Friday, December 29, 2006

Best Quote of 2006

Days away from the Times Square celebrations, Justin Rood at TPMmuckraker (via a reader's tip) finds the best quote of the year.

Move over Will Rogers. Move over Winston Churchill. Move over Sylvester Stallone.

Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend, former Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism, issues a platitude-for-the-ages that future losers and Chicago Cubs fans can embrace for eternity:

"Well, I'm not sure -- it's a success that hasn't occurred yet," said Townsend. "I don't know that I view that as a failure."

Go to Muckraker to find out what "success that hasn't occurred yet" Townsend is babbling about.

Few more good links:

Larisa Alexandrovna at Juan Cole's Informed Comment on the insanity surrounding "Stop or Saddam Hussein Will Be Hung As Early As Fill In The Blank."

Spiderman debates George Bush on the "government’s secret detention program."

The Next Hurrah's emptywheel aka Marcy Wheeler has a "spooky cover" for her forthcoming book on the scary stuff done to spooks called "Anatomy of Deceit."

Some recent articles I had at Raw Story:

CNN: Is GOP Rep. 'fueling' Oklahoma City bombing conspiracy theories? which sports a David Edwards video.

Novak: McCain's 'aggressive surge' stance backfiring which Mike Sheehan assisted on.

Novak: Conservatives may resign from board if DeLay hired as lobbyist; Obama running in 2008 (with thanks to Mike Rogers).

GOP Senator 'glad' Muslim Rep. will swear allegiance to Koran.

Bush Sr. jokes about Britney's 'underwear' in sitdown with actor Clooney.

Morgan Stanley charged with using '9/11 smokescreen' to hide e-mails.

David Duke calls Wolf Blitzer Israeli agent; Bloggers slam CNN 'stunt'.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

CIA Still Censoring NY Times?

Perhaps The New York Times entered into some sort of secret agreement with the Bush Administration that it hasn't disclosed when it published the redacted Op-Ed written by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann on a news dump Friday just before Christmas when most people wouldn't be reading the news.

Why else would they publish crap like this?

Not that "Iran Is Seeking More Influence in Afghanistan" written by David Rohde, with contributions by Michael Slackman and Michael Moss, is that bad of an article. It's just that it completely ignores much of the unretracted information in the op-ed printed a few days ago, along with the citations which led to all that was censored, which would have added a whole other level to this story.

Has the Times agreed to ignore all evidence that the Bush Administration ignored all Iranian GWOT efforts and pushed them away, helping to create the mess that was once considered a success but most everyone ignores (starts with an "A" and a big reason for the "mess" starts with a "P") these days?

Simply speaking, as bad as it is in Iraq, the problems are mostly internal (at least after you subtract oil from the equation...which no one in power speaks realistically about anyway), and it is not the threat to the world that the re-Talibanization of Afghanistan may one day become (special thanks to our "allies" in Pakistan who need to do a helluva lot more than build a fence).

(I would like to interject that I am one of those rare animals who do not believe the invasion of Afghanistan was any more warranted than Iraq. I firmly believe that more "justice" could have been achieved by working longer on the diplomatic ends. But while the pre-2001 Taliban had aims only on Afghanistan, I fear that the present and seemingly future version has become something far worse now.

I believe that withdrawing our troops from Iraq has at least a fighting (or non-fighting) chance of easing the violence (at least of the non-sectarian kind), and I can't think of any reason other than oil which makes the problems over there more important that they are in, say, Somalia (there's oil there, too, but it's the entire Middle East oil supply which keeps our troops in Iraq).

But the problems in Afghanistan are more important than any other place in the world, primarily because neighboring Pakistan not only has nuclear weapons, it has also sold them to who-knows-how-many rogue nations and/or terror groups.)

The new Times article even includes a quote from someone whose public words the retracted words only echoed. As Leverett and Mann noted in their preface, "These passages go into aspects of American-Iranian relations during the Bush administration’s first term that have been publicly discussed by....and a former special envoy to Afghanistan, James Dobbins."

This is all there is in the new Times article that relates to the redacted op-ed:

When the Taliban were ousted in 2001, Iran promised to help stabilize Afghanistan. In Germany that December, it was Iranian diplomats who stepped in to save foundering talks to form a new Afghan government, persuading the Northern Alliance to accept the agreement. Soon after, Iran pledged $560 million in aid and loans to Afghanistan over five years, a “startling” amount for a nonindustrialized nation, according to James Dobbins, the senior American envoy to Afghanistan at the time.

