effective and responsible way, and the way that would best fit General [Tommy R.] Franks's plans, in the event that he did in fact ultimately have to go to war," Rumsfeld said, referring to the former head of the U.S. Central Command. "That meant we had to talk to the countries in the region and work out things at ports or airfields and that type of thing."

After being handed a note later in the briefing, Rumsfeld returned to the transcript and said that it might omit "some discussion about a totally unrelated topic, and some items that were agreed between us . . . that were off the record."

"But I can say of certain knowledge that nothing was taken out that would naysay what I just indicated in my response to the question," Rumsfeld said.

"No 18-minute gap?" a reporter asked, referring to the notorious deletion from a Watergate tape.

Amid laughter, Rumsfeld said: "You can take that to the bank."

Mark Malseed contributed to this report.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company

June 17th, 2004, 07:22 AM
June 17, 2004

The Plain Truth

It's hard to imagine how the commission investigating the 2001 terrorist attacks could have put it more clearly yesterday: there was never any evidence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, between Saddam Hussein and Sept. 11.

Now President Bush should apologize to the American people, who were led to believe something different.

Of all the ways Mr. Bush persuaded Americans to back the invasion of Iraq last year, the most plainly dishonest was his effort to link his war of choice with the battle against terrorists worldwide. While it's possible that Mr. Bush and his top advisers really believed that there were chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq, they should have known all along that there was no link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. No serious intelligence analyst believed the connection existed; Richard Clarke, the former antiterrorism chief, wrote in his book that Mr. Bush had been told just that.

Nevertheless, the Bush administration convinced a substantial majority of Americans before the war that Saddam Hussein was somehow linked to 9/11. And since the invasion, administration officials, especially Vice President Dick Cheney, have continued to declare such a connection. Last September, Mr. Bush had to grudgingly correct Mr. Cheney for going too far in spinning a Hussein-bin Laden conspiracy. But the claim has crept back into view as the president has made the war on terror a centerpiece of his re-election campaign.

On Monday, Mr. Cheney said Mr. Hussein "had long-established ties with Al Qaeda." Mr. Bush later backed up Mr. Cheney, claiming that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a terrorist who may be operating in Baghdad, is "the best evidence" of a Qaeda link. This was particularly astonishing because the director of central intelligence, George Tenet, told the Senate earlier this year that Mr. Zarqawi did not work with the Hussein regime.

The staff report issued by the 9/11 panel says that Sudan's government, which sheltered Osama bin Laden in the early 1990's, tried to hook him up with Mr. Hussein, but that nothing came of it.

This is not just a matter of the president's diminishing credibility, although that's disturbing enough. The war on terror has actually suffered as the conflict in Iraq has diverted military and intelligence resources from places like Afghanistan, where there could really be Qaeda forces, including Mr. bin Laden.

Mr. Bush is right when he says he cannot be blamed for everything that happened on or before Sept. 11, 2001. But he is responsible for the administration's actions since then. That includes, inexcusably, selling the false Iraq-Qaeda claim to Americans. There are two unpleasant alternatives: either Mr. Bush knew he was not telling the truth, or he has a capacity for politically motivated self-deception that is terrifying in the post-9/11 world.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 25th, 2004, 06:02 AM
Majority of Americans Now Call Iraq War a Mistake

Thu Jun 24,11:55 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - For the first time since the start of the war in Iraq (news - web sites), a majority of Americans now say the U.S.-led invasion was a mistake, according to a USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll released on Thursday.

Amid continuing violence in Iraq and questions about the justification for the war, 54 percent of the 1,005 Americans polled said it was a mistake to send U.S. troops into Iraq, compared with 41 percent who held that view three weeks ago.

The findings mark the first time since Vietnam that a majority of Americans has called a major deployment of U.S. forces a mistake, USA Today reported on its Web site.

In addition, the poll found that for the first time a majority also said the war in Iraq has made the United States less safe from terrorism.

Fifty-five percent said the war has increased U.S. vulnerability, compared to a December poll in which 56 percent said the war made the United States safer.

The war's original justification was to stop Iraq deploying weapons of mass destruction. None have been found.

President Bush has also said the Iraq mission would make America safer by bringing democracy to a key country in the Middle East.

In Iraq on Thursday, insurgents killed about 100 people in a wave of attacks across the country aimed at sabotaging next week's transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government.

Despite Americans' changing attitudes toward the war, the poll found Bush in a statistical dead heat with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. Among likely voters, Bush edged out Kerry 48 percent to 47 percent. Three weeks ago, Kerry led 49 percent to 43 percent.

In the new poll, 60 percent of respondents said they believe the Massachusetts Democrat could handle the job of commander-in-chief, but most Americans indicated they trust Bush more in that role, 51 percent to 43 percent.

The survey, conducted Monday through Wednesday, has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Copyright © 2004 Reuters Limited.

June 25th, 2004, 07:06 AM
In the new poll, 60 percent of respondents said they believe the Massachusetts Democrat could handle the job of commander-in-chief, but most Americans indicated they trust Bush more in that role, 51 percent to 43 percent.

I still fail to understand how any rational person could possibly believe that chickenhawks like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Ashcroft, all of whom ditched military service, would be better defenders of this country in this so-called "War On Terrorism" than a decorated WAR HERO like Kerry.

July 9th, 2004, 11:56 AM
July 9, 2004

Report Says Key Assertions Leading to War Were Wrong


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The key U.S. assertions leading to the 2003 invasion of Iraq -- that Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons and was working to make nuclear weapons -- were wrong and based on false or overstated CIA analyses, a scathing Senate Intelligence Committee report asserted Friday.

Intelligence analysts fell victim to ``group think'' assumptions that Iraq had weapons that it did not, concluded a bipartisan report. Many factors contributing to those failures are ongoing problems within the U.S. intelligence community -- which cannot be fixed with more money alone, it said.

Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican who heads the committee, told reporters that assessments that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and could make a nuclear weapon by the end of the decade were wrong.

``As the report will show, they were also unreasonable and largely unsupported by the available intelligence,'' he said.

``This was a global intelligence failure.''

The committee's ranking Democrat, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, said: ``Tragically, the intelligence failures set forth in this report will affect our national security for generations to come. Our credibility is diminished. Our standing in the world has never been lower. We have fostered a deep hatred of Americans in the Muslim world, and that will grow. As a direct consequence, our nation is more vulnerable today than ever before.''

The report repeatedly blasts departing CIA Director George Tenet, accusing him of skewing advice to top policy-makers with the CIA's view and elbowing out dissenting views from other intelligence agencies overseen by the State or Defense departments. It faulted Tenet for not personally reviewing Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, which contained since-discredited references to Iraq's attempts to purchase uranium in Africa.

White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, traveling with President Bush on a campaign trip Friday, said the committee's report essentially ``agrees with what we have said, which is we need to take steps to continue strengthening and reforming our intelligence capabilities so we are prepared to meet the new threats that we face in this day and age.''

Tenet has resigned and leaves office Sunday.

Intelligence analysts worked from the assumption that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and was seeking to make more, as well as trying to revive a nuclear weapons program. Instead, investigations after the Iraq invasion have shown that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had no nuclear weapons program and no biological weapons, and only small amounts of chemical weapons have been found.

Analysts ignored or discounted conflicting information because of their assumptions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the report said.

``This 'group think' dynamic led Intelligence Community analysts, collectors and managers to both interpret ambiguous evidence as conclusively indicative of a WMD program as well as ignore or minimize evidence that Iraq did not have active and expanding weapons of mass destruction programs,'' the report concluded.

Such assumptions also led analysts to inflate snippets of questionable information into broad declarations that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, the report said.

For example, speculation that the presence of one specialized truck could mean an effort to transfer chemical weapons was puffed up into a conclusion that Iraq was actively making chemical weapons, the report said.

Analysts also concluded that Iraq had a mobile biological weapons program based mainly on the since-discredited claims of one Iraqi defector code-named ``Curve Ball,'' it said. American agents did not have direct access to Curve Ball or his debriefers, but the source's information was expanded into the conclusion that Iraq had an advanced and active biological weapons program, the report said.

September 7th, 2004, 07:00 AM
September 7, 2004


A Mythic Reality


The best book I've read about America after 9/11 isn't about either America or 9/11. It's "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning," an essay on the psychology of war by Chris Hedges, a veteran war correspondent. Better than any poll analysis or focus group, it explains why President Bush, despite policy failures at home and abroad, is ahead in the polls.

War, Mr. Hedges says, plays to some fundamental urges. "Lurking beneath the surface of every society, including ours," he says, "is the passionate yearning for a nationalist cause that exalts us, the kind that war alone is able to deliver." When war psychology takes hold, the public believes, temporarily, in a "mythic reality" in which our nation is purely good, our enemies are purely evil, and anyone who isn't our ally is our enemy.

This state of mind works greatly to the benefit of those in power.

One striking part of the book describes Argentina's reaction to the 1982 Falklands war. Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri, the leader of the country's military junta, cynically launched that war to distract the public from the failure of his economic policies. It worked: "The junta, which had been on the verge of collapse" just before the war, "instantly became the saviors of the country."

The point is that once war psychology takes hold, the public desperately wants to believe in its leadership, and ascribes heroic qualities to even the least deserving ruler. National adulation for the junta ended only after a humiliating military defeat.

George W. Bush isn't General Galtieri: America really was attacked on 9/11, and any president would have followed up with a counterstrike against the Taliban. Yet the Bush administration, like the Argentine junta, derived enormous political benefit from the impulse of a nation at war to rally around its leader.

Another president might have refrained from exploiting that surge of support for partisan gain; Mr. Bush didn't.

And his administration has sought to perpetuate the war psychology that makes such exploitation possible.

Step by step, the fight against Al Qaeda became a universal "war on terror," then a confrontation with the "axis of evil," then a war against all evil everywhere. Nobody knows where it all ends.

What is clear is that whenever political debate turns to Mr. Bush's actual record in office, his popularity sinks. Only by doing whatever it takes to change the subject to the war on terror - not to what he's actually doing about terrorist threats, but to his "leadership," whatever that means - can he get a bump in the polls.

Last week's convention made it clear that Mr. Bush intends to use what's left of his heroic image to win the election, and early polls suggest that the strategy may be working. What can John Kerry do?

Campaigning exclusively on domestic issues won't work. Mr. Bush must be held to account for his dismal record on jobs, health care and the environment. But as Mr. Hedges writes, when war psychology makes a public yearn to believe in its leaders, "there is little that logic or fact or truth can do to alter the experience."

To win, the Kerry campaign has to convince a significant number of voters that the self-proclaimed "war president" isn't an effective war leader - he only plays one on TV.

This charge has the virtue of being true. It's hard to find a nonpartisan national security analyst with a good word for the Bush administration's foreign policy. Iraq, in particular, is a slow-motion disaster brought on by wishful thinking, cronyism and epic incompetence.

If I were running the Kerry campaign, I'd remind people frequently about Mr. Bush's flight-suit photo-op, when he declared the end of major combat. In fact, the war goes on unabated. News coverage of Iraq dropped off sharply after the supposed transfer of sovereignty on June 28, but as many American soldiers have died since the transfer as in the original invasion.

And I'd point out that while Mr. Bush spared no effort preparing for his carrier landing - he even received underwater survival training in the White House pool - he didn't prepare for things that actually mattered, like securing and rebuilding Iraq after Baghdad fell.

Will it work? I don't know. But to win, Mr. Kerry must try to puncture the myth that Mr. Bush's handlers have so assiduously created.


Bush and Kerry Clash Over Iraq and a Timetable


CLEVELAND, Sept. 6 - Senator John Kerry and President Bush clashed repeatedly over Iraq on Monday, with Mr. Kerry branding it "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time" and saying he wanted all American troops home within four years, while Mr. Bush defended the war as "right for America then and it's right for America now."

Their conventions behind them, the candidates spent Labor Day, the traditional start of the fall campaign season, doing what they have done for months: trading roundhouse punches over Iraq, job losses and health care.

Mr. Kerry, who campaigned before blue-collar workers in suburban Pittsburgh and coal miners in West Virginia and in an African-American neighborhood in Cleveland, unveiled a new attack on Mr. Bush, saying voters needed to decide between the president's "wrong choices and wrong direction for America" and his own promises to create jobs, strengthen the economy and expand access to health care.

"The W stands for wrong,'' Mr. Kerry said in a riff on the president's middle initial at a labor picnic in Racine, W.Va.

But it was Mr. Kerry's responses to two questions about Iraq that set off a flurry of attacks by Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Asked his timetable for pulling troops out of Iraq, Mr. Kerry told a few hundred people in Canonsburg, Pa.: "My goal would be to get them home in my first term. And I believe that can be done." He said he would make it clear that "we do not have long-term designs to maintain bases and troops in Iraq."

Mr. Kerry has said he could replace most, but not all, American troops with foreign forces within four years by offering new inducements to other countries.

"When they talk about a coalition - that's the phoniest thing I ever heard," Mr. Kerry said of the current array of foreign soldiers deployed in Iraq. "You've got 500 troops here, 500 troops there, and it's American troops that are 90 percent of the combat casualties, and it's American taxpayers that are paying 90 percent of the cost of the war.

"It's the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said.

Mr. Bush has said repeatedly that it would be unwise to set a deadline for beginning or finishing a pullout of troops in Iraq. Terrorist groups, he argues, would use the date to their strategic advantage. And he often says that American troops will come home "as soon as the job is done'' without specifying the criteria for the completion of the mission.

In Poplar Bluff, Mo., Mr. Bush told supporters that Mr. Kerry couldn't make up his mind.

"After saying he would have voted for the war, even knowing everything we know today, my opponent woke up this morning with new campaign advisers and yet another new position,'' Mr. Bush said to laughter and to cries of, "Flip-flop. Flip-flop.''

"Suddenly he's against it again," Mr. Bush said. "No matter how many times Senator Kerry changes his mind, it was right for America then and it's right for America now that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power.''

Mr. Cheney, campaigning in Clear Lake, Iowa, criticized Mr. Kerry for "demeaning our allies."

"When it comes to diplomacy, it looks like John Kerry should stick to windsurfing," he said.

The exchange between Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry spotlighted how the two campaigns had honed their message on Iraq - and how they emphasize different aspects of the issue.

Mr. Bush has tried to convince crowds that he and Mr. Kerry agreed on the need to get rid of Saddam Hussein, and that Mr. Kerry's position has simply changed with the winds and the casualty numbers.

Mr. Kerry argues that the president has deliberately conflated two very different issues: whether it was right to hold Saddam Hussein accountable for his defiance of the United Nations, and whether Mr. Bush, once given that authority by the Congress, used it properly.

The essence of Mr. Kerry's argument - one he has had a difficult time making - is that Mr. Bush obtained the authority to go to war on false intelligence, and then prosecuted the war in a way that alienated allies and prolonged the insurgency.

At day's end on Monday, Mr. Kerry told thousands at a rally that Mr. Bush "wishes I have the same position he does, but as we've learned from this president, just wishing something, and saying something, doesn't make it so."

"When it comes to Iraq, I would not have done just one thing differently, I would have done everything differently from this president," he added.

Now, however, Mr. Kerry is going further, talking of the economic cost of the war and how that money could have been better spent.

"George Bush's wrongheaded, go-it-alone Iraq policy has cost you - cost you - already, over $200 billion," Mr. Kerry said in Cleveland. "That's $200 billion we're not investing in Cleveland. That's $200 billion we're not investing in our schools and in No Child Left Behind, that's $200 billion we're not investing in health care for all Americans and prescription drugs that are affordable."

It was a measure of how Iraq has overshadowed so many other issues in the campaign that it even dominated on Labor Day, the moment Mr. Bush has often used to focus attention on job creation, one of the points of vulnerability of his campaign.

That economic record, of course, is Mr. Kerry's main target, as he made clear in trying out a new speech.

"The choice in this race is very simple," Mr. Kerry said. "It's whether you want to continue to move in the wrong direction, or whether you want to turn it around and move the United States of America in the right direction and put people back to work."

"Do you want four more years of lost jobs?" he asked, as his crowd shouted, "No!"

"Do you want four more years of shipping jobs overseas and replacing them with jobs that pay you less than the jobs you have today?"

Mr. Kerry said Mr. Bush had the worst record on job creation "since Herbert Hoover." At the front-porch session in a middle-class neighborhood in Canonsburg on Monday morning, Mr. Kerry fended off pro-Bush hecklers while talking of people earning less money and paying more for health care. Lori Sheldon, 45, stirred in her seat. "You told our story," she said to him.

Her husband, Ms. Sheldon said, works on a ground crew for US Airways in Pittsburgh and fears he may be laid off in the fall. "You see those two young ladies over there? Those are my daughters," she said, beginning to sob. "I'm tired of saying no. We say no all the time."

Mr. Kerry said, "What we need is a president making choices not to reward Halliburton and a bunch of big companies, but reward the American people."

"I want you to be able to say yes to your kids," he said.

Mr. Bush's appearance in Poplar Bluff was his only one of the day. The southeastern Missouri town was so eager to hear him that more than 10,000 people, or nearly two-thirds of the population, signed a petition urging him to visit. When he agreed, the town organized one of the largest rallies of his campaign: more than 23,000 went through metal detectors, ignoring a light evening rain.

The president made a dramatic entrance, with Marine One, his helicopter, landing in a field. Though it was Labor Day, Mr. Bush only briefly touched on job creation. Picking his time frame carefully, Mr. Bush noted that "last Friday, we showed we added 144,000 new jobs in August,'' saying that was "1.7 million since August of '03.''

"The national unemployment rate has fallen to 5.4 percent,'' he said. "That is lower than the average rate of the 1970's, the 1980's and the 1990's.''

He spoke about tax simplification and farm exports with the passion of a man acutely aware that he won Missouri in 2000 by only a bit more than three percentage points and that re-election would be enormously difficult without winning it again.

David M. Halbfinger reported from Cleveland for this article and David E. Sanger from Poplar Bluff, Mo.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

September 7th, 2004, 04:35 PM
US military deaths just topped 1,000. What a sad moment for America.

September 8th, 2004, 08:38 AM
Is it true that on his radio show, Rush Limbaugh said something to the effect that 1,000 dead is not that much when you compare it to 40,000 dead in U.S. highway accidents?

September 9th, 2004, 08:29 AM
September 9, 2004

For 1,000 Troops, There Is No Going Home


Dixie Codner had a question for the marines who came down her gravel road, past the rows of corn and alfalfa, to tell her that her 19-year-old son, Kyle, had been killed in Iraq. Should she bring them the dress blues, still pressed and hanging neatly in his closet, for his funeral?

No need, she recalled them answering. They had dress uniforms from all the services, all sizes, waiting back at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where the bodies of American service members come home.

"What does that say?" Ms. Codner asked, as she sat at her kitchen table in Shelton, Neb., on a recent morning, fingering a thick stack of photographs that her son had sent from the desert. "How many more are they expecting? All I know is that there are 1,000 families that feel just like we do. We go to bed at night, and we don't have our children."

Like Lance Cpl. Kyle W. Codner, each of the more than 1,000 marines and soldiers, sailors and airmen killed since the United States sent troops to invade Iraq leaves behind a grieving family, a story, a unique memory of duty and sacrifice in what has become the deadliest war for Americans since Vietnam.

But along with so much personal loss, the roster of the dead tells a larger story, a portrait of a society and a military in transition, with ever-widening roles and costs for the country's part-time soldiers, women and Hispanics.

As has often been true in the United States' wars, small towns like Shelton and other rural areas suffered a disproportionate share of deaths compared with the nation's big cities. More than 100 service members who died were from California, the most for any state, but the smaller, less-populated states, many in the nation's middle - the Dakotas, Wyoming and Nebraska - recorded some of the biggest per capita losses.

In these mostly Republican-leaning states, people have begun to take painful note of the toll in Iraq. Many of the families of the dead there said they remained supportive of the war, the troops and the president. Still, with the death toll reaching 1,000 just two months before the presidential election, the somber milestone captured a central spot in the national political debate this week.

More than 70 percent of the dead were soldiers in the Army, and more than 20 percent were marines. More than half were in the lowest-paid enlisted ranks. About 12 percent were officers. Three-quarters of the troops died in hostile incidents: most often, homemade-bomb explosions, small-arms fire, rocket attacks. A quarter died in illnesses or accidents: truck and helicopter crashes and gun discharges.

On average, the service members who died were about 26. The youngest was 18; the oldest, 59. About half were married, according to the death roll, which does not include a handful yet to be identified by the Defense Department and three civilians who worked for the military.

Part-time soldiers, the guardsmen and reservists who once expected to tend to floods and hurricanes, were called to Iraq on a scale not seen through five decades of war. Increasingly, Iraq is becoming their conflict, and in growing numbers this spring and early summer, these part-time soldiers died there. Ten times as many of them died from April to July of this year as had in the war's first two months.

American women, too, have quietly drawn closer to combat than they had in half a century. At least 24 female service members died in Iraq, more than in any American conflict since World War II, a stark sign of a barrier broken.

Many Hispanics, once underrepresented in the armed forces, have fought and died in striking numbers. At least 122 Hispanics have died in Iraq, meaning that they died at a rate disproportionately high for their representation in the active forces and among the deployed troops. Among the dead were 39 service members who were not American citizens, significantly more than had died in Vietnam or Afghanistan, according to Defense Department records.

Most of the troops - 85 percent - died after President Bush declared major combat operations over on May 1, 2003. Nearly 15 percent died after the United States turned over sovereignty to Iraq's new leaders this June. The deadliest month was this April, as insurgents stepped up their attacks. Nearly as many American troops died that month as had in the initial invasion.

The Pentagon says it does not track or release estimates of the number of Iraqis killed since the war began, although some independent groups have offered widely varying estimates. (A group called Iraq Body Count said Iraqi civilian deaths exceeded 11,000.)

Among Americans, especially the relatives of service members who have died, the meaning of the toll is already a matter of feverish, sometimes bitter, debate.

Some say they view the number of deaths - and the injuries to more than 7,000 other Americans - as a tragic but unavoidable price of war, and one that seems modest beside the death toll from Vietnam, which was 58,000. About 380 troops died in the Persian Gulf war of 1991, and some 97 in Afghanistan. Any questions about the mounting numbers in Iraq, these relatives said, served as a rejection of the troops' mission, an insult to their lost soldier's work.

"The loss is there, of course, but we also know the honor and the pride," said Kelby McCrae, himself a captain in the National Guard and the son of a veteran soldier. His younger brother, Erik, was killed in June. "We're just so honored at the sacrifice he gave."

But others said they worried that their soldier's sacrifice in Iraq might be forgotten as more months pass and people grow inured to news of so many deaths, one after the next in this war.

The Guard and the Reserves: 'Weekend Warriors' Go Full Time

Eric S. McKinley was a baker and a part-time soldier. He dyed his hair strange colors and pierced his body in places his mother sometimes wished he had not. His six-year stint in the Oregon National Guard was supposed to end in April, but it was extended, and Specialist McKinley died June 13 when a bomb blew up near his Humvee near Baghdad. Specialist McKinley's father, Tom, said he was left with a haunting conviction: that guardsmen and reservists are now being asked in record numbers to fight the same lethal wars as full-time soldiers, but without the same level of training, equipment or respect. Dozens of parents and spouses of guardsmen - some who died and others still serving in Iraq - said they shared Mr. McKinley's worries as they wrestled with what the role of the nation's 1.2 million part-time service members once was and what it was becoming.

"They are not prepared for this, not emotionally and not with their gear and equipment," said Mr. McKinley, of Salem, Ore. "There's this opinion that these guys are just 'weekend warriors,' and we'll have them do all the things the regular army doesn't have time to do. But these guys are being asked to put their lives on the line just as much as everyone else. These guys are yanked from their lives, and yet they aren't treated the same."

During special training at a base in Texas before he left for Iraq, Specialist McKinley told his father that his Guard unit was getting only two meals a day, while regular units ate three. And in Iraq, on the day of his death, Specialist McKinley's fellow guardsmen said he was in a Humvee reinforced with plywood and sandbags, not real armor.

Cecil Green, a spokesman at Fort Hood where Specialist McKinley's unit trained before it left for Iraq, said all soldiers - regular and part time - were fed equally. But Col. Mike Caldwell, deputy director of the Oregon National Guard, said his troops had complained about unequal conditions during training there in months past. "There were a lot of problems in their treatment," Colonel Caldwell said. "It was deplorable. They were treated like slaves in some respects."

Thomas F. Hall, the assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, acknowledged in a telephone interview last week that since the terrorist attacks of 2001, the nation's reserve components had been called in numbers unknown since perhaps World War II. But those part-timers sent to Iraq are trained and equipped to the same level as any active-duty troops, Mr. Hall said.

"It's no longer your father or your grandfather's Guard and Reserves," Mr. Hall said. "A lot of this is a leftover vestige from a time in which we didn't perhaps equip and train our Guard and Reserve as we need to."

Any shortages of equipment - of armored Humvees or protective gear - have been faced by all types of troops, not just guardsmen, he said. And Mr. Hall insisted that no one, not even him, could distinguish between part--s and others when it came to Iraq. "They look the same. Their standards are the same. Their training is the same," he said.

Recently home from Iraq with an injury, Specialist Andrew Cross, a member of the North Carolina National Guard, said the only difference he discerned was a little taunting. "Sure, they say stuff about you not being full time,'' Specialist Cross said, "but who cares what they say."

Specialist Cross's best friend, Specialist Daniel A. Desens, who listened to Bob Marley and Dave Matthews with him as they rolled along in their Bradleys in Iraq, was one of at least 179 guardsmen and reservists killed there, the records of those identified as of yesterday show.

Their deaths make up less than a fifth of those killed, but the timing of their deaths underscores the changing makeup of American forces in Iraq. In the first weeks of war, only a small group of reserve forces was sent to Iraq, and only a few died. The numbers grew swiftly this year, and reserves and guards now amount to about 40 percent of the forces deployed to Iraq, and maybe still more soon.

Back in Oregon, Colonel Caldwell said leaders were busy arranging more deployments for some of the state's 8,400 Army and Air National Guard troops in the coming weeks, even as gloom lingered over the headquarters. Four Oregon guardsmen, including Specialist McKinley, died in a 10-day stretch.

Nationally, Mr. Hall said, recruiters may fall 1 percent short of their goals for new Guard members when the annual count is taken at the end of September. In Oregon, Colonel Caldwell predicted direr shortfalls: 10 percent to 15 percent.

"I think it's pretty obvious what's happening," he said. "People have realized: you join the Guard in Oregon, you're going to be mobilized."

The Women: Dying, in a Role Quietly Redefined

Before she left her home in Richmond, Va., Leslie D. Jackson's Junior R.O.T.C. instructor warned her that although women might not officially be on the very front line of a ground war, they were edging ever closer - and the line itself, if ever there was one in Iraq, had grown dangerously blurry.

"I told her that even combat support roles could still take you places that maybe you should not be," said Master Sgt. Earl G. Winston Jr., who taught Private Jackson at George Wythe High School. "But she said she was ready to accept the challenge. She said she did not want her fellow soldiers, most of them men, to think that she wasn't every bit as good as them."

Private Jackson, who had talked her reluctant mother into letting her sign up for the Army when she was 17, died on May 20 in Baghdad. The truck she was transporting supplies in hit a roadside bomb. She had finished basic training eight months before, and had turned 18, making her the youngest of 24 women who have died in Iraq.

Not long before, she had sent an e-mail message to her former principal, Earl Pappy, to say that she was spending long hours driving trucks and had been unnerved at seeing a soldier killed for the first time right before her: " 'I left home as Mommy's little girl,' '' Mr. Pappy said she wrote, " 'and I'm coming back as a strong woman.'

"She told me she wouldn't be in combat, and I don't think women should be," said Viola Jackson, Private Jackson's mother. "But then again, they joined the Army, and I guess you've got to do whatever the other people are doing. I don't know. What I know is she was a sweet child."

Women make up some 10 percent of American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they account for less than 3 percent of the 1,000 deaths in Iraq. Still, more women have died there than in any conflict since hundreds died in World War II - a certain if somber sign of how women's roles in the military have grown in the last decade.

More surprising, though, to advocates on both sides of a long-simmering debate over what women should and should not do in times of war has been the public's reaction to the loss of 24 women. Mostly, there has been silence.

"What it means is that our view of women has changed," said Lory Manning, director of the Women in the Military Project at the Women's Research and Education Institute in Washington and a retired 25-year veteran of the Navy.

"Within our minds, women are doing a lot of athletic things. They're SWAT team members and firefighters now. This is worldwide. So people see this as less horrible. The horror of death is equal now."

But others, like Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, an independent public policy group in Livonia, Mich., said Americans were largely oblivious to the role women were playing in Iraq and would be disturbed if they knew. Female soldiers who die receive little attention, she said, except in small hometown newspapers; the same is true of the 207 women who have been injured in Iraq.

Shortly after the war began, there were hints of the nation's discomfort when three female soldiers, including Pfc. Jessica Lynch and Specialist Shoshana Johnson, were taken hostage, and one of them, Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa, was killed, Ms. Donnelly said. In images broadcast around the world, Specialist Johnson looked terrified, her eyes darting.

"The risk of capture is why we oppose women in combat," said Ms. Donnelly, who wants the Pentagon to reconsider the jobs close to combat that women now hold. "We're a civilized nation. Violence against women is wrong. I hope that we don't become that kind of a nation that doesn't care about this sort of thing."

Eight women died in Vietnam. Sixteen died in the first Persian Gulf war. Three died in Afghanistan. And through most of that time, people have argued over what place women should take in war.

Women have served in the American military since 1901, and others quietly did unofficial military work as early as the Revolutionary War. But in 1948, Congress adopted the Armed Forces Integration Act, which capped women at 2 percent of the services and barred them from serving on combat planes and combat ships.

After Vietnam, and the end of the draft, the restrictions on women began to fade, one by one. By 1994, women were allowed to fly combat aircraft, to serve on fighter ships but not submarines, and to fill ground jobs except those most directly on the front lines: special forces, infantry, armor, artillery. But in Iraq, the jobs that women could fill - as drivers in convoys bringing supplies to troops and as members of military police units - came under attack from homemade bombs and mortar fire, too, and the notion of a front line seemed no longer to fit the conflict.

Nearly all of the women killed were full-time soldiers in the Army. And two-thirds of them died in hostile situations, not in accidents or because of illness.

Even Ms. Manning, who supports bigger roles for women in the military, said she was surprised at the degree to which women had been included in critical operations, including patrolling checkpoints. In part, their role may have been a necessary outgrowth of cultural differences in Iraq. Female soldiers were needed when Iraqi women were searched or questioned.

Still, Ms. Donnelly and other critics say, the scars from so much change are being ignored: What will come of the children, they asked, who lose their mothers to war?

Sgt. Tatjana Reed, a single mother, was killed on July 22 when a bomb exploded near her convoy vehicle. She had signed papers leaving her 10-year-old daughter, Genevieve, in the care of relatives near her base in Germany, expecting the arrangement to be temporary.

Sergeant Reed "always said, 'What a man can do, I can do,' '' recalled her mother, Brigitte Dykty, who lives in Clarksville, Tenn. "Sometimes I wish she hadn't thought that."

The Hispanics: Underrepresented, Except on Death Rolls

Five years ago, the National Council of La Raza, an advocacy group for Hispanics, released a scathing study of Hispanics in the United States military. The central finding was that the military was not employing as many Hispanics as it should.

In 1996, the study said, Hispanics 18 to 44 made up more than 11 percent of the civilian work force but accounted for less than 7 percent of the military's active forces.

The military took notice, and the Marines, in particular, began a serious recruiting effort aimed at Spanish-speaking markets, said Lisa Navarrete, vice president of the advocacy group.

"They took it very, very seriously," Ms. Navarrete said.

By 2004, Latinos accounted for 9.2 percent of all active-duty forces and about 10 percent of those forces deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

That news came with a distinctly bittersweet edge. Of the 1,000 killed in Iraq, at least 122, or more than 12 percent, were Hispanic, according to the Defense Department, which says ethnicity was not tracked by the same measures in previous wars.

"It seems that in a time of peace, we're underrepresented," Ms. Navarrete said quietly. "In a time of war, the situation is completely changed."

One reason for the high rate of Hispanic deaths in Iraq is that Hispanics account for a particularly large segment - more than 13 percent - of the Marines, the ground troops who suffered significant losses early in the war, as well as in the uprisings of recent weeks.

Some of those who died fighting for the United States were not even citizens. At least 39 noncitizens - many, though not all, of Hispanic heritage - were among the dead. Legal residents of this country have long served in the armed forces, but records of their deaths in war are hard to find. The official Defense Department records show that one noncitizen died in military duty in Vietnam and three in Afghanistan.

In 2002, Mr. Bush issued an order shortening the waiting periods for service members and their families seeking citizenship, and Congress made those changes permanent with a law that takes effect in October. Some anti-immigration advocates said that military service alone was not a qualification for citizenship, while others worried that the changes might induce some immigrants to enlist in hopes of speedy citizenship.

"But the bottom line, whatever the casualties, is that people are going to continue to join because they have to," said Rodolfo Acuna, a professor of Chicano studies at California State University, Northridge. "They want to live better. They want to get money. They want to better themselves."

Rey David Cuervo was born in Tampico, Mexico, but his mother, Rosalba Kuhn, took him to Texas when he was 6. She was a maid in Port Isabel. He was an only boy among three sisters, the quiet one with just a handful of friends.

At age 8, she said, he went to her carrying a picture of the American flag and explained that he planned to join the American Army. "He said that this is all he wanted," she recalled not long ago. "He said if they wouldn't take him in the Army here, then he'd go back to Mexico and sign up there."

In 1999, he left for basic training.

"I was so proud," Ms. Kuhn said. "When I came here, my dreams were that I would see my kids here, see them learn the language, see them get a better life for themselves. Part of that was wanting to see my son in an American uniform."

Ms. Kuhn said she thinks of her son every day when she wakes up. She lights candles for him. She holds a hat of his under her nose and breathes it in. In the sadness, though, Ms. Kuhn said she had no anger. Her son wanted to go into the Army. He wanted to go to Iraq. He chose his future.

Private Cuervo, who once told his mother that he planned to retire from the military after 20 years and then buy a big house, died on Dec. 28, 2003, when a bomb exploded. He was 24, one of 32,000 noncitizens in the armed forces. The government granted him citizenship after he died.

The Small Towns: When the Population Is Reduced by One

There are no sidewalks along the quiet streets of Shelton, Neb., but there is red-white-and-blue bunting, a little faded now, and tattered black ribbon tied to the street posts. Not that anyone here needs to be reminded about Kyle Codner.

The nation's small towns experienced more than their share of death in Iraq, a clear reflection of their representation in the nation's military services. Not only did death arrive in disproportionate numbers in these towns, but each death seemed to echo louder and longer than it might have in a big city.

One resident here compared Corporal Codner's death on May 26 to a tornado whipping up in the Midwest and zeroing in on this town of 1,100 people.

"The word 'shock' is overused, generally," said Lynn McBride, the chairman of Shelton's village trustees and a schoolteacher. "But it understates the feelings about this. We're all in it together here, and there was a feeling that this couldn't be true."

To Shelton, Corporal Codner was the son of Dixie and Wain Codner. He was one of 19 graduates of Shelton High in 2003, and one of two to go off to the military. He was the basketball player with the blond girlfriend, each of them usually on the king and queen court. He was the clerk at J. R.'s Mini Mart. He was the kid who got his photograph taken in front of the old military tank that sits at the town's entrance, and the student named in the yearbook as "Most Likely to Kick Some Terrorist Butt."

Nebraska and a long list of states in the country's middle and South had some of the highest death rates per capita. Many of these states are considered Republican strongholds. Vermont, a Democratic-leaning state in the presidential race, had the most deaths per capita. Among swing states in the presidential race, Oregon, Maine and Iowa had heavy losses.

No one can be sure what role the deaths in Iraq will play in this election season. Nebraska has been more reliably Republican through five decades of presidential races than any other state. Still, Democrats in Nebraska say the war and the death toll of 14 is stirring political discussion.

"The Republican voting bloc is persuadable here, especially when you're talking about sending your sons and daughters to war," said Barry R. Rubin, executive director of the Nebraska Democratic Party. "One thing about Nebraska is we are very independent-minded people, and people are seriously questioning the merits of this war."

But along the streets of Shelton last weekend, most people said they backed the war, and would probably vote for Mr. Bush. Among them was Corporal Codner's best friend from childhood, Matthew S. Walter, 19 and preparing to vote in his first presidential election. "I don't think I like what John Kerry has to say,'' Mr. Walter said.

Most people interviewed said they did not see Corporal Codner's death through the prism of politics.

"I sense no bitterness or contrition whatsoever about Kyle,'' Mr. McBride said. "I've never heard any of that. I think the overall feeling is that we're grateful he died the way he did - serving his country."

About eight miles away, back at Ms. Codner's kitchen table, the Codners said they would vote against President Bush, one of the many people Ms. Codner describes as "someone without skin in the game."

She and her husband go to sleep thinking of the boy in the circle of class pictures on their living room wall, she said, and then they wake up thinking of him. In the moments when other thoughts crowd out those memories, Ms. Codner said, something always brings him back. On Friday, it was the mail. Four packages that had been sent to her son in Iraq were returned to her, unopened. A yellow form on the front of the boxes gave a curt explanation in the form of a checked box: "Deceased."

The Codners tried to discourage their son from joining the Marines during his senior year in high school, but when he complained that they were not being supportive, they tried to go along.

Wain Codner said the town's embrace helped his family the first weeks after his son's death. "The support was incredible," he said. "But then, people go on with their lives."

A few days before Corporal Codner died, he sent home a roll of film. His family developed it, then waited, hoping he would call, so he could tell them exactly what they were seeing.

The mysterious stack of pictures still sits on the kitchen table. One shows Corporal Codner, with a wide smile, beside an Iraqi child. In another, a thick automatic weapon dangles around his neck, seeming to dwarf his slim frame. Another shows just a sleeping bag and pad, arranged carefully on a concrete block. This is probably where he slept, his parents surmise, but they will never be sure.

Tom Torok and the research staff of The New York Times contributed to this report.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

September 21st, 2004, 05:16 PM
by George Packer
Issue of 2004-09-27
Posted 2004-09-20

Earlier this year, the United States Agency for International Development, or U.S.A.I.D., hired a team of independent experts to go to Iraq and evaluate the agency’s programs there. The experts came back with a mixed review that included plenty of reason for worry: the reconstruction of Iraq was taking place in an ad-hoc fashion, without a consistent strategy, without the meaningful participation or advice of Iraqis, within paralyzing security constraints, and amid unrealistic claims of success. But something happened to the report on the way to publication. U.S.A.I.D. kept sending parts of it back for revision, draft after draft, weeding out criticism, until the agency finally approved a version for internal use which one member of the team called “a whitewash” of his findings. Another expert said, “It’s so political, everything going on out there. They just didn’t want to hear any bad news.” Pointing out that some of the numbers posted on the agency’s Web site were overly optimistic, he concluded, “They like to make their sausage their way.”

This would be a minor footnote in the history of the Iraq war, if only the entire story didn’t read the same. President Bush has been making the sausage his way from the beginning, and his way is to politicize. He forced a congressional vote on the war just before the 2002 midterm elections. He trumpeted selective and misleading intelligence. He displayed intense devotion to classifying government documents, except when there was political advantage in declassifying them. He fired or sidelined government officials and military officers who told the American public what the Administration didn’t want it to hear. He released forecasts of the war’s cost that quickly became obsolete, and then he ignored the need for massive expenditures until a crucial half year in Iraq had been lost. His communications office in Baghdad issued frequently incredible accounts of the progress of the war and the reconstruction. He staffed the occupation with large numbers of political loyalists who turned out to be incompetent. According to Marine officers and American officials in Iraq, he ordered and then called off critical military operations in Falluja against the wishes of his commanders, with no apparent strategic plan. He made sure that blame for the abuses at Abu Ghraib settled almost entirely on the shoulders of low-ranking troops. And then, in the middle of the election campaign, he changed the subject.

No one can now doubt the effectiveness of the President’s political operation. Here’s one measure: between May and September, the number of Iraq stories that made page 1 of the Times and the Washington Post dropped by more than a third. During the same period, the percentage of Americans who support the President’s handling of the war increased. It’s the mark of a truly brilliant reëlection campaign that these trends at home are occurring against a background of ever-increasing violence and despair in Iraq. The latest reports from mainstream think tanks, such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies, show every indicator of progress moving in the wrong direction. In July, the National Intelligence Council issued a classified and quite gloomy analysis of Iraq which had no effect on the President’s rhetoric or on his policy. After a year and a half of improvising and muddling through, there seems to be no clear way forward and no good way out. But because the President—as his chief of staff, Andrew Card, recently said—regards Americans as ten-year-old children, don’t expect to hear an honest discussion about any of this from the White House. (The President’s party, however, is trying to force congress to vote, just before the election, on a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning—no doubt to bring the country a little closer to victory in Iraq.)

The problem with making sausage the President’s way—other than the fact that it deceives the public, precludes a serious debate, bitterly divides the body politic when war requires unity, exposes American soldiers to greater risk, substitutes half measures for thoroughgoing efforts, and insures that no one will be held accountable for mistakes that will never be corrected—is that it doesn’t work. What determines success in this war is what happens in Iraq and how Iraqis perceive it. If U.S.A.I.D. releases a report that prettifies the truth, officials here might breathe easier for a while, but it won’t speed up the reconstruction of Iraq. Covering up failures only widens the gap in perception between Washington and Baghdad—which, in turn, makes Washington less capable of grasping the reality of Iraq and responding to it. Eventually, the failures announce themselves anyway—in a series of suicide bombings, a slow attrition of Iraqi confidence, a sudden insurrection. War, unlike budget forecasts and campaign coverage, is quite merciless with falsehood.

In refusing to look at Iraq honestly, President Bush has made defeat there more likely. This failing is only the most important repetition of a recurring theme in the war against radical Islam: the distance between Bush’s soaring, often inspiring language and the insufficiency of his actions. When he speaks, as he did at the Republican Convention, about the power of freedom to change the world, he is sounding deep notes in the American political psyche. His opponent comes nowhere close to making such music. But if Iraq looks nothing like the President’s vision—if Iraq is visibly deteriorating, and no one in authority will admit it—the speeches can produce only illusion or cynicism. In what may be an extended case of overcompensation, so much of the President’s conduct in the war has become an assertion of personal will. Bush’s wartime hero, Winston Churchill, offered his countrymen nothing but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. Bush offers optimistic forecasts, permanent tax cuts, and his own stirring resolve.

As the campaign moves toward its finish, Senator Kerry seems unable to point any of this out, let alone exploit it. On Iraq, he has said almost everything possible, which makes it difficult for him to say anything. It’s understandable that the war fills him with ambivalence. The President’s actions have led the country into a blind alley; there’s no new strategy for Kerry to propose, and the press should stop insisting that he come up with one when the candidate who started the war feels no such obligation. But the Senator has allowed the public to think that the President, against all the evidence of his record, will fight the war in Iraq and the larger war against radical Islam with more success. If Kerry loses the election, this will be the reason.

September 23rd, 2004, 08:49 AM
Freedom is on the march...
G W Bush

September 23rd, 2004, 04:02 PM
Is it coming, or going?

September 23rd, 2004, 04:59 PM
It's not marching anymore: it's sprinting away.

October 3rd, 2004, 10:55 AM
October 3, 2004

How the White House Embraced Disputed Arms Intelligence


In 2002, at a crucial juncture on the path to war, senior members of the Bush administration gave a series of speeches and interviews in which they asserted that Saddam Hussein was rebuilding his nuclear weapons program. Speaking to a group of Wyoming Republicans in September, Vice President Dick Cheney said the United States now had "irrefutable evidence" - thousands of tubes made of high-strength aluminum, tubes that the Bush administration said were destined for clandestine Iraqi uranium centrifuges, before some were seized at the behest of the United States.

Those tubes became a critical exhibit in the administration's brief against Iraq. As the only physical evidence the United States could brandish of Mr. Hussein's revived nuclear ambitions, they gave credibility to the apocalyptic imagery invoked by President Bush and his advisers. The tubes were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs," Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, explained on CNN on Sept. 8, 2002. "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

But almost a year before, Ms. Rice's staff had been told that the government's foremost nuclear experts seriously doubted that the tubes were for nuclear weapons, according to four officials at the Central Intelligence Agency and two senior administration officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity. The experts, at the Energy Department, believed the tubes were likely intended for small artillery rockets.

The White House, though, embraced the disputed theory that the tubes were for nuclear centrifuges, an idea first championed in April 2001 by a junior analyst at the C.I.A. Senior nuclear scientists considered that notion implausible, yet in the months after 9/11, as the administration built a case for confronting Iraq, the centrifuge theory gained currency as it rose to the top of the government.

Senior administration officials repeatedly failed to fully disclose the contrary views of America's leading nuclear scientists, an examination by The New York Times has found. They sometimes overstated even the most dire intelligence assessments of the tubes, yet minimized or rejected the strong doubts of nuclear experts. They worried privately that the nuclear case was weak, but expressed sober certitude in public.

One result was a largely one-sided presentation to the public that did not convey the depth of evidence and argument against the administration's most tangible proof of a revived nuclear weapons program in Iraq.

Today, 18 months after the invasion of Iraq, investigators there have found no evidence of hidden centrifuges or a revived nuclear weapons program. The absence of unconventional weapons in Iraq is now widely seen as evidence of a profound intelligence failure, of an intelligence community blinded by "group think," false assumptions and unreliable human sources.

Yet the tale of the tubes, pieced together through records and interviews with senior intelligence officers, nuclear experts, administration officials and Congressional investigators, reveals a different failure.

Far from "group think," American nuclear and intelligence experts argued bitterly over the tubes. A "holy war" is how one Congressional investigator described it. But if the opinions of the nuclear experts were seemingly disregarded at every turn, an overwhelming momentum gathered behind the C.I.A. assessment. It was a momentum built on a pattern of haste, secrecy, ambiguity, bureaucratic maneuver and a persistent failure in the Bush administration and among both Republicans and Democrats in Congress to ask hard questions.

Precisely how knowledge of the intelligence dispute traveled through the upper reaches of the administration is unclear. Ms. Rice knew about the debate before her Sept. 2002 CNN appearance, but only learned of the alternative rocket theory of the tubes soon afterward, according to two senior administration officials. President Bush learned of the debate at roughly the same time, a senior administration official said.

Last week, when asked about the tubes, administration officials said they relied on repeated assurances by George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, that the tubes were in fact for centrifuges. They also noted that the intelligence community, including the Energy Department, largely agreed that Mr. Hussein had revived his nuclear program.

"These judgments sometimes require members of the intelligence community to make tough assessments about competing interpretations of facts," said Sean McCormack, a spokesman for the president.

Mr. Tenet declined to be interviewed. But in a statement, he said he "made it clear" to the White House "that the case for a possible nuclear program in Iraq was weaker than that for chemical and biological weapons." Regarding the tubes, Mr. Tenet said "alternative views were shared" with the administration after the intelligence community drafted a new National Intelligence Estimate in late September 2002.

The tubes episode is a case study of the intersection between the politics of pre-emption and the inherent ambiguity of intelligence. The tubes represented a scientific puzzle and rival camps of experts clashed over the tiniest technical details in secure rooms in Washington, London and Vienna. The stakes were high, and they knew it.

So did a powerful vice president who saw in 9/11 horrifying confirmation of his long-held belief that the United States too often naïvely underestimates the cunning and ruthlessness of its foes.

"We have a tendency - I don't know if it's part of the American character - to say, 'Well, we'll sit down and we'll evaluate the evidence, we'll draw a conclusion,' " Mr. Cheney said as he discussed the tubes in September 2002 on the NBC News program "Meet the Press."

"But we always think in terms that we've got all the evidence,'' he said. "Here, we don't have all the evidence. We have 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent. We don't know how much. We know we have a part of the picture. And that part of the picture tells us that he is, in fact, actively and aggressively seeking to acquire nuclear weapons."

Joe Raises the Tube Issue

Throughout the 1990's, United States intelligence agencies were deeply preoccupied with the status of Iraq's nuclear weapons program, and with good reason.

After the Persian Gulf war in 1991, arms inspectors discovered that Iraq had been far closer to building an atomic bomb than even the worst-case estimates had envisioned. And no one believed that Saddam Hussein had abandoned his nuclear ambitions. To the contrary, in one secret assessment after another, the agencies concluded that Iraq was conducting low-level theoretical research and quietly plotting to resume work on nuclear weapons.

But at the start of the Bush administration, the intelligence agencies also agreed that Iraq had not in fact resumed its nuclear weapons program. Iraq's nuclear infrastructure, they concluded, had been dismantled by sanctions and inspections. In short, Mr. Hussein's nuclear ambitions appeared to have been contained.

Then Iraq started shopping for tubes.

According to a 511-page report on flawed prewar intelligence by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the agencies learned in early 2001 of a plan by Iraq to buy 60,000 high-strength aluminum tubes from Hong Kong.

The tubes were made from 7075-T6 aluminum, an extremely hard alloy that made them potentially suitable as rotors in a uranium centrifuge. Properly designed, such tubes are strong enough to spin at the terrific speeds needed to convert uranium gas into enriched uranium, an essential ingredient of an atomic bomb. For this reason, international rules prohibited Iraq from importing certain sizes of 7075-T6 aluminum tubes; it was also why a new C.I.A. analyst named Joe quickly sounded the alarm.

At the C.I.A.'s request, The Times agreed to use only Joe's first name; the agency said publishing his full name could hinder his ability to operate overseas.

Joe graduated from the University of Kentucky in the late 1970's with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, then joined the Goodyear Atomic Corporation, which dispatched him to Oak Ridge, Tenn., a federal complex that specializes in uranium and national security research.

Joe went to work on a new generation of centrifuges. Many European models stood no more than 10 feet tall. The American centrifuges loomed 40 feet high, and Joe's job was to learn how to test and operate them. But when the project was canceled in 1985, Joe spent the next decade performing hazard analyses for nuclear reactors, gaseous diffusion plants and oil refineries.

In 1997, Joe transferred to a national security complex at Oak Ridge known as Y-12, his entry into intelligence work. His assignment was to track global sales of material used in nuclear arms. He retired after two years, taking a buyout with hundreds of others at Oak Ridge, and moved to the C.I.A.

The agency's ability to assess nuclear intelligence had markedly declined after the cold war, and Joe's appointment was part of an effort to regain lost expertise. He was assigned to a division eventually known as Winpac, for Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control. Winpac had hundreds of employees, but only a dozen or so with a technical background in nuclear arms and fuel production. None had Joe's hands-on experience operating centrifuges.

Suddenly, Joe's work was ending up in classified intelligence reports being read in the White House. Indeed, his analysis was the primary basis for one of the agency's first reports on the tubes, which went to senior members of the Bush administration on April 10, 2001. The tubes, the report asserted, "have little use other than for a uranium enrichment program."

This alarming assessment was immediately challenged by the Energy Department, which builds centrifuges and runs the government's nuclear weapons complex.

The next day, Energy Department officials ticked off a long list of reasons why the tubes did not appear well suited for centrifuges. Simply put, the analysis concluded that the tubes were the wrong size - too narrow, too heavy, too long - to be of much practical use in a centrifuge.

What was more, the analysis reasoned, if the tubes were part of a secret, high-risk venture to build a nuclear bomb, why were the Iraqis haggling over prices with suppliers all around the world? And why weren't they shopping for all the other sensitive equipment needed for centrifuges?

All fine questions. But if the tubes were not for a centrifuge, what were they for?

Within weeks, the Energy Department experts had an answer.

It turned out, they reported, that Iraq had for years used high-strength aluminum tubes to make combustion chambers for slim rockets fired from launcher pods. Back in 1996, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency had even examined some of those tubes, also made of 7075-T6 aluminum, at a military complex, the Nasser metal fabrication plant in Baghdad, where the Iraqis acknowledged making rockets. According to the international agency, the rocket tubes, some 66,000 of them, were 900 millimeters in length, with a diameter of 81 millimeters and walls 3.3 millimeters thick.

The tubes now sought by Iraq had precisely the same dimensions - a perfect match.

That finding was published May 9, 2001, in the Daily Intelligence Highlight, a secret Energy Department newsletter published on Intelink, a Web site for the intelligence community and the White House.

Joe and his Winpac colleagues at the C.I.A. were not persuaded. Yes, they conceded, the tubes could be used as rocket casings. But that made no sense, they argued in a new report, because Iraq wanted tubes made at tolerances that "far exceed any known conventional weapons." In other words, Iraq was demanding a level of precision craftsmanship unnecessary for ordinary mass-produced rockets.

More to the point, those analysts had hit on a competing theory: that the tubes' dimensions matched those used in an early uranium centrifuge developed in the 1950's by a German scientist, Gernot Zippe. Most centrifuge designs are highly classified; this one, though, was readily available in science reports.

Thus, well before Sept. 11, 2001, the debate within the intelligence community was already neatly framed: Were the tubes for rockets or centrifuges?

Experts Attack Joe's Case

It was a simple question with enormous implications. If Mr. Hussein acquired nuclear weapons, American officials feared, he would wield them to menace the Middle East. So the tube question was critical, yet none too easy to answer. The United States had few spies in Iraq, and certainly none who knew Mr. Hussein's plans for the tubes.

But the tubes themselves could yield many secrets. A centrifuge is an intricate device. Not any old tube would do. Careful inquiry might answer the question.

The intelligence community embarked on an ambitious international operation to intercept the tubes before they could get to Iraq. The big break came in June 2001: a shipment was seized in Jordan.

At the Energy Department, those examining the tubes included scientists who had spent decades designing and working on centrifuges, and intelligence officers steeped in the tricky business of tracking the nuclear ambitions of America's enemies. They included Dr. Jon A. Kreykes, head of Oak Ridge's national security advanced technology group; Dr. Duane F. Starr, an expert on nuclear proliferation threats; and Dr. Edward Von Halle, a retired Oak Ridge nuclear expert. Dr. Houston G. Wood III, a professor of engineering at the University of Virginia who had helped design the 40-foot American centrifuge, advised the team and consulted with Dr. Zippe.

On questions about nuclear centrifuges, this was unambiguously the A-Team of the intelligence community, many experts say.

On Aug. 17, 2001, weeks before the twin towers fell, the team published a secret Technical Intelligence Note, a detailed analysis that laid out its doubts about the tubes' suitability for centrifuges.

First, in size and material, the tubes were very different from those Iraq had used in its centrifuge prototypes before the first gulf war. Those models used tubes that were nearly twice as wide and made of exotic materials that performed far better than aluminum. "Aluminum was a huge step backwards," Dr. Wood recalled.

In fact, the team could find no centrifuge machines "deployed in a production environment" that used such narrow tubes. Their walls were three times too thick for "favorable use" in a centrifuge, the team wrote. They were also anodized, meaning they had a special coating to protect them from weather. Anodized tubes, the team pointed out, are "not consistent" with a uranium centrifuge because the coating can produce bad reactions with uranium gas.

In other words, if Joe and his Winpac colleagues were right, it meant that Iraq had chosen to forsake years of promising centrifuge work and instead start from scratch, with inferior material built to less-than-optimal dimensions.

The Energy Department experts did not think that made much sense. They concluded that using the tubes in centrifuges "is credible but unlikely, and a rocket production is the much more likely end use for these tubes." Similar conclusions were being reached by Britain's intelligence service and experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency, a United Nations body.

Unlike Joe, experts at the international agency had worked with Zippe centrifuges, and they spent hours with him explaining why they believed his analysis was flawed. They pointed out errors in his calculations. They noted design discrepancies. They also sent reports challenging the centrifuge claim to American government experts through the embassy in Vienna, a senior official said.

Likewise, Britain's experts believed the tubes would need "substantial re-engineering" to work in centrifuges, according to Britain's review of its prewar intelligence. Their experts found it "paradoxical" that Iraq would order such finely crafted tubes only to radically rebuild each one for a centrifuge. Yes, it was theoretically possible, but as an Energy Department analyst later told Senate investigators, it was also theoretically possible to "turn your new Yugo into a Cadillac."

In late 2001, intelligence analysts at the State Department also took issue with Joe's work in reports prepared for Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. Joe was "very convinced, but not very convincing," recalled Greg Thielmann, then director of strategic, proliferation and military affairs in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

By year's end, Energy Department analysts published a classified report that even more firmly rejected the theory that the tubes could work as rotors in a 1950's Zippe centrifuge. These particular Zippe centrifuges, they noted, were especially ill suited for bomb making. The machines were a prototype designed for laboratory experiments and meant to be operated as single units. To produce enough enriched uranium to make just one bomb a year, Iraq would need up to 16,000 of them working in concert, a challenge for even the most sophisticated centrifuge plants.

Iraq had never made more than a dozen centrifuge prototypes. Half failed when rotors broke. Of the rest, one actually worked to enrich uranium, Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, who once ran Iraq's centrifuge program, said in an interview last week.

The Energy Department team concluded it was "unlikely that anyone" could build a centrifuge site capable of producing significant amounts of enriched uranium "based on these tubes." One analyst summed it up this way: the tubes were so poorly suited for centrifuges, he told Senate investigators, that if Iraq truly wanted to use them this way, "we should just give them the tubes."

Enter Cheney

In the months after Sept. 11, 2001, as the Bush administration devised a strategy to fight Al Qaeda, Vice President Cheney immersed himself in the world of top-secret threat assessments. Bob Woodward, in his book "Plan of Attack," described Mr. Cheney as the administration's new "self-appointed special examiner of worst-case scenarios," and it was a role that fit.

Mr. Cheney had grappled with national security threats for three decades, first as President Gerald R. Ford's chief of staff, later as secretary of defense for the first President Bush. He was on intimate terms with the intelligence community, 15 spy agencies that frequently feuded over the significance of raw intelligence. He knew well their record of getting it wrong (the Bay of Pigs) and underestimating threats (Mr. Hussein's pre-1991 nuclear program) and failing to connect the dots (Sept. 11).

As a result, the vice president was not simply a passive recipient of intelligence analysis. He was known as a man who asked hard, skeptical questions, a man who paid attention to detail. "In my office I have a picture of John Adams, the first vice president," Mr. Cheney said in one of his first speeches as vice president. "Adams liked to say, 'The facts are stubborn things.' Whatever the issue, we are going to deal with facts and show a decent regard for other points of view."

With the Taliban routed in Afghanistan after Sept. 11, Mr. Cheney and his aides began to focus on intelligence assessments of Saddam Hussein. Mr. Cheney had long argued for more forceful action to topple Mr. Hussein. But in January 2002, according to Mr. Woodward's book, the C.I.A. told Mr. Cheney that Mr. Hussein could not be removed with covert action alone. His ouster, the agency said, would take an invasion, which would require persuading the public that Iraq posed a threat to the United States.

The evidence for that case was buried in classified intelligence files. Mr. Cheney and his aides began to meet repeatedly with analysts who specialized in Iraq and unconventional weapons. They wanted to know about any Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda and Baghdad's ability to make unconventional weapons.

"There's no question they had a point of view, but there was no attempt to get us to hew to a particular point of view ourselves, or to come to a certain conclusion," the deputy director of analysis at Winpac told the Senate Intelligence Committee. "It was trying to figure out, why do we come to this conclusion, what was the evidence. A lot of questions were asked, probing questions."

Of all the worst-case possibilities, the most terrifying was the idea that Mr. Hussein might slip a nuclear weapon to terrorists, and Mr. Cheney and his staff zeroed in on Mr. Hussein's nuclear ambitions.

Mr. Cheney, for example, read a Feb. 12, 2002, report from the Defense Intelligence Agency about Iraq's reported attempts to buy 500 tons of yellowcake, a uranium concentrate, from Niger, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee report. Many American intelligence analysts did not put much stock in the Niger report. Mr. Cheney pressed for more information.

At the same time, a senior intelligence official said, the agency was fielding repeated requests from Mr. Cheney's office for intelligence about the tubes, including updates on Iraq's continuing efforts to procure thousands more after the seizure in Jordan.

"Remember," Dr. David A. Kay, the chief American arms inspector after the war, said in an interview, "the tubes were the only piece of physical evidence about the Iraqi weapons programs that they had."

In March 2002, Mr. Cheney traveled to Europe and the Middle East to build support for a confrontation with Iraq. It is not known whether he mentioned Niger or the tubes in his meetings. But on his return, he made it clear that he had repeatedly discussed Mr. Hussein and the nuclear threat.

"He is actively pursuing nuclear weapons at this time," Mr. Cheney asserted on CNN.

At the time, the C.I.A. had not reached so firm a conclusion. But on March 12, the day Mr. Cheney landed in the Middle East, he and other senior administration officials had been sent two C.I.A. reports about the tubes. Each cited the tubes as evidence that "Iraq currently may be trying to reconstitute its gas centrifuge program."

Neither report, however, mentioned that leading centrifuge experts at the Energy Department strongly disagreed, according to Congressional officials who have read the reports.

What White House Is Told

As the Senate Intelligence Committee report made clear, the American intelligence community "is not a level playing field when it comes to the competition of ideas in intelligence analysis."

The C.I.A. has a distinct edge: "unique access to policy makers and unique control of intelligence reporting," the report found. The Presidential Daily Briefs, for example, are prepared and presented by agency analysts; the agency's director is the president's principal intelligence adviser. This allows agency analysts to control the presentation of information to policy makers "without having to explain dissenting views or defend their analysis from potential challenges," the committee's report said.

This problem, the report said, was "particularly evident" with the C.I.A.'s analysis of the tubes, when agency analysts "lost objectivity and in several cases took action that improperly excluded useful expertise from the intelligence debate." In interviews, Senate investigators said the agency's written assessments did a poor job of describing the debate over the intelligence.

From April 2001 to September 2002, the agency wrote at least 15 reports on the tubes. Many were sent only to high-level policy makers, including President Bush, and did not circulate to other intelligence agencies. None have been released, though some were described in the Senate's report.

Several senior C.I.A. officials insisted that those reports did describe at least in general terms the intelligence debate. "You don't go into all that detail but you do try to evince it when you write your current product," one agency official said.

But several Congressional and intelligence officials with access to the 15 assessments said not one of them informed senior policy makers of the Energy Department's dissent. They described a series of reports, some with ominous titles, that failed to convey either the existence or the substance of the intensifying debate.

Over and over, the reports restated Joe's main conclusions for the C.I.A. - that the tubes matched the 1950's Zippe centrifuge design and were built to specifications that "exceeded any known conventional weapons application." They did not state what Energy Department experts had noted - that many common industrial items, even aluminum cans, were made to specifications as good or better than the tubes sought by Iraq. Nor did the reports acknowledge a significant error in Joe's claim - that the tubes "matched" those used in a Zippe centrifuge.

The tubes sought by Iraq had a wall thickness of 3.3 millimeters. When Energy Department experts checked with Dr. Zippe, a step Joe did not take, they learned that the walls of Zippe tubes did not exceed 1.1 millimeters, a substantial difference.

"They never lay out the other case," one Congressional official said of those C.I.A. assessments.

The Senate report provides only a partial picture of the agency's communications with the White House. In an arrangement endorsed by both parties, the Intelligence Committee agreed to delay an examination of whether White House descriptions of Iraq's military capabilities were "substantiated by intelligence information." As a result, Senate investigators were not permitted to interview White House officials about what they knew of the tubes debate and when they knew it.

But in interviews, C.I.A. and administration officials disclosed that the dissenting views were repeatedly discussed in meetings and telephone calls.

