The Beltway Bandit

An online journal of politics, culture, and sports

Thursday, November 13, 2003

OVER? -- Political pundit Stuart Rothenber says the race for the Democratic nomination is over before a single vote has been cast. Bush v. Dean in '04, he says.

NOW THEY GET IT -- It appears the U.S. occupation force in Iraq has come to the conclusion that the conflict we are seeing in Iraq now is what Saddam Hussein planned all along.
I believe Saddam Hussein always intended to fight an insurgency should Iraq fall," said Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division and the man responsible for combat operations in the lower Sunni Triangle, the most unstable part of Iraq. "That's why you see so many of these arms caches out there in significant numbers all over the country. They were planning to go ahead and fight an insurgency, should Iraq fall."
I wonder what tipped him off.

JUDGE MOORE GETS THE BOOT -- A judicial panel in Alabama has fired Judge Roy Moore from his office as Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court. Judge Moore defied a Supreme Court order to remove a 5300-pound monument to the Ten Commandments from the state Supreme Court building and the panel fired him for insubordination.

Well done.

Monday, November 10, 2003

A BRILLIANT IDEA -- Soon after Mr Bush's carrier adventure with the flight suit and the "Mission Accomplished" sign, I told my friends, family, and colleagues that if Iraq was a mess a year from now, some Democratic candidate would have a field day with that image--which was clearly conceived as a Bush campaign commercial. Turns out I was right, but it is happening even quicker than I'd imagined. The Dean campaign is planning to run commercials mocking Mr Bush for his carrier landing and blithe assertion that Iraq had been solved.

The article points out that this might be a problem for Dean because it would remind the viewers of a positive image of Mr Bush. I disagree. Firstly, if it runs during the Dem primaries, there is no chance it will be misinterpreted by Democratic voters. Secondly, if Iraq is still a mess next year, it will be a powerful campaign weapon against the Bush regime, reminding voters of the bland and misplaced confidence the administration had in its disastrous Iraq policy.

This is a great idea. Kudos to Dr Dean for thinking of it first. [Well, after me, actually, but you get the idea.]

AN OP-ED WORTH READING -- Senator Joe Biden [D-DE] makes a convincing case for internationalizing Iraq; giving up our monopoly on authority there in exchange for giving up our monopoly on casualties and expense. Too bad there is no one in the Bush regime who thinks this way.

FILM EXPOSES IRAQ WAR FABRICATION -- A Hollywood producer has made a film called "Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War," which features a number of former high-ranking officials in the intelligence and defense community condemning the Bush regime for fabricating the case for war against Iraq.
An unprecedented array of US intelligence professionals, diplomats and former Pentagon officials have gone on record to lambast the Bush administration for its distortion of the case for war against Iraq. In their view, the very foundations of intelligence-gathering have been damaged in ways that could take years, even decades, to repair.

A new documentary film beginning to circulate in the United States features one powerful condemnation after another, from the sort of people who usually stay discreetly in the shadows - a former director of the CIA, two former assistant secretaries of defence, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and even the man who served as President Bush's Secretary of the Army until just a few months ago.

Between them, the two dozen interviewees reveal how the pre-war intelligence record on Iraq showed virtually the opposite of the picture the administration painted to Congress, to US voters and to the world. They also reconstruct the way senior White House officials - notably Vice-President Dick Cheney - leaned on the CIA to find evidence that would fit a preordained set of conclusions.

"There was never a clear and present danger. There was never an imminent threat. Iraq - and we have very good intelligence on this - was never part of the picture of terrorism," says Mel Goodman, a veteran CIA analyst who now teaches at the National War College.

The case for accusing Saddam Hussein of concealing weapons of mass destruction was, in the words of the veteran CIA operative Robert Baer, largely achieved through "data mining" - going back over old information and trying to wrest new conclusions from it. The agenda, according to George Bush Senior's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Chas Freeman, was both highly political and profoundly misguided.

"The theory that you can bludgeon political grievances out of existence doesn't have much of a track record," he says, "so essentially we have been neo-conned into applying a school of thought about foreign affairs that has failed everywhere it has been tried."
...
As the former CIA analyst Ray McGovern argues with particular force, the traditional role of the CIA has been to act as a scrupulously accurate source of information and analysis for presidents pondering grave international decisions. That role, he said, had now been "prostituted" and the CIA may never be the same. "Where is Bush going to turn to now? Where is his reliable source of information now Iraq is spinning out of control? He's frittered that away," Mr McGovern said. "And the profound indignity is that he probably doesn't even realise it."

The starting point for the tarnishing of the CIA was a speech by Vice-President Cheney on 26 August 2002, in which he told the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Nashville that Saddam was reconstituting his nuclear weapons programme and was thus threatening to inflict "death on a massive scale - in his own region or beyond".

According to numerous sources, Mr Cheney followed up his speech with a series of highly unorthodox visits to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, in which he badgered low-level analysts to come up with information to substantiate the extremely alarming - but entirely bogus - contents of his speech.

