Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Bush's Unintended Consequences

George W. Bush is rather lonely these days. Few Republicans on the Hill are championing his escalation in Iraq. Many military experts--and soldiers on the ground--are skeptical. Editorial pages are not with him. I ran into one Pentagon consultant recently and when I half-joked that there are only seven people in Washington who support Bush's Iraq policy, he replied, "No, it's six. They lost a guy this morning."

Meanwhile, the recent issue of Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute (which is not yet posted) contains an interesting article by retired Major General Robert Scales, a war strategy expert often seen as a commentator on Fox News, and retired Colonel Robert Killebrew, an expert on military doctrine. These two men--hardly doves--question the strategic wisdom behind Bush's war in Iraq. In considering what to do about the threat posed by Islamic jihadism, the pair write:

We must hold back with discretion, patience, empathy, and a sublimated sense of global superiority. All radical movements that rely on violence against innocents to achieve their ends contain within themselves the seeds of their own destruction. Over time radicals must attempt ever more shocking and extreme attacks to trump the last atrocity in order to force radicalization on all fronts.

Confronting radical Islamists directly with episodic violent excursions inflames passions of millions of its followers. Such operations may produce more recruits than the violence destroys. Sometimes the stakes are worth the cost--as in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. But usually containment and prevention are stronger medicines. An aggressive military strategy actually militates against the natural currents of history by encouraging and prolonging religious zeal and eroding the very values of stability that we seek to reinforce.

Is Bush, with his unpopular and unproductive war in Iraq, leading the nation and the military to a post-post-9/11 phase that emphasizes cooperation, multilateralism, diplomacy, and nonviolent approaches? Talk about unintended consequences.

Posted by David Corn at January 17, 2007 11:32 AM


capt said...

Presidential absolutism: Bush claims unlimited surveillance powers

McClatchy-Tribune News Service


The following editorial appeared in the Sacramento Bee on Saturday, Jan. 13:


When Congress was out of town for the winter recess, President Bush asserted unilateral powers to open U.S. mail without a warrant. In yet another unfortunate "signing statement," Bush claims he can do searches without obtaining a warrant, as required by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and laws enacted by Congress. This comes on top of earlier claims that he can intercept phone calls and e-mails.

Congress passed a routine bill designed to improve the quality of postal service for Americans on Dec. 9 - the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. Among other things, it restates U.S. law that domestic mail cannot be opened without a warrant, making an exception where there is a credible threat that the mail may contain an explosive device. When the executive branch believes it has a legitimate need to search targeted mail, existing laws allow the executive branch to get a warrant quickly from a criminal court or a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge.

Yet when Bush signed the postal bill, he added a statement reserving the right to ignore the law. Bush justifies his actions with radical claims about a "unitary executive branch" with exclusive powers and limitations on federal courts to interfere. So we have executive power unrestrained by law and unchecked by any other branch of government.

At a minimum, the new Congress should hold oversight hearings to find out the number of times the Bush administration already has done warrantless searches - and going forward, require the executive branch each year to state publicly the number of times it opens mail without a warrant.

Beyond that, it seems there will have to be a showdown in the courts to defend the Constitution and the ability of Congress to enact laws.

The Constitution says the president "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed." In our system of government, the president cannot selectively ignore laws he doesn't like. If Bush doesn't like a law passed by Congress, he should veto it.

Clearly, our system of separation of powers is in doubt as the president claims unilateral powers to do whatever he wants. More than 200 years after Americans rejected the tyrannical acts of King George III, we've got another George with kingly pretensions that need to be checked.


*****end of clip*****

Bush wants all the power but none of the responsibility.

We need an impeachment and pronto.


kathleen said...

Amy Goodman's coverage of the Libby trial terrific. She had Murray Waas on!

Bill Moyers speech at the Media reform conference incredible!

John Dean's latest article (number 3 or three part series) having to do with congressional oversight and impeachment is worth reading.

The "Occupation Project" is ramping up the pressure on congress. Check out there website

Raw Story finally posting articles about Israels expansion of illegal settlements. Finally

Contact Talk of the Nation and The Diane Rehms show ask them why they did not devote an hour to the life and work of DR. Martin Luther King Day on his holiday. Very negligent!

