Monthly Archives: September 2005

Sealab 2005

See, we armed these dolphins, and now we can’t find them.

I swear every day moves me closer to the moment when this will cease to be a blog and will consist of nothing but the word “fuck” and the heavy wet sound of my head beating into the brick wall.

A.

Froomkin on Miller

From Holden:

One of the best takes I’ve read.

So what was Miller doing in jail? Was it all just a misunderstanding? The most charitable explanation for Miller is that she somehow concluded that Libby wanted her to keep quiet, even while he was publicly — and privately — saying otherwise. The least charitable explanation is that going to jail was Miller’s way of transforming herself from a journalistic outcast (based on her gullible pre-war reporting) into a much-celebrated hero of press freedom.

Note to reporters: There is nothing intrinsically noble about keeping your sources’ secrets. Your job, in fact, is to expose them. And if a very senior government official, after telling you something in confidence, then tells you that you don’t have to keep it secret anymore, the proper response is “Hooray, now I can tell the world” — not “Sorry, that’s not good enough for me, I need that in triplicate.” And if you’re going to go to jail invoking important, time-honored journalistic principles, make sure those principles really apply.

‘Cause The Saudis Are Special

From Holden:

More special treatment for Chimpy’s special friends.

One year ago, the State Department declared that religious freedom was absent in the Arab kingdom. Under U.S. law, the Bush administration could have imposed sanctions such as trade restrictions — as it has done with some other countries.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice notified Congress last week that she had authorized a 180-day waiver of action against Saudi Arabia “in order to allow additional time for the continuation of discussions leading to progress on important religious freedom issues.”

[snip]

Last week, the department notified Congress that Rice had banned commercial export of certain defense articles to Eritrea. The African country was cited a year ago along with Saudi Arabia and Vietnam as having records of serious concern on religious freedom.

It was the first time sanctions were applied to any country under U.S. religious freedom law.

Plame Resurfaces

From Holden:

Prompted by Scooter Libby’s release of confidentiality to Judy Miller, the gagglers are asking Little Scottie difficult questions about the Plame case again.

As reported by Talk Radio News Service’s Gregory Gorman:

Valerie Plame Investigation

In response to a question asking if McClellan himself felt burned by Karl Rove or L. Lewis “Scooter” Libby when he was assured by the two men that they were not involved in leaking Valerie Plame’s name to the media as a CIA operative, McClellan responded that the question relates to an ongoing investigation and that the administration’s policy “has been and continues to be not to comment”. McClellan continued by saying that the President has directed the White House to operate fully in the investigation and that he wants it to come to a successful conclusion and “get to the bottom of it”. Upon further questioning, McClellan referred the matter to Libby’s lawyers or to the special prosecutor investigating the case.

My Bush Boom Must Have Drowned

From Holden:

Both personal income and consumer spending fell dramatically in August. They’re trying to pin this on Katrina, but as I recall the hurricane struck on August 29th. What, were we doing just fine during the prior 28 days of August?

Personal incomes fell by 0.1 percent last month, to $10.29 trillion, according to the Commerce Department, partly reflecting $100 billion in uninsured losses to residential and business property from the first hurricane, which pounded the Gulf Coast at the end of August. Incomes rose by 0.3 percent in July and last showed a decrease in January, when they fell 2.6 percent. Analysts had expected incomes to rise by 0.3 percent.

Spending slipped 0.5 percent, to $9.13 trillion, its biggest monthly drop in more than three years and after it rose by 1.2 percent. Economists expected spending to fall by 0.2 percent. When adjusted for inflation, real spending fell by 1 percent.

Both the increase in July and the dropoff in August spending were driven by car and truck sales.

[snip]

The income and consumption data will likely fall further when the numbers are known for September, when gasoline prices briefly soared past $3 and Hurricane Rita disrupted recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast, economists have said. It is already becoming clear that higher energy costs – first in the form of gasoline, and this winter in the form of heating bills – are starting to wear down the resilient American consumer.

