Thursday, July 28, 2005

Morning copy 7/28/2005

A (very, very) narrow legislative victory for George W. Bush.

Not surprisingly, Bush has cast the CAFTA debate in grandiose terms (Reuters/ LINK.):

"The agreement is more than a trade bill: it is a commitment of freedom-loving nations to advance peace and prosperity throughout the Western Hemisphere," Bush said in a statement. The Senate approved CAFTA last month.

The real muscle behind the vote can be seen in this graf in the Washington Post (LINK.):

The 217 to 215 vote came just after midnight, in a dramatic finish that highlighted the intensity brought by both sides to the battle. When the usual 15-minute voting period expired at 11:17 p.m., the no votes outnumbered the yes votes by 180 to 175, with dozens of members undeclared. House Republican leaders kept the voting open for another 47 minutes, furiously rounding up holdouts in their own party until they had secured just enough to ensure approval.

How much did this stand against CAFTA really mean? Two grafs from the NY Times (LINK.):

All but a handful of Democrats, including many who voted in 1994 for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which covered the far bigger trading partners of Mexico and Canada, voted against the Central American agreement even though many issues are the same.

For the next half-hour, Republicans, mostly from textile states, jockeyed over who would be allowed to vote against the bill and save face back home. The final count came minutes after midnight.

So, the guys with worries about textile voters, and the Democrats that supported the much more sizeable NAFTA made this into a fuss.

Bush's next piece of legislation (baby steps, baby steps) is Energy/Transportation. NY Times LINK.

It is all a gradual demonstration of how much power Bush still has, as he combats his approach to lame duck status. CAFTA, Energy and John Roberts point toward power -- Iraq, the economy, Rove/CIA point to lame duck.

And there are bad poll numbers for Bush. ( Recap, LINK.)

As for Roberts:

The row over documents continues in the LA Times. LINK. My, do I love this quote:

"If a lawyer defends a client accused of stealing a chicken, it does not then follow that the lawyer is a chicken thief," said Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate's No. 2 ranking Republican.

That is true, Senator, but it does make him a lawyer who defends chicken theifs! issues some stricken analysis on Roberts' scant judicial record, and it's well framed too. LINK.:

Yet earlier this month, coincidentally on the very day the president was interviewing Roberts at the White House for the Supreme Court post, Roberts joined an opinion issued by the D.C. Circuit that violated that cardinal principle. He did so, moreover, in a case raising fundamental questions about Roberts' views on presidential power and checks and balances in the war on terror. Few of Roberts' actions deserve more scrutiny by members of the Senate than his vote in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.

The decision upheld the legality of President Bush's controversial military tribunals for enemy combatants held at the U.S. base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. In doing so, Roberts and his colleagues reached out to decide a number of issues "not necessary to decide." And they decided every one in President Bush's favor, essentially granting him unchecked power to try, and to execute, enemy combatants.

Kyoto 2.0... hardly

A loose partnership on energy/climate change. SF Gate LINK.

"The signatories argue it complements, rather than weakens, the 1997 Kyoto agreement, which imposes targets on industrialised countries to cut their emissions." -- BBC News, LINK.


Transport police on "high alert", BBC News LINK. Nine held in second attempted terrorist attack on The Tube, Guardian LINK. A period in jail may have radicalized one of the attempted bombers, Guardian LINK.

US Muslim scholars to issue a fatwa against terrorism, Washington Post LINK.

The struggle for a British Islam, CS Monitor LINK.

Gee, a few more of those would be nice...

Translations remain slow at the FBI, LINK.

A secret memo leaked says soldiers are using excess force because they are ill-equipped: Washington Times LINK.

A former CIA officer is trying to publish a book on bin Laden's escape from Tora Bora. AP/ LINK.

An excerpt, of the interview:

"When I watched the presidential debates, it was clear to me ... the debate and discussions on Tora Bora were -- from both sides -- completely incorrect," said Berntsen, who won't provide details until the agency finishes declassifying his book. "It did not represent the reality of what happened on the ground."

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Morning copy 7/27/2005

In today's morning news, there's much discussion about documents.

The media and no-doubt Senate staffers have begun to pour over 14,000 pages.

Do not miss the mind boggling by line in The Chicago Tribune today, nor the story:

In an undated memo from the documents released Tuesday, Roberts cited "what is broadly perceived to be the unprincipled jurisprudence of Roe v. Wade," the landmark case establishing the constitutional right to an abortion. But given the way the memo is written, it is possible he is attributing that view to a group of scholars.

Roberts spent a significant amount of time, the documents suggest, grappling with calls on Capitol Hill to curtail the power of the Supreme Court in the wake of liberal rulings on busing, school prayer and abortion. Chicago Tribune LINK.

And as for that byline:

By Jill Zuckman and Sam Singer, Washington Bureau. Jan Crawford Greenburg, Naftali Bendavid, Andrew Zajac, Mike Dorning, Kenneth Bredemeier and William Neikirk of the Washington Bureau contributed to

Common theme of 'judicial restraint' found in The Washington Post:

On June 15, 1982, Roberts faulted the Justice Department for the outcome in Plyler v. Doe , in which the Supreme Court overturned a Texas law that had allowed school districts to deny enrollment to children who had entered the country illegally.

Roberts argued that if the solicitor general's office had taken a position in the case supporting the state of Texas "and the values of judicial restraint," it could have "altered the outcome of the case." Washington Post LINK.

Visions of things to come from The Boston Globe:

"The approach was to avoid giving specific responses to any direct questions on legal issues likely to come before the Court, but demonstrating in the response a firm command of the subject area and awareness of the relevant precedents and arguments," Roberts wrote in one memo describing the mock questioning sessions he held with her. LINK.

What is absent in this document blizzard ledes the LA Times:

It is not clear whether Roberts, deputy solicitor general from 1989 to 1993, agreed with the administration's position in the abortion cases. But the White House, arguing the information is privileged, made it clear Tuesday that it did not want to reveal what he said or wrote during those years.

"What we are providing goes above and beyond what a reasonable person would expect to be made available," said President Bush's spokesman, Scott McClellan. "This is more than what senators need to be able to do their job." LA Times LINK.

Strict constructionism in the NY Times account:

In one handwritten memorandum, Judge Roberts suggested his view of how the Constitution should be interpreted, saying, "real courage would be to read the Constitution as it should be read," without attention to what outside commentators were writing. NY Times LINK.

Prior release of Roberts' documents, showing a humorous side, in the Reagan library, NY Times story:

The papers here show that in August 1983, Mr. Roberts was asked to draft a response to a letter to Mr. Reagan from a college professor who feared he might land on an alleged United States Information Agency blacklist for lodging a complaint about the agency. Mr. Roberts, in a memorandum to his boss, Fred F. Fielding, the White House counsel, noted in an aside, "Once you let the word out there's a blacklist, everybody wants to get on."

There was also the time he offered a snide analysis, in an internal White House memorandum, of a proposal from a member of the House, Elliott H. Levitas. After the Supreme Court struck down efforts by Congress to veto actions taken by the executive branch, Mr. Levitas, a Democrat from Georgia, proposed that the White House and Congress convene a "conference on power-sharing" to codify the duties of each branch of government. NY Times LINK.

The USA Today says that little is revealed in these documents, and then has Bullet Points! Surprise, surprise. USA Today LINK.

The next document in the news is the Iraqi constitution, linking Islam and the law.

From The Middle East Times, LINK.:

The government mouthpiece, Al Sabah, published what it described as an early draft of the proposed constitution, which specifies that: "Islam is the official religion of the State" and "the main source of legislation".

"No law that contradicts the universally agreed tenets of Islam may be enacted," specifies the draft text, which is still under discussion.

