Court Of Impeachment And War Crimes: Impeach Bush and Cheney; The Morning News From Washington: Yo-Yos, Spin, Confusion, Confrontation, Cowardice, Incompetence and Assorted Beltway Blindn
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Imbush Peach

An interview with Naomi Wolf about the 10 steps from democracy to dictatorship!

Stop The Spying Now

Stop the Spying!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Impeach Bush and Cheney; The Morning News From Washington: Yo-Yos, Spin, Confusion, Confrontation, Cowardice, Incompetence and Assorted Beltway Blindn



YOUR MORNING NEWS FROM WASHINGTON: YO-YOs, SPIN, CONFUSION, CONFRONTATION, COWARDICE, INCOMPETENCE AND ASSORTED BELTWAY BLINDNESS

Jeffery Brewer

Shapshots of today's event in DC at http://picasaweb.google.com/Jeffery.Brewer/ImpeachmentMarchJuly232007The originals zipped will be available at http://www.3brewers.org/20070723.zip as soon as they finish uploading.Feel free to use anything there you like.Jeff

Accountability Demands ImpeachmentKansas City infoZine - Kansas City,MO,USABy Marcel Harmon - Beginning impeachment proceedings against this administration sends a message to future administrations, and to our elected officials in ...See all stories on this topic

Takoma Park urges impeachment of Bush, Cheney in symbolic vote--WMDT - Salisbury,MD,USAThe Takoma Park city council has unanimously approved a resolution urging Congress to go forward with impeachment proceedings against President Bush and ...See all stories on this topic

Torture Theatre Calls For Bush ImpeachmentWISC - Madison,WI,USA... council and Dane County Board of Supervisors to pass a resolution calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.See all stories on this topic

Huntington Beach Rally Urges Bush ImpeachmentCBS 2 - Los Angeles,CA,USAA coalition of groups planned a rally on Monday in Huntington Beach to urge their elected officials to support the impeachment of President Bush and Vice ...See all stories on this topic

Ethical Society will discuss impeachmentSt. Louis Post-Dispatch - MO, United StatesThe lecture will be on "Impeachment: Partisan, Political or Ethical?" The lecture is intended to clarify what impeachment is and what it is for: Is ...See all stories on this topic

Act on Impeachment NowOpEdNews - Newtown,PA,USAIn writing the Constitution, our Founding Fathers chose impeachment as the primary check on federal officials who act as despots while in office. ...See all stories on this topic

Capitol protesters arrested while calling for Bush, Cheney impeachmentJURIST - USAJohn Conyers (D-MI) [official website] while calling for the impeachment of both President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. ...See all stories on this topic

Censure and ImpeachmentYahoo! News - USAHe has frequently suggested that he "would not rule out any form of accountability," including an impeachment inquiry beginning with proper investigation ...See all stories on this topic

Urge impeachmentContra Costa Times - Walnut Creek,CA,USAUrge your representatives to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney. From lying to Congress about "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq to ...See all stories

Tell Congress to Begin Impeachment Proceedings NOWBy Nicole Belle We've reached the impeachment moment for Vice President Dick Cheney. We've pushed the cosponsor list for H. Res. 333 up to 14. Chairman John Conyers says that if we get 3 more he'll begin the impeachment proceedings. ...Crooks and Liars - http://www.crooksandliars.com

ALERT: Call for Impeachment Today!By Natalie Davis We've reached the impeachment moment for Vice President Dick Cheney. We've pushed the cosponsor list for H. Res. 333 up to 14. Rep. John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has apparently said that if we get 3 more he'll ...Armchair Activist / Grateful... - http://gratefuldread.net/

Sheehan wants impeachment, Pelosi's jobAnti-war activist Cindy Sheehan on Monday moved another step âEURO" actually several thousand of them âEURO" toward carrying out her promise to run against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi because the California Democrat won't consider impeachment ...Michael Moore - This Just In - http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/latestnews/

Impeachment ManiaThis morning, as I made my daily circuit through some of the favorite liberal haunts, I could help but notice that everywhere I looked, it's impeachment, impeachment, impeachment. As per usual, the reasons vary wildly, because it's ...Right Wing News - http://www.rightwingnews.com/

The Impeachment Moment by David Swanson (action alert)By dandelionsalad We've reached the impeachment moment for Vice President Dick Cheney. We are now at what Rev. Lennox Yearwood calls the lunch counter moment in the impeachment movement. We've pushed the cosponsor list for H. Res. 333 up to 14. ...Dandelion Salad - http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com

State-run sites not effective vs. terror Report blasts costly intelligence centers
By Mimi Hall USA TODAY

More than 40 state-run operations set up after 9/11 to help uncover terrorist plots are proving to be a costly but largely ineffective weapon against terrorism, according to congressional investigators.

Homeland Security has given states $380 million to set up the high-tech intelligence centers to help law enforcement officials do what they were not able to do before Sept. 11, 2001: recognize suspicious activity, patterns and people and use the information to prevent terrorist attacks.

However, the centers "have increasingly gravitated toward an all-crimes and even broader all-hazards approach," focusing on traditional criminals and local emergencies, according to a report this month by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

Built with state and federal money, the "fusion centers" are designed to encourage local, state and federal law enforcement and homeland security officers to share information.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins, the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said federal agents are reluctant to share information with local police. "This is the complaint I hear whether I'm in Maine or Los Angeles," she said. Collins said federal agencies should be required to post analysts in the centers to improve trust.