The Italians Are Pushing It

From Holden:

Italian prosecutors are aggressively pursuing the “extraordinary rendition” criminals in the CIA.

Italian authorities have ordered the arrests of a former U.S. Embassy official here and two other people in connection with a “rendition” case in which CIA operatives allegedly kidnapped a radical Muslim cleric from Milan and flew him to Egypt, where, he has said, he was tortured.

The new arrest warrants bring to 22 the number of people sought on suspicion of planning and executing the plot and apparently are the first direct connection to the U.S. Embassy in Rome. U.S. intelligence officials in Washington, though refusing to acknowledge the operation publicly, have sought to portray it as conducted by the spy-world equivalent of contractors.

[snip]

Italian investigators said their review of telephone traffic among those who abducted the imam in Milan 2 1/2 years ago led them to the former U.S. Embassy employee. She is believed to have made or received a number of calls aimed at coordinating and organizing the abduction and to have participated directly in the operation, according to papers filed in court by prosecutors.

Investigators found evidence that she checked into a Milan hotel 24 days before the kidnapping and traveled with the other suspects to the U.S.-run Aviano Air Base in northern Italy, where Abu Omar was bundled onto a private jet bound for Egypt via the U.S. military’s Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Italian prosecutors said.

The prosecutors maintain that the participation of the woman is especially egregious given the diplomatic position she held at the embassy. According to public records, she served in the U.S. Embassy in Rome until this year, when she was transferred to Latin America.

I doubt Bob Novakis reading this, but if he is…

The Times is not naming the former Rome embassy official. The paper generally avoids naming undercover intelligence operatives unless their names are put into public record.

Stupidity or Spin?

From Holden:

I caught this exchange in Wednesday’s gaggle but it has been simmering in the back of my mind ever since.

Q Just very, very briefly, on Iraq, now the President in the long remarks that he made in the Rose Garden — or you here have mentioned one of the most salient facts about the violence in Iraq: It’s sectarian. It’s Sunnis killing Shia. Why didn’t the President talk about that? Many people think the country is on the verge of civil war. And what’s the President’s read on the sectarian nature of the violence in Iraq right now?

MR. McCLELLAN: It’s terrorists killing Iraqis. It’s terrorists attacking innocent civilians.

Q So you just don’t recognize the sectarian nature of it?

MR. McCLELLAN: No. It’s the terrorists that want to take Iraq into civil war. That’s what their goal is. They want to bring chaos into this country. But the Iraqi people have shown them every step of the way that they are determined to build a free and democratic future. And that’s why they’ve continued to move forward on the political process. And the President has said as they move forward on building a lasting democracy, the terrorists will continue to seek to carry out their violence and become more desperate. And we can expect that there will be more violence as the Iraqi people move forward on securing their freedom and democracy.

There was a time when I would have said Scottie is just spinning here, surely the Bush Assministration is aware of the fact that they have a civil war on their hands in Iraq and many of the victims of Iraqi violence are not what Scottie calls “innocent civilians”.

But given their track record, I think it is possible that they believe all Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence is “terrorists killing Iraqis”.

Which is frightening, as that would indicate that they really haven’t the faintest idea what is happening on the ground in Iraq.

Army Misses Recruiting Goal By Largest Margin In 26 Years

From Holden:

A-hem. Wingers, your country needs you.

The Army has not published official figures yet, but it apparently finished the 12-month counting period that ends Friday with about 73,000 recruits. Its goal was 80,000. A gap of 7,000 enlistees would be the largest – in absolute number as well as in percentage terms – since 1979, according to Army records.

The Army National Guard and the Army Reserve, which are smaller than the regular Army, had even worse results.

The active-duty Army had not missed its target since 1999, when it was 6,290 recruits short; in 1998 it fell short by 801, and in 1995 it was off by 33. Prior to that the last shortfall was in 1979 when the Army missed by 17,054 during a period when the Army was much bigger and its recruiting goals were double today’s.

