Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Dissecting the Surge

Is George W. Bush's so-called surge in Iraq succeeding? War-backers claim it is. At least militarily, for, after all, they cannot say with a straight face that any political progress has been made in Iraq. But for the other side--that is, for the case that the surge is a flop--see Patrick Cockburn's report in The Independent. He knows the Arab world far better than any of the neocon armchair warrior/columnists. Here's a small slice of the article:

The surge has changed very little in Baghdad. It was always a collection of tactics rather than a strategy. All the main players--Sunni insurgents, Shia militiamen, Iraqi government, Kurds, Iran and Syria--are still in game.

One real benchmark of progress--or lack of it--is the number of Iraqis who have fled for their lives. This figure is still going up. Over one million Iraqis have become Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) since the Samarra bombing, according to the Red Crescent. A further 2.2 million people have fled the country. This exodus is bigger than anything ever seen in the Middle East, exceeding in size even the flight or expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948. A true sign of progress in Iraq will be when the number of refugees, inside and outside the country, starts to go down.

Read the rest HERE.

Posted by David Corn at August 7, 2007 11:26 PM


capt said...

It is part of the moral tragedy with which we are dealing that words like "democracy," "freedom," "rights," "justice," which have so often inspired heroism and have led men to give their lives for things which make life worthwhile, can also become a trap, the means of destroying the very things men desire to uphold. Sir Norman Angell (1874 - 1967), 1956.

No one is more dangerous than one who imagines himself pure in heart; for his purity. by definition is unassailable: James Baldwin (1924 - 1987) Notes of a native son, 1955

When faced with a choice between confronting an unpleasant reality and defending a set of comforting and socially accepted beliefs, most people choose the later course. W. Lance Bennett.


Thanks ICH Newsletter!

capt said...

Wiretap bill roils liberal base, turns focus to Sept.

Amid liberal anger over the Democrats’ eleventh-hour accession to the White House on expanded eavesdropping authority, civil liberties groups are pressing the majority to rectify the situation soon or face a political backlash.

The ire in the left-leaning blogosphere comes just days after Democratic presidential hopefuls courted the party’s “Netroots” at the YearlyKos convention. Whether the Democrats’ decision to allow a vote on broader wiretapping of suspected terrorists will significantly alienate their core supporters remains unclear, and may depend on whether the GOP-written fix to the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is revised before its six-month sunset.

1. “We’re going to push very hard for Congress to fix this in the fall. We’re going to have high expectations for them to realize the damage they have inflicted,” Caroline Fredrickson, Washington director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said. “For the Democratic leadership, the fact of the matter is, this isn’t going to die.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has asked her Judiciary and Intelligence panel chairmen to produce a new FISA bill “as soon as possible,” signaling a renewed battle over surveillance in September. But liberal pundits and activists already are showing Democrats the political consequences of giving ground to the Bush administration.

“In one fell swoop, [Democrats] have capitulated to a grossly unpopular president, justified his talking point that national security is on the line and given Republicans leverage,” liberal radio host Cenk Uygur wrote on the Huffington Post blog, where Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) posted a like-minded lament.

“Frankly, you epitomize weak. Your every pore exudes feebleness. You are surrender monkeys,” a blogger known as “Meteor Blades” wrote on the website Daily Kos, whose founder hosted last week’s Netroots convention. In an ironic twist, House leaders canceled plans to address the gathering to complete work on the White House’s FISA bill.

Matt Stoller, a Democratic campaign consultant and blogger, accused the ACLU of “immense and unforgivable incompetence” for failing to galvanize activists who could have derailed the FISA bill before the House sent it to President Bush in the wee hours of Sunday.

Fredrickson rebutted the critique but welcomed the frustration among bloggers: “Anger is a prelude to action,” she said.
Several of the liberal commentators compared their sense of betrayal over the wiretapping bill to their letdown over the Iraq funding bill that Democrats passed in May without any checks on Bush. Their frustration was aimed both at the small minority of Democrats in both chambers who gave the White House its victory on wiretapping and at Democratic leaders for calling up the FISA bill.

One conservative-turned-libertarian, former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), said he already has written to Democratic leaders asking for quick revision of the White House FISA bill.

“It baffles me, why Congress allowed itself to be steamrolled,” Barr said in an interview. “They basically just left the playing field for the administration to define ... that essentially sealed the fate of the Democrats in terms of the PR battle.”