The draft's article 11 asserts that "fundamentalist" and "terrorist" ideology will be banned, along with Saddam's Baath party.

More on Iraq:

US concerns over Iraqi charter: LA Times LINK.

Significant draw-down of troops possible in Iraq by spring. Washington Post LINK. LINK. And from the BBC: "Iraq's interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari has called for US troops to leave the country soon, but added no timetable had been set for withdrawal." BBC News LINK.

Kurds vow to push for a Kurdish federal state. LINK.

Rumsfeld says Iraq must make a tougher stand against interventions allowed by Iran and Syria. al Jazeera LINK.

Army one-year deferred recruiting lagging behind. USA Today LINK.

More on Paul Hackett. Democrat, Marine Vet, from Ohio. NY Times LINK.

More links...

Senator Clinton's move to the center angers the Left. Washington Post LINK.
Perhaps the Left should look at the score cards for the House, Senate, White House and the Court.

The odd, broad net of Patrick Fitzgerald.

Washington Post's Walter Pincus and Jim VandeHei report testimony from myriad sources in policy, intelligence, street vendors and jailed journalists. LINK.

And Ari Fleischer in the NY Times (LINK.):

The prosecutor in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, called Mr. Fleischer to appear before the grand jury that is investigating the leak.

One person familiar with Mr. Fleischer's testimony said he told the grand jury that he was not Mr. Novak's source. And Mr. Fleischer, who was never shy about championing his Republican bosses, seems not to fit Mr. Novak's description, in a subsequent column, of his primary source as "no partisan gunslinger."

DeLay and thw West Virginian who owns him... story (LINK.):

The ethics committee is the only one in the House that is evenly divided between the political parties, giving Mollohan, 62, unusual power. He has used it to force Republicans, who hold a 231-202 majority, to retreat on efforts to change the rules for probes of lawmakers' behavior and to install a Republican party loyalist in the traditionally non-partisan job of staff director.

Four arrests, perhaps one the bomber, in Britain. Reuters LINK.

Microsoft's mapping service neglects, uh, 11 major buildings in Apple's impressive home offices. Huh. Washington Times/AP Link.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Morning copy 7/26/2005

Godspeed, Discovery. NY Times LINK.

One former Marine's entrance into politics ( LINK):

July 26, 2005 | Paul Hackett remembers being in Kuwait, waiting to be shipped home after a seven-month tour of duty in Ramadi and Fallujah, watching CNN America with his fellow Marines. What he saw enraged him. "All I saw on TV was Terri Schiavo," he says. "The federal government and the Florida state government came screeching to a halt to intervene into the private lives of this family during this tragic time ... Like that scene out of 'Network,' I felt like the guy who stood in the spotlight and said, 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.'" Not long after he returned to Ohio, he decided to run for Congress.

The White House will release the "bulk" of Roberts' papers in the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations. Washington Post LINK. From the NY Times (LINK):

WASHINGTON, July 25 - The Bush administration plans to release documents from Judge John G. Roberts's tenure in the White House counsel's office in the mid-1980's and his earlier job working for the attorney general, but will not make public papers covering the four years he spent as principal deputy solicitor general starting in 1989, two senior administration officials said Monday.

USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll shows a favorable opinion of Roberts. Not so much for Rove. USA Today LINK.

The major shift in the power-structure of Labor has its roots in myriad causes. NY Times LINK.

Bush to press funding for Faith Based groups again. LA Times LINK.

A break down of the strength and potential longevity of Conservativism(s) in America. LINK.

Mitt Romney vetoes a contraception/morning-after pill. His Op-Ed in the Globe: LINK.

Hilary's drive to the center in The Washington Times, LINK. Hillary's new responsibilities with centrist Democratic Leadership Council: LA Times LINK.

New energy bill replete with breaks for Oil companies, to the tune of $10 billion. Bloomberg LINK.

Analysts say energy bill won't reduce US dependency on foreign oil. Washington Post LINK. This was also highlighted on Aaron Brown's Morning Papers segment.

Boy, did Brown give Senator Sanatorium a few tough questions.

London police in urgent search, encounter "Bomb factory". AFP LINK.

2/3rd of Muslims in new poll consider leaving UK. Guardian LINK.

A kinder, gentler Boot Camp. NY Times LINK.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Morning copy 7/25/2005


A fifth bomber may have lost his nerve on Thursday. London Times LINK. More armed police will be out on the streets of London, and shoot-to-kill rules of engagement remain in force, despite death of innocent man. Times Online LINK. More on the tragic death of that young man. Guardian LINK.

More: "But he admitted more people could die at the hands of police marksmen in the escalating battle against terrorism. Openly discussing the shift in police tactics for the first time, Sir Ian defended the policy of "shoot to kill in order to protect", saying it was necessary to shoot suspects in the head if it was feared they might trigger devices on their body." Guardian LINK.

Poland expected to withdraw conventional military by January. al Jazeera LINK.

Nut graf: "The continued shooting of civilians is fueling a growing dislike of the United States and undermining efforts to convince the public that American soldiers are here to help. The victims have included doctors, journalists, a professor — the kind of people the U.S. is counting on to help build an open and democratic society." LA Times LINK.

Jihad suicide culture. "What concerns counterterrorism experts is that tactics that once prompted fierce ideological debates within radical circles - suicide and attacks on civilians are both classically defined in Islam as sins - are now more likely to be embraced by young men." CS Monitor LINK.

Vicious battle between Russia and Muslim extremists continues, 80th explosion of the year. CS Monitor LINK.

Homegrown terrorism a worry amoung US Muslims. "Since the July 7 London bombings that killed 56 ... and Thursday's similar but less damaging attacks, Muslim leaders said they would focus directly on their own young people and why a small minority may be attracted to a virulent interpretation of their faith that has abetted terrorism." LA Times LINK.

Centrist Democrats say the US Army should expand by 100,000. Remarks are an effort to boost confidence in Democrats for security. LINK.

In an operational sense, that would mean 33,000 additional troops capable of deploying to Iraq.

US tactic in Afghanistan is to employ the poor aggressively, to keep them from joining al Qaeda or the Taliban. LINK.

The Sunni boycott of the Iraqi constitution is over. The boycott had begun in response to the assasination of one member of the Sunni delegation. BBC News LINK.

Egypt continues crackdown after resort bombings. AFP LINK.

Major upsurge in Darfur violence. BBC News LINK.

Roberts' nomination

White House will withhold what it deems to be "internal documents" written by Roberts in prior Republican administrations. LA Times LINK. AP?Washington post account, LINK. story says a clash is likely over these documents. LINK.

LA Times news/bio on Roberts: "Opportunity is important. Chance is important," said Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.), a classmate of Roberts at Harvard Law School. "But opportunity and chance also favor the prepared mind. And he's clearly the kind of person who was prepared to serve." LINK.

Ex-Senator and current Law and Order actor Fred Thompson is Roberts' advisor. LA Times LINK.

Hillary and the Democrats.

Clinton seeks to cement her ties to moderates, LINK, while Bloomberg News reports that some Democrats are dusting off the 1992/1996 play book to counter GOP success. LINK.

More links...

Substantial split in labor (NY Times LINK):

CHICAGO, July 24 - Leaders of four of the country's largest labor unions announced on Sunday that they would boycott this week's A.F.L.-C.I.O. convention, and officials from two of those unions, the service employees and the Teamsters, said the action was a prelude to their full withdrawal from the federation on Monday.

The schism is the biggest rift in labor since the 1930's, when the Congress of Industrial Organizations, which was trying to unionize mass production workers in automobiles, steel and other industries, split off from the American Federation of Labor, which largely represented elite craft workers. This week's labor convention here was supposed to be a celebratory occasion marking the 50th anniversary of the merger.

