Friday, April 30, 2004
Graphic photographs showing the torture and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners in a US-run prison outside Baghdad emerged yesterday from a military inquiry which has left six soldiers facing a possible court martial and a general under investigation.
The scandal has also brought to light the growing and largely unregulated role of private contractors in the interrogation of detainees.
According to lawyers for some of the soldiers, they claimed to be acting in part under the instruction of mercenary interrogators hired by the Pentagon.
US military investigators discovered the photographs, which include images of a hooded prisoner with wires fixed to his body, and nude inmates piled in a human pyramid.
We used to send all the people we wanted tortured to Jordan, now we can just hire outside mercs to do it -- nice. Some other information that takes another chunk of our credibility and throws it into a ditch somewhere--
A military report into the Abu Ghraib case - parts of which were made available to the Guardian - makes it clear that private contractors were supervising interrogations in the prison, which was notorious for torture and executions under Saddam Hussein.
One civilian contractor was accused of raping a young male prisoner but has not been charged because military law has no jurisdiction over him.
Hired guns from a wide array of private security firms are playing a central role in the US-led occupation of Iraq.
The killing of four private contractors in Falluja on March 31 led to the current siege of the city.
But this is the first time the privatisation of interrogation and intelligence-gathering has come to light. The investigation names two US contractors, CACI International Inc and the Titan Corporation, for their involvement in Abu Ghraib.
No wonder when we look at the latest survey coming out of Iraq, they want us out. But you know, it's only saddam's thugs that are fighting. Isn't this the same pentagon that told us saddam had WMD's and they knew where they were?
Thursday, April 29, 2004
Great site "Today in Iraq" -- check them out.
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Thanks to Max for the tip
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, this is a private meeting, first of all, Elisabeth. And let's keep in mind that it is extraordinary for a sitting President of the United States to sit down with the legislatively created commission. But these are unique circumstances and the President is pleased to do so. The President appreciates the job of the September 11th Commission. We strongly support their work. And we have been pleased to provide the commission unprecedented cooperation and unprecedented access to information, so they can do their work and help us better fight and win the war on terrorism.
Q Right, if I can just follow up. So if this session is an extraordinary event and such an extraordinary meeting, why do you not want an official record of it?
MR. McCLELLAN: Elisabeth, I don't think that this is unusual at all, if you look back at other meetings that have taken place, private meetings with the commission and other members of the administration.
Q But this is the President, why don't we want an official record for history, of this meeting?
MR. McCLELLAN: There will be detailed notes taken of this meeting. This is about helping the commission complete its work, and helping provide the commission with all the information they need so that they can draw as complete a picture as possible for the American people, and make recommendations based on all that information that they piece together.
Q But wouldn't there be better detailed records if you had it recorded, if you had a stenographer?
MR. McCLELLAN: Elisabeth, we have provided the commission with volumes of information, and unprecedented access to information. We've provided more than 2 million pages of documents to the commission. We've provided access to hundreds of administration officials for briefings and interviews so that they can discuss this information. We've provided unprecedented access to some of the most highly classified information in this government.
And this meeting is about helping the commission piece together all that information that they have been provided, so that they can provide a complete and comprehensive report to the American people. And that's what this is about, and we are working to help make sure that they have all the information they need to do their job.
And you're talking -- in some circumstances, some of the information I expect that will be discussed -- it depends on the questions that are raised by the commission -- but some of that information will likely be highly classified. So we think that they will have all the information they need to go back and piece all this information together and report back to the American people what lessons we've learned from September 11th and what recommendations they have that might help us, in addition to the steps we've already taken, to win the war on terrorism.
