WASHINGTON – House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday embraced a call by a prominent member of her rank-and-file to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, two weeks after she declined to endorse it.
“We should follow the lead of Congressman John Murtha, who has put forth a plan to make American safer, to make our military stronger and to make Iraq more stable,” Pelosi said. “That is what the American people and our troops deserve.”
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., accused Pelosi of playing politics with the war. “This war and the safety of the American people is simply too important for flip-flopping or indecision. We cannot afford to retreat,” he said in a statement.
Republicans have criticized Murtha’s plan as one of “cutting and running.”
Pelosi, D-Calif., said she wouldn’t call for a party caucus position on the plan by the Pennsylvania Democrat because “a vote on the war is an individual vote.”
Nevertheless, she said, “I believe that a majority of our caucus clearly supports Mr. Murtha.”
Two weeks ago, Murtha called for U.S. troops to begin returning home and said a complete pullout could be achieved in six months. He introduced a resolution in the House that would force the president to withdraw the 160,000 troops “at the earliest practicable date.”
Murtha, a Vietnam combat veteran and Marine, voted in 2002 to give President Bush the authority to go to war. He has been a strong supporter of the military and an influential voice on defense issues during his three-decade House career — and his position switch set off a firestorm on Capitol Hill.
At the time, Pelosi emphasized that Murtha spoke only for himself, and not for her or the Democratic caucus.
That last bit of emphasis mine. Which leads me to what I’m sure is a stupid question, but let’s throw it out there anyway, see if the cat won’t lick it up.
WHY THE HELL WASN’T NANCY SPEAKING FOR ALL HOUSE DEMS?
She’s the Leader, ain’t she? And a vote to endorse the war wasn’t a personal vote for Republicans. A vote to endorse the president, his non-plan plan, his breakfast cereal or the way he combs his hair, those aren’t personal, individual, search-your-heart-and-tell-me-what-truly-matters-to-you votes. No. They’re you’re-either-with-us-or-you-suck-terrorist-cock votes. Which is why the Republicans have, for good or ill, managed to stick together on this issue.
Besides which, this isn’t a vote to endorse the war. It’s a vote to say what a MAJORITY OF THE COUNTRY is saying, which is that regardless of what course we’re staying or what job the preznit thinks we’re doing, we, the American people, are sick of fapping around over there with no clear goals, no serious muscle behind those goals, and no end in sight. We want them home. Most people I know with service members in their families want their loved ones home yesterday, forget immediately.
So look. Why can’t Nancy get everybody in a conference room. Take a weekend. Go on a Democratic retreat, hammer out a position, and make everybody stick to it? Why can’t there ever be any kind of Democratic stand-taking on this issue without a thousand “only in the event of two blue moons in a row on opposite Thursdays” caveats and dodges and acknowledgments that some believe the earth is flat and that’s okay because we don’t want to upset the kids on the short bus?
And here’s what Nancy ought to say to anybody in her caucus and anybody in Harry’s with any kind of presidential ambitions: “Listen up, bitches. You want to be preznit? Fine. But until the day you take the oath, I own your ass. And I know what you don’t, which is that a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate in 2006 bodes better for a Democratic President in 2008. We have a thousand things to do, bitches, and we’re on number eight, and your personal dreams and wishes are number 867. You elected me leader, you’ll do what I say, and if you don’t, watch me distribute Polaroids of you and that cutie in the mail room to every tabloid that’ll take me to dinner. Capisce?”
Because look, voters by and large don’t pay a lot of attention. We can’t expect them to sift through every position paper. Nancy has a good start here, a good strong statement. Now what she needs to do is make everybody else fall in line.
From The Hill:
[Brent Wilkes, president of defense contractor ADCS Inc. named by former Rep. Duke Cunningham as a co-conspirator in his bribery conviction] is a prominent Bush fundraiser, earning a designation as a “Bush pioneer” in 2004 for raising more than $100,000. If Wilkes is indicted, he will be the third Bush pioneer, after Abramoff and Ohio fundraiser Tom Noe, to be indicted this year.
I just don’t see any plan here.
No “we will do x, y, and z.” No milestones, benchmarks, or requirements. Just the same old fuzzy wishes without any details about how those wishes will be acheived.
And talk about repetitive — 13,328 words that could easily be cut down to 100. Rumsfeld tried to ban the words “insurgent” and “insurgency” yesterday, but Chimpy’s New and Improved Plan uses both 21 times. “Victory” pops up 27 times, but saying the word over and over again won’t make it happen. Still, “Victory” can’t hold a candle to “Build” or “Building” (57 appearances).