How the prosperity of Greenspan's era has changed American financial planning. LINK.

"Recovering politician" Al Gore tries to launch a network. NY Times LINK.

Comparing Costco's business model to Wal Mart. NY Times LINK.

Economic nationalists coping with globalization. LA Times LINK.

Schwarzenegger backs off special election, adding to his problematic term. SF Gate LINK.

American Airlines' restoration used empolyee expertise. CS Monitor LINK.

Marshall Mathers may drop the monicker "Eminem" Detroit Free Press LINK.

"I was actually pretty shocked when no one picked up on the concept," said manager Rosenberg.

Maybe the audience was still too noisy to notice. "Encore," his first solo effort in more than two years, was the most anticipated album of the season, generating wall-to-wall hype on its way to the obligatory critical kudos and No. 1 debut. Eight months later, sales are nearing 5 million.

The new concert video, with its metaphoric killing of Eminem, merely extends a concept already sketched by Mathers.

Buried in the "Encore" album notes is a line that reads, "To my fans ... I'm sorry," adjacent to an image of a bullet. On the album-ending "Encore/Curtains Down," he delivers his closing stanza accompanied by the sound of gunfire: "Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for coming out -- peace! / Oh ... I almost forgot / You're comin' with me / Ha ha! Bye bye!"

Friday, July 22, 2005

Must read

Rove, Libby accounts differ from reporters. Bloomberg LINK.

I really need to figure out how to navigate Bloomberg's site. It's not as easy as it sounds.

Morning copy 7/22/2005


Someone was shot on the London subway around 10 a.m. GMT, 5 a.m. EST.

Guardian story. LINK.

Some of the attempted bombers from yesterday were still on the loose. Times Online LINK. Guardian story about would be bombers on the run. LINK.

An East London mosque is now surrounded, according to reports.

James Brandon and John Thorne of the Christian Science Monitor explore young British Muslisms willing to kill and die. CSM LINK. Excerpts:

"When the Muslim Council of Britain [MCB] said 'We must be vigilant,' this pushed [radical groups] underground," says Abdul-Rehman Malik, contributing editor at the Muslim magazine Q-News, based London. As radicals fled to minor mosques and homes, Britain's security services, and even mainstream Muslims, lost track of them.

A militant Muslim cleric predicted additional attacks on Wednesday night. NY Times LINK. Excerpt:

In a wide-ranging telephone interview late Wednesday night, Sheik Bakri also blamed the British government for the July 7 terror attacks that killed at least 56 people on three London Underground trains and a double-decker bus. He said "hundreds" of young, disaffected British-born Muslims now felt compelled to take action in Britain to protest Prime Minister Tony Blair's foreign policy, especially the support of the American-led invasion in Iraq, which they perceive as anti-Muslim.

Did the 7/7 bombers come from Bakri's circle? "Probably not - it's something far more insidious," says Mr. Malik. "It's beyond the Omar Bakris; it's a low rumble."

Police want tough new powers in the wake of the attempted bombings yesterday. Times Online LINK. Guardian account: LINK.

The invaluable source of information from yesterday may well be those devices, apparently all four of them, that did not detonate. Times Online LINK. Excerpt:

“Capturing one of the bombs is often more important than capturing the bomber,” one Israeli official told The Times yesterday. “Once you have got that intact then you can get a signature off it, and learn a lot from that. Once you are content that there isn’t another bomber on the loose you turn to finding out who drove them, who recruited them and so on.”

"Sorrow" and "anxiety" in wider Muslim community in Britain. Guardian LINK.

NY Times tries to define, or explicate, any link between the failed attacks on 7/21 to 7/7. LINK.

One Pakistani perhaps involved in London's first bombing may have also been a part of the effort to set up a jihad training camp in Oregon. Washington Post LINK.

Psychological warfare at the heart of latest attacks. LINK.

"ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- President Pervez Musharraf called on Pakistanis yesterday to join a jihad, or holy war, against preachers of hatred and violence and announced steps to rein in militant Islamic schools and organizations." Washington Times LINK.

AFP story on Musharraf. LINK.

Dozens of Gitmo detainees have been on a hunger strike, lasting three days, according to the U.S. Military. BBC News LINK.

Bag inspection begins in some cities, including New York. NY Times LINK.

One congressman that needs to either 1. resign, or failing that 2. not be re-elected.

KUWAIT CITY --Muslims from Indonesia to the Middle East on Wednesday labeled as aggressive and irresponsible a U.S. congressman's suggestion that the United States could "take out" Islamic holy sites if Muslim attackers targeted America in a nuclear strike. LINK.

Could someone please explain to me how bombing Medina or Mecca would win this war. And, could you then tell me how threatening to do so, a U.S. Congressman THREATENING to do so, helps in any way? More:

Rep. Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican, was asked on a radio talk show Friday how the United States should respond if terrorists struck several of its cities with nuclear weapons.

"Well, what if you said something like -- if this happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their holy sites," Tancredo answered.

When host Pat Campbell of WFLA-AM in Orlando, Fla. asked if he meant "bombing Mecca," the congressman responded: "Yeah."


John Roberts is working to convert Democrats to his side, as the most politically sophisticated nomination to the Supreme Court continues. USA Today LINK. Already one convert, replete with religious terminology, is Senator Robert Byrd (D, West VA). Washington Times LINK.

Roberts was the "go to" guy for business as a lawyer. LA Times LINK. Washington Post reports a younger Roberts as a pragmatist under Reagan. LINK. Nominee favors judicial caution, reports the NY Times. LINK.

More tea leaves (NY Times LINK):

WASHINGTON, July 21 - As he makes the rounds of senators who will decide his fate, Judge John G. Roberts has been noncommittal about the kinds of questions he will answer during his confirmation hearings, but has said that if confirmed to the Supreme Court, he will place a high emphasis on "modesty" and "stability."

"I considered his comments on modesty and stability to be highly significant," Senator Arlen Specter...

China's currency reval.

Economist's analysis of the change in currency policy. LINK.'s amazing story on the "quiet diplomacy" taking place to get the change in currency policy. LINK.

NY Times analysis: risks, uncertainty. LINK.

More links...

The House voted by a comfortable margin to extend the Patriot Act. LINK. House, Senate panels send two different variants of a renewed Patriot Act. Washington Post LINK.

Bush will continue to harp on Social Security today in Atlanta. AJC LINK.

U.N. critical about Zimbabwe's slum expulsion. AP/CSM LINK.

Struggling to work on global warming. Some Senators push the overwhelming inertia. Washington Post LINK.

KR and Scooter Libby were working together on damage control from Joseph Wilson's Op-Ed concerning uranium, Iraq and Niger. Part of this damage control included background work into Wilson's past. NY Times LINK. Also note the lack of quotes in this story.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

London 7/21

It's two weeks since the horrors of 7/7.

4 Bombs have been reported, uncertain as to how large or how successful attempted detonation were.

Track on the rolling-blog provided by Guardian. LINK.

Morning copy 7/21/2005: Brevity is the soul of sleeping in

Big news: "SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China scrapped the yuan's peg to the U.S. dollar Thursday and tied it to a basket of currencies, the central bank said, the first steps in highly anticipated reforms aimed at letting the currency float freely." Cnn/Reuters LINK. And account.

Go buy your Apex mini DVD players TODAY. They may be $5 or $10 more expensive next month.

Will that mean less credit debt, or more credit debt for Americans?

Bigger news:

Plame's Identity Marked As Secret
Memo Central to Probe Of Leak Was Written By State Dept. Analyst

By Walter Pincus and Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, July 21, 2005; Page A01

A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials.

