Saturday, June 16, 2007

General Taguba speaks...the truth

General Antonio Taguba investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq, yet was all but ostracized and eventually forced to retire last January in spite of the truthful and honorable manner in which he carried out his investigation. Sy Hersh's latest article in The New Yorker does an exceptional job of detailing what transpired and recounting how it played out inside the Pentagon.

Perhaps the best statement in the article comes from General Taguba, himself, in the final paragraph:

“From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor, integrity, and selfless service,” Taguba said. “And yet when we get to the senior-officer level we forget those values. I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values. The stress of combat is not an excuse, and I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable."

Spoken like a true American hero. Sadly, too many in the military establishment have forgotten what it means to serve with honor. As Americans, we all lose in the end when that happens. Here's hoping that we can have more people like General Taguba serving on our behalf. Forcing men like him to retire is a disgrace, plain and simple.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Two words describe this story

Utter bullshit.

White House: Bin Laden wanted Iraq as a new base

(CNN) -- President Bush on Tuesday declassified intelligence showing in 2005 Osama bin Laden planned to use Iraq as a base from which to launch attacks in the United States, according to White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

Johndroe said the intelligence was declassified so the president could discuss the previously secret material on Wednesday during a commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut.

The speech will be aimed at defending a key part of the president's war strategy -- the contention that the United States cannot withdraw from Iraq because al Qaeda would fill the vacuum in the Middle East.

"This shows why we believe al Qaeda wants to use Iraq as a safe haven," said Johndroe. He added the president will talk about al Qaeda's "strong interest in using Iraq as a safe haven to plot and plan attacks on the United States and other countries."

The decision also coincides with an ongoing push by the Democratic majority in Congress to force an end to U.S. involvement in Iraq. (Full story)

Bin Laden and a top lieutenant -- Abu Faraj al-Libbi -- planned to form a terror cell in Iraq in order to launch those attacks, Johndroe said.

Al-Libbi was a "senior al Qaeda manager" who in 2005 suggested to bin Laden that bin Laden send Egyptian-born Hamza Rabia to Iraq to help plan attacks on American soil, Johndroe said.

Johndroe noted that bin Laden later suggested to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, then leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, that America should be his top priority. That was followed in the spring of 2005 with bin Laden's ordering Rabia to brief al-Zarqawi on plans to attack the United States, Johndroe said.

Johndroe added the intelligence indicates al-Libbi later suggested Rabia should be sent to Iraq to carry out those operations.

But al-Libbi was captured in Pakistan and taken into CIA custody in May 2005. After al-Libbi's capture, the CIA's former acting director, John McLaughlin, described him as bin Laden's chief operating officer, the No. 3 man in al Qaeda.

"Catching terrorists is sometimes like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle without seeing the picture on the box," McLaughlin said at the time. "This is a guy who knows the picture on the box. He knows what the big picture is."

Al-Libbi is a Libyan who joined al Qaeda in the 1990s and fled to Pakistan after the United States invaded Afghanistan in late 2001. U.S. officials say al-Libbi was in contact with and directing alleged al Qaeda members in the United Kingdom who were planning attacks there and in the United States. He was also believed to be behind two 2005 attempts to assassinate Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf.

Rabia took over al-Libbi's position in the organization but was killed in in the North Waziristan tribal area of Pakistan near the Afghan border in December 2005.

Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. airstrike north of Baghdad in June 2006.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

How many soldiers does it take to find...

You know, while I appreciate the fact that the U.S. military desperately wants to find its three missing soldiers who disappeared after an ambush in Iraq last week, can they really justify tying up 4,000 U.S. troops and 2,000 Iraqi troops in the search? I mean, with all of the tumult going on over there and the need to quell the seemingly entrenched insurgency, one would think those 6,000 military personnel would have more impactful work to do than fruitlessly searching for three soldiers who very well may be dead. I know they want to retrieve their brothers in arms. They would want the same to be done for themselves. But it just doesn't appear to be a good use of scarce resources. And how many more may die in the course of trying to find the others?

It's really unfortunate that the military can't devote that kind of manpower to finding Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri. Perhaps they just weren't that important in the grand scheme of things, after all? At least, not in the minds of the Bush administration? Of course, they're not even in Iraq. Never were. But that's another story for another day, sadly.

