Sunday, August 14, 2005

Afternoon update

Some major stories from today that required more reading than I could manage with Late Edition on.


Some important reporting today from Robin Wright and Ellen Knickmeyer leading off in the Washington Post. Meet the Press used this excerpt with Joe Biden today:

The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States will have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad.

The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

Andrea Mitchell asked Biden if this was a trial balloon for an exit strategy, and Biden agreed. They did not dwell on that point much, so I am not certain how much credit to lead to that quick point, but it is interesting and noteworthy.

I don't believe this quote was in excerpt on MTP, but it should have been:

"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."

And notice the kicker:

Ironically, White said, the initial ambitions may have complicated the U.S. mission: "In order to get out earlier, expectations are going to have to be lower, even much lower. The higher your expectation, the longer you have to stay. Getting out is going to be a more important consideration than the original goals were. They were unrealistic."

Sectarian tensions, which fuel the divide in the constitution, can best be exampled by this NY Times story today, excerpt:

Around the same time, someone found some leaflets, drawn up by a group called the Liberation Army. "We are cleansing the area of dirty Shia," the leaflet declared.

NY Times leads off with more problems getting better body armor to US Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, LINK.

Extensive article on security contractors, aptly titled "The Other Army", in the NY Times Magazine.

A Sunni tribe fought Al Qaeda in Iraq to defend Shiite, some good news. Washington Post LINK.

Washington Post's follow up on the chemical weapons attempt made by the insurgents, LINK.

No. 10 is refusing to release emails of interest in the lead up to war. London Times LINK, Excerpt:

DOWNING STREET is refusing to release e-mails from a senior official relating to the attorney-general’s legal advice in the run-up to the Iraq war, raising suspicions that No 10 intervened at a crucial time.

It has admitted that an aide reporting to Tony Blair sent confidential e-mails relating to the advice just days before Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, issued a summary version of his legal advice which stated unequivocally that the war was legal.

His original advice, issued 10 days earlier on March 7, 2003 warned that a decision to go to war could be challenged in the international courts.

Until now the government has maintained that Goldsmith was left to get on with his work during this crucial 10-day period without political interference from Downing Street.

Last week, however, Downing Street admitted to The Sunday Times that during that period Baroness Morgan, until recently Blair’s director of government relations, sent e-mails “relating” to the legal advice. It is not clear to whom they were directed.

Frank Rich has a stinging Op-Ed in the NY Times, LINK. Excerpt:

WHAT lies ahead now in Iraq instead is not victory, which Mr. Bush has never clearly defined anyway, but an exit (or triage) strategy that may echo Johnson's March 1968 plan for retreat from Vietnam: some kind of negotiations (in this case, with Sunni elements of the insurgency), followed by more inflated claims about the readiness of the local troops-in-training, whom we'll then throw to the wolves. Such an outcome may lead to even greater disaster, but this administration long ago squandered the credibility needed to make the difficult case that more human and financial resources might prevent Iraq from continuing its descent into civil war and its devolution into jihad central.

Other links

Gerhard Schröder takes military action against Iran off the table, NY Times LINK.

From the London Times today: "AMERICAN intelligence chiefs have warned that Al-Qaeda terrorists are plotting to drive hijacked fuel tankers into petrol stations in an effort to cause mass casualties in London and US cities in the next few weeks." LINK.

Bob Novak says Rick Santorum is in trouble, RealClear LINK, Excerpt:

Republican insiders in Washington fear that Sen. Rick Santorum, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, is in serious danger of losing his seat next year to his Democratic challenger, Pennsylvania State Treasurer Bob Casey, because of a poorly planned and ill-conceived campaign.

Also, Paul Begala may side with Rick's likely foe.

Prominent government and business leaders don't do email, Chicago Tribune's Sunday-esque story LINK.

Harvard to launch a project to better understand how life evolved from non-life, story couched in the intelligent design debate (wtf?) LINK.

Very interesting to see the press focusing on Bill Richardson, no? LA Times LINK. Google his stance on the war, would you?

The plight of Niger in the NY Times Op-Ed, LINK.

Henry Weinstein has a report on John Roberts as a backer of executive, read Bush, power, LA Times LINK. Not the first time this has been reported, but a very good read. Much more worthy of attention than the other debates.

LA Times Op-Ed on Roberts, LINK, Excerpt:

By now it is clear that Roberts is no crazed ideologue intent on overturning precedents willy-nilly. He appears to be a thoughtful conservative who values and respects the social stability provided by the law's slow evolution. As such, he may disappoint extremists who'd hoped — and raised money — for an all-out confirmation war. But those same qualities would serve him well on the Supreme Court.


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