Monthly Archives: June 2005

Halliburton Hearings

From Holden:

As they did with the Downing Street Memo, Democrats held their own hearing on Halliburton’s sugar-sweet contracts in Iraq and revealed – Surprise! – overbilling by Dick Cheney’s employer now adds up to more than a billion dollars.

The estimates of excessive spending and improper billing by Halliburton, a Texas-based company that provides logistical support and oil-field repairs in Iraq, are more than twice as high as those in previous official reports. The findings, including previously unpublicized internal Pentagon studies, were released at a Democrat-sponsored forum that was held, Democratic leaders maintained, because the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans have refused to hold the contractor accountable.

“The bottom line is, the Republican leadership in the Congress is giving Halliburton a free pass,” said Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey.

Large contracts awarded to the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root have been a focus of questions and criticism since even before the Iraq invasion in 2003, in part because some were awarded without competition and because of allegations that the company, formerly led by Dick Cheney before he became vice president, was aided by political connections. In some cases, the Pentagon has publicly complained about excess bills and reduced payments, but the audit figures released Monday suggest that billing disputes have been more extensive than previously disclosed.

[snip]

The hearing featured videotaped testimony from a former food manager in Iraq for Kellogg Brown & Root who said the dining hall where he worked in early 2004 charged the Army for 20,000 meals a day when it was only serving 10,000, routinely used expired foods and punished him for speaking to auditors by transferring him to the more dangerous outpost of Falluja.

[snip]

A new report, released on Monday by Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, and Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, quotes the chief of the Defense Contract Audit Agency, an internal Pentagon watchdog, as saying that “questioned” costs under the Logcap contract now total $813 million.

“Questioned” costs are defined by the agency as those “on which audit action has been completed” and “which are not considered acceptable.” In the case of K.B.R., the agency found many expenditures to be “unreasonable in amount,” meaning they were higher than necessary.

An Army Audit Agency report in November 2004, publicly described for the first time on Monday, found a pattern of duplicate billing and “excessive” costs in the logistics contract, including a charge of $152,000 to provide a movie library for 2,500 soldiers and the purchase of more than $500,000 worth of unneeded heavy equipment.

[snip]

Pentagon audits of the firm’s performance under that second contract, known as RIO-1, have found $219 million in “questioned” costs, mainly because of what critics have called exorbitant fees paid for fuel imports in 2003.

K.B.R. received the oil-repair and fuel contract without competitive bidding, and after it had been secretly hired to detail the needs and likely costs of postwar oil repairs.

[snip]

Beyond the $1 billion in questioned costs, Pentagon auditors found that K.B.R. had not properly documented another $443 million in expenditures under the two largest contracts.

Funniest. AP Story. Ever.

I’m reproducing the entire link here so that y’all can see that they tagged this story “Santorum – Puppy Love.”

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050627/ap_on_go_co/ santorum_puppy_love

You would think that would be the funny part, but no. It gets better. Here’s the lead:

WASHINGTON – Puppies and kittens likely are not the first things that come to mind when many think of Sen. Rick Santorum — the conservative No. 3 Senate Republican known for his tough stance against abortion and gay marriage.

Look. I understand that AP writers can’t spend their entire lives online mainlining every reference to Senator Man On Dog like we do, but even a passing familiarity with Santorum leads you to stories about his, er, questionable ideas regarding proper behavior toward canines.

C’mon, guys. Google. It’s not that hard.

Oh, and there’s this tidbit near the end:

The American Kennel Club had opposed the bill in the past, but working with Santorum has addressed more of its concerns, spokeswoman Lisa Peterson said.

I have a mind like a sewer.

A.

Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

In today’s gaggle Little Scottie opens with a preview of Chimpy’s speech tomorrow.

Tomorrow, the President will also talk about the strategy for success. He will talk in a very specific way about the way forward. There is a clear path to victory. It is a two-track strategy: there is the military and political track. On the military front, it’s important to continue training and equipping the Iraqi security forces so that they’re able to defend themselves, and then our troops can return home with the honor that they deserve. And then there is the political track. The Iraqi people are showing that they’re determined to build a free and democratic and peaceful future, and we must continue to do all we can to support them as they build a lasting democracy.

