Sunday, February 01, 2004

Washington Post
Twin Bombings Kill at Least 56 in Northern Iraq
Suicide Attacks Strike Both U.S.-Backed Kurdish Political Parties in Irbil
Two suicide bombers with explosives wired to their bodies struck the offices of the country's two main Kurdish parties in nearly simultaneous attacks Sunday, killing at least 56 people and wounding more than 235 in the deadliest assault in Iraq in six months. The attacks struck in the Kurdish heartland and took a heavy toll among senior leaders of Iraq's most pro-American ethnic group.
Although Iraq has suffered numerous suicide bombings in recent months, the attack Sunday marked the first time perpetrators have worn explosives rather than using vehicles.
Paul Bremer says there's no proof at this point who is responsible. It could be Ansar al-Islam...or could be al-Qaeda. It could be any of a number of foreign terrorist groups operating in Iraq. Why? Because Bush's war has proven to be a terror-growing war rather than a terror-abater...and no matter who was behind these blasts, tensions will now likely heighten between the Kurds and Sunni Arabs.

244 Muslim Pilgrims Die in Hajj Stampede
The devil-stoning is the most animated ritual of the annual pilgrimage and often the most dangerous. Many pilgrims frantically throw rocks, shout insults or hurl their shoes at the pillars - acts that are supposed to demonstrate their deep disdain for the devil. But clerics frown upon such action, saying it's un-Islamic.
Last year, 14 pilgrims were trampled to death during the ritual and 35 died in a 2001 stampede. In 1998, 180 pilgrims died.

The annual hajj, which began Thursday, climaxed Saturday as some 2 million Muslim pilgrims listened to Saudi Arabia's top cleric denounce terrorists, calling them an affront to Islam. However, he defended the kingdom's strict interpretation of the faith.
Sheik Abdul Aziz al-Sheik said in his sermon there were those who claim to be holy warriors, but were shedding Muslim blood and destabilizing the nation.
"Is it holy war to shed Muslim blood? Is it holy war to shed the blood of non-Muslims given sanctuary in Muslim lands? Is it holy war to destroy the possession of Muslims?" he said, adding that their actions gave enemies an excuse to criticize Muslim nations. A large number of the victims of suicide attacks in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq and elsewhere have been Muslims.
Al-Sheik, who is widely respected in the Arab world as the foremost cleric in the country considered the birthplace of Islam, spoke at Namira Mosque in a televised sermon watched by millions of Muslims in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Al-Sheik also criticized the international community, accusing it of attacking Wahhabism, the strict interpretation of Islam that is applied in Saudi Arabia: "This country is based on this religion and will remain steadfast on it."
Sistani: Iraq Cleric's Sense of History
Sistani's political activism has surprised many, even his supporters. In April, he issued statements insisting that the clergy play no direct role in politics. But he soon began weighing in with opinions that drove to the heart of Iraq's future.
Sistani's spokesmen have said he draws lessons for today from the six-month revolt in 1920 against the British occupation. Once it was put down, the Shiite clergy remained in opposition, rejecting participation in elections that followed and discouraging followers from entering the government and its institutions, which soon were dominated by minority Sunnis. That year "is like a complex in the hearts and minds of the Shiites," said Mohieddin Khatib, the secretary of the Governing Council. "It is a very deep regret, and he is saying you will not hear something like this from me."

Democratic Debate in Milwaukee February 15th

"We're all going to come together in Wisconsin and have the big showdown."
--Howard Dean