I truly hope they are able to locate the three missing soldiers and bring them back alive. Anything less would be a dire disappointment, not to mention a complete waste of time and money...and quite possibly additional lives.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

When is a dead rat worth $1,700,000?

Apparently, when it's found in a McDonald's salad by the wife and the nanny of a Dallas Cowboys coach.

A Dallas Cowboys coach, his wife and the family's nanny have sued a McDonald's owner, alleging they found a dead rat in a salad purchased at a Southlake restaurant.

The lawsuit, which seeks $1.7 million in damages, was filed Thursday in state district court on behalf of Cowboys passing-game coordinator Todd Haley, his wife, Christine Haley, and the family's live-in baby sitter, Kathryn Kelley.

"We tried to work this out," said Scott Casterline, a spokesman for the Haley family.

"We were forced to file a lawsuit. It's a tragic situation for any family to go through.

"Something has to be done to prevent this from ever happening again and to help these ladies to get over this."

Ken Lobato, owner-operator of the McDonald's, said he hadn't seen the litigation so he couldn't respond to the allegation.

"Nothing is more important to us than the safety and well-being of our customers," he said. "We maintain the strictest quality standards. We take these matters seriously and are conducting a full investigation to get all the facts.

"In my years as an owner-operator, I've never seen anything like this," Mr. Lobato said.

According to the lawsuit, Mrs. Haley and Ms. Kelley purchased a salad on June 5 at the drive-through of the McDonald's at 2155 W. Southlake Blvd.

They took the salad home, where both women ate part of it before a dead rodent – thought to be a juvenile roof rat – was uncovered.

The women called the Southlake McDonald's, and a manager came to the house to examine the salad.

The manager asked to take the salad and rat, but the women declined, the lawsuit says.

The women became severely ill and endured long-lasting physical injuries, the lawsuit says. Mrs. Haley, who was nursing, had to feed her baby formula.

"She got violently ill; she couldn't perform her duties as a mother," Mr. Casterline said of Mrs. Haley.

Both women say they suffered severe mental and physical pain and that their dining habits have been altered, the lawsuit says.

While I certainly agree that a dead rat doesn't belong in a McDonald's salad - nor a live one, for that matter - I think it's a bit of a stretch to turn a small, juvenile roof rat into a lawsuit for $1.7 million. Long-lasting physical injuries? Yeah, right.

Some form of compensation clearly is in order, but $1.7 million? Come on!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The end of free speech as we know it

Who knew that disagreeing with our "esteemed" leadership could land one in jail? The Constitution is dead. Long live the Constitution.

A Denver-area man filed a lawsuit today against a member of the Secret Service for causing him to be arrested after he approached Vice President Dick Cheney in Beaver Creek this summer and criticized him for his policies concerning Iraq.

Attorney David Lane said that on June 16, Steve Howards was walking his 7-year-old son to a piano practice, when he saw Cheney surrounded by a group of people in an outdoor mall area, shaking hands and posing for pictures with several people.

According to the lawsuit filed at U.S. District Court in Denver, Howards and his son walked to about two-to-three feet from where Cheney was standing, and said to the vice president, "I think your policies in Iraq are reprehensible," or words to that effect, then walked on.

Ten minutes later, according to Howards' lawsuit, he and his son were walking back through the same area, when they were approached by Secret Service agent Virgil D. "Gus" Reichle Jr., who asked Howards if he had "assaulted" the vice president. Howards denied doing so, but was nonetheless placed in handcuffs and taken to the Eagle County Jail.

The lawsuit states that the Secret Service agent instructed that Howards should be issued a summons for harassment, but that on July 6 the Eagle County District Attorney's Office dismissed all charges against Howards.

The lawsuit filed today alleges that Howards was arrested in retaliation for having exercised his First Amendment right of free speech, and that his arrest violated his Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful seizure.

Welcome to life in New Amerika.

Heil, Cheney!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Musharraf in Paris

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, after visiting President Bush in Washington this week, took a trip to Paris to visit a personal physician and to have some routine medical tests conducted.