But will we hear anything new or different?

Q Scott, are there new details in the strategy for success? Is there a new direction, or is the President basically summing up what he has said before?

MR. McCLELLAN: As I said, this is a new speech. And the President will be talking in a very specific way about the strategy for succeeding in Iraq. And he will talk about the two-track strategy that we have in place.

[snip]

Q Well, I guess what I’m asking is, are people going to hear things they haven’t heard the President say before? Are there new details?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think many Americans have not heard much of what the President has to say tomorrow night.

[snip]

Q The question is, is there a new direction, though, or not?

MR. McCLELLAN: You’re going to hear from the President tomorrow night. I think we have a clear strategy for success. He’s going to be talking in a very specific way about what that strategy is. It’s an opportunity for the American people to hear about the strategy.

Q Isn’t the message really more patience? Isn’t that really what the President is going to be requesting, something he’s —

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think if you go back to September 11th — remember, on September 11th the threats of the 21st century were brought to our shores. We saw in a very clear way the threats that we face on that day.

[snip]

Q Scott, just to follow up on what Terry was trying to ask — you said the President is going to get very specific. I understand he’s not going to shift strategy at all. But, in terms of specifics, is it going to be the kind of thing where he’s going to talk about how many battalions have been trained in Iraq? Is that the kind of thing you think that Americans don’t know about? Or is it going to be, you know, presenting new initiatives and new ideas, things we don’t know about?

MR. McCLELLAN: Now, this is starting to get more into the speech, and that’s for the President —

Q I’m just trying to —

MR. McCLELLAN: I know, but that’s for the President to do tomorrow night. You’re going to hear all this tomorrow night. He will talk about the importance of training and equipping Iraqi security forces, and where we are in terms of making progress to do that. There has been a lot of important progress made. Iraqi forces are standing and fighting the insurgents, and standing and fighting with coalition forces, they’re doing it on their own. The Iraqi people are also coming forward, providing more intelligence to help defeat the terrorists and go after them where they are.

[snip]

Q I guess my question is, beyond discussing, perhaps in great detail, what’s already going on right now, is he going to offer new ideas, new initiatives, either from the U.S. — joint initiatives with the U.S. and other countries — in order to make what he says the goal — is possible?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think I would describe it the way I did. You’re going to hear him talk about the strategy we have for succeeding in Iraq, the strategy we have for victory, and where we are in terms of implementing that strategy.

Regarding all that “progress” in Iraq…

Q Scott, if so much progress has been made in Iraq, why is the public support dropping so steadily?

MR. McCLELLAN: If so much progress has been made? I think we can go through and talk about the progresses made. There has been —

Q The question is why —

MR. McCLELLAN: There has been significant progress made in just a year’s time. It takes time to build a democracy. Our own nation went through a lot of struggles before we were able to build the kind of democracy that thrives today.

Q But why is public support dropping so much?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we’re a nation at war, and war is something that is very tough. It is tough to see the images of violence on the screens of our televisions.

What’s this? Investigative reporting in the gaggle? Who ever heard of such a thing?

Q When the President talks about high gasoline prices, he often cites the demand for gasoline and crude oil from China. Is the President comfortable that the company partly owned by his campaign media advisor is assisting the Chinese in their attempt to purchase Unocal?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in terms of that matter, we are following those reports closely. If a bid were to go through, like all foreign-based transactions, there is a regulatory process that is in place that will be followed to address any national security concerns. So in other words, there are procedures in place, and if a bid goes through, then we would expect the appropriate procedures to be followed.

Q But is he comfortable with this company that was so closely aligned with his —

MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t know about any such involvement.

Q Well, Public Strategies out of Austin, Texas is helping CNO buy Unocal.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think you have to look at what I just said. That’s the — that’s the President’s view when it comes to this matter.

Q But it’s just that it’s a really close tie to the White House, and would the President be comfortable in using this company again for any further media strategies that he may have to engage in, or is this just part of free enterprise?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President would want to make sure that the procedures that are in place are followed, and that’s what we would expect if a bid goes through.