Charlie Allen, Homeland Security's chief intelligence officer, said he'll have 35 analysts in the centers by the end of 2008.

The CRS report found "little true fusion, or analysis of disparate data sources, identification of intelligence gaps and pro-active collection of intelligence" at the 42 centers now set up in 37 states. In some cities, such as New York, the centers are working fairly well, with federal and local agents working side-by-side. But in many areas, investigators said, they are not.

New York State Police Col. Bart Johnson, chairman of a group that advises the Justice Department on local law enforcement needs, said the centers need more computer connections among states and better links to federal databases and watch lists.

"Fusion centers make connections that might otherwise not be made — potentially leading to an arrest and stopping an unfolding terrorist plot in its tracks," said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. "That kind of situational awareness … is exactly what we need if we're ever going to secure the homeland."

In Maryland, Assistant U.S. Attorney Harvey Eisenberg, who runs the Anti-terrorism Advisory Council, said operating the state's fusion center, which costs close to $2 million a year, is a struggle and the center has too few analysts.

He said officers at the center do a lot of work on "general crime." When it comes to "putting together those dots" that might lead to potential terrorists, "we need to do better at that."

Former 9/11 commissioner Bob Kerrey said the government's inability to share information effectively poses "a real risk as well as a missed opportunity."

Allen said most centers have only been up and running for less than two years. "We have to do it better and faster," he said, "but we're very early into this."
Page 1A

Counterterrorism centers in USA

Here are the locations of the 42 criminal intelligence fusion centers set up to help in the war on terrorism: Story, 1A

Ala.: Criminal Information Center, Montgomery

Alaska: Statewide Law Enforcement Information Center, Anchorage

Ariz.: Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, Phoenix; Rocky Mountain Information Network, Phoenix

Calif.: State Terror Threat Assessment Center, Sacramento; Western States Information Network, Sacramento

Colo.: Colorado Information Analysis Center, Centennial

Conn.: Connecticut Intelligence Center, New Haven

Del.: Delaware Information Analysis Center, Dover

D.C.: Multiple Threat Alert Center, Washington; Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force, Washington

Fla.: Counter Terrorism Intelligence Center, Tallahassee

Ga.: Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center, Atlanta

Ill.: Statewide Terrorism & Intelligence Center, Springfield

Iowa: Iowa Fusion Center, Des Moines

Kan.: Kansas Threat Integration Center, Topeka

La.: LSP Fusion Center, Baton Rouge

Maine: Maine Intelligence Analysis Center, Augusta

Md.: Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center, Woodlawn

Mass.: Commonwealth Fusion Center, Framingham; New England State Police Information Network, Franklin.

Minn.: Minnesota Joint Analytical Center, Minneapolis

Mo.: Missouri Highway Patrol Intel Unit, Jefferson City; Mid-States Organized Crime Information Center, Springfield

Mont.: Montana All-Threat Intelligence Center, Fort Harrison

N.J.: Regional Operations Intelligence Center, West Trenton

N.Y.: Upstate New York Regional Intelligence Center, Latham; Rockland County Intelligence Center, New City

N.D.: North Dakota Fusion Center, Bismarck

Ohio: Strategic Analysis and Information Center, Columbus

Ore.: Terrorism Fusion Center, Salem

Pa.: Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center, Harrisburg; Middle Atlantic-Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network, Newtown

S.C.: South Carolina Fusion Center, Columbia

Tenn.: Tennessee Regional Information Center, Nashville; Regional Organized Crime Information Center, Nashville

Texas: Texas Fusion Center, Austin

Utah: Utah Criminal Intelligence Center, Salt Lake City

Vt.: Vermont Fusion Center, Williston

Va.: Virginia Fusion Center, Richmond

Wash.: Washington Joint Analytical Center, Olympia

W.Va.: West Virginia Joint Intelligence Fusion Center, St. Albans

U.S. death toll

As of Monday morning, 3,624 U.S. servicemembers and seven Defense Department civilians had been identified as having died in the Iraq war: 2,986 from hostile action and 645 from non-combat-related incidents.

Latest Army deaths identified:

• Cpl. Rhett A. Butler, 22, Fort Worth; died Friday of wounds suffered when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in Khan Bani Sa'd; 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team).

•Sgt. Jacob S. Schmuecker, 27, Atkinson, Neb.; died Saturday in Balad of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device; 755th Recon/Decon Company, Nebraska Army National Guard.

The NYT fronts word that a new classified plan written by U.S. leaders in Iraq envisions a "significant American role for the next two years." The plan's goal is to create "localized security" in Baghdad and other areas by June 2008 and "sustainable security" nationwide by the summer of 2009. Although the Joint Campaign Plan doesn't explicitly mention troop numbers, it does expect that the number of U.S. forces will decrease in the coming months while highlighting how those who remain will continue to play a key role by training Iraqis and fighting terrorist groups long after the "surge" has run its course. "A core assumption of the plan is that American troops cannot impose a military solution, but that the United States can use force to create the conditions in which political reconciliation is possible," says the NYT.

Diplomats Received Political Briefings
Bush Aides Listed Election Targets
By Paul Kane
washingtonpost.com Staff WriterTuesday, July 24, 2007; Page A01

White House aides have conducted at least half a dozen political briefings for the Bush administration's top diplomats, including a PowerPoint presentation for ambassadors with senior adviser Karl Rove that named Democratic incumbents targeted for defeat in 2008 and a "general political briefing" at the Peace Corps headquarters after the 2002 midterm elections.