Friday Guestferret Blogging!

First Drafter CWH proves that I’m an amateur when it comes to ferreting. She and her four kids (hi, guys!) sent in pictures of their eight squirrelly little furballs, whose images begin here and continue inside (click “Read More” to see the rest:)

Homer and Popcorn. Yes, Homer and Popcorn. How can you not love animals named Homer and Popcorn?

Continue reading

Go To Hell, Arnold

Pathetic.

Boy, I can’t wait for his re-election campaign.

A.

Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

As is often the case, today’s gaggle opens with a question Little Scottie would rather not answer.

Q Let me — these are obviously difficult days for Republicans. The top Republican —

MR. McCLELLAN: Not for Judge Roberts. (Laughter.)

Q Good point there. But the President’s political standing has eroded significantly; we’ve gone through the laundry list of other potential legal problems for other top Republicans. As essentially the top Republican in the land, how does the President —

MR. McCLELLAN: Someone had to stop all the goodwill in this room.

Q Right. How does the President assess the state of the Republican Party, a party that’s got to face voters again in congressional elections —

MR. McCLELLAN: The Republican Party is a party of ideas, and a party of finding solutions to the pressing problems before the American people. The President believes that we are here to lead and to solve problems. That is why we are pressing ahead on the important priorities to get things done for the American people. And that’s what we will continue to do. You have a united congressional leadership in the Republican Party that is determined to continue getting things done for the American people, and that’s exactly what we’ll do. And the President will continue leading on the highest priorities facing the American people. That’s what we have continued to do.

Q Does that answer suggest the President just puts his hands over his eyes and over his ears and doesn’t pay attention to what is going on in this town?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, absolutely not.

Q Well, then what about —

MR. McCLELLAN: What’s going on in Washington is different from what may be going on in America. I know Washington —

Q Okay, in America, the President’s political standing is significantly eroded; —

MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on. I’ll come to you — hang on, hang on —

Q — one of the top Republicans in Congress is now under indictment; you’ve got the top Republican in the Senate who is under investigation; you’ve got a leak probe of this White House’s activities of releasing secrets. These are difficult days, are they not, for the Republican Party? How does the President assess it; does he worry about it?

MR. McCLELLAN: These are days of important progress for the American people because we’re pushing ahead on the priorities that they are most concerned about. The American people are most concerned about making sure that we win the war on terrorism and that we succeed in Iraq, and that we address the issue of high energy prices. And they’re most concerned about making sure that the people who have been affected by these hurricanes are taken care of. And those are the priorities that this President is focused on.

[snip]

Q Easy for him to do. What about congressional Republicans who have to face voters? You think they go out to their districts and say, oh, yes, well, the Republican Party is the party of ideas and moving forward? Or you think you’re a little more worried?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think they will — I think they will talk about how we are the party —

Q You don’t think they’re worried about having to face voters in this climate?

MR. McCLELLAN: And we are the party that has advanced an agenda to help the American people and make us safer and stronger and better.

And then, as is his habit when cornered, Scottie punts to Raghubir Goyal of the India Globe.

Goyal, go ahead.

Next, Scottie gets a bit prickly when a gaggler questions John Roberts’ views on civil rights.

Q Scott, on the consultation, has the President consulted with any groups, particularly on the issue of diversity? Friday we understand that the head of the NAACP, Bruce Gordon, met with President Bush and Karl Rove. Did they, indeed, discuss the potential nominee soon to be named? And what were they talking about?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President was pleased to sit down and meet with the new NAACP President, Bruce Gordon. They had a very good discussion about ways we can work together on shared priorities. The meeting was a private meeting, and I think both of us are leaving it at that for this — at this time.

Q Okay, granted, it was private.

MR. McCLELLAN: But you’re still going to ask me what occurred in the meeting?