A week later, President Bush situated Iran on the “axis of evil.” But even as they assailed that characterization, Mr. Dobbins said, Iranian officials privately offered to train Afghan soldiers. The Bush administration rejected the offer.

Poor Rohde, Slackman and Moss might have had to ignore stuff that Dobbins wrote in the 2004 Washinton Post Op-Ed cited as a source by Leverett and Mann called "Time to deal with Iran" like this:

...Secretary of State Colin L. Powell sent personal letters of thanks to every foreign minister represented at the Bonn conference except the one whose envoy may have been the most helpful, the Iranian. Dialogue with Iranian representatives was confined over the next year to infrequent, low-level and inconclusive exchanges, which, shortly after U.S. forces entered Baghdad, were suspended altogether.

Of course, even as Iranian diplomats and military officers were supporting U.S. efforts to install and sustain a successor government to the Taliban, other Iranians with official connections were, and are, rendering support to radical Palestinian groups such as the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas). It was this Iranian support of terrorism directed against Israel, along with the Iranian nuclear program and the refusal of Iran to turn over senior al Qaeda operatives in its custody, that caused Washington to limit and eventually curtail dialogue with Tehran on Afghanistan and Iraq.

I included the second Dobbins paragraph to show how weird it is that the Times ignored that, as well. I guess the Times didn't want to touch the "refusal" part, because the record shows that much of that was just propaganda. The Bush Administration fouled up, no doubt. There seemed to be more offers of cooperation than harboring, and, in the end, "our leaders" allowed some very fucking dangerous people to return to their first "successful" GWOT project, Afghanistan.

(Juan Cole has an interesting theory regarding how neocons derailed Iranian attempts at reconcilitation, but no American mainstream journalist would dare to follow-up since....well, you'll see if you take a peek....hat tip to reader Tom at Brad DeLong's crib)

Reading Rohde, Slackman and Moss is like pretending Leverett and Mann never happened. Speaking of which...

How much do you want to bet that Leverett was probably not able to help contribute to this article in any way whatsoever by the censors?

But why did that stop Rohde, Slackman and Moss?

Why did this article strangely ignore the circumstances of the editorial that they fought to publish but then dumped on the Friday before Christmas?

And why the hell couldn't the Times even add Leverett and Mann as a related link on the bottom of the page?

Courageous stand, my ass. This smells. Somebody call the public editor and get us some answers.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

'Crack some more skulls at the NYT'

ABC's The Blotter has a poorly written and edited article about a New York Times journalist allegedly beaten by Pakistani agents:

New York Times correspondent Carlotta Gall tells ABC News she was assaulted by plain-clothed government security agents while reporting in Quetta, a Pakistani city near the Afghan frontier where NATO suspects the Taliban hides its shadow government.

Akhtar Soomro, a freelance Pakistani photographer working with Gall, was detained for five-and-a-half hours. According to Gall, the agents broke down the door to her hotel room, after she refused to let them enter, and began to seize her notebooks and laptop. When she tried to stop them, she says one of the men punched her twice in the face and head.

"I fell backwards onto a coffee table smashing the crockery," she recalled in a written account of the incident. "I have heavy bruising on my arms, on my temple and my cheekbone, and swelling on my left eye and a sprained knee."

Gall says the agents accused her and Soomro of trying to meet the Taliban. They identified themselves as working for Pakistan's Special Branch, an undercover police department, but Gall said other local reporters identified them as employees from one of the country's two powerful spy agencies: Inter-Services Intelligence or Military Intelligence.

Somehow, ABC left the "when" out of their story, but the Committee to Protect Journalists notes that it occurred on December 19.

From a Los Angeles Times report published two days after Gall's alleged assault:

Pakistan's security branches demonstrate far more efficiency in keeping track of Western outsiders, including foreign journalists, whose movements in and around Quetta are closely monitored.

New York Times reporter Carlotta Gall was questioned this week by Pakistani security agents who forced their way into her Quetta hotel room and at one point struck her in the face, she said. Gall's notes and laptop were seized but later returned. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said it was looking into the incident.

Here's an excerpt from one of Gall's most recent Times articles on the Taliban in Pakistan:

Islamic militants are using a recent peace deal with the government to consolidate their hold in northern Pakistan, vastly expanding their training of suicide bombers and other recruits and fortifying alliances with Al Qaeda and foreign fighters, diplomats and intelligence officials from several nations say. The result, they say, is virtually a Taliban mini-state.

The militants, the officials say, are openly flouting the terms of the September accord in North Waziristan, under which they agreed to end cross-border help for the Taliban insurgency that revived in Afghanistan with new force this year.