Q One more question. Doesn't this leave you open to charges that -- doesn't this leave -- doesn't this put a cloud, put a sort of little fuzziness over the proceedings where somebody could go back and say, well, this is not what I meant to say, the note-taker was wrong. Doesn't this make it a little less definite for future -- for historians?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't look at it that way at all. I look at it as the President is taking an extraordinary step in sitting down with the commission and answering whatever questions they may have, and providing them with information that can help them piece together all the information that they have been previously provided. That's the way I look at it. And the commission will be able to provide the American people with as complete a picture as possible about the events leading up to September 11th and the threat that was building and emerging for quite some period of time, going back more than a decade.
Q Scott, following up to what Elisabeth said, somewhat. Before Dr. Rice testified publicly, President Bush said it was important for the American public to know about the events leading up to 9/11. If that is the case, why not have the President testify publicly, even with a transcript? And why not under oath?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, the President is already under oath as the President of the United States. But let me go back to when the President signed the legislation creating this commission.
Q He's under oath 24 hours a day? (Laughter.)
Q Scott, on that point, if the President's goal is to help, as you just said, get as complete a picture as possible for the American people, why does he think that a transcript of his remarks wouldn't be of assistance to everybody who has an interest --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think, again, Dick, this is not unusual. I think that if you look at other meetings that have taken place, this is the way they have been -- the way they have been conducted.
Q On another point, it's unusual in these circumstances for the President to appear with somebody else. When President Reagan went before the Iran Contra panel, he went alone. He didn't have the Vice President sitting with him. Vice President Bush -- then Vice President Bush was questioned separately. Why is it important for these two men to testify -- or to appear -- to appear together, particularly with Democrats saying it raises the appearance that they have to get their stories straight, that there might be something to hide?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the argument could be made if they were appearing separately for that same -- that same line of argument could be made even to a greater extent. So I just reject that outright. And you have to keep in mind that this is not an adversarial process. We are all working toward the same objective. This is about helping the commission piece together all the information that they had been provided access to. We are working together to learn the lessons of September 11th. We are working together to see what additional steps might be necessary to help us win the war on terrorism, and better protect the American people here at home.
We believe that having the President and the Vice President meet together with the commission will better help the commission piece together all that information that we have already provided them, and better help the commission provide the American people with as complete a picture as possible, so that they can make recommendations based on what they learn.
Q Scott, what's the purpose of having transcribers in the room for other types of meetings that the President has, whether they're interviews with the press or meetings with other officials? What's the general purpose of having transcribers?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think we typically do, when you're talking about information that could be highly classified or in situations like this. Like I said, this is an extraordinary circumstance. There will be detailed notes taken, and the President looks forward to the meeting.
Q Can you tell us what kind of discussion there might have been within the White House staff about whether or not to have transcribers in this meeting?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that this was very similar to other meetings that have taken -- other private meetings that have taken place. So I think that's the way it was looked at.
I get that they are looking forward to the meeting, but as far as no records -- Waldo 1 Joe Public 0
Q Well, we do have them under siege, both towns, don't we?
MR. McCLELLAN: And I would not describe it that way. First of all, we have been working very closely with Iraqi officials in those areas to bring about a peaceful resolution to the situation. The coalition has been working to partner with Iraqi security forces to improve the security situation. There are a lot of developments going on, on the ground. Certainly, if coalition forces are fired upon, namely our Marines, in the case of Fallujah, they will defend themselves.
Now there are some thugs and terrorists that continue to exist in areas of Fallujah.
Q -- maybe they're just Iraqis.
MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, all you have to have to do is look at the types of attacks that they carried out on innocent Americans recently to know that these are thugs and terrorists. They have no regard for human life.
Q Are we doing the same thing?
MR. McCLELLAN: We will not let them prevail. However, as I said, we are working to improve the security situation there. We're working with Iraqi leaders. You're seeing a partnering with Iraqi security forces to begin patrols in Fallujah and to bring about a peaceful resolution to the situation. They've been working with civilian leaders there. But there is a difference between civilian leaders and thugs and terrorists who seek to derail the transition to democracy for the Iraqi people. And they have no place in Iraq.