Q Oh, yes, most definitely. When you have issues of Katrina and the race aspect, and then when you have the NAACP itself saying that John Roberts was not a friend to civil rights, of course —

MR. McCLELLAN: Who said that?

Q I’m not talking about you, John Roberts.

MR. McCLELLAN: Who said that?

Q The NAACP.

MR. McCLELLAN: Who at the NAACP?

Q The leadership — I’ll give you that information later along. But anyway, for them to say that, and you have a meeting with — to meet with the President, there is apparently still a concern that the person will be an extreme conservative, that the person would not maybe be a friend to civil rights, i.e. affirmative action and things of nature, what —

MR. McCLELLAN: And I think the facts have shown otherwise when it comes to Judge Roberts, just to correct the record a little bit.

Q How does — how does that change, because we understand during the Reagan era he was against affirmative action and certain civil rights issues.

MR. McCLELLAN: April, he has just been confirmed by 78 members of the United States Senate who supported him. And I think that all those questions were fully addressed during the hearing process. And go and look at the record.

Q I did look at the record. Reagan-era records show that he was not —

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, then you formed your opinion, but —

Q No, I did not. I’m still —

MR. McCLELLAN: — most Americans disagree with you based on what the record was.

Go ahead.

The gagglers notice Chimpy is worried about waning support for his Vanity War.

Q [W]hy the full court press on the war? Is the President concerned about the polls that show more and more — that less than 50 percent of the American people now feel we should have gone to war with Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: Maybe you missed what I was saying to David Gregory earlier in the briefing. He doesn’t get caught up in those. What the — what we’re trying to do — the President spoke after September 11th and said that we’re going to be engaged in a long and difficult war. The war on terrorism is one of our highest priorities. It’s one of the most important responsibilities the President of the United States has, protecting the American people.

[snip]

Q Given all that, in summary, in a little over 24 hours here, the President in the Rose Garden; you have the Pentagon heavy hitters up on the Hill; now you’ve got the Vice President; now you’ve got the Secretary of State; why suddenly this maximum effort? Is the President —

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I don’t know that I agree with the characterization. Obviously, some of the focus over the course of the last month has been on the response and recovery and rebuilding efforts going on relating to Hurricane Katrina and more recently Hurricane Rita. So that’s been some of the attention publicly.

But the President has remained focused on all the high priorities that we have on our plate. And none are higher than those that relate to the safety and the security of the American people. And we have remained focused on those other issues. Now we’re at a period where we are going to continue talking more and more about the progress on the ground. This relates directly to the safety and security of the American people and our efforts to establish lasting peace for our children and grandchildren. And that’s why he’s continuing to talk about it.

[Wolf Whistle]

From Holden:

Hey Bab-ee!!

Check out the gams on newly-minted Chief Justice John Roberts in this Official White House photo!

Hummina-hummina-hummina!

My Advice to Supreme Court Justices

From Holden:

Let’s see if I have this right.

John Roberts was hurriedly nominated to succeed Sandra Day O’Connor to take the spotlight off of Karl Rove’s treason.

Rumor has it today that Chimpy will rush to name yet another successor to O’Connor this week (now that Roberts has been confirmed for Rehnquist’s slot) in order to take the spotlight off of DeLay’s indictment.

Chimpy must really be hoping another SCOTUS justice steps down soon so he can take the spotlight of of Rove again when he is indicted next month.

And if Bill Frist is indicted for his insider trading? Well, I would advise all SCOTUS justices to forego air travel for the next few months.

Sovereignty Ain’t What It Used To Be

From Holden:

Our Troops! raid the homes of two Sunni politicians who are urging their fellow Iraqis to vote no on the constitution.

U.S. forces raided the homes of two officials from a prominent Sunni Arab organization Thursday, arresting bodyguards and confiscating weapons, Sunni officials said.