One senior official at the agency said its "fundamental approach" was to tell policy makers about dissenting views. Another senior official acknowledged that some of their agency's reports "weren't as well caveated as, in retrospect, they should have been." But he added, "There was certainly nothing that was hidden."

Four agency officials insisted that Winpac analysts repeatedly explained the contrasting assessments during briefings with senior National Security Council officials who dealt with nuclear proliferation issues. "We think we were reasonably clear about this," a senior C.I.A. official said.

A senior administration official confirmed that Winpac was indeed candid about the differing views. The official, who recalled at least a half dozen C.I.A. briefings on tubes, said he knew by late 2001 that there were differing views on the tubes. "To the best of my knowledge, he never hid anything from me," the official said of his counterpart at Winpac.

This official said he also spoke to senior officials at the Department of Energy about the tubes, and a spokeswoman for the department said in a written statement that the agency "strongly conveyed its viewpoint to senior policy makers."

But if senior White House officials understood the department's main arguments against the tubes, they also took into account its caveats. "As far as I know," the senior administration official said, "D.O.E. never concluded that these tubes could not be used for centrifuges."

A Referee Is Ignored

Over the summer of 2002, the White House secretly refined plans to invade Iraq and debated whether to seek more United Nations inspections. At the same time, in response to a White House request in May, C.I.A. officials were quietly working on a report that would lay out for the public declassified evidence of Iraq's reported unconventional weapons and ties to terror groups.

That same summer the tubes debate continued to rage. The primary antagonists were the C.I.A. and the Energy Department, with other intelligence agencies drawn in on either side.

Much of the strife centered on Joe. At first glance, he seemed an unlikely target. He held a relatively junior position, and according to the C.I.A. he did not write the vast majority of the agency's reports on the tubes. He has never met Mr. Cheney. His one trip to the White House was to take his family on the public tour.

But he was, as one staff member on the Senate Intelligence Committee put it, "the ringleader" of a small group of Winpac analysts who were convinced that the tubes were destined for centrifuges. His views carried special force within the agency because he was the only Winpac analyst with experience operating uranium centrifuges. In meetings with other intelligence agencies, he often took the lead in arguing the technical basis for the agency's conclusions.

"Very few people have the technical knowledge to independently arrive at the conclusion he did," said Dr. Kay, the weapons inspector, when asked to explain Joe's influence.

Without identifying him, the Senate Intelligence Committee's report repeatedly questioned Joe's competence and integrity. It portrayed him as so determined to prove his theory that he twisted test results, ignored factual discrepancies and excluded dissenting views.

The Senate report, for example, challenged his decision not to consult the Energy Department on tests designed to see if the tubes were strong enough for centrifuges. Asked why he did not seek their help, Joe told the committee: "Because we funded it. It was our testing. We were trying to prove some things that we wanted to prove with the testing." The Senate report singled out that comment for special criticism, saying, "The committee believes that such an effort should never have been intended to prove what the C.I.A. wanted to prove."

Joe's superiors strongly defend his work and say his words were taken out of context. They describe him as diligent and professional, an open-minded analyst willing to go the extra mile to test his theories. "Part of the job of being an analyst is to evaluate alternative hypotheses and possibilities, to build a case, think of alternatives," a senior agency official said. "That's what Joe did in this case. If he turned out to be wrong, that's not an offense. He was expected to be wrong occasionally."

Still, the bureaucratic infighting was by then so widely known that even the Australian government was aware of it. "U.S. agencies differ on whether aluminum tubes, a dual-use item sought by Iraq, were meant for gas centrifuges," Australia's intelligence services wrote in a July 2002 assessment. The same report said the tubes evidence was "patchy and inconclusive."

There was a mechanism, however, to resolve the dispute. It was called the Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee, a secret body of experts drawn from across the federal government. For a half century, Jaeic (pronounced jake) has been called on to resolve disputes and give authoritative assessments about nuclear intelligence. The committee had specifically assessed the Iraqi nuclear threat in 1989, 1997 and 1999. An Energy Department expert was the committee's chairman in 2002, and some department officials say the C.I.A. opposed calling in Jaeic to mediate the tubes fight.

Not so, agency officials said. In July 2002, they insist, they were the first intelligence agency to seek Jaeic's intervention. "I personally was concerned about the extent of the community's disagreement on this and the fact that we weren't getting very far," a senior agency official recalled.

The committee held a formal session in early August to discuss the debate, with more than a dozen experts on both sides in attendance. A second meeting was scheduled for later in August but was postponed. A third meeting was set for early September; it never happened either.

"We were O.B.E. - overcome by events," an official involved in the proceedings recalled.

White House Makes a Move

"The case of Saddam Hussein, a sworn enemy of our country, requires a candid appraisal of the facts," Mr. Cheney said on Aug. 26, 2002, at the outset of an address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Nashville.

Warning against "wishful thinking or willful blindness," Mr. Cheney used the speech to lay out a rationale for pre-emptive action against Iraq. Simply resuming United Nations inspections, he argued, could give "false comfort" that Mr. Hussein was contained.

"We now know Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons," he declared, words that quickly made headlines worldwide. "Many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon. Just how soon, we cannot really gauge. Intelligence is an uncertain business, even in the best of circumstances."

But the world, Mr. Cheney warned, could ill afford to once again underestimate Iraq's progress.

"Armed with an arsenal of these weapons of terror, and seated atop 10 percent of the world's oil reserves, Saddam Hussein could then be expected to seek domination of the entire Middle East, take control of a great portion of the world's energy supplies, directly threaten America's friends throughout the region, and subject the United States or any other nation to nuclear blackmail."

A week later President Bush announced that he would ask Congress for authorization to oust Mr. Hussein. He also met that day with senior members of the House and Senate, some of whom expressed concern that the administration had yet to show the American people tangible evidence of an imminent threat. The fact that Mr. Hussein gassed his own people in the 1980's, they argued, was not sufficient evidence of a threat to the United States in 2002.

President Bush got the message. He directed Mr. Cheney to give the public and Congress a more complete picture of the latest intelligence on Iraq.

In his Nashville speech, Mr. Cheney had not mentioned the aluminum tubes or any other fresh intelligence when he said, "We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons." The one specific source he did cite was Hussein Kamel al-Majid, a son-in-law of Mr. Hussein's who defected in 1994 after running Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs. But Mr. Majid told American intelligence officials in 1995 that Iraq's nuclear program had been dismantled. What's more, Mr. Majid could not have had any insight into Mr. Hussein's current nuclear activities: he was assassinated in 1996 on his return to Iraq.

The day after President Bush announced he was seeking Congressional authorization, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, traveled to Capitol Hill to brief the four top Congressional leaders. After the 90-minute session, J. Dennis Hastert, the House speaker, told Fox News that Mr. Cheney had provided new information about unconventional weapons, and Fox went on to report that one source said the new intelligence described "just how dangerously close Saddam Hussein has come to developing a nuclear bomb."

Tom Daschle, the South Dakota Democrat and Senate majority leader, was more cautious. "What has changed over the course of the last 10 years, that brings this country to the belief that it has to act in a pre-emptive fashion in invading Iraq?" he asked.

A few days later, on Sept. 8., the lead article on Page 1 of The New York Times gave the first detailed account of the aluminum tubes. The article cited unidentified senior administration officials who insisted that the dimensions, specifications and numbers of tubes sought showed that they were intended for a nuclear weapons program.

"The closer he gets to a nuclear capability, the more credible is his threat to use chemical and biological weapons," a senior administration official was quoted as saying. "Nuclear weapons are his hole card."

The article gave no hint of a debate over the tubes.

The White House did much to increase the impact of The Times' article. The morning it was published, Mr. Cheney went on the NBC News program "Meet the Press" and confirmed when asked that the tubes were the most alarming evidence behind the administration's view that Iraq had resumed its nuclear weapons program. The tubes, he said, had "raised our level of concern." Ms. Rice, the national security adviser, went on CNN and said the tubes "are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs."

Neither official mentioned that the nation's top nuclear design experts believed overwhelmingly that the tubes were poorly suited for centrifuges.

Mr. Cheney, who has a history of criticizing officials who disclose sensitive information, typically refuses to comment when asked about secret intelligence. Yet on this day, with a Gallup poll showing that 58 percent of Americans did not believe President Bush had done enough to explain why the United States should act against Iraq, Mr. Cheney spoke openly about one of the closest held secrets regarding Iraq. Not only did Mr. Cheney draw attention to the tubes; he did so with a certitude that could not be found in even the C.I.A.'s assessments. On "Meet the Press," Mr. Cheney said he knew "for sure" and "in fact" and "with absolute certainty" that Mr. Hussein was buying equipment to build a nuclear weapon.

"He has reconstituted his nuclear program," Mr. Cheney said flatly.

But in the C.I.A. reports, evidence "suggested" or "could mean" or "indicates" - a word used in a report issued just weeks earlier. Little if anything was asserted with absolute certainty. The intelligence community had not yet concluded that Iraq had indeed reconstituted its nuclear program.

"The vice president's public statements have reflected the evolving judgment of the intelligence community," Kevin Kellems, Mr. Cheney's spokesman, said in a written statement.

The C.I.A. routinely checks presidential speeches that draw on intelligence reports. This is how intelligence professionals pull politicians back from factual errors. One such opportunity came soon after Mr. Cheney's appearance on "Meet the Press." On Sept. 11, 2002, the White House asked the agency to clear for possible presidential use a passage on Iraq's nuclear program. The passage included this sentence: "Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used in centrifuges to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons."

The agency did not ask speechwriters to make clear that centrifuges were but one possible use, that intelligence experts were divided and that the tubes also matched those used in Iraqi rockets. In fact, according to the Senate's investigation, the agency suggested no changes at all.

The next day President Bush used virtually identical language when he cited the aluminum tubes in an address to the United Nations General Assembly.

Dissent, but to Little Effect

The administration's talk of clandestine centrifuges, nuclear blackmail and mushroom clouds had a powerful political effect, particularly on senators who were facing fall election campaigns. "When you hear about nuclear weapons, this is the national security knock-out punch," said Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon who sits on the Intelligence Committee and ultimately voted against authorizing war.

Even so, it did not take long for questions to surface over the administration's claims about Mr. Hussein's nuclear capabilities. As it happened, Senator Dianne Feinstein, another Democratic member of the Intelligence Committee, had visited the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna in August 2002. Officials there, she later recalled, told her they saw no signs of a revived nuclear weapons program in Iraq.

At that point, the tubes debate was in its 16th month. Yet Mr. Tenet, of the C.I.A., the man most responsible for briefing President Bush on intelligence, told the committee that he was unaware until that September of the profound disagreement over critical evidence that Mr. Bush was citing to world leaders as justification for war.

Even now, committee members from both parties express baffled anger at this possibility. How could he not know? "I don't even understand it," Olympia Snowe, a Republican senator from Maine, said in an interview. "I cannot comprehend the failures in judgment or breakdowns in communication."

Mr. Tenet told Senate investigators that he did not expect to learn of dissenting opinions "until the issue gets joined" at the highest levels of the intelligence community. But if Mr. Tenet's lack of knowledge meant the president was given incomplete information about the tubes, there was still plenty of time for the White House to become fully informed.

Yet so far, Senate investigators say, they have found little evidence the White House tried to find out why so many experts disputed the C.I.A. tubes theory. If anything, administration officials minimized the divide.

On Sept. 13, The Times made the first public mention of the tubes debate in the sixth paragraph of an article on Page A13. In it an unidentified senior administration official dismissed the debate as a "footnote, not a split." Citing another unidentified administration official, the story reported that the "best technical experts and nuclear scientists at laboratories like Oak Ridge supported the C.I.A. assessments."

As a senior Oak Ridge official pointed out to the Intelligence Committee, "the vast majority of scientists and nuclear experts" in the Energy Department's laboratories in fact disagreed with the agency. But on Sept. 13, the day the article appeared, the Energy Department sent a directive forbidding employees from discussing the subject with reporters.

The Energy Department, in a written statement, said that it was "completely appropriate" to remind employees of the need to protect nuclear secrets and that it had made no effort "to quash dissent."

In closed hearings that month, though, Congress began to hear testimony about the debate. Several Democrats said in interviews that secrecy rules had prevented them from speaking out about the gap between the administration's view of the tubes and the more benign explanations described in classified testimony.

One senior C.I.A. official recalled cautioning members of Congress in a closed session not to speak publicly about the possibility that the tubes were for rockets. "If people start talking about that and the Iraqis see that people are saying rocket bodies, that will automatically become their explanation whenever anyone goes to Iraq," the official said in an interview.

So while administration officials spoke freely about the agency's theory, the evidence that best challenged this view remained almost entirely off limits for public debate.

In late September, the C.I.A. sent policymakers its most detailed classified report on the tubes. For the first time, an agency report acknowledged that "some in the intelligence community" believed rockets were "more likely end uses" for the tubes, according to officials who have seen the report.

Meanwhile, at the Energy Department, scientists were startled to find senior White House officials embracing a view of the tubes they considered thoroughly discredited. "I was really shocked in 2002 when I saw it was still there," Dr. Wood, the Oak Ridge adviser, said of the centrifuge claim. "I thought it had been put to bed."

Members of the Energy Department team took a highly unusual step: They began working quietly with a Washington arms-control group, the Institute for Science and International Security, to help the group inform the public about the debate, said one team member and the group's president, David Albright.

On Sept. 23, the institute issued the first in series of lengthy reports that repeated some of the Energy Department's arguments against the C.I.A. analysis, though no classified ones. Still, after more than 16 months of secret debate, it was the first public airing of facts that undermined the most alarming suggestions about Iraq's nuclear threat.

The reports got little attention, partly because reporters did not realize they had been done with the cooperation of top Energy Department experts. The Washington Post ran a brief article about the findings on Page A18. Many major newspapers, including The Times, ran nothing at all.

Scrambling for an 'Estimate'

Soon after Mr. Cheney's appearance on "Meet the Press," Democratic senators began pressing for a new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, terrorism and unconventional weapons. A National Intelligence Estimate is a classified document that is supposed to reflect the combined judgment of the entire intelligence community. The last such estimate had been done in 2000.

Most estimates take months to complete. But this one had to be done in days, in time for an October vote on a war resolution. There was little time for review or reflection, and no time for Jaeic, the joint committee, to reconcile deep analytical differences.

This was a potentially thorny obstacle for those writing the nuclear section: What do you do when the nation's nuclear experts strongly doubt the linchpin evidence behind the C.I.A.'s claims that Iraq was rebuilding its nuclear weapons program?

The Energy Department helped solve the problem. In meetings on the estimate, senior department intelligence officials said that while they still did not believe the tubes were for centrifuges, they nonetheless could agree that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons capability.

Several senior scientists inside the department said they were stunned by that stance; they saw no compelling evidence of a revived nuclear program.

Some laboratory officials blamed time pressure and inexperience. Thomas S. Ryder, the department's representative at the meetings, had been acting director of the department's intelligence unit for only five months. "A heck of a nice guy but not savvy on technical issues," is the way one senior nuclear official described Mr. Ryder, who declined comment.

Mr. Ryder's position was more alarming than prior assessments from the Energy Department. In an August 2001 intelligence paper, department analysts warned of suspicious activities in Iraq that "could be preliminary steps" toward reviving a centrifuge program. In July 2002 an Energy Department report, "Nuclear Reconstitution Efforts Underway?", noted that several developments, including Iraq's suspected bid to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger, suggested Baghdad was "seeking to reconstitute" a nuclear weapons program.

According to intelligence officials who took part in the meetings, Mr. Ryder justified his department's now firm position on nuclear reconstitution in large part by citing the Niger reports. Many C.I.A. analysts considered that intelligence suspect, as did analysts at the State Department.

Nevertheless, the estimate's authors seized on the Energy Department's position to avoid the entire tubes debate, with written dissents relegated to a 10-page annex. The estimate would instead emphasize that the C.I.A. and the Energy Department both agreed that Mr. Hussein was rebuilding his nuclear weapons program. Only the closest reader would see that each agency was basing its assessment in large measure on evidence the other considered suspect.

On Oct. 2, nine days before the Senate vote on the war resolution, the new National Intelligence Estimate was delivered to the Intelligence Committee. The most significant change from past estimates dealt with nuclear weapons; the new one agreed with Mr. Cheney that Iraq was in aggressive pursuit of the atomic bomb.

Asked when Mr. Cheney became aware of the disagreements over the tubes, Mr. Kellems, his spokesman, said, "The vice president knew about the debate at about the time of the National Intelligence Estimate."

Today, the Intelligence Committee's report makes clear, that 93-page estimate stands as one of the most flawed documents in the history of American intelligence. The committee concluded unanimously that most of the major findings in the estimate were wrong, unfounded or overblown.

This was especially true of the nuclear section.

Estimates express their most important findings with high, moderate or low confidence levels. This one claimed "moderate confidence" on how fast Iraq could have a bomb, but "high confidence" that Baghdad was rebuilding its nuclear program. And the tubes were the leading and most detailed evidence cited in the body of the report.

According to the committee, the passages on the tubes, which adopted much of the C.I.A. analysis, were misleading and riddled with factual errors.

The estimate, for example, included a chart intended to show that the dimensions of the tubes closely matched a Zippe centrifuge. Yet the chart omitted the dimensions of Iraq's 81-millimeter rocket, which precisely matched the tubes.

The estimate cited Iraq's alleged willingness to pay top dollar for the tubes, up to $17.50 each, as evidence they were for secret centrifuges. But Defense Department rocket engineers told Senate investigators that 7075-T6 aluminum is "the material of choice for low-cost rocket systems."

The estimate also asserted that 7075-T6 tubes were "poor choices" for rockets. In fact, similar tubes were used in rockets from several countries, including the United States, and in an Italian rocket, the Medusa, which Iraq had copied.

Beyond tubes, the estimate cited several other "key judgments" that supported its assessment. The committee found that intelligence just as flawed.

The estimate, for example, pointed to Iraq's purchases of magnets, balancing machines and machine tools, all of which could be used in a nuclear program. But each item also had legitimate non-nuclear uses, and there was no credible intelligence whatsoever showing they were for a nuclear program.

The estimate said Iraq's Atomic Energy Commission was building new production facilities for nuclear weapons. The Senate found that claim was based on a single operative's report, which described how the commission had constructed one headquarters building and planned "a new high-level polytechnic school."

Finally, the estimate stated that many nuclear scientists had been reassigned to the A.E.C. The Senate found nothing to back that conclusion. It did, though, discover a 2001 report in which a commission employee complained that Iraq's nuclear program "had been stalled since the gulf war."

Such "key judgments" are supposed to reflect the very best American intelligence. (The Niger intelligence, for example, was considered too shaky to be included as a key judgment.) Yet as they studied raw intelligence reports, those involved in the Senate investigation came to a sickening realization. "We kept looking at the intelligence and saying, 'My God, there's nothing here,' " one official recalled.

The Vote for War

Soon after the National Intelligence Estimate was completed, Mr. Bush delivered a speech in Cincinnati in which he described the "grave threat" that Iraq and its "arsenal of terror" posed to the United States. He dwelled longest on nuclear weapons, reviewing much of the evidence outlined in the estimate. The C.I.A. had warned him away from mentioning Niger.

"Facing clear evidence of peril," the president concluded, "we cannot wait for the final proof - the smoking gun - that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

Four days later, on Oct. 11, the Senate voted 77-23 to give Mr. Bush broad authority to invade Iraq. The resolution stated that Iraq posed "a continuing threat" to the United States by, among other things, "actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability."

Many senators who voted for the resolution emphasized the nuclear threat.

"The great danger is a nuclear one," Senator Feinstein, the California Democrat, said on the Senate floor.

But Senator Bob Graham, then chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said he voted against the resolution in part because of doubts about the tubes. "It reinforced in my mind pre-existing questions I had about the unreliability of the intelligence community, especially the C.I.A.," Mr. Graham, a Florida Democrat, said in an interview.

At the Democratic convention in Boston this summer, Senator John Kerry pledged that should he be elected president, "I will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence." But in October 2002, when the Senate voted on Iraq, Mr. Kerry had not read the National Intelligence Estimate, but instead had relied on a briefing from Mr. Tenet, a spokeswoman said. "According to the C.I.A.'s report, all U.S. intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons," Mr. Kerry said then, explaining his vote. "There is little question that Saddam Hussein wants to develop nuclear weapons."

The report cited by Mr. Kerry, an unclassified white paper, said nothing about the tubes debate except that "some" analysts believed the tubes were "probably intended" for conventional arms.

"It is common knowledge that Congress does not have the same access as the executive branch," Brooke Anderson, a Kerry spokeswoman, said yesterday.

Mr. Kerry's running mate, Senator John Edwards, served on the Intelligence Committee, which gave him ample opportunity to ask hard questions. But in voting to authorize war, Mr. Edwards expressed no uncertainty about the principal evidence of Mr. Hussein's alleged nuclear program.

"We know that he is doing everything he can to build nuclear weapons," Mr. Edwards said then.

On Dec. 7, 2002, Iraq submitted a 12,200-page declaration about unconventional arms to the United Nations that made no mention of the tubes. Soon after, Winpac analysts at the C.I.A. assessed the declaration for President Bush. The analysts criticized Iraq for failing to acknowledge or explain why it sought tubes "we believe suitable for use in a gas centrifuge uranium effort." Nor, they said, did it "acknowledge efforts to procure uranium from Niger."

Neither Energy Department nor State Department intelligence experts were given a chance to review the Winpac assessment, prompting complaints that dissenting views were being withheld from policy makers.

"It is most disturbing that Winpac is essentially directing foreign policy in this matter," one Energy Department official wrote in an e-mail message. "There are some very strong points to be made in respect to Iraq's arrogant noncompliance with U.N. sanctions. However, when individuals attempt to convert those 'strong statements' into the 'knock-out' punch, the administration will ultimately look foolish - i.e., the tubes and Niger!"

The U.N. Inspectors Return

For nearly two years Western intelligence analysts had been trying to divine from afar Iraq's plans for the tubes. At the end of 2002, with the resumption of United Nations arms inspections, it became possible to seek answers inside Iraq. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency immediately zeroed in on the tubes.

The team quickly arranged a field trip to the Nasser metal fabrication factory, where they found 13,000 completed rockets, all produced from 7075-T6 aluminum tubes. The Iraqi rocket engineers explained that they had been shopping for more tubes because their supply was running low.

Why order tubes with such tight tolerances? An Iraqi engineer said they wanted to improve the rocket's accuracy without making major design changes. Design documents and procurement records confirmed his account.

The inspectors solved another mystery. The tubes intercepted in Jordan had been anodized, given a protective coating. The Iraqis had a simple explanation: they wanted the new tubes protected from the elements. Sure enough, the inspectors found that many thousands of the older tubes, which had no special coating, were corroded because they had been stored outside.

The inspectors found no trace of a clandestine centrifuge program. On Jan. 10, 2003, The Times reported that the international agency was challenging "the key piece of evidence" behind "the primary rationale for going to war." The article, on Page A10, also reported that officials at the Energy Department and State Department had suggested the tubes might be for rockets.

The C.I.A. theory was in trouble, and senior members of the Bush administration seemed to know it.

Also that January, White House officials who were helping to draft what would become Secretary Powell's speech to the Security Council sent word to the intelligence community that they believed "the nuclear case was weak," the Senate report said. In an interview, a senior administration official said it was widely understood all along at the White House that the evidence of a nuclear threat was piecemeal and weaker than that for other unconventional arms.

But rather than withdraw the nuclear card - a step that could have undermined United States credibility just as tens of thousands of troops were being airlifted to the region - the White House cast about for new arguments and evidence to support it.

Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked the intelligence agencies for more evidence beyond the tubes to bolster the nuclear case. Winpac analysts redoubled efforts to prove that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium from Africa. When rocket engineers at the Defense Department were approached by the C.I.A. and asked to compare the Iraqi tubes with American ones, the engineers said the tubes "were perfectly usable for rockets." The agency analysts did not appear pleased. One rocket engineer complained to Senate investigators that the analysts had "an agenda" and were trying "to bias us" into agreeing that the Iraqi tubes were not fit for rockets. In interviews, agency officials denied any such effort.

According to the Intelligence Committee report, the agency also sought to undermine the I.A.E.A.'s work with secret intelligence assessments distributed only to senior policy makers. Nonetheless, on Jan. 22, in a meeting first reported by The Washington Post, the ubiquitous Joe flew to Vienna in a last-ditch attempt to bring the international experts around to his point of view.

The session was a disaster.

"Everybody was embarrassed when he came and made this presentation, embarrassed and disgusted," one participant said. "We were going insane, thinking, 'Where is he coming from?' "

On Jan. 27, the international agency rendered its judgment: it told the Security Council that it had found no evidence of a revived nuclear weapons program in Iraq. "From our analysis to date," the agency reported, "it appears that the aluminum tubes would be consistent with the purpose stated by Iraq and, unless modified, would not be suitable for manufacturing centrifuges."

The Powell Presentation

The next night, during his State of the Union address, President Bush cited I.A.E.A. findings from years past that confirmed that Mr. Hussein had had an "advanced" nuclear weapons program in the 1990's. He did not mention the agency's finding from the day before.

He did, though, repeat the claim that Mr. Hussein was trying to buy tubes "suitable for nuclear weapons production." Mr. Bush also cited British intelligence that Mr. Hussein had recently sought "significant quantities" of uranium from Africa - a reference in 16 words that the White House later said should have been stricken, though the British government now insists the information was credible.

"Saddam Hussein," Mr. Bush said that night, "has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide. The dictator of Iraq is not disarming."

A senior administration official involved in vetting the address said Mr. Bush did not cite the I.A.E.A. conclusion of Jan. 27 because the White House believed the agency was analyzing old Iraqi tubes, not the newer ones seized in Jordan. But senior officials in Vienna and Washington said the international group's analysis covered both types of tubes.

The senior administration official also said the president's words were carefully chosen to reflect the doubts at the Energy Department. The crucial phrase was "suitable for nuclear weapons production." The phrase stopped short of asserting that the tubes were actually being used in centrifuges. And it was accurate in the sense that Energy Department officials always left open the possibility that the tubes could be modified for use in a centrifuge.

"There were differences," the official said, "and we had to address those differences."

In his address, the president announced that Mr. Powell would go before the Security Council on Feb. 5 and lay out the intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs. The purpose was to win international backing for an invasion, and so the administration spent weeks drafting and redrafting the presentation, with heavy input from the C.I.A., the National Security Council and I. Lewis Libby, Mr. Cheney's chief of staff.

The Intelligence Committee said some drafts prepared for Mr. Powell contained language on the tubes that was patently incorrect. The C.I.A. wanted Mr. Powell to say, for example, that Iraq's specifications for roundness were so exacting "that the tubes would be rejected as defective if I rolled one under my hand on this table, because the mere pressure of my hand would deform it."

Intelligence analysts at the State Department waged a quiet battle against much of the proposed language on tubes. A year before, they had sent Mr. Powell a report explaining why they believed the tubes were more likely for rockets. The National Intelligence Estimate included their dissent - that they saw no compelling evidence of a comprehensive effort to revive a nuclear weapons program. Now, in the days before the Security Council speech, they sent the secretary detailed memos warning him away from a long list of assertions in the drafts, the intelligence committee found. The language on the tubes, they said, contained "egregious errors" and "highly misleading" claims. Changes were made, language softened. The line about "the mere pressure of my hand" was removed.

"My colleagues," Mr. Powell assured the Security Council, "every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions."

He made his way to the subject of Mr. Hussein's current nuclear capabilities.

"By now," he said, "just about everyone has heard of these tubes, and we all know there are differences of opinion. There is controversy about what these tubes are for. Most U.S. experts think they are intended to serve as rotors in centrifuges used to enrich uranium. Other experts and the Iraqis themselves argue that they are really to produce the rocket bodies for a conventional weapon, a multiple rocket launcher."

But Mr. Powell did not acknowledge that those "other experts" included many of the nation's most authoritative nuclear experts, some of whom said in interviews that they were offended to find themselves now lumped in with a reviled government.

In making the case that the tubes were for centrifuges, Mr. Powell made claims that his own intelligence experts had told him were not accurate. Mr. Powell, for example, asserted to the Security Council that the tubes were manufactured to a tolerance "that far exceeds U.S. requirements for comparable rockets."

Yet in a memo written two days earlier, Mr. Powell's intelligence experts had specifically cautioned him about those very same words. "In fact," they explained, "the most comparable U.S. system is a tactical rocket - the U.S. Mark 66 air-launched 70-millimeter rocket - that uses the same, high-grade (7075-T6) aluminum, and that has specifications with similar tolerances."

In the end, Mr. Powell put his personal prestige and reputation behind the C.I.A.'s tube theory.

"When we came to the aluminum tubes," Richard A. Boucher, the State Department spokesman, said in an interview, "the secretary listened to the discussion of the various views among intelligence agencies, and reflected those issues in his presentation. Since his task at the U.N. was to present the views of the United States, he went with the overall judgment of the intelligence community as reflected by the director of central intelligence."

As Mr. Powell summed it up for the United Nations, "People will continue to debate this issue, but there is no doubt in my mind these illicit procurement efforts show that Saddam Hussein is very much focused on putting in place the key missing piece from his nuclear weapons program: the ability to produce fissile material."

Six weeks later, the war began.

This article was reported by David Barstow, William J. Broad and Jeff Gerth, and was written by Mr. Barstow.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

October 29th, 2004, 09:41 AM
Exclusive: Bush Wanted To Invade Iraq If Elected in 2000

Wed, 27 Oct 2004

By Russ Baker

Two years before 9/11, candidate Bush was already talking privately about attacking Iraq, according to his former ghost writer

Houston: Two years before the September 11 attacks, presidential candidate George W. Bush was already talking privately about the political benefits of attacking Iraq, according to his former ghost writer, who held many conversations with then-Texas Governor Bush in preparation for a planned autobiography.

“He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999,” said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. “It was on his mind. He said to me: ‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.’ And he said, ‘My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.’ He said, ‘If I have a chance to invade….if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.”

Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father’s shadow. The moment, Herskowitz said, came in the wake of the September 11 attacks. “Suddenly, he’s at 91 percent in the polls, and he’d barely crawled out of the bunker.”

That President Bush and his advisers had Iraq on their minds long before weapons inspectors had finished their work – and long before alleged Iraqi ties with terrorists became a central rationale for war – has been raised elsewhere, including in a book based on recollections of former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill. However, Herskowitz was in a unique position to hear Bush’s unguarded and unfiltered views on Iraq, war and other matters – well before he became president.

In 1999, Herskowitz struck a deal with the campaign of George W. Bush about a ghost-written autobiography, which was ultimately titled A Charge to Keep : My Journey to the White House, and he and Bush signed a contract in which the two would split the proceeds. The publisher was William Morrow. Herskowitz was given unimpeded access to Bush, and the two met approximately 20 times so Bush could share his thoughts. Herskowitz began working on the book in May, 1999, and says that within two months he had completed and submitted some 10 chapters, with a remaining 4-6 chapters still on his computer. Herskowitz was replaced as Bush’s ghostwriter after Bush’s handlers concluded that the candidate’s views and life experiences were not being cast in a sufficiently positive light.

According to Herskowitz, who has authored more than 30 books, many of them jointly written autobiographies of famous Americans in politics, sports and media (including that of Reagan adviser Michael Deaver), Bush and his advisers were sold on the idea that it was difficult for a president to accomplish an electoral agenda without the record-high approval numbers that accompany successful if modest wars.

The revelations on Bush’s attitude toward Iraq emerged recently during two taped interviews of Herskowitz, which included a discussion of a variety of matters, including his continued closeness with the Bush family, indicated by his subsequent selection to pen an authorized biography of Bush’s grandfather, written and published last year with the assistance and blessing of the Bush family.

Herskowitz also revealed the following:

-In 2003, Bush’s father indicated to him that he disagreed with his son’s invasion of Iraq.

-Bush admitted that he failed to fulfill his Vietnam-era domestic National Guard service obligation, but claimed that he had been “excused.”

-Bush revealed that after he left his Texas National Guard unit in 1972 under murky circumstances, he never piloted a plane again. That casts doubt on the carefully-choreographed moment of Bush emerging in pilot’s garb from a jet on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003 to celebrate “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq. The image, instantly telegraphed around the globe, and subsequent hazy White House statements about his capacity in the cockpit, created the impression that a heroic Bush had played a role in landing the craft.

-Bush described his own business ventures as “floundering” before campaign officials insisted on recasting them in a positive light.

Throughout the interviews for this article and in subsequent conversations, Herskowitz indicated he was conflicted over revealing information provided by a family with which he has longtime connections, and by how his candor could comport with the undefined operating principles of the as-told-to genre. Well after the interviews—in which he expressed consternation that Bush’s true views, experience and basic essence had eluded the American people —Herskowitz communicated growing concern about the consequences for himself of the publication of his remarks, and said that he had been under the impression he would not be quoted by name. However, when conversations began, it was made clear to him that the material was intended for publication and attribution. A tape recorder was present and visible at all times.

Several people who know Herskowitz well addressed his character and the veracity of his recollections. “I don’t know anybody that’s ever said a bad word about Mickey,” said Barry Silverman, a well-known Houston executive and civic figure who worked with him on another book project. An informal survey of Texas journalists turned up uniform confidence that Herskowitz’s account as contained in this article could be considered accurate.

One noted Texas journalist who spoke with Herskowitz about the book in 1999 recalls how the author mentioned to him at the time that Bush had revealed things the campaign found embarrassing and did not want in print. He requested anonymity because of the political climate in the state. “I can’t go near this,” he said.

According to Herskowitz, George W. Bush’s beliefs on Iraq were based in part on a notion dating back to the Reagan White House – ascribed in part to now-vice president Dick Cheney, Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee under Reagan. “Start a small war. Pick a country where there is justification you can jump on, go ahead and invade.”

Bush’s circle of pre-election advisers had a fixation on the political capital that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher collected from the Falklands War. Said Herskowitz: “They were just absolutely blown away, just enthralled by the scenes of the troops coming back, of the boats, people throwing flowers at [Thatcher] and her getting these standing ovations in Parliament and making these magnificent speeches.”

Republicans, Herskowitz said, felt that Jimmy Carter’s political downfall could be attributed largely to his failure to wage a war. He noted that President Reagan and President Bush’s father himself had (besides the narrowly-focused Gulf War I) successfully waged limited wars against tiny opponents – Grenada and Panama – and gained politically. But there were successful small wars, and then there were quagmires, and apparently George H.W. Bush and his son did not see eye to eye.

“I know [Bush senior] would not admit this now, but he was opposed to it. I asked him if he had talked to W about invading Iraq. “He said, ‘No I haven’t, and I won’t, but Brent [Scowcroft] has.’ Brent would not have talked to him without the old man’s okaying it.” Scowcroft, national security adviser in the elder Bush’s administration, penned a highly publicized warning to George W. Bush about the perils of an invasion.

Herskowitz’s revelations are not the sole indicator of Bush’s pre-election thinking on Iraq. In December 1999, some six months after his talks with Herskowitz, Bush surprised veteran political chroniclers, including the Boston Globe’s David Nyhan, with his blunt pronouncements about Saddam at a six-way New Hampshire primary event that got little notice: “It was a gaffe-free evening for the rookie front-runner, till he was asked about Saddam’s weapons stash,” wrote Nyhan. ‘I’d take ‘em out,’ [Bush] grinned cavalierly, ‘take out the weapons of mass destruction…I’m surprised he’s still there,” said Bush of the despot who remains in power after losing the Gulf War to Bush Jr.’s father…It remains to be seen if that offhand declaration of war was just Texas talk, a sort of locker room braggadocio, or whether it was Bush’s first big clinker. ”

The notion that President Bush held unrealistic or naïve views about the consequences of war was further advanced recently by a Bush supporter, the evangelist Pat Robertson, who revealed that Bush had told him the Iraq invasion would yield no casualties. In addition, in recent days, high-ranking US military officials have complained that the White House did not provide them with adequate resources for the task at hand.

Herskowitz considers himself a friend of the Bush family, and has been a guest at the family vacation home in Kennebunkport. In the late 1960s, Herskowitz, a longtime Houston Chronicle sports columnist designated President Bush’s father, then-Congressman George HW Bush, to replace him as a guest columnist, and the two have remained close since then. (Herskowitz was suspended briefly in April without pay for reusing material from one of his own columns, about legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.)

In 1999, when Herskowitz turned in his chapters for Charge to Keep, Bush’s staff expressed displeasure —often over Herskowitz’s use of language provided by Bush himself. In a chapter on the oil business, Herskowitz included Bush’s own words to describe the Texan’s unprofitable business ventures, writing: “the companies were floundering”. “I got a call from one of the campaign lawyers, he was kind of angry, and he said, ‘You’ve got some wrong information.’ I didn’t bother to say, ‘Well you know where it came from.’ [The lawyer] said, ‘We do not consider that the governor struggled or floundered in the oil business. We consider him a successful oilman who started up at least two new businesses.’ ”

In the end, campaign officials decided not to go with Herskowitz’s account, and, moreover, demanded everything back. “The lawyer called me and said, ‘Delete it. Shred it. Just do it.’ ”

“They took it and [communications director] Karen [Hughes] rewrote it,” he said. A campaign official arrived at his home at seven a.m. on a Monday morning and took his notes and computer files. However, Herskowitz, who is known for his memory of anecdotes from his long history in journalism and book publishing, says he is confident about his recollections.

According to Herskowitz, Bush was reluctant to discuss his time in the Texas Air National Guard – and inconsistent when he did so. Bush, he said, provided conflicting explanations of how he came to bypass a waiting list and obtain a coveted Guard slot as a domestic alternative to being sent to Vietnam. Herskowitz also said that Bush told him that after transferring from his Texas Guard unit two-thirds through his six-year military obligation to work on an Alabama political campaign, he did not attend any Alabama National Guard drills at all, because he was “excused.” This directly contradicts his public statements that he participated in obligatory training with the Alabama National Guard. Bush’s claim to have fulfilled his military duty has been subject to intense scrutiny; he has insisted in the past that he did show up for monthly drills in Alabama – though commanding officers say they never saw him, and no Guardsmen have come forward to accept substantial “rewards” for anyone who can claim to have seen Bush on base.

Herskowitz said he asked Bush if he ever flew a plane again after leaving the Texas Air National Guard in 1972 – which was two years prior to his contractual obligation to fly jets was due to expire. He said Bush told him he never flew any plane – military or civilian – again. That would contradict published accounts in which Bush talks about his days in 1973 working with inner-city children, when he claimed to have taken some of the children up in a plane.

In 2002, three years after he had been pulled off the George W. Bush biography, Herskowitz was asked by Bush’s father to write a book about the current president’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, after getting a message that the senior Bush wanted to see him. “Former President Bush just handed it to me. We were sitting there one day, and I was visiting him there in his office…He said, ‘I wish somebody would do a book about my dad.’ ”

“He said to me, ‘I know this has been a disappointing time for you, but it’s amazing how many times something good will come out of it.’ I passed it on to my agent, he jumped all over it. I asked [Bush senior], ‘Would you support it and would you give me access to the rest of family?’ He said yes.”

That book, Duty, Honor, Country: The Life and Legacy of Prescott Bush, was published in 2003 by Routledge. If anything, the book has been criticized for its over-reliance on the Bush family’s perspective and rosy interpretation of events. Herskowitz himself is considered the ultimate “as-told-to” author, lending credibility to his account of what George W. Bush told him. Herskowitz’s other books run the gamut of public figures, and include the memoirs of Reagan aide Deaver, former Texas Governor and Nixon Treasury Secretary John Connally, newsman Dan Rather, astronaut Walter Cunningham, and baseball greats Mickey Mantle and Nolan Ryan.

After Herskowitz was pulled from the Bush book project, the biographer learned that a scenario was being prepared to explain his departure. “I got a phone call from someone in the Bush campaign, confidentially, saying ‘Watch your back.’ ”

Reporters covering Bush say that when they inquired as to why Herskowitz was no longer on the project, Hughes intimated that Herskowitz had personal habits that interfered with his writing – a claim Herskowitz said is unfounded. Later, the campaign put out the word that Herskowitz had been removed for missing a deadline. Hughes subsequently finished the book herself – it received largely critical reviews for its self-serving qualities and lack of spontaneity or introspection.

So, said Herskowitz, the best material was left on the cutting room floor, including Bush’s true feelings.

“He told me that as a leader, you can never admit to a mistake,” Herskowitz said. “That was one of the keys to being a leader.”

Research support for this article was provided by the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute.

Russ Baker is an award-winning independent journalist who has been published in The New York Times, The Nation, Washington Post, The Telegraph (UK), Sydney Morning-Herald, and Der Spiegel, among many others.


November 10th, 2004, 10:16 AM
The New Yorker
Letter From Iraq
The United States’ de-Baathification program fuelled the insurgency. Is it too late for Bush to change course?
Issue of 2004-11-15
Posted 2004-11-08

On April 19, 2003, ten days after the fall of Baghdad, an advance “jump group” of Americans commanded by retired Lieutenant General Jay Garner was flown into the city to manage the occupation of Iraq. One of the first to arrive was Stephen Browning, whose previous assignment had been as director of programs on the West Coast for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Two months earlier, Browning had been summoned to Washington to join a group of experts charged with planning for postwar Iraq. Within a day or two of his arrival in Baghdad, Browning was given the job of getting the Ministry of Health up and running.

Baghdad’s hospitals were in a calamitous state. Many had been looted, and the doctors and nurses had fled. In the Shiite slum of Saddam (now Sadr) City, home to two million people, clerics and armed vigilantes loyal to the radical Shiite Moqtada al-Sadr had taken control of the medical facilities.“When I went into the Ministry of Health, there was no clear leader, no one willing to say, ‘I represent the Iraqis for the health ministry,’” Browning recalled. “Then Dr. Ali Shinan al-Janabi, an optometrist who had been a deputy minister, stepped forward. He told us that he was a member of the Baath Party. And—well, the fact is there was no one else to go to. I asked around, did a lot of research, and almost everyone I spoke to seemed to regard him as an honorable figure, even though he was a Baathist. And, after getting to know him, I came to feel he was a brave and admirable man.”

Browning decided early on that in order to get things done he needed to work with members of the Baath Party. The Party had been virtually synonymous with Saddam Hussein’s regime; it was the instrument through which Iraqis were brutalized. At the same time, its members filled jobs at every level of society and anchored the middle class. On his own initiative, Browning says, he asked Shinan to sign a letter renouncing his membership in the Baath Party. Shinan did so, and Garner named him the acting Minister of Health. “We started working together,” Browning said. “We made real progress in a very short amount of time.”

A few weeks later, Browning and Shinan held a press conference. A reporter from the BBC asked Shinan if he was a Baathist. “He said he was, but that he had signed a letter of renunciation,” Browning told me. “The BBC guy insisted, though. ‘Will you denounce the Baath Party in front of us right now?’ Ali’s response was ‘This is not an issue right now; we need to move on with the emergencies we have facing us.’ And then he said, ‘I was just doing my job.’

“The minute I heard him say that—it sounded so close to what the Nazi sympathizers said in their own defense in Germany after the Second World War—I knew how it would sound to the press outside Iraq, in the West, and I knew right then and there that Ali’s political career was finished,” Browning said. “I walked out of the conference with him hand in hand, and the next morning told him what we had to do. Ali was fine about it; he asked only that he be allowed to continue working as an optometrist. I agreed. Ali said, ‘You are my brother.’ We both had tears in our eyes.”

Still, Browning was troubled by Shinan’s refusal to denounce the Baath Party, and he asked him why he hadn’t. “He told me that if he did so in public the vengeance on his family would be catastrophic. Which is probably true. There was nobody stopping anything from happening back then—our troops weren’t much in the way of a protection force.”

Browning asked Shinan to continue to assist him, and he agreed. A few days later, he disappeared. Browning later learned that Shinan and his family had left Baghdad. By then, an assassination campaign had begun against former Baathists who were coöperating with the occupation, and also against some who weren’t. The victims of the campaign, which is ongoing, have included doctors, engineers, and teachers, sparking an exodus of Iraqi professionals to other countries.

Not long after, Garner himself was fired, and President Bush named L. Paul Bremer III as the head of what became known as the Coalition Provisional Authority. On May 16, 2003, Bremer issued a sweeping ban of the Baath Party: all senior party members were barred from public life; lower-level members were also barred, but some could appeal. In effect, Bremer had fired the entire senior civil service. The origins of the decree have never been clarified, but Coalition officials I spoke to said they believed that Bremer was following orders from the White House. A week later, he disbanded the Iraqi Army.

Browning recalled a meeting that he and other officials had with Bremer before the announcement. “Bremer walked in and announced his de-Baathification order. I said that we had established a good working relationship with technicians—not senior-level people—of the Baath Party, and I expressed my feeling that this measure could backfire. Bremer said that it was not open for discussion, that this was what was going to be done and his expectation was that we would carry it out. It was not a long meeting.”

The order had an immediate effect on Browning’s work. “We had a lot of directors general of hospitals who were very good, and, with de-Baathification, we lost them and their expertise overnight,” he told me. At the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, which was another of his responsibilities, “we were left dealing with what seemed like the fifth string. . . . Nobody who was left knew anything.”

An American special-forces officer stationed in Baghdad at the time told me that he was stunned by Bremer’s twin decrees. After the dissolution of the Army, he said, “I had my guys coming up to me and saying, ‘Does Bremer realize that there are four hundred thousand of these guys out there and they all have guns?’ They all have to feed their families.” He went on, “The problem with the blanket ban is that you get rid of the infrastructure; I mean, after all, these guys ran the country, and you polarize them. So did these decisions contribute to the insurgency? Unequivocally, yes. And we have to ask ourselves: How well did we really know how to run Iraq? Zero.”

The officer recalled that after Bremer’s decrees the looting of the city “became increasingly professional and organized, and it became not just looting but sabotage, too, and I think a lot of this had to do with the decisions that put all of these guys out of work.” In Baghdad, he saw a truck drive past him loaded with artillery shells, apparently looted from an armory. There were many such armories throughout Iraq, such as Al-Qaqaa, where three hundred and eighty tons of powerful explosives went missing. “Once these guys realized they had been shut out, they just went for it,” he said.

From the beginning, the question for the U.S. and British coalition was how to build a secure, stable, and democratic Iraq while dealing with the vacuum created by the fall of Saddam. The Baath Party, which kept its records secret, is estimated to have had between a million and two and a half million members, most of them Sunnis, like Saddam. For Iraq’s traditionally excluded and suppressed Shiite majority and for the Kurdish minority, de-Baathification was an urgent goal. But the Coalition also needed to address the fears of the newly disenfranchised Sunnis, and, on a basic level, to keep the country functioning. Given the difficulty of the project, the occupation policies were markedly lacking in pragmatism.

During that first summer, an array of Sunni tribal leaders, religious leaders, Baathists, and former intelligence officials were openly shuttling around Baghdad, lobbying the Americans for a better deal. They saw themselves as having been treated unfairly, and many hinted that they would participate in the growing revolt if they were not given a place in the “new Iraq.”

“Bremer seems to be interested only in de-Baathification,” said Dr. Baher Sami Raphael Butti, an Iraqi psychiatrist whom I met with in July, 2003. “And this is a problem, because there are many Baathists who could help, but they have been thrown away. Many are fighting because they have not received their salaries, and they feel threatened by the fundamentalist Shia. I am a Baathist, by the way, but not a dogmatic one. Most Iraqis, including the Baathists, hated Saddam. Now they are frightened about the prospect of civil war.” He went on, “We need to know what’s going to happen. There is no transparency to the American role in Iraq, and this gives rise to more rumors. We need to know more.”

In a sense, the “insurgency” began before Baghdad fell. Religious jihadis—would-be martyrs from other Arab nations—had been recruited by Saddam’s government to carry out “suicide operations” against the Americans. Many of them were young men with full beards, dressed in traditional robes. In Baghdad, where most Iraqi men were relatively clean-shaven and wore Western dress, the jihadis stood out as foreigners and were plainly visible until a few hours before the Marines arrived; a number were staying in the same hotels as Western reporters. The morning Baghdad fell, I saw about sixty of them slip away. The evidence suggests that they regrouped clandestinely under Baathist recruiters and helped to build the insurgency. Most of the Baathists I spoke to acknowledged a tactical alliance between their own resistance and the foreign Islamist militants.

In August, 2003, I spoke to Bremer at his office in one of Saddam’s old palaces inside Baghdad’s Green Zone, where the Coalition had set up its base. No one on the American side was yet using the term “insurgency” to characterize the rapidly escalating attacks against American troops in Baghdad and in cities like Falluja, in the so-called Sunni triangle. “What we’re faced with is the remnants of a Saddam regime composed of extremists and some terrorists,” Bremer told me. “Their real target is the Iraqi people.”

Bremer’s office resembled a field commander’s bivouac, with worn-looking military apparel stuffed on bookshelves. “Being an occupying power is not a comfortable thing for most Americans to comprehend, and it certainly is the case that when you are an occupying power you have not only responsibilities but, as you exercise those responsibilities, you’re going to have friction,” Bremer said. “It happens. More people get killed in New York every night than get killed in Baghdad. The fact of life is that there will never be such a thing as one hundred per cent security—it doesn’t exist.”

When I spoke to Bremer, fewer than three hundred American troops had been killed in Iraq. By last week, more than eleven hundred had lost their lives, and the insurgency had gained force. I asked Richard Haass, the head of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former State Department official, how the reëlection of President Bush might change the dynamic. “The security priority is to get the Iraqis to assume the lion’s share of that task,” he said. “That means training as many Iraqi police and security forces as quickly as you can. It also means putting as much pressure on Zarqawi’s people as you can—killing as many of them as you can.” He was referring to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian terrorist whose militant group is believed to be responsible for a series of beheadings and car bombings.

But Haass added that the Administration still had to come to terms with Iraq’s ethnic equation: “On elections, it means not just going ahead with them but persuading the Sunnis to participate. And on the military the question is whether the Administration can go after those who are using violence, who are disrupting day-to-day life, in a way that doesn’t create even more Sunni nationalist opposition.”

This summer, I visited the Supreme National Commission for De-Baathification, which occupied two floors of a concrete office block inside the Green Zone. A poster on one wall bore the simple message “Baathists=Nazis.” The director of the commission, Mithal al-Alusi, is a tall, lanky man of fifty-three who speaks English with a syrupy drawl and, even in the office, wears a pistol tucked into his belt.

Alusi is a protégé of Ahmad Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress, the exile group favored by the Pentagon before the war. Chalabi had been appointed chairman of the commission in September, 2003. Since then, he had lost much of his influence, in part because intelligence concerning Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, which he promoted, had proved useless. In June, when sovereignty was transferred to Iyad Allawi, a rival of Chalabi’s with ties to the C.I.A., not a single member of the I.N.C. was given a post in the new government. But Chalabi’s access to the de-Baathification commission—and to the files of thousands of Baathists—gave him continued leverage. (When I saw Chalabi in Iraq this summer, he pulled out the intelligence dossier of a senior member of Allawi’s government and translated what he claimed was damaging information about him.)

The commission began its work in January, and Alusi told me that it had achieved a great deal: “Thirty-five thousand Baath Party members have left their jobs.” Alusi said that the commission was interested only in Baathists from the four highest levels of the Party, some sixty-five thousand people. The top level consisted of no more than fifty or sixty people. “Level 2 is a few hundred people, Level 3 is a few thousand, and at the fourth level there are tens of thousands,” he said. Level 4 Baathists were allowed to appeal their bans, and, so far, the commission had approved about half of the appeals. Alusi said that the commission was not inflexible; he described one instance in which seventy doctors had been sent back to work. “We expedited their cases,” he said. “We just made sure they weren’t killers.”

Alusi told me that he had been a Baathist once himself, and had worked at the Party’s top-secret academy for political cadres. He had fallen out with the regime in the seventies, however, and spent more than twenty years in exile, mostly in Germany. In August, 2002, Alusi and a few cohorts briefly seized Iraq’s Embassy in Berlin, for which they were arrested and spent thirteen months in prison. When Alusi was released, in September, 2003, he returned to Iraq, violating his parole.

I asked Alusi what Baathism had meant to him as a young man. “It was like magic,” he said. “The Baath Party gave us the opportunity to do something important.” One of the opportunities enjoyed by young Baathists was access to power. Under Saddam, the Party was melded with the secret police and the state intelligence organization. Membership was a requirement for many government jobs, and Baathists were required to inform on their neighbors, their co-workers, and one another. During one of Saddam’s hallmark purges in 1979, several ministers were handed weapons and ordered to kill colleagues whom Saddam had just declared to be “traitors.”

One of the steps in the appeals process for former Baathists was attendance at a thirty-day de-Baathification course, and I asked Alusi what model he had used for it. “I’ve studied the de-Nazification of Germany,” he said. “And I’ve e-mailed Jewish Holocaust organizations, although only one of them answered me. We’ve read a lot of books.”

A few days later, I attended a graduation ceremony in a seminar room at Baghdad University, where a hundred or so middle-aged men and women, most of them professors and doctors, sat expectantly. Alusi walked in with a half-dozen bodyguards. He took the microphone, smiled, and began to talk in a rambling fashion about how the United States had liberated Iraqis, how the Coalition was on a par with the alliance against Hitler, and how Iraq now depended upon the good will of the U.S.

Men from Alusi’s office began taping posters to the wall behind the stage. The posters showed decayed bodies and skeletons piled in unearthed mass graves, and they elicited muffled exclamations from the audience. A man raised his hand. “Why are you putting up those posters?” he asked. “Everyone here was forced to join the Baath Party. We didn’t have anything to do with those crimes.”

“These are the bodies of Iraqis,” Alusi replied. “Why shouldn’t we look at them?”

A man called out, “Mr. Alusi, I feel frightened when I see these pictures. Many people may not distinguish between the criminals who did these things and innocent people like us.”

“The Iraqi people are not idiots,” Alusi replied. “I know there are good citizens among you, but we cannot close the files, because the files are full of crimes. The problem is for those who committed crimes. What shall I do, put away the posters, omit the truth? No, we cannot. If we omit this, we omit our history.”

The man smiled politely but didn’t say anything. Alusi stood up, and the people in the room filed over to officials sitting at tables to obtain their de-Baathification certificates.

Later, Alusi told me that he had meant to be provocative. “There is a duality in Baathists,” he said. “You can find a Baathist who is a killer, but at home, with his family, he’s completely normal. It’s like they split their day into two twelve-hour blocks. When people say about someone I know to be a Baathist criminal, ‘No, he’s a good neighbor!’ I believe them. The Baath Party is like the Nazi Party, or like the Mafia. If you meet them, they are simpatico. And this is why it’s very difficult for us to do our work, which is to change—really change—Iraqi society.”

Alusi wasn’t alone in drawing analogies to the de-Nazification process in Germany after the Second World War. But the comparison is less helpful than it seems. De-Nazification was marked by ambiguities, exceptions, compromises. And, to the extent that it worked, it did so because the Nazis had so catastrophically failed. Germany was utterly defeated; millions of people had died, and its cities lay in ruins. The country was rebuilt and transformed under the U.S.-administered Marshall Plan.

In the 2003 war, Iraq’s Army was not militarily defeated, because, by and large, it did not fight. Its forces melted away. Since then, the Coalition has failed to secure the country. The U.S. occupation has galvanized a sense of national resistance and had the neat effect of making Iraq’s history seem, to many Iraqis, irrelevant. As long as American troops remain, most Iraqis will likely continue to see themselves only as victims.

In the weeks before and after the American invasion, I spent a good deal of time with a senior Baathist, an official in the Foreign Ministry named Samir Khairi, whom I had met through a mutual friend. Khairi, a tall, jovial man in his early fifties, had droopy brown eyes and a great beak of a nose that was underscored by a clipped handlebar mustache. He spoke French and English, drank Scotch, and laughed a lot, with a loud honk. Unlike most Iraqi officials I interviewed, he showed no anger at the prospect of an American invasion. Khairi invited me to dinner at his home, a brown stucco house in the upscale neighborhood of Mansour. The house was a congenial mess, with piles of papers and clothes everywhere.

Khairi told me that he had become a Baathist in 1973, when he was a student at Baghdad University. Opportunism aside, the Party offered a nationalist ideology that appealed to him. The Baath Party—baath means “renaissance” in Arabic—was founded in Syria, in 1947, as a political vehicle to promote Pan-Arabism. In the fifties, Syrian exiles and Iraqi students brought Baathism to Iraq, which was then ruled by a military government. The Baathists came to power in 1963, in a coup that was followed by a bloodbath during which Baathists arrested, tortured, and killed their rivals. In 1968, in another coup, Saddam Hussein’s wing of the Baath Party took control of the country, and in 1979 Saddam declared himself President.

In 1981, Khairi, who was finishing a Ph.D. in law and had begun editing a Baathist newspaper, was summoned to meet Saddam’s half brother Barzan al-Tikriti. Barzan was then the head of the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi secret police. He proposed that Khairi become the editor-in-chief of an Arabic-language magazine based in Paris, and, Khairi said, assured him that he would not be required to do intelligence work, although his magazine, Kul al-Arab (All the Arabs), would be funded by the Mukhabarat.

When Khairi speaks of his Paris years—as he often does, with great nostalgia—he refers to himself as having been a journalist. But, of course, his magazine was principally a propaganda arm of Saddam’s regime. His tenure coincided with the Iran-Iraq War, which Saddam launched in 1980. This was the period during which Saddam actually did possess weapons of mass destruction, and used them against the Iranians on the battlefield and then in the genocidal Anfal campaign against his own country’s Kurdish citizens. Khairi told me that Barzan was personally involved in the torture and execution of hundreds of Iraqis—crimes for which he is soon to stand trial.

After the first Gulf War began, in 1991, the French authorities closed Kul al-Arab, arrested Khairi as a spy, and deported him. (Khairi insists that the charges were false.) When he returned to Baghdad, he continued working for the Mukhabarat, in its Presidential Research Institute. Eventually, he became estranged from Barzan and, in 1999, was briefly imprisoned. He stayed at the research institute until late 2002, when he became the press director of the Foreign Ministry. He said that he was relieved to be free of intelligence work and that, before the war, he had hoped to be given an ambassadorship.

One day when I was at Khairi’s house, we watched a news bulletin that contained footage of a mass grave being uncovered in south-central Iraq. I asked Khairi why he hadn’t fled the country, as so many other Iraqis had done, instead of continuing to work for Saddam. “Oh, I had no choice,” he said. “I was afraid for my family. If I were to go, they’d have hurt them. And if I stayed here and didn’t do my work they could kill me anytime. They killed many people.”

I asked him how many people he thought Saddam had killed. Half a million?

“Oh no, not so many,” he replied. “Around one hundred thousand, maybe one hundred and twenty thousand, for sure.” He said this matter-of-factly, with no indication that he felt tainted by the crimes of the regime. (Khairi’s numbers were off: a likelier figure is around two hundred and fifty thousand, and estimates range much higher.)

Khairi told me he believed that the ideals of Baathism had been betrayed under Saddam Hussein, that the Party had been taken over, and that Saddam’s family held the only real power. But Khairi was part of Saddam’s apparatus and, by his own admission, was proud of the work he did. He once told me, “I did good work in strategic planning for the President, and he liked it—three times, after reading my papers, he sent me a half-million dinars as a present.”

This kind of dissociative thinking—and a certain remorselessness—was, in my experience, common among Baathists, and especially among Sunnis like Khairi. Most echoed Saddam’s justifications that the victims, who were primarily Kurds and Shiites, had betrayed the fatherland by siding with Iran, were thieves and looters, were not real Muslims, and had committed a host of other supposed crimes.

I visited Khairi frequently that spring. There were always several other guests in the house—all of them men, who would come to eat, watch Al Jazeera and CNN, and talk about the news. Khairi had been allowed to have a satellite dish, a privilege reserved for senior Baathists, and he was a generous host. His friends would complain about the looting, or about former exiles like Chalabi, but over all they were optimistic about the future. Most of them were, like Khairi, Baathist functionaries or former military officers, and they all seemed to have accepted Saddam’s fall from power as a fait accompli. Most appeared to believe that they would be receiving a summons from the C.P.A. to return to their jobs any day.

After Bremer’s decrees, however, Khairi’s optimism vanished. When I visited him, I often found him sitting around the house in the middle of the day, flipping the channels on his TV. He had been told that he was not going to get his job back, or receive a pension, and he was despondent.

In July, 2003, Khairi was arrested by American soldiers. The house in Mansour was trashed and looted; when I arrived, even the doors to the garage were gone. No one seemed to know where he was being held, and although I made inquiries with Coalition officials, I couldn’t find out anything, either.

Almost a year later, I heard that Khairi had been released and was in Amman, Jordan. I arranged to meet him there at a hotel. When he walked in, I was shocked by his appearance. He was well dressed, with carefully pressed trousers, but his face was much thinner and his eyes had dark rings around them.

On the night of July 19, 2003, Khairi said, American soldiers kicked in the front door to his house, dragged him out to the street in his pajamas, and threw him to the ground as his neighbors watched. When he asked a soldier why he was being arrested, the soldier bashed him several times with his rifle. He was left with four broken ribs.

Khairi was held in an Army detention center without food and with little water for twenty-four hours. He was then taken, with some other prisoners, to a facility in Kadhimiya, the former headquarters of Saddam’s military-intelligence service. “We were put in a cell with no toilet,” Khairi said. “We had to use the floor, like dogs.”

Khairi was interrogated by a female American soldier who had papers that had been taken from his house, including a copy of an article I had written for this magazine, in which Khairi was quoted expressing his loyalty to the Baath Party. Khairi told her about the soldier hitting him and asked to see a doctor. “She said, ‘Really,’” Khairi said, lifting his eyebrows in an imitation of a skeptical expression. A few hours later, Khairi was taken to a detention facility at the Baghdad airport, a large open-air camp with tents surrounded by razor wire. He fell asleep on the ground around 4 a.m. “I was in very bad shape,” he recalled. “I was very dirty. We’d had no water to clean ourselves.”

In the morning, the other prisoners in his tent elected Khairi to represent them in a meeting with the Red Cross, since he spoke French and English, but during the meeting he fainted. When he came to, he was taken to a medical tent, where a doctor immediately put an I.V. in each arm and began to feed him. Khairi repeated this story to me several times, emphasizing how caring the doctor had been.

A few days later, Khairi was interrogated again. “This was my most important interrogation, and it lasted about three hours.” He said that an American in civilian clothes told him, “If you don’t speak the truth, I will kill you.” Khairi went on, “He asked if when I was in Paris I had had any relations with Al Qaeda.”

At this point, Khairi laughed. “Can you imagine, Al Qaeda! I reminded him that I had returned from Paris in 1991, when there was no Al Qaeda. He didn’t like that, and said, ‘O.K., then, if not Al Qaeda, did you have relations with any other terrorist groups? Did Saddam Hussein ask you to meet or give money to any other groups?’ I asked him, ‘Which terror groups do you mean?’ And he became angry and repeated that I should answer his questions or he’d kill me.”

Khairi was then taken to a detention center in Bukka, in the desert south of Basra. Five days after he arrived, he had a heart attack. He was treated at a hospital in Basra, then returned to Bukka. There, after being held for several days in a tent, Khairi was interrogated by another officer. “For the first time, I was with somebody who was very clever. When he heard that I had been mistreated when I was arrested, he wanted to know the name of the unit that was responsible, and told me I had the right to press charges. I asked him if there was any evidence against me. He said no.”