Note the plural:

Anyone reading that paragraph should have been aware that it contained secret information, though that designation was not specifically attached to Plame's name and did not describe her status as covert, the sources said.

Ari, Ari, Ari:

Several other administration officials were on the trip to Africa, including senior adviser Dan Bartlett, then-White House spokesman Ari Fleischer and others. Bartlett's attorney has refused to discuss the case, citing requests by the special counsel. Fleischer could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Was the leak leaked and then leaked? Washington Post LINK.

USA Today with John G. Roberts, newscycle 2.5. Personal/Political views tough to determine. USA Today LINK. But, is he an ardent Catholic? Or an ardent U.S. Catholic? Moderate senators cast doubt on filibuster. LINK.

British al Qaeda leader questioned in Pakistan. Times Online LINK. 228 suspects detained: AFP LINK.

Statement says that Iraqis not ready to fight for themselves. NY Times LINK.

I look forward to the report on whether sunshine in July is bright.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

John G. Roberts

Two blogs

Right now, there is not a lot on these two blogs, but I expect over the next month or two we shall see a lot of links. The first hyperlinked Supreme Court nominee.

Pro: I do like the font, and they have a nice front-and-center of Hon. Dudley Do Right himself.

Only links: announcement of the nomination, which is now old news, and a press release. The "media" section says it will have a T.V. ad by this afternoon.

The backers: Progress For America, Inc.

Con: Site says that Bush has not picked a consensus candidate, which really surprises no one.

Major link: a 10 page .pdf condemning Hon. Roberts. LINK. In all fairness, a lot of Roberts' material cited in this report come as excerpts from his work for clients.

The backers: People for the American Way.

News, Op-Ed, Analysis

The president has picked an astute condidate for the bench, likely to get some Democrats to support him. Joe Lieberman calls him "in the ballpark". Bloomberg LINK.

Nuts and bolts from Todd Purdum of the NY Times. LINK. Like the gifted lawyer he is, Roberts has been careful in his language in prior confirmation hearings:

But when pressed in his 2003 confirmation hearings for his own views, he said: "Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land," and added, "There's nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent."

Such comments have made Judge Roberts somewhat suspect in the eyes of some social conservatives. But he arouses nothing like the opposition that conservatives leveled at another potential nominee, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose views on abortion are more uncertain.

Conservative credentials, without a paper trail -- of course. Washington Post LINK.

It should be noted in that careful use of language, that Roberts was stating his ability to follow prior precedents, now he is asking for a position to recast and redecide those precedents.

A jurist thoroughly entrenched in modern constitutional law, writes Linda Greenhouse. NY Times LINK. Interesting excerpt:

His résumé suggests the latter, as does his almost complete lack of a paper trail. There are no flame-throwing articles or speeches, no judicial opinions that threaten established precedent, no visible hard edges.

It is all suggestions and tea leaves.

A complex record, and some what contradictory. But that is to be expected from a litigator and a man with only limited work as a jurist. R. Jeffrey Smith and Jo Becker of the Washington Post show us one more tea leaf (LINK):

But in his first two years on the federal bench, his opinions have been generally noted for dispassionate reasoning rather than inflammatory language. Roberts's short time on the bench, coupled with the relative paucity of his writings, has left critics and potential supporters with little by which to judge how he will vote on the Supreme Court.

It is interesting to note how politically sophisticated this selection was. A judge with slight paper trail ( LINK.) , but many years of loyal work for social/legal conservative. A clean cut, nice looking guy from Buffalo, N.Y. A family man. The president wants a "dignified and civil" selection process, and it seems he has picked a "dignified and civil" jurist.

It all points to approval, approval, approval. And that is so crucial to the 2006 election and the G.O.P. base. Remember, the working theory for 2004 was that 2000 was only close because of a lack of turn out in the base. Conservatives are very happy today, and that was crucial for Bush in the upcoming mid-terms. L.A. Times LINK.

Could a well conducted, and well supported, nomination in the United States Senate return Bush to a comfortable level of political capital, at least short term. Right now, are Hillary and Joe Biden asking themselves if they really should dig in deep for a fight?

Dan Balz and Charles Lane in today's Washington Post (LINK.) take the angle of how smartly this pick walks a line between conservative and consent-able:

One of Roberts's key advantages is his strong reputation among fellow members of the Washington bar, including many Democrats. Those relationships figure to earn him the support -- or at least the neutrality -- of a constituency that may otherwise be well placed to make the confirmation process difficult for the administration.

Democrats have faintly praised Roberts, or stated that a thorough review is necessary. Washington Post LINK. Perhaps they just know that they can't win this news cycle.

Or, maybe some Dems think the moderates in the Gang of 14 will stick to their guns and a lengthy filibuster won't be possible. It seems that Lieberman, at the very least, is already breaking toward approval. L.A. Times LINK.

The L.A. Times still predicts a fight, but no knock-down, drag-out. LINK.:

In effect, Roberts may represent an effort to thread the needle in filling the court vacancy. The selection could offer Bush an opportunity to maximize his chance of a relatively smooth confirmation while minimizing the danger of either conservative disaffection or scorched-earth Democratic opposition.

Check out what Richard Garnett, a professor at Notre Dame Law School said last night: "'I guarantee you that every lawyer who follows the Supreme Court, whatever their politics are, are thinking they really did pick the best boy,' Garnett said in an interview last night after watching his friend be nominated to the post." LINK.

Some of the background story, including how Australiam PM John Howard was around on the day of this historic announcement. NY Times LINK. The SF Gate version. LINK.

There will be some eye-rolling, even among people on the Left, with this quote:

"The Senate must learn whether he has clear, consistent principles upholding constitutional standards like civil rights and the right to privacy in Roe v. Wade," said Senator John F. Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts. "We know Judge Roberts is no Sandra Day O'Connor, and the White House has sent a clear signal."

More reax at: LINK.

Interest groups, as seen in the beginning of this post, have begun the fight. Seattle Times LINK.

NY Times has one bio of the 'ultimate capitol insider'. LINK.

Hard working, academic star. LINK.

Morning copy 7/20/2005: Everything but Roberts

The CIA Leak

Maybe it's the complexity of the case, but I am having a hard time finding a lot on the CIA investigation. I'm sure ABC's The Note will have a lot more in 4 hours, but as of now all I have found is an A.P. story with a few more details on that State memo circulated around the time of Joseph Wilson's arguments against the war, LINK.:

The memo said Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and suggested her husband go to Niger because he had contacts there and had served as an American diplomat in Africa; however, the official said the memo did not say she worked undercover for the spy agency nor did it identify her as Valerie Plame.


L.A. Times story on criticism targeted at ineffective rebuilding efforts in Iraq. LINK.

AQABA, Jordan — In language both sharp and subtle, Iraqi and international officials on Monday criticized the U.S.-led rebuilding effort for moving too slowly to improve the lives of Iraqi citizens.

One of the 15 Sunni Arabs that was to work on the Iraq constitution, due mid-August, were assasinated yesterday. His adviser was also killed. USA Today LINK.

Restrictions on women in matters of divorce and political representation make their way into a draft of the Iraqi constitution. The NY Times has obtained a copy. LINK.

The draft of a chapter of the new constitution obtained by The New York Times on Tuesday guarantees equal rights for women as long as those rights do not "violate Shariah," or Koranic law.

A report estimates as many as 25,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in the war and insurgency. L.A. Times LINK.

London and terror

Reports of a crackdown in Pakistan yesterday and into the night. Perhaps as many as 100 extremists were detained over night. BBC News LINK.