By early September, intelligence experts in Congress were clamouring for a so-called National Intelligence Estimate, a full rundown of everything known about Iraq's weapons programmes. Usually NIEs take months to produce, but George Tenet, the CIA director, came up with a 100-page document in just three weeks.

The man he picked to write it, the weapons expert Robert Walpole, had a track record of going back over old intelligence assessments and reworking them in accordance with the wishes of a specific political interest group. In 1998, he had come up with an estimate of the missile capabilities of various rogue states that managed to sound considerably more alarming than a previous CIA estimate issued three years earlier. On that occasion, he was acting at the behest of a congressional commission anxious to make the case for a missile defence system; the commission chairman was none other than Donald Rumsfeld, now Secretary of Defence and a key architect of the Iraq war.

Mr Walpole's NIE on Iraq threw together all the elements that have now been discredited - Niger, the alumin- ium tubes, and so on. It also gave the misleading impression that intelligence analysts were in broad agreement about the Iraqi threat, relegating most of the doubts and misgivings to footnotes and appendices.

By the time parts of the NIE were made public, even those few qualifications were excised. When President Bush's speechwriters got to work - starting with the address to Congress on 7 October that led to a resolution authorising the use of force against Iraq - the language became even stronger.

Mr Tenet fact-checked the 7 October speech, and seems to have played a major role in every subsequent policy address, including Colin Powell's powerful presentation to the United Nations Security Council on 5 February. Of that pivotal speech, Mr McGovern says in the film: "It was a masterful performance, but none of it was true."
I have not seen this film, but I'm going to try to do so. I think every American ought to see this film and be made aware of its contents. Admittedly, much of this stuff is a matter of public record, but to have it all contained and synthesized in a single place could be very useful.

RUMSFELD IS A GUTLESS LYING WEASEL -- The man says things and then, when proven wrong, he denies them.
For example, on Feb. 20, a month before the invasion, Rumsfeld fielded a question about whether Americans would be greeted as liberators if they invaded Iraq.

"Do you expect the invasion, if it comes, to be welcomed by the majority of the civilian population of Iraq?" Jim Lehrer asked the defense secretary on PBS' "The News Hour."

"There is no question but that they would be welcomed," Rumsfeld replied, referring to American forces. "Go back to Afghanistan, the people were in the streets playing music, cheering, flying kites, and doing all the things that the Taliban and the al-Qaeda would not let them do."

The Americans-as-liberators theme was repeated by other senior administration officials in the weeks preceding the war, including Rumsfeld's No. 2 - Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz - and Vice President Cheney.

But on Sept. 25, - a particularly bloody day in which one U.S. soldier was killed in an ambush, eight Iraqi civilians died in a mortar strike and a member of the U.S-appointed governing council died after an assassination attempt five days earlier - Rumsfeld was asked about the surging resistance.

"Before the war in Iraq, you stated the case very eloquently and you said . . . they would welcome us with open arms," Sinclair Broadcasting anchor Morris Jones said to Rumsfeld as the prelude to a question.

The defense chief quickly cut him off.
"Never said that," he said. "Never did. You may remember it well, but you're thinking of somebody else. You can't find, anywhere, me saying anything like either of those two things you just said I said."

When testifying about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction before the House Armed Services Committee Sept. 18, 2002, Rumsfeld said Saddam "has amassed large clandestine stocks of biological weapons." including anthrax and botulism toxin and possibly smallpox. His regime has amassed large clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX and sarin and mustard gas."

Saddam
Saddam "has at this moment stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons," he later added, repeating the charges the next day before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

He repeated that theme in the weeks preceding the war.

Last month, after U.S. weapons hunters reported to the administration and Congress that they have yet to find a single weapon of mass destruction in Iraq, Rumsfeld was asked about his earlier statements.

A reporter at a Pentagon news conference asked: "In retrospect, were you a little too far-leaning in your statement that Iraq categorically had caches of weapons, of chemical and biological weapons, given what's been found to date? You painted a picture of extensive stocks" of Iraqi mass-killing weapons.

"Wait," Rumsfeld interjected. "You go back and give me something that talks about extensive stocks. The U.N. reported extensive stocks. That is where that came from. I said what I believed to be the case, and I don't - I'd be surprised if you found the word 'extensive."'

With the weapons hunt in its eighth month, Rumsfeld also has backtracked on his earlier assertions that American troops knew where the forbidden weapons were hidden.

On March 30, 11 days into the war, Rumsfeld said in an ABC News interview when asked about WMDs: "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

In comments Sept. 10 before the National Press Club, Rumsfeld conceded that he may have overreached. "I said, 'We know they're in that area," Rumsfeld said. "I should have said, 'I believe we're in that area. Our intelligence tells us they're in that area,' and that was our best judgment."

"We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

Donald Rumsfeld
On March 30, on alleged weapons of mass distruction in Iraq.

"I should have said, 'I believe they're in that area.'
Gutless. Lying. Weasel. Thanks to Atrios.

DROPPING BOMBS NEAR IRAQI CIVILIANS... -- is not very popular with Iraqi civilians. Hard to believe, eh? The campaign to win the hearts of our new imperial subjects is going according to plan.