The area is becoming a magnet for an influx of foreign fighters, who not only challenge government authority in the area, but are even wresting control from local tribes and spreading their influence to neighboring areas, according to several American and NATO officials and Pakistani and Afghan intelligence officials.

This year more than 100 local leaders, government sympathizers or accused "American spies" have been killed, several of them in beheadings, as the militants have used a reign of terror to impose what President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan calls a creeping "Talibanization." Last year, at least 100 others were also killed.

But, evidently, some American conservatives don't care about the Talibanization of Pakistan, and would prefer Western journalists to stay the fuck out of Dodge and keep their freaking traps shut, as shown by some repulsive comments left at ABC's The Blotter.

Here's some of the heartless, misinformed and callow samples left there:

Dan Pearl was not beheaded by Paki special agents. This NYT stringer should watch her neck. I wonder if the NYT is holding back on this for a reason we can only guess, such as the Eason Jordan rule? Posted by: daveinboca | Dec 26, 2006 1:45:24 PM

"Investigative journalists" are becoming an endangered species. If they were, in fact, getting ready to meet with the Taliban they should have been arrested. Just stick to reporting the news instead of creating a news event. You might live longer. Posted by: John Wilkins | Dec 26, 2006 1:48:35 PM

When will you liberals finally figure out that the Muslims want to kill you? Posted by: XXX | Dec 26, 2006 1:48:55 PM

Let's see: - You are in a foreign country. - You refuse to allow the government agents, police, etc. into your hotel room. You refuse to surrender documents that are requested by these government agents. - You act like you are above the law. And now you are looking for sympathy because they were doing their job. You were lucky to teeth left to talk with and unbroken fingers with which to write this dribble. So solly! Posted by: Jack Morris | Dec 26, 2006 1:51:19 PM

Serves her right for trying to meet with a sworn enemy of America. When will the NYT finally admit their treason? Posted by: John Burgeson | Dec 26, 2006 2:05:49 PM

Glad to hear the Pakistani secret police are doing their jobs in silencing the Taliban and Al Queda propoganda arm AKA New York Times. Nice job guys, keep up the good work. Crack some more skulls at the NYT. Posted by: Tim Mills | Dec 26, 2006 2:22:00 PM

There's plenty more, but you get the idea.

Back to Why Are We Back In Iraq? homepage


DeLay Blog's Traffic 'Surge' and Plummet

From my latest Raw Story article, Novak: Conservatives may resign from board if DeLay hired as lobbyist; Obama running in 2008:

In a Christmas Eve column for the Chicago Sun-Times, conservative columnist Robert Novak claims he has heard of potential resignations of Board members at the American Conservative Union, should former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) be hired as a lobbyist for the organization.

DeLay told the The New York Times just last week that he would be announcing some new "career moves" soon, but said that the "one career that he was not considering" would be lobbying.

Two former aides to the Texas Congressman "have pleaded guilty to corruption charges involving the lobbyist Jack Abramoff," Philip Shenon wrote for The Times. "Federal prosecutors have never directly suggested that Mr. DeLay was in their sights in the Abramoff investigation, though friends have said Mr. Abramoff’s guilty plea last January prompted Mr. DeLay’s resignation from Congress."


DeLay's last "career move" was to enter the blogosphere, setting up shop on the Internet at The same web address that used to host the former Congressman's campaign site has been transformed into the home for "Tom DeLay’s Grassroots Action and Information Network."


RAW STORY reported on DeLay's blogging efforts on December 10 (Former Rep. DeLay, indicted on state campaign finance charges, begins new 'career' as blogger). MNBC's Keith Olbermann later mocked DeLay for using "ghost bloggers" to produce posts.

Although DeLay's blog traffic received an early boost after RAW STORY - and liberal blogs such as Crooks and Liars and Think Progress - first reported on the site, a search at Alexa's traffic rankings reveals that the "surge" ended over a week before Christmas.

Full article at Raw Story. It's worth the trip to see the Alexa traffic ranking chart showing DeLay's traffic "surge" and plummet, and don't miss Novak's far-fetched "scoop" that security fears based on Senator Obama's race were what turned Barack into Hamlet and made his wife the opposite of Lady Macbeth.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Txhxex Txexhxrxaxn Cxoxdxe

From my Raw Story article, The redacted Iran op-ed revealed:

The New York Times has taken the unusual step of publishing an op-ed in which parts of the contents have been "redacted" or blacked out by government censors, who believe that its contents would reveal "sensitive" information that the White House wants to withold. Below is RAW STORY's best informed guess at what might hide behind the redactions.

