Monthly Archives: April 2005

Lunch with the Captions

From Holden:

“Newcular. Nooooo-cuelar. Newcular.”

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Swept Under the Rug, Then Reclaimed

From Holden:

The Pentagon is forced to release 360 photographs of Bush’s war dead returning to America or buried at sea.

Just a short jet trail from the air force base where it all started, Ralph Begleiter announced Wednesday that the Department of Defense released to him and the National Security Archive 360 additional photographs of soldiers’ remains as they were returned to U.S. bases, from Dover to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.

Begleiter, the 55-year-old former CNN reporter who is in his fifth year of teaching broadcast journalism at the University of Delaware, made the announcement while speaking to several dozen members of the Delaware Council for the Social Studies at its annual awards banquet at the Lobby House, near downtown.

[snip]

To date, Begleiter has received 721 photographs from the Pentagon, 361 that were previously released. The newest batch of 360 are heavily edited and include at least one photograph of flag-covered coffins in a convoy of Humvees moving through an undisclosed war zone.

“We can declare victory for the American people and families of those in the caskets, those who have given their final sacrifice to their country,” Begleiter said.

Many of the photos have been “redacted,” Begleiter said, with faces or uniforms of soldiers carrying the remains blotted out.

In October, Begleiter filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense and the Air Force asking for the release of the photographs and video. An attorney for the National Security Archive, a nonprofit research institute at George Washington University, helped Begleiter bring the Freedom of Information Act suit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

[snip]

“We’re gratified that we were right on the principle that this kind of information should be in public domain,” said Meredith Fuchs, general counsel of the National Security Archive.

Both Fuchs and Begleiter, however, said they were disappointed it took a year to get the photos.

“It’s disturbing that it shows you how much politics can influence the control of information,” Fuchs said. “We asked for these records a year ago, and we didn’t get anything before the election.”

Abu Ghraib, One Year Later

From Holden:

Human Rights Watch

The crimes at Abu Ghraib are part of a larger pattern of abuses against Muslim detainees around the world, Human Rights Watch said on the eve of the April 28 anniversary of the first pictures of U.S. soldiers brutalizing prisoners at the Iraqi jail.

[snip]

“Abu Ghraib was only the tip of the iceberg,” said Reed Brody, special counsel for Human Rights Watch. “It’s now clear that abuse of detainees has happened all over—from Afghanistan to Guantnamo Bay to a lot of third-country dungeons where the United States has sent prisoners. And probably quite a few other places we don’t even know about.”

Human Rights Watch called this week for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the culpability of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and ex-CIA Director George Tenet, as well as Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, formerly the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the former commander of the prison camp at Guantnamo Bay, Cuba in cases of crimes against detainees. It rejected last week’s report by the Army Inspector General which was said to absolve Gen. Sanchez of responsibility.

“General Sanchez gave the troops at Abu Ghraib the green light to use dogs to terrorize detainees, and they did, and we know what happened, said Brody. “And while mayhem went on under his nose for three months, Sanchez didn’t step in to halt it.”

Amnesty International

“People around the world will be recalling the horrific images they saw a year ago and wondering what happened to those prisoners,” said Amnesty secretary general Irene Khan, noting that only a handful of low-ranking US soldiers had been prosecuted or disciplined over the outrage.

“But what was the role of those higher up, including, for example, the US secretary of defence?” she said, referring to Donald Rumsfeld.

Helen Thomas

So, once again, it’s those GI renegades whose imaginative abuse of prisoners ran to nakedness, stacking nude men in a pyramid and using leashed dogs to intimidate during questioning.

Bush has piously stated that he was opposed to torture. Fine. But the proof of the pudding is for him to issue an executive order against torture and to announce that the U.S. will once again abide by the Geneva Conventions.

Gonna Leave a Welt

From Holden:

Chimpy’s job approval rating drops in the latest Fox News poll.