Lester Holt and Gloria Borger would not be my choice of panelists for a debate of such alleged importance.
Especially Mr. Holt. I found his last performance (at the Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum) positively dreadful. He made a shooting target out of Howard Dean, coming out of the starting gate harping on the "gotcha-of-the-moment" (where Dean criticized the Iowa caucus system on a tape from many years past). I wonder if Holt's mission is to try to pull a "gotcha" on Kerry next? If he doesn't, I wonder if Howard Dean will? If Dean "goes negative" on Kerry, I wonder if the press will get their jockeys in an uproar over "mean Dean"? How soon they forget Kerry's negative attack on Dean at the Iowa Brown and Black (where Kerry said Dean made public statements supporting a resolution that gave authority to Bush to go to war once diplomatic efforts had failed...his (dishonest) words were: "I think Governor Dean has had it both ways.") Boo! Mean negative Kerry.
In the same debate, Lester Holt was the one who raised from the near-dead the stench of the Confederate flag fiasco once again (after it had been already over-covered in prior debates). In my blog-entry of Janyaury 12, I had written: "Sigh. Lester Holt brought up the Confederate flag issue again. (Sadly creating division rather than drawing out some new ideas from these 9 candidates). "
American Prospect
Case Closed
Now we know Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction when we invaded. So how did the Bush administration get everything wrong?

This article leads me to believe we cannot separate the Bush administration's argument for war from even the sheerest possibility that dissent within the intelligence community was present and due diligence was not utilized to entertain and respect all of the intelligence-community's views before dragging the nation headlong into a pre-emptive strike.
Extreme diligence would have been required of the President and his administration because a pre-emptive strike is only as "just" and "legal' as its best and most fair and thorough possible intelligence review by the Commander-in-Chief and his cabinet.
Although not mentioned here, Imad Hage was another important "heads-up" warning to the Bush administration that war did not have to be the only option. Hage, too, was ignored. We need to take out the microscope and dissect this is in our nation's utmost security interest.
Bottom line, the buck stops with George W. Bush. He clearly didn't collect the entire body of facts available to him before taking our nation to war. If he did have the facts, I firmly believe his administration ignored them. This is a most serious charge, I realize, but we cannot progress as a trusting nation if such doubt hangs heavy over the heads of the most powerful.
Any Independent investigation will have to include a review of how the Bush administration developed their case for war..exactly how and to what extent they worked with Intelligence..and those of whom they may have negligently ignored in order to bolster their case.
The buck stops with Bush.
Americans want the truth.
We demand the truth.
Most importantly, though, is the fact that intelligence professionals who did offer dissenting opinions on the weapons program were simply ignored by the Bush administration, which listened to only the intelligence that reinforced its views.

[David] Kay, who resigned this week as head of the Iraq Survey Group, the CIA-led team hunting for Iraq's banned weapons, sees things differently. He insists the intelligence community, not the administration, is to blame..

...should one, as Kay insists, dismiss the reports that document just how much pressure the intelligence community found itself under from, among others, Cheney and the Pentagon?

Was the vice president a dispassionate observer, simply waiting for the intelligence estimate to arrive on his desk?" asks Joseph Cirincione, a nonproliferation expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "No. There was a tremendous amount of activity within the vice president's office and within the office of the secretary of defense to shape the intelligence, to create their own intelligence, and to feed that intelligence directly to the president. And this, in great part, is what got us in the mess we are in today."

"In all kinds of ways, both subtle and major, the fact that the White House knew what answer it wanted from the intelligence community had a very large effect on the way the intelligence community presented information," says Greg Thielmann, who retired as the director of the strategic intelligence office at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) in October 2002.

"What appeared to happen is that a particular outcome dominated, and the dissents were relegated to footnotes. It wasn't in the primary text, and that's important. And it may be that individual analysts chose not to describe their uncertainty, or that through the process of writing and editing, that uncertainty was edited out.
Now one thing that does concern me is that the vice president has continued in recent days to make statements saying that 'we're going to find weapons of mass destruction material in Iraq.' And that really concerns me. Is he is so disconnected from the administration, or what do his comments mean, given the facts that have been revealed? That's really been bothering me."

--Anonymous longtime arms-control expert

Re: Imad Hage-
SEE LINK (including the following quote) HERE:

....As has been widely reported, last March, as US troops gathered on Iraqi borders, Saddam sent a message to the Bush administration through Imad Hage, a Lebanese-American businessman, who had met with Saddam. It had first reached the office of the under secretary for planning and defense, in February. The message: Iraq has no WMDs, Saddam would permit US troops and experts to do a search of the country, and Saddam would even permit free elections – anything to avert a war. The same message was delivered in London a month later to Pentagon adviser Richard Perle..."