Finally, a Plame question that could have been answered with a simple No.

Q Two questions. First, you’ve said in the past that, on the matter of Matt Cooper and Judith Miller that the President supports the investigation. What specific steps is the White House taking to support it? Has the President called people into the Oval Office?

MR. McCLELLAN: What I said is the President wants to get to the bottom of the investigation; no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than he does. It is a very serious matter and the President has said that if anybody has information, they ought to provide that information to the prosecutor so that they can continue forward on their investigation.

Q Has he called specific people into the Oval Office to ask them if they —

MR. McCLELLAN: What we made a decision to do was to support the efforts of the independent prosecutor to move forward on the investigation and that’s what we’re doing. If there are any specific questions you have about individuals, those are questions that are best directed to the special prosecutor in this matter.

Closeted

From Holden:

Protesting the protestors at the Chicago Pride Parade.

HA!

The Supremes

From Holden:

So far no word on whether or not Rehnquist will retire but the Supremes did send Matt and Judy to jail while splitting hairs on the Ten Commandments.

In a narrowly drawn ruling, the Supreme Court struck down Ten Commandments displays in courthouses Monday, holding that two exhibits in Kentucky crossed the line between separation of church and state because they promoted a religious message.

The 5-4 decision, first of two seeking to mediate the bitter culture war over religion’s place in public life, took a case-by-case approach to this vexing issue. In the decision, the court declined to prohibit all displays in court buildings or on government property.

The justices left themselves legal wiggle room on this issue, however, saying that some displays — like their own courtroom frieze — would be permissible if they’re portrayed neutrally in order to honor the nation’s legal history.

But framed copies in two Kentucky courthouses went too far in endorsing religion, the court held.

“The touchstone for our analysis is the principle that the First Amendment mandates government neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion,” Justice David H. Souter wrote for the majority.

“When the government acts with the ostensible and predominant purpose of advancing religion, it violates that central Establishment clause value of official religious neutrality,” he said.

Souter was joined in his opinion by other members of the liberal bloc — Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, as well as Reagan appointee Sandra Day O’Connor, who provided the swing vote.

Skimming Iraq

From Holden:

Just a couple of headlines…

US Begs Japan to Stay

Apache Helicopter Shot Down

…and an excerpt.

President George Bush had declared that Abu Ghraib would be torn down in a symbolic gesture after shocking pictures emerged of Iraqi inmates being abused and tortured by American forces.

But the continuing insurgency and rising death toll has meant that not only can the US not hand over Abu Ghraib to the new Iraqi government, according to a planned timetable, but other prisons including Camp Bucca in the British-controlled south of the country are being expanded.

[snip]

The decision by American commanders to add to the detention facilities instead of their planned decommissioning would be seen as an admission of just how much the situation is out of control more than two years after invasion.

[snip]

The numbers of prisoners being held by the US in Iraq has reached record levels this month, with 10,783 in custody, up from 7,837 in January and 5,435 in June last year. American Iraqi officials agree there is no sign of the resistance or the prisoners it produces abating soon. “It’s been a challenge” said Col James Brown, commander of the 18th Military Police Brigade. “Many of the people we have captured have not given up the struggle.”

We Won!

I hereby declare Operation Iraqi Freedom a resounding success.

I’m very serious. Mission accomplished. All hail President Bush. We’ve vanquished tyranny, ended oppression, brought democracy to a previously totalitarian regime and are reshaping the Middle East in the image of freedom. Our strategy is wildly popular at home and abroad, those who disagreed with us will be sorry for it when they see how it all turned out, and liberals are pussies who don’t understand.

Okay? Are we done now? Is that what you wanted? Can we please for the love of any God that may exist get these people on planes and on ships and get them out of the war zone right the hell now? If what you were waiting for was victory and peace, I hereby declare with my impeccable liberal credentials that anything you want to hear is absolutely true and is ordained by the Almighty, if only people like this can come home before more of them are blown up.