Approve 47% (-2%)

Disapprove 43% (-3%)

Unsure 10% (+5%)

How About, ”Monty Python and the Holy Bush Boom”?

From Holden:

New jobless claims increased by a whopping 21,000 Lucky Duckies last week.

In the week ending April 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 320,000, an increase of 21,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 299,000.

While our economy’s growth rate dropped a bit during the first quarter of the year.

The economy lost momentum in the opening quarter of 2005, growing at an annual rate of 3.1 percent. The slowest pace of expansion in two years, amid soaring gasoline prices and rising interest rates, offered new evidence the economy has hit a soft patch.

The latest reading on gross domestic product, released by the Commerce Department on Thursday, showed that consumers and businesses turned cautious in their spending in the January-to-March quarter, a key factor in the slower economic growth. High energy prices and rising borrowing costs are causing Americans to tighten their belts a bit.

The first-quarter’s GDP figure, down from a 3.8 percent pace logged in the final quarter of 2004, represents the economy’s most sluggish showing since the first quarter of 2003, when economic activity expanded at an even more mediocre 1.9 percent rate.

How About, “Monty Python and the Holy Bush Boom”?

From Holden:

New jobless claims increased by a whopping 21,000 Lucky Duckies last week.

In the week ending April 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 320,000, an increase of 21,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 299,000.

While our economy’s growth rate dropped a bit during the first quarter of the year.

The economy lost momentum in the opening quarter of 2005, growing at an annual rate of 3.1 percent. The slowest pace of expansion in two years, amid soaring gasoline prices and rising interest rates, offered new evidence the economy has hit a soft patch.

The latest reading on gross domestic product, released by the Commerce Department on Thursday, showed that consumers and businesses turned cautious in their spending in the January-to-March quarter, a key factor in the slower economic growth. High energy prices and rising borrowing costs are causing Americans to tighten their belts a bit.

The first-quarter’s GDP figure, down from a 3.8 percent pace logged in the final quarter of 2004, represents the economy’s most sluggish showing since the first quarter of 2003, when economic activity expanded at an even more mediocre 1.9 percent rate.

Action Alert – Alaskan Wilderness

Today’s Action Comes from Act for Change:
Whether you have taken action once, twice or many times before, it’s crucial that you take action again TODAY to save the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling.
The special interests that desperately want to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge have now included language in the Federal budget that would allow for drilling. Both versions of the budget are in conference committee to be reconciled, providing us with our last chance to get the drilling provision removed.
Steps 1 & 2 Call each of your senators via the congressional switchboard at 202/224-3121 and urge them to vote against any budget conference report that includes reconciliation instructions that could lead to Arctic Refuge oil drilling.

Step 3 Next, call your representative via the congressional switchboard at 202/225-3121 and urge them to vote against any budget conference report that includes reconciliation instructions that could lead to Arctic Refuge oil drilling.

Step 4 Finally, send an e-mail to your senators and representative asking them to oppose any and all efforts to open any part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to exploration and drilling by oil and gas interests.

Thanks for taking today’s Action Alert

Today on Attaturk’s Obsession with Bobo

From Holden:

Nobody skewers David Brooks with more consistency than Attaturk.

The New Iraqi Army, Throwin’ Down Signs

From Holden:

Military Intelligence is indeed an oxymoron.

The U.S. Army has approved the purchase of more than $29 million worth of weapons for the new Iraqi army from a Chinese state-owned company [Poly Technologies] that’s under indictment in California in connection with the smuggling of 2,000 AK-47 automatic rifles into the United States in 1996.

The haul remains the largest seizure of smuggled automatic weapons in U.S. history.

[snip]

It isn’t clear whether the deal, which comes as the Bush administration is pressing the European Union to maintain an embargo on high-tech arms sales to China, was discussed or approved by higher-ranking officials at the State and Defense departments. Hungary, Poland and Romania, all members of the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq, could supply the same weapons. China opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

[snip]

Iraq is awash in AK-47s and other weapons, but American commanders want new weapons for the new army.