At the end of August, Khairi’s wife was allowed to visit. She told him that his father had died after hearing of his arrest. That afternoon, Khairi had a second heart attack. He stayed at Bukka for two months and then, on November 4th, he was sent to Abu Ghraib.

When Khairi and other prisoners arrived at Abu Ghraib, he said, “the guards took everything we had brought with us from Bukka—all of our clothes, everything. They left us in our pajamas. An American soldier—a big fat guy—took the reading glasses my wife had brought to me and stomped on them. The translator said to us, ‘This is not Bukka. That was a five-star hotel. This is Abu Ghraib.’ They took my medicines. It was cold, and we slept in a tent, on the ground.”

Khairi’s heart problems became worse, and he was medevaced out of the camp twice. Khairi said that although many of the Americans he had met at the clinics where he was treated had been kind, some military policemen with German shepherds would barge in and allow their dogs to terrorize the patients. (It was only later that he learned about the torture and sexual humiliation of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.) Once, he had seen a hooded, half-naked prisoner being herded by American soldiers into a wooden trailer, and leave some time later, hobbling as if in great pain. But, he said, “I don’t know what they did to him.”

Khairi was bewildered by the demeaning treatment of Iraqi prisoners. “The young men in my tents told me they were just waiting for the day they would get out so they could fight,” he said. “In the early days at Bukka, the Shia prisoners were not too much against the Americans, but after a few months even they changed their minds. I’d say that about ninety-five per cent of the Shia I met were talking about taking revenge.”

Almost every day, there were mortar attacks, Khairi recalled. “We noticed that they only attacked the American positions inside the prison, not where the prisoners were. The Iraqis were very happy when the attacks occurred. Some of them yelled, ‘Allahu Akbar!’ and said, ‘This is God’s punishment to the Americans for their ill-treatment of us.’ Once the attacks became more frequent, they began hooding us whenever we went anywhere because the prisoners were telling their visiting relatives the Americans’ positions.”

Khairi was held at Abu Ghraib for three and a half months without seeing his family; he found out later that they had tried to see him many times, and had been told that he wasn’t there. He was finally released in February, dressed only in a hospital gown.

Last April, two months before the C.P.A. was dissolved and in the midst of a dramatic upsurge in the violence in Iraq, Paul Bremer announced measures that softened his original decree against the Baathists. He said that although “the de-Baathification policy was and is sound,” it had been “poorly implemented.” He noted the importance of getting teachers and professors back in their jobs.

Bremer’s announcement was widely interpreted as a move to give Allawi, the incoming Prime Minister, a freer hand to combat the insurgents by bringing Baathists back into government. In May, after the Marines’ siege of Falluja was suspended—it is estimated that between six hundred and eight hundred Iraqis and forty Americans died during the siege—the Coalition appointed a so-called Falluja Brigade, led by former Baathists, to broker peace. The effort failed, however, when many of the Brigade members joined the insurgents.

Since assuming office, at the end of June, Allawi has appointed a number of Baathists to senior positions—most significantly, in the military and intelligence apparatus. He has also taken steps to weaken Chalabi further. In October, after a private visit to Israel by Mithal al-Alusi, Chalabi’s ally on the de-Baathification commission, an Iraqi judge issued a warrant for Alusi’s arrest, invoking a Baathist-era law prohibiting travel to the Jewish state. Alusi telephoned me from Baghdad to say that he was determined to fight the charges. He added that Allawi’s government had cancelled the credentials for all but fifty of the two hundred members of the de-Baathification commission, suspended its funding, and dislodged its members from their offices.

Dan Senor, the former chief spokesman for the Coalition, is now in Washington, where he still speaks to Bremer regularly. At the end of August, I asked Senor how, on balance, Bremer now judged his decrees. After consulting with Bremer, Senor said, “Was it the right thing to do? Yes. We’ve had a militia problem in Iraq, but it would have been worse if we hadn’t tackled this early on. For instance, the Shia could have been an enormous stumbling block to the Coalition if they had been uncoöperative, and yet we had clerics in their mosques telling people to forgo violence! And this was a tremendous support to the Coalition. If we had held back on de-Baathification, some have argued that the Sunni insurgency would not have been as bad, but, in the complete picture, the fact that this meant so much to the Shia was crucial.”

At the time we spoke, the Marines were engaged in bloody confrontation with Moqtada al-Sadr’s Shiite militia in Najaf. But Coalition officials I spoke to argued that Najaf was, with the media’s encouragement, a distraction from the greater threat posed by Zarqawi. However, in addition to Zarqawi’s group there are many Sunni guerrilla cells also operating in Falluja, as well as in the cities of Ramadi, Samarra, Baquba, and Mosul. Those cells are composed mostly of Iraqis, and, according to Baathists and to American officers I spoke with, at least some of them are funded and organized by former Baathists.

Senor said, “The problems we have today with the Sunni insurgency I don’t attribute solely to de-Baathification. These are not people who are simply up in arms because they are out of a job. We were always under the impression that the violence was being organized by people fundamentally opposed to our vision of Iraq. They were not people we could win over.”

This is a point of contention with Baathists, as well as with many non-Baathists. In Amman, I spoke to Mudher Khairbit, a wealthy Iraqi businessman who is a senior sheikh of the Dulaimi, a Sunni tribe heavily involved in guerrilla activity in and around Falluja and Ramadi. He told me that although he was not a Baathist he believed that the ban had been a mistake. Khairbit said, “By banning the Baath Party, the Americans made it more powerful, more popular.”

In Baghdad, I had attended a Friday prayer session at a mosque led by Imam Abdul Salaam Daud al-Qubeisi, a prominent Sunni cleric. He sermonized against the American “occupiers” while lauding “heroic resistance fighters” in Falluja and Ramadi. A few days later, I visited Qubeisi at his house. He portrayed the resistance as a spontaneous uprising by ordinary Iraqis. “Before, the Iraqi people didn’t think they were able to confront the American troops, but the hatred they feel encourages them to show resistance,” he said. “What makes matters worse is that Bremer deals with Iraq as if it were Afghanistan. This is a big mistake. Al Qaeda’s members were fighting outside their own countries, but the Iraqi soldiers are not. They are in their own homeland. No Iraqis went to New York to hit it.”

I asked Qubeisi if he advocated the killing of American soldiers. His reply was ambiguous: “We have a code: He who is not fighting cannot sit in judgment of someone who does. Perhaps he is defending his family and his honor.”

When I saw Khairi in Amman in June, he was living in a rented room on money that he had borrowed from his brother, and was looking for a job. He said that he had left Iraq after learning that a Shiite group had put his name on a death list. For now, he was part of the growing exodus of educated Iraqis. “Everyone who can leave is leaving,” he said. “All the good people.”

Much of the Baathist opposition was being mounted, Khairi said, by the new exiles. He predicted that, when the Americans handed over control of Iraq’s cities to the new Iraqi security forces, later that month, the Baath Party would “return and attack those policemen.” (Since then, hundreds of Iraqi policemen, National Guardsmen, and recruits have been killed in near-daily attacks.) He added, “The Americans must get over their problem with the Baath Party. We cannot change our name just to please them.” He talked about the outbreak of a civil war in Iraq if the Americans continued to favor Shiites over the Sunnis.

Khairi helped me to arrange a meeting with Samir Sheikhly, a former mayor of Baghdad, who, I had been told, was one of the key people in the underground Baath Party leadership. Sheikhly had been a senior member of the regime until 1991, when he fell out with Saddam and was put under house arrest. Sheikhly was arrested by the Americans in June, 2003, and spent four and a half months in prison.

When we met, Sheikhly told me, “Many Baathists welcomed the arrival of the Americans. They didn’t fear the Americans when they came. If they had, they would have resisted, and it would have been very difficult to take Baghdad. But then the Americans began arresting Baath Party members.” He went on, “The Americans are dealing with people who have come from outside the country and have no political base in Iraq. They cannot be successful in this way.” Sheikhly dismissed Allawi’s overtures to Baath Party members and said that only “collaborators” were dealing with him. “If the Americans coöperate and let the Baath Party back, they can secure their interests in Iraq at a very cheap price,” he said. (Several Baathists I spoke to claimed that, in the last few weeks, there had been tentative talks with American officials.) Sheikhly did not address the Shiites’ and Kurds’ opposition to the Baathists. Like so many Baathists I talked to, he also refused to acknowledge that simply reinstating the Party might be morally or politically unacceptable to Saddam’s victims and to the international community—that a regime that was little more than “Saddam Lite” might not be good enough.

One high-ranking former official of Saddam’s Foreign Ministry told me, “The problem cannot be solved by the reincorporation of a few high-level Baathists. It’s a problem of national reconciliation. The Americans made a big mistake by initiating the de-Baathification process; it was antidemocratic and inhumane, and it did not take into account who the Baathists are. After thirty-five years, the Baath Party had become part of the fabric of Iraqi society, a complex, interrelated pyramid of economic, political, religious, and tribal links, with the President, yes, at the top. . . . But to dismantle the Party, the Army, and other structures of the state was only to replace them with chaos.”

The insurgency has clearly moved beyond the Baathists; the stakes are much higher now. Last week, a large-scale offensive against Falluja seemed imminent, with American troops moving into position. The American special-forces officer told me that he and others were hopeful that, with the election over, the White House would give its full backing for a decisive battle: “By being aggressive, it may be tough, bloody, and unpopular at first, but it will knock the terrorists off balance and create the space for success. The longer we wait, the more difficult, costly, and bloody it will be.”

Last month, I asked Stephen Browning how he viewed the situation in Iraq. He replied, “I spoke to an Iraqi doctor friend last week and I asked him the same question. He said to me, ‘The country is slowly dying.’ He was always an optimist before, so to hear him say this was just so dispiriting to me. My own sense is that I don’t see a good, positive way ahead. There were so many opportunities that were lost in the early days. Now that this insurgency has grown so big, I don’t know what we can do to stop it.”

November 16th, 2004, 07:38 AM
Insurgent Attacks Spread In Iraq

'Hard Fighting' Expected In Mosul in Coming Days

By Karl Vick and Jackie Spinner
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, November 16, 2004; Page A01

BAGHDAD, Nov. 15 -- Insurgent attacks spread Monday to another Sunni Muslim city, Baqubah, and a nearby village, where bands of armed men attacked two police stations simultaneously, the U.S. military said. American forces used airstrikes to blunt the assault, the latest that insurgents have launched in apparent response to the U.S. offensive in Fallujah.

Two 500-pound bombs were dropped on insurgent positions after a two-hour firefight in which guerrilla reinforcements arrived by bus, took positions on a roof and blocked a road, according to the U.S. military.

Meanwhile, fighting continued in Mosul, a city of 1.8 million, where large numbers of insurgents went on the offensive late last week. "I expect the next few days will bring some hard fighting," said Brig. Gen. Carter Ham, the senior U.S. commander in the area. "The situation in Mosul is tense but not desperate."

U.S. forces last week stormed into Fallujah, which insurgents had controlled since spring. American policymakers portrayed the operation as a decisive move to clean out a major stronghold of foreign fighters and Iraqis opposed to the country's interim government.

The insurgents have struck back hard in Fallujah and also turned up the heat in many other cities dominated by Sunni Muslims, who were favored over the majority Shiite Muslims by the government of former president Saddam Hussein. Operating in unusually large groups, fighters have attacked in Ramadi, to the west of Fallujah, and Samarra, Baiji, Tall Afar, Hawija and Mosul to the north.

Their strategy was stated Monday in a new recording attributed to Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Jordanian leader of a large insurgent group affiliated with al Qaeda. If the U.S. military "finishes Fallujah, it will move in your direction," the voice said to be Zarqawi's warned followers. "Beware and deny it the chance to carry out this plan."

The speaker said that U.S. forces were overextended and would be unable to respond everywhere. "Shower them with rockets and mortars and cut all the supply routes," he said.

A senior Iraqi official said Monday that about half of Mosul's police officers have returned to duty, reinforced by an armored U.S. battalion and truckloads of Iraqi troops and police commandos. But sporadic fighting continued in the city, and insurgents set on fire an oil storage facility outside the city.

Interior Minister Falah Naqib grew emotional during a news conference in Baghdad while describing the killing of a Mosul police officer. "Yesterday in Mosul, they abducted a wounded member of the police from the hospital," Naqib said. "They dismembered him.

"He was wounded," he repeated. "They dismembered him, and then his remains were hanged in a public square until his fellow policemen were able to secure his body.

Close to 1,000 members of the interim government's security forces have died in the insurgency. Intimidation of those who remain is a prime goal of the guerrillas. Naqib said that threats are directed not at recruits but at their family members. Kidnappings of recruits are also on the rise.

Meanwhile, the office of interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi confirmed reports that two female relatives of Allawi's had been released by kidnappers but that Allawi's elderly male cousin remains captive.

The badly mutilated body of a Western woman, assumed to be another kidnapping victim, remained unidentified after being found on a Fallujah street.

To the east, new fighting in Baqubah, long a flash point for attacks on U.S. forces, began about 7 a.m. with simultaneous attacks on two police stations, one in the city, the other in the nearby village of Buhriz.

Protected by dirt-filled fences to guard against car bombs, the stations were targeted by rocket-propelled grenades, rifle fire and, at one station, fire from a heavy machine gun, according to Army Capt. Bill Coppernoll, a spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division.

Elements of the division responded and reported taking fire from multiple spots, including a mosque. A search of the area around the mosque produced three rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 29 grenades, two mortar tubes, 10 mortar rounds and hundreds of rounds of ammunition for AK-47s assault rifles, the military said in a statement.

Four American soldiers were wounded in the fighting. The military reported that more than 20 insurgents were killed, and news services said seven civilians and five police officers, including the police chief of Buhriz, also died.

In a separate attack in Baghdad, seven civilians were killed and seven wounded when a mortar round landed in the Dora neighborhood. At least five suicide car bombers wounded at least nine U.S. troops elsewhere in Iraq, the Associated Press reported.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company

November 29th, 2004, 07:51 AM
November 29, 2004


Shadow of Vietnam Falls Over Iraq River Raids


CHARD DUWAISH, Iraq, Nov. 28 - As marines aboard fast patrol boats roared up the Euphrates on a dawn raid on Sunday, images pressed in of another American war where troops moved up wide rivers on camouflaged boats, with machine-gunners nervously scanning riverbanks for the hidden enemy.

That war is rarely mentioned among the American troops in Iraq, many of whom were not yet born when the last American combat units withdrew from Vietnam more than 30 years ago. A war that America did not win is considered a bad talisman among those men and women, who privately admit to fears that this war could be lost.

But as an orange moon sank below the bulrushes on Sunday morning, thoughts of Vietnam were hard to avoid.

Marines waded ashore through soft silted mud that caused some to sink to their waists, M-16 rifles held skyward as others on solid land held out their rifle barrels as lifelines.

Ashore, sodden and with boots squelching mud, the troops began a five-hour tramp through dense palm groves and across paddies crisscrossed by deep irrigation canals.

There were snatches of dialogue from "Apocalypse Now," and a black joke from one marine about the landscape resembling "a Vietnam theme park."

But behind the joshing lay something more serious: the sense expressed by many of the Americans as they scoured the area that in this war, too, the insurgents might have advantages that could make them a match for highly trained troops, technological gadgetry and multibillion-dollar war budgets.

The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted the river raid as part of a weeklong offensive billed as a sequel to the battle for Falluja, less than 20 miles upriver from the village where the marines landed Sunday.

The 40-foot river craft they used are called Surcs, for Small Unit Riverine Craft, a high-tech update on the Swift boats used in Vietnam. The craft were flown into Iraq aboard giant C-5 transport aircraft and were first deployed with five-man crews during the battle for Falluja this month, patrolling the stretch of the Euphrates that runs along the city's western edge to prevent attempts by insurgents to escape that way after American troops had thrown a cordon around the city.

Those patrols were judged a success by American commanders. Now they are eager to exploit the potential the patrol boats give them for mounting fast, unexpected attacks along the Tigris and the Euphrates. The rivers run through many of the cities and towns that are rebel strongholds, and the long stretches of verdant riverbank provide ideal hiding places for insurgents and their weapons caches.

The raid, backed by air cover from attack helicopters and pilotless drones, gave the Americans a chance to exploit another new dimension of their strategy for winning the war: twinning American combat units with newly trained Iraqi troops.

After failures earlier this year, when many Iraqi units deserted or refused to fight, the American command wrote a new blueprint for training tens of thousands of Iraqi fighters and used Falluja as the first, critical testing ground. Considered a qualified success there, the best Iraqi units have been an integral part of every major raid in the follow-up offensive here.

In many raids, they have heavily outnumbered American troops, as they did in the operation on Sunday, which included 40 marines and 80 members of a special Iraqi commando unit assigned to the country's powerful Interior Ministry.

As much as they wanted to test their new river boats, American commanders wanted to see how the commandos - many drawn from elite units of Saddam Hussein's special forces - would respond to an arduous and potentially risky mission.

This day, long before the three-mile sweep through the palm groves and citrus orchards and paddies was ended, the mood among the marines had soured as the Iraqis adopted a mostly dilatory attitude toward the tedious business of spreading out in long lines and moving methodically across the terrain, poking haystacks, running metal detectors over piles of palm fronds, peering into thick clusters of bulrushes, and digging in places of freshly turned earth.

"They've just about given up," said Lt. Jerman Duarte, 34, of Houston, his voice edged with exasperation.

Lieutenant Duarte, a native of Guatemala, led the raid in his capacity as commander of a reconnaissance and surveillance platoon that has honed its skills in many of the marines' toughest raids and stakeouts during their five months in Iraq. Among his men, he is known as "El Guapo," the handsome one, for his fine features and his bristling mustache. But his sense of urgency and do-it-by-the-book briskness appeared lost on the Iraqi fighters, who used their rest breaks in the morning sunshine to trade quips about the Americans, not all of them friendly.

As in so much else about the American venture in Iraq, cultural differences played their part. At one point, Lieutenant Duarte bridled when some of the Iraqis resisted his repeated urging that they spread out along the line, preferring to cluster together, ineffectively, at one end. A Marine sergeant told him that the Iraqis were officers and did not feel that they should be asked to work side by side with common soldiers.

One of the Iraqi officers, asked if he spoke English, replied snappily, "English no good. Arabic good. Iraq good." The message seemed clear.

Although recruits in the new Iraqi units undergo strict vetting, American officers say rebel sympathizers have infiltrated some of the new units - some of the soldiers have been caught tipping off rebel groups. If there were sympathies for Hussein loyalists among these raiders, though, the area chosen for the sweep would likely have stirred them. One American officer described the stretch of the Euphrates that runs southeast from Falluja as "Saddam's Hamptons" for the clusters of luxurious villas set along the riverbank, mostly built by favored stalwarts of Mr. Hussein. The territory controlled by the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, across the southernmost reaches of Iraq's Sunni heartland, served as an arsenal for Mr. Hussein, with dozens of weapons research facilities, munitions factories, and vast weapons storage sites, including the one at Al Qaqaa, which made headlines last month when the Americans discovered that more than 350 tons of high explosives were missing.

Recent American sweeps in the area have uncovered some of the largest weapons caches found in post-Hussein Iraq. And the raid here on Sunday, about five miles from Al Qaqaa, followed a tip that more large caches might be found there.

But either the tipoff was flawed or the raid missed the target. Altogether, Lieutenant Duarte's men discovered only an old shotgun and three Kalashnikov rifles, two of them in plastic bags that were clumsily buried in a paddy field. They also found two sets of identity documents belonging to a high-ranking member of Mr. Hussein's Baath Party. After a marine stumbled across a yellow plastic bag lying in an irrigation panel with what he identified as a severed human head and intestines, Lieutenant Duarte radioed to headquarters and was told to leave it for investigation by the Iraqi police.

In the end, the day's main yield came not from the raid, but from the brutal chance that comes with every foray into the Iraqi hinterland. On the road back to the Marine base at Camp Kalsu, 40 miles from the raiding site, the unit's convoy of armored trucks and Humvees was attacked near the town of Latifiya with a huge roadside bomb.

Unlike a similar device that killed two marines in a nearby incident later in the day, the bomb caused no injuries or damage. But two Humvees broke away from the convoy and pursued two fleeing men with Kalashnikovs into a house about a mile back from the highway, shooting one dead and capturing the other. The men were said to have been found with a cellphone that could have been used to set off the bomb.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

December 2nd, 2004, 07:41 AM
December 2, 2004


U.S. to Increase Its Force in Iraq by Nearly 12,000


WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 - The American military presence in Iraq will grow by nearly 12,000 troops by next month, to 150,000, the highest level since the invasion last year, to provide security for the Iraqi elections in January and to quell insurgent attacks around the country, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

The Pentagon is doing this mainly by ordering about 10,400 soldiers and marines in Iraq to extend their tours - in some cases for the second time - for up to two months, even as their replacement units begin to arrive. The Pentagon is also sending 1,500 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division in the next two weeks for a four-month tour.

By extending the tours of some 8,000 soldiers from two brigades, the Army is risking problems with morale and retention by breaking its pledge to keep troops on the ground in Iraq for no more than 12 months, some commanders and military experts said.

Commanders had signaled for weeks that there was a likelihood that additional troops would be needed to provide security for elections scheduled for Jan. 30, and the Pentagon took a first step in October by ordering 6,500 troops to extend their tours. But the force levels announced Wednesday are larger than many officers had expected and reflect the insurgents' deadly resiliency and the poor performance by many newly trained Iraqi security forces in the face of rebel assaults, military officers said.

Senior officers in Iraq and Washington said that after the Falluja offensive, they did not want to lose the momentum in pressing insurgents in other restive parts of Iraq, like Mosul and Babil Province. At the same time, commanders say they need to keep a sizable force in Falluja to stabilize the city as reconstruction efforts get under way there.

But those requirements demand more troops, especially combat-hardened forces whose experience is seen as essential in attacking the insurgents and providing support to Iraqi security forces. Putting even a squad of Americans inside police stations will stiffen the resolve of local forces and prevent routs like that in Mosul, where newly minted Iraqi police forces fled last month when attacked by small numbers of rebels, American officers said Wednesday.

"It's mainly to provide security for the elections, but it's also to keep up the pressure on the insurgency after the Falluja operation," Brig. Gen. David Rodriguez, a military spokesman, told reporters at the Pentagon.

Under the military's plan, about 3,500 members of the Second Brigade of the First Cavalry Division, based at Fort Hood, Tex., were ordered to stay an additional 45 days, until early March, for a total of about 14 months. The unit had originally been scheduled to leave in mid-November, but that departure was delayed until Jan. 12, General Rodriguez said. The First Cavalry Division is responsible for security in Baghdad, but it also provided soldiers for the cordon around Falluja.

About 4,400 troops from the Second Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division, a Hawaii-based unit now operating as part of the First Infantry Division north of Baghdad, had its departure date in early January delayed 60 days, bringing its total deployment to about 14 months, General Rodriguez said. The tours of 160 soldiers from the 66th Transportation Company, based in Germany, were also extended by two months, he said.

In addition, the departure date of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, with 2,300 marines from Okinawa, Hawaii and California, will be extended to mid-March, he said.

The two 82nd Airborne battalions will be sent to conduct security missions in Baghdad's International Zone, where top American and Iraqi government officials work, General Rodriguez said. This will free up more experienced troops from the First Cavalry Division to carry out missions elsewhere in Iraq, he said.

In advance of the elections in Afghanistan in October, the military sent about 600 troops from the 82nd Airborne to provide security there.

Military officials said Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top American commander in Iraq, had decided to extend the tours of more experienced troops, and to take advantage of their knowledge of the insurgents and region, rather than accelerate the arrival of fresh troops from units like the Third Infantry Division, which will be arriving in January.

In particular, a senior military officer in Iraq said, American and Iraqi forces have forced insurgent and terrorist leaders to flee their former safe haven in Falluja, and additional troops would ensure that they remained on the run and could not settle in another Iraqi city.

At the Pentagon, civilian officials and military officers said they had been concerned that the order to increase troops would be heard by the American and Iraqi public and by insurgents as an acknowledgement that the mission was in trouble.

"But what we're really saying today is that we are committed to the mission, and that we are going to do everything we can to achieve security before the elections," a senior officer said.

American commanders said they learned an important lesson when insurgents responded to the offensive against Falluja by mounting their own counteroffensive, attacking police stations and a range of Iraqi security forces in other cities.

In Mosul, for example, a number of Iraqi policemen simply surrendered their neighborhood stations and headquarters when they came under insurgent attack, even though the guerrillas were vastly outnumbered.

But one Army commander in Iraq said that in those Mosul police stations where American troops were operating, even in small numbers, the new Iraqi security forces had shown resolve and held their ground.

The additional American troops will allow commanders to salt more Iraqi police stations with small, squad-size units of American forces to train the police, advise emerging Iraqi commanders and help steel the wills of Iraqi forces to stand up to the insurgents, this officer said.

More troops will also allow commanders to ease, even if slightly, the grueling days and long nights of missions now assigned throughout the American military in Iraq.

But military personnel specialists warned that the temporary force increases, which are scheduled to last from January to mid-March, might last longer than officials expect.

"The department is managing the force as frugally and carefully as possible, but we may not fall much below the 150,000 level for more than a year," said Richard I. Stark, a retired colonel who is a troop specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies here.

The Army has previously extended deployments for soldiers in Iraq twice, causing complaints from some soldiers and some families.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

January 13th, 2005, 10:18 AM

Search for Banned Arms In Iraq Ended Last Month

Critical September Report to Be Final Word

By Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, January 12, 2005; 1:00 PM

The hunt for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in Iraq has come to an end nearly two years after President Bush ordered U.S. troops to disarm Saddam Hussein. The top CIA weapons hunter is home, and analysts are back at Langley.

In interviews, officials who served with the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) said the violence in Iraq, coupled with a lack of new information, led them to fold up the effort shortly before Christmas.

Four months after Charles A. Duelfer, who led the weapons hunt in 2004, submitted an interim report to Congress that contradicted nearly every prewar assertion about Iraq made by top Bush administration officials, a senior intelligence official said the findings will stand as the ISG's final conclusions and will be published this spring.

Asked if the ISG had stopped actively searching for WMD, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said today: "That's my understanding." He added, "A lot of their mission is focused elsewhere now."

Duelfer "is continuing to wrap things up at this point on an addendum to the report which will be issued sometime next month," McClellan said. "That's not going to fundamentally alter the findings of his earlier report."

President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other top administration officials asserted before the U.S. invasion in March 2003 that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, had chemical and biological weapons, and maintained links to al Qaeda affiliates to whom it might give such weapons to use against the United States.

Bush has expressed disappointment that no weapons or weapons programs were found, but the White House had been reluctant to call off the hunt, holding out the possibility that weapons were moved out of Iraq before the war or are well hidden somewhere inside the country. But the intelligence official said that possibility is very small.

Duelfer is back in Washington, finishing some addenda to his September report before it is reprinted.

"There's no particular news in them, just some odds and ends," the intelligence official said. The Government Printing Office will publish it in book form, the official said.

The CIA declined to authorize any official involved in the weapons search to speak on the record for this story. The intelligence official offered an authoritative account of the status of the hunt on the condition of anonymity. The agency did confirm that Duelfer is wrapping up his work and will not be replaced in Baghdad.

The ISG, established to search for weapons but now enmeshed in counterinsurgency work, remains under Pentagon command and is being led by Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Joseph McMenamin.

Intelligence officials said there is little left for the ISG to investigate because Duelfer's last report answered as many outstanding questions as possible. The ISG has interviewed every person it could find connected to programs that ended more than 10 years ago, and every suspected site within Iraq has been fully searched, or stripped bare by insurgents and thieves, according to several people involved in the weapons hunt.

Satellite photos show that entire facilities have been dismantled, possibly by scrap dealers who sold off parts and equipment to buyers around the world.

"The September 30 report is really pretty much the picture," the intelligence official said.

"We've talked to so many people that someone would have said something. We received nothing that contradicts the picture we've put forward. It's possible there is a supply someplace, but what is much more likely is that [as time goes by] we will find a greater substantiation of the picture that we've already put forward."

Congress allotted hundreds of millions of dollars for the weapons hunt, and there has been no public accounting of the money. A spokesman for the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency said the entire budget and the expenditures would remain classified.

Several hundred military translators and document experts will continue to sift through millions of pages of documents on paper and computer media sitting in a storeroom on a U.S. military base in Qatar.

But their work is focused on material that could support possible war crimes charges or shed light on the fate of Capt. Michael Scott Speicher, a Navy pilot who was shot down in an F/A-18 fighter over central Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991, the opening night of the Persian Gulf War. Although he was initially reported as killed in action, Speicher's status was changed to missing after evidence emerged that he had ejected alive from his aircraft.

The work on documents is not connected to weapons of mass destruction, officials said, and a small group of Iraqi scientists still in U.S. military custody are not being held in connection with weapons investigations, either.

Three people involved with the ISG said the weapons teams made several pleas to the Pentagon to release the scientists, who have been interviewed extensively. All three officials specifically mentioned Gen. Amir Saadi, who was a liaison between Hussein's government and U.N. inspectors; Rihab Taha, a biologist nicknamed "Dr. Germ" years ago by U.N. inspectors; her husband, Amir Rashid, the former oil minister; and Huda Amash, a biologist whose extensive dealings with U.N. inspectors earned her the nickname "Mrs. Anthrax."

None of the scientists has been involved in weapons programs since the 1991 Gulf War, the ISG determined more than a year ago, and all have cooperated with investigators despite nearly two years of jail time without charges. U.S. officials previously said they were being held because their denials of ongoing weapons programs were presumed to be lies; now, they say the scientists are being held in connection with the possible war crimes trials of Iraqis.

It has been more than a year since any Iraqi scientist was arrested in connection with weapons of mass destruction. Many of those questioned and cleared have since left Iraq, one senior official said, acknowledging for the first time that the "brain drain" that has long been feared "is well underway."

"A lot of it is because of the kidnapping industry" in Iraq, the official said. The State Department has been trying to implement programs designed to keep Iraqi scientists from seeking weapons-related work in neighboring countries, such as Syria and Iran.

Since March 2003, nearly a dozen people working for or with the weapons hunt have lost their lives to the insurgency. The most recent deaths came in November, when Duelfer's convoy was attacked during a routine mission around Baghdad and two of his bodyguards were killed.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

January 16th, 2005, 10:50 AM
Bush Says Election Ratified Iraq Policy

No U.S. Troop Withdrawal Date Is Set

By Jim VandeHei and Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writers

Sunday, January 16, 2005; Page A01

President Bush said the public's decision to reelect him was a ratification of his approach toward Iraq and that there was no reason to hold any administration officials accountable for mistakes or misjudgments in prewar planning or managing the violent aftermath.

"We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections," Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post. "The American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me."

With the Iraq elections two weeks away and no signs of the deadly insurgency abating, Bush set no timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops and twice declined to endorse Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's recent statement that the number of Americans serving in Iraq could be reduced by year's end. Bush said he will not ask Congress to expand the size of the National Guard or regular Army, as some lawmakers and military experts have proposed.

In a wide-ranging, 35-minute interview aboard Air Force One on Friday, Bush laid out new details of his second-term plans for both foreign and domestic policy. For the first time, Bush said he will not press senators to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the top priority for many social conservative groups. And he said he has no plans to cut benefits for the approximately 40 percent of Social Security recipients who collect monthly disability and survivor payments as he prepares his plan for partial privatization.

Bush was relaxed, often direct and occasionally expansive when discussing his second-term agenda, Iraq and lessons he has learned as president. Sitting at the head of a long conference table in a cabin at the front of the presidential plane, Bush wore a blue Air Force One flight jacket with a red tie and crisp white shirt. Three aides, including his new communications adviser, Nicolle Devenish, accompanied him.

With his inauguration days away, Bush defended the administration's decision to force the District of Columbia to spend $12 million of its homeland security budget to provide tighter security for this week's festivities. He also warned that the ceremony could make the city "an attractive target for terrorists."

"By providing security, hopefully that will provide comfort to people who are coming from all around the country to come and stay in the hotels in Washington and to be able to watch the different festivities in Washington, and eat the food in Washington," Bush said. "I think it provides them great comfort to know that all levels of government are working closely to make this event as secure as possible."

The president's inaugural speech Thursday will focus on his vision for spreading democracy around the world, one of his top foreign policy goals for the new term. But it will be Iraq that dominates White House deliberations off stage. Over the next two weeks, Bush will be monitoring closely Iraq's plan to hold elections for a 275-member national assembly. He must also deliver his State of the Union address with a message of resolve on Iraq, and he will need to seek congressional approval for about $100 billion in emergency spending, much of it for the war.

In the interview, the president urged Americans to show patience as Iraq moves slowly toward creating a democratic nation where a dictatorship once stood. But the relentless optimism that dominated Bush's speeches before the U.S. election was sometimes replaced by pragmatism and caution.

"On a complicated matter such as removing a dictator from power and trying to help achieve democracy, sometimes the unexpected will happen, both good and bad," he said. "I am realistic about how quickly a society that has been dominated by a tyrant can become a democracy. . . . I am more patient than some."

Last week, Powell said U.S. troop levels could be reduced this year, but Bush said it is premature to judge how many U.S. men and women will be needed to defeat the insurgency and plant a new and sustainable government. He also declined to pledge to significantly reduce U.S. troop levels before the end of his second term in January 2009.

"The sooner the Iraqis are . . . better prepared, better equipped to fight, the sooner our troops can start coming home," he said. Bush did rule out asking Congress to increase the size of the National Guard and regular army, as many lawmakers, including the president's 2004 opponent, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), are urging. "What we're going to do is make sure that the missions of the National Guard and the reserves closely dovetail with active army units, so that the pressure . . . is eased."

A new report released last week by U.S. intelligence agencies warned that the war in Iraq has created a training ground for terrorists. Bush called the report "somewhat speculative" but acknowledged "this could happen. And I agree. If we are not diligent and firm, there will be parts of the world that become pockets for terrorists to find safe haven and to train. And we have a duty to disrupt that."

As for perhaps the most notorious terrorist, Osama bin Laden, the administration has so far been unsuccessful in its attempt to locate the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Asked why, Bush said, "Because he's hiding." While some terrorism experts complain U.S. allies, such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, could do more to help capture the al Qaeda leader, Bush said he could not name a single U.S. ally that is not doing everything possible to assist U.S. efforts.

"I am pleased about the hunt, and I am pleased he's isolated," Bush said. "I will be more pleased when he's brought to justice, and I think he will be."

Bush acknowledged that the United States' standing has diminished in some parts of the world and said he has asked Condoleezza Rice, his nominee to replace Powell at the State Department, to embark on a public diplomacy campaign that "explains our motives and explains our intentions."

Bush acknowledged that "some of the decisions I've made up to now have affected our standing in parts of the world," but predicted that most Muslims will eventually see America as a beacon of freedom and democracy.

"There's no question we've got to continue to do a better job of explaining what America is all about," he said.

On the domestic front, Bush said he would not lobby the Senate to pass a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage.

While seeking reelection, Bush voiced strong support for such a ban, and many political analysts credit this position for inspiring record turnout among evangelical Christians, who are fighting same-sex marriage at every juncture. Groups such as the Family Research Council have made the marriage amendment their top priority for the next four years.

The president said there is no reason to press for the amendment because so many senators are convinced that the Defense of Marriage Act -- which says states that outlaw same-sex unions do not have to recognize such marriages conducted outside their borders -- is sufficient. "Senators have made it clear that so long as DOMA is deemed constitutional, nothing will happen. I'd take their admonition seriously. . . . Until that changes, nothing will happen in the Senate."

Bush's position is likely to infuriate some of his socially conservative supporters, but congressional officials say it will be impossible to secure the 67 votes needed to pass the amendment in the Senate.

Yesterday morning, the day after the interview, White House spokesman Scott McClellan called to say the president wished to clarify his position, saying Bush was "willing to spend political capital" but believes it will be virtually impossible to overcome Senate resistance until the courts render a verdict on DOMA.

On the subject of revamping Social Security, Bush said he has no intention of making changes that would affect the approximately 40 percent of Social Security recipients who receive disability or survivor benefits. The Bush administration has privately told Republicans that the White House plan to restructure Social Security will include a reduction in benefits for future retirees. The interview marked the first time Bush strongly suggested disability and survivor benefits would be shielded.

"Frankly, our discussions in terms of reform have not centered on the survivor-disability aspect of Social Security," Bush said. "We're talking about the retirement system of Social Security."

Bush has put an overhaul of Social Security at the top of his domestic priorities. He has revealed few details of his reform proposal, except to say he wants to enable young workers to voluntarily divert a portion of their taxes to private accounts. Program participants could then pass the accounts to their heirs.

Bush said it is imperative that the White House and Congress deal with the "baby boomer bulge" that is threatening the long-term solvency of Medicare as well. Medicare faces the same demographic crunch imperiling Social Security in coming decades, as the population grows older and more money is taken out of the system to pay benefits than is put in by younger Americans funding it. Many lawmakers and policy experts say Medicare is in much bigger trouble than Social Security because of skyrocketing health care costs and the added expense of the prescription drug benefit signed into law by Bush in his first term.

"The difference, of course, is that in Medicare, we began a reform system [in the first term] that hopefully will take some of the pressures off" the system by preventing illnesses and streamlining the program, he said. Social Security and Medicare trustees estimate that the cost of Bush's prescription drug plan will top $8 trillion by 2075 -- more than twice the projected shortfall in Social Security.

On the election Bush said he was puzzled that he received only about 11 percent of the black vote, according to exit polls, about a 2 percentage point increase over his 2000 total.

"I did my best to reach out, and I will continue to do so as the president," Bush said. "It's important for people to know that I'm the president of everybody."

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

January 16th, 2005, 11:02 AM
Four More (War) Years

Can He Write a Better Script?

By Richard H. Kohn

Sunday, January 16, 2005; Page B01

George W. Bush has chosen to call himself a war president, but as he embarks upon a second term, he confronts a challenge no American war president has ever before encountered.

Only three of his predecessors -- Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Richard Nixon -- began another term in the midst of shooting wars. Lincoln in 1865 and Roosevelt in 1945 focused on the peace, knowing that their wars had been won; Nixon in 1973 was consummating an agreement to extract the United States from a war begun by his predecessors and already lost. When the 43rd president of the United States addresses the nation at his second inauguration, he knows that history will ultimately judge his presidency on how he wages what his administration has labeled "The Global War on Terror" and how he disengages the United States from Iraq.

Having led his country into this unmapped territory, Bush must demonstrate the flexibility and imagination to build support for a conflict that will surely outlast his presidency. In this, he could draw on the wisdom of a 19th-century war president: "As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew," Lincoln told Congress in December 1862. "We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."

It is too soon to know how history will judge success in the current struggle. But failure will be readily recognizable, even to members of Bush's party who will gather at his inauguration on Thursday. If in the next four years the United States suffers another catastrophic attack, or if Iraq becomes an enemy state or flies apart, or if terrorism metastasizes to threaten our interests beyond the Middle East, then surely President Bush will be a flop by his own definition.

Bush has in the past used presidential speeches to rally the country, but he has failed to follow through on the promise of his rhetoric. After 9/11, like Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor and John F. Kennedy upon assuming office, Bush lifted our spirits and brought much of the world to our side. He quickly defined what had happened -- War! -- and so readied us for sacrifice while warning friend and foe alike of our resolve. In a bold campaign, he overthrew the Taliban in Afghanistan and put al Qaeda on the run. Those first months were the high point of leadership for a president fond of talking about himself as a leader.

But Bush identified the wrong enemy -- "terrorism" instead of "radical Islamic terrorists" -- and quickly slipped into the apocalyptic rhetoric of good and evil, complicating strategy and making success impossible to measure. He followed with actions uncharacteristic of wartime presidents and harmful to war-making. First, he implored the American people to return to normal, never asking for sacrifice (or even for youth to join the military). Then he refused to increase the size of our ground forces, even after embarking on campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Unlike Lincoln and Roosevelt, he turned the conduct of war over to underlings, eschewing active presidential involvement. He refused to abandon his domestic agenda (as Lyndon Johnson did in 1965) or to subordinate it to war's necessities (as Roosevelt did in World War II).

Bush never followed up his burst of bipartisan rhetoric with true bipartisan action, and, unlike his predecessors, he avoided the commitment of time and energy necessary to bring our allies together, antagonizing them instead with take-it-or-leave-it choices. Most divisive of all, he attacked Iraq without a unifying casus belli.

Unlike Lincoln, who freely admitted to error and once boasted that "my policy is to have no policy," Bush has made consistency into a fetish and refuses to admit any mistake, thus forfeiting credibility and respect.

When the president speaks about Iraq, it seems as if American strategy relies on democratizing the rest of the world, starting with a country that appears to be moving from insurgency to civil war. This is an ancient American dream and ultimately in the American national interest, but establishing U.S-style liberty, political democracy and market capitalism is such a long-term goal as to be utopian. It will in any event fail to provide much security in the near and mid-term future.

As his second term begins, Bush has few precedents on which to draw. His war resembles the Cold War more than any previous shooting war, making perhaps his closest analogue Harry Truman in 1949: winner of a narrow election victory; lacking in respect at home and abroad; facing a conflict and an enemy that is both unclear and elusive. Then as now, U.S. relationships with many countries were in transition, and the winds of change -- social and technological as well as political and economic -- were sweeping the world in the wake of a cataclysm that had remade the map. Just as in the Cold War, this fight is for people's loyalties and interests, ideologies and beliefs.

Like Truman, who used his inaugural address to define the enemy, reassert American values and outline a strategy for the future, Bush must in his address on Thursday clarify the nature and purpose of the global war on terror, so that he can bring about the domestic unity and improve the foreign relationships that will allow the United States to prevail.

More importantly, like Truman and then Eisenhower (who quickly ended the Korean War, a divisive local conflict that was harming the struggle against the larger enemy), Bush must understand that his legacy will be "foundational." He has created or strengthened many policies, programs, institutions and initiatives to prosecute this long conflict against murderous radical Islam, but the work has just begun.

What is to be done? To succeed, Bush must rebuild American intelligence. He must separate radical Islam from its host populations. He must dramatically increase the diplomacy and dollars devoted to preventing the spread of nuclear and biological weapons. He must formulate new policies about the detention of prisoners that command respect at home and abroad. And he must emphasize, as he promised in Canada last year, rebuilding the foreign relationships that will permit us to chase down terrorists anywhere in the world. Most of all, he must devote more attention to homeland security, for while we attack the terrorists overseas, they can still damage us grievously at home. And he must do all this while ensuring that the principles of American liberty and freedom are not undermined in the process.

There are signs that Bush is moving to meet these challenges. Two new Cabinet choices promise less divisiveness and more effective management. Alberto Gonzales, a loyalist who exudes caution and cooperation, replaces the clumsy ideologue John Ashcroft at Justice. Michael Chertoff, who expresses sensitivity to the conflict between liberty and security, replaces the colorless (except for his warning system) Tom Ridge, whose Homeland Security department's disorganization calls to mind the chaos of World War I and "the mess in Washington" notorious during World War II. In Iraq, the unwavering march toward elections and "Iraqification" indicates that an exit strategy is in place.

Shortly before the election, the president let slip that he didn't think the war against terrorism was winnable in any traditional sense, suggesting that he now sees complexities that were absent from his defiant words of Sept. 14, 2001, at Washington National Cathedral: "This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others," he said. "It will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing." Bush seems to sense the need for more unity and less bravado home and abroad.

It would be too much to expect, given the habits of a lifetime and the rhetorical commitments already made, that Bush could be induced to abandon his domestic agenda. But he should know that battles over privatizing a portion of Social Security, making permanent his tax cuts, and the rest of a partisan agenda will undermine his war leadership and reduce the support and cooperation necessary for national security.

Yet if Bush applies the same degree of focus to his "Global War on Terror" that he devoted to his reelection, if he concentrates on building consensus and strengthening our national security institutions, then the United States can prosecute this struggle effectively for a generation and beyond. Then the president will indeed be thinking anew. Only by doing so will he leave office four years from now in the company of America's successful war presidents.

Richard Kohn heads the Curriculum in Peace, War, and Defense at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A former chief of history for the U.S. Air Force, he is at work on a study of presidential war leadership.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

February 15th, 2005, 08:48 AM
February 15, 2005

Bush Seeks $81.9 Billion More, Mostly for Forces in Iraq


http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/dropcap/w.gifASHINGTON, Feb. 14 - President Bush sent to Congress on Monday a request for $81.9 billion in additional spending to cover the costs of military and intelligence operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, tsunami relief in Asia, a revamping of the Army, and new death benefits for families of service members killed in combat.

The White House announced the broad outlines of its request for this year nearly three weeks ago, saying about $75 billion would go to military activities, mostly for the Army. The rest would be devoted to reconstruction costs, mostly in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the activities of the State Department and other agencies, including the new Director of National Intelligence.

But it was not until Monday that the administration gave Congress a detailed wish list, which includes $12 billion to repair or replace tanks, helicopters and other weaponry damaged or destroyed in Afghanistan and Iraq; $5.7 billion to train and equip Iraqi military and police officers, and $5 billion to speed the restructuring of Army brigades.

"The majority of this request will ensure that our troops continue to get what they need to protect themselves and complete their mission," Mr. Bush said in a statement. About $36.3 billion would cover military operations and about $6.2 billion would go for intelligence and other activities.

The nonmilitary money requested includes $950 million to help areas affected by the December tsunami in the Indian Ocean; $658 million to help build a United States Embassy in Baghdad; and money for the Darfur region in western Sudan, where a two-year conflict has left tens of thousands of people dead and more than two million displaced.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who is to testify this week on the Pentagon's $419.3 billion budget for fiscal 2006, which starts Oct. 1, and on the request for extra funds this year, is expected to face sharp questioning from lawmakers in both parties. Members of Congress have criticized the administration for using the supplemental budget request to finance the war. Supplemental budgets often do not receive as much scrutiny and often do not include the same amount of detail as regular budget requests.

On Capitol Hill, the Blue Dog Coalition, 35 moderate and conservative Democrats known as fiscal and military hawks, criticized the administration's approach for financing the Iraq and Afghanistan operations. "The Blue Dog Coalition recognizes that we must support our troops, but the Congress cannot continue to write blank checks," the group said.

But many Republicans dismissed the complaints. Representative Jerry Lewis, a Californian Republican who is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said his panel would begin considering the supplemental request next month, and he expressed hope that Congress could send Mr. Bush a bill by April.

The Pentagon scheduled and then canceled a news conference on Monday to discuss details of the request. The White House later issued a four-page statement citing highlights. Congressional aides provided additional information from the formal detailed request.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said military death benefits would increase to $100,000, from $12,000. Life insurance coverage for the troops would also increase, to $400,000, from $250,000. The increases will be retroactive to October 2001 for those killed in combat zones, she said in a statement.

The request would provide $250.3 million for establishment of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and "other projects, including construction of a new facility to house the O.D.N.I., expanded National Counterterrorism Center, and other intelligence community elements." The document said additional details about the office and intelligence matters were contained in a classified annex.

The request also authorized the Pentagon to provide financing for the establishment of a regional training center in Jordan. "The center will provide counterterrorism, special operations, border control, civil defense, emergency/first responder and other training and preparation for regional security forces," the document said. "The U.S. government would provide funding to construct and outfit the training center; it would subsequently be owned and operated by the government of Jordan."

Also included in the request is $400 million in two funds that will provide economic aid or security assistance to countries "that are fighting with the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan but can ill afford the costs of purchasing defense articles and materials," according to Joseph Bowab, a deputy assistant secretary of state for resource management. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will have authority over the spending and decide which countries receive money and how much.

Of the administration's supplemental budget request, $6.3 billion is earmarked for the State Department and foreign operations. Afghanistan will receive $2.2 billion in those State Department funds for counternarcotics programs, reconstruction aid and training for the military police.

Countries involved in seeking peace in the Middle East will be rewarded as well, including $200 million for the Palestinian territories, in addition to the $150 million requested in the 2006 budget, and $200 million for Jordan. The supplemental also includes requests of $780 million for United Nations peacekeeping operations in Haiti, Burundi, Ivory Coast and the Darfur region in Sudan.

As the Bush administration sought more spending for military operations in Iraq, Congressional Democrats held a session on Monday aimed at exposing what they characterized as widespread waste and fraud in the handling of contracts for the reconstruction there.

One former official of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, Frank Willis, described a "wild West" atmosphere with lax accounting over billions of American dollars, often packaged in crisp new $100 bills. "There was leakage, no doubt," said Mr. Willis.

Elizabeth Becker, Carl Hulse and Steven R. Weisman contributed reporting for this article.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

February 15th, 2005, 09:53 AM
Yet, there's no money for Social Security, Medicare, the Prescription Drug Plan, Transportation Infrastructure, Education, Border Security, and College Tuition.

August 14th, 2005, 07:58 AM
August 14, 2005
A Nation in Blood and Ink

By DEXTER FILKINS (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=DEXTER FILKINS&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=DEXTER FILKINS&inline=nyt-per)

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Inside the heavily fortified Green Zone, a group of prominent Iraqis has struggled for weeks to complete the country's new constitution, haggling over the precise meaning of words like "Islam," "federalism" and "nation."

Out on the streets, meanwhile, a new bit of Arabic slang has slipped into the chatter of ordinary Iraqis: "allas," a word that denotes an Iraqi who leads a group of killers to their victim, usually for a price. The allas typically points out the Shiites living in predominantly Sunni neighborhoods for the gunmen who are hunting them. He usually wears a mask.

"The allas is from the neighborhood, and he had a mask on," said Haider Mohammed, a Shiite, whose relative was murdered recently by a group of Sunni gunmen. "He pointed out my uncle, and they killed him."

The uncle, Hussein Khalil, was found in a garbage dump 100 yards from the spot where his Daewoo sedan had been run off the road. Two bullets had entered the back of Mr. Khalil's skull and exited through his face.

Around the same time, someone found some leaflets, drawn up by a group called the Liberation Army. "We are cleansing the area of dirty Shia," the leaflet declared.

The rise of the allas (pronounced ah-LAS) stands as a grim reminder of how little can be reasonably expected from the Iraqi constitution, no matter how beautiful its language or humane its intent.

In 28 months of war and occupation here, Iraq has always contained two parallel worlds: the world of the Green Zone and the constitution and the rule of law; and the anarchical, unpredictable world outside.

Never have the two worlds seemed so far apart.

From the beginning, the hope here has been that the Iraq outside the Green Zone would grow to resemble the safe and tidy world inside it; that the success of democracy would begin to drain away the anger that pushes the insurgency forward. This may have been what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was referring to when, in an interview published in Time magazine this month, she said that the insurgency was "losing steam" and that "rather quiet political progress" was transforming the country.

But in this third summer of war, the American project in Iraq has never seemed so wilted and sapped of life. It's not just the guerrillas, who are churning away at their relentless pace, attacking American forces about 65 times a day. It is most everything else, too.

Baghdad seems a city transported from the Middle Ages: a scattering of high-walled fortresses, each protected by a group of armed men. The area between the forts is a lawless no man's land, menaced by bandits and brigands. With the daytime temperatures here hovering at around 115 degrees, the electricity in much of the city flows for only about four hours a day.

With armed guards in tow, I drove across the no man's land the other day to pay a visit to Ahmad Chalabi, the deputy prime minister. Unlike many senior Iraqi officials, who have long since retreated into the Green Zone, Mr. Chalabi still lives in a private home. To get there, you must pass through a series of checkpoints at the outskirts of his neighborhood, manned by guards and crisscrossed by concrete chicanes. At the entrance to Mr. Chalabi's street, there is another checkpoint, made of concrete and barbed wire, and more armed guards. Then, in front of Mr. Chalabi's house, stands yet another blast wall. When Mr. Chalabi walks into his front yard, even inside his own compound, a dozen armed guards surround him.

Inside his house, Mr. Chalabi described one of his most recent efforts, to help broker a cease-fire in the city of Tal Afar, 200 miles to the north.

"I had all the sheiks here with me," he said.

On my way home, I noticed that a car was following me. Three times, the mysterious car accelerated to get close. Two men inside: a young man, maybe in his 30's, and a bald man behind the wheel. As the car drew close, my chase car - a second vehicle, filled with armed guards, deployed to follow my own - cut the men off in traffic. I sped away.

Americans, here and in the United States, wait for the day when the Iraqi police and army will shoulder the burden and let them go home.

One night last month, according to the locals, the Iraqi police and army surrounded the Sunni neighborhood of Sababkar in north Baghdad, and pulled 11 young men from their beds.

Their bodies were found the next day with bullet holes in their temples. The cheeks of some of the men had been punctured by electric drills. One man had been burned by acid. The police denied that they had been involved.

"This isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened," Adnan al-Dulami, a Sunni leader, said.

An Abandoned Swing Set

For much of last year, the soldiers of the First Cavalry Division oversaw a project to restore the river-front park on the east bank of the Tigris River. Under American eyes, the Iraqis planted sod, installed a sprinkler system and put up swing sets for the Iraqi children. It cost $1.5 million. The Tigris River Park was part of a vision of the unit's commander, Maj. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, to win the war by putting Iraqis to work.

General Chiarelli left Iraq this year, and the American unit that took over had other priorities. The sod is mostly dead now, and the sidewalks are covered in broken glass. The sprinkler heads have been stolen. The northern half of the park is sealed off by barbed wire and blast walls; Iraqis are told stay back, lest they be shot by American snipers on the roof of a nearby hotel.

The Elusive Consensus

Zalmay Khalilzad, the new American ambassador here, has publicly prodded the Iraqis to finish the constitution by Aug. 15, the date they set for themselves. On several occasions, Mr. Khalilzad has described the Iraqi constitution as a national compact, a document symbolizing the consensus of the nation.

And there's the rub. When the Americans smashed Saddam Hussein's regime two and half years ago, what lay revealed was a country with no agreement on the most basic questions of national identity. The Sunnis, a minority in charge here for five centuries, have not, for the most part, accepted that they will no longer control the country. The Shiites, the long-suppressed majority, want to set up a theocracy. The Kurds don't want to be part of Iraq at all. There is only so much that language can do to paper over such differences.

Last week, one of the country's largest Shiite political parties held a ceremony to commemorate the death of Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim, a moderate Shiite cleric who was assassinated by a huge car bomb two years ago. The rally was held in the Tigris River villa once occupied by Tariq Aziz, one of Mr. Hussein's senior henchmen. Nowadays, the house is controlled by the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, one of the dominant parties in the Shiite coalition that heads the Iraqi government.

Inside a tent where the ceremony unfolded, a large poster depicted three men: Mr. Hakim, the dead ayatollah; Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the nation's most revered Shiite leader; and Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the late ayatollah's brother and, as the head of the Supreme Council, perhaps the country's most powerful political leader. The portraits stood as a kind of trinity, symbolizing the fusion of Islam and politics.

Outside the tent, a third member of the Hakim family stood in a receiving line. Amar al-Hakim, Abdul-Aziz's son and heir to the family dynasty, seemed in an upbeat mood. Like most Shiite political leaders here, Mr. Hakim seemed untroubled by the disputes in the constitution.

"We can all get along," Mr. Hakim said, smiling, "but I don't think we have to give anything up."

For Each a Militia

Throughout the ceremony, Mr. Hakim's compound was guarded by members of the Badr Brigade, the party's black-booted Iranian-trained militia. When the Americans were in charge here, they leaned hard on Mr. Hakim to disband it. But in one of his first official acts, Mr. Hakim publicly legalized his own private army.

With all the hubbub at Mr. Hakim's house, it was easy to miss what was going on in the house next door. Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president and Kurdish leader, was getting ready to hold a dinner for the country's senior political leaders, Mr. Hakim included, to break the logjam over the constitution. Mr. Talabani's house, too, was guarded by a militia, but a different one from Mr. Hakim's. Here, it was the pesh merga who stood by with their guns, loyal only to Mr. Talabani.

The pesh merga fighters, milling about outside Mr. Talabani's villa and smoking cigarettes, said they had come all the way from the mountains of Kurdistan to protect their boss. None of them spoke a word of Arabic. To them, Baghdad was a foreign land.

'We Should Get Together'

Amid such bleakness, it is a wonder that anyone comes forward at all. Yet still the Iraqis do, even at the threat of death. One of them is Fakhri al-Qaisi, a dentist and Sunni member of the committee charged with drafting the constitution. Dr. Qaisi knows people close to the Sunni insurgency and, as such, has come under suspicion by the Americans and the Shiite-dominated government.

By Dr. Qaisi's count, the Americans have raided his home 17 times, once driving a tank into his dental office. Members of the Badr Brigade, the Shiite militia, recently killed his brother-in-law, Dr. Qaisi said, and appear to be aiming at him too. Now, because he has joined the constitutional committee, he has begun receiving death threats from Sunni insurgents as well.

"Everyone wants to kill me!" Dr. Qaisi said with a laugh, seated in a Green Zone lounge during a break from constitution drafting. "The Americans want to kill me, the Shiites want to kill me, the Kurds want to kill me and even the insurgents."

"Every night, a different car passes by my house," he said.

To protect himself, Dr. Qaisi has taken to spending nights in his car, though he allows that he sometimes stops by his home during the day to visit one of his three wives.

For all his problems, and all the problems facing Iraq, Dr. Qaisi expressed a firm belief that national reconciliation in Iraq was still possible, if leaders like himself could show the strength to give a little.

In this regard, as in so many others here, it's impossible to know. In the middle of a conversation, Dr. Qaisi stopped talking, recognizing that at the table next to him was Abu Hassan al-Amiri, the leader of the Badr Brigade. That's the organization that Dr. Qaisi believes killed his brother-in- law, and the same group, he believes, that would like to kill him now.

Dr. Qaisi rose from his seat, and so did Mr. Amiri.

"It's so nice to see you," Dr. Qaisi said. "We should get together."

The two men embraced, and kissed each other's cheeks.

"Yes," Mr. Amiri said, his arms wrapped around Dr. Qaisi. "We really should."

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

August 18th, 2005, 10:52 AM
Outside of Bush's Vacation Spa in Crawford.

What do you think about this? I think her message was clear, and her intent pretty well spoken. I do not, however, like the bandwagoners that have come out to "support" her. Most seem to be attacking the president, not supporting her stance...

Oh, and her critics are outrageous. Just because Moveon.org and Machael Moore supprt her does not make her a radical leftist extremist.

Man I hate those people. Listen to her before you turn her into a soapbox for your own opinions!

August 21st, 2005, 08:47 AM
August 21, 2005
The Swift Boating of Cindy Sheehan


CINDY SHEEHAN couldn't have picked a more apt date to begin the vigil that ambushed a president: Aug. 6 was the fourth anniversary of that fateful 2001 Crawford vacation day when George W. Bush responded to an intelligence briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States" by going fishing. On this Aug. 6 the president was no less determined to shrug off bad news. Though 14 marine reservists had been killed days earlier by a roadside bomb in Haditha, his national radio address that morning made no mention of Iraq. Once again Mr. Bush was in his bubble, ensuring that he wouldn't see Ms. Sheehan coming. So it goes with a president who hasn't foreseen any of the setbacks in the war he fabricated against an enemy who did not attack inside the United States in 2001.

When these setbacks happen in Iraq itself, the administration punts. But when they happen at home, there's a game plan. Once Ms. Sheehan could no longer be ignored, the Swift Boating began. Character assassination is the Karl Rove tactic of choice, eagerly mimicked by his media surrogates, whenever the White House is confronted by a critic who challenges it on matters of war. The Swift Boating is especially vicious if the critic has more battle scars than a president who connived to serve stateside and a vice president who had "other priorities" during Vietnam.

The most prominent smear victims have been Bush political opponents with heroic Vietnam résumés: John McCain, Max Cleland, John Kerry. But the list of past targets stretches from the former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke to Specialist Thomas Wilson, the grunt who publicly challenged Donald Rumsfeld about inadequately armored vehicles last December. The assault on the whistle-blower Joseph Wilson - the diplomat described by the first President Bush as "courageous" and "a true American hero" for confronting Saddam to save American hostages in 1991 - was so toxic it may yet send its perpetrators to jail.

True to form, the attack on Cindy Sheehan surfaced early on Fox News, where she was immediately labeled a "crackpot" by Fred Barnes. The right-wing blogosphere quickly spread tales of her divorce, her angry Republican in-laws, her supposed political flip-flops, her incendiary sloganeering and her association with known ticket-stub-carrying attendees of "Fahrenheit 9/11." Rush Limbaugh went so far as to declare that Ms. Sheehan's "story is nothing more than forged documents - there's nothing about it that's real."

But this time the Swift Boating failed, utterly, and that failure is yet another revealing historical marker in this summer's collapse of political support for the Iraq war.

When the Bush mob attacks critics like Ms. Sheehan, its highest priority is to change the subject. If we talk about Richard Clarke's character, then we stop talking about the administration's pre-9/11 inattentiveness to terrorism. If Thomas Wilson is trashed as an insubordinate plant of the "liberal media," we forget the Pentagon's abysmal failure to give our troops adequate armor (a failure that persists today, eight months after he spoke up). If we focus on Joseph Wilson's wife, we lose the big picture of how the administration twisted intelligence to gin up the threat of Saddam's nonexistent W.M.D.'s.

The hope this time was that we'd change the subject to Cindy Sheehan's "wacko" rhetoric and the opportunistic left-wing groups that have attached themselves to her like barnacles. That way we would forget about her dead son. But if much of the 24/7 media has taken the bait, much of the public has not.

The backdrops against which Ms. Sheehan stands - both that of Mr. Bush's what-me-worry vacation and that of Iraq itself - are perfectly synergistic with her message of unequal sacrifice and fruitless carnage. Her point would endure even if the messenger were shot by a gun-waving Crawford hothead or she never returned to Texas from her ailing mother's bedside or the president folded the media circus by actually meeting with her.

The public knows that what matters this time is Casey Sheehan's story, not the mother who symbolizes it. Cindy Sheehan's bashers, you'll notice, almost never tell her son's story. They are afraid to go there because this young man's life and death encapsulate not just the noble intentions of those who went to fight this war but also the hubris, incompetence and recklessness of those who gave the marching orders.

Specialist Sheehan was both literally and figuratively an Eagle Scout: a church group leader and honor student whose desire to serve his country drove him to enlist before 9/11, in 2000. He died with six other soldiers on a rescue mission in Sadr City on April 4, 2004, at the age of 24, the week after four American security workers had been mutilated in Falluja and two weeks after he arrived in Iraq. This was almost a year after the president had declared the end of "major combat operations" from the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln.

According to the account of the battle by John F. Burns in The Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/05/international/middleeast/05IRAQ.html), the insurgents who slaughtered Specialist Sheehan and his cohort were militiamen loyal to Moktada al-Sadr, the anti-American Shiite cleric. The Americans probably didn't stand a chance. As Mr. Burns reported, members of "the new Iraqi-trained police and civil defense force" abandoned their posts at checkpoints and police stations "almost as soon as the militiamen appeared with their weapons, leaving the militiamen in unchallenged control."

Yet in the month before Casey Sheehan's death, Mr. Rumsfeld typically went out of his way to inflate the size and prowess of these Iraqi security forces, claiming in successive interviews that there were "over 200,000 Iraqis that have been trained and equipped" and that they were "out on the front line taking the brunt of the violence." We'll have to wait for historians to tell us whether this and all the other Rumsfeld propaganda came about because he was lied to by subordinates or lying to himself or lying to us or some combination thereof.