Not so unusual, you say. Why not stop in Paris on the way back to Pakistan? Maybe enjoy a fine French meal, too, before heading on to the home country.

Well, believe it or not, we're not talking about Paris, France, here.


No. We're talking about Paris, Texas. As in, out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere (even by the standards of those of us who live in Texas) Paris, Texas.

Gen. Musharraf spoke by phone during an unannounced trip to Texas on Saturday to undergo routine medical tests and visit with a personal physician.

He arrived at Paris (Texas) Regional Medical Center in the late morning for a checkup with cardiologist Arjumand Hashmi. Hospital officials said Gen. Musharraf was "found to be in excellent health."

After the president had his checkup, he attended a lunch in Paris before departing for Dallas. Later, he visited the doctor's Highland Park home.

"This is a beautiful place you have here," he said of his first visit to Texas.

Dr. Hashmi said he was simply "meeting an old friend" when asked about the high-profile patient on Friday.

"It's a private visit," he said "There's nothing to it."

Interesting. Not sure why he needed to travel all the way to Paris, Texas, to undergo routine medical tests. Kind of unusual, if you ask me, but who knows? Perhaps Dr. Hashmi is an old friend of the General's from Pakistan, so Musharraf thought he would stop by while he was in the "neighborhood".

It's not every day that the President of Pakistan, a major player on the current, worldwide political stage, pays a visit to little old Paris, Texas. No doubt, some locals were taken by surprise.

In both Paris and Highland Park, the cloak-and-dagger visit generated a buzz in two normally sedate small towns.

A motorcade of more than two dozen cars, including state trooper vehicles, Secret Service cars and a Paris hospital ambulance made the trip from Dallas to Paris mid-morning.

Phillip Hamilton, managing editor of The Paris News, said that about 20 people, including at least one other Paris physician, were at the house and dined with Gen. Musharraf.

He said the Pakistani president stood up to say goodbye shortly before 3 p.m.

In retrospect, maybe those reports of people seeing Osama bin Laden in the area aren't so farfetched after all.

Quote of the Day: "...Republicans have a better record and a better commitment to national security than the Democrats do"

That was Jerry Falwell's assessment while discussing prospects for the 2008 presidential election.

And just what planet is he living on?

If memory serves me correctly, the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil occurred eight months after George W. Bush took office. And, as the 9/11 Commission Report discusses in painstaking detail, the Bush administration continuously ignored warnings that Osama bin Laden was planning a major attack. Even former Bush administration officials have revealed that Bush and company weren't interested in listening to Clinton administration officials who warned them to be on guard for possible terrorist activity.

Was Bush interested? No. And that's a proven fact.

What have Republicans done to secure our borders, our ports or our chemical plants over the last five years? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Obviously, Jerry Falwell is as clueless as ever. And that's not to mention his other statement that Hillary Clinton would have a tougher time getting votes from Falwell's "flock" than would Lucifer.


The Christian fundamentalists just continue to look goofier and goofier every day. At this rate, it won't be long before they make certain Islamic militants look downright civil in comparison.

Thanks for your keen insight into the political scene, Jerry. Next time perhaps you could try speaking in tongues. You might make more sense.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

NY Times: NIE says Iraq war has made terror threat worse

According to an article in today's NY Times, a soon-to-be-published National Intelligence Estimate concludes that the United States' involvement in Iraq has, indeed, exacerbated the worldwide threat of terrorism.

A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.

To that I say, "No shit, Sherlock!"

The question remains, how will the Bush administration use this news to bolster Republicans' chances in the upcoming November elections?

On the surface, one would think the NIE report is a death knell for Republicans' chances. After all, how can they dare to say, "We'll keep America safe", when their policies clearly have left America less safe?

No doubt, those on the right will say that the world has become such an unsafe place that only they can protect us adequately. They'll argue that America hasn't suffered another terrorist attack since 9/11/01, thereby proving that they can protect us better than can Democrats.

Sadly, far too many of America's ignorati (as I like to call the vast, ignorant class in this country) will lap that message up like cats at a saucer of warm milk.

But the reality is that we cannot afford to trust those who have allowed - or even encouraged - the terrorist threat to fester over the last five years. What, in fact, has the Bush administration really done to diminish that threat, as they so boldly proclaimed they would do after the Twin Towers fell? Nothing!