Dynasty Holding of Atlanta, the name under which Poly Technologies did business in the United States, was charged in the smuggling case, along with 14 co-defendants, including Bao Ping “Robert” Ma, a former Chinese army general who was the firm’s U.S. representative, according to the May 1996 federal grand jury indictment.

Ma and three co-defendants were also charged with smuggling 20,000 AK-47 bipods into the United States from China in December 1994.

Ma is a fugitive believed to be in China, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The 30-count indictment stemmed from a sting operation mounted by undercover U.S. Treasury and U.S. Customs Service agents, who posed as organized-crime arms dealers.

The agents paid $700,000 for 2,000 fully automatic AK-47s that were shipped into Oakland, Calif., aboard a Chinese-owned vessel from China in March 1996.

[snip]

A key figure in the plot who pleaded guilty, Hammond Ku, a resident alien from Taiwan, suggested to the undercover agents that the weapons be sold to “gang bangers,” or street gangs, according to an affidavit from a U.S. Customs agent that accompanied the indictment.

The Romance is Over

From Holden:

The Italians investigate the murder of Nicola Calipari at the hands of U.S. soldiers.

Italian officials said Rome prosecutors were looking for evidence of homicide in the case of Nicola Calipari, who was transporting a rescued Italian hostage to the Baghdad airport when U.S. soldiers opened fire on their car. The bullet-scarred Toyota Corolla was brought to Rome on Tuesday.

The prosecutors have demanded the names of the soldiers who were involved, but the Pentagon has denied the request, Italian officials said.

The Italian move follows the release this week of partial findings from the joint American-Italian investigation. The Americans concluded that their soldiers were not at fault and had observed the proper rules of engagement for firing at a suspicious vehicle, according to unnamed Pentagon officials. Two Italian investigators who took part in the probe have so far refused to sign on to the findings.

[snip]

The first findings from Italian investigators on Wednesday absolved Calipari of any “errors,” an Italian official said.

Italian investigators who are examining the car are trying to ascertain how many bullets struck it and from which direction. “The important thing is not what Calipari did but what the people who shot him did,” the official said.

Berlusconi had asked the United States for an admission of error but did not receive one. U.S. officials have contended from the beginning that, at most, the shooting was a tragic accident.

[snip]

“It looks as if the love affair is over between Bush and Berlusconi,” an Italian Foreign Ministry official said. “Berlusconi needed help, and the administration did not supply it. The Americans were not going to sacrifice the morale of their soldiers for Berlusconi.” Shortly after the shooting, Berlusconi announced that he would begin to withdraw Italy’s troops from Iraq in September.

Gee, I Wonder Why They Thought This Was Necessary?

From Holden:

It’s not like they have a problem with torture in the Army.

The Army is preparing to issue a new interrogations manual that expressly bars the harsh techniques disclosed in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, and incorporates safeguards devised to prevent such misconduct at military prison camps in the future, Army officials said Wednesday.

The new manual, the first revision in 13 years, will specifically prohibit practices like stripping prisoners, keeping them in stressful positions for a long time, imposing dietary restrictions, employing police dogs to intimidate prisoners and using sleep deprivation as a tool to get them to talk, the officials said.

[snip]

The new manual would not govern interrogations by the Central Intelligence Agency at its detention sites. But in a change, it expressly prohibits the C.I.A. from keeping unregistered prisoners, called “ghost detainees,” at Army prisons like Abu Ghraib.

[snip]

The manual is being approved by Maj. Gen. Barbara G. Fast, who commands the Army’s Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. General Fast served in Iraq from July 2003 to June 2004 as the intelligence deputy for General Sanchez, and she played an extensive role in developing policies and practices for the interrogation center at Abu Ghraib. An investigation by the Army inspector general recently exonerated her of any responsibility for the abuses.