As The Times reported last month (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/21/international/middleeast/21military.html), even now, more than a year later, a declassified Pentagon assessment puts the total count of Iraqi troops and police officers at 171,500, with only "a small number" able to fight insurgents without American assistance. As for Moktada al-Sadr, he remains as much a player as ever in the new "democratic" Iraq. He controls one of the larger blocs in the National Assembly. His loyalists may have been responsible for last month's apparently vengeful murder of Steven Vincent, the American freelance journalist who wrote in The Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/31/opinion/31vincent.html) that Mr. Sadr's followers had infiltrated Basra's politics and police force.

Casey Sheehan's death in Iraq could not be more representative of the war's mismanagement and failure, but it is hardly singular. Another mother who has journeyed to Crawford, Celeste Zappala, wrote last Sunday in New York's Daily News (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ideas_opinions/story/337010p-287873c.html) of how her son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, was also killed in April 2004 - in Baghdad, where he was providing security for the Iraq Survey Group, which was charged with looking for W.M.D.'s "well beyond the admission by David Kay that they didn't exist."

As Ms. Zappala noted with rage, her son's death came only a few weeks after Mr. Bush regaled the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association banquet in Washington with a scripted comedy routine featuring photos of him pretending to look for W.M.D.'s in the Oval Office. "We'd like to know if he still finds humor in the fabrications that justified the war that killed my son," Ms. Zappala wrote. (Perhaps so: surely it was a joke that one of the emissaries Mr. Bush sent to Cindy Sheehan in Crawford was Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser who took responsibility for allowing the 16 errant words about doomsday uranium into the president's prewar State of the Union speech.)

Mr. Bush's stand-up shtick for the Beltway press corps wasn't some aberration; it was part of the White House's political plan for keeping the home front cool. America was to yuk it up, party on and spend its tax cuts heedlessly while the sacrifice of an inadequately manned all-volunteer army in Iraq was kept out of most Americans' sight and minds. This is why the Pentagon issued a directive at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom forbidding news coverage of "deceased military personnel returning to or departing from" air bases. It's why Mr. Bush, unlike Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, has not attended funeral services for the military dead. It's why January's presidential inauguration, though nominally dedicated to the troops, was a gilded $40 million jamboree at which the word Iraq was banished from the Inaugural Address.

THIS summer in Crawford, the White House went to this playbook once too often. When Mr. Bush's motorcade left a grieving mother in the dust to speed on to a fund-raiser, that was one fat-cat party too far. The strategy of fighting a war without shared national sacrifice has at last backfired, just as the strategy of Swift Boating the war's critics has reached its Waterloo before Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury in Washington. The 24/7 cable and Web attack dogs can keep on sliming Cindy Sheehan. The president can keep trying to ration the photos of flag-draped caskets. But this White House no longer has any more control over the insurgency at home than it does over the one in Iraq.

Nicholas D. Kristof and David Brooks are on vacation.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

August 28th, 2005, 08:31 AM
http://www.demockratees.com/neoconartist.jpg (http://www.demockratees.com/neoconartists.htm)

August 28th, 2005, 08:40 AM
Hoping it won't get to this...

http://www.demockratees.com/petrolcide.jpg (http://www.demockratees.com/petrolcide.htm)

August 28th, 2005, 08:45 AM
Iraqi activist taken up by Bush recants her views

By Andrew Buncombe
Published: 28 August 2005


She was the Iraqi activist who became a symbol of the possibility of a brighter future for Iraq.

Back in February, with blue ink on her finger symbolising the recent Iraqi election in which she had just voted, Safia Taleb al-Souhail was invited to sit with the first lady, Laura Bush, and listen to the President claim in his state of the union address that success was being achieved in Iraq. Her picture went round the world after she turned to hug Janet Norwood, a Texas woman whose son had been killed in Iraq.

But now it appears Ms Souhail, an anti-Saddam activist who became Iraq's ambassador to Egypt, may be having second thoughts about the "success" she celebrated with a two-fingered victory sign.

Having seen the negotiations for the country's constitution fall into disarray and the prospect of a secular constitution severely undermined, she expressed her concerns last week.

"When we came back from exile, we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women. But look what has happened: we have lost all the gains we made over the past 30 years. It's a big disappointment. Human rights should not be linked to Islamic sharia law at all. They should be listed separately in the constitution."

Although, in practice, many Iraqis end up having recourse to religious authorities or informal tribal law, the idea of a united civil code is central to the modern state, she said.

Ms Souhail, whose actions during Mr Bush's February address were noted by Billmon.Org, a political website, added: "This will lead to creating religious courts. But we should be giving priority to the law."

Mr Bush claimed last week that women's rights were not being threatened by the negotiations in Baghdad.

"There is not, as I understand it, the way the constitution is written, is that women have got rights, inherent rights recognised in the constitution, and that the constitution talks about, you know, not 'the religion' but 'a religion'," he said.

"Twenty-five per cent of the assembly is going to be women, which is embedded in the constitution."

She was the Iraqi activist who became a symbol of the possibility of a brighter future for Iraq.

Back in February, with blue ink on her finger symbolising the recent Iraqi election in which she had just voted, Safia Taleb al-Souhail was invited to sit with the first lady, Laura Bush, and listen to the President claim in his state of the union address that success was being achieved in Iraq. Her picture went round the world after she turned to hug Janet Norwood, a Texas woman whose son had been killed in Iraq.

But now it appears Ms Souhail, an anti-Saddam activist who became Iraq's ambassador to Egypt, may be having second thoughts about the "success" she celebrated with a two-fingered victory sign.

Having seen the negotiations for the country's constitution fall into disarray and the prospect of a secular constitution severely undermined, she expressed her concerns last week.

"When we came back from exile, we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women. But look what has happened: we have lost all the gains we made over the past 30 years. It's a big disappointment. Human rights should not be linked to Islamic sharia law at all. They should be listed separately in the constitution."

Although, in practice, many Iraqis end up having recourse to religious authorities or informal tribal law, the idea of a united civil code is central to the modern state, she said.

Ms Souhail, whose actions during Mr Bush's February address were noted by Billmon.Org, a political website, added: "This will lead to creating religious courts. But we should be giving priority to the law."

Mr Bush claimed last week that women's rights were not being threatened by the negotiations in Baghdad.

"There is not, as I understand it, the way the constitution is written, is that women have got rights, inherent rights recognised in the constitution, and that the constitution talks about, you know, not 'the religion' but 'a religion'," he said.

"Twenty-five per cent of the assembly is going to be women, which is embedded in the constitution."

TLOZ Link5
August 28th, 2005, 06:51 PM
Associated Press

Anti-Gay Protesters Descend on Soldiers' Funerals
Faction Claims Troops Punished by God for Defending Country Harboring Gays


SMYRNA, Tenn. (Aug. 28) - Members of a church say God is punishing American soldiers for defending a country that harbors gays, and they brought their anti-gay message to the funerals Saturday of two Tennessee soldiers killed in Iraq.

The church members were met with scorn from local residents. They chased the church members cars' down a highway, waving flags and screaming "God bless America.''

"My husband is over there, so I'm here to show my support,'' 41-year-old Connie Ditmore said as she waved and American flag and as tears came to her eyes. "To do this at a funeral is disrespectful of a family, no matter what your beliefs are.''

The Rev. Fred Phelps, founder of Westboro Baptist in Kansas, contends that American soldiers are being killed in Iraq as vengeance from God for protecting a country that harbors gays. The church, which is not affiliated with a larger denomination, is made up mostly of Phelps' children, grandchildren and in-laws.

The church members carried signs and shouted things such as "God hates fags'' and "God hates you.''

About 10 church members protested near Smyrna United Methodist Church and nearly 20 stood outside the National Guard Armory in Ashland City. Members have demonstrated at other soldier funerals across the nation.

The funerals were for Staff Sgt. Asbury Fred Hawn II, 35, in Smyrna and Spc. Gary Reese Jr., 22, in Ashland City. Both were members of the Tennessee National Guard.

Hundreds of Smyrna and Ashland City residents and families of other soldiers turned out at both sites to counter the message the Westboro Baptist members brought.

So many counterdemonstrators were gathered in Ashland City that police, sheriff's deputies and state troopers were brought in to control traffic and protect the protesters.

The church members held protesting permits, and counterprotesters in Smyrna turned their backs to Westboro Baptist members until time expired on the protest permits.

"If they were protesting the government, I might even join them,'' Danny Cotton, 56, said amid cries of "get out of our town'' and "get out of our country.''

"But for them to come during the worst time for this family - it's just wrong.''

08/28/05 10:16 EDT

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.


To call Phelps the wife-beater, child-abuser, and disbarred lawyer a reverend is pushing it. The only members of his congregation are his family, who he keeps there through intimidation. Four of his thirteen children have disowned him; those that remain in the cult are grossly obese because the depression spawning from his abuse leads them to overeat. His only sister, likewise, is estranged from him.

For the real truth on this horrible man and the nature of his twisted ideology, read the "Fred Phelps exposé":


August 29th, 2005, 09:31 AM
"The church, which is not affiliated with a larger denomination, is made up mostly of Phelps' children, grandchildren and in-laws"

And they are related a lot closer than your average redneck bible thumping baptist family from Tennessee.......

TLOZ Link5
September 3rd, 2005, 09:54 PM
Who wants to bet that none of the myrmidons at Free Republic will discuss this article:

Bush's Obscene Tirades Rattle White House Aides
Aug 25, 2005, 06:19
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While President George W. Bush travels around the country in a last-ditch effort to sell his Iraq war, White House aides scramble frantically behind the scenes to hide the dark mood of an increasingly angry leader who unleashes obscenity-filled outbursts at anyone who dares disagree with him.

“I’m not meeting again with that goddamned bitch,” Bush screamed at aides who suggested he meet again with Cindy Sheehan, the war-protesting mother whose son died in Iraq. “She can go to hell as far as I’m concerned!”

Bush, administration aides confide, frequently explodes into tirades over those who protest the war, calling them “mother****ing traitors.” He reportedly was so upset over Veterans of Foreign Wars members who wore “bullshit protectors” over their ears during his speech to their annual convention that he told aides to “tell those VFW assholes that I’ll never speak to them again if they can’t keep their members under control.”

White House insiders say Bush is growing increasingly bitter over mounting opposition to his war in Iraq. Polls show a vast majority of Americans now believe the war was a mistake and most doubt the President’s honesty.

“Who gives a flying **** what the polls say,” he screamed at a recent strategy meeting. “I’m the President and I’ll do whatever I goddamned please. They don’t know shit.”

Bush, while setting up for a photo op for signing the recent CAFTA bill, flipped an extended middle finger to reporters. Aides say the President often “flips the bird” to show his displeasure and tells aides who disagree with him to “go to hell” or to “go **** yourself.” His habit of giving people the finger goes back to his days as Texas governor, aides admit, and videos of him doing so before press conferences were widely circulated among TV stations during those days. A recent video showing him shooting the finger to reporters while walking also recently surfaced.

Bush’s behavior, according to prominent Washington psychiatrist, Dr. Justin Frank, author of “Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President,” is all too typical of an alcohol-abusing bully who is ruled by fear.

To see that fear emerge, Dr. Frank says, all one has to do is confront the President. “To actually directly confront him in a clear way, to bring him out, so you would really see the bully, and you would also see the fear,” he says.

Dr. Frank, in his book, speculates that Bush, an alcoholic who brags that he gave up booze without help from groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, may be drinking again.

“Two questions that the press seems particularly determined to ignore have hung silently in the air since before Bush took office,” Dr. Frank says. “Is he still drinking? And if not, is he impaired by all the years he did spend drinking? Both questions need to be addressed in any serious assessment of his psychological state.”

Last year, Capitol Hill Blue learned the White House physician prescribed anti-depressant drugs for the President to control what aides called “violent mood swings.” As Dr. Frank also notes: “In writing about Bush's halting appearance in a press conference just before the start of the Iraq War, Washington Post media critic Tom Shales speculated that ‘the president may have been ever so slightly medicated.’”

Dr. Frank explains Bush’s behavior as all-to-typical of an alcoholic who is still in denial:

“The pattern of blame and denial, which recovering alcoholics work so hard to break, seems to be ingrained in the alcoholic personality; it's rarely limited to his or her drinking,” he says. “The habit of placing blame and denying responsibility is so prevalent in George W. Bush's personal history that it is apparently triggered by even the mildest threat.”Source: http://www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/article_7267.shtml
© Copyright 2005 by Capitol Hill Blue

TLOZ Link5
September 3rd, 2005, 10:40 PM
Be careful; the FBI might be reading what you write with their "Magic Lantern." Apparently they can also read things that you type on the Internet as you type them, but later delete without posting, sending, or confirming any of it.

At times, I fancy keeping them on their toes if they're monitoring me by typing things like "I know you're watching me" into my Web browser. :D

TLOZ Link5
September 4th, 2005, 02:30 PM

September 8th, 2005, 10:57 PM
Money runs out on U.S. projects in Iraq

By T. Christian Miller
Los Angeles Times
Thursday, September 8, 2005


WASHINGTON — The United States will halt construction work on some water and power plants in Iraq because it is running out of money for projects, officials said yesterday.

Security costs have cut into the funds available to complete some major infrastructure projects that were started under the $18.4 billion U.S. plan to rebuild Iraq. As a result, the United States has had to pare back some projects to only those deemed essential by the Iraqi government.

While no overall figures are yet available, one contractor has stopped work on six of eight water-treatment plants it was assigned.

"We have scaled back our projects in many areas," James Jeffrey, a senior adviser on Iraq for the State Department, told lawmakers at a hearing of the House Appropriations Foreign Operations Subcommittee. "We do not have the money."

Bipartisan frustrations

More than two years after Congress approved funding for the rebuilding effort, electricity and oil production remain at or below pre-war levels; and unemployment remains high. The slow pace of progress appeared to exasperate both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, who compared the situation with the Bush administration's handling of damage from Hurricane Katrina.

Both situations reflected a lack of planning, poor execution and a failure by senior White House officials to follow through on commitments, Democrats said.

"We can't seem to get (Iraqi rebuilding) right. We see it in Katrina, the lack of leadership, the lack of coordination," said Rep. Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee.

"It seems sort of almost incomprehensible to me that we haven't been able to do better on" restoring power to Iraq, said Rep. Don Sherwood, R-Penn., who recently visited areas damaged by Katrina. "Coming back up through Mississippi and Louisiana after being down on some relief effort, you know, when power shuts down, everything shuts down."

Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., who has previously criticized the Iraq rebuilding effort, said the Bush administration's vision for using reconstruction funds to stabilize Iraq "was largely a chimera, a castle built of sand."

"Reconstruction in Iraq has been slower, more painful, more complex, more fragmented and more inefficient than anyone in Washington or Baghdad could have imagined a couple of years ago," said Kolbe, chairman of the subcommittee.

Security diversions

U.S. officials said security costs — now estimated to account for 22 percent of all reconstruction contracts — had forced them to redirect money to pay for weapons and training of Iraqi troops.

They said that the United States was now spending $150 million per week on reconstruction, and that more work was flowing directly to Iraqi contractors instead of U.S. multinational firms.

They also said some infrastructure projects handed over to the Iraqis had suffered because of Iraqi government funding shortfalls. As a result, U.S. funds have been directed to simply maintaining electricity and water plants the Iraqis can't afford to operate.

"The last thing we wanted to do ... is to put hundreds of millions of dollars in power generating plants and into water plants and then have them simply not work, or simply have them run down," Jeffrey said.

Another concern is corruption. Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, said his office is conducting 58 criminal investigations in Iraq, including several that are close to prosecution. So far, a handful of U.S. contractors have faced criminal charges.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

September 9th, 2005, 12:35 AM
Be careful; the FBI might be reading what you write with their "Magic Lantern." Apparently they can also read things that you type on the Internet as you type them, but later delete without posting, sending, or confirming any of it.

At times, I fancy keeping them on their toes if they're monitoring me by typing things like "I know you're watching me" into my Web browser. :D

Praying for the death and demise of him and his cohorts and planning a violent attack are two very different things. His death is one I already anticpate with glee. He is the most callous, out of touch, ignorant, moron to hold office - any office - ever - anywhere in the world - ever - anywhere.

I have no passion nor the cunning needed for planning crimes. But, if there is a God, as George W. keeps telling me there is, I pray he saves us from this wretched man in the most violent way.

September 9th, 2005, 09:17 PM
Do you think the war in Iraq is a fiasco? I think George W. Bush could spend money on healthcare instead of sending troop. I don't think tax payer got their money's worth while soldiers kill Iraqis people. If United States is a democratic country, why the majority of people who live in United States don't decide what it worths for the nation concerning tax spending? I don't think United States is a democratic country at all.

bobby fletcher
September 13th, 2005, 02:13 AM
I don't think tax payer got their money's worth while soldiers kill Iraqis people.

There's an anti-war protests on September 24th, Hope you all will attend.


September 13th, 2005, 08:30 AM
I don't think tax payer got their money's worth while soldiers kill Iraqis people.Right on, Gab, good point. As a taxpayer, I expected 2 Iraqis killed for every $500 I send to Washington in federal taxes, and so far it was more like 1.5 Iraqis for every $500. I think with nukes you always get your money worth.

September 13th, 2005, 11:09 AM
Right on, Gab, good point. As a taxpayer, I expected 2 Iraqis killed for every $500 I send to Washington in federal taxes, and so far it was more like 1.5 Iraqis for every $500. I think with nukes you always get your money worth.


September 13th, 2005, 07:31 PM
Commanders Ordered Not To Fire Gays Until War's End

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: September 13, 2005 5:00 pm ET


(Santa Barbara, California) Scholars studying military personnel policy have discovered a document halting the discharge of gay soldiers in units that are about to be mobilized.

The document was made public Tuesday by Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military (CSSMM), a think tank at the University of California, Santa Barbara. It was found during research for a story for the ABC news program Nightline.

The regulation was contained in a 1999 "Reserve Component Unit Commander's Handbook" and is still in effect, according to the Center.

It states that if a discharge for homosexual conduct is requested "prior to the unit's receipt of alert notification, discharge isn't authorized. Member will enter AD [active duty] with the unit."

The document is significant because of longstanding Pentagon denials that the military requires gays to serve during wartime, only to fire them once peacetime returns. According to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, gays and lesbians must be discharged whether or not the country is at war.

Gay soldiers and legal groups have reported for years that known gays are sent into combat, and then discharged when the conflicts end. Discharge statistics corroborate a pattern of rising expulsions during peacetime and plummeting rates during military conflicts, and Pentagon statistics confirm that, as has been the case in every war since World War II, gay discharges have declined during the current conflict in the Middle East.

But the Pentagon has consistently denied that, when mobilization requires bolstering troop strength, it sends gays to fight despite the existence of a gay ban, and some observers have insisted there is no evidence of such a practice. During the first Gulf War, Pentagon spokesman, Bill Caldwell, said the military would "absolutely not" send gays to war and discharge them when the conflict ends.

Shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, a Pentagon spokesman said that the military was not modifying its regulations on gay troops. And a May, 2005 study by the Congressional Research Service says that although gay discharges do decline during wartime, the decrease is the result of .random fluctuations in the data," not an intentional Pentagon policy of retaining gays during wars".

Meanwhile, the Pentagon acknowledged Tuesday that it would again fail to meet its monthly recruiting goal and for the first time since 1999 would not meet its goal for the year.

In July, the the Williams Project at the UCLA School of Law issued a report showing that if the ban on gays serving openly were lifted the military would gain 41,000 troops. (story (http://www.365gay.com/newscon05/07/072505military.htm))

Especially in the wake of Katrina, as some have concluded that a National Guard stretched thin by deployments abroad was limited in its ability to respond to a catastrophe here at home, the added strength of more than 40,000 recruits has the potential of making a significant difference," Steve Ralls, spokesperson for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network told 365Gay.com.

"And, as we've seen Coast Guardsmen rescuing the trapped in New Orleans, it begs the question: Did those being rescued really care about the sexual orientation of those men and women who came to save them?

"Now - especially now - the Army needs every recruit it can find. Not only for war operations abroad, but for rescue missions here at home, too. If ever there was a wake-up call about the need for qualified people on the ground, it came last week in New Orleans."

©365Gay.com 2005

September 13th, 2005, 08:09 PM
http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/4990/1180/400/cheney_911.jpg (http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/4990/1180/1600/cheney_911.jpg)


September 14th, 2005, 04:38 PM
Instead of sending troop in Iraq, I think the American governement can pay healthcare for the people who earns low salary. I don't suggest the Canadian healthcare system because I know most doctor in U.S. don't want that kind of healthcare system but if these peole can get a special card for the people who earn a low salary but if that proposition pass, these person should proof that they earn a low salary. That would cheaper than sending troop in Iraq.

September 14th, 2005, 05:00 PM
But we'll need something to keep all those soldiers busy. Maybe they could occupy a few of your provinces.

September 14th, 2005, 05:09 PM
But we'll need something to keep all those soldiers busy. Maybe they could occupy a few of your provinces. Instead of killing people maybe your soldiers should provide humanitarian help? American soldiers have nothing to do in Canada, sorry Zippy. If they help needy people they will be busy for long time.

September 14th, 2005, 05:21 PM
You're barking up the wrong message board if you're looking for people to disagree with you, Gab.

September 14th, 2005, 05:30 PM
You're barking up the wrong message board if you're looking for people to disagree with you, Gab. They can say what ever they want and so what. I'm for the humanitarian approach.

September 14th, 2005, 05:44 PM
I'm trying to point out that everyone here agrees with you.

September 14th, 2005, 06:19 PM
Unrelated to the posts above, does anyone know an official death toll of Iraqis since the war began? I dont remember a count from last year.

I think with the 150 killed today that might be it. I think we may have managed to kill a whole society.

Noble cause.

September 14th, 2005, 06:25 PM
Unrelated to the posts above, does anyone know an official death toll of Iraqis since the war began? I dont remember a count from last year.

I hear Google (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=iraq+body+count&btnG=Google+Search) is useful for simple factual information that random people don't carry around in their short term memory: Iraq Body Count (http://www.iraqbodycount.net/)

September 14th, 2005, 06:38 PM
Unrelated to the posts above, does anyone know an official death toll of Iraqis since the war began? I dont remember a count from last year.There is no official number. Iraqis are going to have to learn how to accurately count the dead if they are ever going to have a regular country?

US military dead:1897.

Iraqi civilian dead (http://www.iraqbodycount.net/)

In Vietnam, we counted ears, but that led to inaccuracies by military commanders that didn't know right from left.

September 14th, 2005, 07:08 PM
Why thank you ryan. I did use google before, and I found a bunch of unofficial blogs. But I see you want to carry something from another thread into this one.

And a real thank you for that site.

No baggage - if someone else has given you sass, it's either a coincidence or it says something about the questions you're posting. That site was the first google returned.

September 14th, 2005, 09:16 PM
If George W. Bush declared war in Iraq why doesn't he go to fight? The only thing he does is to sit down on his throne for his fat ass.

September 14th, 2005, 10:11 PM
If George W. Bush declared war in Iraq why doesn't he go to fight?
We haven't officially declared war.

The Congress passed the authority over to GWB after 9/11.

Besides, the USA doesn't do that anymore (last official war was WWII).

FYI: The US Constitution (Article I, section 8) clearly states: only Congress has the authority to declare war ( http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.articlei.html ):

Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States ...

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

An interesting post on this from another blog: http://www.house.gov/paul/tst/tst2002/tst101402.htm

bobby fletcher
September 16th, 2005, 04:54 PM
US military dead:1897.Yeah, but:

- died during evac don't count
- died in German hospital don't count
- suicide don't count (over there or back home)
- non-citizen don't count
(Mexican "green card" recruits are burried in Iraq when they die.)

September 17th, 2005, 11:49 AM
Aha -- The Administration's ANSWER to Low Recruitment Rates ...


September 17th, 2005, 11:58 AM
Unrelated to the posts above, does anyone know an official death toll of Iraqis since the war began? I dont remember a count from last year.
This dossier was put together in July 2005 ...


Press Release

A Dossier of Civilian Casualties in Iraq


Click to download the dossier (pdf format) (http://reports.iraqbodycount.org/a_dossier_of_civilian_casualties_2003-2005.pdf)

New analysis of civilian casualties in Iraq: Report unveils comprehensive details

"A Dossier on Civilian Casualties in Iraq, 2003-2005" is the first detailed account of all non-combatants reported killed or wounded during the first two years of the continuing conflict. The report, published by Iraq Body Count in association with Oxford Research Group, is based on comprehensive analysis of over 10,000 media reports published between March 2003 and March 2005.

Findings include:

Who was killed?

24,865 civilians were reported killed in the first two years.
Women and children accounted for almost 20% of all civilian deaths.
Baghdad alone recorded almost half of all deaths.
When did they die?

30% of civilian deaths occurred during the invasion phase before 1 May 2003.
Post-invasion, the number of civilians killed was almost twice as high in year two (11,351) as in year one (6,215).
Who did the killing?

US-led forces killed 37% of civilian victims.
Anti-occupation forces/insurgents killed 9% of civilian victims.
Post-invasion criminal violence accounted for 36% of all deaths.
Killings by anti-occupation forces, crime and unknown agents have shown a steady rise over the entire period.
What was the most lethal weaponry?

Over half (53%) of all civilian deaths involved explosive devices.
Air strikes caused most (64%) of the explosives deaths.
Children were disproportionately affected by all explosive devices but most severely by air strikes and unexploded ordnance (including cluster bomblets).
How many were injured?

At least 42,500 civilians were reported wounded.
The invasion phase caused 41% of all reported injuries.
Explosive weaponry caused a higher ratio of injuries to deaths than small arms.
The highest wounded-to-death ratio incidents occurred during the invasion phase.
Who provided the information?

Mortuary officials and medics were the most frequently cited witnesses.
Three press agencies provided over one third of the reports used.
Iraqi journalists are increasingly central to the reporting work.
Speaking today at the launch of the report in London, Professor John Sloboda, FBA, one of the report's authors said: "The ever-mounting Iraqi death toll is the forgotten cost of the decision to go to war in Iraq. On average, 34 ordinary Iraqis have met violent deaths every day since the invasion of March 2003. Our data show that no sector of Iraqi society has escaped. We sincerely hope that this research will help to inform decision-makers around the world about the real needs of the Iraqi people as they struggle to rebuild their country. It remains a matter of the gravest concern that, nearly two and half years on, neither the US nor the UK governments have begun to systematically measure the impact of their actions in terms of human lives destroyed."


September 18th, 2005, 10:15 PM
They're back ...

Anti-Gay Protesters Descend on Soldiers' Funerals
SMYRNA, Tenn. (Aug. 28) - Members of a church say God is punishing American soldiers for defending a country that harbors gays, and they brought their anti-gay message to the funerals Saturday of two Tennessee soldiers killed in Iraq.

Exclusive: Anti-gay forces protest at Rehnquist death, celebrate Katrina

http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Exclusive_Antigay_forces_protest_at_Rehnquist_deat h_celebra_0918.html

A smattering of anti-gay activists celebrated oustide the headquarters of gay rights lobby Human Rights Campaign on the eve of former Chief Justice William Rehnquist's funeral Sept. 7.
Photographs of the event were obtained by RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/).

The protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas -- more or less all relatives of anti-gay activist Fred Phelps -- attacked Rehnquist while celebrating hurricane Katrina, which they believe purged New Orleans of unsavory homosexual elements. Similar charges resounded through the right-wing Christian realm, who noted that the New Orleans gay pride festival Southern Decadence was scheduled right around the time the hurricane hit.

The signs are captured below. Rehnquist earned "JUDGE IN HELL" for leading his court in overturning sodomy laws.


The 'church' drew national attention when it picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a gay youth who was brutally murdered in 1998 in Laramie, Wyoming. It has more recently graced funerals of American servicemembers killed in Iraq.

: : : WARNING : : :

If the sight of ignorant pea-brained Americans
exercising their constitutional right
to spew hatred and nonsense
offends you



http://rawstory.com/images/other/katrina2.jpg http://rawstory.com/images/other/katrina3.jpg

http://rawstory.com/images/other/katrina4.jpg http://rawstory.com/images/other/katrina5.jpg

September 18th, 2005, 10:16 PM
^ So good of the photographer to shield their faces from public view, eh?

TLOZ Link5
September 18th, 2005, 10:49 PM
There are usually counterprotests against these idiots that number in the hundreds or more. I remember when Harvey Milk High School opened on Astor Place in 2003, there were maybe a dozen of them against 200 counterprotestors.

They used to hold signs that said, "Thank God for AIDS." But I guess that they finally realized that if God had actually given the world AIDS as a punishment, He would have made sure that no scientists would have been able to develop anti-retroviral drugs or — in the near future — a vaccine.

Some ideas for signs for counter demonstrators to carry:

"Thank God for AZT"
"Phelps is a Fag" (just to piss him off)
"Google the Fred Phelps exposé"
"Phelps = Pharisee"
"God Loves Fags"
"God Hates Phelps"
"God Hates Red Lobster"
"God Hates Supercuts"
"God Hates Norelco"
"God Hates Broccoli"
"God Hates Cotton/Polyester Blends"

Those last five spoof the fact that there are passages in the Book of Leviticus — which has one of six passages in the entire Bible that are supposedly against homosexuality — which condemn eating shellfish, cutting your hair or shaving your beard, planting two or more different types of seed in the same field, or weaving clothing of two different fibers. There are also passages condemning even touching a woman during menstruation.

Of course, Gulf Coast cuisine is big on crawfish and such, most of the fruits and veggies we enjoy today are the result of crossbreeding and genetic engineering, I haven't heard of these people picketing Lycra factories...and all of them, the "Reverend" Phelps included, look suspiciously well-groomed.

Not to mention that the French Quarter, the epicenter of New Orleans's Dionysian revelry and the laissez bon temps roulez mentality, was almost entirely spared damage from Katrina.


As for Sodom and Gomorrah, the sin of Sodom is very ambiguous. For one thing, the men of Sodom demanded to "know" Lot's angelic visitors. Of maybe 900 times that the verb "know" appears in the Bible, only a handful of times does it mean "to have sex." Even if these guys meant to do the nasty, it would likely not be consensual; they were still intending to rape the angels, not ask them out to dinner and a show with the potential for hanky-panky at the end of the evening. And not only does Lot refuse to hand the angels over to the mob, he offers them his own virgin daughters instead! Yeah, this guy is so worth sparing, whoring out his own girls to the mob. Keep in mind, also, that virgin sacrifice, with no sex involved, was big back in those days, so maybe that's why Lot specified that his daughters were virgins.

And the story doesn't end after the cities are destroyed and Lot's wife becomes a pillar of salt. Alone in a tent somewhere in the desert, Lot's daughters get the altruistic idea to help their father produce a male heir to offset his grief for his wife. These brilliant girls, instead of heading to the next town to help Daddy scout out a new mate, decide to get their father crazy drunk and sleep with him every night until they get pregnant. So they do, and Daddy has some new [grand]sons a few months later and he can't explain how they got there.

And you thought that Greek mythology was full of scandal and depravity.

September 18th, 2005, 11:40 PM
Can an Iraq War supporter please remind me why we are there?

September 19th, 2005, 09:52 AM

What has happened to Iraq's missing $1bn?

By Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad
Published: 19 September 2005

One billion dollars has been plundered from Iraq's defence ministry in one of the largest thefts in history, The Independent can reveal, leaving the country's army to fight a savage insurgency with museum-piece weapons.

The money, intended to train and equip an Iraqi army capable of bringing security to a country shattered by the US-led invasion and prolonged rebellion, was instead siphoned abroad in cash and has disappeared.

"It is possibly one of the largest thefts in history," Ali Allawi, Iraq's Finance Minister, told The Independent.

"Huge amounts of money have disappeared. In return we got nothing but scraps of metal."

The carefully planned theft has so weakened the army that it cannot hold Baghdad against insurgent attack without American military support, Iraqi officials say, making it difficult for the US to withdraw its 135,000- strong army from Iraq, as Washington says it wishes to do.

Most of the money was supposedly spent buying arms from Poland and Pakistan. The contracts were peculiar in four ways. According to Mr Allawi, they were awarded without bidding, and were signed with a Baghdad-based company, and not directly with the foreign supplier. The money was paid up front, and, surprisingly for Iraq, it was paid at great speed out of the ministry's account with the Central Bank. Military equipment purchased in Poland included 28-year-old Soviet-made helicopters. The manufacturers said they should have been scrapped after 25 years of service. Armoured cars purchased by Iraq turned out to be so poorly made that even a bullet from an elderly AK-47 machine-gun could penetrate their armour. A shipment of the latest MP5 American machine-guns, at a cost of $3,500 (£1,900) each, consisted in reality of Egyptian copies worth only $200 a gun. Other armoured cars leaked so much oil that they had to be abandoned. A deal was struck to buy 7.62mm machine-gun bullets for 16 cents each, although they should have cost between 4 and 6 cents.

Many Iraqi soldiers and police have died because they were not properly equipped. In Baghdad they often ride in civilian pick-up trucks vulnerable to gunfire, rocket- propelled grenades or roadside bombs. For months even men defusing bombs had no protection against blast because they worked without bullet-proof vests. These were often promised but never turned up.

The Iraqi Board of Supreme Audit says in a report to the Iraqi government that US-appointed Iraqi officials in the defence ministry allegedly presided over these dubious transactions.

Senior Iraqi officials now say they cannot understand how, if this is so, the disappearance of almost all the military procurement budget could have passed unnoticed by the US military in Baghdad and civilian advisers working in the defence ministry.

Government officials in Baghdad even suggest that the skill with which the robbery was organised suggests that the Iraqis involved were only front men, and "rogue elements" within the US military or intelligence services may have played a decisive role behind the scenes.

Given that building up an Iraqi army to replace American and British troops is a priority for Washington and London, the failure to notice that so much money was being siphoned off at the very least argues a high degree of negligence on the part of US officials and officers in Baghdad.

The report of the Board of Supreme Audit on the defence ministry contracts was presented to the office of Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the Prime Minister, in May. But the extent of the losses has become apparent only gradually. The sum missing was first reported as $300m and then $500m, but in fact it is at least twice as large. "If you compare the amount that was allegedly stolen of about $1bn compared with the budget of the ministry of defence, it is nearly 100 per cent of the ministry's [procurement] budget that has gone Awol," said Mr Allawi.

The money missing from all ministries under the interim Iraqi government appointed by the US in June 2004 may turn out to be close to $2bn. Of a military procurement budget of $1.3bn, some $200m may have been spent on usable equipment, though this is a charitable view, say officials. As a result the Iraqi army has had to rely on cast-offs from the US military, and even these have been slow in coming.

Mr Allawi says a further $500m to $600m has allegedly disappeared from the electricity, transport, interior and other ministries. This helps to explain why the supply of electricity in Baghdad has been so poor since the fall of Saddam Hussein 29 months ago despite claims by the US and subsequent Iraqi governments that they are doing everything to improve power generation.

The sum missing over an eight-month period in 2004 and 2005 is the equivalent of the $1.8bn that Saddam allegedly received in kick- backs under the UN's oil-for-food programme between 1997 and 2003. The UN was pilloried for not stopping this corruption. The US military is likely to be criticised over the latest scandal because it was far better placed than the UN to monitor corruption.

The fraud took place between 28 June 2004 and 28 February this year under the government of Iyad Allawi, who was interim prime minister. His ministers were appointed by the US envoy Robert Blackwell and his UN counterpart, Lakhdar Brahimi.

Among those whom the US promoted was a man who was previously a small businessman in London before the war, called Hazem Shaalan, who became Defence Minister.

Mr Shalaan says that Paul Bremer, then US viceroy in Iraq, signed off the appointment of Ziyad Cattan as the defence ministry's procurement chief. Mr Cattan, of joint Polish-Iraqi nationality, spent 27 years in Europe, returning to Iraq two days before the war in 2003. He was hired by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority and became a district councillor before moving to the defence ministry.

For eight months the ministry spent money without restraint. Contracts worth more than $5m should have been reviewed by a cabinet committee, but Mr Shalaan asked for and received from the cabinet an exemption for the defence ministry. Missions abroad to acquire arms were generally led by Mr Cattan. Contracts for large sums were short scribbles on a single piece of paper. Auditors have had difficulty working out with whom Iraq has a contract in Pakistan.

Authorities in Baghdad have issued an arrest warrant for Mr Cattan. Neither he nor Mr Shalaan, both believed to be in Jordan, could be reached for further comment. Mr Bremer says he has never heard of Mr Cattan.

A week of violence in Iraq


Gunmen killed a senior Iraqi judge, his brother and a Major General in the Iraq army. A British and a US soldier were killed in bomb attacks.


Gunmen killed nine civilians and two policemen in Baghdad and a roadside bomb killed six Iraqi soldiers in Fallujah.


A car bomb killed five people and gunmen killed another four in the Mansour district of Baghdad Two civilians were killed by a suicide bomber on a bus in Hilla.


At least 167 people were killed and 570 wounded in 14 bombings in Baghdad.


Three suicide car bombers killed 28 policemen and eight civilians and gunmen killed four more people Baghdad.


Two suicide car bombers killed 13 people, and gunmen shot dead eight more in Baghdad, including a local mayor in Iskanariya district and an imam in Sadr City.


At least 52 people were killed or found dead throughout the country.


At least three Iraqi soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb and an Iraqi MP and four others were shot dead by gunmen. Two dozen bodies of murder victims were found in the Tigris.

September 19th, 2005, 11:00 AM
Church of England offers to meet Muslim leaders to apologize for Iraq war

Mon Sep 19, 5:25 AM ET

The Church of England offered to take the lead in reconciling with Muslims by apologizing to their leaders for the US-led war in Iraq if the British government fails to do so.

The proposal was contained in a report, entitled "Countering Terrorism: Power, Violence and Democracy Post-9/11" which written by a working group of the Church of England's House of Bishops.

"We do believe that the church has a visionary role for reconciliation, beyond that of any government," the Bishop of Oxford, Right Reverend Richard Harris, told BBC radio.

"The Christian church in particular has a mandate to work for reconciliation," he said Monday.

The report suggests that a "truth and reconciliation" meeting between Christian and Muslim leaders would be an opportunity to apologize for the way the West has contributed to the tragedy in Iraq, including the March 2003 invasion led by the United States and Britain.

The Church of England, which lies at the heart of the worldwide Anglican communion, has been openly critical of the war in Iraq, claiming the invasion failed to meet the criteria of a "just war".

The meeting is offered as a solution to the moral dilemma that members of the church who opposed the war find themselves in.

The bishops say to pull out of Iraq without a stable democracy being in place would be irresponsible and compound the misery of the Iraqi people. But to stay suggests collusion with a "gravely mistaken" war.

If collusion is a necessary evil, the report says, there needs to be a degree of public recognition of the West's responsibility for the predicament.

The report highlights a "long litany of errors" in the West's handling of Iraq which includes its support of Saddam Hussein over many years as a strategic ally against Iran, its willingness to sell him weapons and the suffering caused to the Iraqi people by sanctions.

It goes on to say that the recent invasion appeared to be "as much for reasons of American national interest as it was for the well-being of the Iraqi people".

As Prime Minister Tony Blair's government is unlikely to offer an apology, a meeting of religious leaders would provide a "public act of institutional repentance," it said.

Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/afp/SIG=122dhv7qk/**http%3A%2F%2Fwww.afp.com%2Fenglish%2Flinks%2F%3F pid%3Dcopyright)

September 22nd, 2005, 08:55 AM
A link to a vid clip of Phil Donahue on the O'Reilly Factor, where Donahue takes O'Reilly to task for his skewed coverage of Cindy Sheehan and the War:


September 23rd, 2005, 11:57 PM
Soldier's chilling testimony fuels demonstrations against Iraq war

By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
Published: 24 September 2005

A former American soldier who served in Iraq and filed for conscientious objector status has given an extraordinary insight into the war's dehumanising effects, an insight that helps explain why the British and American public has turned sharply against the occupation.

On the eve of large anti-war demonstrations in Washington and London, Hart Viges has told how indiscriminate fire from US troops is likely to have killed an untold number of Iraqi civilians. Mr Viges, 29, said he was still haunted by the memories of what he experienced and urged President George Bush to withdraw US troops from Iraq.

"I don't know how many innocents I killed with my mortar rounds," Mr Viges, who served with the 82nd Airborne Division, said during a presentation this week at American University in Washington. "In Baghdad, I had days that I don't want to remember. I try to forget," he added

The rare insight into the chaos of the combat,­ including an order to open fire on all taxis in the city of Samawa because it was believed Iraqi forces were using them for transport,­ comes as US support for the war in Iraq slumps to an all-time low. Polls suggest that 60 per cent now believe the war was wrong. Mr Bush's personal approval ratings are also at a record low.

British attitudes to the Iraq war have shown a nation divided over the decision to invade but by last October the balance had tilted 46 per cent to 40 per cent towards an anti-war position, according to an ICM poll published in The Guardian.

Not since August 1968, the high point of the opposition to the war in Vietnam, has there been a majority of people in America who believe that an ongoing conflict was wrong. That historic turning point in public opinion came seven months after North Vietnamese forces launched the devastating Tet Offensive, as the divided Democratic Party Convention in Chicago was choosing Hubert Humphrey rather than Eugene McCarthy as its presidential candidate and 10,000 anti-war protesters fought pitched battles with police in the streets.

Now, in September 2005, campaigners say it has reached the point where opposition to the war in Iraq has become a mainstream issue. "I certainly think this should encourage people to go to Washington and participate in the peace demos," said Kathy Kelly, a veteran campaigner with the group Voices in the Wilderness.

"The politicians are going to counter that these demonstrators just come to Washington for a day and then go back to their normal lives. But I think they are going to have to realise that when people are out in the streets saying 'Bring them home now' they are saying the same thing as what many of the voters think."

She added: "My sense is that people are having a serious disillusionment with any sense of competence with the leaders of this country and that makes many people very afraid."

Mr Bush's response to the falling public support has been a stubborn refusal to accept any error and to vow the US will remain in Iraq and will not " abandon the mission".

He has described the peace demonstrators who want him to withdraw forces as well-intentioned but wrong.

Yesterday, US forces in Iraq announced two more of its troops had been killed west of Baghdad. One was killed by a roadside bomb between the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, the other by small arms fire in Ramadi.

In Baghdad, a suicide bomber riding on a small public bus set off explosives in a bustling open-air bus terminal, killing at least five people and wounding eight. Also in Baghdad, gunmen killed a member of the commission charged with ensuring that former members of Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime were banned from the Iraqi hierarchy.

Earlier, authorities said a second member of the 323-member Supreme National Commission for de-Baathification had also been killed but the committee's head, Ali al-Lami, said the second member had been abducted on Wednesday by insurgents and was freed on Thursday by the Iraqi army.

The latest casualties add to a total of US deaths in Iraq that stands at more than 1,900. No one knows precisely how many Iraqi civilians have been killed as a result of the war but a report published last year in The Lancet suggested that up to 100,000 may have lost their lives.

Hart Viges' own journey into the chaos and violence of Iraq started on 11 September 2001. The day after he watched al- Qa'ida terrorists fly airliners into targets in New York and Washington he quit his job as a waiter in Seattle and signed up for the US Army.

Deployed to the Middle East in early 2003, he saw action in Baghdad and Fallujah, among other hot spots.

Despite his growing horror with what he was experiencing, it was only when he watched Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ, that he decided to file for conscientious objector status. "I consider myself a Christian and I thought Jesus wasn't talking smack," he told the American-Statesman newspaper, in his current home of Austin, Texas.

Mr Viges visited Washington this week as part of an anti-war protest organised by Cindy Sheehan, the mother who camped outside Mr Bush's ranch at Crawford, Texas, over the summer to protest against the war in which her son was killed.

bobby fletcher
September 28th, 2005, 03:15 PM
You know Iraq is geting worse when a mother has nothing to live for.

October 7th, 2005, 10:19 AM
IAEA, ElBaradei Share Nobel Peace Prize
Oct 7, 8:27 AM (ET)


OSLO, Norway (AP) - Mohamed ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency that he heads won the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for their efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

ElBaradei, a 63-year-old lawyer from Egypt, has led the U.N. nuclear agency as it grappled with the crisis in Iraq and the ongoing efforts to prevent North Korea and Iran from acquiring nuclear arms.

The Nobel committee said ElBaradei and the IAEA should be recognized for addressing one of the greatest dangers facing the world.

"At a time when the threat of nuclear arms is again increasing, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to underline that this threat must be met through the broadest possible international cooperation. This principle finds its clearest expression today in the work of the IAEA and its director general."
ElBaradei said in Vienna, Austria, that the prize "sends a strong message" about the agency's disarmament efforts and will strengthen his resolve to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

"The award basically sends a very strong message, which is: Keep doing what you are doing," ElBaradei said. "It's a responsibility but it's also a shot in the arm. They want to give the agency and me a shot in the arm to move forward."

The committee said it recognized the IAEA and ElBaradei for "their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way."
ElBaradei, who was reappointed last month to a third term, has had to contend with U.S. opposition to his tenure. Much of the opposition stemmed from Washington's perception he was being too soft on Iran for not declaring it in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. That stance blocked a U.S. bid to haul Tehran before the U.N. Security Council, where it could face possible sanctions, for more than two years.

The IAEA passed a resolution last month warning Tehran of such referral unless it allayed fears about its nuclear program.

ElBaradei also refused to endorse Washington's contention that Iran was working to make nuclear weapons and disputed U.S. assertions that Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq had an active atomic weapons program - both claims that remain unproven, despite growing suspicions about Tehran's nuclear agenda.

ElBaradei and the agency had been among the names mentioned as speculation mounted in recent days the Nobel committee would seek to honor the victims of nuclear weapons and those who try to contain their use.
The committee has repeatedly awarded its prize to anti-nuclear weapons campaigners on the major anniversaries of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

"This is a message to all the people of the world: Do what you can to get rid of nuclear weapons," Nobel committee chairman Ole Danbolt Mjoes said. "The people's power is formidable."

On the 50th anniversary, in 1995, the prize went to anti-nuclear campaigner Joseph Rotblat and his Pugwash group. In 1985, it went to International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and in 1975 to Soviet nuclear scientist-turned-anti-nuclear campaigner Andrei Sakharov.

"We will never give up and we must never give in," Mjoes said.
A record 199 nominations were received for the prize, which includes $1.3 million, a gold medal and a diploma. ElBaradei and the IAEA will share the award when they receive it Dec. 10 in the Norwegian capital.

The Nobel committee called ElBaradei "an unafraid advocate" of new measures to stem the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

"At a time when disarmament efforts appear deadlocked, when there is a danger that nuclear arms will spread both to states and to terrorist groups, and when nuclear power again appears to be playing an increasingly significant role, IAEA's work is of incalculable importance," the committee said.

Former chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix, a friend and colleague of ElBaradei, told The Associated Press the award was "very encouraging and fortunate."

"I see it as an endorsement of the professional and independent role of the IAEA and of international verification in the field of nuclear power and nonproliferation," Blix said.

Under ElBaradei, the IAEA has risen from a nondescript bureaucracy monitoring nuclear sites worldwide to a pivotal institution at the vortex of efforts to disarm the two regimes.

Austere and methodical, ElBaradei took a strident line as he guided the agency through the most serious troubles it faced since the end of the Cold War.

He accused North Korea, for example, of "nuclear brinkmanship" in December 2002 after it expelled two inspectors monitoring a mothballed nuclear complex. Pyongyang said the plant needed to go back on line because of an electricity shortage.

Norway's outgoing Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik said the committee's choice was "gratifying."

"This is a homage to their crucial efforts to stop nuclear proliferation, in order to prevent the use of such weapons in conflicts between states or in terrorist attacks," he said.

On the Net: http://www.nobelprize.org (http://www.nobelprize.org/)

October 7th, 2005, 10:31 PM
The American Iraq

An anonymous expatriate harvests raw images
of Iraq taken by American soldiers

This is a 76-page "photo-album" of assorted pictures showing
everything from the mundane (lunch in the commissary) to
the gut-wrenching (shredded flesh), the sublime (a desert sunset)
to the simply sad (a lone Iraqi child offering a pack of cigarettes
for sale or trade -- see below).


The Story and links: http://rawstory.com/news/2005/The_American_Iraq_1007.html

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Photos: http://www.undermars.com/ (A WARNING will greet you before you enter the site)

http://www.undermars.com/bigtitle.jpg (http://www.undermars.com/gallery1.html)


October 8th, 2005, 05:57 PM
Iraq Constitution Distributed Amid Attacks

By OMAR SINAN, Associated Press Writer
Thu Oct 6, 9:07 PM ET

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051007/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_051006201651;_ylt=AppLlk8G1F1oGpvv0UNYDvnlWMc F;_ylu=X3oDMTA5bGVna3NhBHNlYwNzc3JlbA--

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Residents of one of Baghdad's most insurgent-hit neighborhoods received copies of Iraq's draft constitution Thursday, though some refused to take it and some shopkeepers balked at passing it out, fearing reprisals by militants determined to wreck the crucial Oct. 15 referendum.

Insurgents continued their wave of violence with attacks in and around the capital, including the suicide bombing of a minibus, that killed at least 20 Iraqis and an American soldier.

Despite the bloodshed, Iraqis in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Dora had their first look at the document they will vote on in nine days, though distribution of the U.N.-printed blue booklets — emblazoned "The constitution is in your hands" — got off to a slow start elsewhere.

"If we like it, we will vote 'yes.' If we don't, we'll say 'no,'" said Lamia Dhyab, a Shiite woman in a head-to-toe veil.

She and other Dora residents got copies Thursday morning along with their monthly government-subsidized rations of rice, soap, cooking oil and other staples. The constitution is being distributed through the rationing system because some 80 percent of Iraqis have been enrolled in it since the days of U.N. sanctions against Saddam Hussein.

Hamza al-Baidhani, 60, said the rations distributor he went to refused to pass out the booklets, claiming gunmen threatened to burn his business. "I wish that the Iraqi forces will be responsible for distributing the copies," he said.

About two dozen boxes of the booklets were found thrown in a Dora garbage dump — apparently a sign of opposition or of shopkeepers fears of having the document around.

http://us.news3.yimg.com/us.i2.yimg.com/p/ap/20051006/capt.bag13410061802.iraq_constitution_bag134.jpg?x =380&y=239&sig=1g0rUvPRIekGPgSMMLkZRg--
(AP Photo/Asaad Muhsin)

An Iraqi man picks up copies the the new constitution draft
from boxes on the edge of a Baghdad, Iraq, garbage dump,
Thursday Oct. 6 2005. Iraqis will vote on Oct. 15, on the
country's constitution after the country's Shiite-led
parliament ended a bitter dispute with Sunni Arabs
about how the referendum will be conducted.

Al-Qaida in Iraq has called for increased attacks during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which began this week, and more than 290 people have been killed in attacks the past 11 days, many of them Shiites.

In Thursday's deadliest assault, a suicide bomber boarded a minibus packed with 14 passengers — officers going to the police academy and students and workers headed home to the Shiite district of Sadr City.

The bomber, seated by the driver, set off his explosives belt as the bus passed a police patrol. At least nine people were killed and nine wounded, said Police Capt. Abbas Ali. The bus was left a burned-out husk.

The U.S. military warned of more violence but said it was making progress in improving security ahead of the referendum and that two major offensives in the Sunni heartland of western Iraq would help provide a safe atmosphere for the vote.

U.S. and Iraqi officials had hoped the drafting of the constitution would unite the country's disparate factions; instead, it has sharply divided them. While Shiite and Kurdish leaders overwhelmingly support the charter, moderate Sunni Arab leaders are urging their followers to vote "no," hoping to defeat a constitution they say will fragment Iraq.

Some 5 million copies arrived in Iraq on Monday, but distribution does not appear to have started in the north and south, where the constitution is expected to pass by a wide margin.

In Basra and Hillah, major Shiite towns in the south, no copies have been passed out, nor in Nineveh — a mixed northern province of Sunnis and Kurds that could be crucial to the constitution's passage or rejection. Kurdish-language copies had not yet reached many Kurdish areas. Parts of Baghdad were expected to start seeing their copies in the coming days.

Dora was one of the first Baghdad districts to get its copies — and the document faced a tough audience.

The rural suburb of farms and fields is largely Sunni and insurgents are intensely active. Nearly every day sees a shooting, drive-by killing or gunbattle, including one Thursday evening.

"Most of our customers refused to take their copies," said shopkeeper Khalid al-Jabouri, 37. "Some families told me they heard the gunmen were watching them, so they are afraid they will see them getting copies and come to take revenge."

Al-Jabouri was eager to get the booklets out of his shop, handing extra copies to families willing to take them. "They're a danger. We're giving extra copies to other shopkeepers in Shiite areas to pass out there."

One Sunni man said he refused a copy because he already rejects a constitution he believes was written "in Washington and will be imposed on us in Iraq."

"If I had the ability, I would punish the shopkeepers who are distributing them," said Ali Jameel al-Jabouri, an English-literature postgraduate student.
Still, many Dora residents who did take copies were eager to look them over, and their opinions didn't always fall along sectarian lines.

Omar Ali, a 25-year-old Sunni, was taking his copy home to his 13-member family and was open to approving it. "If I find this text satisfies our aspirations I will give 'yes,' if not I will give 'no' — although I have some reservations on federalism so I need to read it carefully."

From what he's heard, Jawad Kadhim, a Shiite, didn't like it. "I reject it because it will lead to the partition of Iraq," he said, leafing through the booklet.

U.S. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch warned of a likely spike in insurgent attacks before the referendum but said dual military offensives in the western province of Anbar will make "a safe and secure environment for the people of Iraq during the referendum."

Thousands of U.S. troops, along with hundreds of Iraqi soldiers, are fighting in several Euphrates River towns to uproot al-Qaida in Iraq militants the military says are using the area as a base to launch attacks elsewhere.
In Haditha, one of the towns troops swept into two days ago in Operation River Gate, U.S. Marines searched homes and plodded through fields of date trees and pomegranates, hunting for suspected insurgents.

A roadside bomb hit a Marine patrol in Haditha on Thursday, causing no serious injuries, but the Marines traced the triggering wires to a nearby mosque, where they found buried a large weapons cache. Three men, including two mosque caretakers, were detained.

Posted outside one of the mosque's doors was a "note of repentance" from a former city policeman renouncing his job and begging for forgiveness from al-Qaida members for working with security forces, according to Iraqi translators who read the flier as U.S. forces dug up the weapons.

In Baghdad, a suicide car bomb hit a convoy of private security contractors in an eastern district, killing three Iraqi bystanders and wounding six others. None of the foreigners — believed to be Americans — were hurt.

A roadside bomb killed one U.S. soldier in northern Baghdad, and a car bomb hit another U.S. patrol in a central neighborhood, wounding four Americans, the military said.

The death raised to at least 1,944, the number of U.S. military members who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press

October 13th, 2005, 11:32 PM
No good news here...

Knight Ridder Reporter Files Harrowing Account After Stint With Iraqi Military

By E&P Staff
October 13, 2005


In a remarkable report published widely Thursday, Tom Lasseter, longtime Knight Ridder correspondent in its Baghdad bureau, reveals what he learned as possibly the first American journalist to embed with an all-Iraqi military operation in the war -- and it isn't pretty.

Lasseter writes that "a week spent eating, sleeping and going on patrol with a crack unit of the Iraqi army" (the 4,500-member 1st Brigade of the 6th Iraqi Division) suggests that the Bush exit strategy of turning over military control to the Iraqis "is in serious trouble. Instead of rising above the ethnic tension that's tearing their nation apart, the mostly Shiite troops are preparing for, if not already fighting, a civil war against the minority Sunni population."

Indeed, the soldiers he traveled with are "seeking revenge against the Sunnis who oppressed them during Saddam Hussein's rule."

American commanders often refer to the 1st Brigade as a template for the future of Iraq's military, and sometimes they operate on their own, other times with American firepower taking the lead. But Lasseter notes that increasingly "they look and operate less like an Iraqi national army unit and more like a Shiite militia."

John Walcott, Knight Ridder's bureau chief in Washington, D.C., told E&P today: "Tom long ago began asking the U.S. military in Baghdad for an embed with an all-Iraqi unit that was operating independently of American forces, with its own base and area of operations, but he never got a response. In the course of other reporting, he'd gotten to know some of the leaders of the 1st Brigade of the 6th Iraqi Division, and they invited him to come and spend some time reporting with them. The U.S. military wasn't involved in setting up Tom's embed, and the Iraqi brigade was managing its own operations."

Previously, Lasseter and other American reporters, such as Tony Shadid and Steve Fainaru of The Washington Post, have arranged similar embeds through the U.S. military, and in those cases the Iraqi units they covered were under U.S. operational command and on maneuvers with U.S. troops, Walcott said.

After documenting one bloody incident, Lasseter quotes the brigade leader, Brig. Gen. Jaleel Khalif Shwail: "These people in Amariyah are cowards. I swear, I swear I'll have revenge." A U.S. military official tells Lasseter: "We never intended to create a Shiite army," the official said. "Clearly, one of our number one concerns going forward ... is sectarianism ... that revenge mentality."

Lasseter also details the horrific deaths and wounds suffered from sniper fire in insurgent-led towns. He quotes the response of a Shiite sergeant: "Just let us have our constitution and elections in December and then we will do what Saddam did -- start with five people from each neighborhood and kill them in the streets and then go from there."

Another sergeant tells him: "Your country had to have a civil war. It will be the same here. Everything in this world has its price. In Iraq the price for peace will be blood."

October 14th, 2005, 10:06 AM
washingtonpost.com (http://www.washingtonpost.com/)

Troops Put In a Good Word to Bush About Iraq

10 U.S. Soldiers Upbeat in Staged Teleconference

By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 14, 2005

President Bush yesterday sought to rally U.S. troops behind his Iraq strategy -- and he and his aides left little to chance.

Before the president spoke via a video link, his event planners handpicked 10 soldiers from the Army's 42nd Infantry and one Iraqi soldier, told them what topics the president would ask about, and watched them briefly rehearse their presentations before going live.

The soldiers did not disappoint. Each one praised the president, the war and the progress in training Iraqi troops. Several spoke in a monotone voice, as if determined to remember and stay on script.

The Iraqi, Sgt. Maj. Akeel Shaker Nassir, who is in charge of the Iraqi army training facility in Tikrit, had only a few words for Bush, but they were gushing: "Thank very much for everything. I like you."

Nassir's comments came near the end of one of the stranger and most awkwardly staged publicity events of the Bush presidency. It started with Bush, in Washington standing at a lectern, talking to the soldiers via video on a large flat-screen. They sat shoulder to shoulder and stared dutifully at the camera.

The president's delivery was choppy, as he gazed frequently at his notes and seemed several times to be groping for the right words. Bush told the soldiers they are facing a "ruthless and coldblooded" enemy intent on "the killing of innocent people to get the American government to pull you out of there before the mission is accomplished."

Two days before Iraq votes on a new constitution that Bush considers essential to creating a democracy in the Middle East, he said the United States is making steady progress in defeating the insurgents and in training Iraqi troops to take over full control of the military operation.

"We got a strategy, and it's a clear strategy," Bush said. "On the one hand, we will hunt down these killers and terrorists and bring them to justice, and train the Iraqi forces to join us in that effort." The soldiers were in complete agreement.

The Defense Department yesterday provided Congress a markedly more sober assessment of the progress in Iraq. It touted advances in the development and involvement of Iraqi troops, but also noted a recent increase in the number of insurgent attacks and problems meeting targets for the production of electricity and oil. At the White House, spokesman Scott McClellan said the troops at Bush's event were told "what to expect."

Before they spoke, Allison Barber, a mid-level Pentagon official, helped coach the troops on who would be asked what by Bush. Afterward, according to Reuters, she told reporters that "we knew that the president was going to ask about security, coalition and training" but not the specific questions.

This not a new technique for Bush; his White House has perfected the public relations strategy of holding scripted events featuring the president's supporters. During the first part of the year, Bush traveled the country to discuss his Social Security plan, while aides stacked the audience with Republicans and tutored participants in these town hall events on what to say.

Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) was not impressed. "The American people and our brave troops deserve better than a photo-op for the president and a pep rally about Iraq," he said. "They deserve a plan. Unfortunately, today's event only served to highlight the fact that the president refuses to engage in a frank conversation about the realities on the ground."

Capt. Stephen N. Pratt tapped to respond to Bush's inquiry about the capability of Iraqi forces. "It was impressive to me," Pratt said, "to see the cooperation and the communication that took place among the Iraqi forces. Along with the coalition's backing them, we'll have a very successful and effective referendum vote."

Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo told Bush the partnership should allow Iraqis to take over a large number of operations within a month.

"Since we began our partnership, they have improved greatly, and they continue to develop and grow into sustainable forces," Lombardo said. "Over the next month, we anticipate seeing at least one-third of those Iraqi forces conducting independent operations."

Offering the Defense Department's own appraisal, Pentagon officials presented a 43-page unclassified report under a congressional requirement for quarterly updates on the situation in Iraq. Compared with the first report, in July, Pentagon officials broke down more specifically how well the Iraqi security forces are doing, with 200,000 troops trained and 88 Army battalions in the fight. They are still a long way from controlling the country's security, officials acknowledged.

After a day of White House damage control, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence T. Di Rita put out a statement last night apologizing for "any perception that [the soldiers] were told what to say" at the event. "It is not the case," he said. Di Rita said technological challenges prompted government officials to advise the soldiers what questions they would be asked "solely to help the troops feel at ease during an obviously unique experience." He said the soldiers decided who would answer.

Staff writer Josh White contributed to this report.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

October 16th, 2005, 11:12 AM
washingtonpost.com (http://www.washingtonpost.com/)

A Vietnam Architect's Wisdom on Iraq

By David S. Broder
Sunday, October 16, 2005

Mel Laird has a unique perspective on the U.S. engagement in Iraq. Not surprisingly, the man who was defense secretary in the Nixon administration and the architect of the policy that managed the extraction of American forces from the seemingly endless war in Vietnam has his own view of the current struggle.

In a lengthy essay in the forthcoming issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, Laird offers an analysis of the parallels -- and differences -- between Iraq and Vietnam that challenges the thinking of both President Bush and the critics of administration policy.

By speaking out publicly for the first time on the subject, the longtime Republican leader -- who served 16 years in Congress before going to the Pentagon for four years in 1969 and to the White House staff for eight months near the end of Nixon's presidency -- has done another service to his country.

Laird does not concede, even now, that Vietnam had to fall to the communists, blaming the loss directly on the Democratic Congress and indirectly on the Ford administration for acquiescing in the cutoff of aid to the Saigon regime.

Nor does he consider democracy in Iraq a lost cause. Far from it. However false the original premise of the war, the fight against terrorism is one that must be won, he says. But speaking from experience, he argues two points that call for a change in emphasis, if not direction, in American policy, and a third that would require Bush to execute a complete about-face.

Noting that the U.S. effort in Vietnam was undercut by Washington's eagerness to install "a real puppet government" in Saigon, made up of "selfish men who were no more than dictators in the garb of statesmen," he argues that in Iraq, "a legitimate government, not window dressing, must be the primary goal." To the extent that the United States is seen as manipulating both the writing and the ratification of the new Iraqi constitution, that advice has been ignored.

Second, Laird argues that the United States should "not let too many more weeks pass" before beginning to withdraw troops from Iraq and turning over the security of the country to Iraqi forces.

When he took over the Pentagon, Laird said, he changed the mission statement "from one of applying maximum pressure against the enemy to one of giving maximum assistance to South Vietnam to fight its own battles."

That should have been U.S. policy in Iraq "even before the first shot was fired." It ought to begin now and continue indefinitely, with the pace to be restrained only by the judgment of American military commanders on the capabilities of Iraqis to fill the security role.