Reuters reported one British Muslim suspect had been arrested. A Pakistani official has denied this. Guardian LINK.

From al Jazeera: "Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will address the nation on his government's fresh crackdown on Islamic fighters following the 7 July London bombings." LINK.

Special intelligent units, perhaps a branch load of them, to track Muslim extremists that may turn violent in Britain. Guardian LINK.

More links.

The numerous military base closings in the northeastern United States worries the chairman of the base closing committee. The Chairman believes that there needs to be an active military presence throughout the country. A.P./ LINK.

Chevron ups its bid for Unocal. SF Gate LINK. Also, reported in Bloomberg's news service. Bloomberg LINK.

More on China: Bush avoids a reporter's question on whether China is an emerging military threat. Washington Times LINK.

China's military make-over has garnered a lot of attention in papers today. Report released indicates China is working on winning a high-intensity, short duration conflict over Taiwan. NY Times LINK.

The President's Daily Briefing has been altered to include more intelligence information from agencies other than the CIA. NY Times LINK.

Cautious hopes for peace in the Sudan. CS Monitor LINK. BBC News: Security in Darfur is improving. LINK.

Critical need for aide in Niger, reports the BBC News (LINK):

The United Nations top aid official has accused the international community of neglecting the food crisis in Niger.

Some 150,000 children will die soon without aid, out of 2.5m who need food, said Jan Egeland.

New home building slows for second straight month. CS Monitor LINK.

The D.C. Metro is considering random checks of passengers in latest bid to prevent terrorist violence on the rails. USA Today LINK.

An anlysis of the chance for peace in Aceh. Economist LINK.

The Bush administration inches toward accepting India as a nuclear power, in spite of India not signing the non-proliferation treaty. Economist LINK.

A retired British school teacher would like 'failure' to be replaced by 'deferred success'. Times Online LINK.

Google search for 'miserable failure'.

Google search for 'misserable deferred success'.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Candy Crowley is awarded with the politically savvy nickname of the night, maybe the week. Judge "Dudley Do Right."

An arch conservative, with a limited record of actual court decisions. A young, family man with 30 years (perhaps) on the bench in his future. What an interesting pick tonight from the President. And, it's a pick for 2006 as much as 2025.

Bush had to make a big pick, lest he lose that base upon which he and Rove rely so much.'s Lawyer profile of Hon. John G. Roberts. LINK.

Initial cavalcade of quotes on the SCOTUS announcement tonight. LINK.

Expect the list of reactions to grow. Some highlights:

"Judge Roberts is the kind of outstanding nominee that will make America proud. He embodies the qualities America expects in a justice on its highest court: someone who is fair, intelligent, impartial and committed to faithfully interpreting the Constitution and the law." -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.

"Judge Roberts is an exceptional judge, brilliant legal mind, and a man of outstanding character who understands his profound duty to follow the law." -- Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

"Who knows about this guy?" -- Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

Quick reax. Headlined: Republicans, some Democrats praise Roberts. LINK.

The lede and headline are that Roberts will likely face questions on abortion. LINK. But I find the following interesting as well, read: Trial Lawyers.

As a private lawyer, the Buffalo, N.Y., native represented clients like carmaker Toyota at the Supreme Court in winning limits on disabled workers' claims.

The first Supreme Court Google nominee

CNN Reports, confirms in fact, that U.S. Circuit Judge John G. Roberts will be the nominee of President George W. Bush for the vacancy of Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court. LINK.

Pundints, partisans, and patriots, we have our first Google-able SCOTUS nominee. LINK.

Also, as for the timing of this announcement...

From this morning's ABC's The Note:

The Wall Street Journal's Cummings and Bravin have the timing issue most brazenly paraded: "Some White House advisers [Note the weasel word!!] are urging the president to expedite his announcement to deflect attention from a growing scandal."

"'The Rove situation has accelerated it,' said a Republican lawyer who consults the White House on judicial issues. 'They would like to get something that will knock it off the front page.'"

Morning copy 7/19/2005

CIA Leak Case

Two paragraphs from today's Bloomberg News story that are interesting (LINK):

"By saying the conduct must be criminal, the president is significantly backtracking," said Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University. "This is especially so because the crime involved is so narrow."


According to an ABC News poll released yesterday, 75 percent of the 1,008 respondents questioned July 13-17 said Rove should be fired if he leaked classified information. In addition, only 25 percent of respondents said they believe the White House is fully cooperating in the investigation, down from 47 percent in September 2003, when the inquiry began.

The NY Times story on Bush's stance and the leak. LINK.

Washington Post's story, by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen: "This is a small, but potentially very significant, distinction, because details that have emerged from the leak investigation over the past week show that Karl Rove, Bush's top political aide, and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, discussed Plame with reporters before her name was revealed to the public. It is unclear whether either man committed a crime, according to lawyers familiar with the case." LINK.

More WH Links

Bush says he has already met with some of the top contenders for the Supreme Court. Washington Times LINK.

The word "insist" and the words "long term solvency" remain Bush's apparent position on Social Security. Washington Post LINK.

A Washington Post story of more Supreme Court potential nominees. LINK.

The token "Supreme Court announcement is nigh" story. NY Times LINK.


"Speaking on the grandest stage of the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights organization yesterday in Philadelphia, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) made no mention of presidential ambitions, but many said her message and delivery had the aura of a campaign speech." Today's Washington Post LINK.

Another policy-centric story from this conference and speech with Hillary Clinton in the lede. Washington Post LINK.

Hillary's bona fides on defense in today's USA Today. LINK.

London bombings

Two-Thirds of Britons believe there is some link between the British involvement in the invasion of Iraq and the bombings, according to this recent poll. Guardian LINK.

Tony Blair will meet with Muslim leaders today to ask for help in limiting Muslim militants. Guardian LINK.

A report in June said there was no group in Britain capable of launching a strike like the one that was launced in July. NY Times LINK.

Southeast Asia vulnerable to copycat attacks replicating the London bombings. Reuters LINK.

More Links

RNC raised over $59 million in first half of the year. Washington Post LINK.

Democrats have an ethics complaint about Schwarzenegger and his lucrative deals with fitness magazines. LA Times LINK.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Security, Terrorism and the UK

Such a benign title, no? Want a more eye-catching title? How about "Riding Pillion for Tackling Terrorism is a High-risk Policy"?

It was that second line -- the headline of the first, brief article in the Chatham House's (LINK) report published yesterday in London -- that seized upon a large chunk of yesterday's news cycle.

Commentator Bill O'Reilley, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, BBC News, and countless others across the continents debated the link between the Iraq invasion and the London bombings.

The headline in the .pdf of the Chatham report, made available on their website, is even presented in quotes, however that phrase does not appear in the actual text of the document. Nor is it a stylistic headline, as the other headlines of the report lack quotes.

Further, just using that headline, which is all too common in today's media, is a tremendous disservice to the tone of the article. Here are the pertinent excerpt from the report that actually uses the word "pillion":

These broad principles seem eminently sensible, but their implementation is problematic in particular areas. A key problem with regard to implementing "Prevention" and "Pursuit" is that the UK government has been conducting counter-terrorism policy "shoulder to shoulder" with the US, not in the sense of being an equal decision-maker, but rather as pillion passenger compelled to leave the steering to the ally in the driving seat. There is no doubt that the situation over Iraq has imposed particular difficulties for the UK, and for the wider coalition against terrorism. It gave a boost to the Al-Qaeda network’s propaganda, recruitment and fundraising, caused a major split in the coalition, provided an ideal targeting and training area for Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists, and deflected resources and assistance that could have been deployed to assist the Karzai government and to bring bin Laden to justice. Riding pillion with a powerful ally has proved costly in terms of British and US military lives, Iraqi lives, military expenditure, and the damage caused to the counter-terrorism campaign.