Lance Cpl. Holly Charette, a 21-year-old from Cranston, R.I. recently deployed here from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. She is one of the thousands of 2d Marine Division Marines serving in the Al Anbar Province as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Charette’s job allows her to meet many of the people in Headquarters Battalion, where she works. Her part in the Global War on Terrorism is something different than most Marines. And that’s not all that sets her apart from her fellow service members.

“I never really thought too hard about being a mail person, but it’s really an important job and people depend on me,” said Charette. “There are a lot of stresses involved, but it’s really worth it at the end of the day.”

Look. It’s not that I don’t understand that war requires sacrifice. Plenty of my grandparents’ friends didn’t come back from World War II. Plenty of men my father’s age are still fighting the Vietnam War, including dear friends of mine. War requires sacrifice and I understand that and maybe I could read stories like the one above and be awed by the idea of a country so noble that it required such a loss to preserve its ideals, except for the incontrovertible evidence presented every single day that the people running this war don’t give a flying feathered fuck about sacrifice or about ideals. They care about one thing and one thing only: being proved fucking right.

Fine. If that’s what it’ll take that’s what I’m willing to do. I’m willing to say they were right. Does that make you feel warm and fuzzy, Karl? Does that satisfy you, Ass Missile? Your carpet-burned ego salved now, Michelle? Are we five by five? That seems to be the only objective that needs satisfying these days: that no one with an R after their name lose face. Fine. Every other rationale — to rid Iraq of WMD, to free people from torment and oppression, to remove a vital source of support for Palestinian terrorism, to eliminate a dictatorship — has proven to be utter bullshit. Every other objective — killing of Hussein’s sons, capture of Hussein, elections, governance — has become one more candy cane dream in the gingerbread house people like Donald Rumsfeld stubbornly keep in their minds while the house of horrors unfolds around the soldiers they sent to die.

It looks like the only real reason to keep fighting this war is to make liberals feel bad. Fine. I feel awful. Bend over, George, and I’ll kiss your shiny preznit ass. Now do you have it? Now are you done? Now can you puff yourselves up at the conventions and make universities pay you for speeches, now can you write books about how you did it right? Because if that’s what it takes, fine. Fine. We’ve won. Iraq is a great victory. Iraq will take its place in American history as a tale of glory right up there with Bastogne and Bunker Hill, Gettysburg and Normandy.

Bring them home, the men and women who fought this war and let’s give them a ticker-tape parade in New York City. This war is not worth one more Holly Charette. This war is not worth one more life, conservative, liberal, apolitical, whatever. This war is not even worth the deaths of the chickenhawks we’ve been encouraging to enlist. This war is not worth one more death. Bring them home. We’ve won. We’re finished. We did what we set out to do. If what the right-wing criminals and criminally deluded really need is the satisfaction of knowing they were right all along, fine. Let them puff and strut, if that’s the price to pay for the men and women serving our country, if that’s the price to pay to have them at home at the table at dinner, to have them come home on a transport ship and not in a transfer tube.

We’ve won, okay? Is that the end of it for you? Is that what you wanted to hear? Am I saying it loud enough for you? We’ve won. We’ve won. We’ve won.

A.

Gibbering Fangirl

I know I’ve put up more than one post here that was along the lines of “OMG JOHN KERRY HAWT!1!!,” but really I try not to turn into a fawning goofball over too many celebrities. One good thing about journalism training is that it gives you sort of general expectations: you ask a question of someone, whether it’s a NASCAR driver or a preschool teacher, and they answer it.

Being easily starstruck in such a job doesn’t serve you well, as Elisabeth Bumiller demonstrated when she talked about being too intimidated to question the president on the eve of war. I don’t care if you think the mayor’s the best mayor ever, if your job is to ask him why he had parking tickets fixed for the girl he’s schtupping, that’s your job and you do it. Conversely, the woman down the street who witnessed a murder is no less worthy of your courtesy than said rich and powerful mayor. Good journalists, those trained right, learn to treat people with respect without losing sight of their objectives, which is to get the answer they came to get. And you also learn to respect people who don’t use celebrity status to make others feel small. Quit throwing phones at people, Russell Crowe.