O'Reilly said...

Great post David Corn. Thank you for writing about the most urgent issue of our time.

Hope you're enjoying the show in the pressroom at the Scooter Libby trial. I'd like to ask you a favor. Would you ask Scooter to ask Judy Miller if she'd sign her book for me?

All the best,

kathleen said...

A big fat kiss from Judy Miller and the New York Times for Libby,,,

this article could not be more pro-libby/cheney

As Trial Begins, Cheney’s Ex-Aide Is Still a Puzzle
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Published: January 17, 2007
WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 — Paradox seems to define I. Lewis Libby Jr., who remains a bit mysterious even to close colleagues. He is the White House policy enforcer who also wrote a literary novel; a buttoned-down Washington lawyer who likes knocking back tequila shots in cowboy bars and hurtling down mountains on skis and bikes; and a 56-year-old intellectual known to all by his childhood nickname, Scooter.

Skip to next paragraph
Enlarge This Image

Doug Mills/The New York Times
I. Lewis Libby Jr. at the courthouse Tuesday.

Timeline of a Leak
I. Lewis Libby

• All I. Lewis Libby Events
• View All Events
Potential Jurors Queried on Views of Bush Administration (January 17, 2007)

The Caucus
Kate Phillips and The Times's politics staff report on the latest political news from around the nation.

More Politics News

Mr. Libby in the Yale yearbook.

Enlarge This Image

At a Rose Garden ceremony in 2005, Mr. Libby was with, from left, Scott McClellan, White House press secretary; Karl Rove; Dan Bartlett, communications director; and Vice President Dick Cheney.
But now comes the most baffling paradox of all, as Mr. Libby, former chief of staff and alter ego to Vice President Dick Cheney, began his trial in federal court here on Tuesday on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. By all accounts a first-rate legal mind and a hypercautious aide whose discretion frustrated reporters, he is charged with repeatedly lying to a grand jury and to the F.B.I. about his leaks to the news media in the battle over Iraq war intelligence.

“I don’t often use the word ‘incomprehensible,’ but this is incomprehensible to me,” said Dennis Ross, the veteran Middle East troubleshooter who is now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “He’s a lawyer who’s as professional and competent as anyone I know. He’s a friend, and when he says he’s innocent, I believe him. I just can’t account for this case.”

@ the New York Times

capt said...

Scooter Libby's Time-Travel Trial

The trial of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is being billed by the Big Media as a case study of a favorite Washington cliché – "it’s not the crime but the coverup" – a smugly delivered line suggesting that Libby committed no real offense beyond trimming a few facts when questioned by overzealous investigators.

But the major U.S. news media is again missing the point. The real significance of the Libby trial is that it could demonstrate how far George W. Bush went in 2003 to shut down legitimate criticism of his Iraq War policies as well as questions about his personal honesty.

In that sense, the trial could be a kind of time machine for transporting America back to that earlier era of not so long ago when Bush and his team felt they controlled reality itself and were justified in tricking the American people into bloody adventures overseas.

It was a time when President Bush swaggered across the political landscape, a modern-day king fawned over by courtiers in the government and the press – and protected by legions of followers who bullied citizens who dared to dissent.

Libby may be going on trial for five felony counts of lying and obstructing justice, but the essence of his criminal behavior was his work as a top enforcer responsible for intimidating Americans who wouldn’t stay in line behind the infallible Bush.


*****end of clip*****

A very insightful piece.


kathleen said...

The Bush administration led our nation into creating a climate for ethnic cleansing in Iraq. He created hell on earth for the Iraqi people! And who knows maybe that was the intention!

kathleen said...

Will Cheney resign?

kathleen said...

If the investigation of peoples bank accounts by the Bush administration in regard to the possibility that individuals have funded or been involved with terroist organizations or individuals that undermine U.S. National Security.

If it is ever determined (where is that report that was to determine how the Plame outing effected National Security) that the outing of Plame weakened U.S. National Security, and it is proven that Libby(Cheney) purposely outed Plame.

Would those who supplied money to the Libby Defense Fund ( Mel Sembler and others have raised 3 million dollars ) be under investigation for donating to a terroist or "enemy of the state" or a terroist organization?


kathleen said...

