By Patrick Seale, The Daily Star (Lebanon)
As Iraq sinks deeper into disaster, the question people are asking is this: Was the Iraq war inevitable? Could it have been avoided? Had Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair refused to take part, would President George W. Bush have gone to war alone?
If it can be established that Britain could have checked America's rush to war, but failed to do so, then Blair must share with Bush a heavy personal responsibility for the catastrophe that followed - for the vast number of civilian and military deaths, for the huge expenditure of resources, for the physical destruction of Iraq and the continuing misery of its people, for the attacks on London's transport system last July and, more generally, for the terrorist explosion which now threatens much of the world.
By Barb Guy, Salt Lake Tribune
The Bush team has been taking potshots at anyone who dares to note the overwhelming evidence that the administration manipulated - if not downright manufactured - pre-war intelligence in order to sell the American people on the Iraq war.
People have pointed these things out for years, for all the good it's done. So what has brought on the recent nasty counterattacks? Sidney Blumenthal said in Salon.com Thursday: "The Senate's decision last week to launch an investigation into the administration's role in prewar disinformation, after the Democrats forced the issue in a rare secret session, has provoked a furious presidential reaction."
Excerpts from an article by Paul Krugman in the NY Times (paid subscription required and I encourage you to sign up and pay so that the NY Times knows Krugman is popular):
Not long ago wise heads offered some advice to those of us who had argued since 2003 that the Iraq war was sold on false pretenses: give it up. The 2004 election, they said, showed that we would never convince the American people. They suggested that we stop talking about how we got into Iraq and focus instead on what to do next.
It turns out that the wise heads were wrong. A solid majority of Americans now believe that we were misled into war. And it is only now, when the public has realized the truth about the past, that serious discussions about where we are and where we're going are able to get a hearing...
By Larry C. Johnson
The neocons who helped bum rush the United States into war are insistent that things are actually peachy keen in Iraq. It is just that damn liberal media who keeps spreading the lies and the bad news about the place. Oh really?
Consider the following:
The strife between the Shias and the Sunnis in Iraq is escalating. A dandy piece in today's New York Times by Sabrina Tavernise lays it out in excruciating detail.
Two and a half years after the American invasion, deep divides that have long split Iraqi society have violently burst into full view. As the hatred between Sunni Arabs and Shiites hardens and the relentless toll of bombings and assassinations grows, families are leaving their mixed towns and cities for safer areas where they will not automatically be targets. In doing so, they are creating increasingly polarized enclaves and redrawing the sectarian map of Iraq, especially in Baghdad and the belt of cities around it.
See Friday's press conference here:
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington, The Independent (UK)
The controversy in America over pre-war intelligence has intensified, with revelations that the Bush administration exaggerated the claims of a key source on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, despite repeated warnings before the invasion that his information was at best dubious, if not downright wrong.
The disclosure, in The Los Angeles Times, came after a week of vitriolic debate on Iraq, amid growing demands for a speedy withdrawal of US troops and tirades from Bush spokesmen who all but branded as a traitor anyone who suggested that intelligence was deliberately skewed to make the case for war.
From Tomdispatch today, "Losing the Fear Factor, How the Bush Administration Got Spooked" http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=38464
In this piece, I follow the "fear factor" from September 11, 2001 to the present, discussing how the Bush administration played the fear card, why in recent months it stopped working, and what this means -- for all the President's men, for the Republicans, for the Democrats and for the rest of us. It is also the story of how the President's war of choice in Iraq chased his presidency over an opinion-poll cliff -- and a survey of a radically changed political landscape in the media, in Congress, and in the White House. In the process, I suggest the way two central agendas of the Bush administration proved to be in conflict, although for years this was less than evident (even to the players involved). The unfettered imperial presidency and an unfettered Republican Party -- two dreams joined at the hip by September 11, 2001 -- were parted by the Iraq War. Check out how and why in my latest piece.
By David Swanson
During the middle of the day on Friday, I spent an hour or two on a conference call with activists and congressional staffers discussing next steps to end the war. We planned, among other things, to organize support for Congressman John Murtha's bill, H.J.Res. 73, which he introduced on Friday. The bill resolves that:
"The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date. A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S. Marines shall be deployed in the region. The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy."
Rep. Cynthia McKinney's Statement on "Murtha" War Resolution
The Republicans in this House have done a heinous thing: they have insulted one of the deans of this House in an unthinkable and unconscionable way.
They took his words and contorted them; they took his heartfelt sentiments and spun them. They took his resolution and deformed it: in a cheap effort to silence dissent in the House of Representatives.
The Republicans should be roundly criticized for this reprehensible act. They have perpetrated a fraud on the House of Representatives just as they have defrauded the American people.
By Progressive Democrats of America
November 16, 2005--Watch exclusive online video of Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) being interviewed regarding his bill H. Res. 4232, which would cut off funding for the Iraq war. See links below to select a clip appropriate for your Internet connection speed. Then take action to support the resolution!