There are very few people I’ve encountered who actually intimidate me enough to make me abandon that training and go into half-sentence gibbering incoherent mode. I met members of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team some years ago (while I wasn’t on the job, thank God, or I’d have been fired) and wasn’t able to get a complete word out. I just sort of stood there, unable to believe that a) these were the guys I’d watched over and over and over on TV and b) how completely nice they were, even Bobby Suter, who still hits like a freight train, even Herb Brooks, who was a goddamn coaching genuis.

Laurie King is another one who knocks me back on my heels. I’ve been a sort of amateur Sherlock Holmes scholar since high school; I’ve tried to read everything there was and my bookshelves are full of obscure studies and pastiches and imitations and various editions of A Study in Scarlet and it just never gets old for me. While I’m not a purist, I do have very high expectations of Holmes stories written by those not named Conan Doyle; I pick nits, I wince at bad lines, I put the book down once the characterization goes off the map (I’m talking to you, Sam Siciliano).

I’d read a thousand variations on the Holmesian love story before picking up King’s The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, and before that book none of them were real to me, none of them worked or got Holmes exactly right or gave me a heroine to whom I could actually picture him giving the time of day (the man’s a misogynist and you have to deal with that, you can’t just pretend it isn’t there). I loved Beekeeper and have read it dozens of times. When I heard she was coming to a Chicago ‘burb for a reading I had to go. And I turned into a stuttering idiot mess of “I really like your books” instead of asking what I really wanted to ask, which was “How in God’s name can you get it right when so many people can’t?”

I think one of the best things about blogging ever is that she has a blog.

The days before a book comes out are always an interesting time in a writer’s life. Interesting, you understand, in the Chinese-curse sense, which is accompanied by a vague sensation of fluttering panic and a specific awareness of panic because The Book—and last year’s book, at that–is going to overwhelm life for far too long and the current book is going to disappear completely at just the wrong time, the vulnerable time, never to recover…

Teach me your ways.

A.

The Rest of The Time

Members of the service write to Karl.

To hear a man like Karl insinuate that only conservatives are really patriotic is a knife in the back to every man and woman in Iraq who serves here. At least a third of us voted against Bush and pals. The number increases every day that we stay here, forced to make bricks without straw for months on end.

We’ve been here for 6 months. We’re going to be here for at least 6 more. And next week we’re moving to a more ‘active’ sector because the unit there is rotating home and the are is still too hot to entrust to the IA or IP, most of whom are still not fit to guard a traffic light, despite two years of efforts on our part. For some of us, this is our second tour through Iraq. My unit, [Withheld] was the tip of the spear in OIF I. At least half of us are combat veterans of a major battle and liberals. Can any of your gang say that, Karl?

Never insult me and my fellow liberals again, Karl. Watching a fat, hateful thing like you that has never faced any greater danger in your life than a long golf shot denigrate every liberal who has put on a uniform is more demoralizing than ten thousand speeches that uphold America’s highest ideals from Sen. Biden or Byrd.

In the days after Sept. 11, I didn’t see much of my neighbors. The building I was living in was like a mini-UN: upstairs was a German carpenter and craftsman and his American psychologist partner; across the hall from them a young single systems analyst and his rotating cast of boyfriends; a married couple from South Africa and their son; and a Navy vet and his wife, who he met while stationed in Japan. All of them friendly and a whole lot of fun, and we all partied together that summer, but I don’t think we’d ever talked politics. Kids, booze, vacations, home improvements, bitching about the landlord, yeah; Bush, no.

A couple of weeks later when I was coming home to sleep and change clothes I finally ran into the Navy vet in the backyard and we sat down to talk a bit. I told him I thought it must make him feel good to see all the flags flying and the patriotism and love for country, to see gratitude for our veterans again.

He got angry and said hell no, it doesn’t. He said I’ve had a flag on my car for five years, I’ve had POW and MIA signs in my windows long before anybody else gave a damn. He said where were all these people, why didn’t anybody pay attention to veterans before something like this happened?