The New and Improved Plan adds two new words to the English language: “Rejectionists” (13 appearances) and “Saddamists” (8 appearances). Surprisingly, “stay” and “staying” appear just three times, and “course” appears just once (in a Condi quote). “Troops” appears only twice, “Torture” not at all.
If you’re like me, you were heartbroken yesterday when Bill O’Reilly’s “enemies” list came out and you weren’t on it. (Unless you were. Hi, Keith! Call me!) But we at First Draft hate it when you’re unhappy, so we’ve come up with a solution.
It’s called Put Us On Your List, Bill!
Go over there, comment on the site, and tell Bill why you should be on his official enemies list. And remember, have a happy, happy holiday!
Maybe Condi can get the Chimpster to glance at this article in Time Magazine prior to tonight’s “major” speech.
Throughout the day, members of Blue Platoon had been hunkered down in their battle-scarred observation post (dubbed “Hotel”) in Ramadi, sniping at reconnaissance units. Then, four hours before Murtha spoke, al-Qaeda let loose an attack on all five American outposts in the city–an assault that a hardened Army sniper dubbed a mini–Tet offensive, referring to the coordinated military actions the Viet Cong launched across South Vietnam one fateful day in 1968.
With the mini-Tet raging, more than 50 rebels lobbed mortars and fired rocket-propelled grenades at the U.S. bases before they closed in under cover of machine-gun fire from virtually 360°. By the end, about the time Murtha wrapped up his press conference in Washington, coalition forces had stormed past dead insurgents to retake Ramadi’s central mosque.
But this is still a city the insurgents can claim they own. Although a U.S. Army brigade hunts them daily, the rebels move freely among a supportive populace. U.S. troops are despised here. The insurgents are embraced. “They are the people we see every day who give us a loaf of bread on a patrol, the people we will be fighting that night,” says Lieut. Colonel Robert Roggeman, whose 2-69 Armored Regiment is battling to control the eastern part of this city of 400,000.
For weeks the 2-69, an entire armored battalion, was cut off from other American forces. The roads in and out of its base were saturated with improvised explosive devices, says Captain Chas Cannon. At one stage, there were 100 explosions a week. “You expected to get hit … possibly several times,” says Cannon. The roads were closed; some food was rationed. But with aggressive combat operations, sniper assaults and the building of precarious outposts, the 2-69 has regained control of the city’s main artery, “Route Michigan,” the troops’ lifeline. Now they are struggling to keep it open. “Anyone who thinks [Iraq] is going to be won a year from now is mistaken,” says brigade commander Colonel John Gronski.
The military has barely made a dent in the insurgency. It’s hard to imagine how American troops can leave in large numbers without further inflaming the threat to the U.S. Al-Qaeda is stronger now than it was before the invasion of Iraq and under al-Zarqawi has even extended its reach, as proved by the Nov. 9 hotel bombings in Jordan by three of his acolytes.
The soldiers of Blue Platoon don’t need to be told that. On Aug. 23, with four insurgent video cameras rolling, al-Zarqawi’s group sent a truck bomb under cover of small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades straight into their observation post. The explosion knocked the entire platoon–more than 30 troops– unconscious. They recovered and fought back, only to be hit by the mini-Tet three months later. Until the U.S. begins a withdrawal, it’s up to soldiers like those of Blue Platoon to man the bunkers. “After the truck bombing,” says Gronski, “every one of them, to a man, said, ‘We are not pulling out of here.'”
Harriet Miers should slip this analysis of the situation in Iraq by top Army analysts under Chimpy’s nose before today’s “major” speech.
Andrew Terrill [professor at the Army War College’s strategic studies institute] and Conrad Crane [professor of history at the United States Military Academy] advise against setting a schedule to withdraw of U-S troops. But a new study from the Army War College experts says an American presence in Iraq probably can’t go on more than three more years.
Terrill and Crane also think it’s increasingly unlikely that coalition forces will “crush” the insurgency before withdrawing.
They also believe it’s “no longer clear” the U-S will be able to train an Iraqi military that can secure the country.
Terrill and Crane say the U-S may have to “scale back” expectations for a future Iraq and accept a relatively stable but undemocratic state.
Before the U-S invasion in 2003, Terrill and Crane accurately predicted much of the turmoil U-S troops have encountered since toppling Saddam Hussein.
My, what considerate citizens we have in the executive.
The Federal Aviation Administration has imposed flight restrictions over Vice President Dick Cheney’s new Maryland house, angering private pilots because they cannot fly overhead even when he is not there.