By Bob Drogin and John Goetz, The Los Angeles Times
The Iraqi informant's German handlers say they had told US officials that his information was 'not proven,' and were shocked when President Bush and Colin L. Powell used it in key prewar speeches.
Berlin - The German intelligence officials responsible for one of the most important informants on Saddam Hussein's suspected weapons of mass destruction say that the Bush administration and the CIA repeatedly exaggerated his claims during the run-up to the war in Iraq.
Five senior officials from Germany's Federal Intelligence Service, or BND, said in interviews with The Times that they warned U.S. intelligence authorities that the source, an Iraqi defector code-named Curveball, never claimed to produce germ weapons and never saw anyone else do so.
Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush issued an order to the Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Department, and his cabinet members that severely curtailed intelligence oversight by restricting classified information to just eight members of Congress.
"The only Members of Congress whom you or your expressly designated officers may brief regarding classified or sensitive law enforcement information," he writes, "are the Speaker of the House, the House Minority Leader, the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, and the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Intelligence Committees in the House and Senate."
By Francis Elliott, Raymond Whitaker and Kim Sengupta
The Independent (UK)
Britain has been dragged into the growing scandal of officially condoned killings in Iraq.
British-trained police operating in Basra have tortured at least two civilians to death with electric drills, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.
John Reid, the Secretary of State for Defence, admits that he knows of "alleged deaths in custody" and other "serious prisoner abuse" at al-Jamiyat police station, which was reopened by Britain after the war.
Militia-dominated police, who were recruited by Britain, are believed to have tortured at least two men to death in the station. Their bodies were later found with drill holes to their arms, legs and skulls.
By Frank Rich, The New York Times
If anyone needs further proof that we are racing for the exits in Iraq, just follow the bouncing ball that is Rick Santorum. A Republican leader in the Senate and a true-blue (or red) Iraq hawk, he has long slobbered over President Bush, much as Ed McMahon did over Johnny Carson. But when Mr. Bush went to Mr. Santorum's home state of Pennsylvania to give his Veterans Day speech smearing the war's critics as unpatriotic, the senator was M.I.A.
Mr. Santorum preferred to honor a previous engagement more than 100 miles away. There he told reporters for the first time that "maybe some blame" for the war's "less than optimal" progress belonged to the White House. This change of heart had nothing to do with looming revelations of how the new Iraqi "democracy" had instituted Saddam-style torture chambers. Or with the spiraling investigations into the whereabouts of nearly $9 billion in unaccounted-for taxpayers' money from the American occupation authority. Or with the latest spike in casualties. Mr. Santorum was instead contemplating his own incipient political obituary written the day before: a poll showing him 16 points down in his re-election race. No sooner did he stiff Mr. Bush in Pennsylvania than he did so again in Washington, voting with a 79-to-19 majority on a Senate resolution begging for an Iraq exit strategy. He was joined by all but one (Jon Kyl) of the 13 other Republican senators running for re-election next year. They desperately want to be able to tell their constituents that they were against the war after they were for it.
Union for Reform Judaism, Representing 1.5 Million People, Votes Against War in Iraq;
Resolution Calls for Exit Strategy and Specific Goals for Troop Withdrawal
HOUSTON -- Representatives of the 1.5 million Reform Jews in North America voted almost unanimously to call on the Bush Administration to immediately provide a clear exit strategy for the War in Iraq, with some troop withdrawal to begin after the December 15 elections.
More than 2,000 voting delegates from more than 500 congregations in all 50 states participated in the session at the Union for Reform Judaism's Biennial Convention, meeting in Houston Nov. 16-20.
By Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times
Whatever impact the scandal surrounding the leak of
former CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity ultimately
has on the Bush administration, it continues to spread
through the Washington press corps like a toxic plume.
As it does, it discredits not only individual reporters
and damages their news organizations but also an entire
style of reporting that has come to dominate the way
Americans are informed - or misinformed - concerning
their government's conduct.
This week's casualty was the Washington Post's Bob
Woodward, who, as it turns out, has concealed for 17
By Ray McGovern
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
While it is altogether appropriate for Congress's attention to be riveted on the future and, specifically, on how to end the disaster in Iraq, we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) continue to be asked about the past and how the George W. Bush administration was able to create/corrupt intelligence to convey a false picture of the need for war on Iraq in the first place.
Renewed, if short-lived, interest in this issue can be traced to Senator Harry Reid's demand on November 1 that Pat Roberts, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, make good on his promise to complete his investigation into this issue (the so-called "Phase 2" study that Democratic senator Jay Rockefeller acquiesced in postponing until after last year's election).
On November 18, Congressman John Murtha introduced H.J.Res. 73, a resolution that:
"The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.
"A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S. Marines shall be deployed in the region.
"The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy."
PDF of bill.