Q Maybe they're defending their own country against an occupation.
MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, we have liberated the Iraqi people, and we're moving forward to transfer sovereignty back to the Iraqi people, so that they can realize a free and peaceful future. As I said, this is critical to winning the war on terrorism. There are thugs and terrorists who are trying to carry out innocent attacks on innocent men, women and children. Look at what they've done, look at the attacks they've carried out that have led to the deaths of school children. Look at the attacks that they have carried out that have led to the deaths of their fellow Iraqi citizens.
Q And we haven't we killed any civilians? Have we killed any civilians?
MR. McCLELLAN: The United States military and coalition forces go out of their way to make sure that civilians are not targeted and not killed.
Q Have we killed any?
MR. McCLELLAN: We target those who seek to carry out their evil acts and seek to return to the oppressive regime of the past -- and that's not going to happen.
Or you can check this out, or this list
I like my religion where it is thank you. Churches and church leaders should be working to help the disadvantaged, not getting into politics --
Ok, so here's Bush's 2.4 trillion budget while facing a 521 billion deficit. He wants to cut over 60 programs -- who wants to guess at what programs he's reffering to? AP reports, "Hardest hit were the departments of Agriculture and Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Small Business Administration, and the Corps of Engineers, with cuts ranging from 1 percent for the Commerce Department to as much as 49 percent for the General Services Administration."
Who needs the EPA? And why help small business, corporations are where the big money is.
I wondered why they cut almost half of the GSA budget until I looked at their website:
"GSA supports over one million workers " Oh, now I get it -- workers. Ok. The agency merely, "Provide(s) superior workplaces for federal workers;
Facilitate(s) procurement of state of the art commercial products and a wide range of services; Offer(s) best value and innovative solutions on IT products and services; and
Develop(s) and implement governmentwide policies." Makes sense, get rid of them.
More money to the missle defense program and the Pentagagon. Don't mention the nice December surprise for another new Iraq supplemental bill on top of their world breaking budget.
I'm still not sure why we should trust a guy who got an MBA from an ivy-league school and STILL bankrupted three companies before becoming governor of Texas.
Monday, April 26, 2004
Q Scott, last week there were some reports at the end of the week about sovereignty in Iraq not being full sovereignty. Is that true, or -- what gradations are there of sovereignty that --
MR. McCLELLAN: Look, at the end of June the coalition will be transferring sovereignty to the Iraqi people. Obviously, in terms of security, there is still a need for coalition forces to work with Iraqis to improve the security situation. And they will continue to -- the coalition forces will remain in Iraq for some time after the transfer of sovereignty. But this is -- at the end of June, the Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist, and sovereignty will be transferred to an interim, representative body. That is what Mr. Brahimi has been working to address. He will be coming back in May with some more specifics to that interim body, and they will serve in that interim period before elections are held, under the schedule laid out in the transitional administrative law.
Q So that's full sovereignty transferred, though.
MR. McCLELLAN: I would describe it as, sovereignty will be transferred to the Iraqi people. In terms of security, coalition forces will continue to -- they will remain in Iraq to continue to provide for the security alongside of Iraqi security forces. The Iraqi people want coalition forces to remain until they realize a free and peaceful future. And we will -- we will remain in Iraq to help with the security situation.
Righty-Oh, Scotty. Thanks for clearing that up for me.
I remember the March in 92 and it is dwarfed by comparison.
I hate to be the pessimist but ultimately it doesn't matter how many marchers or protestors are out there, especially when one party rules all three branches of the government. They will do, what they want to do, when the want to do it -- it's really that simple. There is no check, there is no balance. Does this mean people should not get involved? Absolutely not. It should harden their resolve, get them angry. We all know what a little anger can do to motivate people and how once they are active, they find the work personally fulfilling and important -- lifelong commitments to others in some form or another.