What a joke---Bush and Blair have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
After sending hundreds of soldiers to their death on the wings of a lie and failing to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Bush and Blair have been put forward to receive the Nobel peace prize.
Jan Simonsen, an independent member of Norway's Parliament, apparently had a brainfart causing temporary insanity and nominated them. Nobel watchers say neither Mr Bush nor Mr Blair has much chance of winning.
As nominees, they're in the company of former peacenik-nominees like Adolf Hitler, Slobodan Milosevic and Yasser Arafat. Yeeha!
Flashback--Campaign 2000
Americans--Are you getting it now?
Are you seeing the pattern?
From Reagan to Dubya-
Learn the code words for keeping the mightiest wealthy while sinking the weak

*Can you say "screw you?"*
"Of the more current usage of "compassion" by political figures — the patronizing, head-patting, de haut en bas concern of the mighty for the powerless — Reagan was blessedly free. This, the Great Communicator understood in his very bones and blood, is the land of opportunity. Who is powerless in America today may be mighty tomorrow. It follows that what is mainly owed by the mighty to the weak is not compassion — not official compassion, at any rate — but to keep open and well-dredged the channels of opportunity."

"At the risk of giving offense, I hope that the “compassionate conservatism” strategy is a deception, and of course I hope it will be a successful one. I hope George W. Bush will win the coming election; and I hope that I shall then have the satisfaction, early next year, of watching him fill the seats around his cabinet table with flinty-faced puritans wearing green eyeshades, with not a single teardrop of public compassion among the lot of them."

--John Derbyshire, Contributing Editor, National Review 7-31-00

Karen Kwiatkowski:
Bush as pontifex?? (It's a lot like bin Laden as pan-Arab caliph)
Nervous neoconservatives really do need to invoke the "American civil religion......."

Perhaps understanding George W. Bush as pontifex maximus, and civil religion as adoration of a strong central governing authority makes sense. It explains the "God picked me to be President" thing, and why Mr. Bush doesn’t need to read anything written on paper, preferring instead to get guidance – on blowing the budget, conducting military invasions, public prevarication, and spending billions of our hard earned money to encourage people to stop taking steroids and get married instead – directly from some higher power. Dick Cheney, perhaps.

It also helps explain all the Lincoln and Churchill iconolatry that goes on in the private sitting rooms of the nanny-cons. I am now able to better appreciate the J. Alfreds in Washington, whispering and wondering if they’ll have the strength to force the moment to its crisis, or press the universe into a ball. Decisions, more decisions, plans and possibilities.

Life’s getting tougher for neoconservatives. Every day, more Americans reject the George W. Bush brand of "conservatism." This of course is dangerous and threatening to the neoconservatives he has appointed to power. I suggest they pray to their gods, idols and pontifices while they still can.....

In Bush's Own Words

"We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have."
--George W. Bush, President Radio Address 10/5/2002

The Iraqi regime possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.... If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today — and we do — does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?"
President George W. Bush, Cincinnati, Oct. 7, 2002

--"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production."
--George W. Bush, President, State of the Union Address, 1/28/2003

"In Iraq, a dictator is building and hiding weapons that could enable him to dominate the Middle East and intimidate the civilized world -- and we will not allow it."
--George W. Bush, President, Speech to the American Enterprise Institute, 2/26/2003

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."
--George W. Bush, President, Address to the Nation, 3/17/2003

"But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them."
--George W. Bush, President, Interview with TVP Poland 5/30/2003

We based our decisions on good, sound intelligence, and the — our people are going to find out the truth. And the truth will say that this intelligence was good intelligence. There’s no doubt in my mind.”
— President George W. Bush, July 17, 2003

"I want the American people to know that I, too, want to know the facts."
--President George Bush, January 30, 2004 when asked asked point-blank on Friday about an independent commission to investigate whether the United States used faulty intelligence information when it decided to go to war

Additional credit: what a tangled web