The briefings, mostly run by Rove's deputies at the White House political affairs office, began in early 2001 and included detailed analyses for senior officials of the political landscape surrounding critical congressional and gubernatorial races, according to documents obtained by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The documents show for the first time how the White House sought to ensure that even its appointees involved in foreign policy were kept attuned to the administration's election goals. Such briefings occurred semi-regularly over the past six years for staffers dealing with domestic policy, White House officials have previously acknowledged.

In one instance, State Department aides attended a White House meeting at which political officials examined the 55 most critical House races for 2002 and the media markets most critical to battleground states for President Bush's reelection fight in 2004, according to documents the department provided to the Senate committee.

On Jan. 4, just after the 2006 elections tossed the Republicans out of congressional power, Rove met at the White House with six U.S. ambassadors to key European missions and the consul general to Bermuda while the diplomats were in Washington for a State Department conference.

According to a department letter to the Senate panel, Rove explained the White House views on the electoral disaster while Sara M. Taylor, then the director of White House political affairs, showed a PowerPoint presentation that pinned most of the electoral blame on "corrupt" GOP lawmakers and "complacent incumbents." One chart in Taylor's presentation highlighted the GOP's top 36 targets among House Democrats for the 2008 election.

In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, asked whether the briefings inappropriately politicized the diplomatic agencies or violated prohibitions against political work by most federal employees.

"I do not understand why ambassadors, in Washington on official duty, would be briefed by White House officials on which Democratic House members are considered top targets by the Republican party for defeat in 2008. Nor do I understand why department employees would need to be briefed on 'key media markets' in states that are 'competitive' for the president," Biden wrote.

His aides said Biden plans to raise the matter at a confirmation hearing today for Henrietta Holsman Fore to be administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, whose political appointees received at least two White House briefings in the past 10 months, as well as at an oversight hearing tomorrow on the Peace Corps.

Several months ago, White House aides said that about 20 private briefings were held in 15 agencies before the 2006 midterms and that other briefings were held irregularly throughout Bush's first term.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel found, in a May report, that General Services Administration chief Lurita Alexis Doan violated the Hatch Act when she allegedly asked GSA political appointees how they could "help our candidates" win the next election at a January briefing by White House officials. The Hatch Act insulates virtually all federal workers from partisan politics and bars the use of federal resources -- including office buildings, phones and computers -- for partisan purposes.

Doan has denied any wrongdoing.

Spokesmen for the State Department, the Peace Corps and USAID said that only political appointees were invited to the briefings and that attendance was not compulsory. They also said that no specific actions were subsequently taken to boost political campaigns.

"We believe that these briefings were entirely appropriate," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. "They conformed with all the applicable regulations."

The ambassadors included in the Rove briefing were Eduardo Aguirre Jr. of Spain, James P. Cain of Denmark, Alfred Hoffman Jr. of Portugal, Ronald Spogli of Italy, Craig Stapleton of France and Robert Tuttle of Britain. Gregory Slayton, the consul general to Bermuda, also attended.

In total, the seven diplomats donated more than $1.6 million to Republican causes from 2000 through 2006, according to a Center for Responsive Politics report on large Bush donors who were named ambassadors. The State Department, in a letter to Biden, said that Cain -- one of Bush's top fundraisers in North Carolina -- requested the meeting with Rove and did not notify department officials in advance.

The briefings struck some former ambassadors as highly unusual.

"That just didn't happen. Frankly, I am shocked to hear it," said former senator James Sasser (D-Tenn.), who served as President Bill Clinton's ambassador to China in the late 1990s. "I'm one who strongly believes that politics ought to end at the water's edge."

James Dobbins, who was an ambassador in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, said that some senior diplomats and State Department officials come from political backgrounds and stay informed through back channels.

But Dobbins, who rose through the Foreign Service ranks, said that he never attended an organized meeting for political appointees.

"I don't know of any methodical effort to inform presidential appointees of the state of play in the domestic political arena," he said.

The Peace Corps briefing occurred in 2003 with about 15 political appointees, said Amanda Beck, a spokeswoman for the agency. The central mission of the Peace Corps is sending volunteers into Third World nations to help with development.

Beck, who said she attended the March 2003 "recap" of the 2002 elections, said the appointees who attended the briefing "did it on our free time during the day." She added: "It was a courtesy to political appointees," offered by the White House, and "there was no suggestion of getting involved in anything" campaign related.

J. Scott Jennings, the White House political director, separately led two briefings for USAID officials, one last fall before the midterm elections and another in February, with 20 to 30 aides on hand for each. One was held at the agency's headquarters, and the second was held at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, according to an agency letter to Biden.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel dismissed Biden's notion that ambassadors and political appointees from agencies such as the Peace Corps should be walled off from partisan politics. "Why shouldn't the president's appointees have our understanding of the political landscape?" he asked.

Biden sent letters in early May to Rice and the heads of six other agencies under his committee's jurisdiction after an April 26 report in The Washington Post about briefings from Taylor and Jennings. Four of the agencies -- the Overseas Private Investment Corp., the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and the Millennium Challenge Corp. -- reported that no political briefings were held for their top officials.


There are two big schools of thought about what the U.S. should do next in Iraq, and both schools are almost certainly wrong.