By Kevin Zeese, Democracy Rising
Now Rep. Pelosi Must Lead Democrats, Republicans Must Separate from Bush
For months, those of us who work Capitol Hill on the Iraq War have heard that Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the leader of the Democratic Party in the House, could not go further on anti-war efforts because the right flank of the Democratic Party was not speaking out against the war. We were always told the key Democrat to watch was Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) a national security Democrat who is the senior member of the Appropriations Committee and a leader on military policy who every week visits wounded service personnel at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington or at the Bethesda naval hospital in suburban Maryland.
BY TIMOTHY M. PHELPS, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, Newsday
WASHINGTON -- A full, open debate on Iraq erupted here last week for the first time since President George W. Bush took the country to war.
It was not pretty.
Democrats, constrained by a lack of good policy options and a fear of being portrayed as soft on national security, concentrated on attacking the Bush administration for allegedly manipulating intelligence about weapons of mass destruction.
The White House, faced with a crisis of rising U.S. casualties, dropping polls and the federal indictment of one of its key war advocates, responded by impugning the integrity of its critics.
By David Sirota
Way back in July, I speculated that Condoleezza Rice was most likely to be at the center of the Wilson/Plame leak. Now it seems like that speculation may, in fact, have been right on (see my original July article linked below). While she is denying her role - the fact that she feels compelled to offer a public defense today should tell us something: namely, the sharks are circling around her and her former deputy, Stephen Hadley.
If the Times of London today is right and Hadley was Woodward's direct source, that raises a very important question: was Hadley ordered to leak Plame's name to the press by his boss at the time, Condi Rice? Remember, as I wrote back in July, Wilson's New York Times op-ed was a direct indictment of Rice, meaning she had a personal motive. And it would be extremely hard to imagine Hadley acting alone with such a coordinated hit job on a CIA officer...Stay tuned.
By Armando, dailykos.com
The latest incarnation of the New McCarthyism, the ugly Duncan Hunter stunt - the so-called "Murtha" resolution - blew up in their face.
The NYTimes reported that:
"House Republicans are attempting to split the ranks of the Democrats tonight by offering a resolution to withdraw American troops from Iraq immediately."
The vote on the rule to bring the Fake Hunter Resolution to the floor for a vote passed 210-202, but every every Democratic representative who voted, voted against the rule and 5 Republicans joined the Democrats.
Obviously, the Republican attempt failed.
By David Swanson
A Washington Post editorial today completely misses the distinction that much of the public understands and cares passionately about, the distinction between someone telling reporters information to expose crimes and doing so at risk to their own careers (even if they have other motives like petty rivalries or dislike of the criminals), and - on the other hand - telling reporters information in order to punish whistleblowers for exposing the rationales for crimes as a pack of lies. You cannot use the same "principle" to protect whistleblowers AND to protect the criminals and their acts of retribution against whistleblowers...unless you're the Washington Post, which wrote:
By Elliott Minor, The Associated Press
Columbus, Ga. - Carlos Mauricio, a torture survivor from El Salvador, will be among the thousands who gather at Fort Benning's main gate this weekend to call for the closing of a military school they blame for human rights abuses in Latin America.
"I was blindfolded. I was badly, badly beaten," he said. "I was tortured for nine days. I was forced to listen to the screaming of all the people being given electroshock and women being raped."
Mauricio, a high school science teacher, traveled by minivan from his home in San Francisco to join the annual protest organized by School of the Americas Watch, a group that has waged a 15-year campaign to close Fort Benning's School of the Americas, now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.
Posted by: NonnyO at November 19, 2005 03:32 PM
Democracy Cell Project
(Editor's note: NonnyO simplified the vote and it's misinterpretation from yesterday's Republican ploy.)
The Republican alternative simply said: "It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."
Everything would hinge on the meaning of the word "deploy"/deployment (American Heritage Dictionary): Deploy: "To distribute (persons or forces) systematically or strategically." "To put into use or action." Knowing the meaning of the word deployment makes all the difference, because the Repub/NeoCon wording only means the US would cease sending more military personnel to Iraq. It doesn't say a bloody thing about bringing the ones who are already there home, or withdrawing from Iraq immediately or in the future; the way it's worded it only means we would cease sending more troops. The ones already there could be stationed there indefinitely, even if no more troops are sent (and it would mean no rotation of troops).
By Hornet, http://houseoflabor.tpmcafe.com
Did the White House plan to 'find' WMD in Iraq until Brewster-Jennings intercepted their shipment? Was that why Plame was in their crosshairs long before Wilson's editorial?
Buried in a TPM Nov 18 blog about what the WH was really thinking when it invaded Iraq, Joshua Micah Marshall writes "This even leads to a sort of inverted conspiracy theorizing when people ask, 'If he knew there was no WMD, why didn't they at least try to plant some to avoid the catastrophic embarrassment which ensued after the war....The real answer, I think, is as banal as it is devastating: I don't think they ever gave it much thought -- not in the sense of trying to get to the heart of the matter."