In addition to the redacted op-ed, the Times published an explanatory note from its authors, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann. Leverett served in the Bush National Security Council under Condoleezza Rice, and is now affiliated with the Washington, DC-based Brookings Institution. Hillary Mann is an ex-foreign service officer who participated in US dialogue with Iran from 2001 to 2003.

Leverett and Mann made available a set of publicly-available sources of information which they had " the board to demonstrate that all of the material the White House objected to is already in the public domain." However, as they noted, "to make sense of much of our Op-Ed article, readers will have to read the citations for themselves."

RAW STORY has examined these sources and has attempted to connect the previously published materials to the redacted paragraphs in the op-ed. What the information reveals is a series of events in which US-Iran dialogue broke down. In the aftermath of 9/11, the cooperative spirit around the world sparked by America's victimhood encouraged Iran to collaborate with the United States in its effort to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan. But the goodwill that might have been sustained by those early negotiations was undermined by a series of disputes between the US and Iran.

Read the entire article, bannered as "Raw Story decodes censored Iran op-ed" at this link.

One tiny redaction I didn't touch on was the last redaction in the op-ed:

Our experience dealing with xxxx xxxx Iranian diplomats over Afghanistan and in more recent private conversations in Europe and elsewhere convince us that Iran will not go down such a dead-end road again. Iran will not help the United States in Iraq because it wants to avoid chaos there; Tehran is well positioned to defend its interests in Iraq unilaterally as America flounders. Similarly, Iran will not accept strategically meaningful limits on its nuclear capabilities for a package of economic and technological goodies.

My best "informed guess" would be that the words "U.S. and" were redacted. My second best "informed guess" would be that the words were "U.K. and."

(Special thanks to Raw Story's Michael Roston for shaping my scribblings into something cohesive.)


Brad DeLong offers a "Guess at the Unredacted Leverett-Mann Op-Ed," by going the extra route and inserting lines Madlibs-style. His second "unredacted" paragraph (beginning with "In December 2001..." regarding Hekmatyar), in particular, looks perfect, and I think he's right about "European and" (rather than my "U.S. and" or "U.K. and" stabs) as the final redaction.

And thanks again to Michael Roston for e-mailing me a link to another take by Arms Control Wonk (the link to the post doesn't seem to be working, so here's a link to the entire blog).

And here's a link to another Raw Story article which "flashbacks" to Larisa Alexandrovna's work on Mujaheddin-e-Khalq (the terrorist group which may have had all references to from the draft of the Leverett-Mann op-ed completely removed).

Update #2

At the community website, Reddit, a user named "smacfarl" offers what he calls a "laughable crude attempt to supply context to the redaction based on the Raw Story selections."

I'd say he's being a little hard on himself, because he makes some nice choices (especially in the paragraph which he begins with "Richard Armitage accused...").

One thing that strikes me is that by redacting two words in one of the paragraphs, the Bush Administration may have accidently confirmed something that they seemed to be very worried of drawing attention to.

From Leverett-Mann's second redacted paragraph:

In December 2001, xxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx x Tehran to keep Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the brutal pro-Al Qaeda warlord, from returning to Afghanistan to lead jihadist resistance there. xxxxx xxxxxxx so long as the Bush administration did not criticize it for harboring terrorists. ....

I'd say the censors screwed up by leaving the word "Tehran" in the first sentence, because knowing that it's pretty simple to assume that the next sentence almost definitely appears to be "Iran agreed" or some variation (Brad DeLong, smacfarl both "agreed" on that redaction while Dr. Jeffrey Lewis went with "Tehran agreed").

In other words, the White House did more than redact something already available in the "public domain," they basically confirmed that Iran had been keeping a "brutal pro-Al Qaeda warlord" from leaving to Afghanistan since December of 2001, who had reportedly threatened against a U.S. invasion of Afghanistan only one week after the September 11 attacks. Hekmatyar allegedly believed Osama bin Laden's first reported denial of involvement, and told the BBC that "if Afghanistan is attacked by America, then our nation has no other choice but to defend their country... The whole of our nation will stand against the attack on their country and... we will go and join our nation."

But after President Bush accused it of "export[ing] terror" as a member of the "axis of evil" in his January 29, 2002 State of the Union address, Iran either embarked on a series of actions in an attempt to patch things up or decided to toss a monkey wrench in the American-led efforts to stabilize the Afghanistan government.

Soon afterward, on February 10, 2002, Iran shut down Hekmatyar's Hezb-i-Islami offices, and on February 26, 2002, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that Hekmatyar left Tehran, at the same time Afghan leader Hamid Karzai was visiting Iran (he'd reportedly been officially asked to leave on the eve of Karzai's arrival on the 24th for his three day visit).