Friday, April 23, 2004
"Many American still hold misperceptions about Iraq war, poll finds"
A new poll shows that 57 percent of Americans continue to believe that Saddam Hussein gave "substantial support" to al-Qaida terrorists before the war with Iraq, despite a lack of evidence of that relationship.
In addition, 45 percent of Americans have the impression that "clear evidence" was found that Iraq worked closely with Osama bin Laden's network, and a majority believe that before the war Iraq either had weapons of mass destruction (38 percent) or a major program for developing them (22 percent).
There's no known evidence to date that these statements are true.
As a buddy of mine is fond of saying with mock outrage and a touch of sarcasm: "Are you kidding me?"
Another question we could throw back at Mr. Hitchens (who, it seems to me, isn't actually doing much for the war effort in Iraq), is whether, if you could only capture one, would you rather have Saddam Hussein in custody, or Usama Bin Laden? Given what we know Usama is planning, I opt for putting all our efforts and I mean all our efforts into capturing him tout de suite. Chasing around Iraq after Salafis and Mahdists doesn't make the homeland even one whit safer.
As you know, Tami Siliciowas fired from her job for the now infamous picture. Did you know her husband was fired as well? And what is the reason given for firing the husband, besides being her husband? None. Something about this whole issue stinks -- critics argue that it violates privacy which I could understand if their pictures or names were on the transfer tubes, but they are not. Each coffin is anonymous. Even the families that the Pentagon is trying to protect can't infer if their child is or is not in one of the flag draped coffins. It's not a privacy issue -- so what is it? Politics. They are afraid the real images of war will hurt Bush's popularity. I'm glad people are talking about this regardless.
People are staying home. That's alright, that's ok, we don't need your money anyway -- well, the pentagon might; only 5 billion a month being spent in Iraq and more should be requested soon.
Senator Byrd's poignant remarks -- go read them.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
``From my perspective, she gave a very upbeat report on how things are going there and the progress that's being made,'' said Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.
What do they smoke up there in DC?
Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, charged that the president is playing political games by postponing further funding requests until after the election, to try to avoid reopening debate on the war's cost and future.
The game is fixed by getting us into this mess, and if Bush goes along with the spending, Kerry can highlight the fiscal irresponsibility he administration has and its inability to make hard choices, like getting rid of the tax cut on the rich to pay for this thing.
On a side note: why did the Thia's tell the insurgents that they would leave if attacked? Doesn't seem to be the brightest move on their part.
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes.
Q -- under the way that is understood in international law, true sovereignty?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. That will be an interim representative government. Obviously, on the security side, we've made it very clear that we are going to continue to help provide for the security and stability of Iraq going forward from that date. We will be there to make sure that there is a free and democratic and peaceful Iraq. That is part of our mission in Iraq. But on June 30th that will be the day to transfer sovereignty to an interim representative body that Mr. Brahimi has been talking about. And he's going to be coming back with some more specifics, as he said, in May on that interim representative body.
Q But the U.S. would still, in effect, be the --
MR. McCLELLAN: The Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist come that date.
Q But the U.S. will still, in effect, be the police force, the army, and the treasury of Iraq, right?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, no, I think that you have to look at this as working in partnership with Iraqi people. The Iraqi people want to see sovereignty transferred on June 30th. And that's what we have -- that's what we have committed to do, and that's what we will do because this is about helping the Iraqi people realize a brighter future.
And so we are going to continue working with Iraqi leaders. And we'll continue partnering with the Iraqi people to provide for their security and to help with their reconstruction, and to help move forward on the economic front, as well. There's a lot of important progress we're making. Obviously, these have been some tough times recently. But our resolve will not be shaken by a relatively small number of thugs and terrorists and Saddam loyalists who seek to derail --
Q But aren't these Iraqis defending their own land?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- who seek to derail this process.
Thank you. I've got to go.
Get me out of here. Whiskey! I mean, waiter! Whiskey, fifth, now.