This argument develops within the third to last paragraph, and is distinct, of course, from the headline. The first reference to "pillion" is an adjective used to describe the degree of control the authors believe the British government has had in the war on terror's foreign policy.

The Downing Street Memo of July 23, 2002 would actually be useful to argue against this point:

(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.

Clearly, the "firm decisions" were not yet made, though the British were certainly pretty darn close to hoping onboard the ride.

The second use of "pillion" is now an adverb, for riding, and conjures up a cowboy image -- yes, I had to use to figure out pillion's meaning. In this sentence the consequences are already analyzed, and they are the consequences more of Iraq than of Afghanistan. The tone of the report can be used to substantiate that, as the document establishes the first phase of combat in Afghanistan as a success with a sizeable coalition and more effective British influence on the direction of policy.

Let us now look at the consequentialist aspect of this second sentence: "has proved costly in terms of British and US military lives, Iraqi lives, military expenditure, and the damage caused to the counter-terrorism campaign."

None of these are particularly controversial points. The CIA (The Agency, to Karl Rove and Matt Cooper and anyone else who knows anything) has determined Iraq to be a better training ground than Afghanistan is now. Foreign intelligence and police are fearful of insurgents returning home to Europe, from Iraq, with expertise in explosives and surviving a war zone. Blood and treasure has been spilled in a war, or theatre of a war, that is shaky in public support both in the United States and in the United Kingdom.

So, the article is a well-sourced and neutral (for the most part) account and analysis of the United Kingdom's engagement against Islamic (and all) terrorism at of July, 2005. It just so happens that this report was released a little over a week from the tragic day of July 7th. Could the reporters authors, two professors: Frank Gregory and Paul Wilkinson, have ignored this strike?

Of course not.

The barbarism of July 7th is mentioned more as a result of the war on terror since 9/11 than as a result of the war on terror since Iraq, or at the very least there is a good argument for such. An excerpt that is much earlier than the one about pillion passengers:

(I)t is well known that extremists have been recruited and deployed within the UK’s borders and that in an open society such as the UK it is notoriously difficult to prevent no-warning coordinated suicide attacks, the characteristic modus operandi of Al-Qaeda. The attacks on the transport system in London on 7 July 2005 represent precisely the nature of the threat from international terrorism that the UK authorities have been concerned about since 9/11.

At most, it seems that the authors believe the war in Iraq to be a distraction and a detriment to the war on terror. They would not be alone in this opinion. Prior to this report, Londoners, both elected and not, began to draw links between the bombings of July 7th and the invasion of Iraq.

Barring evidence from the bombers or those that supported them that this attack was explicitly for the Iraq war, and that would not be the m.o. of al Qaeda or Islamic militants in general, one cannot say that these bombings were a result of just the Iraq war.

Al Qaeda terrorists attacked Madrid, thus provoking the withdrawal of Spanish support from the war in Iraq; however, groups sympathetic to al Qaeda, at the least, wish to do harm to Spain to this day. It is overly simplistic, though perhaps part of the logic of the sound bite culture, to say that the Iraq war resulted in this tragedy.

Let us now analyze the portrayal in an article from The Guardian on July 18, 2005. (LINK)

Within this brief summary of the Chatham report, there is an analysis that is incomplete:

(The Chatham House report) findings contradict the prime minister, Tony Blair, who insisted on Saturday that the fanatics who struck in London and launched other attacks around the world were driven by an "evil ideology" rather than opposition to any policy, and that it would be a "misunderstanding of a catastrophic order" to think that if we changed our behaviour they would change theirs.

It is hard to say that this report, which is a technical analysis of the progress of British security in the war on terror, could contradict an interpretation that puts moral judgment -- rightly so -- on terrorists. In all fairness to Blair, he actually said that this evil ideology used myriad policy examples to justify its brutality. His point was that this violence would not have been alleviated by just one, or a small handful, of policy changes -- it is more profoundly insidious than that. I think Blair is right, however, in his well-packaged response an important point may be diminished.

If there could be a Chatham report 2.0, or at least a second version of the first article which has garnered the most attention, then I think there would be a much more careful explanation of why Iraq is problematic to the war on terror. This point is implicitly neglected by Blair and those arguing similar points. If Iraq is inspiring new insurgents and terrorists, as an Israeli and a Saudi paper find. If Iraq is providing dangerous training and experience for terrorist. If Iraq is a motivating factor, inspiring more fatwas against the West than were otherwise provided in support of bin Laden -- Jihad, by it's nature, must be a defensive war, if it is to be a war. If all of this is true, then Iraq does have a substantial impact on the safety of citizens of London, New York, etc.

To argue otherwise is impossible. Any substantial military involvement in an Arab country at this time would have an impact on the war on terror. Further, Bush continues to defend the wars in Iraq and Afganistan (though he needs more defense on the former) as an opportunity to take the fight to the terrorists. He even repeated this point at the beginning of the month in Fort Bragg.

Though Blair and others have important points, most likely to offset the more left-wing commentators, they cannot neglect the fact that Iraq is a substantial problem in the eyes of: The U.S. military, evidenced by the desire to find options to leave and the strain on troops; The CIA, evidenced by the report of the danger of Iraqi trained militants; Some former analysts, like Michael Scheurer, who have deemed Iraq as a boon to bin Laden.. The list is incredibly extensive.

This is not to say that withdrawal from Iraq is a good strategy. That, unfortunately, is a horrendous idea at this point in time. But, more debate needs to be had about Iraq and about the effectiveness of combating terror. We owe that much to the British, American, and coalition soldiers in the theatres -- and the innocent civilians who may happen upon another theatre when they thought they were merely commuting to work.

Evening wrap up 7/18/2005

Murdoch, above, asking for spare change.

Billionare tyrant Rupert Murdoch has bought, the popular emo-Blog that features all the fun and convenience of Livejournal, Orkut, Friendster, The Facebook and every other website that people have joined for 25 minutes and then felt pretty regretful about it. Yet, they'll still check twice-a-day. People do get bored at work, you know. The NY Times LINK.

CIA Leak

I'd like to have a consistent, brief tag for these stories. Should it involve: Scooter, Scooter Libby, Rove, KR, double secret background, Dean Wormer, crime, leak, indictment, Bush... You can see my plight.

Bush has shifted his tone, slightly, and now says that any aide found to have committed a crime will be fired. That's like saying you'd call an attractive woman that gave you her phone number. From the NY Times story (LINK):

The remarks appeared to shift the standard for dismissal that has been expressed repeatedly over many months by Mr. Bush's spokesmen - from promises to fire anyone who played a role in the disclosure, to Mr. Bush's statement today that criminal conduct would have to be involved.

The president's comment today, however, was similar to one he made in 2003, when he said that anyone in his administration who had "violated law" would be dismissed.

Democrats pounced on the remarks as a raising of the bar for dismissal. However, Mr. Bush's spokesman, Scott McClellan, rejected the suggestion that Mr. Bush had added a "qualifier" to the standards for his aides' conduct.

Pounced: In my opinion, the Dems have pushed this too far, too quickly. Or, if we were to type like Matt Cooper typed after talking to KR, they've pushed this too war, too quickly.

The GOP appears to be a party about appeasing the base, more so than playing for the middle. So says the LA Times (LINK) in today's New analysis. Of course, that would be the tactic they have used for elections, but will it be the tactic used for the Supreme Court?

Absolutely gang-buster detail in Bloomberg's story on the leak today. Not Mayor Bloomberg, but the work of Richard Keil and William Roberts (LINK.):

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of the leaking of a Central Intelligence Agency agent's name is now focused on how Rove, one of President George W. Bush's closest advisers, and other administration officials dealt with a key fact in an equally key memo.