The first, represented by many congressional Democrats, argues that it is past the time for America to leave. The best thing that could happen now is for the U.S. to pull out as quickly as possible, force the Iraqis to take control of their destinies and compel the oil-rich gulf states in the neighborhood to get off the sidelines. In this view, leaving Iraq would deny al-Qaeda its best recruiting tool, a large U.S. military presence in the Middle East. Along the way, the U.S. could save the $10 billion a month that it is spending on the war and rescue the U.S. Army and Marine Corps before they both collapse.

To the other school, it's just as clear that the only possible course is to continue to fight for as long as it takes. Espoused by Bush Administration officials, the contention of this group is that by withdrawing from Iraq, we'd unleash a bloodbath, hand al-Qaeda and Iran huge victories, destabilize the Persian Gulf and empower terrorists everywhere to attack our allies and our homeland. In the face of those dangers, say the White House and its backers, America has no choice but to remain in Iraq until a democracy emerges from the chaos of the Middle East — a project they openly acknowledge is the work of a generation.

Four years after the U.S. invaded Iraq, neither approach makes much sense. Political support for the war has cratered; Americans want the troops brought home. But they also know that it isn't likely to happen soon and that no matter when America leaves, Iraq could well become a more chaotic, violent place. They have learned that in the Middle East the U.S. has very little, if any, control over what might occur. And no matter what your views of the war or its genesis, things are likely to turn out different from what you expect.

As the White House and Congress bicker over timetables and benchmarks, intelligence estimates and report cards, the real question is the one neither camp is facing very well: How do we leave in a way that maximizes the good that we can still achieve and minimizes the damage that will inevitably occur?

The best strategic minds in both parties have argued for months that the answer is essentially to muddle our way out, cut our losses carefully and try to salvage what we can from a mission gone bad. Even under the rosiest scenarios, the U.S. will suffer a humbling blow to its prestige as it leaves Iraq and the Sunni-Shi'ite civil war intensifies. But with the debacle would come some dividends. Done judiciously, a pullback from the war would start restoring America's ability to advance its interests and deter aggression beyond Iraq.

What's needed is not the sloganeering of certain politicians but a clear-eyed, multifaceted policy. That would involve making plain to the Iraqi government our intention to pull back, followed by an orderly withdrawal of about half the 160,000 troops currently in Iraq by the middle of 2008. A force of 50,000 to 100,000 troops would dig in for a longer stay to protect America's most vital interests: denying al- Qaeda a safe haven and preventing an almost inevitable civil war from spilling into neighboring countries. At the same time, the reduction in the U.S.'s military footprint in the region should be accompanied by a sustained surge in American diplomacy.

Slowly backing out of Iraq is hardly inspiring and won't be likely to satisfy either the President or his opponents. It may look just as messy as what the U.S. is doing now. But a responsible retreat would limit U.S. casualties and move America out of a debilitating chapter that has now played out politically at home, if not militarily on the ground. In a world of bad options, a phased withdrawal is the least bad one out there.


WHAT A PULLOUT WOULD LOOK LIKE

On July 17, in yet another example of how unhelpful the political conversation has become, workers laid out cots and pillows in a marble cloakroom on Capitol Hill as the Senate prepared for an all-night debate on another in a line of doomed-to-fail resolutions. Sponsored by Democratic Senators Carl Levin and Jack Reed, the measure called on the Administration to begin withdrawing the bulk of U.S. troops within 120 days and leave an unstated number behind to go after terrorists and protect the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Many Republicans might support such a plan in private if they did not feel that the Democrats were keeping them up all night to score points at the President's expense. But even if Congress approved Levin-Reed, military logistics experts say it would take far longer than 120 days to redeploy even half of U.S. forces.

The reality is that it's difficult to get out fast. It took the Soviets nine months to pull 120,000 troops out of Afghanistan. They were simply going next door, and they still lost more than 500 men on the way out. Pulling out 10 combat brigades — roughly 30,000 troops, along with their gear and support personnel — would take at least 10 months, Pentagon officials say. And that's only part of the picture. There are civilians who would probably want to head for the exit when GIs started packing. They include some 50,000 U.S. contractors and tens of thousands of Iraqis who might need protection if we left the country.

Slowing things down further is the sheer volume of stuff that we would have to take with us — or destroy if we couldn't. Military officials recently told Congress that 45,000 ground-combat vehicles — a good portion of the entire U.S. inventory of tanks, helicopters, armored personnel carriers, trucks and humvees — are now in Iraq. They are spread across 15 bases, 38 supply depots, 18 fuel-supply centers and 10 ammo dumps. These items have to be taken back home or destroyed, lest they fall into the hands of one faction or another. Pentagon officials will try to bring back as much of the downtime gear as possible — dining halls, office buildings, vending machines, furniture, mobile latrines, computers, paper clips and acres of living quarters. William (Gus) Pagonis, the Army logistics chief who directed the flood of supplies to Saudi Arabia for the 1991 Gulf War and their orderly withdrawal from the region, cites one more often overlooked hurdle: U.S. agricultural inspectors insist that, before it re-enters the U.S., Army equipment be free of any microscopic disease that, as Pagonis puts it, "can wipe out flocks of chickens and stuff like that."

Once the U.S. decides to pull its forces back, the security risks to troops leaving the battlefield would increase, and the faster the U.S. withdraws, the greater the dangers. Departing troops lose their focus and become easy targets, says Pagonis. Local militias usually try to prove their mettle by firing at departing columns. "It would be ugly," says retired Army General Barry McCaffrey, who supports a partial withdrawal. "You'd burn or blow up a lot of your equipment or hand it over to the Iraqis. You'd be subject to attack on your way down to the coast because on the way, people would say, 'We can either throw rose petals or shoot at 'em,' and they'd shoot at us." A gradual exit rather than an immediate one isn't merely the wiser course; it's the only course.