A.

Rep. Simmons: ‘None of these individuals speak for me’

Karl Rove does not speak for Rep. Rob Simmons of Connecticut.

(Neither do Howard Dean nor Dick Durbin, for that matter, but we expected that.)

Earlier today the gentleman from Connecticut sent this e-mail to two of his constituents.

From: “Representative Rob Simmons”

To:

Sent: Friday, June 24, 2005 12:27 PM

Subject: From Rep. Simmons

(http://www.house.gov/simmons)

June 24, 2005

Dear XXX:

Thank you for contacting me regarding president advisor Karl Rove and his comments concerning the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It is good to hear from you.

Mr. Rove’s recent comments that accused liberal Democrats of wanting “therapy and understanding” for the Sept. 11 attackers is the latest in the escalating partisan rancor that includes Democratic chairman Howard Dean’s criticism of Republicans and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin’s comparison of the Guantanamo prison to Nazi camps and Soviet gulags.

None of these individuals speak for me. Sadly, the poisons of partisanship have all but destroyed civility and cooperation in Congress. The rancor and incivility in Washington contributes to the public’s lack of confidence in our elected officials. Fortunately, there is a growing number of like-minded members from both sides of the aisle that are less interested in attack politics and more interested in civil discourse and results.

You may be pleased to know that I have joined the “Center Aisle Caucus,” an inter-party group of House Members committed to working cooperatively to promote mutual respect and discourage personal attacks and achieving a more respectful and civil climate for conducting the nation’s business. The Caucus is the brain-child of U.S. Reps. Tim Johnson (R-IL) and Steve Israel (D-NY). To date, 36 members of Congress – 19 Republicans and 17 Democrats – have joined the Center Aisle Caucus.

Democrats and Republicans will always have their policy disagreements. And having a healthy debate on issues is good for democracy. However, the American people expect their lawmakers to disagree without being disagreeable. I hope more members of Congress will join me and Reps. Johnson and Israel in support of the Center Aisle Caucus in an attempt to reduce partisanship and make Congress a more civilized place.

Thanks again for contacting me. Your views help me to better serve you and all the people of eastern Connecticut. Should you have any further questions or concerns about this or any other issue, please do not hesitate to contact my office. Also feel free to visit my website at http://www.house.gov/simmons.

All the best,

Rob Simmons

Member of Congress

Second Distict, Connecticut

Major thanks to Mary from CT for getting this info to us ASAP.

While I obviously disagree that Rove’s remarks were equal to Dean’s rather general comments and Durbin’s statement of conscience in any way, I applaud Rep. Simmons for denouncing Rove’s attack on Americans nonetheless, and thank everyone — EVERYONE — who called or wrote their senators and representatives to bring attention to this matter. You’re all Happy Democrats to me tonight.

A.

Jaafari Asks Bush For A Plan

From Holden:

Forget It, Ibrahim, he won’t tell us what his plan is either.

We look forward to the international community to stand beside us, and we believe that this is a humanitarian stance. And we hope that Mr. Bush will try to redo a Marshall Plan, calling it the Bush Plan, to help Iraq, to help the Iraqi people.

Let’s see, add the Marshall Plan to the $300 billion we’ve already spent in Iraq – what’s that come to?

Is This A Sign?

From Holden:

Barry Casselman’s op-ed in the Moonie Times suggests three alternative candidates to replace John Bolton as Chimpy’s UN Ambassador-designee.

Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Today’s gaggle reached a “critical moment” when one gaggler finally had enough of Scottie’s non-answers.

Q Scott, I understand there is an anniversary date next Tuesday, but you’re saying that this speech is happening, in part, because this is a critical moment, a critical time —

MR. McCLELLAN: That’s correct.

Q — in Iraq. What’s more critical about this month and this moment than, say, a month ago or nine months ago?

MR. McCLELLAN: This is a critical period. The transitional government is moving forward on drafting a constitution.

[snip]

Q Is this moment any more critical than the critical moments you described in the run-up to the presidential election a year ago September/October, in the run-up to the election in Iraq last December/January? You said the same thing then, a “critical moment.”