Virginia Sloan, president of the bipartisan Constitution Project, agreed that the outcry over FISA could be productive but warned that Democrats would have faced an uphill battle approving their own measure, given the likelihood of a GOP filibuster.

The 2008 election, she predicted, will “make the political situation even worse and make people even less courageous about responding to what are absolutely unwarranted charges that they’re soft on terrorism.”

All four Democratic senators in the White House hunt — as well as one Democrat facing reelection next year, Sen. Max Baucus (Mont.) — opposed the GOP-written wiretapping bill on Friday. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney used those votes as fodder on Tuesday against Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), calling them “dangerously out of touch” on national security.

The FISA legislation, which became law Sunday, allows the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without a court order on calls made by or to Americans, provided that the spying is “directed at” a foreign target. A FISA judge would weigh in only if he or she deems that the administration’s promise to steer clear of targeting American citizens is “clearly erroneous.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), an Intelligence Committee member, on Tuesday released a letter from Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Mike McConnell that said the spy agency has no plans to cast an improperly wide net.

Illustrating the political potency of the FISA debate for Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) office forwarded the DNI’s letter to reporters without noting that Feinstein secured it.

“Democrats and Republicans agreed [that] going home without addressing this issue was not an option. Passing anything to address this problem — or any problem — required 60 votes,” said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who also opposed the FISA bill. “The clear option was the DNI proposal or nothing. We chose the DNI plan with as many modifications as we could get.”
For their part, the ACLU, Constitution Project and the Center for Democracy and Technology called for replacing last week’s bill with a long-term fix before it expires in February.

But one congressional aide familiar with the negotiations said that walking back the bill would be unrealistic, and that disappointed Democrats would have another bite at the apple in 2008.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), meanwhile, is proceeding with plans to take up a broad FISA bill in the fall.

“Sen. Rockefeller’s goal all along has been a larger, comprehensive FISA modernization bill” that is expected in September, spokeswoman Wendy Morigi said. “This was intended to be a piece of that, the interim FISA fix.”


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I am not one for “I told you so” but if makes no difference that some of these slugs call themselves Democrats - what they actually DO defines them.

I am certain any person with an iota of intellectual honesty will admit the "party party" was in fact premature (unless you like getting screwed by your own party).

Any honesty out there?


capt said...

Rep. Sestak On FISA: ‘We Should Have Stood Up And Said No’

In an interview with ThinkProgress yesterday, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) expressed his disappointment with the recent revisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Over the weekend, Congress capitulated to White House demands, and passed a FISA bill that unnecessarily expands the power of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Sestak, who was one of 183 representatives to vote against the bill, told us:

How could we have not have stood up for rights of civil liberties while ensuring the proper ability to go and listen, and just stayed during the recess if necessary. And I understand that our leadership in the caucus has to worry about how the public will perceive it, but I also know this, that ultimately, we have to, as Benjamin Franklin said, be concerned that those who give up…liberty in the name security, deserve neither liberty or security. This is a time that I strongly believe, we should have stood up and said no. Attorney General Gonzales, we’re not going to let you decide the guidelines upon which you’ll listen in on Americans.

Sestak noted that the administration had rejected a compromise bill worked out between Congressional leaders and Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell. “We made the three major changes that [McConnell] wanted,” said Sestak. “The issue here is they just don’t want to come to the FISA court. That’s enough to tell me we need them to.”

“We had voted for a bill the evening before that had actually brought together a proper balance of the civil liberties of our citizens,” said Sestak. “We should have brought that bill up Saturday, instead of the Senate bill…we could have gotten it the next morning under majority votes. And that would have meant probably that we had to stay in session this week, and that would have forced the Senate to come back and deal with it.” Watch it:


capt said...

How can you not be cynical?

Is it any surprise that we've lost track of over 100,000 guns in Iraq? A cynic might wonder if the guns even were manufactured, let alone made it to Iraq or were just billed for by defense contractors. Either way, its our tax dollars not at work.

Missing body armor and five missing Iraqi cabinet ministers, and we're supposed to be winning this war? Can you imagine (one can fantasize) if five of Bush's cabinet went missing?

Meanwhile, some Democrats still run scared when faced with the (trembling in their boots, made, apparently for running) possibility some rovian ad will accuse them of being soft on terrorists.*

Hillary Clinton's cleavage and Rudy Guiliani's daughter's political crush on Barak Obama is reported as if it's hard news.