Hekmatyar reportedly went to Afghanistan (or perhaps somewhere to some pro-militant part of Pakistan nearby), then a few weeks later, surprisingly backed Karzai's government on March 11, 2002, through a spokesman. The Hezb-i-Islami Party's deputy leader Qutbuddin Hilal told the press, at a conference held in Pakistan, that the former Afghan premier had been misquoted before, and that he "wanted to show to the world by leaving Iran that he was not the reason for strains in relations between Iran and the US."

But two months later, on May 6, 2002, the United States, reportedly on President Bush's direct orders, attempted to assassinate Hekmatyar with a "Hellfire anti-tank missile...fired by a CIA Predator drone," because, according to an unnamed American official quoted in the New York Times, "We had information that he was planning attacks on American and coalition forces, on the interim government, and on Karzai himself."

Later that year, on September 5, 2002, Karzai narrowly escaped an attempt on his own life, and Afghanistan's foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah, blamed "al-Qaida, groups associated to al-Qaida remnants of the Taliban, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar."

But it wasn't until February 19, 2003, nearly a year after Hekmatyar had left Iran, that the State Department designated him as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist," in a press statement released by Richard Boucher:

The U.S. Government has information indicating that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has participated in and supported terrorist acts committed by al-Qa’ida and the Taliban. Because of his terrorist activity, the United States is designating Hekmatyar as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under the authority of Executive Order 13224. At the same time, the United States will request that the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee include Hekmatyar on its consolidated list of entities and individuals associated with Usama bin Laden, al-Qa’ida, and the Taliban, which would obligate all Member States to impose sanctions, including assets freezes, under UN Security Council Resolutions 1267, 1390, and 1455.

A few weeks ago, in a tape acquired by the A.P., Hekmatyar was quoted as predicting "that U.S. troops would be forced out of Afghanistan like the Soviets before them" and "tout[ing] the Republican defeat in the U.S. midterm elections as a victory for Islamic militants."

"It seems that every bullet that mujahedeen had fired toward the Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan has turned into a vote against Bush," Hekmatyar said.

Hekmatyar appears to be some sort of "flip-flopper," because in 2004 he supposedly supported the Bush-Cheney ticket, according to a Pak Tribune article:

Fugitive leader and one of the most wanted militant commanders Gulbuddin Hekmatyar said he would be pleased with President George W. Bush again winning presidential election to see how 'more stupidly' the US government will run the affairs in more five years.

In a statement titled 'Joint Message of Afghan and Iraqi Mujahideen,' Hekmatyar said let the White House be ruled another term by the Republicans to win more 'bad name for the US' in the world due to their failed policies.

"It is a good way to rid the world of the menace of US to continue the failed war policy. For this, US really need such a stupid and arrogant president (like Bush), a vice President like Cheney and a defence secretary like Rumsfeld to make a team of war," said the statement obtained by Pajhwok Afghan News.


He added the Bush-led war-loving team in the White House was not harmful for the Mujahideen if not beneficial, either. "To be honest, we and every opponent of US would be grieved if any team wiser than the Bush's come to the White House. All those who want to get rid of US's evils should encourage people to vote for the Republicans."


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tom Brokaw's Temp Agency

Is this guy clueless or what?

The wisdom of former NBC News cue card reader Tom Brokaw, as reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer the other day:

There are very good jobs American kids don't want to take - $15- to $16-an-hour summer construction jobs I would have killed for in high school. They don't want to work that hard or do grunt work. They want computer work.

Perhaps Brokaw should start his own temp agency so he can match up the youth of America with these imaginary jobs.

Unless you're in a union, you don't get anything close to that kind of money. Believe me, over the years, I've done my share of break-your-back spring, summer, fall and winter construction work, in places ranging from upstate New York to Bumfuck, Florida, and most of the time those jobs paid minimum fucking wage.

Tom Brokaw is a dirty, reprehensible, stone cold fucking liar for claiming that undocumented or even documented construction workers make that kind of money, without belonging to a union.

The fact of the matter is that most jobs for unskilled workers in this country pay little more than pennies over the minimum wage, and dirtbags like Brokaw who know nothing about the real world are the ones that keep America's workers in the third world.


As Alfdom correctly notes in the column, Brokaw is referring to workers in the resort areas of Vail and Aspen, Colorado, as reported by The Aspen Times in December of 2005:

While the battle over immigration rages in Colorado and beyond, Glenwood Springs contractor Mark Gould looks at his largely Hispanic workforce and states a simple fact: He couldn't make it without them.