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I think you can go back and look at those time periods and look at what we said during that time period. This is a very critical period in Iraq. Here’s why: because the terrorists are trying to test our resolve, and they’re trying to shake the will of the international community and the Iraqi people. The terrorists, as General Abizaid —

Q They’ve been doing that for months, don’t you agree or —

MR. McCLELLAN: No, as General Abizaid talked about, there have been a growing number of foreign terrorists coming in to Iraq, because they recognize that Iraq is a central front in the war on terrorism. And, Bill, we are a nation that is at war. And the Commander-in-Chief believes it’s important to keep the American people informed about —

Q Yes, but what’s changed?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, are you going to let me finish, or are you going to keep jumping in?

Q Well, you said the same thing before, and I accept what you say. But what’s changed?

MR. McCLELLAN: I was just talking to you —

Q It’s the same condition that we found ourselves in a year ago.

MR. McCLELLAN: I was just outlining to you why it’s a critical period —

Q Yes, but it was a critical period for the same reason then.

MR. McCLELLAN: — in Iraq, and we are a nation at war. And the Commander-in-Chief has a responsibility to keep the American people informed about the progress we’re making and the strategy we have for succeeding.

[snip]

Q Yes, but I mean, it’s the same thing that you’re saying.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that — no, it’s not. I think the American people want to hear from their Commander-in-Chief. And you may take it —

Q I’m not arguing about that.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you may take a different view, but I think the American people want to hear from their Commander-in-Chief, and they will have the —

Q That’s not what I’m arguing about.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let’s go on if you’re not going to —

And, uh, about that speech… don’t expect much.

Q Scott, at the President’s prime time speech next Tuesday night, how specific is he going to be on a strategy going forward? And do you foresee a shift in strategy at all?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think we have a clear strategy that we have outlined. The President is going to be talking about our strategy for success.

Scottie received his full set of talking points on Unka Karl today, and the key words are “puzzling” and “Michael Moore”.

Q And yesterday after your explanation of Mr. Rove’s remarks the night before at the Conservative Union in New York, Democrats went to the Senate floor, held a news conference, pretty much teed off on this, calling for either an apology, one that they said had to be a profound apology. They called it gutter politics, nauseating and vulgar, and said that if Karl doesn’t apologize appropriately, he should be resigned and even suggested the President should apologize. What’s the thinking on it lately here?

MR. McCLELLAN: There’s no reason — no reason for that. It’s still puzzling why Democratic leaders were coming to the defense of liberal organizations like moveon.org and people like Michael Moore. Karl was talking about the conservative philosophy and the liberal philosophy when it comes to the war on terrorism. And I think that he — again, go back and look. He was speaking to a political organization, the New York Conservative Party, and he was talking about different political philosophies. I think that’s what you do when you speak to political organizations.

And it’s just puzzling why Democratic leaders are trying to defend the views of people like Michael Moore and organizations like moveon.org that took a very different view after the attacks of September 11th, after the attacks on the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon here in Washington, D.C. And you can go back and look at some of the comments that they made. But moveon.org had urged restraint and understanding, and they had said that we shouldn’t be using instruments of war, that we should look at international law, human rights law, and international organizations to indict people.

The President took a very different view, and conservatives have a very different view. And that’s what Karl was talking about. And many of the leaders who came out and, for whatever reason, started launching into attacks and trying to twist things around, stood with us in the aftermath of September 11th. There was a very united Congress when it came to how we proceed forward in the war on terrorism, in the aftermath of September 11th. So it’s just puzzling that they’re sitting there trying to defend these liberal views.

Let’s wrap up the week with your Daily Les. Today Les has his sights set on CHimpy’s faux-ranch.

Q Scott, I have a two-part question, the first one dealing with the great state of Texas.

MR. McCLELLAN: Do you ever have a one-part question? (Laughter.)

Q No. If I was on the front row, I’d get a six-part question. (Laughter.)

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there’s a seat there and a seat there.