Adnan al-Dulaimi, secretary-general of the Conference for Iraq’s People, said soldiers in tanks and Humvees, with two helicopters circling overhead, broke into his home in western Baghdad at 2:30 a.m., put him and his family in one room, and searched the house.

“It was as if they were attacking a castle, not the home of a normal person who advises Iraq’s interim government and has called for reconciliation and renounced sectarianism,” al-Dulaimi told a news conference after the raid.

The other raid took place at the Baghdad home of Harith al-Obeidi, another senior official in the organization, said Iraq’s largest Sunni political party, the Iraqi Islamic Party.

[snip]

The Conference for Iraq’s People and the Iraqi Islamic Party are two leading political organizations representing Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority, which has increasingly complained of abuse as U.S. and Iraqi forces pursue insurgents, the bulk of whom are Sunnis. The two groups are also campaigning to defeat a draft constitution in an Oct. 15 referendum.

[snip]

The two organizations are urging Sunnis to vote “no” on the constitution, which their leaders believe will divide Iraq into Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni areas, with the Sunni region having the least power and revenue.

The Iraqi Islamic Party condemned the two raids as “a savage act” and an “unjustifiable aggression” saying such treatment of “good Iraqis” could set back efforts to persuade citizens to join efforts to improve security in the country.

So Much for Progress

From Holden:

General Casey eats his words.

The commanding general of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq is backing off of a prediction he made two months ago that a substantial number of U.S. forces could be withdrawn from Iraq next year. The general made the statement after a private meeting at the U.S. Capitol with members of the Senate, some of whom were critical of what they see as a long-term U.S. commitment in Iraq.

In late July, General George Casey made this prediction.

“I do believe that if the political process continues to go positively, and if the development of the security forces continues to go as it is going, I do believe we’ll be able to take some fairly substantial reductions after these elections in the spring and summer of next year,” he says.

But asked Wednesday whether he still believes that is true, the commander of multi-national forces in Iraq was more cautious.

“I think right now we’re in a little greater period of uncertainty than when I was asked that question back in July and March,” General Casey says. “This constitutional referendum, and whether it is supported by the Sunnis to a large degree is something that we just have to watch and see how that comes out. So, until we’re done with this political process here, the referendum and the elections in December, I think it’s too soon to tell.”

Outrage

From Holden:

The New Orleans Sherrif’s Department left abandoned hundreds of prisoners during the week Katrina struck.

Human Rights Watch is on it.

Inmates in Templeman III, one of several buildings in the Orleans Parish Prison compound, reported that as of Monday, August 29, there were no correctional officers in the building, which held more than 600 inmates. These inmates, including some who were locked in ground-floor cells, were not evacuated until Thursday, September 1, four days after flood waters in the jail had reached chest-level.

“Of all the nightmares during Hurricane Katrina, this must be one of the worst,” said Corinne Carey, researcher from Human Rights Watch. “Prisoners were abandoned in their cells without food or water for days as floodwaters rose toward the ceiling.”

[snip]

The sheriff of Orleans Parish, Marlin N. Gusman, did not call for help in evacuating the prison until midnight on Monday, August 29, a state Department of Corrections and Public Safety spokeswoman told Human Rights Watch. Other parish prisons, she said, had called for help on the previous Saturday and Sunday. The evacuation of Orleans Parish Prison was not completed until Friday, September 2.

According to officers who worked at two of the jail buildings, Templeman 1 and 2, they began to evacuate prisoners from those buildings on Tuesday, August 30, when the floodwaters reached chest level inside. These prisoners were taken by boat to the Broad Street overpass bridge, and ultimately transported to correctional facilities outside New Orleans.

But at Templeman III, which housed about 600 inmates, there was no prison staff to help the prisoners. Inmates interviewed by Human Rights Watch varied about when they last remember seeing guards at the facility, but they all insisted that there were no correctional officers in the facility on Monday, August 29. A spokeswoman for the Orleans parish sheriff’s department told Human Rights Watch she did not know whether the officers at Templeman III had left the building before the evacuation.