THE FATE OF THE IRAQIS

A reduction in the U.S. combat presence would probably produce one clear benefit: a lower U.S. casualty rate. But a chilling truth is that as the U.S. death toll declined, the Iraqi one would almost surely soar. Just how many Iraqis would die if the U.S. withdrew is anyone's guess, but almost everyone who has studied it believes the current rate of more than a thousand a month would spike dramatically.

It might not resemble Rwanda, where more than half a million people were slaughtered in six months in 1994. But Iraq could bleed like the former Yugoslavia did from 1992 to 1995, when 250,000 perished.

There is no debate about why: in the wake of an American pullout, Baghdad would be quickly dominated by Shi'ite militias largely unbloodied by the American campaign. Already, well-armed security forces that pose as independent are riddled with militiamen who take direction from Shi'ite leaders. Death-squad killings of Sunnis would rise. Against such emboldened forces, Sunni insurgents and elements of Saddam Hussein's former regime would retaliate with their weapon of choice: car-bomb attacks against Shi'ite markets, shrines, police stations and recruiting depots.

One result of the military's "surge" strategy is that the U.S. has handed over to Sunni tribal sheiks much greater responsibility for their security — and even the weapons to back it up — in exchange for severing their links to al-Qaeda. That's a manageable risk while U.S. forces are nearby; if they depart, it becomes tinder in a dry forest. The danger would be not just sectarian slaughter but outright anarchy as well. "Our immediate concern," says a senior Arab diplomat, "is that sending a signal of complete withdrawal could encourage some elements in every faction in every political group that they can now impose their own agenda. It would be not only Shi'ite versus Sunni ... but [war] inside each community itself. The worst case is a Somalia-ization of Iraq."

Some experts believe Iraqis would, after a brief explosion of violence, regain control of their country. Indeed, there are those who think that is the best reason for the U.S. to set a date for a withdrawal now, to force the Iraqis to step up and take control before any kind of U.S. pullout begins to create a vacuum. But there are few indications that the Iraqi center, such as it is, can hold or that Iraq's neighbors will be much of a stabilizing influence.

The worst-case scenario is an Iraq war that becomes a regional conflict. Sunni sympathizers in the region — most notably in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria — would funnel arms and cash to their kinsmen in Iraq to counter the Shi'ites, just as the government of Iran is quietly helping the Shi'ites themselves.

"One of the things we've seen elsewhere, whether it is Ireland or Palestine," says Jon Alterman, Middle East director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, "is that when you have people outside the country that are doing the paying, you will continue to have proxies inside the country doing the killing."

It's easy to see how a reckless U.S. departure could spark a chain reaction that leads to further destabilization or even war among Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, three of the world's 15 top oil-exporting countries. Shi'ites who object to Saudi backing of the Sunnis might retaliate inside the kingdom — or Sunnis might take the fight into Iran. "We will have sectarian violence on a level that would likely trigger regional war," says Michèle Flournoy, president of the Center for a New American Security, a nonpartisan think tank. "At that point, you are looking at a path you don't want to go down."

Given that the current U.S. force has been unable to curb sectarian killings, it's unreasonable to expect that a reduced U.S. troop presence would stop Sunnis and Shi'ites from killing one another. But even with a significantly smaller footprint, the U.S. would retain sufficient firepower on the ground and in the skies to guard against others trying to intervene. After a majority of U.S. troops depart, a military presence of some size will still be needed — not so much to referee a civil war, as U.S. forces are doing now, but to try to keep it from expanding. McCaffrey and others argue for cutting U.S. forces by no more than half for now. "If you end up with 10 combat brigades in Iraq at the end of this President's term" — down from 20 today — "you'd still have enough combat power" to deter outside actors from further stoking the fire.

THE AL-QAEDA FACTOR

Advocates of a phased withdrawal from Iraq still must overcome the Bush Administration's most vociferous argument against it: that Americans must stay in Iraq to prevent al-Qaeda from establishing a safe haven there. As support from key Republicans has withered, the Pentagon has cranked up the al-Qaeda rhetoric. On July 17, the Administration released the latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which said "Al-Qaeda will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qaeda in Iraq" to plot attacks against the U.S. homeland. Bush has turned up the volume, mentioning al-Qaeda 27 times in a speech last month. "Leaving Iraq now," Bush said recently, would mean we'd "allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan ... People aren't just going to be content with driving America out of Iraq. Al-Qaeda wants to hurt us here."

Anthony Cordesman, a security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says the U.S. military estimates that al-Qaeda in Iraq — a group thought to number several thousand — accounts for only about 15% of the attacks in Iraq. (Other Sunni groups account for 70%, with Shi'ite militias responsible for the remaining 15%.) But, Cordesman says, those attacks are the most deadly and "probably do the most damage in pushing Iraq toward civil war." At the moment, al-Qaeda in Iraq is valuable to Osama bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, even though the links between the Qaeda leaders and the jihadi shock troops in Iraq are tenuous. The violence perpetrated by al-Qaeda in Iraq helps the organization raise money and draw new recruits. The declassified NIE summary says al-Qaeda in Iraq helps al-Qaeda "energize the broader Sunni extremist community, raise resources and recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for homeland attacks."