The memo, prepared by the State Department on July 7, 2003, informed top administration officials that the wife of ex-diplomat and Bush critic Joseph Wilson was a CIA agent. Seven days later, Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was publicly identified as a CIA operative by syndicated columnist Robert Novak.


Those two will now be part of my 5:30 a.m. reading. That reference comes courtesy of the diligent people of ABC's The Note.

London Bombing

A report published in London today, and with a genesis back in 2002, hinted at the invasion of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan as potential reasons behind the London bombing. I am not certain why you see the blanket denial from Jack Straw in today's Guardian online, but here is the first two grafs:

The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, today dismissed suggestions that Britain's involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan contributed to the terrorist attacks in London on July 7.

Mr Straw rejected a report by a respected independent think tank on foreign affairs, the Chatham House organisation, which found that a key problem in the UK for preventing terrorism is that the country "is riding as a pillion passenger with the United States in the war against terror".

To read the entire Guardian story: LINK.

To read the 8 page Chatham report: .pdf LINK.

More on this report and this simmering question in London. It is just persistent enough, and the British are just English enough, to make this matter big time in a gradual way. I'll explain that all later.

Other links

The U.S. denies any covert support of any Iraqi candidate that would have been more favorable to the Bush administration. Washington Post LINK.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqis have begun barricading themselves in their homes and forming neighborhood militias in an effort to fend off relentless suicide attacks, residents in the capital said on Monday.

Morning copy 7/18/2005

Iraq and terror

A Saudi Arabian government study and an Israeli think tank's study essentially agree. Both studied foreign fighters in Iraq, and found that most had no terrorist leanings until the United States invaded the country. LINK.

Muqtada al Sadr interviewed by BBC. USA Today LINK.

"The occupation in itself is a problem," al-Sadr said in the interview. "Iraq not being independent is the problem. And the other problems stem from that — from sectarianism to civil war, the entire American presence causes this."

He said he would refuse any political role while the "occupation" was present and would not take part in the writing of the new Iraqi constitution.

According to Newsnight, al-Sadr, who still has his own militia, the Mahdi army, made clear that he was keeping open the possibility of a return to armed resistance.

BBC News' link to the al Sadr interview. BBC News LINK.

A violent weekend in Iraq has resulted in calls for militias to protect the Shiite majority. Christian Science Monitor LINK.

Shiite parliamentarian Khudayr al-Khuzai called on the government Sunday to "bring back popular militias" to protect vulnerable Shiite communities. "The plans of the interior and defense ministries to impose security in Iraq have failed to stop the terrorists," he told the National Assembly.

British troops may begin leaving Iraq within a year, says Defense Secretary John Reid. Reid also denies imperialist ambitions because of this plan to leave. AP story, LINK.

San Francisco Chronicle's story on the drain the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been on the U.S. Economy. SF Gate LINK.

Governors in a conference held in Iowa voice concern over National Guard recruiting and deployment. AP story, LINK.

A prominent think tank has raised the volume on the Iraq-London bombing connection. Guardian LINK.

In the most politically sensitive finding, Chatham House, which used to be known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs, concludes there is "no doubt" the invasion of Iraq has "given a boost to the al-Qaida network" in "propaganda, recruitment and fundraising", while providing an ideal targeting and training area for terrorists. "Riding pillion with a powerful ally has proved costly in terms of British and US military lives, Iraqi lives, military expenditure and the damage caused to the counter-terrorism campaign."

Soldiers are re-enlisting at substantial rates. Experts cite bonuses and purpose in combating terrorism. USA Today LINK.


Complex situation for Israel, facing Palestinian militants and the removal of 9,000 Israeli settlers from Gaza. CS Monitor LINK.

Palestinian President Abbas has pledged to stop Hamas attacks, after numerous rockets were launched this weekend. al Jazeera LINK.

Hamas says it wishes to still operate under the truce. BBC News LINK.

Israel has placed a number of armored formations on the Gaza border. NY Times LINK.

More links...

Karl Rove and other prominent administration aides were focused on Joseph Wilson as a potential obstacle to the war in Iraq. LA Times LINK.

From the LA Times story:

A source directly familiar with information provided to prosecutors said Rove's interest was so strong that it prompted questions in the White House. When asked at one point why he was pursuing the diplomat so aggressively, Rove reportedly responded: "He's a Democrat." Rove then cited Wilson's campaign donations, which leaned toward Democrats, the person familiar with the case said.

Matt Cooper's account in the upcoming Time Magazine.

Two Republican leaders in a tiff over global warming. Washington Post LINK.

Can you believe that?

Arnold Schwarzenegger hit hard in Sunday's LA Times LINK. Op-Ed:

The ludicrous defense mounted by the governor's office simply demeaned Schwarzenegger. His spokesman called the furor over the deal "much ado about nothing" and claimed the people of California ought to be grateful their governor was being underwritten by the private sector. When he ran for governor, Schwarzenegger boasted that his great wealth made him able to decline a salary and ignore special interests. The implication was that Schwarzenegger wouldn't take the job's $175,000 salary because he already had a lot of money, not that he would pass on it because he could get a lot more by moonlighting for another employer.

Chicago Tribune human interest story on the many thousands who lost well paying jobs in 2001 and have yet to reclaim a prominent position. Tribune LINK.

Restructuring the diplomatic relationship with China, managing the rise of the new super power. LA Times LINK.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! 7/17/2005

Matt Cooper made the Sunday morning circuit, a familiar well worn path no doubt to pro-war administration officials. Cooper's run on Meet The Press Reliable Sources yielded an interesting nuance. Sources may still trust Cooper, but can they trust Time INC.? Also on Reliable Sources, we have confirmation from Cooper that he was quoting Animal House in his email about KR and the WH.

Ken Mehlman on Meet the Press was far more interesting. He repeatedly voiced confidence in Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, but when pressed to issue support for any potential indictments, Mehlman got all Scott McClellan.


Foreign policy

Tony Blair has issued a strong defense for British foreign policy. About a week after the bombings, left-wingers in Labor ceased a self-imposed silence on Iraq and began raising that issue. From The Guardian's LINK. story:

(Blair quoted:)'What was September 11 2001 the reprisal for? Why even after the first Madrid bomb and the election of a new Spanish government, were they planning another atrocity when caught?'

However, such arguments were rejected by Labour leftwingers yesterday, as leading anti-war MP John McDonnell said it was 'intellectually unsustainable' to pretend terrorism and Iraq were not related.

As is often the case, the argument is not actually about facts. Blair is correct in pointing out the persistently violent nature of Islamic extremists. McDonnell goes on to mention Iraq as a recruiting ground, and a proving ground, for aspiring terrorists. But so is Afghanistan, areas of Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, etc.

One bomber

Mohammed Sidique Khan, the 30-year-old father and suicide bomber, was reviewed by British intelligence agency MI5, but deemed no threat. Times Online LINK.

Potential Al Qaeda operatives still in play

As many as a dozen potential Al Qaeda operatives are now tracked by snipers in England. The Sunday Times' story says: "The covert armed units are under orders to shoot to kill if surveillance suggests that a terror suspect is carrying a bomb and he refuses to surrender if challenged." And: "The deployment of the teams in the past week signals the huge 'intelligence gap' that has opened up since the London bombings." Times Online LINK.

Martyr belt instructions online

Extensive paramilitary knowledge is available online. The Sunday Times story about one video raises the chilling question that no one has answered: "While the existence of such sites explains how the bombers acquired the expertise to kill themselves and fellow passengers, they go little way to answering the more fundamental question of what drove the four British-born men to carry out the attacks — provided, that is, they knew theirs was a suicide mission." Times Online LINK.