According to inmates interviewed by Human Rights Watch, they had no food or water from the inmates’ last meal over the weekend of August 27-28 until they were evacuated on Thursday, September 1. By Monday, August 29, the generators had died, leaving them without lights and sealed in without air circulation. The toilets backed up, creating an unbearable stench.

“They left us to die there,” Dan Bright, an Orleans Parish Prison inmate told Human Rights Watch at Rapides Parish Prison, where he was sent after the evacuation.

[snip]

“The water started rising, it was getting to here,” said Earrand Kelly, an inmate from Templeman III, as he pointed at his neck. “We was calling down to the guys in the cells under us, talking to them every couple of minutes. They were crying, they were scared. The one that I was cool with, he was saying ‘I’m scared. I feel like I’m about to drown.’ He was crying.”

Some inmates from Templeman III have said they saw bodies floating in the floodwaters as they were evacuated from the prison. A number of inmates told Human Rights Watch that they were not able to get everyone out from their cells.

Inmates broke jail windows to let air in. They also set fire to blankets and shirts and hung them out of the windows to let people know they were still in the facility. Apparently at least a dozen inmates jumped out of the windows.

”We started to see people in T3 hangin’ shirts on fire out the windows,” Brooke Moss, an Orleans Parish Prison officer told Human Rights Watch. “They were wavin’ em. Then we saw them jumping out of the windows . . . Later on, we saw a sign, I think somebody wrote `help’ on it.”

As of yesterday, signs reading “Help Us,” and “One Man Down,” could still be seen hanging from a window in the third floor of Templeman III.

[snip]

“It was complete chaos,” said a corrections officer with more than 30 years of service at Orleans Parish Prison. When asked what he thought happened to the inmates in Templeman III, he shook his head and said: “Ain’t no tellin’ what happened to those people.”

“At best, the inmates were left to fend for themselves,” said Carey. “At worst, some may have died.”

Support our Troops!

From Holden:

Our Troops! and their parents are still buying their own body armor and other equipment without any repayment by the Pentagon despite the fact that Congress passed a law last year ordering the Department of Defense to reimburse these expenditures.

Nearly a year after Congress demanded action, the Pentagon has still failed to figure out a way to reimburse soldiers for body armor and equipment they purchased to better protect themselves while serving in Iraq.

Soldiers and their parents are still spending hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars for armor they say the military won’t provide. One U.S. senator said Wednesday he will try again to force the Pentagon to obey the reimbursement law it opposed from the outset and has so far not implemented.

[snip]

“Rumsfeld is violating the law,” [Sen. Christopher] Dodd said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s been sitting on the books for over a year. They were opposed to it. It was insulting to them. I’m sorry that’s how they felt.”

[snip]

“Your expectation is that when you are sent to war, that our government does everything they can do to protect the lives of our people, and anything less than that is not good enough,” said a former Marine who spent nearly $1,000 two weeks ago to buy lower-body armor for his son, a Marine serving in Fallujah.

The father asked that he be identified only by his first name — Gordon — because he is afraid of retribution against his son.

“I wouldn’t have cared if it cost us $10,000 to protect our son, I would do it,” said Gordon. “But I think the U.S. has an obligation to make sure they have this equipment and to reimburse for it. I just don’t support Donald Rumsfeld’s idea of going to war with what you have, not what you want. You go to war prepared, and you don’t go to war until you are prepared.”

[snip]

Soldiers and their families have reported buying everything from higher-quality protective gear to armor for their Humvees, medical supplies and even global positioning devices.

“The bottom line is that Donald Rumsfeld and the Defense Department are failing soldiers again,” said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Operation Truth, an advocacy group for Iraq veterans.