THIS MODERN WORLD -- Tom Tomorrow skewers the chickenhawk bloggers. No names, no faces. But you know.

KERRY FIRES CAMPAIGN MANAGER -- Senator John Kerry [D-MA], whose campaign for the Democratic nomination for president has been stuck in the mud and trailing Dr Howard Dean badly in New Hampshire, fired his campaign manager Jim Jordan. Mary Beth Cahill, a Democratic campaign veteran will replace Mr Jordan. Well, this couldn't hurt, in my opinion. Senator Kerry is a good man, would make a good candidate, and probably an even better president, but his campaign has been dismal thus far. Any change is welcome at this point.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

BELTWAY BANDIT 2003 MIDSEASON NFL ALL PRO TEAM

Quarterback
Steve McNair, Tennessee Titans
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts
Daunte Culpepper, Minnesota Vikings

Tailback
Jamal Lewis, Baltimore Ravens
Stephen Davis, Carolina Panthers
Priest Holmes, Kansas City Chiefs

Fullback
Tony Richardson, Kansas City Chiefs

Wide Receivers
Torry Holt, St. Louis Rams
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis Colts
Randy Moss, Minnesota Vikings
Chad Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals

Tight Ends
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City Chiefs
Todd Heap, Baltimore Ravens

Offensive Tackles
Willie Roaf, Kansas City Chiefs
Jonathon Ogden, Baltimore Ravens
John Tait, Kansas City Chiefs

Offensive Guards
Will Shields, Kansas City Chiefs
Dan Neil, Denver Broncos
Kevin Donnally, Carolina Panthers

Center
Dan Nalen, Denver Broncos
Mike Flanagan, Green Bay Packers

Defensive Ends
Mike Rucker, Carolina Panthers
Shaun Ellis, New York Jets
Michael Strahan, New York Giants

Defensive Tackles
Kris Jenkins, Carolina Panthers
LaRoi Glover, Dallas Cowboys
Albert Haynesworth, Tennessee Titans

Middle Linebackers
Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens
Zach Thomas, Miami Dolphins

Outside Linebackers
Keith Bulluck, Tennessee Titans
Dexter Coakley, Dallas Cowboys
Derrick Brooks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Safeties
Roy Williams, Dallas Cowboys
Lance Schulters, Tennessee Titans
John Lynch, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cornerbacks
Champ Bailey, Washington Redskins
Sam Madison, Miami Dolphins
Gary Baxter, Baltimore Ravens

Kicker
Mike Vanderjagt, Indianapolis Colts

Punter
Shane Lechler, Oakland Raiders

Return Specialist
Dante Hall, Kansas City Chiefs

Head Coach
Bill Belichick, New England Patriots

Offensive Coordinator
Al Saunders, Kansas City Chiefs

Defensive Coordinator
Monte Kiffin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

INVASION CREATED HOLY WAR -- The United States is being accused of creating the ideal conditions for an Islamic holy war by invading Iraq. By some wild-eyed fundamentalist cleric in Iran? No. By some ambitious Democratic candidate for president? No. By the former chief of the Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency? Yes.
Major General Danny Yatom said the presence of Western forces in Iraq has presented the opportunity for a holy war, or jihad, by Islamists in a country surrounded by Muslim neighbours.

Speaking during a visit to London, Gen Yatom said: "Colin Powell has always said that if the coalition went into Iraq, they had to get out. But it seems America did not have such a plan in place. They are lacking such a plan, and that is what is urgently needed now."
General Yatom is correct and General Powell's reputation will not be the only one destroyed by this awful decision.

ARAFAT THE THIEF -- 60 Minutes will broadcast a report tonight alleging that "$300 million of Palestinian Authority funds were diverted by Yasser Arafat into a previously undisclosed Swiss bank account and the money can no longer be traced.
...
The revelation follows the disclosure by the International Monetary Fund in September that Mr Arafat had diverted more than £560 million of Palestinian Authority funds from 1995 to 2000.

The new report coincides with a BBC documentary, also to be screened tonight, which claims the Palestinian Authority is paying members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, an armed militia responsible for carrying out suicide attacks against Israelis, up to $50,000 (£29,000) a month.
I'll give the Bush regime credit for realizing one thing: the United States can no longer have any thing to do with Yasser Arafat.

THE GOOD NEWS & THE BAD NEWS -- Here is the good news:
Independent voters are leaning against the re-election of President Bush amid doubts about his handling of the economy and Iraq, a poll released Saturday indicates.

A majority of independents, 53 percent, said they oppose Bush's re-election, while 40 percent favor it, according to the Newsweek poll. Republicans favor his re-election by an 86-10 margin, while Democrats oppose it by the same amount.

Overall, his re-election was favored by 44 percent of respondents and opposed by 50 percent. More of those surveyed favored his re-election in May, but since then, people have been evenly split or slightly opposed on that question.

Bush's overall job approval in the poll was 52 percent. People were closely divided on his handling of the economy, with 44 percent approving and 48 percent disapproving. Just over half, 51 percent, disapprove of his handling of Iraq, while 42 percent approve.
Here is the bad news: 86% of all Republicans are nuts.