Are they listening?

Senators introduce resolution condemning Bush troop surge; Believe they have votes to pass

John Byrne
Wednesday January 17, 2007

Three senior senators -- two Democrats and one Republican -- have formally introduced a non-binding resolution that condemns President Bush's plan to increase U.S. troop levels in Iraq.

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Joe Biden (D-DE) were joined by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), an outspoken Republican critic of the president who served in Vietnam.

Senate aides tell CNN the resolution is aimed at showing the country Bush does not have support from the majority of Congress. Polls show that more than 60 percent of Americans oppose the escalation of war in Iraq; Bush has promised to send more than 21,000 additional US troops.

According to CNN, the statement says in part, "It is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq, particularly by escalating U.S. troop presence in Iraq," and adds, "the U.S. strategy and presence on the ground in Iraq can only be sustained with the support of the American people and bipartisan support from Congress."

The New York Times today said Hagel's signature on the resolution would put "a bipartisan stamp on the looming congressional showdown over the war,"adding that Hagel had been consulting for the past few days" with Biden and Levin "to develop the wording of the resolution."

Hulse and Rutenberg wrote that Hagel asserts he is not seeking to "bash the president" or "call for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq," but rather intends the resolution to be "a responsible way for members of the Senate to register their opinion on the increase of more than 20,000 additional troops announced by Bush last week."


David B. Benson said...

Presidential absolutism?

Emmm, (fill in the the refrain...)

kathleen said...

January 16, 2007

Escalation Against Iran
The Pieces Are Being Put in Place

The pieces are moving. They’ll be in place by the end of
February. The United States will be able to escalate military operations against Iran.

The second carrier strike group leaves the U.S. west coast on January 16. It will be joined by naval mine clearing assets from both the United States and the UK. Patriot missile defense systems have also been ordered to deploy to the Gulf.

Maybe as a guard against North Korea seeing operations focused on Iran as a chance to be aggressive, a squadron of F-117 stealth fighters has just been deployed to Korea.

This has to be called escalation. We have to remind ourselves, just as Iran is supporting groups inside Iraq, the United States is supporting groups inside Iran. Just as Iran has special operations troops operating inside Iraq, we’ve read the United States has special operations troops operating inside Iran.

Just as Iran is supporting Hamas, two weeks ago we found out the United States is supporting arms for Abbas. Just as Iran and Syria are supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon we’re now learning the White House has approved a finding to allow the CIA to support opposition groups inside Lebanon. Just as Iran is supporting Syria, we’ve learned recently that the United States is going to fund Syrian opposition groups.

We learned this week the President authorized an attack on the Iranian liaison office in Irbil.

The White House keeps saying there are no plans to attack Iran. Obviously, the facts suggest otherwise. Equally as clear, the Iranians will read what the Administrations is doing not what it is

It is possible the White House strategy is just implementing a strategy to put pressure on Iran on a number of fronts, and this will never amount to anything. On the other hand, if the White House is on a path to strike Iran, we’ll see a few more steps unfold.

First, we know there is a National Security Council staff-led
group whose mission is to create outrage in the world against Iran. Just like before Gulf II, this media group will begin to release stories to sell a strike against Iran. Watch for the outrage stuff. The Patriot missiles going to the GCC states are only part of the missile defense assets. I would expect to see the deployment of some of the European-based missile defense assets to Israel, just as they were before Gulf II.

I would expect deployment of additional USAF fighters into the bases in Iraq, maybe some into Afghanistan.

I think we will read about the deployment of some of the newly arriving Army brigades going into Iraq being deployed to the border with Iran. Their mission will be to guard against any Iranian movements into Iraq.

As one of the last steps before a strike, we’ll see USAF tankers moved to unusual places, like Bulgaria. These will be used to refuel the US-based B-2 bombers on their strike missions into Iran. When that happens, we’ll only be days away from a strike.

The White House could be telling the truth. Maybe there are no plans to take Iran to the next level. The fuel for a fire is in place, however. All we need is a spark. The danger is that we have created conditions that could lead to a Greater Middle East War.