While teens fresh out of high school disdain the ditch-digging work that's the backbone of Gould's excavating business, Hispanic immigrants line up for the $14-an-hour jobs.

"The young American male doesn't want to work that hard," Gould said. "We raised our children in this electronic world. They say, 'I should be able to make a living ... with a computer, not cleaning toilets.'"


Hispanic workers at Gould Construction are not paid less than their Anglo counterparts, Gould said. He pays laborers $14 an hour but maintains that is not a living wage for a single person.

On Monday, New York's Daily News reviewed Brokaw's special:

Trino, one of several brothers living in the house, works for Gould Construction Co., one of the area firms struggling to find workers willing to dig ditches and perform other menial, physically rigorous jobs. Trino has the documents required by law that are necessary to land the job - a Social Security card, a driver's license - but they're forged.

Yet he's a willing and reliable worker, who are in short supply around the Colorado boom towns, with their privileged youth and high aspirations.

"Americans don't want this work," says one of the Gould bosses, a white American who himself worked his way up the ranks from digging ditches.

Even still, my opinion remains unchanged about Brokaw.

One fucking contractor is paying that rate, and it's big enough news that Brokaw did a report on that same contractor one year later.

Hell, even the contractor knows that that money won't go very far in today's economy, as Tas brought up in the comments.

And I'm gonna assume without even doing the research that the "privileged youth" whom belong to upper class families that live in Mexico's resort areas aren't clamoring for summer construction jobs either.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bushspeak: Leave Means Don't Leave

This was White House spokesman Tony Snow, just last Wednesday:

As for our occupation, the United States would like to be able to leave as quickly as possible. The Iraqis would, too. But the Iraqis say, don't leave until the job is done. We agree. It is important to win in Iraq as defined by a free democracy that sustains, governs, and defends itself.

A reporter asked, "When did the Iraqis say that?"

"They've said it on a number of occasions; they've made it known," Snow responded.

This is from Snow's press briefing only yesterday:

Again, Iraq is a sovereign government. The United States does not issue orders to the Prime Minister. What we do is in support of that government, and we do it in full consultation with the government. The President also did read out his meetings with Mr. Hashemi and Mr. al Hakim, both of whom had also reported to the Prime Minister

Did Snow just mention Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi? As the BBC reports:

Iraq's vice-president claims Tony Blair was "brainwashed" by President Bush into not setting a timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq.


He later told the BBC: "After a lengthy discussion with [Tony Blair]...I got the impression that he was becoming convinced about my team and he promised to take up this matter with President Bush within a couple of days.

"But I was observing the joint press conference that he made with President Bush after his visit and I saw him talking about something quite different, which gave me an impression that he raised this subject with President Bush and eventually he just changed his mind."

"I think he discovered that Mr Bush is still adamant that he's not going to declare some sort of timetable for withdrawal to avoid passing wrong messages to terrorism," he said.

Sure doesn't seem to me like realism is back.


Which side are you on?

“We must remember that in time of war what is said on the enemy's side of the front is always propaganda, and what is said on our side of the front is truth and righteousness, the cause of humanity and a crusade for peace.”

Walter Lippmann

“One difficulty is that the media have little or no memory. War correspondents have short working lives and there is no tradition or means for passing on their knowledge and experience. The military, on the other hand, is an institution and goes on forever. The military learned a lot from Vietnam and these days plans its media strategy with as much attention as its military strategy.”

Phillip Knightly

“Threats come from a range of sources from individuals (unauthorized users or insiders) to complex national organizations (foreign intelligence services and adversary militaries). Boundaries between these groups are indistinct, and it is often difficult to discern the origins of any particular incident. For example, actions that appear to be the work of hackers may actually be the work of a foreign intelligence service. Sources include unauthorized users, insiders, terrorists, nonstate groups, foreign intelligence services, and opposing militaries or political opponents. “

--- FM 100-6

“New players, ranging from drug cartels to social activists, are taking advantage of the possibilities offered by the Information Age. They can acquire, at low cost, the capabilities to strike at their foes' commercial, security, and communications infrastructures. Moreover, they can strike with relative impunity from a distance. Besides attacking opponents directly, these actors use the international news media to attempt to influence global public opinion and shape perceptions of a conflict. They even attempt to inflame dormant issues into conflicts that otherwise would not arise.”