A bridge collapse dominates the television news for several days replaying the same footage over and over again as if there's nothing else going on in the world.

The latest suicide bombing in Iraq is reported but causes barely a stir, let alone outrage that for every innocent killed in Iraq an entire family is devastated.

It isn't news that American troops are quietly accepting the demands of longer tours with shorter breaks. They carry the burden of the war while the rest of the country goes on thinking that a magnet ribbon on their car proves how much they support those putting life and limb at risk.

Troops are still coming home mained for life. They have high rates of PTSD, a disorder which unless successfully treated will effect them for the rest of their lives.

Yesterday we saw George Bush and Afghan Prime Minister Harmit Karzai in a joint press conference which inspired less confidence than following Mister Magoo through a mine field.

Meanwhile, most American's don't even know that millions of people across South Asia are facing hunger after some of the worst floods in decades, amid fears of disease and fighting over supplies while mainstream news is using E! Online as their source in reporting Lindsey Lohan's latest stint in rehabilitation.

*(The premier technology web site CNET has an excellent article "FAQ: How far does the new wiretap law go?". It offers an answer to the question "why did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership bring this bill to a vote over the weekend, instead of delaying it until fall or killing it outright?")


capt said...

US principal fired over chicken blood ritual

A New York City school principal accused of performing religious rituals with chicken blood, incense and candles in an attempt to cleanse the school of negative energy will be fired, education authorities said.

Maritza Tamayo paid a woman to lead several Santeria rituals during midwinter break in 2006, when students were not at the Unity Centre for Urban Technologies, according to Richard Condon, the special commissioner of investigation for city schools.

Tamayo coerced staff members to participate in and help pay for the cost of the ceremonies, investigators said.

Santeria is a blend of traditional African religions and Catholicism and first was practiced in the Caribbean by slaves who were prohibited from worshipping in other religions.

The problem was not that Tamayo was performing bizarre religious rituals but that she was coercing her staff to participate, Condon said.

"Had she hired a priest to sprinkle holy water on the building, and she coerced the assistant principal into paying for it and attending it, I would have a problem with it," Condon said.

A former assistant principal, Melody Crooks-Simpson, told investigators she participated in one ceremony - and was charged $US900 ($A1,000) - because Tamayo said it would not work without her.

Condon said it was up to the Department of Education to decide whether religious ceremonies were appropriate for schools, even when students were not there.

Department of Education spokeswoman Margie Feinberg said Tamayo would be fired. She would not comment on the religious aspect.

Telephone calls to Tamayo's home were unanswered today. But in the report, Tamayo denied taking part in a religious ceremony at the school.


capt said...

Split in anti-war left

Congress’s failure to secure a timetable for withdrawing American troops from Iraq has split anti-war activists on the tactical question of whether to attack Democrats, who now control Capitol Hill.

The split has also underlined accusations among some activists that MoveOn has abandoned its credentials as an issue-based advocacy group and now instead provides cover for Democratic Party leaders.

Anti-war activists throughout the country are united in spending August pressing lawmakers to bring U.S. troops home. But tensions within the movement have been bubbling for months over tactics and whether their fire should be aimed exclusively at Republicans.

The divisions underscore the tough position Democrats are in — short of the 60 votes needed in the Senate to pass binding restrictions on the war and far shy of the two-thirds majority in both chambers required to override a presidential veto.


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

The formula has never changed - If you believed the promises of a politician hold their feet to the fire and take them to task.


capt said...

National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive



Subject: National Continuity Policy

(1) This directive establishes a comprehensive national policy on the continuity of Federal Government structures and operations and a single National Continuity Coordinator responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of Federal continuity policies. This policy establishes "National Essential Functions," prescribes continuity requirements for all executive departments and agencies, and provides guidance for State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector organizations in order to ensure a comprehensive and integrated national continuity program that will enhance the credibility of our national security posture and enable a more rapid and effective response to and recovery from a national emergency.


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I doubt these extra-constitutional power grabs are to be offered up in a free and fair election.

The neocons think anybody that does not agree with their brand of insanity is the enemy. They will be listening in on opposition party voice and data. The 16 & 41 just made it all legal retroactively so all neat and legal.


capt said...

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