The Iraqis inherently know what the press corp just asked -- we need to redefine the "soveriegn" nation as to an occupied one that is friendly to US policy. It's April 21, mark the date. The press corp may actually start to question, hint, allude, develop, and write about how this will be an occupation even after June 30th -- ho it will cost us much more money than the 1.7 billion and how it will cost us many more lives. Welcome to planet Earth, enjoy your stay.
MR. McCLELLAN: We will succeed in Iraq, because the stakes are high, and it's important that we do succeed. The President will continue to stay the course and help the Iraqi people realize a free and peaceful future because a free and peaceful Iraq is key to bringing about greater stability in the Middle East, which has been a dangerous region in the world. And that will lead to a more secure America, and it will lead to a better and safer world. So it's very important work that we're trying to help move forward on in the region.
Q So this process could go on for a very long time. Where does the money come from?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we will always make sure that our troops in the theater have everything they need to do their job.
Q But where does that money come from?
MR. McCLELLAN: And that's why -- well, you can go and look at what we outline in our budget and what we talk about in terms of a supplemental going forward. That's why you set priorities in a budget. And we will always work to make sure that our troops have everything they need to do their job. The President has made that very clear repeatedly.
Terry, you had something.
Q The money gets borrowed, though. Just to follow up, the money is borrowed.
MR. McCLELLAN: Keith, I'm going to try to keep jumping around. The President --
Q -- the money is borrowed --
MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on. I'll follow up with you. But the President is speaking here shortly, so I'm trying to keep jumping around quickly.
Q I'll follow up.
Q Thank you, thank you, Terry.
Q Because it's an excellent question.
Q Thank you. And --
MR. McCLELLAN: We cannot -- we can't not afford to make sure we succeed in Iraq.
Q Let's get a little -- let's try and get a little more specific here. The President, as a responsible Commander-in-Chief, is surely being informed and has reached judgments about what it will take to succeed in Iraq. Don't the American people in an election year, aren't they entitled to have this President level with them specifically about what, in his best judgment as Commander-in-Chief, it will take, it will cost?
MR. McCLELLAN: He did.
Q How long --
MR. McCLELLAN: He did just last week.
Q How much --
MR. McCLELLAN: And he does -- and he does in almost every speech. And he talks about -- he talks about that they will have all the resources they need. We've been very clear, and keeping Congress informed along the way, too, that, look, there's going to be a need for an additional supplemental. But we need to look the circumstances on the ground. We need to base it on the most precise estimates that we can going forward. And that's why we look to commanders in the field to make those determinations.
Q So the Commander-in-Chief --
MR. McCLELLAN: But our -- but the troops --
Q -- who is the responsible political official to the voters, right now he's clueless about how much it will cost? He cannot tell us --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, actually -- actually, our Director of the Office of Management and Budget has talked about this in briefings to members of Congress. I think Pentagon officials are talking to members of Congress again today about those issues, going forward.
Q Can you give us a ballpark figure?
MR. McCLELLAN: I just disagree with that, and --
Q -- $50 billion, $100 billion --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think our Management -- the Director of the Office of Management and Budget has testified in recent months about the needs going forward. And he's talked about those levels. So you can look back at his very comments. But the alternative of not taking this course is something that we cannot let happen. This is too important, and we must stay the course and finish the job in Iraq, and make sure that our troops have all the resources they need to complete their work.
Q Scott, isn't part of staying on the course to actually know what the course is? I mean, there has been a pattern in this administration, from the prewar days, of not telling Congress and the American people in precise terms what was required financially of the deployment.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, we've -- no. Wrong.
