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.


Anonymous Walt Clyde Frazier said...

God bless Giles Hart.
Free Lech Walesa!!!

12:10 AM  

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