Get Your Hot Fresh KickAss Right Here!

Between the two of them, Digby and Matt Yglesias give me ammo for my “culture wars are a completely stupid waste of time and energy” viewpoint.

Now, none if this proves anything with respect to whether the Democrats should attack popular culture as a way of connecting with voters on the allegedly all important values issues. Clearly, this doesn’t address that specifically. But it does address the fact that people seem to be more concerned at this point that politicians are too influenced by religion than that they are not influenced enough. And that tells me that we would be going in exactly the wrong direction if we think to capture a majority by twisting ourselves into pretzels on morals and values. The proponents certainly haven’t produced any data that would say otherwise.

Look. I can’t offer data either, but I can offer up my Mom, who I’ve begun to think of as this blog’s Test Republican (hi, Mom!). She and I were shopping the other day when I asked her what her reaction would be if Democrats suddenly chucked the entire abortion rights plank of their platform overboard and started positioning themselves as the party of God, guns and little babies. Would such a radical change in long-held social beliefs on the part of the Democrats convince her to vote Democratic instead of her usual straight-ticket Republican?

The look she gave me was the same one I got when I asked if I could stay overnight at a boy’s house after prom.

Looking back at the presidential election and the whole “shares our values” fiasco, more and more I’m astonished we didn’t lose worse than we did. Looking at the poll numbers Matt and Digby cite, it’s tempting to say “Oh, if everybody shares our values, then why did we lose?” Because it looks like people out there want to love us, a whole lot. It looks like we should be singing the same song.

But looking back I realize we never even opened our damn mouths.

Think about it. For three of the four years preceding the election Republicans were the only ones with any kind of say-so on the national stage. And it wasn’t all the media, folks. It was chickenass Democrats feeling like somehow what we stood for was suddenly out of style and we were ashamed of it. Republicans pulled out in a DeLorean and instead of saying, “That car looks hot in the driveway, but it gets shit mileage and runs like crap in the snow and you paid HOW MUCH and our Ford will be running fine long after your piece of sugared shit there pops an axle,” we oohed and aahed along with Katie Couric at the Republicans’ bold and shiny and fancy new car. We scuffed our feet and said, “we were gonna get one of those, too, you know.” And when they made fun of us for driving a Ford, well, we made sure people knew we were gonna throw gum in their hair and do something real bad to them, someday, soon. We promise. For three years this went on, this half-ass, kinda-sorta, dunno what we stand for except that we like standing next to these guys kind of schtick.

Then, after the election, we made the mistake of assuming people weren’t buying what we were selling. Amy Sullivan, Peter Beinart, James Carville, I’m looking at you. We should chuck the gays out of our plans, people said. We should advocate criminalizing abortion. We should fiddle around with our product some if people don’t like it.

Looking at the numbers from Digby and Matt, I think our problem isn’t that we don’t have it, that magical mix of values and substance and good stuff kids and voters go for. It’s that we haven’t sold it.

I spent years working at good places that were marketed for shit. It’s kind of a thing with me, I picked jobs at great unknown places. And I worked with great people who put out a great product and watched as idiots who manufactured shit beat us every time. Why? Because everybody knew who they were and nobody knew jack shit about us. Quality had nothing to do with it, sad as it is. We don’t need a new product, kids. Those numbers show that, and we know how much our product rocks the house. We need a better marketing campaign.

Thank God that’s changing now. Thank God we have Howard and Harry and Nancy and Barbara Boxer and Chris Dodd kicking some ass, John Conyers and Louise Slaughter, thank God we have Frist and DeLay tying each others’ tails together, thank God they’ve snared Bush’s tail in there too. Thank God we have blogs that raise money and get ads on the air and dig dirt, thank God for all of it because we’re going to need it now that we can put this stupid culture war bull to bed and start using our energy on real politics.