But it's also true that al-Qaeda in Iraq is on the run. On Wednesday, the U.S. announced the capture of the highest-ranking commander of the group in Iraq. When the U.S. leaves, many Iraqis say, they can deal with the terrorists and their patrons more harshly. The Anbar Salvation Council has been aggressively targeting al-Qaeda in that province, denying it safe haven in places it once controlled with an iron fist.

The Administration has boasted in recent weeks that the Sunnis in Anbar are attacking elements of al-Qaeda. So why would that end if the U.S. withdrew? "If we withdraw from Iraq, a lot of the tensions we see today are going to be directed against al-Qaeda as well as against every other faction," says Cordesman. "So it's not going to be some sort of easy sanctuary for al-Qaeda."

But neither will the broader jihadist threat in Iraq or elsewhere vanish when we leave. Most plans for a reduced U.S. mission in Iraq — including the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, headed by James Baker III and Lee Hamilton — call for retaining a small counterterrorism force there. "No one is going to complain about going after an al-Qaeda target," says Anthony Zinni, former head of U.S. Central Command, who advocates a gradual disengagement from the sectarian conflict.

Even so, the U.S. needs to be realistic about what 75,000 U.S. troops can achieve. "I want to blow up al-Qaeda wherever we can, but I don't think we're going to have any particular capacity to do that if we cut our troop strength in half and pull back into the desert," says Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations. Cordesman, who does not favor an immediate withdrawal, notes that all the worry about al-Qaeda in Iraq ignores the much larger threat that bin Laden's ideas already pose to U.S. interests. "Al-Qaeda does not have a center," he says. "Al-Qaeda operates in Pakistan; al-Qaeda operates in Afghanistan. It has distributed networks and affiliates in Algeria. It has ties, awkward as they are, to Hamas. We are talking about a network, which is international in character, which will be a major threat whether we win or lose in Iraq."

REDEFINING SUCCESS

As exhausting as the enterprise in Iraq has been for Americans, it remains merely the most urgent of a wide range of challenges to global stability. While it can only be glimpsed, an end to the debacle in Iraq does not mean an end to America's responsibilities in the world. With the U.S. drawing down, Iraq would diminish as a focal point of anti-Americanism. With most U.S. troops exiting the region, Washington would have more leverage with Iran, which has continued its march toward nuclear weapons while the U.S. has been bogged down in Iraq. And most important of all, the U.S. would regain the military, economic and intellectual bandwidth it once employed to advance its interests elsewhere and start rebuilding its reputation overseas.

But that will require the kind of diplomatic effort that this Administration has been reluctant to pursue. The most obvious place to start is Iraq, where U.S. diplomacy will still be needed to bring about a sustainable accord between Sunnis and Shi'ites, should they ever tire of fighting. A State Department official says what is needed is a greater willingness to engage hard-line forces on both sides of the sectarian divide as well as the Iranians and Syrians, all of whom will have a say in Iraq's future. Resistance to this idea comes from the White House, a U.S. diplomat says. "There is a reality on the ground in Iraq that we never really wanted to confront too much, but there are real politics in Iraq," says the official. "If we can tap into that and start working and engaging with Iraqis in a different way, we might actually become part of what emerges as a solution."

Beyond Iraq, a redoubled effort to build a viable Palestinian government that can eventually reach a settlement with Israel would undercut another source of anti-Americanism and Islamic radicalism. The U.S. must also attend to growing instability in Pakistan, a key but uncertain ally in its war on terrorism, and may need to send some of the troops coming out of Iraq to Afghanistan to shore up the shaky government in Kabul.

Can it be done? Michael Mandelbaum, who teaches U.S. foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University, warns that potential gains in any salvage operation are limited, and this one is no different. "The goal here is damage limitation," he says, "not the kind of success envisioned when the operation began." Withdrawal from Iraq will be slow, messy and painful. But however difficult the passage, it is still possible to get to a place that is more secure than where we are now.

With reporting by Mark Kukis and Charles Crain/Baghdad, Scott Macleod/Cairo and Brian Bennett, Massimo Calabresi, Jay Newton-Small and Mark Thompson/Washington

Public Voice Adds Edge to Debate

Democrats Face Questions from Internet Users in Unorthodox Format
By Dan Balz and Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff WritersTuesday, July 24, 2007; Page A01

CHARLESTON, S.C., July 23 -- Democratic presidential candidates shared the spotlight Monday night with ordinary citizens from around the country in a two-hour debate that featured sharp and sometimes witty video questions and often equally sharp exchanges among the candidates on issues ranging from Iraq and health care to whether any of them can fix a broken political system.

The debate, co-sponsored by CNN and YouTube, underscored the arrival of the Internet as a force in politics. The citizen-interrogators generated the most diverse set of questions in any of the presidential debates to date and challenged the candidates to break out of the rhetoric of their campaign speeches and to address sometimes uncomfortable issues, such as race, gender, religion and their own vulnerabilities.

Many questions in the nationally televised session were aimed at the two leading candidates, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), and they used the forum to challenge each other more directly than they have in past debates. But all candidates were put on the spot at one time or another, such as when asked whether, if elected president, they would work for the minimum wage. Most said they would.

Obama came close to directly criticizing Clinton's support for the Iraq war in 2002, and Clinton contradicted Obama on a question about whether, as president, they would meet with leaders of foreign governments hostile to the United States.

On Iraq, Clinton noted at one point that she had recently asked the Pentagon about planning for troop withdrawal, only to be accused of abetting the enemy. Obama then turned praise into veiled criticism of her record on Iraq.