--- FM 100-6

The US Army considers social activists and political opponents a source of threat and has long before 9-11-01.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Selective Outrage

So I see the Malkin(s)-led bukkake fest against the AP for using a source who supposedly didn't exist is coming to an end since the source actually does exist, but the wingnuts couldn't fathom that a name translated from Arabic might actually be spelled in multiple, similar ways in English. Oops! Looks like the rabid ones among us need to sharpen up their research skills a bit... We'll start with "al Qaeda," "al Qaida," and "al-Qa'ida." Which one is correct? They all are, stupid!

But I've got another issue.

Last summer, there was an AP story that gathered up some fanfare with conservative bloggers; certainly not a big scoop. Basically, the AP quoted military "experts" saying that the extra armor for Humvees was, in fact, making Humvees more dangerous instead of safer. Naturally, wingnuts who wanted to stick it to Democrats for using the armor our troops lack as a political story trumped this AP scoop as proof that Democrats were killing troops in order to get votes.

There was one slight problem, though: the AP failed to note that one of the sources they used, a man named Scott Badenoch, had a serious conflict of interest:

But who is Scott Badenoch? The AP article says that he's "a former Delphi Corp. vehicle dynamics expert," but what the article does not mention is that Badenoch is working for the Georgia Institute of Technology on a vehicle that's aiming to replace Humvees in Iraq. [...]

...The AP, and all of the outlets which have published the AP story, should have let its readers know about Mr. Badenoch's employment history if they are going to base articles off his opinions.

But since the demonization of Humvees means a potential payday for Mr. Badenoch, why should I trust anything he has to say on the matter?

I made note of this in June this year, and absolutely no Republican blogger responded me and admitted that the AP fucked up. Yet when the AP publishes a story that doesn't go their way, these same Republican bloggers will scream up and down about the AP being biased and pulling false names for sources out of thin air and how this is a huge issue and blah blah blah...

Honestly, the only thing I've learned from this affair is that contradictions don't causing spontaneous combustion because, if they did, the red states really would be red.

[h/t: RoxPop]


Friday, December 15, 2006

S. Carter for President 2008

"There's a better option for the '08 election," Jordan Bartel writes for the Carroll County Times, "Forget Hillary and Barack. McCain? Nah. Newt, Guiliani, Edwards? Take a seat."

Bartel notes that Jay-Z aka Jigga aka Hova aka S. Carter aka Def Jam President/CEO is passionate about "several" social issues:

Born in housing projects in Brooklyn, he certainly knows the plight of the working class poor. He's also into looking at fair trade practices, knows when to boycott Cristal and has joined with MTV to fight global water shortages.

Certainly a Hurricane Katrina debacle would never happen under his watch.

You can forget about any invasion of Iraq under a S. Carter Administration, as well.

In fact, as most folks forget, Jigga was quite possibly the first major recording artist in this country to take a stand against the war in Iraq...and that was before the war in Iraq had even begun.

Days before "shock and awe" began in March of 2003, Jay-Z rapped, "We rebellious, we back home, Screaming 'Leave Iraq alone!'" on Punjabi MC's "Beware of the Boys."

At the least, we might get a new presidential anthem:

We all love "Hail to the Chief," but perhaps its time for a change. Maybe a rap? More sampling from "Annie"? The sky's the limit. Maybe he could even rap it himself when he enters a room. It'll save money: that presidential band doesn't come cheap.

(hat tip to Nah Right)

Jigga doing "Beware of the Boys" live:


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Russell Simmons Is Wack

DJ Statik Selektah blends two conflict diamond conscious raps by Nas and Kanye West together in this video clip:

Feeling half-ashamed

As I rap with my platinum chain

When you shop for a gift for me, do you think about the misery?

The same way we made apartheid history

We can do the same thing to the conflict ice

But everybody wanna shine, right?

(hat tip to different kitchen for link)


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dear Tom DeLay

Apologies, if my article at Raw Story led you to remove posts from your new blog and shut off commenting, but that's the way it goes sometimes in the blogosphere.

All I did was report that you turned your former campaign site into a blog, and I guess some of our natives might have gotten a little restless, as indicated in our article's haloscan thread.

I guess I could have picked a better picture of you to garnish the story, but it's not like I turned you into a monkey or anything.

Guess that new-fangled filter isn't working so well.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Odds & Penis Ends

From Page accuses Kolbe of suppressing sexually-explicit messages from Foley:

According to the “Investigation of Allegations Related to Improper Conduct Involving Members and Current or Former House Pages” (what's become known as the “Page Report”), in October 2001 Congressman Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) received--and tried to suppress--sexually-explicit communications sent by Rep. Mark Foley to a House page Kolbe had sponsored the previous semester.