I look at those numbers and I say, this proves, once and for all, that we can win. Republicans have billed themselves as the only suppliers of KickAss in this country, and I think what we need to do is advertise our own supply a little. After all, we have the advantage in that ours actually works.

Let’s hear it, Democrats: YEEEAARRGH!

A.

Afternoon at the Captions

From Holden:

Actually, I don’t have a caption for this photo of Chimpy returning to the Oval Office after speaking about his energy proposals at a conference held by the Small Business Administration.

But he looks like a beaten man to me.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Today’s gaggle was so meaty it’s a real challenge to carve it down to a few juicy exchanges.

Let’s start with Chimpy’s little Chicken Little act today.

Q Before we talk about the energy, can you tell us about the security scare here this morning, what happened?

MR. McCLELLAN: Sure. And I think the Secret Service has talked about it, as well. There was a report, or an indication, that an aircraft had entered restricted airspace around the White House, and so there were some precautionary measures that were taken. It was quickly learned that it was a false alarm and that all was clear in a very short amount of time. And everything is fine.

[snip]

Q How long was the President in the PEOC [President’s Emergency Operations Center]?

MR. McCLELLAN: Very short amount of time.

Q Was it one or two planes? Some reports said two planes.

MR. McCLELLAN: There was an indication that an aircraft, so I’m referring to one, but they’re looking into exactly what it was at this point.

Q The Vice President —

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m sorry?

Q Both the President and the Vice President were moved?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, that’s correct.

Q But, Scott, some of the Secret Service are saying that it might have been a radar anomaly. And it’s happened before where nothing is —

MR. McCLELLAN: That’s why I said they’re looking into it to determine exactly what it was.

Q But is there a concern that if there is a radar anomaly that you’re jumping every time, and it might be nothing? Is there concern that the system is flawed?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, we appreciate the precautionary steps that the Secret Service took. They do an outstanding job and they took some precautionary steps. And I think you saw what a great job that they do.

HA! Little Scottie is turning into Little Pissy as you can tell from the next set of questions about gas prices.

Q Scott, as it relates to the gas situation, short-time gas situation, what does the White House consider affordable for all socioeconomic levels in this country as you’re talking about possible — to have affordable gasoline? It sounds like you’re looking for a rollback in prices. What is the price that’s —

MR. McCLELLAN: As you’re aware, the government doesn’t set the price. What we have is a shortage of supply, and that’s why energy prices are so high. That’s something I addressed at the beginning in my remarks. And what we want to see is those prices come down. We want to see more affordable gas prices for Americans, because it is something that has a direct impact on families who are struggling to make ends meet, and small businesses that are working to grow and hire new people. It is something, as I have previously said, is a drag on our economy.

Q But coming down to what? What is — $1.46 for 2000 was the price of gas in America when President Bush took office. Was that affordable? And what are you looking for in 2005, with inflation going up — what do you look at as affordable? You keep talking about it’s too high; give us your scale, give us your ratio, what’s too high versus what’s affordable.

MR. McCLELLAN: Maybe you didn’t hear me a minute ago, but the government doesn’t set the price.

Q I heard you, but what is affordable?

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, John.

Hoo-hoo! Scottie is not a happy lying bastard today, is he.

Now, time for more lies about the Denver Three.

Q Back on March 21st, the President was in Denver doing an event. At that event three Denver residents were removed by somebody working on behalf of the President who is now being investigated for impersonating a Secret Service officer. I understand the White House knows who this person is. Will you tell us who this is? And will you, more importantly, explain what role the White House has in recruiting —

MR. McCLELLAN: Sure.

Q — and training volunteers at these events? Is the White House encouraging people to screen or expel people from the President’s events based on their point of view?

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me — and I think I’ve talked about this issue before. But, first of all, let me just walk back through it because I think that’s the best place to start. My understanding that a volunteer at this event — and let me — I need to back up before that. We use a lot of volunteers at events to help us in a number of different areas because you obviously have — you tend to have a lot of people come into the event, a lot of logistical support that you need, and so we do rely on volunteers to help in a lot of different ways at events.