"I think it's terrific that she's asking for plans from the Pentagon, and I think the Pentagon response was ridiculous," he said. "But what I also know is that the time for us to ask how we were going to get out of Iraq was before we went in. And that is something too many of us failed to do."

When a questioner asked whether the candidates would meet with leaders of Iran, Syria, Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela during their first year in the White House, Obama eagerly responded that he would.

"And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous," he said.

When it was Clinton's turn, she offered a more measured response, one that suggested she believed her rival had been naive in his answer. Saying she would not make such a pledge to meet with those leaders in her first year, she warned: "I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes. I don't want to make a situation even worse."

Sponsors had promised that the debate, held on the campus of the Citadel, would be different, and it was. Moderator Anderson Cooper of CNN introduced the videos, then followed up with his own questions aimed at pinning down the candidates and forcing them to answer the questions.

In one video, a man played guitar and sang a question about taxes (and then asked whether "one of y'all" could grant him a pardon for a recent speeding ticket). A lesbian couple asked the candidates whether they would allow them to marry.

A Boston man asked whether they supported reparations to African Americans for the enslavement of their ancestors and added: "I know you all are going to run around this question, dipping and dodging, so let's see how far you all can get." Most answered, but only Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (Ohio) said he would support reparations.

Would Clinton, one questioner asked, really be able to negotiate with Middle Eastern nations that give all their power to men? "I believe that there isn't much doubt in anyone's mind that I can be taken seriously," she said.

To Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), one voter asked: Which Republican would you pick as a vice president if you had to? He named Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.). Obama was asked whether he is "authentically black," and said he proved his racial bona fides whenever he tried to hail a cab in New York.

he candidates also produced videos, which were interspersed throughout the debate. Many were standard campaign ads, while Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.) tried to turn his white mane into a proxy for experience, which he says is his strongest attribute.

Former senator John Edwards (N.C.) used his video to take on the issue of his $400 haircuts. His 30-second video, set to the song "Hair," mocked the controversy and ended with a screen that read: "What really matters? You choose."

The Kansas University student who asked Obama whether he is sufficiently black asked Clinton to respond to commentary that she is not "satisfactorily feminine." She responded to laughter, "I couldn't run as anything other than a woman."

Then she turned the answer toward her principal campaign message. "Obviously, I'm not running because I'm a woman. I'm running because I think I'm the most qualified and experienced person to hit the ground running in January 2009."

Edwards was asked by Cooper whether he agreed with his wife, Elizabeth, who said last week that she believes her husband would be a better advocate for women than Clinton. "Senator Clinton has a long history of speaking out on behalf of women," he said. "She deserves to be commended for that. But I believe that on the issues that directly affect women's lives, I have the strongest, boldest ideas and can bring about the change that needs to be brought."

Clinton was far more circumspect in responding to a question from a Democratic precinct committeeman from Illinois. He noted that if she were elected and served two terms, the country would go through 28 years with a Bush or a Clinton in the White House.

"How would electing you, a Clinton, constitute the type of change in Washington so many people in the heartland are yearning for?" he asked.

Clinton responded with humor that drew applause from the largely Democratic audience. "Well, I think it was a problem that Bush was elected in 2000." But she never took on the question of how her candidacy would represent real change.

Iraq and health care produced sharp differences among the candidates. Biden passionately called out three senatorial rivals for voting against the recently passed Iraq funding bill, saying they had voted against funds for safer military vehicles that might prevent more U.S. soldiers from being killed.

"How in good conscience can you vote not to send those vehicles over there as long as there's one single, solitary troop there?" he thundered.

He also challenged New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson for suggesting that he could bring all the troops out of Iraq by the end of this year. "There is not a single military man in this audience who will tell this senator [sic] he can get those troops out in six months if the order goes today," Biden said.

Edwards said Obama's health-care plan would not achieve universal coverage and passionately called for action after relating the story of a man he had met who had waited 50 years to have surgery for a cleft palate. "For five decades, [he] lived in the richest nation on the planet, not able to talk because he couldn't afford the procedure that would've allowed him to talk. When are we going to stand up and do something about this?"

Former senator Mike Gravel (Alaska) once again played the role of scourge, attacking Obama for the way he has raised money -- a charge Obama quickly sought to rebut -- while complaining that he was being ignored through most of the debate.

Kornblut reported from Washington.

House Panel Nears A Legal Clash With Bush Over Firings
Gonzales to Tell Senators He Will Not Quit
By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff WriterTuesday, July 24, 2007; Page A04

The House Judiciary Committee announced yesterday that it will press toward a constitutional showdown with the Bush administration over the U.S. attorney firings scandal, even as embattled Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales vowed to stay on and "fix the problems" that have damaged the reputation and morale of the Justice Department.

John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), chairman of the committee, said it will vote on Wednesday on contempt citations for the White House chief of staff, Joshua B. Bolten, and former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers. Both refused congressional demands for information on the dismissals after President Bush invoked executive privilege.

The move puts House Democrats on a legal collision course with the White House, which said last week that it will not allow the Justice Department to prosecute executive branch officials for being in contempt of Congress.

Gonzales's promise to remain in office, made in written testimony to be delivered today before the Senate Judiciary Committee, comes as many Justice Department employees say they are dispirited and have little confidence in their politically wounded leader.

Most members of Gonzales's senior staff have resigned or are on the way out. Several outside candidates turned down chances to be considered for the job of his deputy, and more than a half-dozen other top positions remain filled by temporary appointees. Some of the department's key legislative priorities -- including intelligence law revisions and anti-crime proposals -- have also bogged down because of the fight with Democrats over the prosecutor firings.