“It just became an accepted part of the culture. If you were National Guard or Reserve, or NCOs, noncommissioned officers, you were going to spend a lot of money out of your pocket,” said Rieckhoff, who was a platoon leader with the 3rd Infantry Division and served in Iraq from the invasion in March 2003 to spring 2004. “These are bureaucratic failures, but when they make mistakes like this, guys die. There has been progress made, but we’re still seeing serious shortages.”

The Real World Adventures of Karen Huge

From Holden:

Yesterday I linked to a story about the Undersecretary of State for Convincing the World That the US Is Not Out To Kill All Brown People and her visit to Saudi Arabia, where Saudi women informed Ms. Huge that they don’t all hate us for our freedom.

Yesterday in Turkey the Presidential Nanny experienced another abrupt confrontation with reality.

A group of Turkish women’s rights activists confronted Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes on Wednesday with emotional and heated complaints about the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, turning a session designed to highlight the empowering of women into a raw display of the anger at U.S. policy in the region.

“This war is really, really bringing your positive efforts to the level of zero,” said Hidayet Sefkatli Tuksal, an activist with the Capital City Women’s Forum. She said it was difficult to talk about cooperation between women in the United States and Turkey as long as Iraq was under occupation.

[snip]

“War makes the rights of women completely erased, and poverty comes after war — and women pay the price,” said Fatma Nevin Vargun, a Kurdish women’s rights activist. Vargun denounced the arrest of Cindy Sheehan, the mother of an American soldier killed in Iraq, in front of the White House this week.

Hughes, who became increasingly subdued during the session, defended the decision to invade Iraq as a difficult and wrenching moment for Bush, but necessary to protect the United States.

“You’re concerned about war, and no one likes war,” Hughes said. But “to preserve the peace, sometimes my country believes war is necessary,” she said. She also asserted that women are faring much better in Iraq than they had under the rule of deposed president Saddam Hussein.

“War is not necessary for peace,” shot back Feray Salman, a human rights activist. She said countries should not try to impose democracy through war, adding that “we can never, ever export democracy and freedom from one country to another.”

Tuksal said she was “feeling myself wounded, feeling myself insulted here” by Hughes’s response. “In every photograph that comes from Iraq, there is that look of fear in the eyes of women and children. . . . This needs to be resolved as soon as possible.”

And if Ms. Huge continues to allow photos like this to be taken another terrorist attack on America is guaranteed.

Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Ah, mucho gaggly goodness in yesterday’s press briefing. I should do seperate posts on Little Scottie’s tap-dancing around the death of Tom DeLay’s political career and the job Brownie did on the Assministration while testifying before congress Tuesday, but for now I’d like to focus on Iraq.

And who better to kick off the festivities that Helen Thomas?

Go ahead, Helen.

Q The papers have been satiated in the last few days, again with another round of our abuse of prisoners and detainees and torture. Has the President ever issued a directive to all military prisons under our control that they should not torture and they should abide by the Geneva Accord?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. Yes. In fact, we did that quite some time ago.

Q There is an actual directive?

MR. McCLELLAN: If people are involved in wrongdoing, they’re going to be held to account. And that’s exactly what — that’s exactly what this administration has done.

Q I asked you if the President has issued any executive order against torture.

MR. McCLELLAN: The President made it very clear that we do not torture and we do not condone torture. And if people —

Q But we do.

MR. McCLELLAN: — and if people break the law, they are brought to account. And that’s exactly what we’ve done in the instances that you’re referring to.

Q Why don’t they know it, then? I mean, why has there been this continued abuse?

MR. McCLELLAN: They do know it. And the Secretary of Defense and military leaders have taken steps to prevent such horrible atrocities from happening again.

Q But not if it goes beyond sergeant. Why is that?