Now, in terms of this issue, my understanding is a volunteer was concerned that these three individuals were coming to the event solely for the purpose of disrupting it. And if people are coming to the event to disrupt it, they are going to be asked to leave. There are always protest areas set up outside the events where people can express their views.

These three individuals acknowledged that they were coming to the event to disrupt it. They stated that publicly in some of the initial reports. And so my understanding is the volunteer was concerned about these individuals, and that’s why he asked them to leave.

Q Does the White House have any role in telling volunteers at these events, screen people that you think might be disruptive?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t know if I’d view it that way. If we think people are coming to the event to disrupt it, obviously, they’re going to be asked to leave. And if they do disrupt it, they will be asked to leave, as well. There’s plenty of opportunity for people to express their views outside the event. That’s why areas are set up for that sole purpose.

But again, these three individuals acknowledged that they were coming to the event to disrupt it. And in terms of who this individual was, I don’t think that really serves any purpose to get into that publicly, other than to help advance the political agenda of these three individuals.

Scottie, listen: you guys, with all your lying and stonewalling, are the ones who are helping to “advance the political agenda of these three individuals.” Impersonating a federal agent is a serious crime, somebody is going down for this and you better watch out for the blowback.

Obsession Extra: The Good, the Bad, and the Clueless

From Holden:

Today’s gaggle was chock-full o’ questions, some good, some bad, some clueless.

First, a couple of goodies. Both on John Bolton.

Q Back on Bolton, are you saying that the same characteristics that have raised questions about his conduct — abrasiveness, bluntness — are exactly the qualities that you need in a U.N. ambassador?

Q Secondly, what’s wrong with the United Nations that needs fixing?

Now for the bad. I hate to say it, but my buddy Les Kinsolving occupies the bulk of the bad category today.

First, a little gay-bashing.

Q Scott, the Republican-majority Texas House of Representatives on Monday voted 101 to 29 to allow voters in November to decide whether the state constitution should ban same-sex marriages and civil unions. And my first question, the President supports this Texas Republican vote, doesn’t he?

Followed by some fairness-bashing.

Q New York Democrat Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, with 12 co-sponsors, has introduced HR501, which would restore the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which was vetoed by President Reagan and which I seem to recall was described by Edward R. Murrow as “equal time for Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot.” And my question, the President does not support this, does he?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m sorry, but I’m not quite familiar with HR501 as a number. The Fairness Doctrine of —

Q The Fairness Doctrine, which you know applies only to electronic media, not to The Washington Post and The New York Times and other such Democrat-dominated papers —

More badness, from an unidentified gaggler.

Q Just a couple quickly on Bolton. Are you saying that Senate Democrats are opposing Bolton because they oppose U.N. reform?

Which brings us to the clueless. Today’s dose of cluelessness comes to us courtesy of The Skiing White House Reporter, Connie Lawn.

Q Thank you, another topic. The equivalent of presidential debates are coming up in Great Britain and Tony Blair’s political future is at stake. Is the President watching this at all? Is he in contact, giving any advice to Tony Blair?

Right, Connie. Tony Blair is just dying to get advice on debating tactics from the Chimpster.

Hot on the Trail

From Holden:

Once again, a hat-tip to the information clearinghouse known as Dan Froomkin.

Have you seen this man (the bald guy)?

The Denver Three have.

The chairman of the Colorado Young Republicans was one of the people involved in a March 21 incident in which three Denver residents were forcibly removed from a speech given by President Bush because of a bumper sticker.

Jay Bob Klinkerman [that’s the bald Jay Bob in the photo above], leader of the state group for Republicans ages 18 to 40, admitted in an interview that he was at the gate of the Wings over the Rockies Museum when the three people were stopped.