"We owe it to the restive people back home to let them know there is an exit strategy, and, more important, we owe it to the Iraqi people," Laird says. "Our presence is what feeds the insurgency, and our gradual withdrawal would feed the confidence and the ability of average Iraqis to stand up to the insurgency."

White House officials would maintain they are doing their best to establish a legitimate government in Iraq and to boost the fighting capacity of Iraqi forces. But on Laird's third point, they cannot pretend to be in accord.

The former defense secretary, himself a veteran of World War II, has harsh words to say about abuse of prisoners in American hands.

"To stop abuses and mistakes by the rank and file, whether in the prisons or on the streets, heads must roll at much higher levels than they have thus far," he says.

"To me, the alleged prison scandals reported to have occurred in Iraq, in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay have been a disturbing reminder of the mistreatment of our own POWs by North Vietnam. The conditions in our current prison camps are nowhere near as horrific as they were at the 'Hanoi Hilton,' but that is no reason to pat ourselves on the back. The minute we begin to deport prisoners to other nations where they can be legally tortured, when we hold people without charges or trial, when we move prisoners around to avoid the prying inspections of the Red Cross, when prisoners die inexplicably on our watch, we are on a slippery slope toward the inhumanity that we deplore."

Those are powerful words from a powerful source. One can only hope they are heeded.
davidbroder@washpost.com (davidbroder@washpost.com)

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

October 25th, 2005, 11:57 PM
iwashingtonpost.com (http://www.washingtonpost.com/)

U.S. Military Death Toll in Iraq Hits 2,000

The daughters of Lt. Col. Leon James II -- from left, Kathryn, Maria and Rachel -- attend his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery.
The officer died at Walter Reed hospital on Oct. 10 after suffering injuries in Baghdad on Sept. 26. Two of his fellow soldiers died the day of the attack on their Humvee.

Photo Credit: By Lucian Perkins -- The Washington Post Photo

By Josh White and Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writers

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The number of U.S. troops who have died in the Iraq war hit 2,000 yesterday, a toll felt deeply at big military bases across America that active-duty soldiers and families call home, as well as in hundreds of communities where the National Guard and reservists work, live and train.

The threshold was crossed with the Pentagon's announcement that Staff Sgt. George Alexander Jr., 34, of Killeen, Tex., had died at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas on Saturday of injuries suffered in Iraq earlier this month, when a bomb planted by insurgents exploded near his Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

Since the March 2003 invasion and quick march to take Baghdad, U.S. forces have been dying at about 800 a year, with most killed in action by crude but powerful roadside bombs and in firefights against an unrelenting insurgency. More than 90 percent of the deaths have come after President Bush declared an end to "major combat operations" on May 1, 2003.

The deaths in Iraq are relatively few compared with other wars in U.S. history, and they pale dramatically in comparison with losses in the two world wars, when America saw a combined total of more than half a million fall. The Iraq death total also falls far short of the worst nine years of the Vietnam War, from 1964 to 1973, when more than 58,000 U.S. troops did not return, an average of more than 6,400 deaths a year.

Unique to the war in Iraq, however, is the way in which the combat deaths are hitting home, with the Guard and reserves paying a high price because of their unprecedented involvement overseas. While accounting for about a quarter of those killed, recent months have seen such citizen-soldier units taking especially heavy losses, sending the shock of death throughout cities and towns in most every state, sometimes in devastating clusters.

"This is exponentially beyond anything we've seen since World War II," Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said in an interview. "The casualties are felt not only in the immediate family but in the community . . . so the loss is shared and felt even beyond the lives of the normal tragedy. When you call up the Guard, you call up America. It's significantly why the American people continue to support the soldiers even though they may not support the way the war is executed or even [that] we went to war."

The daily casualty tolls are not usually big enough to jar the American public as a whole, apart from events such as helicopter crashes, a suicide bombing at a chow hall or rare heavy losses in battle. Yet flag-draped coffins arriving from Iraq at the rate of two or three each day visit grief upon one town after another -- posing in intimate terms stark questions about the war.

The past two months have been particularly cruel to Pennsylvania, which has lost 15 National Guard soldiers in a series of catastrophic incidents. In one 60-mile stretch of rural northeastern Pennsylvania, tiny towns dotting the Blue Ridge mountains lost several men from one platoon of the local Guard unit -- Charlie Company of the 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry Regiment -- in 10 days of fighting last month in Ramadi.

The death of Spec. William "Bil" Evans, 22, on Sept. 19 in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, ripped through Hallstead, Pa., early the next morning. Immediately, the town of about 2,000 rallied behind his parents, Judy and Bill, as everyone struggled to comprehend it.

Evans joined the National Guard as a way to pay for college. An aspiring photographer, he had his eye on a school in Ohio and strove for a job at National Geographic, his parents said. Evans never figured he would get sent off to combat because the unit had recently served a tour in Bosnia, and he found great camaraderie in the Guard.

"None of them ever thought that they would actually go to war," said Bill Evans, an Air Force veteran, glancing at his son's array of posthumous medals and the flag that draped his casket. "None of them ever dreamed that some of them wouldn't come home."

As the Evans family prepared to put on a viewing for their oldest son on Sept. 29, tragedy hit the region again, the news spreading from house to house in towns such as Carbondale to the south, Athens and Montrose to the west, and in tiny Great Bend, which neighbors Hallstead across the north-flowing waters of the Susquehanna River.

Five more soldiers from Charlie Company had died the day before.

Jessica Wiegand, 21, of Great Bend was about to leave her home for the Evans viewing when a car pulled up and a uniformed officer got out. She knew immediately that her husband, Spec. Lee A. Wiegand, 20, wasn't coming home.

In the days after Evans's death, Jessica Wiegand had noticed a change in the tone of her husband's Internet messages; he had gone from excited about what he was doing to increasingly scared about what might happen.

"He just kept telling me that he loved me and that he would be coming home," Wiegand said, her 5-month-old daughter, Jordan, cooing in the next room. Lee Wiegand saw his daughter only briefly after he was mobilized to deploy. "No one expected anything like this to happen, even with what happened to Bil. It wasn't going to happen to this town again."

The news that five more soldiers had died spread through the viewing line at Evans's church, and more than 2,000 people streamed in over more than eight hours. Those who attended said they were stunned. Many people say, even a month later, that they are still numb.

Donald Littleton, pastor of the United Community Methodist Church in Great Bend, said people have been grappling to describe how the town has changed. He said he believes people have been deeply emotionally affected by the deaths, in part because the war is no longer an abstract concept in the news, but "it's now on our doorstep, it's here, and we have to realize that the war is real."

Sgt. 1st Class James B. Ditchey has felt the losses intensely because he recruited into the Guard all but one of the six soldiers, and he considered all of them family. He said the community has in some ways lost its naivete.

"I never ever thought that I'd have to bury any of my privates. Never," Ditchey said. "My biggest fear was having to face a family like this because I know all the families. I've now had to face it six times."

News has been similarly grim in Maryland, which in the past two weeks lost five service members: three National Guardsmen, a Marine and an active-duty soldier. Since the war started, 84 troops from Maryland,

Virginia and the District have died, including six in the National Guard and four reservists, according to records compiled by The Washington Post.
Virginia has lost 53 troops, Maryland 28. Three from D.C. have died.

The 2,000 mark was recorded yesterday in counts kept by The Post and other news organizations based on information released by the military. The Defense Department's official casualty number, however, generally lags -- it stood yesterday at 1,993 -- because it includes only troops who have been officially identified and whose families have been notified. Pentagon figures show that more than 15,000 have been wounded.

The U.S. military has provided no comprehensive estimate of deaths among Iraqis -- either insurgents or non-combatants. Based on fragmented reports, the number of enemy Iraqi fighters killed appears to be several times greater than the U.S. fatalities, while independent estimates of the number of dead Iraqi civilians range from 20,000 to 30,000.

As in any war, the worst toll in Iraq has been borne by young, male ground troops: Three-quarters of the dead are active-duty soldiers and Marines, the bulk of them in their twenties.

Yet the large presence of National Guard and reserve troops in Iraq -- which peaked at nearly half the total earlier this year -- means those dying are more likely to be older (a quarter are over 30), married (40 percent) and parents (30 percent).

In Vietnam, 10,000 National Guardsmen served, accounting for about 100 deaths, according to official figures. In the Gulf War, no Guard troops died in combat, and only a handful succumbed to accidents and illness. In contrast, since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 250,000 Guard troops have been mobilized to fight terrorism -- including tens of thousands sent to Iraq.

Historians question how much the war's resulting spread of suffering into the far reaches of America will affect political support for the Iraq conflict -- a worry that caused President Lyndon Johnson to keep the Guard home during Vietnam, experts say.

"They were afraid the American public would turn against them because they took all these casualties in one small town," said Maj. Les A. Melnyk, a National Guard Bureau historian. "The fear is the Guard is more vulnerable to public backlash over casualties."

In a scene playing out in different ways in small towns across America, the war deaths swirled in discussion at the local cafe and farmer's market last Friday in Montrose, the seat of Susquehanna County. People said they now see the war in a harsh new light, realizing that the soldiers who are giving their lives aren't from someplace else, they're like Staff Sgt. Daniel L. Arnold, 27 -- from their borough.

"It just drove the horror of war closer to home," said Tom Pascoe, 60, a Montrose dentist. "The stakes of the game are far more vivid."

At Susquehanna Community High School on Friday, the student body honored Evans and celebrated his parents with an emotional ceremony. Evans attended elementary school in the district, and school officials wanted to show their support. Students lined the halls and applauded as the Evanses embraced and slowly walked through the din, tears streaming down their faces.

Blue Ridge High School, from which Evans and Wiegand graduated, is reviewing plans for a memorial, hoping to use bluestone from nearby quarries. Still, many wonder if they could handle more bad news.

"The military is a good option for some of the kids around here," said John Manchester, the high school's principal. "I'm sure there are a lot of mothers and fathers out there who don't want their children signing up right now. . . . I'm not sure I can take another hit. After a while you wonder when it's going to end. This is a small area, and there are just so many ties here."

Maj. Gen. Jessica L. Wright, Pennsylvania's National Guard adjutant general, said she has been meeting with the families who have sacrificed their children, husbands, siblings and parents for the war, and she described it as "devastating." In a telephone interview, Wright nearly broke down when talking about meeting with the family of Spec. Eric W. Slebodnik, 21, of Carbondale, who was one of the five killed on Sept. 28. Slebodnik's remains have not yet been returned to his family, and his funeral will be the last of the six who were from northeastern Pennsylvania.

In addition to Evans, Wiegand, Slebodnik and Arnold, two other soldiers died in the two incidents involving Charlie Company's attacks: Spec. Oliver J. Brown, 19, of Athens, and Staff Sgt. George A. Pugliese, 39, of Carbondale.

"Pennsylvania has been hit really hard in the past two months, and words just don't describe the hurt you feel when that happens," Wright said. "The Guard is a community-based organization. When we send a soldier to war, we send their town to war."

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

October 26th, 2005, 07:02 AM
October 26, 2005

Rising Civilian Toll Is the Iraq War's Silent, Sinister Pulse

By SABRINA TAVERNISE (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=SABRINA TAVERNISE&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=SABRINA TAVERNISE&inline=nyt-per)

BAGHDAD, Iraq (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/iraq/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), Oct. 25 - The scene was grimly familiar. Three car bombs exploding in rapid succession sent plumes of smoke into the evening sky. The targets were foreign reporters and contractors inside two hotels here. But the victims, as is often the case, were Iraqis.

The war here has claimed about 2,000 American service members, but in the cold calculus of the killing, far more Iraqis have been left dead. The figures vary widely, with Iraqi and American officials reluctant to release even the most incomplete of tallies.

In one count, compiled by Iraq Body Count, a United States (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/unitedstates/index.html?inline=nyt-geo)-based nonprofit group that tracks the civilian deaths using news media reports, the total of Iraqi dead since the American-led invasion is 26,690 to 30,051.

Anthony H. Cordesman, a military expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, a nonprofit research group, who has analyzed statistics of American deaths in Iraq, called the group's count "the best guesstimate in town," but warned that the figures were far from complete.

The bombings on Monday, which took place near the Palestine and Sheraton Hotels in central Baghdad, added at least 10 people to the tally, the Interior Ministry said. They were coordinated for maximum damage, exploding just after sunset, when Iraqis were breaking their daily fast for Ramadan. The second bomb, carried in a Jeep Cherokee, killed the largest number of people, including a 19-year-old named Beshir, whose mother wandered aimlessly through the wreckage on Monday night, searching for his body.

"He told me he would leave this dangerous area," said the woman, who was crying and speaking to other women. "Death took him from me before he fulfilled his promise."

The United States military said last week that sweeps it had conducted with Iraqi troops throughout Iraq had trimmed the number of suicide attacks sharply, with 22 attacks in October, compared with 58 in June, not including the blasts on Monday.

But the drop in suicide attacks comes amid an overall rise in violence and a shift in the nature of the killing. Shortly after the invasion, insurgent attacks were aimed almost exclusively at American troops, but as the months passed, Iraqis - civilians, police officers and soldiers - have suffered far greater losses, as insurgents, seeking maximum effect, focus attacks on the softest targets.

The attack on Monday night was the sixth in Wisam Salah's neighborhood, in Firdos Square near the hotels. On Tuesday evening, Mr. Salah, who is Beshir's cousin, was on the street near his home clearing rubble and hanging a door back on its hinges. He spoke angrily about foreigners. They make the area more dangerous for Iraqis, he said.

"They want us as armor for their bodies," he said, his face hard. "They are responsible for this."

An offer of canned beans, rice and sugar from American troops on Tuesday afternoon felt particularly insulting. "Are they making fun of us?" he said, angrily. "Will this bring back those we lost?"

Civilians do appear to be dying at a faster pace. Mr. Cordesman found in a recent analysis of American figures that more than 60 Iraqis were killed daily this year, up from 40 last year.

Adult males make up 82 percent of all Iraqis killed since the American invasion, according to a study released by Iraq Body Count in July. Children account for about 10 percent of the total and women about 8 percent, according to the study.

Mr. Salah saw Beshir an hour before his death. His cousin was smiling - he had just been given a computer. Beshir worked in a lawyer's office serving tea to the clients.

A strange exchange took place between residents and one of the suicide bombers. He was driving slowly toward the Sadeer Hotel, and residents waved at him to stop to save him from nervous hotel guards, said Haidar Abed, a laborer. The bomber looked at them and nodded slightly. Moments later, he detonated his payload, Mr. Abed said.

Among those killed were Iraqi soldiers and at least one police officer. The Iraqi Army and police forces have also suffered significant losses. According to Iraqi Coalition Casualty Count, a Web site that tracks coalition forces' deaths and keeps tabs on deaths among Iraqi security forces through news media reports, 2,150 Iraqi soldiers, commandos and police officers have been killed in attacks so far this year, compared to 1,300 before 2005.

In Mr. Salah's neighborhood, a car mechanic was killed. A family of four was killed just as they parked their blue Volkswagen to go to a nearby restaurant, a hotel guard said.

The sounds of scraping and sweeping filled the quiet of the morning between the two hotels where the bombs had exploded the day before. Cleaners made some macabre finds. A human thigh - most likely that of the bomber who was driving a cement mixer - was nestled near a patch of pink flowers. A foot, dirty with soot and oil, lay on the asphalt near the truck chassis. The man's hands were handcuffed to the steering wheel, said a hotel guard who saw them.

"We are used to this," said Mr. Salah's mother, standing in her kitchen with no glass in the windows. Her 15-year-old son was seriously wounded in the blast.

In the Agriculture Ministry near Mr. Salah's house, the clock stopped at 5:35, the time of the blast. Mr. Abed stretched a long coil of barbed wire across his street at sunset on Tuesday evening.

Qais Mizher and Khalid al-Ansary contributed reporting from Baghdad for this article.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

October 26th, 2005, 09:27 AM
U.S. Military Death Toll in Iraq Hits 2,000

The number of U.S. troops who have died in the Iraq war hit 2,000 yesterday, a toll felt deeply at big military bases across America that active-duty soldiers and families call home, as well as in hundreds of communities where the National Guard and reservists work, live and train.

The Roster of the Dead (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/26/national/IRAQDEATHS_GRAPHIC.html)
(Photos and information of the 2,000 Americans who have died, from March 2003 to October 2005)


Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, nearly 2,000 American service members have died. The dead represent the highest toll since the Vietnam War.

October 26th, 2005, 10:04 AM
Saddam team wants to 'try' Bush

25/10/2005 17:14 - (SA)


Amman - Saddam Hussein's defence committee wants to put US President George W Bush in the dock to mirror the Baghdad trial of the former Iraqi leader over a Shi'ite massacre, a Jordanian lawyer said on Tuesday.

"We shall contact international and Arab lawyer associations and will put forward the proof allowing for a trial of the criminal Bush at the same time as the fake trial takes place in Iraq," Saleh Armuti told a meeting of the Amman-based Saddam defence committee.

If lawyers abroad fail to take the case to court, "we shall organise it in Jordan and will invite international supporters", Armuti said, without specifying on what grounds he wanted to try Bush.

Saddam is currently being tried on charges of murder and torture related to the killing of 148 Shi'ites from the village of Dujail following a failed attempt on the Iraqi leader's life in July 1982.

Saddam's Iraqi lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi, who arrived in Amman on Tuesday to take part in talks on co-ordinating strategy for his next court hearing on November 28, did not attend the defence committee meeting.
"Khalil will meet members of the defence team later today," said Jordanian lawyer Ziyad Najdawi.

October 26th, 2005, 10:29 AM
Photos remind me of an issue of Life Magazine, a ubiquitous homogenized symbol of American culture. The June 27, 1969 issue of the magazine marked a distinct departure from its editorial policy toward the war.

The website date is incorrect.

October 26th, 2005, 12:01 PM
^ Almost 220 dead in one week back in 1969 ...

Those who wage war seem to have figured out how to minimize casualties.

October 26th, 2005, 01:17 PM
They're better at saving lives, still the number of wounded casualties is another 15,000.


October 26th, 2005, 02:30 PM
There is a smaller front to protect, and it is also a bit harder to actively attack without a consolodated military to attack with.

Vietnam was pretty much one enemy that we knew about, but could not do much about. it was like oil in a sponge, no matter how much you tried squeezing, you never got it all out.

Thing is, the harder we squeezed, the easier it was to just leave something sharp in there and let us hurt ourselves on it.

But enough of that analogy.

This is a long term occupation that we will not see the end of until we get THEIR military up and running. I do not see that happening for another 5 or so years.

Then we have the problem of being the chief supporter/supplier of the new regime, which may end up going raght back into a Saddam like rule in order to consolodate the nation against highly politically charged dissident religious factions.

It was a very sticky honeypot that Bush and Co. stuck their hands in without consideration of how we would get them back out again.

October 26th, 2005, 08:22 PM
There were more casualties in Vietnam than in Iraq because there were two forces being fought.

The insurgents in Iraq are comparable to the National Liberation Front (Vietcong, VC, Charlie) in Vietnam. They were guerrilla fighters that infiltrated villages in South Vietnam, and merged with the population. They did not inflict a large amount of casulaties, but the type of warfare they enngaged in was extremely stressful to U.S.troops. Similar to the aftermath of Vietnam, the Iraq War that is now being fought, without a distinct enemy or goal, will have a significant impact on the psychological health of returning soldiers.

Unlike Iraq, there was also a a North Vietnam Army. These were discplined, well trained troops, and they inflicted heavy casualties on U.S. soldiers.

October 28th, 2005, 11:32 AM
US forces in Iraq reach 161,000 --
highest level of the war

Thursday October 27, 2005

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20051027/pl_afp/usiraqforces&printer=1;_ylt=Ah0qW28rALRb1QwbmiHyYtutOrgF;_ylu=X 3oDMTA3MXN1bHE0BHNlYwN0bWE

US forces in Iraq have swelled to 161,000, their highest level since the US invasion in March 2003, a Pentagon spokesman said.

The increase was due to overlapping troop rotations, said Lawrence DiRita, the chief Pentagon spokesman.

The previous high in US force levels was reached in January, when the number of US troops in the country rose to 159,000 during national elections.

"The last number I saw was 161,000, but you're going to start to see that come down pretty dramatically because that was in-place relief and holdovers," said DiRita.

Lieutenant General John Vines, the number two commander in Iraq, said in September that the numbers would rise for the October 15 constitutional referendum by only some 2,000 troops from a base level of 138,000.

He said at the time that the growth in the number of trained Iraqi security forces meant there was less need for a larger US troop buildup for the referendum, or for the upcoming December 15 national elections.

In the past the US military has built up force levels during key political milestones in anticipation of rising insurgent violence.

"For the next election, I wouldn't be surprised to see it go right back up to 160,000 based on puts and takes and in-place rotations and relief, and everything else," DiRita said.

Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/afp/SIG=122dhv7qk/**http%3A%2F%2Fwww.afp.com%2Fenglish%2Flinks%2F%3F pid%3Dcopyright).

November 2nd, 2005, 01:40 PM
Wolfowitz, in New Role, Blocked by Iraq Chaos He Didn't Foresee


Nov. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Paul Wolfowitz is having trouble getting back into Iraq.

Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, left President George W. Bush's administration in June to run the World Bank. His new role -- helping direct the redevelopment of schools, bridges and other infrastructure in Iraq -- is being hampered by the war's violence and instability, problems he once predicted wouldn't occur.

``There's not a lot you can do when the security is bad,'' said Ivan Eland, a former defense analyst at the Congressional Budget Office who is now with the Oakland, California-based policy group Independent Institute. ``You have trouble getting people to go there.''

The Washington-based World Bank, the largest financer of projects in developing nations, estimated in December 2003 that Iraq would need as much as $35.8 billion in reconstruction aid from 2005 through 2007. As of September 2005, the bank had financed only $156.8 million in projects and allocated $366 million more through a trust set up with the United Nations, World Bank documents show.

Former World Bank President James Wolfensohn relocated his staff in Iraq to Oman and Jordan after an August 2003 bombing near the bank's Baghdad headquarters killed at least 22 people.

It isn't clear when staff can return, said Wolfowitz, 61, who left his job as deputy defense secretary to replace the retiring Wolfensohn. The bank ``is weighing the relative risks against the potential gains in terms of greater effectiveness,'' Wolfowitz told reporters Sept. 19. ``There's no question it is dangerous.''

2,000 Dead

More than 2,000 U.S. servicemen have died in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion, as have hundreds of civilian contractors, as insurgents use homemade bombs, grenade launchers and other methods to disrupt military and humanitarian operations.

The World Bank doles out more than $22 billion a year in loans and grants that largely go toward erecting roads and bridges, building telecommunications networks and providing health-care and educational supplies in poor nations.

The bank first pledged to give $2.5 billion to $4.5 billion to Iraq at a donors' conference in December 2003. The $366 million the bank has allocated from the trust was for nine projects -- one of which has been completed -- mostly related to emergency water supplies and textbook distribution.

The $156.8 million is from the bank's traditional lending pool and went to 12 small projects that included building a school, constructing grain silos, patching up damaged roads and laying the groundwork for television linkups.

Being There

``The bank is going to put a lot of money in the country and will want to make sure it is well spent,'' said Edwin Truman, former assistant secretary for international affairs at the U.S. Treasury Department and now a senior fellow at the Institute for International Economics, a research group based in Washington. ``To do that, you have to be there.''

In July, the World Bank said Iraq would receive as much as $500 million more over two years to rebuild schools, restore infrastructure and provide emergency health care, representing the first loans to Iraq since 1973. The $500 million will be used to extend projects begun by the trust fund, the bank said.

The World Bank has provided more than $900 million in loans and grants to Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion there in October 2001. The World Bank had staffers on the ground about two months after the start of the war, and its first grant was issued within six months of the initial bombing.

No Problem With Oman

Wolfowitz said that while he would like to increase the rate of disbursing aid in Iraq, the bank has still been effective in administering programs. ``No one has talked about being in Oman as being a severe restriction,'' he told reporters.

The bank speaks with Iraqi officials by teleconference, and the needs there would be better served with World Bank evaluators working in a safe environment, Wolfowitz said. ``It is probably the case that the more you can concentrate your efforts in areas that are relatively secure, the faster things can move,'' he said.

As deputy defense secretary, Wolfowitz was a strong advocate of toppling Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. He argued that the U.S. would be greeted as a liberator and helped Bush craft a rationale for the invasion. In a February 2003 congressional appearance, he criticized opponents who said taking and maintaining control of Iraq would require a bigger troop presence than was planned.

Lowering Expectations

Immediately upon taking the World Bank post, Wolfowitz began lowering expectations about Iraq, saying the continuing violence there would limit the bank's ability to foster reconstruction and force the lender to focus attention elsewhere.

The violence that has escalated in Iraq since Bush declared military victory in May 2003 has caused Iraq's economy to stumble in the past year, according to an August report by the International Monetary Fund. Like the World Bank, the IMF conducted its review outside Iraq, in the neighboring United Arab Emirates.

The IMF report said oil production in Iraq was 2 million barrels a day, short of projections for 2.4 million barrels, because of the violent insurgency. That has left Iraq unable to take advantage of record-high oil prices. The IMF scaled back its expectations for economic growth to 4 percent from 17 percent.

``It is one of the most dangerous places where we have sent westerners in modern time,'' said Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. ``It is effectively a country at war.''

Solving the Problem

Iraqis voted on a new constitution Oct. 15, paving the way for general elections Dec. 31. The U.S. hopes the new government elected then will take a greater role in battling the insurgency and ease pressure on the U.S. military.

The World Bank and other organizations still play an important role in showing the insurgents that U.S.-led groups are interested in rebuilding the country, analysts say. Having people on the ground would help the bank make assessments, though the danger in Iraq hardly makes it worthwhile at the moment, O'Hanlon said.

``They definitely have people there who they work with, but there is no doubt that it reduces the quality of the analysis'' not having people there, O'Hanlon said. ``I don't necessarily think the World Bank will solve this problem even if they had all the available information.''

©2005 Bloomberg L.P.

November 5th, 2005, 08:48 AM
War protesters sue for right to bare breasts

RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/)
November 4, 2005


Mendocino County women who have been baring their breasts at various venues to protest the war in Iraq are in Sacramento federal court seeking an order prohibiting the California Highway Patrol from arresting them during a planned noon demonstration Monday at the Capitol, the (registration-restricted) Sacramento Bee reported (http://www.sacbee.com/content/news/story/13811955p-14653030c.html) Friday afternoon.

Sacramento Bee:

The women's group, Breasts Not Bombs, is suing CHP Commissioner Mike Brown and two of his officers over a warning that if the women demonstrate while topless, they will be arrested and charged with indecent exposure and disorderly conduct.

The group claims it also was warned by the CHP that if its members are convicted of indecent exposure they may have to register as sex offenders. It also claims the CHP said its admonition did not apply to male members of the group, who are free to go topless during the demonstration.

A court declaration of Sherry Glaser, a member of the group and its spokeswoman, says the planned political protest "focuses primarily, though not exclusively, on various initiatives (on Tuesday's ballot) we oppose that Governor Schwarzenegger supports."

November 6th, 2005, 04:22 PM
Before Rearming Iraq, He Sold Shoes and Flowers

By Solomon Moore and T. Christian Miller
Times Staff Writers
Sun Nov 6, 7:55 AM ET


BAGHDAD — Ziad Cattan was a Polish Iraqi used-car dealer with no weapons-dealing experience until U.S. authorities turned him into one of the most powerful men in Iraq last year — the chief of procurement for the Defense Ministry, responsible for equipping the fledgling Iraqi army.

As U.S. advisors looked on, Cattan embarked on a massive spending spree, paying hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraqi funds for secret, no-bid contracts, according to interviews with more than a dozen senior American, coalition and Iraqi officials, and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times. The money flowed, often in bricks of cash, through the hands of middlemen who were friends of Cattan and took a percentage of the proceeds.

Although much of the material purchased has proved useful, U.S. advisors said, the contracts also paid for equipment that was shoddy, overpriced or never delivered. The questionable purchases — including aging Russian helicopters and underpowered Polish transport vehicles — have slowed the development of the Iraqi army and hindered its ability to replace American troops, U.S. and Iraqi officials say.

Cattan, now facing corruption charges leveled by the Iraqi Justice Ministry, insists that he is innocent of any wrongdoing and the victim of a smear campaign. In interviews in Poland, where he now lives, Cattan said he had worked under pressure from U.S. and Iraqi officials to arm the Iraqi forces as quickly as possible.

"Before, I sold water, flowers, shoes, cars — but not weapons," said Cattan, who signed most of the 89 military contracts worth nearly $1.3 billion to equip Iraqi security forces, according to the documents. "We didn't know anything about weapons."

Cattan's improbable rise and fall raises troubling questions about American oversight of the Iraqi army's development, considered the most important mission in reducing the number of U.S. troops in harm's way.

The portrait that emerges from interviews and documents is a Defense Ministry whose members were picked with the care of choosing a pickup basketball team. U.S.-appointed military advisors often selected inexperienced Iraqis and watched as they cut pell-mell weapons deals that eventually totaled one-third of the entire procurement budget.

The Iraqis "were like, 'Hey we're a sovereign government now…. We'll buy what we want,' " one military advisor said. "We didn't know what was going on with the money."

Iraqis say the corruption scandal has set back their efforts to fight insurgents. More than 27 arrest warrants have been issued for former government officials, including Cattan and his boss, former Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan. Several former ministry officials have fled the country, others are already in prison awaiting trial, and six have been killed by unknown assailants.

"These violations are many, and they allow terrorism to flourish," said Judge Radhi Radhi, the head of the Commission on Public Integrity, which is leading the investigations. "Exposing this corruption is a matter of vital importance for Iraq."

Cattan's ascent began two days before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, when he returned from Poland after 26 years in an attempt to bring his elderly father out of Iraq to safety.

His father refused to leave, however, so Cattan decided to stay as the war raged on. A broad, garrulous man with boundless confidence, Cattan figured he could help rebuild the country, drawing on a past that included an economics doctorate and business ventures including used cars and a pizza parlor.

Cattan was elected to one of the local advisory councils the U.S. set up after the initial combat phase of the war. He soon became close with the U.S. troops that occupied his neighborhood, filled with military officers who served under President Saddam Hussein, who had just been toppled.

By early 2004, as the U.S. moved toward handing sovereignty to the Iraqis, Cattan had caught the eye of American officials who were scrambling to build a new Defense Ministry. The U.S. was starting from scratch. Coalition advisors decided that civilians should lead the new ministry, but under Hussein, the Defense Ministry was run by military officers, meaning there was no pool of experienced Iraqis from which to draw.

In desperation, Americans cast a wide net, sending interested Iraqis to the United States for a three-week crash course on Defense Ministry management. Cattan was one of the first to go.

Upon his return, he rose quickly through the new ministry's ranks, becoming the director of military procurement after the first director's assassination. Cattan was chosen partly because he had done a good job obtaining furniture for the ministry building, one source said.

He impressed U.S. officials in the coalition with his ability to get things done, a trait lacking in many Iraqi government prospects, who had learned to avoid taking the initiative under the Hussein dictatorship.

"He was somebody we recruited, and we were taking a chance on him just like on everybody else," said Frederick Smith, a former Defense Department official who was one of a handful of coalition officials charged with building the ministry. "Ziad is not a choirboy. But he was willing to serve."

As the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority handed over sovereignty in June 2004, the American mission in Iraq shifted its focus to training and equipping Iraqi forces.

Cattan said U.S. officials pressured the Iraqis to begin spending Iraqi funds, which would supplement American spending on arms contracts that had gotten bogged down in the U.S. contracting process. Gen. David Petraeus, head of the training mission, and Nick Beadle, a British Defense Ministry official who was chief advisor to the Iraqi Defense Ministry, declined to comment.

All of sudden, Cattan had $600 million to spend, with a mandate to spend it by the end of December under Iraqi budgeting rules.

In September, Cattan said, he signed the first of 38 contracts with Bumar, Poland's state arms dealer, which would total more than $400 million. Bumar is supposed to supply Iraq with 36 Russian and Polish transport helicopters and 600 Polish armored personnel trucks.

Petraeus and Beadle both objected to the helicopters, according to interviews with military advisors, saying they were not a top priority when Iraqi soldiers still needed basic equipment such as guns and bulletproof vests.

"It was a question of what was the greatest need given the resources available to them and the coalition, and at the same time, whether they had the capacity not only to buy it, but to maintain and sustain it," one military official said.

The Iraqis later objected to the helicopters as well, declaring them too old to fly. A delegation of Iraqi test pilots who visited Bumar's production facility in St. Petersburg, Russia, declined to sign papers to finalize the sale. The current Iraqi government has since rebuffed Bumar's offers to ship the helicopters.

Cattan and Bumar officials acknowledged that some helicopters were 25 years old, but defended the purchase.

Bumar President Roman Baczynski said in an interview that his company has already prepared 10 new Russian MI-17 helicopters for delivery. The rest of the helicopters are used and must be overhauled, including eight manufactured between 1978 and 1986.

Baczynski arranged for a Times reporter to tour a production plant outside Warsaw where the armored personnel trucks were being prepared. The factory will produce about 20 vehicles a month, mostly by hand, at an average cost of $167,000 each. The boxy, beige trucks have metal-reinforced tires, space for 10 soldiers and armor sufficient to stop an AK-47 round.

But during a test drive, the reporter could not manage to propel the heavy truck up a 45-degree, 8-foot-high incline from a standing start; a test driver had to back the vehicle up to build momentum. Bumar officials said the truck only had a 150-horsepower engine — about the same as a Mazda Miata.

"The engine size was their decision," a Bumar executive said. "We adjust to the client's requirements — and cost was a factor for them."

Besides the quality of the material, U.S. and Iraqi officials have raised questions in audits and financial reviews about the possibility of fraud in the payment mechanism.

The Polish contracts, like others signed by Cattan, were paid in cash, up front — both violations of Iraqi contracting regulations, according to a confidential audit by the Iraqi Supreme Board of Audit obtained by The Times.

Many of the contracts signed by Cattan passed through companies run by Iraqi businessman Naer Mohammed Jumaili, whom Cattan had gotten to know while on the advisory council, according to Cattan and the audit. Cattan said he worked closely with Jumaili and other businessmen who owned cash-transfer companies, which exchange currency and move it outside the country. Cattan said he awarded them reconstruction contracts as they provided information on insurgent money flowing into Iraq.

"They supported me to become a big man in Iraq," Cattan said of Jumaili and the other businessmen, whom he referred to as "my friends."

He said he turned to Jumaili during the weapons deals because Jumaili was Bumar's sole registered agent in Iraq — a claim Bumar denied. Cattan also said he used Jumaili's services because it was the only way to move money out of Iraq. In a complicated series of transactions, the Defense Ministry would issue a check to Jumaili's firm, which would cash the check at an Iraqi bank. Jumaili or Cattan would then coordinate the physical movement of sacks of cash to banks in Jordan, according to interviews and documents.

All told, nearly $1 billion worth of contracts were signed with Jumaili's companies, according to the audit. Cattan said Jumaili charged 1% for his services. If true, Jumaili could have earned up to $10 million in fees. Jumaili could not be reached for comment.

U.S., Iraqi and coalition officials said they didn't know about the enormous cash transfers until after one especially large shipment of $300 million became public last winter, when ministry officials were spotted loading bags stuffed with $100 bills onto a flight to Jordan.

U.S.-appointed military advisors conducted a high-level financial review of the ministry's books, resulting in a determination in February of a "high risk of fraud," according to two sources with knowledge of the review.

That review, in turn, sparked a more thorough examination by the Supreme Board of Audit, one of three anti-fraud Iraqi agencies supported by the U.S. government to crack down on corruption.

The May report, which reviewed 89 contracts worth $1.3 billion signed between June 28, 2004, and Feb. 28, was sharply critical. Auditors could not find contract copies, payment receipts or verify that equipment had been received. The audit criticized Cattan's cash payments as a "flagrant violation of the state monetary policy."

Iyad Allawi, the U.S.-appointed interim Iraqi prime minister at the time of the deals, said he wasn't aware that Cattan was using private intermediaries to transfer cash. He charged that the accusations of corruption within his Cabinet were politically motivated.

"I don't think it is fair at all that we shift focus from Saddam and the corruption during Saddam's time … to a period of six to seven months when I was prime minister," said Allawi, who noted that he initiated three investigations. "That is not to say that there is no corruption — there is, of course, corruption."

Another contract called into question by the auditors and U.S. officials involved Wye Oak Technology, a Pennsylvania firm run by Dale Stoffel, an American arms broker. Stoffel, who was killed in a roadside attack after reporting his concerns about corruption at the Defense Ministry, was the subject of previous Times stories.

Stoffel had an agreement worth up to $283 million to refurbish Iraqi tanks and sell scrap metal abroad, according to interviews and documents. When Cattan was slow to pay invoices, Stoffel complained to the Pentagon that the Iraqis were demanding kickbacks by insisting that only certain contractors be hired, according to letters obtained by The Times.

Cattan said he was reluctant to pay the contract because he received only a "vague invoice." He said U.S. officials regularly pressured him to pay Wye Oak.

Army Col. David Styles, the Petraeus deputy who was in charge of the tank project, acknowledged pressuring Cattan, but only because he wanted the project to progress, he says.

Styles also said Cattan used money from the project to buy tens of thousands of bulletproof vests that fell apart and helmets "which were no better than the helmets I got as a kid from [the] toy store."

"The fact that Cattan did not want money paid unless it was to a contractor he personally approved was the problem," Styles said in response to e-mailed questions.

Although U.S. and Iraqi officials believe the chaotic spending harmed the effort to develop Iraqi forces, they disagree about the nature of the effect.

Iraqi officials believe that as much as $500 million has been wasted. They say that Iraqi soldiers are unable to fight effectively and are at greater risk because they lack good-quality weapons, armored vehicles and other supplies as a result of the questionable purchases. More than 2,000 Iraqi soldiers and police officers have died this year.

"The Americans have spent two years building the Iraqi forces," said Hadi Amery, an Iraqi legislator and head of the Badr Brigade militia, the armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a top political party. "What have you done through these two years?"

U.S. officials say the scale of corruption is far smaller, and that its effect on Iraqi troop readiness is smaller too.

One U.S. military official said some of Iraq's battalions could have improved their combat readiness had the Iraqis focused more on buying critically needed items instead of equipment such as helicopters.

"There clearly was some impact from Ziad's practices," the military official said. "However, it was not clear that it was all that substantial." The Americans said they did all they could, but that the Iraqis made final decisions.

Such assertions puzzle Iraqis. How is it, they say, that the U.S. could have allowed such slipshod execution of such an important task?

"We have American experts in the Defense Ministry," said Radhi, the official investigating the corruption. "When they saw such violations, why didn't they do something? They are experts."

Moore reported from Baghdad, Warsaw and Amman, Jordan; and Miller from Washington.

Copyright © 2005 Los Angeles Times (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/DailyNews/trib/lat/SIG=o2s8qq/*http://www.latimes.com/)

November 8th, 2005, 09:42 AM
US 'uses incendiary arms' in Iraq

November 8, 2005
Story from BBC NEWS:

Italian state TV, Rai, has broadcast a documentary accusing the US military of using white phosphorus bombs against civilians in the Iraqi city of Falluja.

Rai says this amounts to the illegal use of chemical arms, though the bombs are considered incendiary devices.

Eyewitnesses and ex-US soldiers say the weapon was used in built-up areas in the insurgent-held city.

The US military denies this, but admits using white phosphorus bombs in Iraq to illuminate battlefields.

Washington is not a signatory of an international treaty restricting the use of white phosphorus devices.


Spontaneously flammable chemical used for battlefield illumination
Contact with particles causes burning of skin and flesh
Use of incendiary weapons prohibited for attacking civilians (Protocol III of Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons)
Protocol III not signed by USTransmission of the documentary comes a day after the arrival of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on a five-day official visit to Italy.

It also coincides with the first anniversary of the US-led assault on Falluja, which displaced most of the city's 300,000 population and left many of its buildings destroyed.

The documentary was shown on Rai's rolling news channel, with a warning that the some of the footage was disturbing.

The future of the 3,000-strong Italian peacekeeping contingent in Iraq is the subject of a political tug-of-war, says the BBC's David Willey in Rome.

'Destroyed evidence'

The documentary begins with formerly classified footage of the Americans using napalm bombs during the Vietnam war.

It then shows a series of photographs from Falluja of corpses with the flesh burnt off but clothes still intact - which it says is consistent with the effects of white phosphorus on humans.

Jeff Englehart, described as a former US soldier who served in Falluja, tells of how he heard orders for white phosphorus to be deployed over military radio - and saw the results.

"Burned bodies, burned women, burned children; white phosphorus kills indiscriminately... When it makes contact with skin, then it's absolutely irreversible damage, burning flesh to the bone," he says.

Last December, the US state department issued a denial of what it called "widespread myths" about the use of illegal weapons in Falluja.

"Phosphorus shells are not outlawed. US forces have used them very sparingly in Falluja, for illumination purposes. They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters," the US statement said.

However, the Rai film also alleges that Washington has systematically attempted to destroy filmed evidence of the alleged use of white phosphorus on civilians in Falluja.

Italian public opinion has been consistently against the war and the Rai documentary can only reinforce calls for a pullout of Italian soldiers as soon as possible, our correspondent says.

Both the Italian government and opposition leaders are talking about a phased withdrawal in 2006.
President Talabani and the US say the continued presence of multi-national forces in Iraq is essential.


November 9th, 2005, 09:14 PM
Powell told senator he'd reveal details about case for war in Iraq after both left office, sources say

Larisa Alexandrovna and Jason Leopold
http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Powell_expressed_reticence_on_prewar_intelligence_ 1109.html

President Bush’s former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, may have known that the case for military action in Iraq was thin before he presented it to the United Nations, RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) has learned.

In an interview earlier this year, Powell told ABC News’s Barbara Walters that he felt misled by the intelligence community and found the entire experience of presenting questionable information to the United Nations to be “painful.”

“George Tenet did not sit there for five days with me misleading me," he said (http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Politics/story?id=1105979&page=1). “He believed what he was giving to me was accurate.”

But according to individuals familiar with Powell’s conversations in the days leading up to his UN presentation, an exchange between Powell and the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joseph Biden (D-DE), indicates that the Secretary may have already had issue with the evidence presented for going to war with Iraq.

Several days prior to his UN presentation, then-Secretary Powell had a private conversation with Sen. Biden, sources familiar with the Secretary's account say.

During this conversation, Biden reiterated much of what he had said during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s hearing on the evidence as presented by Powell deputy Richard Armitage. According to sources, Biden expressed his concerns to Powell about the reliability of the evidence, and encouraged the Secretary to speak only about intelligence that he was sure of.

“Mr. Secretary, tell them what you know,” Biden said, according to those familiar with the conversation.

“…When we are both out of office for two years, I will tell you what is going on here,” they say Powell replied.

One individual familiar with the conversation said it suggested Powell had personal reservations about the intelligence.

Senator Biden's office declined to comment on the conversation, saying the exchange was private. A spokesman for the Secretary said he was traveling and declined to comment.

More from State: Armitage chimes in

Just a few days before Biden's conversation with Powell, then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage presented evidence to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Iraq’s now debunked WMD program. Armitage described the case against Iraq, citing an alleged attempted uranium purchase and aluminum tubes in much the same way that Powell would later present to the United Nations.

But during his Jan 30., 2003 testimony, he admitted (http://www.iraqwatch.org/government/US/HearingsPreparedstatements/sfrc-013003.htm) that the claims of Iraq reconstituting its nuclear program were not the strongest points of evidence.
“SEN. BIDEN: …Why is it that we spend, it seems, so much time on making the assertions that are the least -- or, the most difficult to prove, including the aluminum tubes, when we have such overwhelming evidence of the failure of Iraq to comply with the existence -- with 1441? It seems to undercut our case. We lead with the two things that may be true but are the most difficult to prove.

MR. ARMITAGE: … On the question of why we spend so much time on things that are difficult to prove, perhaps particularly on the aluminum tubes, we miscalculated. Clearly, there's a difference of opinion in the intelligence community, which we came up and briefed forthrightly and, indeed, deliberately.”

John Pike, Director of GlobalSecurity.org (http://www.globalsecurity.org/), a Washington-based military research group, said the evidence was grossly inaccurate and poorly constructed.

“They didn't understand how weak it was,” Pike said. “In the sense that those idiots at Army intelligence never got around [to] evaluating the diameter of aluminum tubes relative to the artillery rockets that Iraq had.
That was an elementary blunder in tradecraft.”

“If you read the WMD intelligence report, the incompetence, the ineptitude, and the breaches of elementary tradecraft were just so pervasive that you just want to drive up to some of these buildings and clean them out with a firehouse,” Pike added. “You really have to wonder what these people do for a living. Because they're just so incompetent.”

That same day, Walter Pincus and Dana Priest wrote (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A63538-2003Jan29&notFound=true) in the Washington Post about the case for war and the evidence provided by the Bush administration.

The Post reporters wrote, “But the information, while constituting what officials described as a more graphic case against Iraq than presented by the administration to date, is still circumstantial, the officials said. It does not include new intelligence linking the Baghdad government to al Qaeda despite assertions by President Bush in his State of the Union address Tuesday and by British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London yesterday that the ties exist.”

The Big Sell

Nevertheless, on Feb. 5, 2003, Powell told the world that credible intelligence showed that Iraq was working to develop nuclear weapons.

In his interview with ABC’s Walters, Powell claimed that responsibility for faulty intelligence lay primarily with lower level intelligence officers who did not come forward.

“There were some people in the intelligence community who knew at that time that some of these sources were not good, and shouldn't be relied upon, and they didn't speak up,” he said. “That devastated me.”

However, retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who served as a political military analyst (http://www.militaryweek.com/kk120103.shtml) in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Policy Directorate, questions the sincerity of Powell’s statement to Walters.

“Powell clearly knew he was being fed dubious claims regarding Iraq, and he knew those claims were being pushed hard by the White House,” Kwiatkowski told RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/). “He knew because he had discarded and rejected some of them already, and he had to push back hard in order to do that.”

Kwiatkowski also took umbrage with Powell's insistence that he was misled.

“In my military career, if a general or anyone else wanted to get to the heart of the matter, you (the low ranking expert) got a knock on your door,” she said. “You jumped to attention and gave the ranking officer the information he needed, and it had better be the truth. Surely, Powell himself understood this and had done this himself many times in his career.”

Armitage, who presented the uranium claims to Congress, served as an Assistant Secretary of Defense to Ronald Reagan and was forced to resign for his role in the Iran-Contra (http://www.answers.com/topic/iran-contra-affair) affair. He was denied Senate confirmation to be Assistant Secretary of State under President George H.W. Bush.

According to the Washington Post, the final decision was to be made by the White House.

“They have reached no conclusions on exactly what will be said,” an intelligence official told the Post. “But a lot more is being done this week to get a decision on what's safe to reveal.” Eventually, one official said, "the president will have to make the decision.”

“The Bush people had decided long ago and far away that they were going to blow up Saddam," Pike said. “They did not require convincing. What they required was arguments that might convince others.”

Muriel Kane contributed to research for this article.

November 10th, 2005, 10:52 AM
US 'uses incendiary arms' in Iraq

November 8, 2005
Story from BBC NEWS:

Italian state TV, Rai, has broadcast a documentary accusing the US military of using white phosphorus bombs against civilians in the Iraqi city of Falluja.

This story was like a punch in the gut. This administration must be stopped.

November 11th, 2005, 11:19 AM
Of all the sleazy things that the Administration has done to justify this war, parading Ahmad Chalabi around Washington DC has to top the list.

He should be paraded around Guantanamo.

November 15th, 2005, 12:17 AM
November 15, 2005

Senate Republicans Pushing for a Plan on Ending the War in Iraq

By CARL HULSE (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=CARL HULSE&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=CARL HULSE&inline=nyt-per)

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 - In a sign of increasing unease among Congressional Republicans over the war in Iraq (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/iraq/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), the Senate is to consider on Tuesday a Republican proposal that calls for Iraqi forces to take the lead next year in securing the nation and for the Bush administration to lay out its strategy for ending the war.

The Senate is also scheduled to vote Tuesday on a compromise, announced Monday night, that would allow terror detainees some access to federal courts. The Senate had voted last week to prohibit those being held from challenging their detentions in federal court, despite a Supreme Court ruling to the contrary.

Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who is the author of the initial plan, said Monday that he had negotiated a compromise that would allow detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to challenge their designation as enemy combatants in federal courts and also allow automatic appeals of any convictions handed down by the military where detainees receive prison terms of 10 years or more or a death sentence.

The proposal on the Iraq war, from Senator Bill Frist (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/f/bill_frist/index.html?inline=nyt-per), the majority leader, and Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, would require the administration to provide extensive new quarterly reports to Congress on subjects like progress in bringing in other countries to help stabilize Iraq. The other appeals related to Iraq are nonbinding and express the position of the Senate.

The plan stops short of a competing Democratic proposal that moves toward establishing dates for a phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq. But it is built upon the Democratic approach and makes it clear that senators of both parties are increasingly eager for Iraqis to take control of their country in coming months and open the door to removing American troops.

Mr. Warner said the underlying message was, "we really mean business, Iraqis, get on with it." The senator, an influential party voice on military issues, said he did not interpret the wording of his plan as critical of the administration, describing it as a "forward-looking" approach.

"It is not a question of satisfaction or dissatisfaction," he said. "This reflects what has to be done."

Democrats said the plan represented a shift in Republican sentiment on Iraq and was an acknowledgment of growing public unrest with the course of the war and the administration's frequent call for patience. "I think it signals the fact that the American people are demanding change, and the Republicans see that that's something that they have to follow," said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader.

Mr. Frist said an important reason for the Republican proposal was to offer an alternative to the Democratic call for a withdrawal timetable. "The real objective was to get out of this timeline of cutting and running that the Democrats have in their amendment," he said.

Mr. Warner said he decided to take the Democratic proposal and edit it to his satisfaction in an effort to find common ground between the parties on the issue.

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/l/joseph_i_lieberman/index.html?inline=nyt-per), Democrat of Connecticut, said he saw the proposal as a potential "turning point" in Congressional deliberation over Iraq and related issues.

The competing amendments include some of the most specific and expansive Congressional statements on the war in months and are being proposed for inclusion in a measure that also wrestles with the issues of treatment of terror detainees and their rights in American courts.

In announcing the compromise on the rights of detainees, Senator Graham said, "We have brought legal certainty to legal confusion." He said detainees would still be barred from mounting a wide array of court challenges regarding their treatment or the conditions of their confinement.

Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said the compromise had eased some of his previous objections to the restrictions on the detainees.

On the Iraq resolutions, the Democratic and Republican proposals say that "2006 should be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, with Iraqi security forces taking the lead for the security of a free and sovereign Iraq, thereby creating the conditions for the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq."

The plan also seeks to put pressure on the Iraqis to find ways to resolve their internal political turmoil, saying the "administration should tell the leaders of all groups and political parties in Iraq that they need to make the compromises necessary to achieve the broad-based and sustainable political settlement that is essential for defeating the insurgency."

The White House is also directed "to explain to Congress and the American people its strategy for the successful completion of the mission in Iraq." Democrats have complained persistently that the administration has failed to outline a plan.

Lawmakers also seek much more specific regular reports from the administration covering "the current military mission and the diplomatic, political, economic and military measures, if any, that are being or have been undertaken to successfully complete or support that mission."
Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said the provision would improve accountability.

"The president needs to report to the American people and leaders in Congress as this war develops," Mr. Durbin said. "It shouldn't be a matter of haphazard Congressional committee hearings."

The primary differences between the party approaches regards fixing dates for a withdrawal. The Democratic plan called for the administration to provide "estimated dates" for redeployment of American troops once a series of conditions was met, with the caveat that "unexpected contingencies may arise."

But Republicans said that provision was cutting too close to setting a schedule for withdrawal. "We are not going to have any timetable," Mr. Warner said.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

bobby fletcher
November 15th, 2005, 07:21 PM
(The "Where's the WMD" question is again answered by our own military.)


So we denied using this WMD/incindiary wapon in Iraq, now we admit it, but insists it's used on civilian only (does Genevea convention qualify use of WMD?) or it's not a WMD.

Every time I google for Iraq news I am more angry, more ashamed of my government. Iraq is turning into our generation's Vietnam, and there's not a damn thing I can do about it.

November 15th, 2005, 11:06 PM
Here is something we ALL can do :eek: ...

On Friday, Limbaugh announced his "Adopt a Soldier Program".

This involves soliciting money from listeners to pay for subscriptions to the Limbaugh letter and Rush 24/7 that will be "given" to the soldiers. Each listener can "adopt" as many soldiers as they wish who will each get a subscription. The donor pays the discounted price of $49.95 for each soldier.

Clearly this is a tasteless marketing ploy. Rush and Premiere Radio Networks are fattening their coffers by exploiting the generosity of listeners with the use of our military troops as props. There is not one thing stopping Limbaugh and Premiere from simply giving the subscriptions away. Rush 24/7 amounts to accessing content on rushlimbaugh.com (http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/). This content is produced and costs Premiere the same no matter how many people are consuming it. The Limbaugh Letter amounts to a handful of printed pages. If Rush and Premiere Radio Networks wished the troops to experience the generous and supportive spirit of the show, they would simply provide this to the troops instead of making it a function of how many Rush listeners are willing to pony up $49.95 per soldier.

Without question, Rush and Premiere Radio Networks stand to make a tidy sum from this marketing effort. Let's suppose just 100,000 of the 3 million member listening audience forks over $49.95 to participate in this program. That comes out to a sum of $5,000,000. Subtracting the cost for paper and postage for 100,000 copies of the Limbaugh Letter makes only a slight dent. The profits are obviously quite large.

To any sensible person, soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have needs far more urgent than either Rush 24/7 or the Limbaugh Letter. Items such as bullet proof vests, up-armored Humvees, airline tickets for family members to visit injured troops at Landstuhl or Walter Reed are certainly higher on the wish list. But such a donation drive would not result in Premiere Radio Networks making profits in the millions.

Strangely, Rush took the opportunity of this announcement of the "Adopt a Soldier Program" as something of a test for liberals.


RUSH: I've got an idea for you liberals. Liberals are always out there saying you "support the troops." Well, then adopt a soldier! Join the Adopt-a-Soldier program at RushLimbaugh.com if you're a lib and you want to say you support the troops. This is a great way to prove it. </I>


The irony in all of this is massive. Limbaugh evaded serving his country at a time when it needed him, by getting his private doctor to declare he had a pilonidal cyst and needed a 4f (Rush could have gotten treatment). Today, instead of encouraging his listeners to make thoughtful donations, he is exploiting their sense of patriotism to enrich himself and his network. The troops should be supported by sensible policy and civilian leadership that objectively considers facts, admits and corrects mistakes, and supplies them with everything they need. Subscriptions to consume the rhetoric of an opportunistic radio entertainer is hardly a substitute of any kind.

Resources for Making Meaningful Donations for Our Troops

Network For Good (http://www.networkforgood.org/topics/international/iraq/troops.aspx)
USO Care Packes (http://www.uso.org/pubs/8_18_23.cfm)
Operation Hero Miles (http://www.heromiles.org/)


Rush 24/7 Adopt-A-Soldier Program

http://www.rushlimbaughonline.com/articles/images/rushbucks.jpg (http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/today.guest.html)

Welcome to the Rush 24/7 Adopt-A-Soldier Program, where service members can register to receive a Rush 24/7 membership from a pool donated by Dittoheads.

Sponsors may adopt as many soldiers as they would like at a reduced price. Each adopted soldier will receive a complimentary, one year subscription to Rush 24/7 and the Limbaugh Letter.


If you are an active member of the military who would like to register, or a family member or friend of an active member of the US Armed Forces who would like to register their name, please click the blue Armed Forces Registrant bar below and follow the provided instructions. If you would like to adopt a soldier, please click on the gold Adopt-A-Soldier Donor bar below and follow the provided instructions.

Thank you for your interest in the Rush 24/7 Adopt-A-Soldier Program.

Adopt a Soldier


Support our men and women in uniform by giving a subscription to Rush 24/7 and the Limbaugh Letter to a member of the US Armed Forces. Adopt as many soldiers as you like at a discounted price and make sure that our military has full access to all three hours of every Rush Limbaugh Show. Say thank you by giving the gift of Rush to the men and women who protect our freedom.

When you give an "Adopt A Soldier" subscription, your gift will be matched with a member of the military for a full year. He or she will receive unfettered access to Rush 24/7 online as well as every big, colorful issue of The Limbaugh Letter. When giving, make sure to let us know in the appropriate checkbox if it is ok to pass along your email address to the service person receiving your gift subscription, so that they can have the chance to thank you themselves.



The Rush Limbaugh Show © Premiere Radio Networks All Rights Reserved, 2005

November 16th, 2005, 09:18 AM
If gifts made under the program are not deductable, in any ammount, that means there is NO guarantee that ANY money is directly assigned/earmarked for the troops.

And the whole "Adopt a soldier" is very demeaning. They are not little kids or starving Somalians.

I hope Rush and guys like him that make money off of other peoples good will find what they deserve.

Maybe Rush should do a special in Iraq, or Jordan!

November 16th, 2005, 09:32 AM
I wonder what Bob Hope would think of this.

November 16th, 2005, 10:54 AM
/Bob Hope walks in in Golf Outfit

"Mind if I play through?"

/Bob hits ball and walks out other side

November 16th, 2005, 10:57 AM
Mnmm.... adopt a soldier.

Sounds good to me....

TLOZ Link5
November 16th, 2005, 08:18 PM
Cheney says war critics 'dishonest, reprehensible'
Wed Nov 16, 2005 8:00 PM ET

By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In the sharpest White House attack yet on critics of the Iraq war, Vice President Dick Cheney said on Wednesday that accusations the Bush administration manipulated intelligence to justify the war were a "dishonest and reprehensible" political ploy.

Cheney called Democrats "opportunists" who were peddling "cynical and pernicious falsehoods" to gain political advantage while U.S. soldiers died in Iraq.

The comments were the latest salvo in an aggressive White House counterattack on war critics, launched as Democrats step up their criticism of the war and polls show declining public support for the conflict.

Cheney repeated President George W. Bush's charge that Democratic critics were rewriting history by questioning prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction even though many Senate Democrats voted in October 2002 to authorize the invasion.

"The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone -- but we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history," said Cheney, a principal architect of the war and a focus of Democratic allegations the administration misrepresented intelligence on Iraq's weapons program.

Cheney said the suggestion Bush or any member of the administration misled Americans before the war "is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city."

"Some of the most irresponsible comments have, of course, come from politicians who actually voted in favor of authorizing force against Saddam Hussein," he said in a speech to the conservative Frontiers of Freedom Institute.

In response, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said "tired rhetoric and political attacks do nothing to get the job done in Iraq."

Reid, who voted to authorize the war and has led the push for a probe into the intelligence, said on the Senate floor that Cheney's speech showed "this administration intends to 'stay the course' and continue putting their political fortunes ahead of what this country needs -- a plan for success."


Bush, whose public approval ratings have reached the lowest point of his presidency, has given two speeches in the last five days blasting Democratic critics and trying to use their support for the war in 2002 against them.

Twenty-nine Senate Democrats voted in favor of an October 2002 resolution authorizing military force in Iraq. Many have since said it was a mistake based on false or misleading information.

"What we're hearing now is some politicians contradicting their own statements and making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war," Cheney said. "The saddest part is that our people in uniform have been subjected to these cynical and pernicious falsehoods day in and day out."

Democrats have charged the administration, led by Cheney, manipulated the intelligence on Iraq to justify the war and leaked classified information to discredit critics.

Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a top aide to Cheney, was indicted last month for obstructing justice, perjury and lying after a probe into the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. Plame's husband has said she was outed to get back at him for his criticism of the war.

Administration officials have acknowledged intelligence on Iraqi weapons was faulty, but say Democrats, Republicans and foreign intelligence agencies all believed Baghdad had deadly weapons before the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

"American soldiers and Marines are out there every day in dangerous conditions and desert temperatures -- conducting raids, training Iraqi forces, countering attacks, seizing weapons, and capturing killers -- and back home a few opportunists are suggesting they were sent into battle for a lie," Cheney said.

© Reuters 2005. All rights reserved.


"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

-- Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

November 16th, 2005, 11:20 PM
"dishonest" ? "reprehensible" ?? Read on ...

NBC: Massive bid-rigging scam alleged in Iraq

U.S. says businessman bribed coalition officials to land rebuilding contracts

By Aram Roston
Producer NBC News
Updated: 8:57 p.m. ET
Nov. 16, 2005


WASHINGTON - A criminal complaint unsealed in federal court in Washington on Wednesday alleges a web of corruption and bid rigging in Iraq by officials who worked with the now-defunct Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S.-led agency that ran Iraq for more than a year after the 2003 invasion.

The complaint accuses an American-Romanian businessman, Philip H. Bloom, of paying officials from the coalition’s south-central region "bribes, kickbacks and gratuities, amounting to at least $200,000 per month," in order to obtain reconstruction contracts through a bid-rigging scam.

According to the complaint, Bloom "conspired with United States government contract employees and military officials to obtain fraudulently government contracts."

A government affidavit alleges that in one instance, the officials rigged bids for contracts in Hillah and Karbala, two cities 50 to 60 miles south of Baghdad. In some cases, Bloom’s companies performed no work, Patrick McKenna Jr., an investigator for the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq, said in the affidavit.

Efforts to reach representatives for Bloom were unsuccessful.

Bloom or companies he controls made bank deposits of $353,000 on behalf of at least two CPA officials and bought them real estate in North Carolina as well as vehicles and jewelry worth more than $280,000 in 2004 and 2005, McKenna said.

The complaint says one of the U.S. officials was the comptroller for the region in Iraq based in Hillah and controlled $82 million in cash.

One official said to admit involvement

Another coalition official, who worked with the first, has been cooperating with investigators and has admitted he "unlawfully received cash and goods" from Bloom, according to the complaint.

Bloom, according to the complaint, ran several companies in Iraq and Romania, including one called GBG Logistics.

According to a biography of Philip Bloom on the Web site of one of his companies, he is an "expatriate America with a war chest of experiences” operating a variety of firms overseas since the 1970s, including Haitian and Puerto Rican airlines. The biography says that "Bloom is possessed off an uncanny knack for finding business, almost psychic in nature."

GBG Logistics says on its Web site that it has worked on a variety of Iraq reconstruction projects. "As one of the first private firms to enter the Iraqi market in April 2003, GBG Logistics is primarily devoted to identifying and developing new business opportunities in the reconstruction effort," it says.

There have been allegations and suspicions of corruption under the coalition government, which ran Iraq from just after the invasion in March 2003 until June 2004 and was headed by former Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, and during the Iraq reconstruction process, but this is the first criminal case to be brought in U.S. courts alleging wrongdoing by coalition officials.

Previously, the Hillah region came under scrutiny after the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction reported in an audit (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7737306/) that $100 million in seized Iraqi funds could not be accounted for.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

November 17th, 2005, 09:10 AM
Bloom or companies he controls made bank deposits of $353,000 on behalf of at least two CPA officials and bought them real estate in North Carolina as well as vehicles and jewelry worth more than $280,000 in 2004 and 2005, McKenna said

Why can't I have those jobs!!! :(

PS... :mad:

November 17th, 2005, 07:13 PM
November 17, 2005

Influential House Democrat Urges Immediate Iraq Pullout

By DAVID STOUT (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=DAVID STOUT&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=DAVID STOUT&inline=nyt-per)

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 - An influential House Democrat called the Iraq campaign "a flawed policy wrapped in illusion" today as he called for the immediate withdrawal of United States troops, intensifying an already bitter debate on Capitol Hill.