A spokesman for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Chris Dancy, said Tuesday that the aviation agency imposed restrictions over Mr. Cheney’s house in Jackson Hole, Wyo., only when he was present. Mr. Dancy questioned a need to have the restrictions in place at all times over a house in Maryland, where there is much more air traffic.
Mr. Cheney’s new home is on the Chesapeake Bay in St. Michaels, Md., about 30 miles east of Washington. The restricted airspace has a radius of one nautical mile and was established on Nov. 22.
The vice president’s official residence is on the grounds of the United States Naval Observatory in Northwest Washington, part of the region covered by airspace restrictions that were put in place after the Sept. 11 attacks.
A spokeswoman for the aviation agency, Laura Brown, said the St. Michaels restriction was classified as temporary, although she acknowledged that there was no date set for it to be lifted.
Flight restrictions over President Bush’s home near Crawford, Tex., stay in place even in his absence.
Looks like Chimpy’s secreet chain of terror prisons has Europe in an uproar.
[T]he new German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, raised concerns on Tuesday with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about reported American practices in the handling and interrogation of captives, according to American and German officials.
In addition, European officials said the British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, sent a letter to Ms. Rice on Tuesday on behalf of the European Union asking for clarifications. Britain currently holds the union’s presidency.
“All U.S. actions comply with U.S. laws,” Mr. McCormack said. “They comply with the United States Constitution, and they comply with our international obligations.” Mr. McCormack declined to answer whether he was sure American actions complied with European laws.
European and American officials say Ms. Rice is beginning to realize that the issue has become so inflamed that she will probably have to prepare a more lengthy response before traveling to Europe next week.
“It’s becoming one of the public issues she’s going to have to address on her next trip,” said a European official, asking not to be identified in discussing the delicate matter of pressures on the United States. “The mood in Europe is one of increasing concern over what people call the American ‘gulag’ and the reports of all these stopovers in Europe for prisoners.”
There are two investigations of American practices under way, one by the 25-member European Union and the other by the Council of Europe, a 46-member group founded after World War II that specializes in human rights inquiries. The United States sits on the council as an official observer.
A European official said Mr. Straw presided over a tense meeting of European foreign ministers on Nov. 21, where several of them voiced growing unease over the allegations of secret prisons and harsh treatment that some view as torture, a characterization the administration disputes categorically.
Administration officials said this week that they were taken aback by the intensity of the European reaction to the reports. They acknowledged that the furor had been fed by two years of disclosures about American treatment of detainees at Guantnamo Bay, Cuba, at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and in Afghanistan.
The uproar has been especially strong in Spain, Germany, Italy, Romania and Poland. Although the British press has covered the issue extensively, the government there has not been critical of the American position.
Jay Rosen has a good idea. Local ownership of media can, of course, bring its own problems and failings, some of the worst newspapers and TV stations in the country are private and/or family-owned, but honestly, could it be any worse? And I’m tired of the people who make my cereal deciding what I read while I eat it.
Don Rumsfailed is messing with the language again.
“This is a group of people who don’t merit the word `insurgency,’ I think,” Rumsfeld said Tuesday at a Pentagon news conference. He said the thought had come to him suddenly over the Thanksgiving weekend.
“I think that you can have a legitimate insurgency in a country that has popular support and has a cohesiveness and has a legitimate gripe,” he said. “These people don’t have a legitimate gripe.” Still, he acknowledged that his point may not be supported by the standard definition of `insurgent.’ He promised to look it up.
Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines the term “insurgent” as “rising up against established authority.”
Even Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who stood beside Rumsfeld at the news conference, found it impossible to describe the fighting in Iraq without twice using the term `insurgent.’
After the word slipped out the first time, Pace looked sheepishly at Rumsfeld and quipped apologetically, “I have to use the word `insurgent’ because I can’t think of a better word right now.”
Hat-tip to bo.
Without answering the question.
Q Is there going to be investigating the allegations that there are U.S.-run terrorist detention centers abroad? Don’t the American people deserve an accounting of why these places exist and what’s being done there?
THE PRESIDENT: The United States of America does not torture. And that’s important for people around the world to understand.
Rumor is Chimpy actually has a plan.
Well, I’m not going to preview the speech today. I expect that we will do some more previewing tomorrow for the speech for Wednesday; today, we’re going to stay focused on immigration reform. But I think you can expect that the President — between now and the upcoming elections in Iraq, I think you can expect that the President will spend a good bit of time talking about our plan for victory in Iraq and talking about the different aspects of that. And one aspect of that is the training of Iraqi security forces.
Scottie provided another plan tease today.