"It takes away from normal work," one recently departed Justice official said about the persistent controversy over Gonzales's role in the firings and the use of improper political considerations in hiring career employees. "It obviously has a serious impact," said the former official, who would discuss the department's internal workings only if not identified.

Many lawmakers, including some Republicans, have said that Gonzales should resign. But in his testimony, released yesterday, Gonzales said: "I could walk away or I could devote my time, effort and energy to fix the problems. Since I have never been one to quit, I decided that the best course of action was to remain here."

Referring indirectly to criticism that young, ideologically oriented aides such as former senior counselor Monica M. Goodling made improper decisions, Gonzales said, "I will continue to make efforts to ensure that my staff and others within the department have the appropriate experience and judgment so that previous mistakes will not be repeated."

Gonzales again depicted himself as largely detached from controversial personnel practices, including the firings of the nine U.S. attorneys last year. But in a video message to Justice Department employees on Friday, he said, "I am sorry, and I accept full responsibility."

"I am troubled because the allegations regarding the politicization of this historic institution -- an institution that stands for and protects the rights of the citizens of the greatest, most free nation on Earth -- have occurred on my watch," Gonzales said, according to a transcript.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said yesterday: "We are confident that the men and women of the department are working distraction-free, protecting our neighborhoods from violent gangs, preventing acts of terrorism and protecting our children from predators."

In the House, Conyers said the decision to move forward with contempt proceedings was made reluctantly, but he asserted that the committee had few options in the face of the White House's refusal to comply with committee subpoenas. "It is still my hope that they will reconsider this hard-line position and cooperate with our investigation so that we can get to the bottom of this matter," Conyers said.

The panel's move comes after months of legal feuding between congressional Democrats and Bush. He has declared that details about the firings are protected from disclosure by executive privilege and need not be shared with Congress.

The U.S. attorney firings last year -- including seven on one day in December -- came after a two-year effort by senior White House and Justice Department aides that targeted prosecutors for removal based in part on their perceived loyalty to the Bush administration and the GOP.

Several of the prosecutors were improperly contacted by GOP lawmakers or staff members about active criminal probes of corruption involving elected officials. Justice investigators are looking into whether civil service laws were violated in other hiring and firing decisions.

You Tube Video, Tina & Grassroots America Interviews Harry Reid on the War and impeachment

Leader Reid confesses Levin-Reed Amendment leaves troops in Iraq indefinitely.

I attended the MoveOn.org rally on Tuesday night where Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid discussed how they were going to "end the war" and "bring our troops home" with the Levin-Reed Amendment. When I asked if they meant all the troops, I was quickly told to, "shut up" and muscled aside by security. A fellow Marine Mom was treated in much the same manner and we couldn't get over how much like the Republicans the "Anti-Escalation" folks were acting.

I thought maybe I missed something in the Amendment and should reread it to ensure I did not miss anything. Yet an in-depth analysis of the Amendment is not needed in order to find the contradictions. A quick glance paired with recent statements made by Senator Reid prove that it holds no ambitions of easing the minds of military families and moms who want to know, "how do you choose which of our sons and daughters to abandon in Iraq?"

The Amendment provides for our troops to come home, except for the following three reasons:

(1) Protect United States and Coalition personnel and infrastructure,

(2) provide logistical support for Iraqi security forces and to

(3) engage in counter-terrorism operations against international terrorism groups and their local affiliates.

I had an opportunity to ask Leader Reid about how many troops will be abandoned in Iraq. He bluntly stated, "we haven't spoken to the military yet, at that this stage we don't know". We don't know? They have pushed and prodded for this Amendment and they don't know? If members of congress do not have any idea how large of a future force this amendment calls for, then how can we as military families possibly support it? Senator Reid has admitted that this proposed "pull-out plan" does nothing yet leave the decision up to the military leadership, who take their direction from President Bush.

It must be made clear to the public that the Reed Amendment does not call for a specific withdrawal from Iraq nor does it seek to revamp the American mission in the region. Representatives such as Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi who proudly boast of being men and women of peace; disgrace not only their own selves, yet also the millions of true warriors of peace in this country, when they back a plan that will leave America's future in Iraq to military generals. The Levin-Reed Amendment is nothing more than a political stunt that calls for, at best, a smaller war, not an end to the occupation which the American public and the world yearns to see.

Under the Amendment, our sons and daughters will be abandoned with no way home. Maybe if it wasn't our sons and daughters being abandoned we could join in with MoveOn and American's Against Escalation and be thankful the Democrats want some of them home. Next time you say, "support the troops," try to include all the troops..

Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi and all of the other Democratic leadership; we plead you to push forward legislation that will bring "all" our sons and daughters home from this occupation. We cannot support an amendment that provides for leaving stranded an "unknown" amount of our troops. Until that time, the peace movement will continue to speak out against these cruel promises of withdrawing our troops. We will also continue to struggle against MoveOn.org and other such groups that blindly fall in line with the Democratic Party and their anti-escalation, not-anti-war, agenda.

Please call and send a letter to Shaun's Senators asking them to supprt the troops by making sure Shaun and every combat vet gets VA benefits reguardless of thier discharge status. Shaun served his country honorably and deserves to be treated like a hero.

Burr, Richard- (R - NC)

217 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-3154

Dole, Elizabeth- (R - NC)

555 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-6342

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