Q Again, you're saying, well, whatever the facts are on the ground, whatever the commanders say. Why don't we put a little -- shed a little light on all of this?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's why members involved in the budget process testified before Congress, and go and brief Congress on these issues. I would encourage you to look at their very comments, because I think you're mischaracterizing those very comments, David. Let's be very clear here. This President --
Q You have to refresh us what the numbers are, Scott.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- this President has increased defense spending by records amount, by 35 percent since 2001. In addition to that significant increase in funding to meet our defense needs, the President has worked to pass supplementals totaling $164 billion for the Pentagon to wage the war on terrorism. This is about winning the war on terrorism. And this is the highest priority for this country, because it goes directly to the safety and the security of the American people. So I think we need to be clear in looking back at exactly what has been said and what we anticipate going forward.
Q That's non-responsive.
MR. McCLELLAN: Sure, it is.
Q No one is questioning whether or not we need the money, and whether it's not a valuable goal. But the question is, what is the money? You've just given me, it's $164 billion in what supplementals he's asked for in the past --
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, and that $87 billion wartime supplemental was very important to making sure our troops had the resources they needed going into this year and going forward. And we said we were going to be coming back with a supplemental at some point, and that we would look at the needs from the commanders in the theater to make a determination, a precise determination of what those needs would be.
Q We still don't know what the needs are?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think our Director of the Office of Management and Budget has spoken before Congress and talked about how -- the range of what we're looking at.
Q Can you tell us what the range is in the near future?
Q Can you just remind us what the range is?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't recall that specific number off the top of my head, but he's talked about that in testimony before Congress. So I think you can go back and look at that.
Q Scott, Senator Hagel also talked about the idea -- the need for more troops, perhaps speaking to the notion of reinstating the draft. What's the President's position on reinstating the draft?
MR. McCLELLAN: John, that's not something that's been under consideration.
Q Is it something that the President keeps in the back of his mind, though, that he may have to do at some point?
MR. McCLELLAN: As I said earlier today, it's just not something that's been under consideration.
Q Is he ruling it out categorically?
MR. McCLELLAN: John, it's not something that's under consideration. That's the way I would describe it.
Until after November. On to the other issue I've been following -- our, uh, coalition:
Q Though it's a fairly small number, relatively, does the U.S. intend to replace the troops, the coalition troops who have now announced that they're leaving?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that -- again, and if you go back to what we said earlier in the week, the President regretted the decision by the new leader in Spain to withdraw those troops, and he stressed that it was important that it be done in a coordinated and responsible fashion, working with the other coalition partners. And I think that in terms of troop levels and things of that nature, those are military questions that are best directed to the military leaders in the region.
Q Yes, but you've got several other nations who are now following suit. And I just wonder if --
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, those are questions best directed to the military leaders. And they can talk to -- and, first of all, I disagree with several -- the term several other nations. The coalition in Iraq is strong. We have received a number of statements reaffirming support for the work that is ongoing to help the Iraqi people realize a free and peaceful future. There are many nations that are part of this coalition, and that are committed to making sure the Iraqi people realize a free and peaceful future.
So talk to the military leaders, but let me hit these talking points first. The coalition is, yep, strong. Oh wait, there's more:
Q On the question Jim asked, you said the President is regrets the decision taken by Spain. Both Honduras and the Dominican Republic, as announced yesterday, were under Spanish command.
MR. McCLELLAN: That's right, they were under the command of the Spanish forces.
Q How does the President feel about Honduras and the Dominican Republic making their decision?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, certainly, we regret that decision. This is about helping the Iraqi people realize a better future. And this is about helping the Iraqi people realize a free and peaceful future. And this is a time of testing, when the enemies of freedom are seeking to derail the transition to sovereignty and the transition to democracy. It's important that we stay the course and help the Iraqi people, as we work to transfer sovereignty and build a free and democratic future for the Iraqi people. And that's exactly what we will continue to do. The enemies of freedom want to spread fear and chaos and they want to intimidate. But the coalition is strong and we will continue to work to help the Iraqi people.
Freedom lovers, freedom haters, coalition strong, fear, terrorist, coalition strong. Oh cripes...