"It is time for a change in direction," said Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania, the leading Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee. "Our military is suffering, the future of our country is at risk."

Mr. Murtha, a conservative who voted in 2002 for the resolution authorizing use of force in Iraq and who supported the Persian Gulf war in 1991, called for "the immediate redeployment of American forces."

"It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region," Mr. Murtha said during an emotional news conference on Capitol Hill. His remarks were quickly denounced by House Republicans as defeatist and wrongheaded.

Mr. Murtha, a 73-year-old Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam combat, lashed back at Vice President Dick Cheney (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/dick_cheney/index.html?inline=nyt-per), who in a speech to a conservative group on Wednesday night condemned critics of the Iraq war. "The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone, but we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history," Mr. Cheney said in an address to the group, Frontiers of Freedom, in Washington.

Mr. Murtha was disdainful of the vice president's remarks, saying that "people with five deferments" had no right to make such remarks. Mr. Cheney, like millions of other young men of the era, avoided military service during the Vietnam war.

Mr. Murtha's call for a pullout was condemned by some House Republicans.

"We are in the process of delivering a free Iraq," said Representative Duncan Hunter of California, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He said the creation of a new Iraq would make the Middle East and the world safer and stand in history like the rebuilding of Europe after World War II. As for talk of a pullout, Mr. Hunter said, "Lots of our enemies think America is capable only of fighting a two-week war."

Representative Kay Granger of Texas, a Republican member of the Appropriation's defense subcommittee who appeared with Mr. Hunter, said a quick withdrawal from Iraq would break faith with America's
troops. As for the Americans killed in Iraq, she said, a withdrawal would mean "their lives have been lost in vain." Earlier, Ms. Granger called Mr. Murtha's remarks "reprehensible and irresponsible," according to The Associated Press.

"It shows the Democratic Party has chosen a policy of retreat and defeatism which will only encourage the terrorists and threaten the stability of Iraq," she said, according to The A.P. Mr. Murtha's demeanor and personal history as well as his status on the Appropriations Committee may lend extra weight to his words. He generally shuns publicity and does not often speak on the House floor.

After serving in the Marines in the early 1950's, he re-enlisted in 1966, at the age of 34, and served in Vietnam, earning a Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross for Gallantry, according to The Almanac of American Politics. When he won his House seat in a special election in February 1974 he became the first Vietnam veteran to serve in Congress.

Mr. Cheney's speech came a day after the Senate overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for the Bush administration to make regular progress reports on the war and for 2006 to be a "transition year" in which the Iraqis will assume responsibility for security of their own country.

The vice president's assertions that some politicians want to rewrite history was aimed at those who voted in 2002 to authorize force against Saddam Hussein (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/h/saddam_hussein/index.html?inline=nyt-per) but have more recently become critics of Iraq campaign, charging that the Bush administration manipulated pre-war intelligence to exaggerate the threat posed by the old Baghdad regime.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, said Mr. Cheney's speech of Wednesday night as well as President Bush's recent remarks on Iraq show that they have "shamlessly decided to play politics."

"We're at war," Mr. Reid said. "We need a commander in chief, not a campaigner in chief."

Another Democrat, Senator Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, praised Mr. Murtha "for having the courage to stand up to the administration's outrageous attempts to intimidate into silence those who are trying to
fix our Iraq policy." Mr. Feingold has suggested setting a target date of Dec. 31, 2006, for having United States troops out of Iraq.

At his Capitol news conference, Mr. Murtha became emotional as he spoke of hospital visits to wounded troops. "What demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace," he said.

"Our troops have become the primary target for the insurgency," Mr. Murtha said. Insurgents, he said, "are united against U.S. forces, and we have become a catalyst for violence." He went on to say that, before the Iraqi elections in December, the country's people and its emerging government "must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy."

"All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free," he said. "Free from United States occupation."

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

November 18th, 2005, 08:08 AM
Rep. Murtha's Statement ( http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/pa12_murtha/pr051117iraq.html (http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/pa12_murtha/pr051117iraq.html) ):

For Immediate Release
November17, 2005

The Honorable John P. Murtha

War in Iraq

(Washington D.C.)- The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.

General Casey said in a September 2005 Hearing, “the perception of occupation in Iraq is a major driving force behind the insurgency.” General Abizaid said on the same date, “Reducing the size and visibility of the coalition forces in Iraq is a part of our counterinsurgency strategy.”

For 2 ½ years I have been concerned about the U.S. policy and the plan in Iraq. I have addressed my concerns with the Administration and the Pentagon and have spoken out in public about my concerns. The main reason for going to war has been discredited. A few days before the start of the war I was in Kuwait – the military drew a red line around Baghdad and said when U.S. forces cross that line they will be attacked by the Iraqis with Weapons of Mass Destruction – but the US forces said they were prepared. They had well trained forces with the appropriate protective gear.

We spend more money on Intelligence than all the countries in the world together, and more on Intelligence than most countries GDP. But the intelligence concerning Iraq was wrong. It is not a world intelligence failure. It is a U.S. intelligence failure and the way that intelligence was misused.

I have been visiting our wounded troops at Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals almost every week since the beginning of the War. And what demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace; the devastation caused by IEDs; being deployed to Iraq when their homes have been ravaged by hurricanes; being on their second or third deployment and leaving their families behind without a network of support.

The threat posed by terrorism is real, but we have other threats that cannot be ignored. We must be prepared to face all threats. The future of our military is at risk. Our military and their families are stretched thin. Many say that the Army is broken. Some of our troops are on their third deployment.

Recruitment is down, even as our military has lowered its standards. Defense budgets are being cut. Personnel costs are skyrocketing, particularly in health care. Choices will have to be made. We can not allow promises we have made to our military families in terms of service benefits, in terms of their health care, to be negotiated away. Procurement programs that ensure our military dominance cannot be negotiated away. We must be prepared. The war in Iraq has caused huge shortfalls at our bases in the U.S.

Much of our ground equipment is worn out and in need of either serious overhaul or replacement. George Washington said, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” We must rebuild our Army. Our deficit is growing out of control. The Director of the Congressional Budget Office recently admitted to being “terrified” about the budget deficit in the coming decades. This is the first prolonged war we have fought with three years of tax cuts, without full mobilization of American industry and without a draft. The burden of this war has not been shared equally; the military and their families are shouldering this burden.

Our military has been fighting a war in Iraq for over two and a half years. Our military has accomplished its mission and done its duty. Our military captured Saddam Hussein, and captured or killed his closest associates. But the war continues to intensify. Deaths and injuries are growing, with over 2,079 confirmed American deaths. Over 15,500 have been seriously injured and it is estimated that over 50,000 will suffer from battle fatigue. There have been reports of at least 30,000 Iraqi civilian deaths.

I just recently visited Anbar Province Iraq in order to assess the conditions on the ground. Last May 2005, as part of the Emergency Supplemental Spending Bill, the House included the Moran Amendment, which was accepted in Conference, and which required the Secretary of Defense to submit quarterly reports to Congress in order to more accurately measure stability and security in Iraq. We have now received two reports. I am disturbed by the findings in key indicator areas. Oil production and energy production are below pre-war levels. Our reconstruction efforts have been crippled by the security situation. Only $9 billion of the $18 billion appropriated for reconstruction has been spent. Unemployment remains at about 60 percent.

Clean water is scarce. Only $500 million of the $2.2 billion appropriated for water projects has been spent. And most importantly, insurgent incidents have increased from about 150 per week to over 700 in the last year.

Instead of attacks going down over time and with the addition of more troops, attacks have grown dramatically. Since the revelations at Abu Ghraib, American casualties have doubled. An annual State Department report in 2004 indicated a sharp increase in global terrorism.

I said over a year ago, and now the military and the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be won “militarily.” I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is impeding this progress.

Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, Saddamists and foreign jihadists. I believe with a U.S. troop redeployment, the Iraqi security forces will be incentivized to take control. A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, and about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified. I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis.

I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United States occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a “free” Iraq.

My plan calls:
To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.

To create a quick reaction force in the region.

To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.

To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq

This war needs to be personalized. As I said before I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.

Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That’s why I am speaking out.

Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.


November 18th, 2005, 08:23 AM
And a "round up" of some of the reactions:

Wingnuts Attack!

What they're saying about Rep. Murtha

by Steven D (http://www.boomantribune.com/user/Steven%20D)
Thu Nov 17th, 2005 at 08:50:25 PM EDT


That's Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, conservative Democrat and former supporter of the Iraq War who today dropped this bombshell (see above)

His was a thoughtful and impassioned statement that set forth in plain language the rationale for bringing the troops home and ending the continuing debacle that is our military occupation of Iraq. He did not lash out at the President. Far from it. Yet, he forcefully set forth the case for why the President's policies have failed. Coming from a former Marine and a veteran of both Korea and Vietnam, one would think his words should be accorded a certain weight, or at the least, a modicum of respect by those across the aisle.

The response by Conservative Republicans and the Right Wing Blogs? Well, take a look:

Let's start with Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House (http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=56904):
I am saddened by the comments made today by Rep. Murtha. It is clear that as Nancy Pelosi's top lieutenant on armed services, Rep. Murtha and Democratic leaders have adopted a policy of cut and run. They would prefer that the United States surrender to the terrorists who would harm innocent Americans. To add insult to injury, this is done while the President is on foreign soil.I love that tag line: . . . done while the President is on foreign soil. Of course, that was only the first paragraph. Go read the whole thing. It's frankly nauseating in its attacks on Rep. Murtha, while pretending to respect him for his past service as a Marine. And it brings up the same tired falsehoods, invoking the spectre of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden to justify what we've done to Iraq. By the way, Hastert's miltary record? Oh that's right -- he doesn't have one. He escaped the draft because of bad knees so he could go to college and wrestle (http://www.dkosopedia.com/index.php/Dennis_Hastert) instead.

Well, so much for decorum. Let's vist some right wing blogmeisters to get their take on Murtha. Hugh Hewitt apparently took umbrage not at what Murtha proposed we do in Iraq, but because he dared to criticize the Vice President: (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/)

Congressman Murtha is entitled to any opinion he wants to hold, including bone-headed ones about immediate withdrawal from Iraq. But the Congressman allowed his zeal for retreat to get the better of his common sense when, in response to a reporter's question on the president's and the vice president's speeches about the crazy charges being hurled by rewrite specialists, Murtha said:
"I like guys who have never been there to criticize us who have been there. I like that. I like guys that have got five deferments and never been there ands end people to war and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."That's fever swamp stuff, the old "chickenhawk" charge that would be equally applicable to hundreds of Democrats in Congress as well as great war time leaders like FDR. It discredits the Congressman, not his targets. Murtha's 37 years in the Marines make him a great American. But he's a lousy Congressman today and a cheap shot artist to boot.

I guess that chickenhawk slur really hurts conservatives, even when it's not directed at them personally. Poor democrats can't win. If they didn't serve in Vietnam they're "draft dodgers", but if they did serve in the military God forbid they ever bring it up to excoriate the remarks of any Republican who didn't.

As for what Hugh means by "fever swamp stuff," I can''t for the life of me figure that one out. It seems to be a favorite wingnut insult for liberals and Democrats based on my brief google search of the term. I'm sure someone will get around to enlightening me.

Well, let's mosey over the the Red State (http://www.redstate.org/), to see what they have to add to the discussion. Oh yes, here's something appropriate: (http://www.redstate.org/story/2005/11/17/184437/10)

That is the substance of his speech: BushLied™ . . . It was a disingenuous BushLied™ speech coming from the ranking Democrat on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. . . . Jack Murtha is first and foremost a Democrat, and he has lately been something of a Democrat tool.
I like the use of "Bushlied" with the TM symbol added. What a great way to just dismiss any criticism of the President. After all, we know "Bush Lied" is just an empty slogan, and not a fact.

Or how about this one, which pretty much encapsulates the Republican view of what is and is not permissible for Democrats to say regarding the war: (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/)

Jack Murtha isn't in Charge

Jack Murtha has no right to vote authorize Bush to go to war and then turn around half way through it and say he's not happy with the way Bush is running the war.
Yep. Once you're in the minority, better to just shut up and do what you're told by your betters. Makes sense to me. How dare a respected veteran voice an opinion that dissents from the Republican script? Heresy! He's just a Democrat after all. He lost his civil rights (especially that free speech thing) the day the GOP took control of Congress and the Presidency.

Of course, let it not be said that some conservative posters there take a more measured, analytical approach to Murtha's statement. For example, how about this diary by California Yankee (http://www.redstate.org/story/2005/11/17/155231/58):

It doesn't matter if no one else seconds Murtha's call for immediate withdrawal. The damage has been done. Bin Laden and Zarqawi and their followers can only be encouraged now that some of America's so-called leaders want to call it quits. From the evil doers perspective, all they have to do is fight on a little longer, kill more Americans, and we will leave.If that seems a little too erudite to digest easily (conservatives do have bigger brains than us liberals, you know -- and their women are prettier (http://www.batesline.com/archives/000794.html) too!), let me paraphrase his argument for you:
Curse you, John Murfa, you Democratic Surrender Monkey! America is doomed now that you've has spoken up in opposition to the glorious occupation of Iraq. Bastard!And on that happy note, we depart, dear reader. Anything further would be merely a redundancy.

November 18th, 2005, 09:22 AM
I saw this too.

The guy is a hard-line no nonsense conservative Democrat and these guys are attacking him.

Hell, they attack McCain all the time, and he is a conservative hard-line no nonsense REPUBLICAN. One thing I have noticed though. McCain seems to have a leash on him now... :(

Cheney is an arse. His sneering countenance labeling any who criticize as terrorist SUPPORTERS is rediculous. Instead of dealing with what is said, he, and the party, resorts to attacking the speaker.

Oh, and if Bush Lied is now being sarcastically used as a TM, maybe that should mean something more to these guys than a catch phrase.

What is better than a true trademark label?

99.95% BS. Bush's crap floats in water!!!!!

November 20th, 2005, 10:19 AM
Irresponsible on Iraq

Sunday, November 20, 2005; B06

A SERIOUS congressional debate about Iraq is essential at a time when public support for the mission is falling and the danger of failure seems great. Aggressive challenges to the Bush administration's military and political strategy -- even calls for an immediate withdrawal of troops, such as that made by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) on Thursday -- must be part of that democratic discussion. Yet what we've mainly seen during the past two weeks is a shameful exercise in demagoguery and name-calling.

Democrats accuse President Bush of deliberately lying about the grounds for war three years ago. Vice President Cheney responds by calling accusations by the Democrats "dishonest and reprehensible, " while Mr. Bush claims his critics "send mixed signals to our troops and the enemy." Mr. Murtha, a 73-year-old former Marine, was said by the White House to advocate "surrender to the terrorists" and called a coward by Republican members of Congress. He replied by smearing Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush as "guys who got five deferments and never been there, and send people to war."

It sounds like the final days of a bitter, mud-slinging political campaign. But what is at stake is not an election but a war in which American soldiers are being killed and wounded almost every day and in which one possible outcome is a major victory for the Islamic extremist movement that carried out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Those losses won't be stemmed, nor the dangers averted, by attack rhetoric or sound bites that deliberately distort the facts. Leaders of both parties know that, of course. Which raises the question: Is their priority to win in Iraq -- or in next year's midterm elections?

The hard truth is that those two objectives may be in conflict. The war is unpopular for many reasons, including the painful human losses, the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, incompetent management of postwar reconstruction and the involvement of some U.S. personnel in appalling practices of torture. Mr. Murtha, deeply moved by the wounded soldiers he has visited, cited several other serious problems, including the wear and tear on the U.S. military and the steady increase in attacks by insurgents.

Yet Mr. Murtha, like other Democrats who advocate an early pullout, grossly misstates the nature of the conflict in Iraq. In a news conference, he contended that U.S. troops "have become the primary target" and have united Iraqis against them. In fact, far more Iraqis than Americans are being killed by the insurgents; Iraq is divided between a Shiite and Kurdish majority -- whose leaders strongly support a continued U.S. presence -- and a Sunni and Islamic extremist minority that seeks to drive international forces out so that it can try to impose a dictatorship on the rest of the country. As Democrats such as Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) have recognized, a premature American departure from Iraq would not end but greatly escalate what is now a low-grade civil war. It could allow al Qaeda to claim a triumph and establish a base for attacking the United States and its allies in the Middle East.

Mr. Bush indulges in his own surreal rhetoric, insistently describing Iraq as a Manichaean battle between foreign terrorists and Iraqi democrats, rather than the multi-sided power struggle that it is. In so doing, he hamstrings his own diplomats and generals, who are trying to forge a political accord among the various Iraqi communities and isolate the foreign and Sunni extremists through a conventional counterinsurgency campaign. Many Democrats have no better alternative strategy, which may be why their leaders spend most of their time making charges about what was said, or not, about weapons of mass destruction in 2002.

What's needed is more talk about Iraq in 2005. Though there have been successes -- including the staging of an election and a constitutional referendum -- the country is in danger of splitting into pieces, and the Bush administration has not done enough to head that threat off. New elections in December could propel the country toward a political accord that would undermine the insurgency. But reconstruction has foundered and needs to be relaunched, with emphasis on supplying electricity and jobs. Iraqi troops are improving but still are far from ready to fight the counterinsurgency war on their own. If there is to be any chance of that war being won, the United States will have to commit its own forces to the fight for years, though perhaps not at current levels. The alternative is to risk a defeat that would be devastating to U.S. security. That's a hard truth to face: It can't be done amid a partisan free-for-all.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

November 20th, 2005, 11:08 AM
Tim Collins trained troops to fight with white phosphorus

By Sean Rayment Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 20/11/2005)


Col Tim Collins, the controversial Iraq war commander, trained his soldiers to use white phosphorus, which burns through flesh to the bone, in combat against enemy troops.

The admission by the former Special Air Service officer, revealed in his autobiography Rules of Engagement, contradicts claims by the Ministry of Defence that the chemical was only ever used to create a smokescreen.


British troops also used white phosphorus to kill Argentinian troops during the Falklands conflict.

In his book, Col Collins describes how he trained 1bn Royal Irish Regiment for an attack codenamed Operation Fury planned for April 2003.

The colonel, who left the Army last year, said that he "directed" the men to "perfect" house-to-house fighting skills in preparation for the battle.

Discussing the weapons to be used in the operation in the Basra area, he wrote: "The star of the show was the new grenade which had only been on issue since the previous summer. It absolutely trashed the inside of the room it was put into.

"I directed the men to use them where possible with white phosphorus, as the noxious smoke and heat had the effect of drawing out any enemy from cover, while the fragmentation grenade would shred them."


Col Collins' tactics mirror the United States army "shake and bake" technique which involves forcing troops out of cover with white phosphorus and then killing them with artillery rounds.

The furore surrounding the weapon emerged last week after Lt Col Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman, used almost identical phraseology to Col Collins, when he confirmed that "shake and bake" was a recognised American tactic.

In an interview with the BBC, Col Venable said: "When you have enemy forces in covered positions that your high explosive artillery rounds are not having an impact on, one technique is to fire white phosphorus into the position because the combined effects of the fire and smoke will drive them out so that you can kill them with high explosives."

He confirmed: "It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants."

White phosphorus has been used by the British Army for decades to create instantaneous smokescreens during battle. In contact with skin, however, it burns to the bone and the gas it produces, phosphorus pentoxide, is poisonous.

Article two of Protocol Three of the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons bans the use of the weapon against civilians and also military targets located within civilian areas. Although the US is not a signatory of the convention, Britain is.

But there is now increasing debate as to whether the use of the weapon should instead fall under the United Nations Convention on Chemical Weapons.

Last week John Reid, the Defence Secretary, maintained the British troops had only ever used white phosphorus as a battlefield smokescreen. His department continued to stress that troops had never used it as "an incendiary weapon, against either civilians or even enemy combatants".

Although Operation Fury was cancelled, it remains unclear whether British troops went on to use white phosphorus against Iraqi forces, putting Col Collins' style of attack into action.

Prof Paul Rogers, of Bradford University's peace studies department, said he believed that most soldiers would use all weapons at their disposal.

He said: "There is a presumption among certain members of the population that wars are clean. They are not."

16 November 2005: Chemical grenade used on rebels, says Pentagon (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=TWTMDST4VQ4QXQFIQMGCFGGAVCBQ UIV0?xml=/news/2005/11/16/wirq116.xml)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/core/i/t.gifI watched US use 'shake and bake' (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=TWTMDST4VQ4QXQFIQMGCFGGAVCBQ UIV0?xml=/news/2005/11/20/nphos120.xml)

© Copyright (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/portal/main.jhtml;jsessionid=TWTMDST4VQ4QXQFIQMGCFGGAVCBQ UIV0?view=COPYRIGHT&grid=P9) of Telegraph Group Limited (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/pressoffice/index.jhtml;jsessionid=TWTMDST4VQ4QXQFIQMGCFGGAVCB QUIV0) 2005.

November 20th, 2005, 11:25 PM
In the Dark

It's Still a Mystery

Photograph by Christoph Bangert/Polaris

NY Times
November 20, 2005

By JOHN F. BURNS (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=JOHN F. BURNS&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=JOHN F. BURNS&inline=nyt-per)
BAGHDAD, Iraq (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/iraq/index.html?inline=nyt-geo)

AT a lunch with a senior American commander here last week, the raid that uncovered a secret Interior Ministry torture center in Baghdad prompted a question: Why had the Americans waited so long to act, when Iraq had been swept for months by stories of state-sponsored terror?

The accounts have hinted at the beginning of a march back toward the horrors of Saddam Hussein: police death squads and shadowy militias, masked men and middle-of-the-night raids, bodies dumped by roadsides, and an archipelago of makeshift prisons like the one that was raided, just a mile from the main American command center in the capital. There, last Sunday, troops found 173 starving inmates, pervasive evidence of torture, and signs that pointed to a ruthless Shiite religious militia group that has infiltrated the police, the Badr Organization, as responsible.

It was a discovery that helped inflame an intensifying debate in Washington over whether the time had come for the United States to set a timetable for withdrawing.

In Baghdad, Maj. Gen. William G. Webster Jr., commander of the Third Infantry Division, whose troops conducted the raid, had an answer to the query on the raid, and it was one that pointed to the shadowlands America fell into when it led the invasion of Iraq more than 30 months ago - shadows that still obscure an understanding of the landscape.

American forces, he said, had heard the stories of secret prisons and torture, many of them telephoned to hotlines set up last year for tips in the hunt for insurgents. The center, in Jadriya, he said, was "notorious" before the raid was triggered by a mother's appeal for help in finding her 15-year-old son. So why wasn't it raided sooner? Because, the general said in so many words, Iraq is so washed by rumor, and fact is so elusive, that the 153,000 American troops here have simply been overwhelmed.

As an example of the obscurities that have enveloped the American enterprise here, the general cited the difficulty the Americans have in distinguishing between the 320,000 members of the Iraqi Army and the police, and the thousands of other armed irregulars now stalking the land.

Some of these irregulars, he said, were members of Kurdish and Shiite militias; some, private security forces recruited by ministers; still others, bodyguards to other prominent Iraqis. Along with these, he said there are Sunni insurgents and other killers and kidnappers who steal uniforms and unit badges and masquerade as army and police commandos. In Baghdad alone, he said, three truckloads of uniforms have been hijacked in recent weeks.

"We get lots and lots of reports, tips and rumors, and we have to sort out which are real, and which are not," he said. "We get a call and somebody tells us that these men came during the night and took 25 men, and that they were found dead in the road the next morning, and they tell us that the American Army came with these men and stood by and did nothing. By the time we get the call, the next morning, we have to figure out whether this was the Iraqi Army or police, or a militia, or a gang that has used stolen trucks and painted them and used stolen uniforms. It's very hard for those of us who are fighting this war to ferret this all out."

The detention abuse, which Iraqi and American officials described as involving Shiite policemen bludgeoning Sunni Arab detainees, galvanized opinion among a minority Sunni population already seething with discontent over the loss of power they have felt since the American invasion toppled Mr. Hussein. Among outraged Sunni politicians and clerics, there were few, if any, who were willing to acknowledge that the terror now inflicted on Sunnis has its origins in the terror inflicted by Mr. Hussein, much of it against Shiites and Kurds, whose leaders now lead Iraq. In the madhouse that violence has made of Iraq since the invasion, such historical perspective, on any side, has been in short supply.

But the deficiency is not the Iraqis' alone. As the conquering power, America brought with it many assumptions, and among the most costly of these has been the belief, deeply ingrained in the American experience, that reason, principle and persistence can prevail. It is a belief that can seem convincing when a top American commander stands before battalions in Kirkuk and Bayji and Kirkush, as one did last week, and runs through a presentation heavy with the latest "metrics" of progress in the war, including growing Iraqi troop strength that commanders hope, ultimately, will be the American ticket home.

But amid the harsh realities of Iraq, as General Webster's discourse on the difficulty of sorting truth from fiction suggested, matters are altogether more obscure.

To a great extent, the American story in Iraq has been one of a profound clash of cultures - of invaders who came with a belief that they could transplant the virtues of democratic bargaining and a civil society that secures the vital interests of all, only to be confounded by what Iraqis themselves often describe as the culture of Ali Baba, the mythical villain of Baghdad. In that culture, maneuver and guile, secrets and untruths, terror and treachery are, too often, the coin of the realm for deciding who gets wealth and power.

A sense of the futility of it all seemed to be rising last week in Washington. Even as the Senate defeated, 58 votes to 40, a Democratic resolution that would have required the Bush administration to set a schedule for troop withdrawals, the House of Representatives witnessed a damaging defection by a lawmaker who had voted for the war.

An influential House Democrat who fought as a marine in Vietnam, Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, shed tears as he told a news conference that the war was "a flawed policy wrapped in an illusion," that American troops were trapped in an endless cycle of violence, and that he favored a total withdrawal within six months.

In debate on Friday night, he became the rallying-point for fellow Democrats demanding a planned exit. Republicans infuriated the Democrats by seeking instead a yes-or-no vote on whether to leave Iraq immediately. It, too, was defeated. In Iraq, American commanders acknowledge the shifting political climate, and know only too well that hopes of prevailing here could founder on domestic opposition. Battalion briefings often begin with quotations from President Bush affirming the "conditions-based" strategy that ties American troop levels to the proficiency of Iraqi troops - a "we'll stand down as they stand up" formula that shuns drawdown dates. Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, the second-ranking officer in Iraq, used a telephone interview during the Capitol Hill debate to say that American troop levels could fall by 50,000 by the end of 2006, to below 100,000 - if Iraqi troop capabilities, the strength of the Iraqi government to be elected Dec. 15, and the state of the war allow.

Out among the American troops, the no-timeline formula has undergone a subtle transformation, with commanders saying Iraqi units will only stand up when they see American units begin to stand down.

American officers say that they are confident that Iraqi units will withstand the many strains pulling at them - including sectarian loyalties and infiltration by insurgents - and allow the United States to hand over most combat tasks by the end of 2006.

The irony is that plans for an Iraqi takeover are accelerating just as American troops seem to be developing more effective ways of fighting the war. Compared to 18 months ago, the American grasp of the war's complex tribal, ethnic, political and religious hinterland has advanced considerably.

Intelligence officers now talk assuredly about inter-tribal rivalries and links between Baathist financiers, Islamic militants and criminal gangs. They display "rogues' galleries" of insurgent cell leaders and where they operate.
But what they don't know still weighs heavily against what they do know.

Until very recently, American commanders insisted that the suicide bombings here were the work, almost exclusively, of Islamic militants from abroad. But last week an Iraqi woman confessed to being part of an Iraqi suicide-bombing squad that attacked three hotels in the Jordanian capital, Amman. The American command then acknowledged, in the words of one high-ranking officer, that the earlier assessments were based on little more than prideful assertions by Iraqis that their fellow citizens could never do anything so crazy as to blow themselves up, and on "people who came to us after a bombing and said, 'That's not an Iraqi foot,' or 'That's a Syrian hand.' "

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

November 22nd, 2005, 12:33 AM
In at least one aspect, the Iraqi War is now identical to the Vietnam War. All national political debate now revolves around it.

Bush didn't escape it in a country that he probably couldn't point out on a map a month ago.

bobby fletcher
November 22nd, 2005, 12:46 AM
Here's a declassified DIA document that said WP is chemical weapon:


But of course, it's chemical weapon when Saddam was using it, but not so when we use it.

What hypocrisy.

November 22nd, 2005, 09:14 AM
Who Is Mean Jean's Marine? (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/max-blumenthal/who-is-mean-jeans-marine_b_10993.html)
And Why Does He Think Murtha's A Coward?

Max Blumenthal
November 21, 2005

On Friday, freshman Republican Rep. "Mean Jean" Schmidt mounted one of the fiercest, most personal assaults Congress has witnessed since Preston Brooks caned Charles Sumner to a bloody pulp in 1856. The target of Schmidt's attack was Rep. John Murtha, a Vietnam vet who had just introduced a resolution calling for a withdrawal of US troops from Iraq within 6 months (which included several measures designed to ensure regional stability upon pullout).

"A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp, Ohio Representative from the 88th district in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course," Schmidt declared (http://thinkprogress.org/2005/11/18/schmidt-shame/) from her lectern. "He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do."

By employing Bubp, a Marine reservist, as her surrogate attack dog, Schmidt sought to give the impression that the military rank-and-file overwhelmingly deplored Murtha's resolution. Murtha may have been a Marine a long, long time ago, but he doesn't understand the harsh realities of the post-9/11 world. But that tough-talking paragon of the modern warrior, Colonel Danny Bubp, whoever he is, sure as hell does. Or so Schmidt would have us believe.

A quick glance at Bubp's background reveals him to be a low-level right-wing operative who has spent more time in the past ten years engaged in symbolic Christian right crusades than he has battling terrorist evil-doers. And throughout his career, Bubp's destiny has been inextricably linked with Schmidt's. Bubp may be a Marine, but his view of Murtha as a "coward" is colored by naked political ambition. He is nothing more than cheap camouflage cover for the GOP's latest Swift-Boat campaign.

March 1999 marked the beginning of a brilliant career. It was then that Bubp became pro-bono legal counsel (http://www.4the10.net/saga_2.htm) for Adams County for the Ten Commandments, an ad-hoc Ohio group formed to keep 10 Commandments monuments displayed in local public schools after the ACLU filed a lawsuit demanding their removal. Bubp was assisted by a Who's Who of Christian right leaders, including James Dobson, Don Wildmon, Judge Roy Moore and Jay Sekulow. The campaign was organized primarily by Rev. Rob Schenck, a former leader of the militant anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, who was once detained for threating Bill Clinton's afterlife at the National Cathedral. (Read my profile (http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0310.blumenthal.html) of Schenck for the Washington Monthly for the full story on this, and many more bizarre stunts).

When the monuments' removal seemed imminent by 2003, Bubp nevertheless declared, "We've already won." (http://www.cincypost.com/news/1999/rally042699.html) Thanks to Schenck, he was able to help distribute 600 yard signs reading "We Stand For The Ten Commandments" throughout Adams County. And the devoted network of activists formed during the 8-year-long struggle would toil on his behalf when he ran for the Ohio legislature in 2004.

Bubp was elected despite a successful legal maneuver by his former primary challenger to unseal his divorce file. Bubp fought tooth-and-nail to keep these records in the dark because, according to the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, (http://www.spj.org/ohfoi/weblog/C1040511978/E1353887860/index.html) "the file does contain sensitive tax and personal information he'd just as soon keep private." Whatever information emerged was overlooked by a local press focused on national races.

During the campaign, Bubp still found time to help his friend, Schmidt, who was struggling to counter the momentum of her Democratic challenger, Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett. At a Schmidt rally falsely billed as an event to honor war veterans, Bubp appeared in full Marine battle dress uniform (http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050801/NEWS01/508010350) to attack Hackett for criticizing his "Commander in Chief." " "I served for eight years under a president who loathed the military," Bubp said, referring to Clinton. "But we never said a word about it."

Now in the Ohio legislature, and back in his usual three-piece suit, Bubp has teamed up once again with Schmidt, this time to save the Pledge of Allegiance from "liberal activist judges." Bubp is the author of the Pledge Protection Act, which would ensure that public schoolchildren include the phrase "under God" in their daily recitation of the pledge, no matter what the comsymp one-worlders at the ACLU do. This month, at Bubp's behest, Schmidt introduced the bill in Congress.

"I am firmly convinced that our forefathers would believe it evil for anyone to try to strike the name of God from all things public," Bubp declared in an editorial (http://www.peoplesdefender.com/main.asp?SectionID=3&SubSectionID=3&ArticleID=122493) promoting the bill. Not only does Bubp understand the psychology of cowards, he has special insight into the religious beliefs of "our forefathers."

Bubp and Schmidt were honored this month (http://www.faithandaction.org/110705OhioTenCommAward.htm) by the Rev. Rob Schenck with the "Ten Commandments Leadership Award." Presented with personalized 10 Commandments plaques by a man who once attempted to hand an aborted fetus to Bill Clinton, they became decorated veterans of the right's culture war.

But in assailing the character of John Murtha, who was honored for actual combat experience with the Purple Heart, Bubp and Schmidt were unfaithful to the words inscribed on the monuments they so revere. So for them, here is a reminder: Thou shalt not bear false witness.

November 22nd, 2005, 09:24 AM
It looks like both Schmidt and Bubp have chosen to "cut and run" from Schmidt's comments on the House floor last Friday.

(See end of article) ...

Lawmaker Returns Home, a Hawk Turned War Foe

NY Times
November 22, 2005


JOHNSTOWN, Pa., Nov. 21 - Representative John P. Murtha, the hawkish Democrat who spent his political career as a staunch Pentagon supporter, came home Monday as something entirely different: an antiwar symbol.

His call last week for an American troop withdrawal from Iraq (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/iraq/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) within the next six months took aback many of his own constituents and made the plainspoken former Marine colonel's homecoming on Monday a moment for re-evaluation - of the congressman, as well as of the Bush administration's strategy for Iraq.

"It's really surprising that you would see Mr. Murtha speaking out and saying that it's time to get out, and if he's saying it then it's probably so," said Becky Wicks, a Johnstown resident who said she and her family had supported President Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

As recently as last year, Mr. Murtha was warning that "premature withdrawal" of American troops could lead to a civil war in Iraq and leave American foreign policy in "disarray," the exact critique Republicans lodge against him now.

The evolution of his views, he said, has been driven both by the pain of frequent visits to see injured soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center outside Washington and by his steady disillusionment with the Bush administration's handling of the war. But in some ways he is unsuited temperamentally to the role he has assumed.

"I just came to the conclusion finally that I had to speak out," he told reporters on Monday. "I had to focus this administration on an exit strategy."

"I'm hopeful I don't go too far," he said, adding that he "felt bad" last week after bringing up Vice President Dick Cheney's (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/dick_cheney/index.html?inline=nyt-per) "five deferments" in the Vietnam era.

Mr. Cheney, in a speech on Monday in Washington in which he defended the administration's handling of the war, called Mr. Murtha "a good man, a marine, a patriot," and said Mr. Murtha was "taking a clear stand in an entirely legitimate discussion."

An insider most comfortable in the backrooms of Congress, Mr. Murtha said his goal was only to force a dialogue with President Bush on the need to draw down American forces - not lead his party's antiwar wing. Many fellow Democrats are uneasy about his call for an immediate withdrawal, fearing it will give Republicans a chance to brand them as weak on national security.
Not everyone in Johnstown is comfortable with Mr. Murtha's new role.

At a speech Monday morning to local executives and elected officials, Mr. Murtha received three standing ovations. The talk focused almost entirely on all the federal aid Mr. Murtha has been able to deliver to his district from his seat on the House Appropriations Committee.

But when he spoke briefly about Iraq, the audience seemed unsure about how to react to their congressman's public break with the Bush administration. When Mr. Murtha invited questions after his remarks, no one in the audience of several hundred came forward.

"We're all kind of perplexed," said Robert A. Gleason Jr., an insurance executive and chairman of the local Republican Committee, who said he had put aside party loyalties and voted for Mr. Murtha in the past.

The first Vietnam veteran elected to Congress, in 1974, Mr. Murtha rose to become the top Democrat on the Appropriations defense subcommittee, a post he has used to look after average soldiers' needs. He keeps a running count of the number of his constituents killed in Iraq: now 13.

Since shortly after the American invasion of Iraq, he has frequently visited wounded troops at Walter Reed, an experience that he said had gradually convinced him that the American troop presence was exacerbating the violence by giving insurgents more targets to attack.

In speeches over the last week, he has repeatedly referred to a constituent, Pfc. Salvatore Ross Jr., a combat engineer from Dunbar, Pa., who was badly wounded while landmines he was clearing near Baghdad went off. The explosion blinded him in both eyes and tore off his leg below the knee, Private Ross said in an interview. He spent more than a month in a coma at Walter Reed and later underwent more than a dozen surgeries.

Mr. Murtha visited him twice in the hospital and later arranged a ceremony in Private Ross's hometown, where he received a Purple Heart. He also arranged for Walter Reed to pick up many of his medical bills for special treatment at a private hospital, Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

Only a year ago, though, Mr. Murtha wrote in the epilogue to the paperback edition of a biography he wrote with a former aide that "an untimely exit could rapidly devolve into a civil war, which would leave America's foreign policy in disarray as countries question not only America's judgment but also its perseverance."

But in several trips to Iraq in the last year, he said that he became convinced that the military was not making progress at defeating the insurgency. Yet, he said, the Bush administration ignored his efforts to open private discussions on devising a bipartisan course change.

A letter on Iraq that Mr. Murtha said he sent to Mr. Bush last year did not get a reply until five months later, and then from a underling at the Pentagon, he complained.

"I deserve more respect than that," he said.

Mr. Murtha said he began discussing his growing unease with the military presence in Iraq with longtime advisers, including two retired generals and a former secretary of the Army, whom he would not identify. They urged him not to call publicly for a withdrawal, he said, but as his doubts about the war grew, "they finally came around."

Even Mr. Gleason, the local Republican chairman, predicted that Mr. Murtha's stance would cause him no significant political problems in next November's elections.

Though most voters lean Democratic in this blue-collar region, they are generally conservative. President Bush only lost the district by 8,000 votes in 2004.

Even so, no Republican has yet announced a run against Mr. Murtha, although that may speak as much to Republican concerns over the political climate and the 2006 election as it does about Mr. Murtha's popularity in his district.

His break with the Bush administration could still entice a candidate into the race. But years of delivering federal money from his Appropriations Committee seat has made him all but invulnerable, Mr. Gleason conceded.

Colonel Denies Disparaging Murtha

By The New York Times

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 - A colonel in the Marine reserves has taken issue with how his views were represented in a Republican attack last week on Representative Murtha.

Speaking on the House floor on Friday, Representative Jean Schmidt, Republican of Ohio, asserted that the colonel had "asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message: that cowards cut and run, marines never do."

But a spokeswoman for the colonel, Danny R. Bubp, said Ms. Schmidt had misconstrued their conversation.

While Mr. Bubp, a Republican member of the Ohio House of Representatives, opposes a quick withdrawal for forces, "he did not mention Congressman Murtha by name nor did he mean to disparage Congressman Murtha," said Karen Tabor, his spokeswoman. "He feels as though the words that Congresswoman Schmidt chose did not represent their conversation."

Asked to respond on Monday, the congresswoman's office said only, "Mrs. Schmidt's statement was never meant to disparage Congressman Murtha."

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

November 22nd, 2005, 09:55 AM
The debate over white phosphorus as a chemical weapon illustrates how ridiculous it is to try give warfare a humane and noble face.

All weapons are chemical. Anti-tank artillery is designed with a shaped charge that first penetrates the tank's armor. The result of the chemical reaction that occurs within the tank is not pretty.

Would someone feel better about being attacked by a fragmentation bomb, an anti-personnel weapon with low explosive yield, designed to release thousands of bits of metal at high velocity?

The theory behind rulings of the Geneva Convention banning types of weapons such as nerve gas is the effect on the civilian population. Such weapons, carried on the wind, are impossible to control.

Should land mines be banned?

The Iraqi War is being fought amidst the civilian population, by "soldiers" who are indistinguishable from civilians.

November 22nd, 2005, 04:23 PM
"We didn't mean to insult him" said the congresswoman.

"I mean, really, when someone calls you an ass, it does not always mean they are insulting you!"


November 22nd, 2005, 08:25 PM
Don't feel compelled to post when you don't have anything to say.

November 22nd, 2005, 10:13 PM
Murtha's Reality Check

By Terry M. Neal
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 22, 2005; 11:06 AM

Despite Rep. John Murtha's (D-Pa.) call to bring home the troops in Iraq, the consensus view in Washington is that the Democratic Party has no unified message on the war beyond criticizing the Bush administration's handling of it.

And that lack of message, many pundits and commentators are saying, will ultimately undermine the Democrats' ability to win the debate. Voters want solutions, not just criticism.

Murtha, a man most Americans had never heard of until last week, moved the debate forward by a mile. Because of the credibility he has among the Pentagon brass and GOP hawks, his call received far more attention than recent remarks by a number of Democrats with more prominent names (including Sen. John Kerry and his former running mate, John Edwards) who have renounced their votes on the original Iraq war resolution and called for a return of some or all of the troops on some sort of timetable.

The issue for Democrats isn't lack of message so much as it is lack of unity on what solutions they should be advocating for Iraq.

A senior Democratic staff member in the House told Talking Points on Monday that "generally there is no question that people want to get a change in the policy on Iraq. Clearly, what Bush is doing on stay-the-course is not working. There is some disagreement within the caucus about how to achieve that. Some want immediate pullout, some a longer timetable. Some thinking that [a timetable] is not the way to go at all."

The source, who asked to remain anonymous because it might displease House leaders to be talking about strategy and discord within the party, said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) has called a meeting of House Democratic leaders on Dec. 7 to begin trying to build consensus on what to do with the troops in Iraq. But Pelosi has decided against a plan to have the conference endorse a version of Murtha's plan.

The party has had little guidance from other high-profile leaders, such as Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Last week he told reporters, "Jack Murtha went out and spoke for Jack Murtha." Asked about his thoughts on what the Iraq policy should be, Emanuel took a bold stand: "At the right time, we will have a position."

His comments were echoed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), an early favorite for the party's 2008 presidential nomination. Asked by National Public Radio where she stood, Clinton said, "You know, I really can't talk about this on the fly. It's too important."

In other words, Clinton and others are saying "we'll get back to you after our pollsters focus group it."

Murtha seems to think he's offering the nation a reality check. He said a vote on bringing the troops home is not a matter of if, but when. On NBC's "Meet the Press (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10042399/)" on Sunday, Murtha predicted that the troops would be home by next November's midterm elections.

"We're going to get out," he said. "There is no question about it. We just have to figure out a bipartisan way to do it."

Murtha may be right. Both support for Bush and the occupation in Iraq continues to drop. A new Wall Street Journal poll has Bush's approval rating down to 34 percent. The problem for Democrats is that they're rated by the public even lower than the Bush administration and are essentially tied with congressional Republicans, with only about a quarter of the public approving of the job both are doing.

The public is more split on Iraq but is inclined to agree with Murtha. According to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup (http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/11/18/murtha.iraq/) poll taken last week, 19 percent said the troops should be brought home immediately, and 33 percent said within a year -- that's 52 percent who want the troops brought home sometime in the next year. Only 38 percent said the troops should remain "as long as needed."

Murtha's leadership and public opinion surveys have done little strengthen the resolve of many of the party's leaders, who still can't quite figure out where they stand on the issue of extricating the U.S. from the mess in Iraq.

Sean Spicer, spokesman for the House Republican Conference, argued that Democrats will pay a political price for their inability to offer a viable alternative to the president's vision.

"Murtha stood up and took a principled stand -- albeit a stand we disagree with," Spicer said. "And his own party ran away from him. They basically threw him under the bus and walked away. Not only do [the Democrats] not have an agenda, they walked away from the one guy who does."

Last week, House Republicans pulled a shrewd political move and tried to force Democrats to go on the record in support of Murtha. The strategy was aimed at turning the debate away from how the United States got in the war, which could be damaging to Republicans, to what to do now, which Republicans have at least a chance of winning.

The challenge for Democrats is to avoid being pushed into the corner by GOP efforts to portray the party as weak on terrorism. All the more reason why it will soon be necessary for the party to come up with a unified front on Iraq.

Republicans have their own pitfalls. Apparently recognizing that last week's rhetoric -- comparing Murtha to Michael Moore, as the White House did, and likening him to a coward, as one House member from Ohio did -- is dangerous. Only 35 percent of Americans approve of Bush's handling of the war, and 54 percent believe the war was a mistake, according to the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.
Given that, and the fact that only 38 percent of Americans want an open-ended commitment, it will be difficult for the GOP to sustain the accusation that Democrats want to "cut and run" from Iraq.

This week, the Bush administration sent conflicting messages. President Bush signaled a softer tone, saying people should feel comfortable disagreeing with the war. On the other hand, Cheney called Murtha a "patriot" but suggested that the administration's Iraq critics were guilty of "revisionism of the most corrupt and shameless variety."

Murtha's comments last week were a thunderclap. And Republicans and Democrats alike realize the real debate has shifted in a fundamental way. As the midterms near, will Murtha be joined by other leaders from both parties to develop an Iraq policy that the American public will support?

© 2005 Washingtonpost.

November 23rd, 2005, 12:23 AM
^ Don't fall for his after-the-fact excuse.

If you read the article above you'll see that those two have been joined at the hip for years. Typical political mudslinging: toss the crap and then give a shoulder shrug after, saying "But you misunderstood; that crap wasn't meant for you!".

November 23rd, 2005, 08:50 AM

November 26th, 2005, 12:58 AM
November 26, 2005
Coping With Combat

The Struggle to Gauge a War's Psychological Cost

By BENEDICT CAREY (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=BENEDICT CAREY&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=BENEDICT CAREY&inline=nyt-per)

It was hardly a traditional therapist's office. The mortar fire was relentless, head-splitting, so close that it raised layers of rubble high off the floor of the bombed-out room.

Capt. William Nash, a Navy psychiatrist, sat on an overturned box of ready-made meals for the troops. He was in Iraq (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/iraq/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) to try to short-circuit combat stress on the spot, before it became disabling, as part of the military's most determined effort yet to bring therapy to the front lines.

His clients, about a dozen young men desperate for help after weeks of living and fighting in Falluja, sat opposite him and told their stories.

One had been spattered with his best friend's blood and blamed himself for the death.

Another was also filled with guilt. He had hesitated while scouting an alley and had seen the man in front of him shot to death.

"They were so young," Captain Nash recalled.

At first, when they talked, he simply listened. Then he did his job, telling them that soldiers always blame themselves when someone is killed, in any war, always.

Grief, he told them, can make us forget how random war is, how much we have done to protect those we are fighting with.

"You try to help them tell a coherent story about what is happening, to make sense of it, so they feel less guilt and shame over protecting others, which is so common," said Captain Nash, who counseled the marines last November as part of the military's increased efforts to defuse psychological troubles.

He added, "You have to help them reconstruct the things they used to believe in that don't make sense anymore, like the basic goodness of humanity."

Military psychiatry has always been close to a contradiction in terms. Psychiatry aims to keep people sane; service in wartime makes demands that seem insane.

This war in particular presents profound mental stresses: unknown and often unseen enemies, suicide (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/health/diseasesconditionsandhealthtopics/suicidesandsuicideattempts/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) bombers, a hostile land with virtually no safe zone, no real front or rear. A 360-degree war, some call it, an asymmetrical battle space that threatens to injure troops' minds as well as their bodies.

But just how deep those mental wounds are, and how many will be disabled by them, are matters of controversy. Some experts suspect that the legacy of Iraq could echo that of Vietnam, when almost a third of returning military personnel reported significant, often chronic, psychological problems.

Others say the mental casualties will be much lower, given the resilience of today's troops and the sophistication of the military's psychological corps, which place therapists like Captain Nash into combat zones.

The numbers so far tell a mixed story. The suicide rate among soldiers was high in 2003 but fell significantly in 2004, according to two Army surveys among more than 2,000 soldiers and mental health (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/health/diseasesconditionsandhealthtopics/mentalhealthanddisorders/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) support providers in Iraq. Morale rose in the same period, but 54 percent of the troops say morale is low or very low, the report found.

A continuing study of combat units that served in Iraq has found that about 17 percent of the personnel have shown serious symptoms of depression (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/health/diseasesconditionsandhealthtopics/depression/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier), anxiety or post-traumatic stress (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/health/diseasesconditionsandhealthtopics/posttraumaticstressdisorder/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) disorder - characterized by intrusive thoughts, sleep loss and hyper-alertness, among other symptoms - in the first few months after returning from Iraq, a higher rate than in Afghanistan but thought to be lower than after Vietnam.

In interviews, many members of the armed services and psychologists who had completed extended tours in Iraq said they had battled feelings of profound grief, anger and moral ambiguity about the effect of their presence on Iraqi civilians.

And at bases back home, there have been violent outbursts among those who have completed tours. A marine from Camp Pendleton, Calif., has been convicted of murdering his girlfriend. And three members of a special forces unit based at Fort Carson, in Colorado Springs, have committed suicide.

Yet for returning service members, experts say, the question of whether their difficulties are ultimately diagnosed as mental illness may depend not only on the mental health services available, but also on the politics of military psychiatry itself, the definition of what a normal reaction to combat is and the story the nation tells itself about the purpose and value of soldiers' service.

"We must not ever diminish the pain and anguish many soldiers will feel; this kind of experience never leaves you," said David H. Marlowe, a former chief of military psychiatry at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. "But at the same time we have to be careful not to create an attachment to that pain and anguish by pathologizing it."

The legacy of Iraq, Dr. Marlowe said, will depend as much on how service members are received and understood by the society they return to as
on their exposure to the trauma of war.

Memories Still Haunt

The blood and fury of combat exhilarate some people and mentally scar others, for reasons no one understands.

On an October night in 2003, mortar shells fell on a base camp near Baquba, Iraq, where Specialist Abbie Pickett, then 21, was serving as a combat lifesaver, caring for the wounded. Specialist Pickett continued working all night by the dim blue light of a flashlight, "plugging and chugging" bleeding troops to a makeshift medical tent, she said.

At first, she did not notice that one of the medics who was working with her was bleeding heavily and near death; then, frantically, she treated his wounds and moved him to a medical station not knowing if he would survive.

He did survive, Specialist Pickett later learned. But the horror of that night is still vivid, and the memory stalks her even now, more than a year after she returned home.

"I would say that on a weekly basis I wish I would have died during that attack," said Specialist Pickett, who served with the Wisconsin Army National Guard and whose condition has been diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder. "You never want family to hear that, and it's a selfish thing to say. But I'm not a typical 23-year-old, and it's hard being a combat vet and a woman and figuring out where you fit in."

Each war produces its own traumatic syndrome. The trench warfare of World War I produced the shaking and partial paralysis known as shell shock. The long tours and heavy fighting of World War II induced in many young men the numbed exhaustion that was called combat fatigue.

But it is post-traumatic stress disorder, a diagnosis some psychiatrists intended to characterize the mental struggles of Vietnam veterans, that now dominates the study and description of war trauma.

The diagnosis has always been controversial. Few experts doubt that close combat can cause a lingering hair-trigger alertness and play on a person's conscience for a lifetime. But no one knows what level of trauma is necessary to produce a disabling condition or who will become disabled.

The largest study of Vietnam veterans found that about 30 percent of them had post-traumatic stress disorder in the 20 years after the war but that only a fraction of those service members had had combat roles.

Another study of Vietnam veterans, done around the same time, found that the lifetime rate of the syndrome was half as high, 15 percent.

And since Vietnam, therapists have diagnosed the disorder in crime victims, disaster victims, people who have witnessed disasters, even those who have seen upsetting events on television. The disorder varies widely depending on the individual and the nature of the trauma, psychiatrists say, but they cannot yet predict how.

Yet the very pervasiveness of post-traumatic stress disorder as a concept shapes not only how researchers study war trauma but also how many soldiers describe their reactions to combat.

Specialist Pickett, for example, has struggled with the intrusive memories typical of post-traumatic stress and with symptoms of depression and a seething resentment over her service, partly because of what she describes as irresponsible leaders and a poorly defined mission. Her memories make good bar stories, she said, but they also follow her back to her apartment, where the combination of anxiety and uncertainty about the value of her service has at times made her feel as if she were losing her mind.

Richard J. McNally, a psychologist at Harvard, said, "It's very difficult to know whether a new kind of syndrome will emerge from this war for the simple reason that the instrument used to assess soldiers presupposes that it will look like P.T.S.D. from Vietnam."

A more thorough assessment, Dr. McNally said, "might ask not only about guilt, shame and the killing of noncombatants, but about camaraderie, leadership, devotion to the mission, about what is meaningful and worthwhile, as well as the negative things."

Sitting amid the broken furniture in his Falluja "office," Captain Nash represents the military's best effort to handle stress on the ground, before it becomes upsetting, and keep service members on the job with the others in their platoon or team, who provide powerful emotional support.

While the military deployed mental health experts in Vietnam, most stayed behind the lines. In part because of that war's difficult legacy, the military has increased the proportion of field therapists and put them closer to the action than ever before.

The Army says it has about 200 mental health workers for a force of about 150,000, including combat stress units that travel to combat zones when called on. The Marines are experimenting with a program in which the therapists stationed at a base are deployed with battalions in the field.

"The idea is simple," said Lt. Cmdr. Gary Hoyt, a Navy psychologist and colleague of Captain Nash in the Marine program. "You have a lot more credibility if you've been there, and soldiers and marines are more likely to talk to you."

Commander Hoyt has struggled with irritability and heightened alertness since returning from Iraq in September 2004.

Psychologists and psychiatrists on the ground have to break through the mental toughness that not only keeps troops fighting but also prevents them from seeking psychological help, which is viewed as a sign of weakness. And they have been among the first to identify the mental reactions particular to this war.

One of them, these experts say, is profound, unreleased anger. Unlike in Vietnam, where service members served shorter tours and were rotated in and out of the country individually, troops in Iraq have deployed as units and tend to have trained together as full-time military or in the Reserves or the National Guard. Group cohesion is strong, and the bonds only deepen in the hostile desert terrain of Iraq.

For these tight-knit groups, certain kinds of ambushes - roadside bombs, for instance - can be mentally devastating, for a variety of reasons.

"These guys go out in convoys, and boom: the first vehicle gets hit, their best friend dies, and now they're seeing life flash before them and get a surge of adrenaline and want to do something," said Lt. Col. Alan Peterson, an Air Force psychologist who completed a tour in Iraq last year. "But often there's nothing they can do. There's no enemy there."

Many, Colonel Peterson said, become deeply frustrated because "they wish they could act out on this adrenaline rush and do what they were trained to do but can't."

Some soldiers and marines describe foot patrols as "drawing fire," and gunmen so often disappear into crowds that many have the feeling that they are fighting ghosts. In roadside ambushes, service men and women may never see the enemy.

Sgt. Benjamin Flanders, 27, a graduate student in math who went to Iraq with the New Hampshire National Guard, recalled: "It was kind of a joke: if you got to shoot back at the enemy, people were jealous. It was a stress reliever, a great release, because usually these guys disappear."
Another powerful factor is ambiguity about the purpose of the mission, and about Iraqi civilians' perception of the American presence.

On a Sunday in April 2004, Commander Hoyt received orders to visit Marine units that had been trapped in a firefight in a town near the Syrian border and that had lost five men. The Americans had been handing out candy to children and helping residents fix their houses the day before the ambush, and they felt they had been set up, he said.
The entire unit, he said, was coursing with rage, asking: "What are we doing here? Why aren't the Iraqis helping us?"

Commander Hoyt added, "There was a breakdown, and some wanted to know how come they couldn't hit mosques" or other off-limits targets where insurgents were suspected of hiding.

In group sessions, the psychologist emphasized to the marines that they could not know for sure whether the civilians they had helped had supported the insurgents. Insurgent fighters scare many Iraqis more than the Americans do, he reminded them, and that fear creates a deep ambivalence, even among those who most welcome the American presence. And following the rules of engagement, he told them, was crucial to setting an example.

Commander Hoyt also reminded the group of some of its successes, in rebuilding houses, for example, and restoring electricity in the area. He also told them it was better to fight in Iraq than back home.

"Having someone killed in World War II, you could say, 'Well, we won this battle to save the world,' " he said. "In this terrorist war, it is much less tangible how to anchor your losses."

Help in Adjusting to Life at Home

No one has shown definitively that on-the-spot group or individual therapy in combat lowers the risk of psychological problems later. But military psychiatrists know from earlier wars that separating an individual from his or her unit can significantly worsen feelings of guilt and depression.

About 8 service members per every 1,000 in Iraq have developed psychiatric problems severe enough to require evacuation, according to Defense Department statistics, while the rate of serious psychiatric diagnoses in Vietnam from 1965 to 1969 was more than 10 per 1,000, although improvements in treatment, as well as differences in the conflicts and diagnostic criteria, make a direct comparison very rough.
At the same time, Captain Nash and Commander Hoyt say that psychological consultations by returning marines at Camp Pendleton have been increasing significantly since the war began.

One who comes for regular counseling is Sgt. Robert Willis, who earned a Bronze Star for leading an assault through a graveyard near Najaf in 2004.

Irritable since his return home in February, shaken by loud noises, leery of malls or other areas that are not well-lighted at night - classic signs of post-traumatic stress - Sergeant Willis has been seeing Commander Hoyt to help adjust to life at home.

"It's been hard," Sergeant Willis said in a telephone interview. "I have been boisterous, overbearing - my family notices it."

He said he had learned to manage his moods rather than react impulsively, after learning to monitor his thoughts and attend more closely to the reactions of others.

"The turning point, I think, was when Dr. Hoyt told me to simply accept that I was going to be different because of this," but not mentally ill, Sergeant Willis said.

The increase in consultations at Camp Pendleton may reflect increasingly taxing conditions, or delayed reactions, experts said. But it may also be evidence that men and women who have fought with ready access to a psychologist or psychiatrist are less constrained by the tough-it-out military ethos and are more comfortable seeking that person's advice when they get back.

"Seeing someone you remember from real time in combat absolutely could help in treatment," as well as help overcome the stigma of seeking counseling, said Rachel Yehuda, director of the post-traumatic stress disorder program at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx. "If this is what is happening, I think it's brilliant."

Tracking Serious Symptoms

In the coming months, researchers who are following combat units after they return home are expected to report that the number of personnel with serious mental symptoms has increased slightly, up from the 17 percent reported last year.

In an editorial last year in The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Matthew J. Friedman, executive director of the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for the Department of Veterans Affairs, wrote that studies suggested that the rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, in particular, "may increase considerably during the two years after veterans return from combat duty."

And on the basis of previous studies, Dr. Friedman wrote, "it is possible that psychiatric disorders will increase now that the conduct of the war has shifted from a campaign for liberation to an ongoing armed conflict with dissident combatants."

But others say that the rates of the disorder are just as likely to diminish in the next year, as studies show they do for disaster victims.
Col. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, psychiatry consultant to the Army surgeon general, said that given the stresses of this war, it was worth noting that five out of six service members who had seen combat did not show serious signs of mental illness.

The emotional casualties, Colonel Ritchie said, are "not just an Army medical problem, but a problem that the V.A. system, the civilian system and the society as a whole must work to solve."

That is the one thing all seem to agree on. Some veterans, like Sergeant Flanders and Sergeant Willis, have reconnected with other men in their units to help with their psychological adjustment to home life. Sergeant Willis has been transferred to noncombat duty at Camp Pendleton, in an environment he knows and enjoys, and he can see Commander Hoyt when he needs to. Sergeant Flanders is studying to be an officer.

But others, particularly reservists and National Guard troops, have landed right back in civilian society with no one close to them who has shared their experience.

Specialist Pickett, since her return, has felt especially cut off from the company she trained and served with. She has struggled at school, and with the Veterans Affairs system to get counseling, and no one near her has had an experience remotely like hers. She has tried antidepressants, which have helped reduce her suicidal thinking. She has also joined

Operation Truth, a nonprofit organization that represents Iraq veterans, which has given her some comfort.

Finally, she said, she has been searching her memory and conscience for reasons to justify the pain of her experience: no one, Specialist Pickett said, looks harder for justification than a soldier.

Dr. Marlowe, the former chief of psychiatry at Walter Reed, knows from studying other wars that this is so.

"The great change among American troops in Germany during the Second World War was when they discovered the concentration camps," Dr. Marlowe said. "That immediately and forever changed the moral appreciation for why we were there."

As soldiers return from Iraq, he said, "it will be enormously important for those who feel psychologically disaffected to find something which justifies the killing, and the death of their friends."

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

November 27th, 2005, 11:29 AM
During the Civil War, rifle bullets were "mini balls," which spread on impact and shattered bone. This caused a high level of amputees among those injured - the signature image of a Civil War veteran. This led to the Great Civil War Benefaction of 1862, the first attempt at a program to fund prosthetic research for combat veterans. It continues today in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Now, as then, a boon to the prosthetics industry.

The prosthetics push

Designers respond to injured veterans' demands for high-performance artificial limbs


November 27, 2005

The blast occurred in a potentially lethal flash.

Stretches of a seemingly innocuous landscape had been seeded with booby traps the way fields in more peaceful parts of the world are planted for fall harvest.

For Garth Stewart, 23, contact with an improvised explosive device came during a routine mission in Iraq in April 2003. As he and his fellow troops traversed what appeared to be a nondescript path in the opening weeks of the war, he stepped on a live mine, a force that ripped through his left leg. Amputation below the knee was his doctors' only recourse in an accident that could have claimed the young man's life.

Now, an undergraduate at Columbia University in Manhattan, Stewart has emerged from the devastating experience with his confidence intact and a new respect for an area of medicine that has remained curiously in the shadows: the makers, fitters and designers of artificial legs, feet, arms and hands.

While Stewart's fateful step on a land mine ushered him into a new life on a prosthetic leg and foot, he sees himself as part of a new breed of amputees - young, active and athletic. This combination is putting pressure on designers to produce stronger, smarter devices - "biohybrids" that closely mimic the function of a natural limb.

"The only kind of prosthetics I get are the kind that I can beat up; something that will allow me to climb mountains and run, be in any kind of sport, kick with it, fall down and get up and start all over again," Stewart said in a recent interview.

Other young veterans coming out of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq also are demanding prosthetic devices that allow them to function as if they never lost a limb. In addition to more than 2,000 troops who have died of injuries in the war in Iraq, another 15,000 have sustained serious injuries, including the loss of fingers, hands, arms, legs and feet.

"We stepped out of the hospital on old-school prosthetics," Stewart said of his hospital discharge in 2003. "I was constantly going back with a broken prosthesis. But the industry is now adapting and developing the kind you can fall on, run with and slip on. We're watching the industry get better."

He returned to Iraq

Stewart, originally from Minnesota, wanted a dependable prosthesis that would allow him to be redeployed to Iraq, and to come home with his unit. He made it back to the war-torn country, but not quite in time to return home with his fellow troops.

Lt. Col. Pam Hart with the Department of Defense said it is not uncommon for soldiers to return to military duty after recuperating from a serious injury. Some amputees find roles in less demanding military jobs, but others find a way back to the front lines.

"When soldiers have an extreme injury they have an option," Hart said, "they can stay in the military or they can be processed out."