Sam Gardiner is a retired colonel of the US Air Force. He has taught strategy and military operations at the National War College, Air War College and Naval War College.

David B. Benson said...

HuffingtonPost links to a TNYT piece:

The cost of the Iraq war, so far, is $1.2 trillion!

kathleen said...

Let's hope so!

John Murtha: “It’s a whole new Ballgame”
By Mike Whitney
01/16/07 "Information Clearing House" -- -- “The president does not have legal authority to go into Iran there’s no question in my mind about that; and he wouldn’t have the capability of doing that even if he wanted to.” John Murtha (D-PA), ABC “This Week”

The traditionally-hawkish, Jack Murtha has been the standard bearer for the Democrats in his opposition to the war. He led the charge against the occupation of Iraq calling it “a failed policy wrapped in an illusion” and, now, he’s threatening to sabotage Bush’s plans for a troop-surge in Baghdad.

The crusty ex-Marine doesn’t mince words and he’s not afraid of the “Swift-boaters” and hatchet-men on the Bush team. He sticks to the facts (and his principles) and takes great pride in defending the interests of the men and women who wear the uniform.

Good on you, Jack.

On Sunday, Murtha appeared on ABCs talk show, “This Week” with George Stephanopolous. He used the opportunity to blast the administration and Bush’s plans to send another 21,000 troops into the Baghdad meat-grinder.

Murtha immediately warned that he would use the power of the purse to “look at how much money the Pentagon has and try to change the direction of this war”. He added, “The public has spoken.”

Stephanopolous, taken aback, asked if Murtha was planning to “de-fund” the war.

Murtha, who was recently appointed chair of the powerful Defense Appropriations Subcommittee overseeing Pentagon spending, answered, “If we have our way there will be substantial change and substantial pressure put on this administration… The allies don’t want us over there. The Iraqis don’t want us over there and we expect that even the Republicans will support us when we get our bill up.”

He then added ominously, (we want a) “redeployment of troops out of Iraq” and (we will) “restrict funding until some of the problems are fixed at home.”


Other Democrats have reluctantly winched themselves onto the antiwar bandwagon sensing that public support is rapidly eroding. Only Murtha has consistently put himself in the line of fire by threatening to cut off the funds which lubricate the war-machine.

Murtha is demanding that the administration “stop extending tours of duty, stop depleting our strategic reserves, and retrain returning soldiers so they can be ‘recycled’” according to the normal procedures. He knows that the military is gravely over-stretched, so he’s trying to derail the war with bureaucratic red tape.

“We don’t like to micro-manage the Pentagon,” averred the Pennsylvania congressman, “but we have to because they are not paying attention to the public. You cannot sustain a war when only a small percentage of the people support it.”

Commenting on Bush’s desperate plan to surge more troops into Baghdad, Murtha said, “George, we sent 10,000 troops in to Baghdad 5 months ago and it got worse! We had the highest number of casualties among Americans and Iraqis in that month.”

“We don’t want any permanent bases, we don’t want any torture we’re going to try to close down Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib,” Murtha said. “I don’t think you get any information from people who’ve been there for 4 years, George. I think its time to send them back to the countries they came from.”

Stephanopolous continued to press Murtha on the main issue: “Do you expect congress to restrict funding for this war this year?”

Murtha: “I expect them to restrict funding until some of the problems are fixed at home. We have no units that can be deployed to Iran or North Korea. The troops are inadequately trained and equipped. We want the strategic reserve to be improved. We don’t want tours extended, we don’t want torture, and we don’t want permanent bases.”

Murtha wisely used his time on national TV to provide his own frank analysis of the present conflict:

“You know they say that Al Qaida is causing the divisions and sectarian violence? THE INVASION ITSELF IS WHAT CAUSES THE SECTARIAN VIOLENCE…. IT’S THE OCCUPATION CAUSES THE VIOLENCE. That’s the problem we have and we have to change directions.”

That’s the message the American people should be hearing every day.

Murtha will face stiff opposition from Vice President “last throes” Dick Cheney who proclaimed this Sunday on FOX News “that we cannot have a war run by a committee”. (It’s called “democracy”, Dick.)