That communication, the former page told the authors of the report, involved Foley making “reference to the size of his penis,” via Instant Message. An image of that portion of the report follows:


Though the subcommittee "found the former page to be credible and his testimony to be plausible," they remained inconclusive about the likelihood that Kolbe had seen the instant messages the boy forwarded to him:


Still later in the report's account of Kolbe's involvement in the page scandal, it is stated that, according to the former page, Kolbe warned him, “it is bes[t] that you don't even bring this up with anybody.... [T]here is no good that can come from it if you actually talk about this. The man [Foley] has resigned anyway.

Read the rest of that article, which I worked on with Brian Beutler at Raw Story. I think Paul Kiel at TPMMuckraker beat us to the publish line by about twenty minutes, but except for ABC's The Blotter, no other media outlets had this for hours yesterday.

A couple other recent Raw Story articles I've done that I didn't get to link here this week:

Bush 'understands how tough it is' in Iraq, but won't say 'grave and deteriorating'

'Who slugged CNN's John Roberts?' bloggers want to know

Snow battles press over Iraq Study Group report: 'I'm not trying to be snide'

Gore: Iraq is 'worst strategy mistake in US history'

Clinton, Lieberman 'team-up' with gaming industry to tackle video game violence


Thursday, December 07, 2006

'Surrender Monkeys'

Good old New York Post, how I love you kidders...


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Raw Sunday

Sorry for the light blogging the last few days, but I've been pretty busy working on stuff for Raw.

As you might have read at Raw Story today, I am going to be running a new section called Raw Sunday, which I'm pretty excited about, and I hope will be well received.

Here's Raw's Executive Editor Larry Womack on what we have in store:

Each weekend, RAW STORY will be reinvented into a special edition focusing on in-depth news reports and features. Raw Sunday, headed by Section Editor Ron Brynaert, promises to use the more relaxed and cerebral Sunday paper format to spotlight underreported news from around the world. It will also offer lighter news stories and, of course, all the best (and worst) in the week's Sunday punditry, as well as new and exciting original features. Ron is currently tinkering with the format of the page (yes, even that will change,) which will be available in a separate tab in the top of the page. I am immensely excited at what he's come up with so far.

One of the most exciting parts about this new assignment will be getting to work with voices outside Raw Story. I plan to commission stories by many of the talented bloggers I know on the left, right, middle, and non-political tip, as well as other independent journalists and academics.

Of course, since we're not supported by any multimillionaires, we'll only be able to pay nominal fees for articles. But how many bloggers out there never even made a dime for their hard work? I know I was psyched the first time I got paid for doing what I love to do.

Stay tuned (and, of course, drop me a line if you'd like to be considered for a future writing assignment).


Monday, December 04, 2006

Marsha, Qaeda, Marsha

From my article at Raw Story, Russert: Why does Bush keep saying 'al Qaeda, al Qaeda, al Qaeda' while discussing Iraq?:

On NBC's Meet the Press, host Tim Russert asked National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley to explain why President George W. Bush keeps harping on al Qaeda while discussing the insurgency in Iraq.

"Whenever the administration seems to be having trouble with Iraq, in terms of its message, al Qaeda comes front and center," said Russert, before showing a clip of President Bush blaming insurgent violence on al Qaeda at a press conference during his visit to Estonia last week.

Bush said, "There is a lot of sectarian violence taking place, fomented, in my opinion, because of these attacks by al Qaeda, causing people to seek reprisal."

However, Russert noted, only two weeks ago, Gen. Michael D. Maples, the Defense Intelligence Agency director, told Congress that "attacks by terrorist groups like al Qaeda and Iraq account for only a fraction of the insurgent violence."

"Only a fraction," Russert repeated, before also pointing out that Hadley's "own book, Victory in Iraq, says al Qaeda makes up the smallest enemy group."



Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bush Worst Pretzel Eater Ever?

From Raw Story:

Five editorials in Sunday's edition of The Washington Post argue whether or not George W. Bush is the worst president ever.


As Editor & Publisher notes, "The Washington Post editorial page has been a strong backer of the Iraq war from the beginning," and the five editorials "may set off an intriguing debate, pro and con."

In one editorial, Michael Lind, a Whitehead senior fellow at the New America Foundation, argues that it's "unfair" to call Bush the worst, since the policies of presidents James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Richard M. Nixon and James Madison "were even more disastrous."

"By contrast, George W. Bush has inadvertently destroyed only Baghdad, not Washington, and the costs of the Iraq war in blood and treasure are far less than those of Korea and Vietnam," Lind writes.

Read the rest at Raw Story.


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