For those wishing to be redeployed, their cases first must go before a medical review board, Hart said. "A lot depends on what comes out of their medical review process."

Hart said the military's medical review board examines the nature of a soldier's injury and takes into account whether there is a desire to redeploy.

"I went back to the Army. I stayed in until November of last year; got out and applied to school and got into Columbia," said Stewart.

His weapons, helmet and uniform have been replaced by books and garb befitting a college student. Stewart is studying comparative literature with an aim of one day teaching English, and ultimately running for Congress. That's the dream. His reality, though, consists of classes in ancient Greek and writing - and getting to them on time.

"I have what is called a Harmony socket on a Renegade foot," Stewart said of his artificial leg and foot, which are like the kind worn by amputee marathoners.

"The socket has a one-way pump built in the shin area, which holds you down really tight," Stewart said of his artificial leg. "What is called your 'residual end' [the stump] is in a silicone sleeve. It makes it really easy to turn quickly or jump and to do the kinds of things I like to do. It's a good prosthesis. I am really impressed."

Better, with room to improve

Prosthetists, physicists, kinesiologists and other experts have added to the rush of innovations that are helping to reshape the design of artificial limbs. Rather than board-stiff devices that fatigue the wearer, newer prosthetic legs and feet absorb shock, aid balance and allow the wearer to jog, pivot or walk fluidly at any speed.

A feature of the new high-tech feet is their ability to help the wearer smoothly navigate uneven or rocky surfaces, such as cobblestones. And while the innovations are infinitely better than what existed a decade ago, scientists such as those at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who are studying prosthetics say there is still room for improvement.

Materials are increasingly more durable but lighter in weight, such as graphite, titanium and carbon fiber.

Legs are extraordinarily difficult to design, experts say, because of their need to bear weight but not to be too heavy for the wearer. Designs differ with respect to the type of amputation, whether below or above the knee. Above-the-knee amputations require prosthetic devices that include knee joints, devices that have undergone tremendous design improvements within the past decade.

But while legs have posed design difficulties, the development of artificial hands has proved a brain-teaser for experts who acknowledge that the numerous fine motor skills of the human hand have been difficult to mimic. Most hands have proved cumbersome or capable of only a single movement. Researchers at Duke University are working on a hand that comes strikingly close to the movements of the genuine article.

Team at VA hospital

Addressing the needs of war-injured veterans in New York and New Jersey is a small group of prosthetists at the Veterans Administration hospital in Manhattan. And the team's chief is a man who profoundly understands the concerns of young amputees.

"I lost my leg in Vietnam," said John Loosen, who heads the New York/New Jersey Veterans Integrated Service Network at the VA. The network works with VA prosthetic departments throughout the region, including the one at the VA Medical Center in Northport where veterans returning home to Long Island are fitted with prosthetic devices.

Loosen said when vets cannot be fitted with an off-the-shelf limb, one-of-a kind devices can be fashioned by prosthetists.

"We have a full independent lab," Loosen said. "We can make computerized limbs, and can fabricate any kind of prosthetic. We also do research and development and work closely with the manufacturers," he said.

Stewart is one of the patients who is regularly seen by prosthetists at the Manhattan VA.

"If I think my foot is turning out too much or I am walking on my heel too much they understand and know how to loosen some screws or tighten some screws," Stewart said. "They are able to fix the problem. They have special tools, like tiny Allen wrenches."

Loosen attributes the special attention that veterans get to the expertise of his staff. "We have five certified prosthetists in the lab," Loosen said of his staff, which includes a prosthetist who is also a physical therapist."There's a long process of adapting," Loosen said of being an amputee with an artificial limb. "It's not just physically adapting to the prosthesis but psychologically adapting to the fact that you are missing a vital part or parts of your body.

"When I started at the VA in 1975 as a benefits counselor, people kept saying to me: 'Why don't you go into prosthetics?' They were thinking about my experience and thought I had special insight."

Changing injuries

Loosen joined the VA's prosthetics laboratory in 1978 and never left.

With the new generation of injured veterans coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq, Loosen has found that because the definition of war has changed, injuries sustained by troops have changed as well.

"There are not as many gunshot wounds as there were in other wars," Loosen said of soldiers who have returned home in recent years. "There are more blast injuries. Troops aren't in firefights as much as they were in the past. Now it's explosive devices and suicide bombers - more [injuries] to the face and to the limbs. That's probably why we are seeing more upper extremity amputees.

"Injuries are also different in the sense that more people are surviving. Even in Vietnam, when the injury might have been the same the people didn't survive."

Battlefield doctors writing in the New England Journal of Medicine also reported that more troops are being spared, but often with lost limbs.

Sandy Solop, 80, is finding that the innovations in artificial limbs demanded by younger veterans are finally helping older ones. Solop, of Long Beach, lost both arms in World War II. He has lived for more than half a century relying on artificial devices that often left much to be desired. Yet he drives, makes calls on his cell phone and functions with extraordinary skill in a world designed to accommodate people with both arms.

He is trying out a new, lighter elbow that allows a fuller range of motion. Despite the innovation, he thinks designers of artificial arms and hands have lagged those who invent legs. "They've made tremendous strides in lower extremities," Solop said of prosthetic designers. "When you think of what you do with a leg, you walk on it or run. That's it. When you look at what you do with your arms and hands there's no comparison."

For years he has used a hook that has afforded a surprising amount of dexterity. "It's not difficult to talk about anymore," Solop said of his injury and amputation. "It's like another life, a distant dream. I am reminded every day that I am an amputee.

"I was in the Pacific in the 13th Air Corps. I lost my arms in the Philippines in a crash. The plane crashed on takeoff," Solop said. "To save my life they had to amputate and they had to amputate above the elbows. I had gas gangrene; I had facial burns. Other than that, I came out of it OK."

Hope for amputees

A new prosthetic knee, called the C-leg, is being made available to scores of American military personnel who have sustained serious leg injuries, including amputations, in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

How it works

o Microprocessor inside the limb automatically adjusts the C-leg to fit a person's stance and stride.

o Sensor sends data from the joint to hydraulic actuators in the leg that fine-tune it for the amount of resistance encountered on a particular terrain.

Chief components

1. ELECTRONICS: Includes battery charger port and computer port to microprocessor.

2. SOCKET CONNECTION PYRAMID: Connects C-Leg to upper joint.

3. HYDRAULICS AND SERVO MOTOR: Adjust key valves in the leg to provide stability during heel strike.


5. DISTAL TUBE CLAMP: Connects to shin tube, which connects to prosthetic foot.

6. PROSTHETIC FOOT: Can be fitted in four styles.

Other features

o MICROPROCESSOR: Constantly feeds information to the control software about user's present walking cycle.

o STRAIN GAUGES: Measure pressure on the leg and note how often the heel strikes.

o MAGNETIC SENSORS: Report changes in knee angles.

o LITHIUM-ION BATTERY: Powers limb for about 35 hours; rechargeable.

o WARNING VIBRATOR: Activated when battery begins to run low on power. If power runs out, knee defaults to straightleg position.


$30,000 - $50,000(Insurable)

Rotation adapter

Mono-centric knee joint

1 Ports for electronics

2 Socket connection pyramid

3 Hydraulics and servo motor


4 Carbon-fiber frame housing

5 Distal tube clamp

Shin tube adapter

6 Prosthetic foot

Knee joint


Prosthetic foot



November 27th, 2005, 11:20 PM
"How is honor possible in a war like the one in Iraq?"
A Journey That Ended in Anguish

Col. Ted Westhusing, a military ethicist who volunteered to go to Iraq, was upset by what he saw.
His apparent suicide raises questions.

By T. Christian Miller
Los Angeles Times
November 27, 2005

"War is the hardest place to make moral judgments."

Col. Ted Westhusing, Journal of Military Ethics

WASHINGTON — One hot, dusty day in June, Col. Ted Westhusing was found dead in a trailer at a military base near the Baghdad airport, a single gunshot wound to the head.

The Army would conclude that he committed suicide with his service pistol. At the time, he was the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq.

The Army closed its case. But the questions surrounding Westhusing's death continue.

Westhusing, 44, was no ordinary officer. He was one of the Army's leading scholars of military ethics, a full professor at West Point who volunteered to serve in Iraq to be able to better teach his students. He had a doctorate in philosophy; his dissertation was an extended meditation on the meaning of honor.

So it was only natural that Westhusing acted when he learned of possible corruption by U.S. contractors in Iraq. A few weeks before he died, Westhusing received an anonymous complaint that a private security company he oversaw had cheated the U.S. government and committed human rights violations. Westhusing confronted the contractor and reported the concerns to superiors, who launched an investigation.

In e-mails to his family, Westhusing seemed especially upset by one conclusion he had reached: that traditional military values such as duty, honor and country had been replaced by profit motives in Iraq, where the U.S. had come to rely heavily on contractors for jobs once done by the military.

His death stunned all who knew him. Colleagues and commanders wondered whether they had missed signs of depression. He had been losing weight and not sleeping well. But only a day before his death, Westhusing won praise from a senior officer for his progress in training Iraqi police.

His friends and family struggle with the idea that Westhusing could have killed himself. He was a loving father and husband and a devout Catholic. He was an extraordinary intellect and had mastered ancient Greek and Italian. He had less than a month before his return home. It seemed impossible that anything could crush the spirit of a man with such a powerful sense of right and wrong.

On the Internet and in conversations with one another, Westhusing's family and friends have questioned the military investigation.

A note found in his trailer seemed to offer clues. Written in what the Army determined was his handwriting, the colonel appeared to be struggling with a final question.

How is honor possible in a war like the one in Iraq?

Even at Jenks High School in suburban Tulsa, one of the biggest in Oklahoma, Westhusing stood out. He was starting point guard for the Trojans, a team that made a strong run for the state basketball championship his senior year. He was a National Merit Scholarship finalist. He was an officer in a fellowship of Christian athletes.

Joe Holladay, who coached Westhusing before going on to become assistant coach of the University of North Carolina Tarheels, recalled Westhusing showing up at the gym at 7 a.m. to get in 100 extra practice shots.

"There was never a question of how hard he played or how much effort he put into something," Holladay said. "Whatever he did, he did well. He was the cream of the crop."

When Westhusing entered West Point in 1979, the tradition-bound institution was just emerging from a cheating scandal that had shamed the Army. Restoring honor to the nation's preeminent incubator for Army leadership was the focus of the day.

Cadets are taught to value duty, honor and country, and are drilled in West Point's strict moral code: A cadet will not lie, cheat or steal — or tolerate those who do.

Westhusing embraced it. He was selected as honor captain for the entire academy his senior year. Col. Tim Trainor, a classmate and currently a West Point professor, said Westhusing was strict but sympathetic to cadets' problems. He remembered him as "introspective."

Westhusing graduated third in his class in 1983 and became an infantry platoon leader. He received special forces training, served in Italy, South Korea and Honduras, and eventually became division operations officer for the 82nd Airborne, based at Ft. Bragg, N.C.

He loved commanding soldiers. But he remained drawn to intellectual pursuits.

In 2000, Westhusing enrolled in Emory University's doctoral philosophy program. The idea was to return to West Point to teach future leaders.

He immediately stood out on the leafy Atlanta campus. Married with children, he was surrounded by young, single students. He was a deeply faithful Christian in a graduate program of professional skeptics.

Plunged into academia, Westhusing held fast to his military ties. Students and professors recalled him jogging up steep hills in combat boots and camouflage, his rucksack full, to stay in shape. He wrote a paper challenging an essay that questioned the morality of patriotism.

"He was as straight an arrow as you would possibly find," said Aaron Fichtelberg, a fellow student and now a professor at the University of Delaware. "He seemed unshakable."

In his 352-page dissertation, Westhusing discussed the ethics of war, focusing on examples of military honor from Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to the Israeli army. It is a dense, searching and sometimes personal effort to define what, exactly, constitutes virtuous conduct in the context of the modern U.S. military.

"Born to be a warrior, I desire these answers not just for philosophical reasons, but for self-knowledge," he wrote in the opening pages.

As planned, Westhusing returned to teach philosophy and English at West Point as a full professor with a guaranteed lifetime assignment. He settled into life on campus with his wife, Michelle, and their three young children.

But amid the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he told friends that he felt experience in Iraq would help him in teaching cadets. In the fall of 2004, he volunteered for duty.

"He wanted to serve, he wanted to use his skills, maybe he wanted some glory," recalled Nick Fotion, his advisor at Emory. "He wanted to go."

In January, Westhusing began work on what the Pentagon considered the most important mission in Iraq: training Iraqi forces to take over security duties from U.S. troops.

Westhusing's task was to oversee a private security company, Virginia-based USIS, which had contracts worth $79 million to train a corps of Iraqi police to conduct special operations.

In March, Gen. David Petraeus, commanding officer of the Iraqi training mission, praised Westhusing's performance, saying he had exceeded "lofty expectations."

"Thanks much, sir, but we can do much better and will," Westhusing wrote back, according to a copy of the Army investigation of his death that was obtained by The Times.

In April, his mood seemed to have darkened. He worried over delays in training one of the police battalions.

Then, in May, Westhusing received an anonymous four-page letter that contained detailed allegations of wrongdoing by USIS.

The writer accused USIS of deliberately shorting the government on the number of trainers to increase its profit margin. More seriously, the writer detailed two incidents in which USIS contractors allegedly had witnessed or participated in the killing of Iraqis.

A USIS contractor accompanied Iraqi police trainees during the assault on Fallouja last November and later boasted about the number of insurgents he had killed, the letter says. Private security contractors are not allowed to conduct offensive operations.

In a second incident, the letter says, a USIS employee saw Iraqi police trainees kill two innocent Iraqi civilians, then covered it up. A USIS manager "did not want it reported because he thought it would put his contract at risk."

Westhusing reported the allegations to his superiors but told one of them, Gen. Joseph Fil, that he believed USIS was complying with the terms of its contract.

U.S. officials investigated and found "no contractual violations," an Army spokesman said. Bill Winter, a USIS spokesman, said the investigation "found these allegations to be unfounded." However, several U.S. officials said inquiries on USIS were ongoing. One U.S. military official, who, like others, requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said the inquiries had turned up problems, but nothing to support the more serious charges of human rights violations.

"As is typical, there may be a wisp of truth in each of the allegations," the official said.

The letter shook Westhusing, who felt personally implicated by accusations that he was too friendly with USIS management, according to an e-mail in the report.

"This is a mess … dunno what I will do with this," he wrote home to his family May 18.

The colonel began to complain to colleagues about "his dislike of the contractors," who, he said, "were paid too much money by the government," according to one captain.

"The meetings [with contractors] were never easy and always contentious. The contracts were in dispute and always under discussion," an Army Corps of Engineers official told investigators.

By June, some of Westhusing's colleagues had begun to worry about his health. They later told investigators that he had lost weight and begun fidgeting, sometimes staring off into space. He seemed withdrawn, they said.

His family was also becoming worried. He described feeling alone and abandoned. He sent home brief, cryptic e-mails, including one that said, " didn't think I'd make it last night." He talked of resigning his command.

Westhusing brushed aside entreaties for details, writing that he would say more when he returned home. The family responded with an outpouring of e-mails expressing love and support.

His wife recalled a phone conversation that chilled her two weeks before his death.

"I heard something in his voice," she told investigators, according to a transcript of the interview. "In Ted's voice, there was fear. He did not like the nighttime and being alone."

Westhusing's father, Keith, said the family did not want to comment for this article.

On June 4, Westhusing left his office in the U.S.-controlled Green Zone of Baghdad to view a demonstration of Iraqi police preparedness at Camp Dublin, the USIS headquarters at the airport. He gave a briefing that impressed Petraeus and a visiting scholar. He stayed overnight at the USIS camp.

That night in his office, a USIS secretary would later tell investigators, she watched Westhusing take out his 9-millimeter pistol and "play" with it, repeatedly unholstering the weapon.

At a meeting the next morning to discuss construction delays, he seemed agitated. He stewed over demands for tighter vetting of police candidates, worried that it would slow the mission. He seemed upset over funding shortfalls.

Uncharacteristically, he lashed out at the contractors in attendance, according to the Army Corps official. In three months, the official had never seen Westhusing upset.

"He was sick of money-grubbing contractors," the official recounted. Westhusing said that "he had not come over to Iraq for this."

The meeting broke up shortly before lunch. About 1 p.m., a USIS manager went looking for Westhusing because he was scheduled for a ride back to the Green Zone. After getting no answer, the manager returned about 15 minutes later. Another USIS employee peeked through a window. He saw Westhusing lying on the floor in a pool of blood.

The manager rushed into the trailer and tried to revive Westhusing. The manager told investigators that he picked up the pistol at Westhusing's feet and tossed it onto the bed.

"I knew people would show up," that manager said later in attempting to explain why he had handled the weapon. "With 30 years from military and law enforcement training, I did not want the weapon to get bumped and go off."

After a three-month inquiry, investigators declared Westhusing's death a suicide. A test showed gunpowder residue on his hands. A shell casing in the room bore markings indicating it had been fired from his service revolver.

Then there was the note.

Investigators found it lying on Westhusing's bed. The handwriting matched his.

The first part of the four-page letter lashes out at Petraeus and Fil. Both men later told investigators that they had not criticized Westhusing or heard negative comments from him. An Army review undertaken after Westhusing's death was complimentary of the command climate under the two men, a U.S. military official said.

Most of the letter is a wrenching account of a struggle for honor in a strange land.

"I cannot support a msn [mission] that leads to corruption, human rights abuse and liars. I am sullied," it says. "I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored.

"Death before being dishonored any more."

A psychologist reviewed Westhusing's e-mails and interviewed colleagues. She concluded that the anonymous letter had been the "most difficult and probably most painful stressor."

She said that Westhusing had placed too much pressure on himself to succeed and that he was unusually rigid in his thinking. Westhusing struggled with the idea that monetary values could outweigh moral ones in war. This, she said, was a flaw.

"Despite his intelligence, his ability to grasp the idea that profit is an important goal for people working in the private sector was surprisingly limited," wrote Lt. Col. Lisa Breitenbach. "He could not shift his mind-set from the military notion of completing a mission irrespective of cost, nor could he change his belief that doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do should be the sole motivator for businesses."

One military officer said he felt Westhusing had trouble reconciling his ideals with Iraq's reality. Iraq "isn't a black-and-white place," the officer said. "There's a lot of gray."

Fil and Petraeus, Westhusing's commanding officers, declined to comment on the investigation, but they praised him. He was "an extremely bright, highly competent, completely professional and exceedingly hard-working officer. His death was truly tragic and was a tremendous blow," Petraeus said.

Westhusing's family and friends are troubled that he died at Camp Dublin, where he was without a bodyguard, surrounded by the same contractors he suspected of wrongdoing. They wonder why the manager who discovered Westhusing's body and picked up his weapon was not tested for gunpowder residue.

Mostly, they wonder how Col. Ted Westhusing — father, husband, son and expert on doing right — could have found himself in a place so dark that he saw no light.

"He's the last person who would commit suicide," said Fichtelberg, his graduate school colleague. "He couldn't have done it. He's just too damn stubborn."

Westhusing's body was flown back to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Waiting to receive it were his family and a close friend from West Point, a lieutenant colonel.

In the military report, the unidentified colonel told investigators that he had turned to Michelle, Westhusing's wife, and asked what happened.

Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times

November 29th, 2005, 12:09 PM

http://www.newyorker.com/images/printable_logo.gif (http://www.newyorker.com/main/start/)
Where is the Iraq war headed next?
Issue of 2005-12-05
Posted 2005-11-28

In recent weeks, there has been widespread speculation that President George W. Bush, confronted by diminishing approval ratings and dissent within his own party, will begin pulling American troops out of Iraq next year. The Administration’s best-case scenario is that the parliamentary election scheduled for December 15th will produce a coalition government that will join the Administration in calling for a withdrawal to begin in the spring. By then, the White House hopes, the new government will be capable of handling the insurgency. In a speech on November 19th, Bush repeated the latest Administration catchphrase: “As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.” He added, “When our commanders on the ground tell me that Iraqi forces can defend their freedom, our troops will come home with the honor they have earned.” One sign of the political pressure on the Administration to prepare for a withdrawal came last week, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Fox News that the current level of American troops would not have to be maintained “for very much longer,” because the Iraqis were getting better at fighting the insurgency.
A high-level Pentagon war planner told me, however, that he has seen scant indication that the President would authorize a significant pullout of American troops if he believed that it would impede the war against the insurgency. There are several proposals currently under review by the White House and the Pentagon; the most ambitious calls for American combat forces to be reduced from a hundred and fifty-five thousand troops to fewer than eighty thousand by next fall, with all American forces officially designated “combat” to be pulled out of the area by the summer of 2008. In terms of implementation, the planner said, “the drawdown plans that I’m familiar with are condition-based, event-driven, and not in a specific time frame”—that is, they depend on the ability of a new Iraqi government to defeat the insurgency. (A Pentagon spokesman said that the Administration had not made any decisions and had “no plan to leave, only a plan to complete the mission.”)
A key element of the drawdown plans, not mentioned in the President’s public statements, is that the departing American troops will be replaced by American airpower. Quick, deadly strikes by U.S. warplanes are seen as a way to improve dramatically the combat capability of even the weakest Iraqi combat units. The danger, military experts have told me, is that, while the number of American casualties would decrease as ground troops are withdrawn, the over-all level of violence and the number of Iraqi fatalities would increase unless there are stringent controls over who bombs what.
“We’re not planning to diminish the war,” Patrick Clawson, the deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told me. Clawson’s views often mirror the thinking of the men and women around Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. “We just want to change the mix of the forces doing the fighting—Iraqi infantry with American support and greater use of airpower. The rule now is to commit Iraqi forces into combat only in places where they are sure to win. The pace of commitment, and withdrawal, depends on their success in the battlefield.”
He continued, “We want to draw down our forces, but the President is prepared to tough this one out. There is a very deep feeling on his part that the issue of Iraq was settled by the American people at the polling places in 2004.” The war against the insurgency “may end up being a nasty and murderous civil war in Iraq, but we and our allies would still win,” he said. “As long as the Kurds and the Shiites stay on our side, we’re set to go. There’s no sense that the world is caving in. We’re in the middle of a seven-year slog in Iraq, and eighty per cent of the Iraqis are receptive to our message.”
One Pentagon adviser told me, “There are always contingency plans, but why withdraw and take a chance? I don’t think the President will go for it”—until the insurgency is broken. “He’s not going to back off. This is bigger than domestic politics.”
Current and former military and intelligence officials have told me that the President remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq, and that he is impervious to political pressure, even from fellow Republicans. They also say that he disparages any information that conflicts with his view of how the war is proceeding.
Bush’s closest advisers have long been aware of the religious nature of his policy commitments. In recent interviews, one former senior official, who served in Bush’s first term, spoke extensively about the connection between the President’s religious faith and his view of the war in Iraq. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the former official said, he was told that Bush felt that “God put me here” to deal with the war on terror. The President’s belief was fortified by the Republican sweep in the 2002 congressional elections; Bush saw the victory as a purposeful message from God that “he’s the man,” the former official said. Publicly, Bush depicted his reëlection as a referendum on the war; privately, he spoke of it as another manifestation of divine purpose.
The former senior official said that after the election he made a lengthy inspection visit to Iraq and reported his findings to Bush in the White House: “I said to the President, ‘We’re not winning the war.’ And he asked, ‘Are we losing?’ I said, ‘Not yet.’ ” The President, he said, “appeared displeased” with that answer.
“I tried to tell him,” the former senior official said. “And he couldn’t hear it.”
There are grave concerns within the military about the capability of the U.S. Army to sustain two or three more years of combat in Iraq. Michael O’Hanlon, a specialist on military issues at the Brookings Institution, told me, “The people in the institutional Army feel they don’t have the luxury of deciding troop levels, or even participating in the debate. They’re planning on staying the course until 2009. I can’t believe the Army thinks that it will happen, because there’s no sustained drive to increase the size of the regular Army.” O’Hanlon noted that “if the President decides to stay the present course in Iraq some troops would be compelled to serve fourth and fifth tours of combat by 2007 and 2008, which could have serious consequences for morale and competency levels.”
Many of the military’s most senior generals are deeply frustrated, but they say nothing in public, because they don’t want to jeopardize their careers. The Administration has “so terrified the generals that they know they won’t go public,” a former defense official said. A retired senior C.I.A. officer with knowledge of Iraq told me that one of his colleagues recently participated in a congressional tour there. The legislators were repeatedly told, in meetings with enlisted men, junior officers, and generals that “things were ****ed up.” But in a subsequent teleconference with Rumsfeld, he said, the generals kept those criticisms to themselves.
One person with whom the Pentagon’s top commanders have shared their private views for decades is Representative John Murtha, of Pennsylvania, the senior Democrat on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. The President and his key aides were enraged when, on November 17th, Murtha gave a speech in the House calling for a withdrawal of troops within six months. The speech was filled with devastating information. For example, Murtha reported that the number of attacks in Iraq has increased from a hundred and fifty a week to more than seven hundred a week in the past year. He said that an estimated fifty thousand American soldiers will suffer “from what I call battle fatigue” in the war, and he said that the Americans were seen as “the common enemy” in Iraq. He also took issue with one of the White House’s claims—that foreign fighters were playing the major role in the insurgency. Murtha said that American soldiers “haven’t captured any in this latest activity”—the continuing battle in western Anbar province, near the border with Syria. “So this idea that they’re coming in from outside, we still think there’s only seven per cent.”
Murtha’s call for a speedy American pullout only seemed to strengthen the White House’s resolve. Administration officials “are beyond angry at him, because he is a serious threat to their policy—both on substance and politically,” the former defense official said. Speaking at the Osan Air Force base, in South Korea, two days after Murtha’s speech, Bush said, “The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. . . . If they’re not stopped, the terrorists will be able to advance their agenda to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, and to break our will and blackmail our government into isolation. I’m going to make you this commitment: this is not going to happen on my watch.”
“The President is more determined than ever to stay the course,” the former defense official said. “He doesn’t feel any pain. Bush is a believer in the adage ‘People may suffer and die, but the Church advances.’ ” He said that the President had become more detached, leaving more issues to Karl Rove and Vice-President Cheney. “They keep him in the gray world of religious idealism, where he wants to be anyway,” the former defense official said. Bush’s public appearances, for example, are generally scheduled in front of friendly audiences, most often at military bases. Four decades ago, President Lyndon Johnson, who was also confronted with an increasingly unpopular war, was limited to similar public forums. “Johnson knew he was a prisoner in the White House,” the former official said, “but Bush has no idea.”
Within the military, the prospect of using airpower as a substitute for American troops on the ground has caused great unease. For one thing, Air Force commanders, in particular, have deep-seated objections to the possibility that Iraqis eventually will be responsible for target selection. “Will the Iraqis call in air strikes in order to snuff rivals, or other warlords, or to snuff members of your own sect and blame someone else?” another senior military planner now on assignment in the Pentagon asked. “Will some Iraqis be targeting on behalf of Al Qaeda, or the insurgency, or the Iranians?”
“It’s a serious business,” retired Air Force General Charles Horner, who was in charge of allied bombing during the 1991 Gulf War, said. “The Air Force has always had concerns about people ordering air strikes who are not Air Force forward air controllers. We need people on active duty to think it out, and they will. There has to be training to be sure that somebody is not trying to get even with somebody else.” (Asked for a comment, the Pentagon spokesman said there were plans in place for such training. He also noted that Iraq had no offensive airpower of its own, and thus would have to rely on the United States for some time.)
The American air war inside Iraq today is perhaps the most significant—and underreported—aspect of the fight against the insurgency. The military authorities in Baghdad and Washington do not provide the press with a daily accounting of missions that Air Force, Navy, and Marine units fly or of the tonnage they drop, as was routinely done during the Vietnam War. One insight into the scope of the bombing in Iraq was supplied by the Marine Corps during the height of the siege of Falluja in the fall of 2004. “With a massive Marine air and ground offensive under way,” a Marine press release said, “Marine close air support continues to put high-tech steel on target. . . . Flying missions day and night for weeks, the fixed wing aircraft of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing are ensuring battlefield success on the front line.” Since the beginning of the war, the press release said, the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing alone had dropped more than five hundred thousand tons of ordnance. “This number is likely to be much higher by the end of operations,” Major Mike Sexton said. In the battle for the city, more than seven hundred Americans were killed or wounded; U.S. officials did not release estimates of civilian dead, but press reports at the time told of women and children killed in the bombardments.
In recent months, the tempo of American bombing seems to have increased. Most of the targets appear to be in the hostile, predominantly Sunni provinces that surround Baghdad and along the Syrian border. As yet, neither Congress nor the public has engaged in a significant discussion or debate about the air war.
The insurgency operates mainly in crowded urban areas, and Air Force warplanes rely on sophisticated, laser-guided bombs to avoid civilian casualties. These bombs home in on targets that must be “painted,” or illuminated, by laser beams directed by ground units. “The pilot doesn’t identify the target as seen in the pre-brief”—the instructions provided before takeoff—a former high-level intelligence official told me. “The guy with the laser is the targeteer. Not the pilot. Often you get a ‘hot-read’ ”—from a military unit on the ground—“and you drop your bombs with no communication with the guys on the ground. You don’t want to break radio silence. The people on the ground are calling in targets that the pilots can’t verify.” He added, “And we’re going to turn this process over to the Iraqis?”
The second senior military planner told me that there are essentially two types of targeting now being used in Iraq: a deliberate site-selection process that works out of air-operations centers in the region, and “adaptive targeting”—supportive bombing by prepositioned or loitering warplanes that are suddenly alerted to firefights or targets of opportunity by military units on the ground. “The bulk of what we do today is adaptive,” the officer said, “and it’s divorced from any operational air planning. Airpower can be used as a tool of internal political coercion, and my attitude is that I can’t imagine that we will give that power to the Iraqis.”
This military planner added that even today, with Americans doing the targeting, “there is no sense of an air campaign, or a strategic vision. We are just whacking targets—it’s a reversion to the Stone Age. There’s no operational art. That’s what happens when you give targeting to the Army—they hit what the local commander wants to hit.”
One senior Pentagon consultant I spoke to said he was optimistic that “American air will immediately make the Iraqi Army that much better.” But he acknowledged that he, too, had concerns about Iraqi targeting. “We have the most expensive eyes in the sky right now,” the consultant said. “But a lot of Iraqis want to settle old scores. Who is going to have authority to call in air strikes? There’s got to be a behavior-based rule.”
General John Jumper, who retired last month after serving four years as the Air Force chief of staff, was “in favor of certification of those Iraqis who will be allowed to call in strikes,” the Pentagon consultant told me. “I don’t know if it will be approved. The regular Army generals were resisting it to the last breath, despite the fact that they would benefit the most from it.”
A Pentagon consultant with close ties to the officials in the Vice-President’s office and the Pentagon who advocated the war said that the Iraqi penchant for targeting tribal and personal enemies with artillery and mortar fire had created “impatience and resentment” inside the military. He believed that the Air Force’s problems with Iraqi targeting might be addressed by the formation of U.S.-Iraqi transition teams, whose American members would be drawn largely from Special Forces troops. This consultant said that there were plans to integrate between two hundred and three hundred Special Forces members into Iraqi units, which was seen as a compromise aimed at meeting the Air Force’s demand to vet Iraqis who were involved in targeting. But in practice, the consultant added, it meant that “the Special Ops people will soon allow Iraqis to begin calling in the targets.”
Robert Pape, a political-science professor at the University of Chicago, who has written widely on American airpower, and who taught for three years at the Air Force’s School of Advanced Airpower Studies, in Alabama, predicted that the air war “will get very ugly” if targeting is turned over to the Iraqis. This would be especially true, he said, if the Iraqis continued to operate as the U.S. Army and Marines have done—plowing through Sunni strongholds on search-and-destroy missions. “If we encourage the Iraqis to clear and hold their own areas, and use airpower to stop the insurgents from penetrating the cleared areas, it could be useful,” Pape said. “The risk is that we will encourage the Iraqis to do search-and-destroy, and they would be less judicious about using airpower—and the violence would go up. More civilians will be killed, which means more insurgents will be created.”
Even American bombing on behalf of an improved, well-trained Iraqi Army would not necessarily be any more successful against the insurgency. “It’s not going to work,” said Andrew Brookes, the former director of airpower studies at the Royal Air Force’s advanced staff college, who is now at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, in London. “Can you put a lid on the insurgency with bombing?” Brookes said. “No. You can concentrate in one area, but the guys will spring up in another town.” The inevitable reliance on Iraqi ground troops’ targeting would also create conflicts. “I don’t see your guys dancing to the tune of someone else,” Brookes said. He added that he and many other experts “don’t believe that airpower is a solution to the problems inside Iraq at all. Replacing boots on the ground with airpower didn’t work in Vietnam, did it?”
The Air Force’s worries have been subordinated, so far, to the political needs of the White House. The Administration’s immediate political goal after the December elections is to show that the day-to-day conduct of the war can be turned over to the newly trained and equipped Iraqi military. It has already planned heavily scripted change-of-command ceremonies, complete with the lowering of American flags at bases and the raising of Iraqi ones.
Some officials in the State Department, the C.I.A., and British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government have settled on their candidate of choice for the December elections—Iyad Allawi, the secular Shiite who served until this spring as Iraq’s interim Prime Minister. They believe that Allawi can gather enough votes in the election to emerge, after a round of political bargaining, as Prime Minister. A former senior British adviser told me that Blair was convinced that Allawi “is the best hope.” The fear is that a government dominated by religious Shiites, many of whom are close to Iran, would give Iran greater political and military influence inside Iraq. Allawi could counter Iran’s influence; also, he would be far more supportive and coöperative if the Bush Administration began a drawdown of American combat forces in the coming year.
Blair has assigned a small team of operatives to provide political help to Allawi, the former adviser told me. He also said that there was talk late this fall, with American concurrence, of urging Ahmad Chalabi, a secular Shiite, to join forces in a coalition with Allawi during the post-election negotiations to form a government. Chalabi, who is notorious for his role in promoting flawed intelligence on weapons of mass destruction before the war, is now a deputy Prime Minister. He and Allawi were bitter rivals while in exile.
A senior United Nations diplomat told me that he was puzzled by the high American and British hopes for Allawi. “I know a lot of people want Allawi, but I think he’s been a terrific disappointment,” the diplomat said. “He doesn’t seem to be building a strong alliance, and at the moment it doesn’t look like he will do very well in the election.”
The second Pentagon consultant told me, “If Allawi becomes Prime Minister, we can say, ‘There’s a moderate, urban, educated leader now in power who does not want to deprive women of their rights.’ He would ask us to leave, but he would allow us to keep Special Forces operations inside Iraq—to keep an American presence the right way. Mission accomplished. A coup for Bush.”
A former high-level intelligence official cautioned that it was probably “too late” for any American withdrawal plan to work without further bloodshed. The constitution approved by Iraqi voters in October “will be interpreted by the Kurds and the Shiites to proceed with their plans for autonomy,” he said. “The Sunnis will continue to believe that if they can get rid of the Americans they can still win. And there still is no credible way to establish security for American troops.”
The fear is that a precipitous U.S. withdrawal would inevitably trigger a Sunni-Shiite civil war. In many areas, that war has, in a sense, already begun, and the United States military is being drawn into the sectarian violence. An American Army officer who took part in the assault on Tal Afar, in the north of Iraq, earlier this fall, said that an American infantry brigade was placed in the position of providing a cordon of security around the besieged city for Iraqi forces, most of them Shiites, who were “rounding up any Sunnis on the basis of whatever a Shiite said to them.” The officer went on, “They were killing Sunnis on behalf of the Shiites,” with the active participation of a militia unit led by a retired American Special Forces soldier. “People like me have gotten so downhearted,” the officer added.
Meanwhile, as the debate over troop reductions continues, the covert war in Iraq has expanded in recent months to Syria. A composite American Special Forces team, known as an S.M.U., for “special-mission unit,” has been ordered, under stringent cover, to target suspected supporters of the Iraqi insurgency across the border. (The Pentagon had no comment.) “It’s a powder keg,” the Pentagon consultant said of the tactic. “But, if we hit an insurgent network in Iraq without hitting the guys in Syria who are part of it, the guys in Syria would get away. When you’re fighting an insurgency, you have to strike everywhere—and at once.” http://www.newyorker.com/images/dingbat.gif

November 29th, 2005, 01:17 PM
Nowhere to Run

After what has been described as the most foolish war in over 2,000 years, is there a way out of Iraq for President Bush, asks Brian Whitaker

Tuesday November 29, 2005


There is a remarkable article in the latest issue of the American Jewish weekly, Forward (http://www.forward.com/articles/6936). It calls for President Bush to be impeached and put on trial "for misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 BC sent his legions into Germany and lost them".

To describe Iraq as the most foolish war of the last 2,014 years is a sweeping statement, but the writer is well qualified to know.

He is Martin van Creveld, a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and one of the world's foremost military historians. Several of his books have influenced modern military theory and he is the only non-American author on the US Army's list of required reading for officers.

Professor van Creveld has previously drawn parallels between Iraq and Vietnam, and pointed out that almost all countries that have tried to fight similar wars during the last 60 years or so have ended up losing. Why President Bush "nevertheless decided to go to war escapes me and will no doubt preoccupy historians to come," he told one interviewer.

The professor's puzzlement is understandable. More than two years after the war began, and despite the huge financial and human cost, it is difficult to see any real benefits.

The weapons of mass destruction that provided the excuse for the invasion turned out not to exist and the idea that Iraq could become a beacon of democracy for the Middle East has proved equally far-fetched.

True, there is now a multi-party electoral system, but it has institutionalised and consolidated the country's ethnic, sectarian and tribal divisions - exactly the sort of thing that should be avoided when attempting to democratise.

In the absence of anything more positive, Tony Blair has fallen back on the claim that at least we're better off now without Saddam Hussein. That, too, sounds increasingly hollow.

The fall of Saddam has brought the rise of Zarqawi and his ilk, levels of corruption in Iraq seem as bad as ever, and at the weekend former prime minister Iyad Allawi caused a stir by asserting that the human rights are no better protected now than under the rule of Saddam.

Noting that some two-thirds of Americans believe the war was a mistake, van Creveld says in his article that the US should forget about saving face and pull its troops out: "What had to come, has come. The question is no longer if American forces will be withdrawn, but how soon - and at what cost."

Welcome as a pullout might be to many Americans, it would be a hugely complex operation. Van Creveld says it would probably take several months and result in sizeable casualties. More significantly, though, it would not end the conflict.

"As the pullout proceeds," he warns, "Iraq almost certainly will sink into an all-out civil war from which it will take the country a long time to emerge - if, indeed, it can do so at all. All this is inevitable and will take place whether George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice like it or not."

This is one of the major differences between Iraq and the withdrawal from Vietnam. In Vietnam, it took place under a smokescreen of "Vietnamisation" in which US troops handed control to local forces in the south.

Of course, it was a fairly thin smokescreen; many people were aware at the time that these southern forces could not hold out and in due course the North Vietnamese overran the south, finally bringing the war to an end.

Officially, a similar process is under way in Iraq, with the Americans saying they will eventually hand over to the new Iraqi army - though the chances of that succeeding look even bleaker than they did in Vietnam.

"The new Iraqi army is by all accounts much weaker, less skilled, less cohesive and less loyal to its government than even the South Vietnamese army was," van Creveld writes.

Worse still, in Iraq there is no equivalent of the North Vietnamese regime poised to take power. What will happen once the Americans have gone is anyone's guess, but a sudden outbreak of peace seems the remotest of all the possibilities.

Not surprisingly, many who in principle would argue that the Americans had no right to invade Iraq in the first place are apprehensive about what might happen once they leave. The conference organised by the Arab League in Cairo last week was one example: it called for "the withdrawal of foreign forces according to a timetable" but didn't venture to suggest what that timetable might be.

With or without American troops, the war in Iraq has acquired a momentum of its own and threatens to spill over into other parts of the region.

There are four major issues: terrorism, Sunni-Shia rivalries, Kurdish aspirations, and the question of Iraq's territorial integrity - all of which pose dangers internationally.

Back in July 2003, terrorism in Iraq seemed a manageable problem and President Bush boldly challenged the militants to "bring 'em on". American forces, he said, were "plenty tough" and would deal with anyone who attacked them.

There were others in the US who talked of the "flypaper theory" - an idea that terrorists from around the world could be attracted to Iraq and then eliminated. Well, the first part of the flypaper theory seems to work, but not the second.

As with the Afghan war in the 1980s that spawned al-Qaida, there is every reason to suppose that the Iraq war will create a new generation of terrorists with expertise that can be used to plague other parts of the world for decades to come. The recent hotel bombings in Jordan are one indication of the way it's heading.

Contrary to American intentions, the war has also greatly increased the influence of Iran - a founder-member of Bush's "Axis of Evil" - and opened up long-suppressed rivalries between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

The impact of this cannot be confined to Iraq and will eventually be felt in the oil-rich Sunni Gulf states (including Saudi Arabia) that have sizeable but marginalised Shia communities.

Kurdish aspirations have been awakened too - which has implications for Turkey, Syria and Iran, especially if Iraq is eventually dismembered.

With a fragile central government in Baghdad constantly undermined by the activities of militants and weakened by the conflicting demands of Sunnis, Shias and Kurds, the demise of Iraq as a nation-state sometime during the next few years has become a distinct possibility.

The effect of that on the regional power balance is difficult to predict, but at the very least it would bring a period of increased instability.

No one can claim that any of this was unexpected. The dangers had been foreseen by numerous analysts and commentators long before the war started but they were ignored in Washington, mainly for ideological reasons.

There were, of course, some in the neoconservative lobby who foresaw it too and thought it would be a good thing - shaking up the entire Middle East in a wave of "creative destruction".

The result is that even if the US tries to leave Iraq now, in purely practical terms it is unlikely to be able to do so.

Professor van Creveld's plan for withdrawal of ground troops is not so much a disengagement as a strategic readjustment.

An American military presence will still be needed in the region, he says.

"Tehran is certain to emerge as the biggest winner from the war ... Now that Iraq is gone, it is hard to see how anybody except the United States can keep the Gulf states, and their oil, out of the mullahs' clutches.

"A divided, chaotic, government-less Iraq is very likely to become a hornets' nest. From it, a hundred mini-Zarqawis will spread all over the Middle East, conducting acts of sabotage and seeking to overthrow governments in Allah's name.

"The Gulf States apart, the most vulnerable country is Jordan, as evidenced by the recent attacks in Amman. However, Turkey, Egypt and, to a lesser extent, Israel are also likely to feel the impact. Some of these countries, Jordan in particular, are going to require American assistance."

As described in the article, van Creveld's plan seems to imply that the US should abandon Iraq to its fate and concentrate instead on protecting American allies in the region from adverse consequences.

A slightly different idea - pulling out ground troops from Iraq but continuing to use air power there - is already being considered in Washington, according to Seymour Hersh in the latest issue of the New Yorker magazine.

The military are reportedly unhappy about this, fearing it could make them dependent on untrustworthy Iraqi forces for pinpointing targets.

One military planner quoted by the magazine asked: "Will the Iraqis call in air strikes in order to snuff rivals, or other warlords, or to snuff members of your own sect and blame it on someone else?"

Focusing on air power has obvious political attractions for the Bush administration, since it is the safety of US ground troops that American voters are most concerned about.

But, again, that would not amount to a real disengagement and would do little or nothing to improve America's image in the region - especially if reliance on air strikes increased the number of civilian casualties.

The inescapable fact is that the processes Mr Bush unleashed on March 20 2003 (and imagined he had ended with his "mission accomplished" speech six weeks later) will take a decade or more to run their course and there is little that anyone, even the US, can do now to halt them.

In his eagerness for regime change in Iraq, Mr Bush blundered into a trap from which in the short term there is no way out: the Americans will be damned if they stay and damned if they leave.

November 29th, 2005, 02:00 PM
The New Yorker"
After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the former official said, he was told that Bush felt that “God put me here” to deal with the war on terror. The President’s belief was fortified by the Republican sweep in the 2002 congressional elections; Bush saw the victory as a purposeful message from God that “he’s the man,” the former official said. Publicly, Bush depicted his reëlection as a referendum on the war; privately, he spoke of it as another manifestation of divine purpose.

The luckiest man in national poilitics since 2000 has to be Colin Powell.

If he didn't resign, but now we would have a replay of Nixon and Kissinger:

"Kneel and pray with me, Colin. Do African-Americans kneel when they pray?"

November 30th, 2005, 09:43 AM
November 30, 2005

White House Releases Outline of Its Strategy for Iraq

By DAVID E. SANGER (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=DAVID E. SANGER&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=DAVID E. SANGER&inline=nyt-per)
and ERIC SCHMITT (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=ERIC SCHMITT&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=ERIC SCHMITT&inline=nyt-per)

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 - President Bush today is putting forward for the first time a public version of what the White House calls a comprehensive strategy for victory in Iraq (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/iraq/index.html?inline=nyt-geo).

In a 35-page document released by the White House this morning, the administration produced what it called its "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq," which it said articulates "the broad strategy the president set forth in 2003 and provides an update on our progress as well as the challenges remaining."

The document emphasizes that the American strategy in Iraq will take time, and that it must be based on conditions rather than deadlines. Troop levels are expected - but not guaranteed - to change over the next year, the document says, as the political process takes hold and Iraqi troops gain more experience.

"No war has ever been won on a timetable and neither will this one," the plan says.

It also notes the broader consequences of a failed effort in Iraq. Tribal and sectarian chaos would result and Middle East reformers would no longer trust American assurances of support for democracy and human rights, according to the document.

And as it has many times in the past, the administration cast the war in Iraq as being on the frontline of the war on terror and terrorist leaders such as Osama bin Laden (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/osama_bin_laden/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and the Al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according to the document's overview of the American strategy.
"Osama bin Laden has declared that the 'third world war ... is raging" in Iraq, and it will end there, in 'either victory and glory, or misery and humiliation,"' the document says.

The president is expected to elaborate on the document in a speech at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. later this morning.

The White House has said that the strategy to be outlined today was not new, but that it had never been assembled into a single unclassified document. As the booklet was described by administration officials, much of it sounded like a list of goals for Iraq's military, political and economic development rather than new prescriptions on how to accomplish the job. In a related effort to begin extricating American forces next year, military officials said Tuesday that they would seek billions of additional dollars to better train Iraqis to defend the country.

The military officials in Iraq said they had requested $3.9 billion for next year to help train and equip Iraqi troops, build new police stations and outfit Iraqi soldiers with new uniforms.

That amount would be part of a larger spending request to Congress for the overall war effort and is on top of the $10.6 billion that lawmakers have already approved to rebuild Iraq's security forces.

On Tuesday, Mr. Bush continued to emphasize that American forces cannot withdraw before their job is done.

"I want our troops to come home, but I don't want them to come home without having achieved victory," he said in brief comments to reporters in El Paso during a visit to the Mexican border. "And we've got a strategy for victory."

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/donald_h_rumsfeld/index.html?inline=nyt-per), too, emphasized the imperative for Iraqis to gain control of their country, echoing the thought that instead of "an exit strategy, we should be focused on our strategy for victory."

Taken together, the document and comments amount to a carefully calibrated effort to answer critics, including Democratic leaders in Congress who have argued that Mr. Bush has no plausible plan for bringing home the nearly 160,000 troops engaged in a war against the insurgency.

As Mr. Bush returned from Asia last week and flew home to the debate in Congress over the American presence, administration officials have begun to acknowledge that the levels of forces and spending may be politically unsustainable.

The Pentagon now spends $6 billion a month to sustain the American military presence in Iraq. A senior administration official said Mr. Bush's ultimate goal, to which he assigned no schedule, is to move to a "smaller, more lethal" American force that "can be just as successful."

It is unclear how much of that vision Mr. Bush will explicitly describe today, in the first of four speeches about the Iraqi transition that he plans to give before the election of a long-term Iraqi government on Dec. 15.

Aides said Mr. Bush would argue that although he is determined to stay his course and that to withdraw precipitously would invite disaster, American tactics have already been refashioned to confront the insurgency more effectively. Since landmark elections this year, the attacks have continued to inflict death and injury on Iraqis and Americans alike.

"He is going to talk about victory in Iraq in the short term, the medium term and the long term," said an official familiar with the speech, which was redrafted on Tuesday.

The president will describe the short-term objective as "defeating terrorists, building institutions, meeting political milestones and standing up security forces," the official said.

Without claiming that the victory he seeks is already at hand, the president will argue that Iraq is already moving into a new phase, providing its own security and establishing a permanent government.
"The long-term vision is a peaceful, democratic, united nation that is well integrated and a full partner in the war on terror," the official said.

Despite the new emphasis, Pentagon officials and senior commanders in Iraq no longer talk in terms of outright military victory in the sense of eliminating all resistance. Rather they discuss what Mr. Rumsfeld said at the Pentagon on Tuesday was a "coalition strategy to help the Iraqi people increasingly take control of their country."

He responded sharply to suggestions that United States troops alone would carry out a military strategy to "clear, hold and build" in towns and other territory formerly controlled by insurgents. The phrase has been adopted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/condoleezza_rice/index.html?inline=nyt-per), and Mr. Bush is expected to repeat it today.

"Anyone who takes those three words and thinks it means the United States should clear and the United States should hold and the United States should build doesn't understand the situation," Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters. "It is Iraq's country, 28 million of them. They are perfectly capable of running that country. They're not going to run it the way you would or I would or the way we do here in this country, but they're going to run it.

"Our problem is that any time something needs to be done, we have a feeling we should rush in and fill the vacuum and do it ourselves. You know what happens when you do that? First of all, you can't do it, because it's not our country. It's their country. And the second thing that happens is they don't develop the skills and the ability and the equipment and the orientation and the habit patterns of doing it for themselves. They have to do it for themselves."

Mr. Bush is expected to define his other goals in a concise triptych, as well. One is for the reconstruction, which is badly behind schedule and short of money, to be an effort to "restore, reform and build." The political effort, he is expected to declare, is an effort to "isolate terrorists, engage and build institutions."

"This clearly is not the level of specificity some people are going to want to see in a plan," another administration official said. "But it is a lot more than has been said before."

Another official said the publication of the strategy paper had been under way for more than a month and involved declassifying parts of a larger strategy that the White House and the Pentagon had used for some time.

In advance of Mr. Bush's speech, Mr. Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Pace of the Marines, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sought Tuesday to outline the progress that the Iraqi security forces had made in the last year. They said that the Iraqis had taken control of 29 of 110 military bases held by the Americans and had more than doubled the number of trained and equipped troops, to 212,000 soldiers and police commandos.

The Pentagon continues to rate about a third of those forces as able to take the lead in combat operations, with some American support, and several hundred Iraqi troops as capable of operating fully independently of American troops.

Senator Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat who was in the 82nd Airborne Division, told reporters on Tuesday by telephone that the Iraqi security forces still suffered from largely untested leaders, unproven loyalty to the government and fledgling ministries that were struggling to build the institutional support to sustain the troops in the field.

"Without an effective ministry that can keep track of soldiers and police, pay those soldiers and police, apply those soldiers and police and essentially provide the foundation, then you're going to have some tactically trained units, but they're not going to be a coherent or effective force," said Mr. Reed.

Echoing the complaints of many American commanders in Iraq who say the administration has relied too heavily on the military to restore security and stability in Iraq, Mr. Reed said Mr. Bush has to offer a more comprehensive approach.

"The president has to lay out in his speech how we're doing on the other aspects of progress, not just security forces, but creating a stable political structure and a stable environment, stable economy," he said.
Some of Mr. Bush's former and current advisers on Iraq say the president is entering new territory, perhaps even redefining what would constitute victory in Iraq.

"People have assumed that when he says 'stay the course' that means the tactics don't change," a senior aide said. "That's not the case. If you are suggesting that we have not had a dynamic, adaptive approach, you're wrong."

Mr. Bush will be careful not to describe what Mr. Rumsfeld called "metrics" of progress. Instead, the president will talk about the progress made in the past year by relying more on Iraqi troops.

"One of the points we are trying to convey is that you can't measure success by the number of boots on the ground," the official said. "We can probably work more effectively with a smaller footprint."

Senator Reed warned that reducing troop strength carried considerable risks. "To assume that our departure would stop the violence, I think, assumes too much, because there are still huge tensions within the country between sectarian groups," he said. "There will be a struggle for power. And that struggle might be even exacerbated if we were to pull out too quickly."

Christine Hauser contributed reporting from New York for this article.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

November 30th, 2005, 12:20 PM
Rapid Response:
Deconstructing the “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq”


After two-and-a-half years and 2,110 U.S. troop fatalities (http://icasualties.org/oif/), the Bush administration released what it calls a “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq (http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/iraq/iraq_strategy_nov2005.html)” (NSVI). The problem is, it’s not a new strategy for success in Iraq; it’s a public relations document.

The strategy describes what has transpired in Iraq to date as a resounding success and stubbornly refuses to establish any standards for accountability. It dismisses serious problems such as the dramatic increase in bombings as “metrics that the terrorists and insurgents want the world to use (http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/iraq/iraq_strategy_nov2005.html).” Americans understand it’s time for a new course in Iraq.

Unfortunately, this document is little more than an extended justification for a President “determined to stay his course (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/30/international/middleeast/30cnd-military.html?ei=5094&en=b72ebc635a46d533&hp=&ex=1133413200&partner=homepage&pagewanted=all).”


NO STANDARDS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY: Two weeks ago, the Senate overwhelmingly endorsed (http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=1&vote=00323) an amendment (http://uspolitics.about.com/library/bl_sen2518_amendment.htm) calling on the Bush administration to provide a “schedule” for meeting U.S. objectives in Iraq, “information regarding variables that could alter that schedule, and the reasons for any subsequent changes to that schedule.” The NSVI completely rejects this call. “We will not put a date certain on when each stage of success will be reached (http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/iraq/iraq_strategy_nov2005.html),” the document states in bold and italicized print, “because the timing of success depends upon meeting certain conditions, not arbitrary timetables.” The only time frames proposed for achieving U.S. objectives are virtually meaningless phrases: “short term,” “medium term,” and “longer term.” The goals for these time frames are equally ambiguous; the so-called “short term” goals, for instance, are listed as “making steady progress in fighting terrorists, meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces.”

IGNORING KEY CHALLENGES: When decorated veteran Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA) presented his Iraq plan two weeks ago, he offered two primary reasons for supporting redeployment. One was the heavy burden the Iraq war has placed on the U.S. military (http://www.americanprogressaction.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=klLWJcP7H&b=914257&ct=1614727#3) and its recruitment and retention efforts, many of which are at historically low levels. The second was the shifting sentiments of the Iraqi population; Murtha cited a recent poll that found “over 80 percent of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, and about 45 percent of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified (http://www.americanprogressaction.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=klLWJcP7H&b=914257&ct=1614727#3).” The NSVI ignores both of these fundamental facts. Virtually nothing is said about the well-being of our military, unquestionably a vital element in any strategy for success. Moreover, it disregards the latest Iraqi public opinion data, stating falsely that violence “has been discredited within and outside Iraq.”

DISMISSING INCREASED VIOLENCE: The NSVI emphasizes that U.S. officials “track numerous indicators to map the progress of our strategy,” and offers websites where some of these reports are publicly available. “Americans can read and assess these reports to get a better sense of what is being done in Iraq and the progress being made on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.” The problem is that these reports have on numerous occasions (http://www.motherjones.com/news/dailymojo/2005/03/iraq_training_metrics.html) been found to be inaccurate, or to overstate progress using incomplete or misleading data. Additionally, the document states (in bold print) that these Pentagon statistics “have more strategic significance than the metrics that the terrorists and insurgents want the world to use (http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/iraq/iraq_strategy_nov2005.html) as a measure of progress or failure: number of bombings.” Surely one needs a wide assortment of statistics to get the full picture from Iraq. But considering the No. 1 “Strategic Pillar” listed in the NSVI is to “Defeat the Terrorists and Neutralize the Insurgency,” it is simply not true to claim that the number of insurgent bombings (now at an all-time high (http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/11/03/iraq.bombs/)) is irrelevant as a measure of progress.

REPLACING METRICS WITH EMPTY PHRASES: In late-September, Gen. George Casey Jr., who oversees U.S. forces in Iraq, revealed that “[t]he number of Iraqi army battalions that can fight insurgents without U.S. and coalition help has dropped from three to one (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/29/AR2005092902085.html).” That meant only 700 Iraq Security forces were rated as “Level 1″ on the four point scale created by the U.S. military. Instead of addressing the problem, they’ve abandoned the ratings system. The NSVI notes that “now more than 120 Iraqi army and police battalions are in the fight (http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/iraq/iraq_strategy_nov2005.html).” (The term “in the fight,” used six times in the document, is not defined.) The strategy also notes: “As of November 2005, there were more than 212,000 trained and equipped Iraqi Security Forces, compared with 96,000 in September of last year.” It fails to mention that in Feburary 2004 (http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2004/tr20040223-secdef0488.html), Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld claimed there were 210,000 members of the Iraqi Security Forces and a “thousand more that are currently in training.”

THE NATIONAL PAT ON THE BACK: The NSIV (http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/iraq/iraq_strategy_nov2005.html) is less of a strategy and more of a pat on the back. Much of the 35 pages is devoted to describing how well things are going. Oddly, the strategy declares on Page 5 that “Our Strategy Is Working.” On the economic front we are told, “Our restore, reform, build, strategy is achieving results.” On the political front: “Our Isolate, Engage, and Build strategy is working.” On the security front: “Our clear, hold, and build strategy is working.” With everything going so well, the NSVI reminds us that “change is coming to the region…From Kuwait to Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt, there are stirrings of political pluralism, often for the first time in generations.”

December 1st, 2005, 08:56 AM
Democracy Lesson Number 1 to Iraqis: Do Not Trust What You Read in the Papers ...

"You show the world you're not living by the principles you profess to believe in, and you lose all credibility"

U.S. Is Said to Pay to Plant Articles in Iraq Papers

By JEFF GERTH and SCOTT SHANE (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=SCOTT SHANE&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=SCOTT SHANE&inline=nyt-per)
NY Times
December 1, 2005


WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 - Titled "The Sands Are Blowing Toward a Democratic Iraq (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/iraq/index.html?inline=nyt-geo)," an article written this week for publication in the Iraqi press was scornful of outsiders' pessimism about the country's future.

"Western press and frequently those self-styled 'objective' observers of Iraq are often critics of how we, the people of Iraq, are proceeding down the path in determining what is best for our nation," the article began. Quoting the Prophet Muhammad, it pleaded for unity and nonviolence.

But far from being the heartfelt opinion of an Iraqi writer, as its language implied, the article was prepared by the United States military as part of a multimillion-dollar covert campaign to plant paid propaganda in the Iraqi news media and pay friendly Iraqi journalists monthly stipends, military contractors and officials said.

The article was one of several in a storyboard, the military's term for a list of articles, that was delivered Tuesday to the Lincoln Group, a Washington-based public relations firm paid by the Pentagon, documents from the Pentagon show. The contractor's job is to translate the articles into Arabic and submit them to Iraqi newspapers or advertising agencies without revealing the Pentagon's role. Documents show that the intended target of the article on a democratic Iraq was Azzaman, a leading independent newspaper, but it is not known whether it was published there or anywhere else.

Even as the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development pay contractors millions of dollars to help train journalists and promote a professional and independent Iraqi media, the Pentagon is paying millions more to the Lincoln Group for work that appears to violate fundamental principles of Western journalism.

In addition to paying newspapers to print government propaganda, Lincoln has paid about a dozen Iraqi journalists each several hundred dollars a month, a person who had been told of the transactions said. Those journalists were chosen because their past coverage had not been antagonistic to the United States, said the person, who is being granted anonymity because of fears for the safety of those involved. In addition, the military storyboards have in some cases copied verbatim text from copyrighted publications and passed it on to be printed in the Iraqi press without attribution, documents and interviews indicated.

In many cases, the material prepared by the military was given to advertising agencies for placement, and at least some of the material ran with an advertising label. But the American authorship and financing were not revealed.

Military spokesmen in Washington and Baghdad said Wednesday that they had no information on the contract. In an interview from Baghdad on Nov. 18, Lt. Col. Steven A. Boylan, a military spokesman, said the Pentagon's contract with the Lincoln Group was an attempt to "try to get stories out to publications that normally don't have access to those kind of stories." The military's top commanders, including Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, did not know about the Lincoln Group contract until Wednesday, when it was first described by The Los Angeles Times, said a senior military official who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Pentagon officials said General Pace and other top officials were disturbed by the reported details of the propaganda campaign and demanded explanations from senior officers in Iraq, the official said.

When asked about the article Wednesday night on the ABC News program "Nightline," General Pace said, "I would be concerned about anything that would be detrimental to the proper growth of democracy."

Others seemed to share the sentiment. "I think it's absolutely wrong for the government to do this," said Patrick Butler, vice president of the International Center for Journalists in Washington, which conducts ethics training for journalists from countries without a history of independent news media.

"Ethically, it's indefensible."

Mr. Butler, who spoke from a conference in Wisconsin with Arab journalists, said the American government paid for many programs that taught foreign journalists not to accept payments from interested parties to write articles and not to print government propaganda disguised as news.

"You show the world you're not living by the principles you profess to believe in, and you lose all credibility," he said.

The Government Accountability Office found this year that the Bush administration had violated the law by producing pseudo news reports that were later used on American television stations with no indication that they had been prepared by the government. But no law prohibits the use of such covert propaganda abroad.

The Lincoln contract with the American-led coalition forces in Iraq has rankled some military and civilian officials and contractors. Some of them described the program to The New York Times in recent months and provided examples of the military's storyboards.

The Lincoln Group, whose principals include some businessmen and former military officials, was hired last year after military officials concluded that the United States was failing to win over Muslim public opinion. In Iraq, the effort is seen by some American military commanders as a crucial step toward defeating the Sunni-led insurgency.

Citing a "fundamental problem of credibility" and foreign opposition to American policies, a Pentagon advisory panel last year called for the government to reinvent and expand its information programs.

"Government alone cannot today communicate effectively and credibly," said the report by the task force on strategic communication of the Defense Science Board. The group recommended turning more often for help to the private sector, which it said had "a built-in agility, credibility and even deniability."

The Pentagon's first public relations contract with Lincoln was awarded in 2004 for about $5 million with the stated purpose of accurately informing the Iraqi people of American goals and gaining their support. But while meant to provide reliable information, the effort was also intended to use deceptive techniques, like payments to sympathetic "temporary spokespersons" who would not necessarily be identified as working for the coalition, according to a contract document and a military official.

In addition, the document called for the development of "alternate or diverting messages which divert media and public attention" to "deal instantly with the bad news of the day."

Laurie Adler, a spokeswoman for the Lincoln Group, said the terms of the contract did not permit her to discuss it and referred a reporter to the Pentagon. But others defended the practice.

"I'm not surprised this goes on," said Michael Rubin, who worked in Iraq for the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003 and 2004. "Informational operations are a part of any military campaign," he added. "Especially in an atmosphere where terrorists and insurgents - replete with oil boom cash - do the same. We need an even playing field, but cannot fight with both hands tied behind our backs."

Two dozen recent storyboards prepared by the military for Lincoln and reviewed by The New York Times had a variety of good-news themes addressing the economy, security, the insurgency and Iraq's political future. Some were written to resemble news articles. Others took the form of opinion pieces or public service announcements.

One article about Iraq's oil industry opened with three paragraphs taken verbatim, and without attribution, from a recent report in Al Hayat, a London-based Arabic newspaper. But the military version took out a quotation from an oil ministry spokesman that was critical of American reconstruction efforts. It substituted a more positive message, also attributed to the spokesman, though not as a direct quotation.