He’ll also clash with Bush who no longer believes he is accountable to congress for his actions. (“I fully understand that Congress could try to stop me from doing it. But we’re going forward”) On top of that, he’ll face the predictable wrath of the media and the war-mongering psychos, McCain and Lieberman.

Still, if you had to stake the future of the US congress on one man, you couldn’t make a better choice than Jack Murtha. He’s a political war-horse who towers above the amalgam of windbags, phonies and opportunists who fill out the Democratic leadership. He’s willing to put his neck on the chopping block and go toe to toe with the gangsters and cutthroats in the Bush administration.

That’s what it’s going to take to end this bloodbath.

Besides, he’s optimistic about his prospects for success. When Stephanopolous asked him if he really believed he could change the policy in Iraq, Murtha perked up and responded confidently:

“Let me tell you, George; it’s a whole new ballgame now.”

Gerald said...

The cost of the Iraq war is $1.2 trillion sounds on target. Since we will be in Iraq and Iran for 50 years or more the cost could be as much as $50 trillion.

kathleen said...

Libby Trial
Story aired: Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Jury selection begins today in the trial of former Dick
Cheney staffer Lewis "Scooter" Libby on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice during the investigation into the naming of former CIA officer Valerie Plame. We'll speak to
Rory O'Conner of the independent media company Globalvision who is one of the bloggers given press credentials to cover the trial.

Rory O'Conner

Rory O'Conner's blog

kathleen said...

One of the main "bonerless" neocons still trying to surge. Still trying to send other people's family members to the neo-cons war! Step up to the plate Kagan your not to old!

Numbers Games
How many troops are needed for the "surge"?
by Frederick W. Kagan
01/17/2007 10:30:00 AM

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CRITICS OF THE PLAN PROPOSED by the American Enterprise Institute's Iraq Planning Group (IPG) have been pointing to supposed discrepancies in the numbers of troops required to secure Baghdad in my writings, the IPG, and the Bush administration's statements.

I noted before the IPG met that it would require a surge of 80,000 additional troops to clear the entire Baghdad capital area, according to traditional counter-insurgency norms and under a variety of other unlikely conditions. I did not advocate such an operation. I noted consistently, again before the IPG met, that I thought it would take about 50,000 additional U.S. troops to clear and hold all of Baghdad, but I also noted that we could clear parts of the city with fewer forces in a rational, phased plan.

I then put together a team of military planning and regional experts in an attempt to determine with more accuracy exactly how many forces would be required. The results were published in our report, Choosing Victory. We came to the conclusion that the best approach would focus on the most critical areas of Baghdad--the Sunni and mixed Sunni-Shia neighborhoods around the Green Zone on both sides of the river--and that clearing and holding those areas would require a surge of 5 Army Brigade Combat Teams, or about 25,000 troops. We did not attempt to calculate the number of support troops that would be an essential part of such a surge because it was beyond the means of a group as small

as ours to do so--such calculations require a large military planning staff with access to much more detailed information about our force deployment than we had available.

Because of the possible confusion

@ Weekly Standard

Saladin said...

Radical Islamist? I think a far bigger problem is radical Zion and their brain-dead followers and enablers radical fundamentalist Christians. How about the time tested adage, MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!! Mr. Corn, do you really think Iran is more dangerous with nuclear capabilities then Israel? Who exactly is making life a living hell for their neighbors? Who is it that can't get along and insists on invading and illegally occupying other people's land, besides the US I mean? Who keeps starting military skirmishes and overtly attempting to commandeer surrounding resources, namely water? Who is it building a monstrous Apartheid wall right through the middle of helpless people's farms and destroying orchards and separating families? But radical Islam is supposedly the big problem? I think NOT!
Kathleen, if they investigate my bank account they will find I bought a book about Afghanistan and the hellish situation and that the funds are going towards buying land for a desperately needed clinic. I guess that could make me a terrorist, though what we have done with DU to the poor babies of that country somehow escapes that definition. Fuck'em.

Saladin said...

"Senators introduce resolution condemning Bush troop surge."

Very helpful, I hope they at least slap them on the wrist EXTRA hard this time. No more Mr. Nice Guys! In the mean time, Iran is lined up in the crosshairs.

capt said...

New thread!

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