Decades to crack

Senior British police admit that it will take decades to roll up the British-Islamist terrorist web, as there has been little incursion within those extremist groups. Guardian LINK.

It seems clear, or at least it's a common refrain, thatalienationn of young Muslim men in their adopted countries is one reason for their path toward radicalism. That same alienation is also an obstacle in preventing attacks.


Giles Hart, 55, a supporter of Poland's Solidarity movement, was one victim of the carnage in London. Guardian LINK.

The NY Times also has an account of other victims, including some Muslims. NY Times LINK.

Is Italy next?

The Economist reports the overwhelming sense in Italy is that they are next. Extensive and impressive work by the government is also detailed. The Economist LINK.

Seymour Hersh has an investigative piece about a Bush plan not implemented that would have helped some Iraqi candidates to counter Iran's involvement in the election. NY Times LINK.

Richard Clarke's security analysis in the NY Times Magazine. NY Times LINK.

No. 10 and Iraq

The Guardian/Observer's LINK. lede:

A controversial fly-on-the wall account of the Iraq war by one of Britain's most senior former diplomats has been blocked by Downing Street and the Foreign Office.

Publication of The Costs of War by Sir Jeremy Greenstock, UK ambassador to the UN during the build-up to the 2003 war and the Prime Minister's special envoy to Iraq in its aftermath, has been halted. In an extract seen by The Observer, Greenstock describes the American decision to go to war as 'politically illegitimate' and says that UN negotiations 'never rose over the level of awkward diversion for the US administration'. Although he admits that 'honourable decisions' were made to remove the threat of Saddam, the opportunities of the post-conflict period were 'dissipated in poor policy analysis and narrow-minded execution'.

More Iraq

Fresh set of bombings, including a massive one Saturday night and suicide bombings Sunday. BBC News LINK.

Iraq is an upside-down place according to one BBC correspondent. An interesting aspect of some of the insurgency is mentioned: "As well as the usual rhetoric demanding American withdrawal, there were demands for pensions to be paid for former members of the military, government jobs for former members of the Baath party, more jobs for them in the Iraqi military." BBC News LINK.

If that is not a glaring indication that some of Saddam's soldiers are still fighting this war, I don't know what could be. The nature of "Mission Accomplished" was that it was before the capture of Saddam, declared without an actual surrender, and obviously carried out by non-military politicos. There have been reports that Saddam did not want a traditional confrontation with the American military, and that insurgency was the tactic before the war even began.

Also before the war began, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was setting up an 'underground railroad' to traffic would-be insurgents into and out of Iraq, so reports this month's Foreign Affairs. Al Zarqawi is referenced in Bob Woodward's book "Plan of Attack." He was on the radar screen, but more for the political cache of a terrorist working in Iraq and not as a military issue to be neutralized. To sum it up, the war planning was horrible.

A BBC News account of the 'dwindling' options for the U.S. in Iraq. LINK.

Tonight at 8 p.m. EST, CNN will have a "progress report" on the Iraq war. Must see TV.

Iran and Iraq

(LINK) BBC News account:

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari has begun the first top-level visit to Iran since the two neighbours waged an eight-year war in the 1980s.

More than 10 ministers are accompanying Mr Jaafari to open what Iranian media have called a new chapter in ties.

They are expected to discuss security and the control of their long border.

A new friendship is blossoming between Tehran and Baghdad to the consternation of the US, still bogged down in Iraq, says the BBC's Frances Harrison.

More Iran

NY Times magazine story on Iran. (Obviously I have not read it yet, it's 5 pages!)

Saddam charged

First set of charges brought against Saddam, involving a 1982 massacre. USA Today LINK.


The Washington Post's report today on the evolution of suicide bombing as a tactic. WP LINK.

The numbers in Iraq alone are breathtaking: About 400 suicide bombings have shaken Iraq since the U.S. invasion in 2003, and suicide now plays a role in two out of every three insurgent bombings. In May, an estimated 90 suicide bombings were carried out in the war-torn country -- nearly as many as the Israeli government has documented in the conflict with Palestinians since 1993.

Yesterday, a suicide bomber detonated explosives strapped to his body inside a Shiite mosque south of Baghdad, triggering a huge fuel-tanker explosion that killed at least 54 people, according to police.

The bombings in London, which killed 55 people, illustrate the profound difficulty of preventing such attacks, experts say. Intelligence officials believe the bombers, in a common pattern, were foot soldiers recruited for the occasion, young men of Pakistani and Jamaican backgrounds reared in Britain who had recently converted to radical Islam. The four bombings required no exit strategy and were pulled off with devices that apparently were made in a bathtub and were small enough to fit in backpacks.

Valerie Plame, Karl Rove, et al.

LINK From Sunday's Post by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen

What seemed a straight-forward story a few days ago has now become muddled. The Washington Post is approaching this unfolding story slowly, with a lot more explanative power than any one else seems to be able to muster in this frantic, cable news world.

It is now clear: There has been an element of pretense to the White House strategy of dealing with the Plame case since the earliest days of the saga. Revelations emerging slowly at first, and in a rapid cascade over the past several days, have made plain that many important pieces of the puzzle were not so mysterious to Rove and others inside the Bush administration. White House officials were aware of Plame and her husband's potentially damaging charge that Bush was "twisting" intelligence about Iraq's nuclear ambitions well before the episode evolved into Washington's latest scandal.

But as the story hurtles toward a conclusion sometime this year, there are several elements that remain uncertain. The most important -- did anyone commit a crime?

This article, based on interviews with lawyers and officials involved in the case, is an effort to step back from the rapidly unfolding events of recent weeks and clarify what is known about the Plame affair and what key factors are still obscure. Those people declined to be identified by name because special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has asked that closed-door proceedings not be discussed.

Stephen Hadley

NSA Hadley's name now floats to the top on this AP story. LINK.

KR's value to the WH

LINK Sunday's NY Times.

Only a few presidential confidants as indispensable as Mr. Rove have ever been thrown overboard, and then reluctantly. Sherman Adams, the chief of staff to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, left the White House in a cloud of scandal in 1958 after accepting a vicuna fur coat from a business friend who had interests at the White House.

Housing market

Denver's housing market looks week. In a narrative lede, one man gains just $10,000 on a three year property investment. NY Times LINK.

The Observer reports: The British housing market will record zero growth this year, according to data out this week. That would make it the worst performance since 1995 and reignite fears of a prolonged slowdown. Guardian/Observer LINK.

Schwarzenegger drops his deal

A few days after the LA Times reported that the Governator makes millions with fitness magazines, Arnold Schwarzenegger drops the deal. BBC News LINK.

More governors

Iowa hosted a long weekend of governors meetings. WP LINK.

USA Today has a fascinating point about 2006 mattering more than 2008 for this meeting. USA Today LINK.

But next year, 24 of the 36 contests will be for seats now held by the GOP. All six of the term-limited seats are held by Republicans. Vilsack's retirement will create the lone open Democratic seat.

That makes the odds likelier that Republicans will lose seats. "There's no question the landscape is not favorable," said GOP Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, who is deciding between seeking a second term or making a bid for the presidency.

Social Security

Interesting story in the NY Times. NY Times LINK.

Instead, it's worth considering how the nation might best serve both goals: a government-encouraged saving program with a high rate of return, and an insurance program to prevent poverty among the elderly (Social Security's original purpose). The most efficient solution, most economists are likely to tell you, is to have separate programs, each focused exclusively on one of the two goals.


Two possible Supreme Court appointees. WP LINK.