MR. McCLELLAN: You might want to talk to the Department of Defense, because they can brief you —

Q No, I think this is something at the presidential level.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, but I think it’s important —

Q It has to do something with our reputation.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think it’s important for the American people to know the facts. And if you look at the facts, people have been brought to justice that are involved in wrongdoing. And any allegation of wrongdoing is taken very seriously by this administration. We have an outstanding military; 99.9 percent of the men and women in uniform do an outstanding job and represent the American people in the best possible way. They uphold our standards and our values.

Q Do you have any papers showing the President has issued a directive against torture?

MR. McCLELLAN: We’ve actually put out paper previously about the directives that he’s made —

Q An actual order?

MR. McCLELLAN: — and he has publicly stated it very clearly to everyone in his administration and to the American people.

Q Then why is it still going on?

Now, about the president’s little Rose Garden appearance…

Q Two more questions on that. The President twice today said that we are changing our strategy to adapt to the insurgents changing theirs. Usually you don’t think about changing a strategy that’s working. Is ours not?

[snip]

Q Scott, it seems like the President is concerned about the erosion of support on Capitol Hill for the Iraq war, right?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the American people understand the importance of completing the mission and succeeding in Iraq. Iraq is central to winning the war on terrorism. That’s why you heard the President talk about it today. It’s something that we’re going to continue to keep the American people updated about.

Q Is the President concerned about the erosion of support on Capitol Hill?

MR. McCLELLAN: The American people — the President believes it’s important to keep Congress informed and to keep the American people informed. I think Congress understands the importance of succeeding in Iraq. They have shown a strong commitment to what we are working to achieve there, and the President is greatly appreciative of that.

Does Little Scottie or anyone else in the Assministration have a clue as to what is happening in Iraq?

Q Just very, very briefly, on Iraq, now the President in the long remarks that he made in the Rose Garden — or you here have mentioned one of the most salient facts about the violence in Iraq: It’s sectarian. It’s Sunnis killing Shia. Why didn’t the President talk about that? Many people think the country is on the verge of civil war. And what’s the President’s read on the sectarian nature of the violence in Iraq right now?

MR. McCLELLAN: It’s terrorists killing Iraqis. It’s terrorists attacking innocent civilians.

Q So you just don’t recognize the sectarian nature of it?

MR. McCLELLAN: No. It’s the terrorists that want to take Iraq into civil war. That’s what their goal is. They want to bring chaos into this country. But the Iraqi people have shown them every step of the way that they are determined to build a free and democratic future. And that’s why they’ve continued to move forward on the political process. And the President has said as they move forward on building a lasting democracy, the terrorists will continue to seek to carry out their violence and become more desperate. And we can expect that there will be more violence as the Iraqi people move forward on securing their freedom and democracy.

Here’s a seemingly-tangental question that curled Scottie’s shorts.

Q I have one other quick question, which is, has any member of the administration appeared before the Valerie Plame grand jury in the last month or so?

MR. McCLELLAN: That’s a matter you need to direct to the special prosecutor overseeing that investigation.

And as usual, we close with your Daily Les.

Q The Weekly Standard reports that Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan has always enforced that graduate school’s ban on cooperating with recruiters from any employers who exclude homosexuals, except for the Department of Defense, which, if so banned, would, under the Solomon Amendment, cost Harvard at least $400 million a year in research grants.

And my question, since the President graduated from Harvard’s Graduate Business School, he is surely appalled by Dean Kagan’s cash-influenced inconsistency, isn’t he?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I’m sorry, you kind of lost me on part of that question. (laughter.) I’m not sure exactly where you were going with that.

Q They banned — they banned any discrimination against homosexuals, except by the Department of Defense. And if that’s banned, if they ban the Department of Defense they’d lose $400 million.

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m sorry, I don’t know that — I’m not sure the link you’re making there. I guess I’m missing something.

Best. Comment. On. DeLay. Ever.

From Livejournal’s Metaquotes:

Isn’t it funny how a giant squid has arisen, then Tom Delay gets nailed? Maybe his master has returned and demands vengeance.

Squid info, for those who are into that kind of thing, is here.

A.