Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sunday news

CNN has a special tonight on the failed WMD reports in Iraq, LINK. A former aide to Powell said it was the lowest point of his life.

Constitutional negotiators in Iraq have cleared one road block, the role of Islam, CNN LINK. One source says more compromise may develop tonight.

Islam, in this report, will be a "main source" for law.

Meet the Press aired this clip of an interview, from February 8, 2004.

MR. TIM RUSSERT: If the Iraqis choose, however, an Islamic extremist regime, would you accept that, and would that be better for the United States than Saddam Hussein?

PRES. BUSH: They're not going to develop that. And the reason I can say that is because I am very aware of this basic law they're writing. They're not going to develop that, because right here in the Oval Office, I sat down with Mr. Pachachi and Chalabi and al-Hakim, people from different parts of the country that have made the firm commitment that they want a constitution eventually written that recognizes minority rights and freedom of religion.

There will be more references to Meet the Press below.

Ellen Knickmeyer, filing from Baghdad, of the Washington Post reports that the US Ambassador to Iraq was key in pushing the Kurds to accept a strong Islamic influence in the constitution, LINK. EXCERPT:

"Really, we are disappointed with that. It seems like the Americans want to have a constitution at any cost," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of the constitutional committee. "These things are not good -- giving the constitution an Islamic face.

"It is not good to have a constitution that would limit the liberties of people, the human rights, the freedoms," Othman said.

Anthony Shadid and Steve Fainaru, in Basra, report on the pervasive influence and involvement of Shiite militias in the police force, LINK. Kurdish militias are also potent. EXCERPT:

Since the formation of a government this spring, Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, has witnessed dozens of assassinations, which claimed members of the former ruling Baath Party, Sunni political leaders and officials of competing Shiite parties. Many have been carried out by uniformed men in police vehicles, according to political leaders and families of the victims, with some of the bullet-riddled bodies dumped at night in a trash-strewn parcel known as The Lot. The province's governor said in an interview that Shiite militias have penetrated the police force; an Iraqi official estimated that as many as 90 percent of officers were loyal to religious parties.

Across northern Iraq, Kurdish parties have employed a previously undisclosed network of at least five detention facilities to incarcerate hundreds of Sunni Arabs, Turkmens and other minorities abducted and secretly transferred from Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, and from territories stretching to the Iranian border, according to political leaders and detainees' families. Nominally under the authority of the U.S.-backed Iraqi army, the militias have beaten up and threatened government officials and political leaders deemed to be working against Kurdish interests; one bloodied official was paraded through a town in a pickup truck, witnesses said.

Sunni Arabs see Iran's involvement in push for Federalism, LA Times.

This editorial in the New York Times stings, and it raises huge points about the Pentagon's Walk. LINK. Excerpt: "The American people are becoming increasingly skeptical about the war. They want answers to hard questions, not pageantry."

Frank Rich in the New York Times, LINK, EXCERPT:

When the Bush mob attacks critics like Ms. Sheehan, its highest priority is to change the subject. If we talk about Richard Clarke's character, then we stop talking about the administration's pre-9/11 inattentiveness to terrorism. If Thomas Wilson is trashed as an insubordinate plant of the "liberal media," we forget the Pentagon's abysmal failure to give our troops adequate armor (a failure that persists today, eight months after he spoke up). If we focus on Joseph Wilson's wife, we lose the big picture of how the administration twisted intelligence to gin up the threat of Saddam's nonexistent W.M.D.'s.

Other news

Bill Frist's enigmatic August trip to Tennessee, Washington Post LINK.

Once again, Meet the Press with Trent Lott today:

MR. GREGORY: ...Senator Frist. And he, of course, ascended to that position after you resigned. You write this in the book: "I considered [Sen. Bill] Frist's power grab a personal betrayal. When he entered the Senate in 1995, I had taken him under my wing ... He was my protege, and I helped him get plum assignments and committee positions. ... When I learned of his move, I felt, and still feel, that he was one of the main manipulators of the whole scenario. No other senior senator with stature would have run against me. ... If Frist had not announced exactly when he did, as the fire was about to burn out, I would still be majority leader of the Senate today. But Bill Frist did not even have the courtesy to call and tell me personally that he was going to run."

According to reports, initially in the book, before its final publication, you had described Frist as an ingrate.

SEN. LOTT: That may have been in there way back, but it was not in any of the later revisions and certainly not in the final version. Again, obviously I did feel betrayed by that, but Senator Frist and I have talked that through. He was considerate of trying to help me get into positions where I could still be, you know, involved and helpful. I think he would say, as he has said, that I've tried to be supportive and make suggestions and be helpful to him. I don't think we should dwell on how he got where he is or where I got where I am. The important thing is he's the leader, we've got a job to do for our states and for our country, and we got to find a way to work together. And I must say right at the end of the session when we produced a highway bill, an energy bill, a trade bill and some tort reform, pretty good production, and I think it deserves some credit for that.

MR. GREGORY: Without dwelling on that, you write about it in your book. Let me ask you this: Do you believe that Senator Frist has the character to be president?

SEN. LOTT: I think I'd have to think about that. I haven't made a decision on who I'm going to support for the nomination. There are a lot of good people out there. I probably would lean towards some of the others. Let me just put it that way.

Senator Lott did not take the "character to be president" question well. He noticeably hesitated... It'd make a great commercial.


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