Q Suppose that McLennan County, Texas, decides that a center for slot machines would bring in much more revenue than the Bush ranch. Would the President try to fight the eminent domain, as now legalized by five members of the Supreme Court, by means of the Aderholt-Shelby bill, or how?

MR. McCLELLAN: You know, I don’t know of any attempt by McLennan County to do such a thing, first of all. And, second of all, if they did, it’s a matter for McLennan County to deal with. But I know of no such effort.

Q He would fight it, wouldn’t he?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think the President has made his views clear when it comes to private property rights. In terms of Supreme Court decisions, we obviously have to respect the decisions of the Supreme Court.

Last Throws

From Holden:

Here’s one…

And here’s another.

Froomkin on Rove

From Holden:

Dan Froomkin explains just what it is the Karl Rove hoped to achieve with his remarks before the New York Conservative Party, and why we should expect no appologies.

Karl Rove didn’t get George W. Bush this far just by luck. Rove has a brilliant and so far unbeatable strategy when it comes to political warfare: He doesn’t defend his candidate’s weaknesses, he attacks his opponent’s strengths. Unapologetically.

Consider the 2004 campaign, when Rove was faced with a Vietnam problem. A war hero was running against his boss, who had opted to stay well out of harm’s way. Rather than defend, Rove attacked — and put John Kerry on the defensive.

Today, Democrats are uniting against the war and the public is increasingly worried and critical about Bush’s leadership. So what’s Rove doing? Rather than defend against their criticisms, Rove has decided to go for the jugular.

The most compelling anti-war arguments are that the war in Iraq was a diversion from the war on terror and that American troops are dying daily for no good reason. So Rove’s response is to liken war critics to al Qaeda sympathizers intent on subverting the American military.

Caption Contest

From Holden:

Mine.

Chimpy:

“What’s 1,700 dead Americans between friends.</B

REUTERS/Jim Bourg

Deadline For Bolton

From Holden:

Joe Biden tells Dick Cheney to give up the Bolton documents by the end of the day or kiss the nomination good-bye.

“If they don’t have (the documents) by the end of the day, it’s finished.”

Steve Clemons has the poop on all the negotiations between Biden anf Frist that have apparently been crushed by the White House, as well as the Republican defectors who have joined the Democrats in their demands that all of the documents should be truned over to the Senate.

My guess is that a Friday Night Document Dump of damaging Bolton material is in the works.

War Is Hell

When you can say something like this, Karl, then you and I can have a conversation.

Until then, shut the fuck up.

God, I hate this war.

A.

Extraordinary Prosecution

From Holden:

This may be the first in a long series of cases in which foreign courts step into the legal vaccuum left by US inaction in the face of the massive and obvious war crimes of the Bush assministration.

An Italian judge ordered the arrests of 13 people in the purported CIA abduction of an imam, who then was sent to Egypt, the Milan prosecutor’s office said Friday. An Italian official said earlier the 13 were CIA officers involved in U.S. anti-terrorism efforts.

The 13 are suspected of seizing Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, known as Abu Omar, on the streets of Milan on Feb. 17, 2003, and sending him to Egypt, where he reportedly was tortured, Milan prosecutor Manlio Claudio Minale said in a statement.

The U.S. Embassy in Rome and the CIA in Washington declined to comment.

[snip]

Minale said the suspects remained at large, and Italian authorities would ask the United States and Egypt for assistance in the case.

Prosecutors believe the officers seized Omar as part of the CIA’s ”extraordinary rendition” program, in which terror suspects are transferred to third countries without court approval, according to reports Friday in newspapers Corriere della Sera and Il Giorno.

Last Throe Watch

From Holden:

Insurgent attacks expected to increase.

Rebel attacks in the capital are expected to rise in coming weeks despite US-Iraqi efforts to stem them, as insurgents try to play up insecurity in the country, a US military official said Friday.

“I think there will be a lot of small attacks in the next couple of weeks with the Iraqi prime minister going to the United States,” Lieutenant Colonel Michael Pryor of the US 3rd Infantry Division’s Task Force Baghdad said.

“The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.”

Dick Cheney, June 20, 2005.