[snip]

Two of the three who were removed, [Karne] Bauer and Leslie Weise, said that Klinkerman is the event volunteer who was wearing a magenta shirt and smiley-face tie that night, and told them, “Secret Service is coming down to talk to your group.”

Then a man who looked and acted like a Secret Service agent arrived and threatened them with arrest. He allowed them to enter but then found them 20 to 30 minutes later and forced them to leave.

But Klinkerman, 31, of Thornton, told the Rocky Mountain News that he never said anything to Bauer and Weise about the Secret Service.

He declined to identify the man who threatened the trio with arrest.

[snip]

The service is investigating that man on possible criminal charges of impersonating a Secret Service agent. He was wearing a dark suit, earpiece and lapel pin.

The Secret Service and the White House know the man’s name but have refused to reveal it. The White House has said he was a volunteer “concerned that these people were coming to the event to disrupt the event.”

[snip]

Bauer and Weise said they were stopped at the gate by a man who checked their names on their tickets against a sheet of paper. He told them to wait with the man now identified as Klinkerman.

Klinkerman said he doesn’t know how the three were picked out from the crowd, and that he didn’t see them removed. He declined to answer other questions.

On Tuesday night, Bauer introduced herself to Klinkerman as one of the three in the incident, and said she had questions that she would like to ask him.

Klinkerman replied, “I won’t talk to you about that without a lawyer.” He declined to give her his attorney’s name and refused to talk to her further.

Then there’s this incident at the same event.

The Tylers [Max and Susan], both 57, say the same man who threw Young, Weise and Bauer out of the president’s taxpayer-financed public meeting threatened them with arrest but didn’t banish them.

[snip]

The Tylers also believed the bald, stocky man who removed the so-called Denver Three was a Secret Service agent. Though he never identified himself, he wore an earpiece and a lapel pin and acted like an agent, they said.

“I assumed he was someone with the authority to arrest me,” Max Tyler said. “He stood out as one of the guys in charge.”

His wife agreed.

“He had a white, curly wire coming out of the back of his ear,” Susan Tyler said. “He acted like he was sort of running the deal, at least the logistics.”

She saw the man approach Young and hustle him out of the Wings Over the Rockies museum more than an hour before Bush appeared.

Then she watched the man jog across the meeting hall and remove a woman who turned out to be Bauer.

So when this law-enforcement look-alike returned to where the Tylers sat and announced that the Social Security meeting was “a private event” where people could be asked to leave “for any reason” or “arrested for trespassing,” the Denver couple figured the man had the authority to put them in jail.

Somebody’s ass is going to jail, and it does not belong to the Denver Three (plus two).

Tomfoolery

From Holden:

More dishonesty from the House Majority Leader via Dan Froomkin

Richard W. Stevenson writes in the New York Times about how Bush brought DeLay along for his Social Security event in Galveston yesterday.

“Inside, Mr. DeLay got a standing ovation from the crowd just before Mr. Bush’s remarks when one of his constituents, Geraldine Sam, a schoolteacher from La Marque, Tex., shouted, ‘We love you, Tom.’

“Ms. Sam said she had been invited by Mr. DeLay’s office.”

UPDATE: an anonymous reader points out that Geraldine Sam of Lamarque, Texas, was one of 20 black Republicans in the Texas delegation to the Republican National Convention in 2004.

Reality/Fantasy

From Holden:

Point: Juan Cole

Tuesday’s addendum to the Duelfer report concludes that there not only were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but that the rumors put around by the Bush administration and by Fox Cable News that the WMD was sent to Syria are unsubstantiated. (By this point in the story, we may take that to mean flatly “false,” or perhaps “lies.”) I never thought the Syria story made any sense. You can’t truck off thousands of tons of chemical weapons to Syria without being observed (we do have satellites that take a pretty good picture). And the Iraqi nuclear program was dismantled by the UN inspectors from 1991. There’s no evidence of a biological weapons program after about 1995. So what exactly was transported to Syria? It was just a pretext put about by the crowd that wants American boys to die fighting in Syria for some vague geopolitical or economic goal (or just to give Ariel Sharon the elbow room to annex ever more Arab territory).

