Wednesday, March 01, 2006

News roundup 03.01.2006


Violence continues. Edward Wong of the New York Times:
BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 1 -- At least 26 people were killed and 65 were wounded in two explosions in Baghdad today, as insurgents pressed on with their deadliest offensive in weeks amid heightened sectarian tensions. The attacks today came after more than 75 people were killed on Tuesday when powerful bombs rocked the capital.
Borzou Daragahi of the Los Angeles Times:
But Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd and longtime ally of the U.S., suggested Khalilzad should refrain from making recommendations on Cabinet positions, such as his ongoing criticism of Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, who is viewed by many as too close to Shiite militias allegedly involved in human rights violations.

"Because there is this tension and because any statement by [Americans] will be interpreted by one group or the other, it will backfire," Zebari said in an interview with The Times. "Such a statement will be read by the Shia that the American ambassador [is] siding with the Sunnis."
Zeyad has another worthwhile update. Check out his photos and read all his remarks:
Saddam's insignificant trial went on today. I didn't hear anyone mentioning it on the street. Why do they bother keeping up that charade? I would have cared if some other people today were standing trial. There was an arrest warrant issued for a certain young cleric, which the official Al-Iraqiya TV is now calling 'His Eminence, Sayyid Muqtada Al-Sadr, may Allah preserve his glory,' during newscasts.

I guess I am just sick and disgusted of it all.
How odd.

Domestic security

Port security

The Baltimore Sun: "Official of Dubai company defends deal to Congress"

The Philadelphia Inquirer:
WASHINGTON - The United Arab Emirates' participation in an Arab League economic boycott of Israel raised new complications yesterday for a deal that would place a state-owned UAE company from Dubai in control of operations at six U.S. ports.
The New York Times (enter the Dems):
Senate Democrats seized on a report that the parent company of state-owned Dubai Ports World honors an Arab boycott of Israel, saying the United States should not be rewarding companies tied to discrimination against a major ally.

"This boycott not only violates at least the spirit of U.S. law," said Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, "it is inconsistent with everything we believe in as Americans."
I am not the first to point this out, but Bush's reliance on national security for political capital has affected everyone's politics. The Washington Post:
The breakdown of the Republican consensus on national security both reflects and exacerbates Bush's political weakness heading toward the midterm elections, according to party strategists. Even as Republicans abandoned him last year on domestic issues such as Social Security, Hurricane Katrina relief and Harriet Miers's Supreme Court nomination, they had largely stuck by him on terrorism and other security issues.

Karl Rove, the president's political guru and deputy chief of staff, has already signaled that he intends to use national security as the defining issue for the fall congressional campaigns, just as he did to great effect in 2002 and 2004. But with Bush's numbers still falling, the Republicans who will be on the ballot have decided to define the security issue in their own way rather than defer to the president's interpretation.
More discontent this winter. The Manchester Union Leader:
The view of domestic security “where security is a stepchild of national defense is clearly the attitude of this administration, and it’s the wrong attitude,” Gregg said in an interview after a subcommittee he chairs heard from Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff.

“They’ve made a very robust commitment to our national defense, from the standpoint of military, but they’ve not made an equal commitment to securing the borders or upgrading the Department of Homeland Security as a force for interior defense,” Gregg said.
Domestic spying

The Boston Globe:
Most of the witnesses were skeptical of the president's contention that his wartime powers allow him to bypass the courts. Bush's legal theory, they said, is wrong and dangerous.

''This is a defining moment in the constitutional history of the United States," said Bruce Fein, a lawyer in the Reagan administration. ''The theory used by the administration . . . could equally justify mail openings, burglary, torture, or internment camps, all in the name of gathering foreign intelligence. Unless rebuked, it will lie around like a loaded weapon ready to be used by any incumbent who claims an urgent need."

Other specialists disagreed.
By the way... The Washington Post:
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales appeared to suggest yesterday that the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance operations may extend beyond the outlines that the president acknowledged in mid-December.

In a letter yesterday to senators in which he asked to clarify his Feb. 6 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Gonzales also seemed to imply that the administration's original legal justification for the program was not as clear-cut as he indicated three weeks ago.
The Patriot Act

The Chicago Tribune: "Wisconsin's lonely crusader fights on"

A.P.: "Sen. Byrd Regrets Voting for Patriot Act"


Bloomberg News:
March 1 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush, on a surprise trip to Afghanistan today, said he was ``confident'' the fugitive al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden will be ``brought to justice.''

Bush made an unannounced detour on his way to India and landed at Bagram Air Base amid heavy security at about 1 p.m. local time. He met President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, where the two leaders held a joint press conference.
The Los Angeles Times:
WASHINGTON — Escalating insurgent violence in Afghanistan has placed the fledgling government there in greater peril than at any time since the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, a senior American intelligence official testified Tuesday.

The stark assessment comes as sectarian violence soars in Iraq, underscoring the daunting challenges the United States and its allies face years after invading the two countries.

The Guardian on the complex national identity of Iranians:
The idea that the Islamic revolution was a plot hatched in Whitehall, and that its spiritual leader, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, was some sort of heavily disguised 007 in the secret service of Her Majesty's government does indeed seem weird. But not to many Iranians.

Suggestions that the convulsive events of 1979, which ushered in the Islamic republic, were manipulated and orchestrated by the British are widely accepted here as a given. It is a belief held, even before his reign was swept to oblivion in a revolutionary tidal wave, by the last shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.
New Orleans

The New Orleans Times Picayune on Bush's Katrina awareness:
WASHINGTON -- On the day that Hurricane Katrina roared ashore, President Bush and a top presidential aide were worried about whether New Orleans' levees had held, according to a transcript of discussions among disaster officials on the front lines of the storm.

Those concerns, expressed about midday Aug. 29, are in contrast to an image of a detached president and also to what happened later that night. That's when an official manning the federal emergency operations center held off acting on reports of levee breaches as he waited for confirmation.
What about that DVD story, that the president needed to be "caught up" on the week of misery along the Gulf Coast? This is odd.


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