The editor of Al Sabah, a major Iraqi newspaper that has been the target of many of the military's articles, said Wednesday in an interview that he had no idea that the American military was supplying such material and did not know if his newspaper had printed any of it, whether labeled as advertising or not.

The editor, Muhammad Abdul Jabbar, 57, said Al Sabah, which he said received financial support from the Iraqi government but was editorially independent, accepted advertisements from virtually any source if they were not inflammatory. He said any such material would be labeled as advertising but would not necessarily identify the sponsor. Sometimes, he said, the paper got the text from an advertising agency and did not know its origins.

Asked what he thought of the Pentagon program's effectiveness in influencing Iraqi public opinion, Mr. Jabbar said, "I would spend the money a better way."

The Lincoln Group, which was incorporated in 2004, has won another government information contract. Last June, the Special Operations Command in Tampa awarded Lincoln and two other companies a multimillion-dollar contract to support psychological operations. The planned products, contract documents show, include three- to five- minute news programs.

Asked whether the information and news products would identify the American sponsorship, a media relations officer with the special operations command replied, in an e-mail message last summer, that "the product may or may not carry 'made in the U.S.' signature" but they would be identified as American in origin, "if asked."

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington for this article, and Kirk Semple and Edward Wong from Baghdad.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

December 1st, 2005, 09:58 AM
I guess they have to do it the American Way.

That is, put a bunch of advertisements paid for by private interests as well as public figures that LOOK like news, but really isn't.

December 1st, 2005, 11:00 AM
No matter what we do, Iraq will Balkanize.

December 1st, 2005, 12:18 PM
http://www.truthout.org/imgs.art_01/3.120105BC1_sm.jpg (http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/113005F.shtml)
(Photo: Ali Yussef / AFP)

November 28, 2005 (http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/113005F.shtml)

An Iraqi boy mourns over the body of
his father at the morgue of a local hospital
in Baquba, northeast of Baghdad.
The boy's father is one of eight Iraqi employees
at a US base who were shot and killed as they
boarded a minibus in the nearby village of
Abu Saida. Iraqis working for US forces
are regularly targeted by insurgents.

December 1st, 2005, 12:36 PM
Murtha Says Army Is 'Broken, Worn Out'

Congressman Predicts Troops Will Leave Iraq Within a Year

12/01/05 10:05 EST


LATROBE, Pa. (Dec. 1) - Most U.S. troops will leave Iraq within a year because the Army is "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth," Rep. John Murtha told a civic group.

Two weeks ago, Murtha created a storm of comment when he called for U.S. troops to leave Iraq now. The Democratic congressman spoke to a group of community and business leaders in Latrobe on Wednesday, the same day President Bush said troops would be withdrawn when they've achieved victory, not under an artificial deadline set by politicians.

Murtha predicted most troops will be out of Iraq within a year.

"I predict he'll make it look like we're staying the course," Murtha said, referring to Bush. "Staying the course is not a policy."

Murtha, 73, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, expressed pessimism about Iraq's stability and said the Iraqis know who the insurgents are, but don't always share that information with U.S. troops. He said a civil war is likely because of ongoing factionalism among Sunni Arabs, and Kurds and Shiites.

He also said he was wrong to vote to support the war.

"I admit I made a mistake when I voted for war," Murtha said. "I'm looking at the future of the United States military."

Murtha, a decorated Vietnam war veteran, said the Pennsylvania National Guard is "stretched so thin" that it won't be able to send fully equipped units to Iraq next year. Murtha predicted it will cost $50 billion to upgrade military equipment nationwide, but says the federal government is already reducing future purchases to save money.

Murtha, who represents a western Pennsylvania district that includes Latrobe, was first elected to Congress in 1974.

Lt. Col. Chris Cleaver, spokesman for the Pennsylvania National Guard at Fort Indiantown Gap, said "there are some deployment concerns."

Cleaver said some guard units had to leave equipment in Iraq when they returned to the United States, which could cause training problems here.

But Cleaver also said most of the 2,100 Guard troops now deployed with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team can't be sent back to Iraq for a second tour of duty anyway, because of regulations that limit redeployment.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

December 3rd, 2005, 06:14 PM
A cool $1.32 BILLION is available if you have the stuff to ...

"design and implement a social and economic stabilization
program impacting ten Strategic Cities,
identified by the United States Government
as critical to the defeat of the Insurgency in Iraq."


IRAQ: Strategic City Stabilization Initiative (SCSI)

General Information

Document Type: Grants Notice
Funding Opportunity Number: RFA 267-06-001
Posted Date: Nov 30, 2005
Original Due Date for Applications: Jan 31, 2006
The Request for Application will be issued after December 16, 2005
Current Due Date for Applications: Jan 31, 2006
The Request for Application will be issued after December 16, 2005
Archive Date: Mar 02, 2006
Funding Instrument Type: Cooperative Agreement
Category of Funding Activity: Regional Development
Expected Number of Awards: Not Available.
Estimated Total Program Funding: $1,020,000,000.00
Award Ceiling: $1,320,000,000.00
Award Floor: $1,020,000,000.00
CFDA Number: 98.001 -- USAID Foreign Assistance for Programs Overseas
Cost Sharing or Matching Requirement: No

Eligible Applicants

Unrestricted (i.e., open to any type of entity above), subject to any clarification in text field entitled "Additional Information on Eligibility"

Agency Name

Agency for International Development, Overseas Missions, Iraq (CPA) USAID-Baghdad


The United States Agency for International Development is seeking applications for an Assistance Agreement from qualified sources to design and implement a social and economic stabilization program impacting ten Strategic Cities, identified by the United States Government as critical to the defeat of the Insurgency in Iraq. The number of Strategic Cities may expand or contract over time. USAID plans to provide approximately $1,020,000,000 over two years to meet the objectives of the Program. An additional option year may be considered amounting to $300 million at the discretion of USAID. Funds are not yet available for this program.

Link to Full Announcement

IRAQ: Strategic City Stabilization Initiative (SCSI)

If you have difficulty accessing the full announcement electronically, please contact:

Feurtado, Yvette, Contracting Officer
Phone 962-6-590-6477
Fax 962-6-590-6333
Email yfeurtado@usaid.gov Feurtado, Yvette (yfeurtado@usaid.gov)

You may return to Grants Opportunities at:

AID OM listed by [Posted Date (http://www.fedgrants.gov/Applicants/AID/OM/postdate_1.html)]
AID Agencywide listed by [Posted Date (http://www.fedgrants.gov/Applicants/AID/postdate_1.html)]http://www.fedgrants.gov/Applicants/AID/OM/BAG/RFA&%23032%3B267-06-001/Grant.html

December 3rd, 2005, 06:25 PM
Air War, Death Squads, Surging Peace Movement (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-hayden/air-war-death-squads-su_b_11635.html)

By Tom Hayden


As long predicted, the Pentagon and White House are preparing to “draw down” [not “withdraw”] thousands of troops from Iraq beginning with ten thousand in the near future and 20-30,000 by spring 2006, while turning over bases to Iraqi troops with ceremonial fanfare, and proclaiming the coming of political democracy. A sample front-page headline in the LA Times predicts it all: “U.S. Starts Laying Groundwork for Significant Troop Pullout From Iraq.” [Nov. 26, 05]

Before you celebrate, ask yourself the purpose of these gestures.

Is it to end the war?

Or to end the anti-war movement?

What we know is that military stalemate on the ground and rising anti-war sentiment going into the 2006 election year have forced consideration of a retreat from the Bush Administration’s once-grand ambitions. To guess the future, however, it is important to revisit the Vietnam War, the formative experience for many of the Pentagon’s warriors and Washington politicians.

On March 31, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson announced he would not run for re-election, but instead initiate a diplomatic effort for peace. According to the Pentagon Papers, “In one dramatic action, President Johnson had for a time removed the issue of Vietnam from domestic political contention.” The US stopped bombing North Vietnam above the twentieth parallel, shifting their bombing targets to South Vietnam, Laos and, secretly, Cambodia in early 1969, “while dropping a higher total tonnage than before.” [see Ellsberg, Secrets, p. 227]

Richard Nixon promised a “secret plan for peace” in 1968, and let Henry Kissinger remark that “peace is at hand” in 1972. Both statements helped win presidential elections. But between 1969 and 1973, the war was intensified in several forms: a massive US air bombardment and the “Vietnamization” of the ground war, complete with revelations of torture camps at Con San, “tiger cages”, Operation Phoenix [a CIA-managed program of annihilating tens of thousands of villagers suspected of being the Vietcong “infrastructure”], and what Professor Samuel Huntington called the “forced urbanization” of the Southern peasantry.

The same policies are operative today, and will become more pronounced if the Pentagon begins “drawing down” troops. First, the air war is expanding without media or Congressional discussion. A Pentagon press release in late 2004 declared that the 3rd Marine Aircraft wing alone had dropped five hundred thousand tons of “high-tech steel on target”, and that the tonnage would grow “much higher.” [Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker, Dec. 5, 05].

Second, it is clear that the US covert operations include a dirty war modeled on a revived Phoenix program using Iraqi Shiite [Badr] militias who conduct assassinations, operate secret prisons, and terrorize Sunni neighborhoods.

Hundreds of bodies are turning up, shot in the head, “burned with acid and drilled with holes by electric drills.” Sunnis are rightly asking how the death squads have obtained police uniforms, police cars, and license to drive after curfews. [see LA Times, NY Times Nov. 29, 05]. These operations probably are the real reason for stationing John Negroponte as ambassador to Iraq.

Negroponte has a long history of association with covert ops, particularly with the Honduran death squad known as unit 301 when he was ambassador to that country.

A top security official close to Cheney and Rumsfeld told Hersh [one wonders why] that “We’re not planning to diminish the war...We just want to change the mix of the forces doing the fighting...As long as the Kurds and the Shiites stay on our side, we’re set to go...We’re in the middle of a seven-year slog in Iraq.”

The problems with the new US strategy are [1] the glaring weaknesses of the Iraqi army and[2] the rising tide of anti-war opinion in the US, Iraq and Britain.

Though apparently believing that the US should stay the course in Iraq, James Fallows has devastated the notion of “Iraqization” in his article “Why Iraq Has No Army” [Atlantic Monthly, Dec. 2005] This suggests that the thoroughly cynical strategy of the Nixon-Kissinger era is at work again: pull out thousands of US troops and, after a “decent interval”, watch the Iraqi Army implode and scatter, followed by a sectarian civil war and emergence of a divided Iraqi confederation dependent on Western credits and investment.

Another option in the short run would be to withdraw 60,000 American troops from largely Sunni areas, and concentrate the bombing and Special Forces operations in Sunni areas and the Syrian frontier. Still another approach, modeled on Nixon’s trip to China, might be a diplomatic deal with Iran to somehow contains its allies in Iraq.

The collapse of “Iraqization” might unfold in the natural course of events, rather than a Kissinger-like conspiracy, but it seems bound to happen.

Where does this leave the peace movement?

In the short term, an increased emphasis should be placed on demanding media and Congressional attention to the secret bombing campaign and the dirty war.

At the same time the peace movement should be claiming victory in contributing to the vast shift in American public opinion over the past six months. In a quite extraordinary development, Rep. Nancy Pelosi has endorsed Rep. John Murtha’s call for a six-month withdrawal and many Democrats are expected to follow. Republicans are distancing themselves from Bush at the same time. The Out of Iraq Caucus is in from the basement of Congress. Rep. Jane Harman, traditionally a Democratic hawk, has publicly supported the five-point exit strategy circulated by many anti-war groups. The hawks are leading the doves towards withdrawal.

The activists who have marched on Washington, blocked military recruiters from meeting their quotas, passed local anti-war resolutions, circulated exit strategy petitions, and passed anti-war resolutions at eight state Democratic conventions have played a key role in shaping public and Congressional opinion.

Now it may become harder, as millions of Americans could be manipulated to believe that the politicians have gotten the message and will rapidly withdraw from Iraq. The peace movement could become smaller through achieving the appearance of success.

The need for public outreach is greater than ever. The opportunity to intervene as a prickly factor in the 2006 Congressional elections is crucial. So is the intellectual and political task of demanding an exit strategy: not just a strategic redeployment, but the end of the occupation itself. A crucial moment is coming in February, when the Arab League is sponsoring a conference in Baghdad among the factions who recently called for an American withdrawal and defended the legitimacy of national resistance. It is possible that a majority of the Iraqi parliament to be elected December 15 will join the call for a US withdrawal in February with brutal arguments over the calendar and further concessions to the Sunnis. The US should be forced to accept this process rather than continuing to block or manipulate it. As Murtha and others have begun saying, eighty percent of Iraqis want the US out of their country. Months ago, the Project on Defense Alternatives predicted that January will be the “tipping point” when Iraqi demands for withdrawal will become unstoppable.

Besides the Murtha withdrawal resolution, the focus in January should be on calling for peace talks among the majority of Iraqis, appointment of a peace envoy to signal a US shift from the military model, and meaningful promises that the Halliburtons will be withdrawing along with US troops, to be replaced by a reconstruction program shaped by the Iraqis themselves with assistance from the international community.

December 3rd, 2005, 06:49 PM
... a high level of amputees among those injured - the signature image of a Civil War veteran.

Now, as then, a boon to the prosthetics industry.

The prosthetics push

Maimed soldiers retraining to serve in another foreign field

The Times Online
David Charter in Washington


JOEY BOZIK had no right to survive the blast that blew off both his legs and his right arm.

The landmine that maimed the young US Army sergeant made him one of the hidden statistics of the Iraq war — one of 400 amputees among nearly 16,000 US troops wounded since the invasion. Yet, despite his horrific injuries, Sergeant Bozik has joined the growing ranks of disabled veterans who are determined to fight for their country again.

Only this time the medals they dream of are gold.

The unprecedented number of troops who are returning from Iraq with missing limbs has given the US Paralympic Team an unexpected recruitment boost and the chance to become “unbeatable” at the next Games in Beijing in 2008. More than 60 potential recruits have already been identified in sports as varied as powerlifting, archery and table tennis.

John Register, a veteran of the Gulf War in 1990, who manages the US Paralympic Academy, said: “This has been a shot in the arm of the Paralympic movement and an immediate boost. The Paralympics is a huge motivating factor for injured service members. It exponentially increases the individual’s idea of what is possible.”

One name to watch is Kortney Clemons. The 25-year-old combat medic played football, basketball and baseball back in Mississippi. His right leg was blown off above the knee in a Baghdad backstreet in February while he was carrying a wounded comrade. Mr Clemons is aiming for the podium in powerlifting. “Sport allows us to know we might have bad days, just like anybody else, but we can continue to move on in life and still compete,” he said. “You can’t get stuck in that rut, start feeling pity for yourself and let life pass you by.”

Ramon Guitard, 22, was trying to protect civilians on a Baghdad bus when his vehicle was hit by several explosives. He lost his right leg above the knee, had his left leg fused with a titanium rod, and a stroke later left him partially paralysed on his left side. He is a medal hopeful after recording 2 hrs 21 min in this year’s New York marathon. “It is all about continuing to find freedom outside of my injury,” he said.

Mr Register, 40, knows what it takes to make it as a Paralympian. As a track and field athlete he had Olympic trials for 1988 and 1992, but thought his career had ended two years later. “I suffered a crippling injury when I overextended my leg hurdling and severed my artery. Gangrene set in and I ended up having an amputation. But I was able to get back through sport.”

He won silver at the Sydney Paralympics in the long jump.

“I have been through all these questions: Who am I? What are my parents going to think of me? All this gives me insight into what’s happening with these young servicemen and women from Iraq.”

Mr Register has contacted almost 200 of the Iraq amputees and identified 61 with the potential for the Paralympic squad. He has run two training events in California so that veterans can try out sports, and another is planned next month in Georgia.
None of his funding comes from the Pentagon but he refuses to be critical of the Government. He says that he prefers his Paralympic military training programme to be independent and paid for by the US Olympic Committee.

His next battle is to ensure that military Paralympians can join able-bodied Olympic hopefuls in the US Army World Class Athlete Programme. This will enable them to stay on as fully paid members of the military rather than have to retire on benefits. The necessary legislative change has been attached to a Bill going through Congress.

For the US Paralympic movement, the influx of Iraq veterans brings it full circle from its foundations after the Second World War when many young troops returned home disabled. Subsequent wars have brought new recruits but not in anything like the numbers of Iraq, where more amputees are surviving thanks to better body armour and improved medical care. Advances in prosthetics technology make taking part in sport easier.

Perhaps the most remarkable story is that of Sergeant Bozik, 27, who took the full force of a landmine while a passenger in a Humvee in October last year. Every limb was broken and he ended up a triple amputee. His fianc&#233;e, Jayme, stuck by him and they married on December 31, the day after he stood for the first time on prosthetic legs. Within months the ex-soldier from North Carolina was waterskiing again and he has tried out several Paralympic sports, including swimming, archery and volleyball. Mr Register said: “I think he could well be a Paralympian. I was not sure how much he could do as a triple amputee (in volleyball) but he was batting the ball with two hands, his artificial limb and regular arm. He is beginning to realise, ‘I could be on that trip to Beijing’.”

December 4th, 2005, 11:22 PM
LATROBE, Pa. (Dec. 1) - Most U.S. troops will leave Iraq within a year because the Army is "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth," Rep. John Murtha told a civic group.

The Revolt of the Generals

"Broken, Worn Out" and "Living Hand to Mouth"


Weekend Edition
December 3/4, 2005


The immense significance of Rep John Murtha's November 17 speech calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq is that it signals mutiny in the US senior officer corps, seeing the institution they lead as "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth", to use the biting words of their spokesman, John Murtha, as he reiterated on December his denunciation of Bush's destruction of the Army.

A CounterPuncher with nearly 40 years experience working in and around the Pentagon told me this week that "The Four Star Generals picked Murtha to make this speech because he has maximum credibility." It's true. Even in the US Senate there's no one with quite Murtha's standing to deliver the message, except maybe for Byrd, but the venerable senator from West Virginia was a vehement opponent of the war from the outset , whereas Murtha voted for it and only recently has turned around.

So the Four-Star Generals briefed Murtha and gave him the state-of-the-art data which made his speech so deadly, stinging the White House into panic-stricken and foolish denunciations of Murtha as a clone of Michael Moore.

It cannot have taken vice president Cheney, a former US Defense Secretary, more than a moment to scan Murtha's speech and realize the import of Murtha's speech as an announcement that the generals have had enough.

Listen once more to what the generals want the country to know:
"The future of our military is at risk. Our military and our families are stretched thin. Many say the Army is broken. Some of our troops are on a third deployment. Recruitment is down even as the military has lowered its standards. They expect to take 20 percent category 4, which is the lowest category, which they said they'd never take. They have been forced to do that to try to meet a reduced quota.

"Defense budgets are being cut. Personnel costs are skyrocketing, particularly in health care. Choices will have to be made. We cannot allow promises we have made to our military families in terms of service benefits, in terms of their health care to be negotiated away. Procurement programs that ensure our military dominance cannot be negotiated away. We must be prepared.

"The war in Iraq has caused huge shortfalls in our bases at home. I've been to three bases in the United States, and each one of them were short of things they need to train the people going to Iraq.

"Much of our ground equipment is worn out.

"Most importantly -- this is the most important point -- incidents have increased from 150 a week to over 700 in the last year. Instead of attacks going down over a time when we had additional more troops, attacks have grown dramatically. Since the revolution at Abu Ghraib, American casualties have doubled."
What happened on the heels of this speech is very instructive. The Democrats fell over themselves distancing themselves from Murtha, emboldening the White House to go one the attack.

From Bush's presidential plane, touring Asia, came the derisive comment that Murtha was of "endorsing the policies of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party."

It took the traveling White House about 48 hours to realize that this was a dumb thing to have said. Murtha's not the kind of guy you can slime, the way Bush and Co did the glass-jawed Kerry in 2004. The much decorated vet Murtha snapped back publicly that he hadn't much time for smears from people like Cheney who'd got five deferments from military service in Vietnam.

By the weekend Bush was speaking of Murtha respectfully. On Monday, gritting his teeth, Cheney told a Washington audience that though he disagreed with Murtha "he's a good man, a Marine, a patriot, and he's taking a clear stand in an entirely legitimate discussion."

One day later Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Fox News, "I do not think that American forces need to be there in the numbers that they are now because -- for very much longer -- because Iraqis are stepping up.'' A week later Bush was preparing a speech laying heavy emphasis on US withdrawals as the Iraqi armed forces take up the burden.

Are there US-trained Iraqi detachments ready in the wings? Not if you believe reports from Iraq, but they could be nonagenarians armed with bows and arrows and the Bush high command would still be invoking their superb training and readiness for the great mission.

Ten days after Murtha's speech commentators on the tv Sunday talk shows were clambering aboard the Bring 'em Home bandwagon. Voices calling for America to "stay the course" in Iraq were few and far between. On December 1 Murtha returned to the attack in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, telling a civic group there that he was wrong to have voted for the war and that most U.S. troops will leave Iraq within a year because the Army is "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth".

The stench of panic in Washington that hangs like a winter fog over Capitol Hill intensified. The panic stems from the core concern of every politician in the nation's capital: survival. The people sweating are Republicans and the source of their terror is the deadly message spelled out in every current poll: Bush's war on Iraq spells disaster for the Republican Party in next year's midterm elections.

Take a mid-November poll by SurveyUSA: in only seven states did Bush's current approval rating exceed 50 per cent. These consisted of the thinly populated states of Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama and Mississippi. In twelve states, including California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Michigan, his rating was under 35.

You have to go back to the early 1970s, when a scandal-stained Nixon was on the verge of resignation, to find numbers lower than Bush's. Like Bush, Nixon had swept to triumphant reelection in 1972. Less than two years later he turned the White House over to vice president Ford and flew off into exile.
No one expects Bush to resign, or even to be impeached (though vice president Cheney's future is less assured) and his second term has more than three years to run.

But right now, to use a famous phrase from the Nixon era, a cancer is gnawing at his presidency and that cancer is the war in Iraq. The American people are now 60 per cent against it and 40 per cent think Bush lied to get them to back it.

Hence the panic. Even though the seats in the House of Representatives are now so gerrymandered that less than 50 out of 435 districts are reckoned as ever being likely to change hands, Republicans worry that few seats, however gerrymandered, can withstand a Force 5 political hurricane.

What they get from current polls is a simple message. If the US has not withdrawn substantial numbers of its troops from Iraq by the fall of next year, a Force 5 storm surge might very well wash them away.

Amid this potential debacle, the Republicans' only source of comfort is the truly incredible conduct of the Democrats. First came the Democrats' terrified reaction to Murtha, symbolized by Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi's cancellation of a press conference supporting Murtha. This prompted the Republicans to realize that the Democrats were ready to have their bluff called by the Republican- sponsored resolution calling for immediate withdrawal, for which only three Democrats voted, while so-called progressives like Kucinich and Sanders and Conyers ran for cover.

Listen to any prominent Democrat senator , like Kerry or Clinton or Feingold or Obama and you get the same adamant refusal to go beyond the savage characterization by Glenn Ford and Peter Gamble of the Black Commentator (http://www.blackcommentator.com/), of Obama's address to the Council on Foreign Relations:
U.S. Senator Barack Obama has planted his feet deeply inside the Iraq war-prolongation camp of the Democratic Party, the great swamp that, if not drained, will swallow up any hope of victory over the GOP in next year's congressional elections. In a masterpiece of double-speak before the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, November 22, the Black Illinois lawmaker managed to out-mush-mouth Sen. John Kerry - a prodigious feat, indeed.

In essence, all Obama wants from the Bush regime is that it fess up to having launched the war based on false information, and to henceforth come clean with the Senate on how it plans to proceed in the future. Those Democrats who want to dwell on the past - the actual genesis and rationale for the war, and the real reasons for its continuation - should be quiet.

"Withdrawal" and "timetables" are bad words, and Obama will have nothing to do with them.

Of course, the "insurgents" are not a "faction," and must therefore be defeated. On this point, Obama and the Bush men agree: "In sum, we have to focus, methodically and without partisanship, on those steps that will: one, stabilize Iraq, avoid all out civil war, and give the factions within Iraq the space they need to forge a political settlement; two, contain and ultimately extinguish the insurgency in Iraq; and three, bring our troops safely home."

Nobody in the White House would argue with any of these points. Point number two in Obama's "pragmatic" baseline is, the containment and elimination of the "insurgency." Of course, one can only do that by continuing the war. Indeed, it appears that Obama and many of his colleagues are more intent on consulting the Bush men on the best ways to "win" the war than in effecting an American withdrawal at any foreseeable time.

They want "victory" just as much as the White House; they just don't want the word shouted at every press conference.
The Black Commentator concludes its excoriation of Obama and his fellow Democrats with these words:
By late summer of 2006, when voters are deciding what they want their Senate and House to look like, if the Democrats have not caught up to public opinion to offer a tangible and quick exit from Iraq, the Republicans will retain control of both chambers of congress.

All that will be left in November is mush from Kerry, Hillary, Biden, Edwards - and Obama's - mouths.
Here at CounterPunch we heartily endorse this sentiment.

December 5th, 2005, 01:27 PM
AP Shocker: Iraq VP Disputes Bush on Training of Forces

By Sally Buzbee,
The Associated Press
December 05, 2005


DUBAI - The training of Iraqi security forces has suffered a big "setback" in the last six months, with the army and other forces being increasingly used to settle scores and make other political gains, Iraqi Vice President Ghazi al-Yawer said Monday.

Al-Yawer disputed contentions by U.S. officials, including President Bush, that the training of security forces was gathering speed, resulting in more professional troops.

Bush has said the United States will not pull out of Iraq until Iraq's own forces can maintain security. In a speech last week, he said Iraqi forces are becoming increasingly capable of securing the country.

Al-Yawer, a Sunni moderate, said he agreed the United States cannot pull out now because "there will be a huge vacuum," leaving Iraq in danger of falling into civil war. In particular, armed Shiite militias in the south might try to incite war if U.S.-led coalition forces leave, he said in an interview with The Associated Press and a U.S. newspaper at a conference here.

"I wish it were that simple," he said of calls to set a timetable for withdrawal or a drawdown.

But al-Yawer said recent allegations that Interior Ministry security forces — dominated by Shiites — have tortured Sunni detainees were evidence that many forces are increasingly politicized and sectarian. Some of the recently trained Iraqi forces focus on settling scores and other political goals rather than maintaining security, he said.

In addition, some Iraqi military commanders have been dismissed for political reasons, rather than judged on merit, he said.

He said the army — also dominated by Shiites — is conducting raids against villages and towns in Sunni and mixed areas of Iraq, rather than targeting specific insurgents — a tactic he said reminded many Sunnis of Saddam Hussein-era raids.

"Saddam used to raid villages," using security forces, he said. "This is not the way to do it."

Al-Yawer also expressed grave concern that Iraqi army units might use intimidation to try to keep Sunni voters from the polls during the country's crucial Dec. 15 general election.

American officials — and Sunni moderates like al-Yawer — are trying to persuade Sunnis to go to the polls, hoping that if they gain a sizable chunk of parliament, Sunnis will abandon support for the insurgency.

Al-Yawer said many Sunnis want to vote. But he noted that both intimidation and voter fraud occurred during the Oct. 15 constitutional referendum, and complaints to the Iraqi Electoral Commission and U.N. voting advisers went nowhere, he said.

His supporters have made a series of requests to ensure a fair vote this time, including changes to the electoral commission and adequate numbers of polling stations and ballots in Sunni areas, he said. Most importantly, they have asked that U.S.-led coalition forces, and not Iraqi army troops, guard polling stations, he said.

Many outside experts have expressed concern that Iraqi security forces will actually increase tensions if they guard Sunni areas, rather than keep order. Al-Yawer did not specifically say that Shiites make up too much of the army, but said he would like to see more political and sectarian balance — especially among the officer corps.

Al-Yawer, running on a slate of secular candidates along with former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, also said he believes the Saddam trial also should be postponed until after the Dec. 15 election so Iraqis can focus on the election.

He expressed frustration with the trial so far, saying it is giving Saddam an opportunity to grandstand and appear sympathetic.

TLOZ Link5
December 7th, 2005, 08:06 PM
Veterans take on new battle: run for office
'Fighting Dems' see options in the war against terrorism

By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff | November 27, 2005

PHILADELPHIA -- Bryan Lentz, toting an Army-issue duffel bag, slips into the booth.

Over the din of a bustling downtown coffee shop, the 41-year-old infantry officer and lawyer leans across the table, and outlines his latest mission.

''You either have to buy into the rhetoric or stand up. I am standing up."

Lentz, who as a major in the 82d Airborne helped to rebuild the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, is running for Congress. He is one of at least nine veterans vying to become the first soldiers of the post-9/11 military to be elected to the House of Representatives, according to party leaders.

They say their experience makes them well-suited to help successfully extricate the United States from Iraq and to more effectively fight the war on terrorism, which they fear is being lost in the Muslim world's court of public opinion.

Eight of the nine are running as Democrats. At least three are lawyers. Most went to the front lines from the Reserves or the National Guard. Some have been recruited for office by party leaders; others say they are trying to get the national parties to pay attention to them.

But they are all running on their wartime experience and against the prevailing political hierarchy in Washington -- both Republican and Democrat.

They are expected to inject a pivotal voice into the debate next year, a midterm election season that is likely to focus heavily on security issues such as US involvement in Iraq and homeland defense.

''We will have a very strong voice and instant credibility," said Tim Dunn, a Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and a Deomcrat who served in Iraq and is now running in North Carolina's Eighth District, a seat held by four-term Republican Robin Hayes. ''We bring to the table the experience and the knowledge gained through our service, whether active duty or Reserve, so that when these decisions are made in the future we have people who can stand up and ask the right questions. People will listen to us."

The veterans are running in Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, Maryland, and Minnesota. More are likely to announce as the primary season heats up, party officials predict.

Several are seeking to defeat first-term incumbents in highly competitive districts. Others face an uphill battle, including Lentz, who is seeking to unseat 10-term Republican Curt Weldon in the Philadelphia suburbs of Bucks County.

Using their wartime service to burnish their credentials, most are banking on voters' disillusionment with the war in Iraq to catapult themselves into the House, where Republicans now hold a narrow majority.

Their views on Iraq are not universal. Some believe a withdrawal is necessary. Others say more troops are needed. Lentz, for one, says the key to success in Iraq is a nationwide rebuilding effort that includes cracking down on US war profiteers.

But they all agree that US policy needs an overhaul.

''Being a military veteran is not a prerequisite for serving in Congress, but I can ask the penetrating questions," said David Ashe, 36, a major in the Marine Corps Reserve who was the deputy legal counsel to a three-star general in Iraq, and who is running in a three-way Democratic primary in Virginia's heavily military Second District. The seat is now held by a first-term Republican, Thelma Drake, who defeated Ashe by 10 percentage points in 2004.

US military conflicts have historically molded new breeds of veterans who return to join the political fray. Many of them have had an enduring impact.

In 1946, when the World War II generation entered politics, two neophytes, John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, came to define their parties for a generation. Since, leading presidential contenders such as George McGovern, Robert Dole, and George H.W. Bush all held up their service in World War II as a key selling point.

More than three decades after he was the first Vietnam veteran elected to Congress, Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania was still shaping the debate this month when the senior Democrat stirred up Washington with a call for a withdrawal from Iraq.

But the number of lawmakers with military experience has dropped dramatically since Murtha was first elected in 1974, when nearly 80 percent of members of Congress had served in uniform.

Now, less than 30 percent in Congress have military experience, according to congressional statistics.

Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are hoping to make their own mark in 2006, an election season the liberal web log DailyKos.com has already labeled the ''year of the veteran."

''The fact that so many are running as Democrats is a reflection of the public disillusion with the powers that be," said Michael Duga, a Democratic strategist. ''Who best to speak for the military on an exit strategy than guys who have been there?"

They all speak from experience. Patrick Murphy, a 32-year-old former Army captain and West Point professor, helped train the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps.

A self-described progressive, he is running in Pennsylvania's Eighth District, in the Philadelphia suburbs, a seat now held by freshman Republican Michael Fitzpatrick.

''Those in power are arrogant and don't want to listen to the experts," said Murphy. ''We can speak truth to power."

Andrew Duck, 43, is running in rural Maryland's Sixth District, a seat held by seven-term Republican Roscoe Bartlett. Describing himself as a Democrat who is opposed to abortion, the former Army intelligence officer still works in the Pentagon as a contractor.

''I am very proud I helped get rid of Saddam Hussein, but I am also embarrassed at how badly we have messed it up since then," he said in a recent interview in a pizza shop near the Pentagon.

''People say there wasn't a plan. I know there was a plan," Duck said. ''Our problem was we were told [by Pentagon leaders] we can't use it."

Duck, who served as an intelligence liaison officer between ground forces in Iraq, believes the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainee prison camp is illegal and should be closed. But he said what ''broke the camel's back" was seeing firsthand the failure to provide adequate armor to protect US troops from insurgent attacks.

Indeed, others cite what they consider to be incompetent leadership as pushing them into politics.

''We were paying Iraqis 20,000 dinars a month and the looters were paying them 20,000 dinars a night," Ashe said in a telephone interview from his headquarters.

''I had a street-level view of the failures of postwar planning. We failed in setting up a bureaucracy, let alone a democracy."

Their concerns extend beyond Iraq. Chris Carney, a lieutenant commander in the Naval Reserve running in Pennsylvania's 10th District, said he has seen leaders mismanage the war on terror.

Carney, who was a senior Pentagon counterterrorism adviser, said: ''I have come to realize our country is no safer than it was before 9/11. We need to be spending far more resources in homeland security than we have been."

Tim Walz, a 41-year-old school teacher and 24-year veteran of the National Guard who was called up to active duty after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, said he has decided to run in Minnesota's First District, a seat held by six-term Republican Gil Gutknecht, because of what he sees as ''the politicization of the military and politicians using them as a backdrop."

The Democratic candidates, labeled the ''Fighting Dems" by liberal Internet bloggers, say they are hoping to pool their resources and to rely on their collective power and influence to raise money and gain nationwide media attention.

''They are becoming an entity in and of themselves, almost a caucus," said Duga, the Democratic strategist.

Carl Forti, a spokesman for the National Republican Campaign Committee, said he believes most recent veterans are running as Democrats because the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ''is seeking to find as many vets as possible to run."

He said the Republicans, on the other hand, are looking for the best candidates, whether military veterans or not.

At least one new veteran will be appearing on the ballot as a Republican. In Texas's 17th Congressional District, now filled by an eight-term Democrat, Chet Edwards, 33-year-old Van Taylor, a Marine Corps major who led reconnaissance missions during the invasion of Iraq, is running in the GOP primary.

''It can only help to send people to Washington who have firsthand experience in the war on terror," Taylor said of his campaign effort.

''After 10 years in the Marine Corps I've learned a lot about the military and the war on terror," said the Harvard graduate, experience he said will be useful for ''many years to come."

Regardless of political party, most say they are running against the current political order, which they believe has failed to collaborate on a unified strategy.

''Both parties have pursued policies of division, and there is this gaping whole in the middle where I think most Americans reside," said Carney, who until recently served as an adviser to the deputy defense secretary's office, and who now is vying to unseat four-term Republican Don Sherwood.

''Those people need to be represented," he said. ''I don't know how we go from a country as united as it was on Sept. 12, 2001, to one as divided as we are today. That is what is propelling me in this race."

©Boston Globe, 2005

December 8th, 2005, 02:16 AM
Pinter demands war crimes trial for Blair

David Fickling
Wednesday December 7, 2005

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1661531,00.html (http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1661531,00.html)

The Nobel prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter has called for Tony Blair to be tried for war crimes, in his acceptance speech to the Nobel committee.

The 5,000-word speech excoriates the US government over Guantánamo Bay and its attempts to destabilise Nicaragua in the 1980s.

But he saves his most savage comments for the UK, described as "pathetic and supine" and a "bleating little lamb" tagging along behind the US in its support for the Iraq war.

"The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law," he said.

"The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public ... a formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people.

"We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people, and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'."

The 75-year-old will not be attending Saturday's award ceremony at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm because of poor health. He will be sending his publisher, Stephen Page, in his place to receive the 10m kroner prize.

But the author of The Caretaker and The Birthday Party has recorded a video of himself reading the speech, looking frail in a wheelchair with a red blanket over his legs.

In recent years he has been treated for cancer, and appeared with a bandaged head earlier this year when it was announced that he had been awarded the prize.

One of the original "angry young men" who revolutionised British theatre in the 1950s, he has lost none of his fury in the speech.

"How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought," he said.

"Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the international criminal court of justice. But Bush has been clever. He has not ratified the international criminal court of justice ...

"But Tony Blair has ratified the court and is therefore available for prosecution. We can let the court have his address if they're interested: it is Number 10, Downing Street, London."

He also discusses his early plays, the creative process, and the ambiguity of language.

Beginning with a 1958 quote in which he claims that "a thing is not necessarily either true or false", he says that sometimes a writer has to escape questions about the uncertainty of truth and stand up for what they think is right.

"I believe that these assertions still make sense and do still apply to the exploration of reality through art.

"So as a writer I stand by them, but as a citizen I cannot. As a citizen I must ask: what is true, what is false?"

December 9th, 2005, 11:36 AM
Qaeda-Iraq Link U.S. Cited Is Tied to Coercion Claim

By DOUGLAS JEHL (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=DOUGLAS JEHL&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=DOUGLAS JEHL&inline=nyt-per)
NY Times
December 9, 2005


WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 - The Bush administration based a crucial prewar assertion about ties between Iraq (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/iraq/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) and Al Qaeda on detailed statements made by a prisoner while in Egyptian custody who later said he had fabricated them to escape harsh treatment, according to current and former government officials.

The officials said the captive, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, provided his most specific and elaborate accounts about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda only after he was secretly handed over to Egypt by the United States in January 2002, in a process known as rendition.

The new disclosure provides the first public evidence that bad intelligence on Iraq may have resulted partly from the administration's heavy reliance on third countries to carry out interrogations of Qaeda members and others detained as part of American counterterrorism efforts. The Bush administration used Mr. Libi's accounts as the basis for its prewar claims, now discredited, that ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda included training in explosives and chemical weapons.

The fact that Mr. Libi recanted after the American invasion of Iraq and that intelligence based on his remarks was withdrawn by the C.I.A. in March 2004 has been public for more than a year. But American officials had not previously acknowledged either that Mr. Libi made the false statements in foreign custody or that Mr. Libi contended that his statements had been coerced.

A government official said that some intelligence provided by Mr. Libi about Al Qaeda had been accurate, and that Mr. Libi's claims that he had been treated harshly in Egyptian custody had not been corroborated.

A classified Defense Intelligence Agency report issued in February 2002 that expressed skepticism about Mr. Libi's credibility on questions related to Iraq and Al Qaeda was based in part on the knowledge that he was no longer in American custody when he made the detailed statements, and that he might have been subjected to harsh treatment, the officials said. They said the C.I.A.'s decision to withdraw the intelligence based on Mr. Libi's claims had been made because of his later assertions, beginning in January 2004, that he had fabricated them to obtain better treatment from his captors.

At the time of his capture in Pakistan in late 2001, Mr. Libi, a Libyan, was the highest-ranking Qaeda leader in American custody. A Nov. 6 report in The New York Times, citing the Defense Intelligence Agency document, said he had made the assertions about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda involving illicit weapons while in American custody.

Mr. Libi was indeed initially held by the United States military in Afghanistan, and was debriefed there by C.I.A. officers, according to the new account provided by the current and former government officials. But despite his high rank, he was transferred to Egypt for further interrogation in January 2002 because the White House had not yet provided detailed authorization for the C.I.A. to hold him.

While he made some statements about Iraq and Al Qaeda when in American custody, the officials said, it was not until after he was handed over to Egypt that he made the most specific assertions, which were later used by the Bush administration as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons.

Beginning in March 2002, with the capture of a Qaeda operative named Abu Zubaydah, the C.I.A. adopted a practice of maintaining custody itself of the highest-ranking captives, a practice that became the main focus of recent controversy related to detention of suspected terrorists.

The agency currently holds between two and three dozen high-ranking terrorist suspects in secret prisons around the world. Reports that the prisons have included locations in Eastern Europe have stirred intense discomfort on the continent and have dogged Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/condoleezza_rice/index.html?inline=nyt-per) during her visit there this week.

Mr. Libi was returned to American custody in February 2003, when he was transferred to the American detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, according to the current and former government officials. He withdrew his claims about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda in January 2004, and his current location is not known. A C.I.A. spokesman refused Thursday to comment on Mr. Libi's case. The current and former government officials who agreed to discuss the case were granted anonymity because most details surrounding Mr. Libi's case remain classified.

During his time in Egyptian custody, Mr. Libi was among a group of what American officials have described as about 150 prisoners sent by the United States from one foreign country to another since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks for the purposes of interrogation. American officials including Ms. Rice have defended the practice, saying it draws on language and cultural expertise of American allies, particularly in the Middle East, and provides an important tool for interrogation. They have said that the United States carries out the renditions only after obtaining explicit assurances from the receiving countries that the prisoners will not be tortured.

Nabil Fahmy, the Egyptian ambassador to the United States, said in a telephone interview on Thursday that he had no specific knowledge of Mr. Libi's case. Mr. Fahmy acknowledged that some prisoners had been sent to Egypt by mutual agreement between the United States and Egypt. "We do interrogations based on our understanding of the culture," Mr. Fahmy said. "We're not in the business of torturing anyone."

In statements before the war, and without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/dick_cheney/index.html?inline=nyt-per), Colin L. Powell (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/p/colin_l_powell/index.html?inline=nyt-per), then the secretary of state, and other officials repeatedly cited the information provided by Mr. Libi as "credible" evidence that Iraq was training Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons. Among the first and most prominent assertions was one by Mr. Bush, who said in a major speech in Cincinnati in October 2002 that "we've learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases."

The question of why the administration relied so heavily on the statements by Mr. Libi has long been a subject of contention. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, made public last month unclassified passages from the February 2002 document, which said it was probable that Mr. Libi "was intentionally misleading the debriefers."

The document showed that the Defense Intelligence Agency had identified Mr. Libi as a probable fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda involving illicit weapons.

Mr. Levin has since asked the agency to declassify four other intelligence reports, three of them from February 2002, to see if they also expressed skepticism about Mr. Libi's credibility. On Thursday, a spokesman for Mr. Levin said he could not comment on the circumstances surrounding Mr. Libi's detention because the matter was classified.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

December 10th, 2005, 07:10 PM
Family Upset Over Marine's Body Arriving As Freight

Marine Bodies Sent To Families On Commercial Airliners

December 9, 2005


SAN DIEGO -- There's controversy over how the military is transporting the bodies of service members killed overseas, 10News reported.

A local family said fallen soldiers and Marines deserve better and that one would think our war heroes are being transported with dignity, care and respect. It said one would think upon arrival in their hometowns they are greeted with honor. But unfortunately, the family said that is just not the case.

Dead heroes are supposed to come home with their coffins draped with the American flag -- greeted by a color guard.

But in reality, many are arriving as freight on commercial airliners -- stuffed in the belly of a plane with suitcases and other cargo.

John Holley and his wife, Stacey, were stunned when they found out the body of their only child, Matthew, who died in Iraq last month, would be arriving at Lindbergh Field as freight.

"When someone dies in combat, they need to give them due respect they deserve for (the) sacrifice they made," said John Holley.

John and Stacey Holley, who were both in the Army, made some calls, and with the help of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, Matthew was greeted with honor and respect.

"Our familiarity with military protocol and things of that sort allowed us to kind of put our foot down -- we're not sure other parents have that same knowledge," said Stacey Holley.

The Holleys now want to make sure every fallen hero gets the proper welcome.

The bodies of dead service members arrive at Dover Air Force Base.

From that point, they are sent to their families on commercial airliners.

Reporters from 10News called the Defense Department for an explanation. A representative said she did not know why this is happening.

Copyright 2004 by 10News.com (webstaff@10news.com).

January 5th, 2006, 12:56 PM
Information Suggests 3/25 Marines May Have Been Betrayed

News Net 5
Wed Jan 4, 9:26 AM ET


Reports surfacing about the death of 20 Brook Park Marine reservists indicate that the Marines may have been betrayed.

The truth can be found in a classified report containing a completed investigation of the fatal events last August, reported NewsChannel5's Adam Shapiro.

Shapiro spent two weeks conducting numerous conversations with families of the Marines who were killed, as well as ranking officers from the 3rd Battalion 25th Marines.

The families of those who died are being told that on Aug. 1, six Marine snipers from the 3/25 were killed, and it appears they were set up and ambushed.

Two days later, 14 Marines from the 3/25 were sent to arrest the insurgents who killed the snipers, but their vehicle was blown up, killing all of them.
It now appears that they also may have been set up.

Statements from the Marines indicate as much, and a father of one of the slain Marines says that's the story he's being told by Marines who were there.

Paul Schroeder will never forget that awful first week in August when his 23-year-old son, Lance Cpl. Augie Schroeder, died.

Paul Schroeder said his son's fellow 3/25 Marines told him something that the military never told him, how Augie was killed Aug. 3 while trying to capture the Iraqi insurgents who had killed the snipers.

"They were set up. Someone knew where they would be, how they would be, and they went after them," said Paul Schroeder.

The six Marine snipers were killed in a firefight just outside of Hadithah. The Marines said they were on an intelligence-gathering mission, but family of the fallen and Schroeder say insurgents may have infiltrated Iraqi security and betrayed the Marines.

"What we have heard from Marines is that the six snipers who were killed on Aug. 1 were set up," said Schroeder.

NewsChannel5 spoke with Maj. Shenandoah Sanchez, who investigated the events.

"All details pertaining to the incident are still classified," he said.

But Lt. Col. Mike Brown, also with the 3/25, said the investigation, "was about how the people responsible were ultimately found."

Brown declined to say who they were and if they were captured.

But Schroeder said it was the mission of his son and 13 other Marines to capture the insurgents who killed the snipers.

The amphibious assault vehicle carrying Augie Schroeder was blown up and all 14 Marines on board were killed.

Paul Schroeder said his son and the others were also betrayed by Iraqi forces who were supposed to be working with the Marines.

"The two incidents of Aug. 1 and Aug. 3 are tied together, all in an effort to get insurgents who were either part of the Iraqi security forces or who were told by Iraqi security forces where they had their opportunities," said Schroeder.

The Marines will not discuss any of this, but Brown told NewsChannel5, "The fact these men were compromised is a part of the investigation."

Schroeder said, "The Marines I have talked to, which are many, believe the story of what really goes on in Iraq (http://search.news.yahoo.com/search/news/?p=Iraq) needs to be told in its entirety."

The Marines at the 3/25 have requested that the investigation report be declassified and released.

This could take weeks or possible several months. When it happens, the families of the fallen Marines will be the first to learn what it says, and then the report will be released to the public.

Copyright © 2006 NewsNet5.com (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/DailyNews/ibsys/cleve/SIG=pvv43f/*http://www.newsnet5.com/class=regs)

January 5th, 2006, 10:40 PM

A new study by two leading academic experts suggests that the costs of the Iraq war will be substantially higher than previously reckoned. In a paper presented to this week’s Allied Social Sciences Association annual meeting in Boston MA., Harvard budget expert Linda Bilmes and Columbia University Professor and Nobel Laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz calculate that the war is likely to cost the United States a minimum of nearly one trillion dollars and potentially over $2 trillion.

The study expands on traditional budgetary estimates by including costs such as lifetime disability and health care for the over16,000 injured, one fifth of whom have serious brain or spinal injuries. It then goes on to analyze the costs to the economy, including the economic value of lives lost and the impact of factors such as higher oil prices that can be partly attributed to the conflict in Iraq. The paper also calculates the impact on the economy if a proportion of the money spent on the Iraq war were spent in other ways, including on investments in the United States

“Shortly before the war, when Administration economist Larry Lindsey suggested that the costs might range between $100 and $200 billion, Administration spokesmen quickly distanced themselves from those numbers,” points out Professor Stiglitz. “But in retrospect, it appears that Lindsey’s numbers represented a gross underestimate of the actual costs.”

The Allied Social Sciences Association meeting is attended by the nation’s leading economists and social scientists. It is sponsored jointly by the American Economic Association and the Economists for Peace and Security.

January 6th, 2006, 12:24 AM
The victory in war often arrives not when the most bodies are laid out but when one side bankrupts the other.

January 10th, 2006, 06:02 PM
January 10, 2006

Bush Issues Stark Warning on Iraq Debate

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 - President Bush issued an unusually stark warning to Democrats today about how to conduct the debate on Iraq as midterm elections approach, declaring that Americans know the difference "between honest critics" and those "who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people."

In a speech here to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Mr. Bush appeared to be issuing a pre-emptive warning to critics at a time when Democrats are divided between those who say the United States should begin a troop withdrawal now and those who have criticized Mr. Bush but say the United States should stay in Iraq as long as necessary.

In some of his most combative language yet directed as his critics, Mr. Bush said Americans should insist on a debate "that brings credit to our democracy, not comfort to our adversaries."

Mr. Bush was speaking in the same room in a Washington hotel where last month he described the effort to reconstruct Iraq before a skeptical audience: the Council on Foreign Relations, whose members greeted him with only tepid applause. But today 425 members of the V.F.W., which has passed a resolution supporting the Iraq action, interrupted the president repeatedly as he predicted that progress would be made in both fighting the insurgency and stabilizing the newly elected government.

Mr. Bush acknowledged major human rights abuses by the Iraqi police, who he said have been "accused of committing abuses against Iraqi civilians."

"That's unacceptable," he said, adding that the United States was adjusting how it trains Iraqi police officers, including the establishment of a new "Police Ethics and Leadership Institute" in Baghdad that will establish a curriculum for the nine Iraqi police academies. He made no references to disclosures over the past year of American abuses of detainees, in Iraq and elsewhere.

The president acknowledged slow progress in restoring basic services in Iraq, but argued that those problems paled in comparison to the progress he said Iraq was making.

"The vast majority of Iraqis prefer freedom with intermittent power to life in the permanent darkness of tyranny and terror," he said, an amplification of the theme he hit repeatedly in December in an effort to rebuild support for the war at home.

President Bush also pressed countries that have promised aid to Iraq to make good on their pledges. He praised Slovakia and Malta for forgiving all of Iraq's previous debts to those countries - though their concessions amounted to a couple of hundred million dollars. Among large countries, only the United States has forgiven all past Iraqi debt.

But it was Mr. Bush's warning to Democrats that ventured into new territory.

"There is a difference between responsible and irresponsible debate and it's even more important to conduct this debate responsibly when American troops are risking their lives overseas," he said without specifically naming his critics.

In discussing Iraqi politics, the president directly addressed Sunni Arabs, the minority in the new government, saying that "compromise and consensus and power-sharing are the only path to national unity and lasting democracy."

Mr. Bush added that "a country that divides into factions and dwells on old grievances cannot move forward and risks sliding back into tyranny."

Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

January 10th, 2006, 11:57 PM
"There is a difference between responsible and irresponsible debate and it's even more important to conduct this debate responsibly when American troops are risking their lives overseas," he said without specifically naming his critics.
He certainly knows about how to conduct an irresponsible debate ...

January 11th, 2006, 09:11 AM
He certainly knows about how to conduct an irresponsible debate ...

Well it is important, after all:

The vast majority of Iraqis prefer freedom with intermittent power to life in the permanent darkness of tyranny and terror

Nevermind such base and unimportant things like actual heating and LIGHTING.

January 18th, 2006, 09:50 AM
Army Orders Soldiers to Shed Dragon Skin or Lose SGLI Death Benefits

By Nathaniel R. Helms



Two deploying soldiers and a concerned mother reported Friday afternoon that the U.S. Army appears to be singling out soldiers who have purchased Pinnacle's Dragon Skin Body Armor for special treatment. The soldiers, who are currently staging for combat operations from a secret location, reported that their commander told them if they were wearing Pinnacle Dragon Skin and were killed their beneficiaries might not receive the death benefits from their $400,000 SGLI life insurance policies. The soldiers were ordered to leave their privately purchased body armor at home or face the possibility of both losing their life insurance benefit and facing disciplinary action.

The soldiers asked for anonymity because they are concerned they will face retaliation for going public with the Army's apparently new directive. At the sources' requests DefenseWatch has also agreed not to reveal the unit at which the incident occured for operational security reasons.

On Saturday morning a soldier affected by the order reported to DefenseWatch that the directive specified that "all" commercially available body armor was prohibited. The soldier said the order came down Friday morning from Headquarters, United States Special Operations Command (HQ, USSOCOM), located at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. It arrived unexpectedly while his unit was preparing to deploy on combat operations. The soldier said the order was deeply disturbiing to many of the men who had used their own money to purchase Dragon Skin because it will affect both their mobility and ballistic protection.

"We have to be able to move. It (Dragon Skin) is heavy, but it is made so we have mobility and the best ballistic protection out there. This is crazy. And they are threatening us with our benefits if we don't comply." he said.

The soldier reiterated Friday's reports that any soldier who refused to comply with the order and was subsequently killed in action "could" be denied the $400,000 death benefit provided by their SGLI life insurance policy as well as face disciplinary action.

As of this report Saturday morning the Army has not yet responded to a DefenseWatch inquiry.

Recently Dragon Skin became an item of contention between proponents of the Interceptor OTV body armor generally issued to all service members deploying in combat theaters and its growing legion of critics. Critics of the Interceptor OTV system say it is ineffective and inferior to Dragon Skin, as well as several other commercially available body armor systems on the market. Last week DefenseWatch released a secret Marine Corps report that determined that 80% of the 401 Marines killed in Iraq between April 2004 and June 2005 might have been saved if the Interceptor OTV body armor they were wearing was more effective. The Army has declined to comment on the report because doing so could aid the enemy, an Army spokesman has repeatedly said.

A U.S. Army spokesman was not available for comment at the time DW's original report (Friday - 1700 CST) was published. DefenseWatch continues to seek a response from the Army and will post one as soon as it becomes available. Yesterday the DoD released a news story through the Armed Forces News Service that quoted Maj. Gen. Steven Speaks, the Army's director of force development, who countered critical media reports by denying that the U.S. military is behind the curve in providing appropriate force protection gear for troopsdeployed to Iraq and elsewhere in the global war against terrorism. The New York Tiimes and Washington Post led the bandwagon of mainstream media that capitalized on DefenseWatch's release of the Marine Corps study. Both newspapers released the forensic information the Army and Marines are unwilling to discuss.

"Those headlines entirely miss the point," Speaks said.

The effort to improve body armor "has been a programmatic effort in the case of the Army that has gone on with great intensity for the last five months," he noted.

Speaks' assessment contradicts earlier Army, Marine and DoD statements that indicated as late as last week that the Army was certain there was nothing wrong with Interceptor OTV body armor and that it was and remains the "best body armor in the world."

One of the soldiers who lost his coveted Dragon Skin is a veteran operator. He reported that his commander expressed deep regret upon issuing his orders directing him to leave his Dragon Skin body armor behind. The commander reportedly told his subordinates that he "had no choice because the orders came from very high up" and had to be enforced, the soldier said. Another soldier's story was corroborated by his mother, who helped defray the $6,000 cost of buying the Dragon Skin, she said.

The mother of the soldier, who hails from the Providence, Rhode Island area, said she helped pay for the Dragon Skin as a Christmas present because her son told her it was "so much better" than the Interceptor OTV they expected to be issued when arriving in country for a combat tour.

"He didn't want to use that other stuff," she said. "He told me that if anything happened to him I am supposed to raise hell."

At the time the orders were issued the two soldiers had already loaded their Dragon Skin body armor onto the pallets being used to air freight their gear into the operational theater, the soldiers said. They subsequently removed it pursuant to their orders.

Currently nine U.S. generals stationed in Afghanistan are reportedly wearing Pinnacle Dragon Skin body armor, according to company spokesman Paul Chopra. Chopra, a retired Army chief warrant officer and 20+-year pilot in the famed 160th "Nightstalkers" Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), said his company was merely told the generals wanted to "evaluate" the body armor in a combat environment. Chopra said he did not know the names of the general officers wearing the Dragon Skin.

Pinnacle claims more than 3,000 soldiers and civilians stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan are wearing Dragon Skin body armor, Chopra said. Several months ago DefenseWatch began receiving anecdotal reports from individual soldiers that they were being forced to remove all non-issue gear while in theater, including Dragon Skin body armor, boots, and various kinds of non-issue ancillary equipment.

Last year the DoD, under severe pressure from Congress, authorized a one-time $1,000 reimbursement to soldiers who had purchased civilian equipment to supplement either inadequate or unavailable equipment they needed for combat operations. At the time there was no restriction on what the soldiers could buy as long as it was specifically intended to offer personal protection or further their mission capabilities while in theater.

January 18th, 2006, 12:45 PM
"If you wear armor that will protect you from dying, you will have your death benefits removed".

F that! I would face diciplinary actions and directly disobey orders on something like that. If it does not interfere with your standard operating duty, and it does not confuse your operational uniforms visual declarations, the army can screw itself when it starts issuing these BS orders from their military lobbiest-suppliers.

January 18th, 2006, 01:28 PM
It's not as simple as that.

Wearing Dragon Skin does not guarantee you will survive. Many of these soldiers have young families.

I don't understand how this got to be such a big deal. Army brass has always taken a dim view of non-standard equipment, but looked the other way when soldiers improvised.

Military Intelligence - the ultimate oxymoron.

January 18th, 2006, 03:52 PM
I think it is political.

If you had a choice between store bought armor and no armor, what would you chose?

That, and tehy have not done any conclusive studies on which is better, or, at least, released the results.

If, instead of giving a blanket order, they simply stated that all must wear standard gear when available, or gave SOME sort of assurance that the armor is better than what they can get on the open market, you would see less controversy.

But the simple fact that someone up top gave the order and everyone must follow blindly is not something that sits well with this kind of thing...

January 19th, 2006, 11:31 AM
"Collateral Damage" comes home ...

COST OF WAR: The Words of U.S. Army Specialist Douglas Barber...

May He Finally Rest in Peace.


Yesterday, I wrote about the suicide of Specialist Douglas Barber, an Iraq War vet who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) upon returning home from fighting on behalf of...

http://www.bradblog.com/Images/DouglasBarber.jpg (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002297.htm)

Yesterday, I wrote (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002293.htm) about the suicide of Specialist Douglas Barber, an Iraq War vet who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) upon returning home from fighting on behalf of this country. A man who put his life on the line for this country, but who was unable to receive adequate help from the Veteran's Administration as run (and facing deep cutbacks) by George W. "Support the Troops" Bush.

Here is an email posted on SCOOP (http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0601/S00079.htm), from Barber, as written in January of 2005 (see below).

He had a difficult time getting people to listen to him while he was alive. Perhaps some of us can try to listen to him now that he's dead, so that perhaps his death will not be in vain.

In his email, Barber describes what many families go through when they witness their sons and daughters coming home in flag-draped coffins, hidden from view by the Bush Administration. And, even more telling in this case, some of the horrors veterans suffering from PTSD face once back on the homefront. Here's a few grafs...

Spc. Doug Barber: PTSD - A Soldier's Personal War!

Thursday, 12 January 2006, 10:59 am
Opinion: Guest Opinion
PTSD - Every Soldier's Personal WAR!

By Spc. Doug Barber
Published By Coalition For Free Thought In Media (http://groups.google.com/group/Coalitionforfreethoughtinmedia/msg/339447f2ecaef4db)

In the last month I have been working with Jay Shaft, the editor of Coalition For Free Thought in media regarding my experiences in Iraq and since coming home from the war. We have only touched on some of the struggles of being a soldier, however we have not dug deeply into the personal war that Operation Iraqi Freedom has caused for returning soldiers.

Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush do not want to reveal to the American people that this war is a personal war. They want to run the war like a business, and thus they refuse to show the personal sacrifices the soldiers and their families have made for this country.

My thought today is to help you the reader understand what happens to a soldier when they come home and the sacrifice we continue to make. This may be lengthy, it may be short; but no matter how long it is, just close your eyes and imagine a flag draped coffin.

Inside that coffin is the body of a man or woman who will never get to live their life to the fullest, yet they bore the total cost so that we could live free. Their soul is somewhere else and all we have is their memory which over time will be forgotten by other events of greater importance. The families of these soldiers have a hole in their hearts that will never be replaced, even though they have pictures and happy memories.

Some families will refuse to believe they are gone, but still their sons and daughters are the hero's of a country that sent them to war. This war on terror has become a personal war for so many, yet the Bush Administration does not want journalists or families to photograph the only thing that is left of our soldiers who have died. They do not want the people to remember that image of a flag draped coffin as the last memory this country will ever have of our fallen men and woman.

They say that America will raise their voices and demand a stop to the war, but my question is why should we not show the results of war? For us as a country, we send these soldiers to war and we see their faces while they are alive. I say let their memories live on in every photo, even when they do come home in a flag draped coffin. Let their sacrifice be forever etched in the memory of America. We owe their families this at the very least.

All is not okay or right for those of us who return home alive and supposedly well. What looks like normalcy and readjustment is only an illusion to be revealed by time and torment. Some soldiers come home missing limbs and other parts of their bodies. Still others will live with permanent scars from horrific events that no one other than those who served will ever understand.

We come home from war trying to put our lives back together but some cannot stand the memories and decide that death is better. They kill themselves because they are so haunted by seeing children killed and whole families wiped out.

They ask themselves how you put a price tag on someone else's life? The question goes unanswered as they become another casualty of the war.

Hero's become another statistic to America and they are another little article relegated to the back of a newspaper.

Still others come home to nothing, families have abandoned them: husbands and wives have left these soldiers, and so have parents as well. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has become the norm amongst these soldiers because they don't know how to cope with returning to a society that will never understand what they have had to endure to liberate another country.

PTSD comes in many forms not understood by many: but yet if a soldier has it, America thinks the soldiers are crazy. PTSD comes in the form of depression, anger, regret, being confrontational, anxiety, chronic pain, compulsion, delusions, grief, guilt, dependence, loneliness, sleep disorders, suspiciousness/paranoia, low self-esteem and so many other things.

We are easily startled with a loud bang or noise and can be found ducking for cover when we get panicked. This is a result of artillery rounds going off in a combat zone, or an IED blowing up.

I myself have trouble coping with an everyday routine that deals with other people that often causes me to have a short fuse. A lot of soldiers lose multiple jobs just because they are trained to be killers and they have lived in an environment that is conducive to that. We are always on guard for our safety and that of our comrades. When you go to bed at night you wonder will you be sent home in a flag draped coffin because a mortar round went off on your sleeping area.

Soldiers live in deplorable conditions where burning your own feces is the order of the day. Where going days on end with no shower and the uniform you wear gets so crusty it sometimes sticks to your body becomes a common occurrence. We also deal with rationing water or even food for that matter.
So when a soldier comes home to what they left they are unsure of what to do being in a civilized world again.

This is what PTSD comes in the shape of--soldiers can not often handle coming back to the same world they left behind. It is something that drives soldiers over the edge and causes them to withdraw from society. As Americans we turn our nose down at them wondering why they act the way they do. Who cares about them, why should we help them?

Talk show hosts like Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and so many others act like they know all about war; then they refuse to give any credence to soldiers like me who have been to war and seen the brutality of war. These guys are nothing but WEAK SPINELESS COWARDS hiding behind microphones while soldiers come home and are losing everything they have.

I ask every American who reads this e-mail to stand up fo