Counterpoint: Katherine Jean Mallomar Lopez

WMDS IN SYRIA? [K. J. Lopez]

The CIA can’t rule out that’s where Saddam’s weapons went.

Posted at 09:01 AM

The ”C” and ”W” Words

From Holden:

One question: who will be the Sunni Rhett Butler?

Whereas once politicians were not willing to utter the term for fear of dignifying it, it is no longer taboo. “I do not want to say civil war, but we are going the Lebanese route, and we know where that led,” says Sabah Kadhim, an adviser to the Interior Ministry who spent years in exile before returning to Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s overthrow. “We are going to end up with certain areas that are controlled by certain warlords … It’s Sunni versus Shiite, that is the issue that is really in the ascendancy right now, and that wasn’t the case right after the elections.”

In Madaen and other mixed Sunni-Shiite towns on the rivers south of Baghdad, rival groups have been carrying out revenge attacks since before the January polls, police said. This month more than 50 bodies have been pulled from the Tigris River. In the poor Shiite district of Shuala in western Baghdad, there has been a series of car bombings and killings, apparently related to tensions with Sunni militants in the neighboring district of Abu Ghraib, one of Iraq’s most violent. Similar violence has hit towns north of Baghdad, such as Baquba, where Sunni and Shiite mosques have been bombed.

[snip]

Several Sunni-led military units operating under the Interior Ministry’s banner and created with the support of US forces, are leading the battle against the insurgency. But if, as widely expected, a Shiite takes over the Interior Ministry when a new government is named, those units could be purged — a course that US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned against during a visit to Iraq this month.

The Sunni-led units could be replaced by soldiers from the Badr Organization, a militia loyal to the main Shiite party. Interior Ministry officials fear the Sunni commanders, with their well-armed and trained men, could then break away to set up rival militias. “Both sides are sharpening their knives. They are saying, ‘we’ve got to protect our own people’. It is not a good situation,” said Kadhim at the Interior Ministry

The “C” and “W” Words

From Holden:

One question: who will be the Sunni Rhett Butler?

Whereas once politicians were not willing to utter the term for fear of dignifying it, it is no longer taboo. “I do not want to say civil war, but we are going the Lebanese route, and we know where that led,” says Sabah Kadhim, an adviser to the Interior Ministry who spent years in exile before returning to Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s overthrow. “We are going to end up with certain areas that are controlled by certain warlords … It’s Sunni versus Shiite, that is the issue that is really in the ascendancy right now, and that wasn’t the case right after the elections.”

In Madaen and other mixed Sunni-Shiite towns on the rivers south of Baghdad, rival groups have been carrying out revenge attacks since before the January polls, police said. This month more than 50 bodies have been pulled from the Tigris River. In the poor Shiite district of Shuala in western Baghdad, there has been a series of car bombings and killings, apparently related to tensions with Sunni militants in the neighboring district of Abu Ghraib, one of Iraq’s most violent. Similar violence has hit towns north of Baghdad, such as Baquba, where Sunni and Shiite mosques have been bombed.

[snip]

Several Sunni-led military units operating under the Interior Ministry’s banner and created with the support of US forces, are leading the battle against the insurgency. But if, as widely expected, a Shiite takes over the Interior Ministry when a new government is named, those units could be purged — a course that US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned against during a visit to Iraq this month.

The Sunni-led units could be replaced by soldiers from the Badr Organization, a militia loyal to the main Shiite party. Interior Ministry officials fear the Sunni commanders, with their well-armed and trained men, could then break away to set up rival militias. “Both sides are sharpening their knives. They are saying, ‘we’ve got to protect our own people’. It is not a good situation,” said Kadhim at the Interior Ministry