In terms of tomorrow, it’s an important speech. It’s the first in a series of speeches that the President will be making between now and the December 15th elections about our plan for victory in Iraq. We are pursuing a comprehensive strategy to defeat the terrorists and those trying to prevent democracy from advancing in Iraq. And the President believes that the American people should have a clear understanding of our strategy. And that means how we see the enemy and how we define and achieve victory. So as part of the speech tomorrow, we are going to be releasing a document called the “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.” It’s an unclassified version of the plan that we’ve been pursuing in Iraq, and it will be made available to the American people. I think we’ll also be posting it on our website, as well.
Fabulous, it’s going to be on their website.
Just what is this “plan”?
Q This document that’s coming out, can you just tell us a little bit more about what might be in that, that we haven’t seen before?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think just, generally, it’ll outline our strategy for victory in Iraq and talk about the three different elements within that strategy that I just mentioned. Beyond that, wait until it comes out.
An overwhelming majority of Americans want out troops out of Iraq, anything about that in “the plan”?
Q Is the President going to talk specific numbers, in terms of U.S. troop levels?
MR. McCLELLAN: What do you mean, “talk specific numbers”?
Q In recent days the Pentagon has said post-election, assuming everything goes okay, they’re going to draw down by –
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that’s an important point. I mean, we have increased our troop levels ahead of the elections to address concerns about an increase in violence that might come around at the time of the elections by those who are seeking to stop the advance of democracy in Iraq. And I think we’ve always expected that as we get by those elections and conditions on the ground change, that we’ll be able to reduce some of those numbers.
Q But he’s not going to go beyond that, talking about other units that will come home?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think he’ll talk about it in the way I described it. He’ll talk about it in terms of as the conditions on the ground permit and as the Iraqi forces are able to take control of more territory and the political process moves forward, then we’ll be able to lower the number of troops we have in Iraq. In 2006, I think, you know, the expectation is that conditions will be changing on the ground. We’ve been making real progress with the training of Iraqi security forces and that conditions will permit us to be able to reduce our presence.
But, again, it will always be based on conditions on the ground, and it will be based on what our commanders say. We will look to our commanders – and I think that’s one thing the President will emphasize in his remarks, that it’s our commanders who should be determining what our troop levels are in the country, and they make those decisions based on the conditions and circumstances on the ground and that those decisions should not be made by politicians in Washington.
So, “the plan” includes no plan for reducing our troop presence in Iraq.
Will “the plan” be any different from the Statement on Victory in Iraq your office released on November 19? Will it be any different from the “strategy” Chimpy outlined before the National Endowment for Democracy on October 6? Will “the plan” be any different from any of the previous plans the Bush Assministration has sought to outline?
Q Are we going to be shocked by anything in it? I mean, the President has outlined the strategy before, right?
MR. McCLELLAN: What’s that?
Q Are we going –
MR. McCLELLAN: I think one purpose of providing this document is so that the American people can have a clear sense of our strategy for success in Iraq, and so that they can see how we look at the enemy, the nature of the enemy that we’re facing and they can see how we define success in Iraq and how we are going about achieving victory in Iraq. And that’s an important thing for the American people to be able to look at and understand.
I’ll take that as a “no”.
Orrin’t you sorry you said Vietnam?
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, flubbed Monday and referred to Iraq as Vietnam while commenting on Fox News against an immediate troop withdrawal.
“The Democratic Party seems to be taken over by the Michael Moore contingent in their attitude toward Vietnam, and they continually call for a withdrawal of troops at a time when we haven’t finished the job,” Hatch said on the network’s morning show. Hatch’s spokesman acknowledged the error, which was first reported on the American Prospect Web log.
It was Sam Rosenfeld who picked up Hatch’s slip for Tapped.
Right-wing partisans like Tomlinson have always attacked aggressive reporting as liberal.
We were biased, all right—in favor of uncovering the news that powerful people wanted to keep hidden: conflicts of interest at the Department of Interior, secret meetings between Vice President Cheney and the oil industry, backdoor shenanigans by lobbyists at the FCC, corruption in Congress, neglect of wounded veterans returning from Iraq, Pentagon cost overruns, the manipulation of intelligence leading to the invasion of Iraq.
We were way ahead of the news curve on these stories, and the administration turned its hit men loose on us.
Tomlinson actually told The Washington Post that he was irate over one of our documentary reports from a small town in Pennsylvania hard-hit by outsourcing.
If reporting on what’s happening to ordinary people thrown overboard by circumstances beyond their control and betrayed by Washington officials is liberalism, I stand convicted.