On the contrary, the Bush administration went off and invaded Iraq, a nation that had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with terrorism or 9/11. And now we learn that this invasion and the subsequent quagmire-cum-civil-war has made things worse.


It's time to vote these numbskulls out of office. And once that happens, then it will be time to hold the Bush administration accountable for its crimes, of which there are many. The sooner, the better.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Here we go again!

The IAEA has come out blasting a recent report from the U.S. House Intelligence Committee regarding Iran's alleged uranium enrichment program. Interestingly, though not surprisingly, this situation seems to mirror what we saw four years ago in the run-up to war in Iraq.

The International Atomic Energy Agency wrote the leadership of the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, lambasting it for claiming that the Islamic republic "is currently enriching uranium to weapons grade."

Iran is far from that capability, the IAEA said. (Watch how the IAEA and the House disagree -- 2:00)

Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who sits on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which prepared the report, said the subcommittee's assertion is "very clear."

"It says that we don't believe that they've gotten there. But the point of that whole section is, they are trying to enrich uranium to weapons grade," he said.

The subcommittee's report also insinuates that the IAEA may be in cahoots with Tehran in covering up Iran's nuclear ambitions.

So, what are the similarities between Iran and Iraq?

- Dubious U.S. intelligence claims about weapons of mass destruction.
- Criticism of the IAEA over its monitoring practices and reports.
- Unsubstantiated claims of WMD development by a dissident.

Hmmmm. Curious.

And just who is this Iranian dissident who claims to have inside knowledge of Iran's nuclear weapons development?

On Thursday, Iranian dissident Alireza Jafarzadeh told reporters in New York that Iran was operating a laser uranium-enrichment program in its quest for a nuclear warhead.

The information was obtained by opposition sources, said Jafarzadeh, president of Strategic Policy Consulting Inc., a terrorism consulting firm. Those sources made the same claim in 2002.

The current operation, Jafarzadeh told reporters, was set up in the same area near Tehran as the program opposition sources announced in 2002.

However, an analyst for a group opposed to nuclear proliferation questioned the accuracy of Jafarzadeh's allegation.

"Why would Iran put a secret laser enrichment facility in the same place where it had it in the first place? To me, that just doesn't make a whole amount of sense," said Paul Brannan, a research analyst with the nonprofit Institute for Science and International Security.

This guy, aside from the fact that he runs a terrorism consulting firm (whatever the hell that is), doesn't sound all that much different than "Curveball", the Iraqi informant who claimed to have inside knowledge of Saddam Hussein's WMD capabilities. As we found out, Curveball was a loose nut just looking for a free ride. Yet we apparently relied on his con-job - even though the Germans knew he was unstable - to support a course for war.

Deja vu...all over again. Brilliant!

Another worrisome point that has been reported to be a part of the House intelligence report concerns the generation of electricity. According to the report, the authors wonder why an oil-rich nation such as Iran would even need nuclear energy to generate electricity. Couldn't they just use their vast reserves of crude oil to power the nation for generations to come?

To be blunt, that supposition is utter nonsense. You see, crude oil isn't used much to generate electricity in developed countries. It's far too inefficient and costly compared to coal, natural gas, water, wind and NUCLEAR generated electricity. It just isn't done. Period.

In fact, in 2004 petroleum was used for barely three-percent of total U.S. net electricity generation. It trailed coal, nuclear energy, natural gas and water - in that order - as the top electricity fuel sources in the U.S.

Apparently, those in the U.S. House of Representatives believe Americans are too ignorant and uninformed to know any different. They believe that more lies will allow them to gain support for action against Iran.

Just like with Iraq.

Yes, here we go again.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ann Richards, RIP

Ann Richards, former Texas Governor and a pepperpot of a politician, has died of cancer at the age of 73. She will be missed.

I voted for Governor Richards in the 1994 election when she faced George W. Bush, a political novice. Sadly, more Texans didn't vote for Ms. Richards. If they had, we might not be in quite the mess we are today with Mr. Bush in the White House. Ahhh, what could have been? We'll never know.

Rest in peace, Ann. You are missed in Texas, in more ways than you could know.