Q Can I ask one more on that? Is the President at all concerned, as has been suggested on Capitol Hill, that bringing up the funding issue again with the supplemental will cause a political problem for him during a --
MR. McCLELLAN: That's not the way he looks at it, Keith. The way he looks at it is what our troops need, and when do they need it, and let's make sure that they have it. As you heard him say last week in his news conference: "My message to our troops is, we will stay the course and complete the job, and you'll have what you need. America's armed forces are performing brilliantly, with all the skill, and honor we expect of them. We're constantly reviewing their needs. Troop strength, now and in the future, is determined by the situation on the ground. If additional forces are needed, I will send them. If additional resources are needed, we will provide them. The people of our country are united behind our men and women in uniform, and this government will do all that is necessary to assure the success of their historic mission." That's the President's words from just last week, and he has repeatedly said that.
Q Can I follow up?
MR. McCLELLAN: John, I've already taken your questions. Jacobo.
Q No, but this is on the same topic.
MR. McCLELLAN: Jacobo.
I don't want your stinkin' follow up. Can't you see I'm losing all my hair here?
Q Scott, back on the issue of the supplemental -- when do you say when? This country is right now at a point where financially it can't take more supplementals. And also everyone knows that the need in the Iraqi theater is great, but when do you finally say when? What is the timetable for this to finally say enough is enough, either we have succeeded or we've failed? What is the timetable?
MR. McCLELLAN: We've succeeded for we've failed in what?
Those 18 year olds get younger every day, and while plenty of 18 year olds are serving and getting killed, there's a difference between those who choose to go and those who would be forced. Plenty of 18 year olds are just not equipped (nor 19 nor 30 for that matter). That's not the only reason, of course.
However, I definitely don't like the idea of what amounts to an emergency draft for a situation which frankly isn't an emergency. The reinstitution of mandatory conscription would fundamentally overhaul both our military and our society. Perhaps if the idiots in Congress and the Pentagon would increase pay and benefits, rather than funneling all that money into wonderful private security costing orders of magnitude more, we wouldn't have people like Chuck Hagel opining about the possible need for it.
You know, I'm usually behind Atrios 100% but here I have some disagreements. 18 and 19 year olds who choose to go to military may or may not be equipped to handle what the military actually does: kill other people or be killed. With the new advertising campaigns making war a D&D game or the latest arcade sensation, I'm sure plenty of people who go are not ready, but the Drill Sargeants make sure they are ready by the end of training -- that is their job of course. Likewise I see many 18 or 19 year olds who are not ready mentally or emotionally to deal with the responsibility of college, of drinking, of living on one's own, of marriage, etc. and they do "deal" with it -- they grow up. I'm not equating any of these with the idea of compulsory service, however I do believe that if 18 and 19 year olds are personally effected, I can guarantee they will care who our leaders are and what policies they have in place.
I think they should reinstate the draft. I also think that their should not be any way out of service besides physical impediment. There should not be a way for the Bush twins to get out of service if they are drafted nor middle class should not be able to swarm the colleges. With the thought of one's family member being put in harm's way, I think there will be a lot of soul searching done in the war supporter's homes across the country -- people are not fungible, as Rumsfeld said, but a lot of people who have nothing invested in this war agree with him. We need an overhaul, obviously, right now.
Q Scott, it causes you all no concern that the coalition of the willing is rapidly dwindling? We lost --
MR. McCLELLAN: I disagree with that strongly, Jeff. I disagree with that characterization strongly. All you have to do is go and look at some of the comments by countries. You know, we recognize that President Zapatero had made a commitment to withdraw troops previously. Obviously, we've --
Q Honduras today.
Q And Thailand.
MR. McCLELLAN: Honduras was working with some of the Spanish troops in Iraq. But the coalition is more than 30 nations, I would remind you, and the coalition is strong because countries realize that this is about helping the Iraqi people realize a free and peaceful future.
Q But, Scott, this is a time when you would hope to be winning more coalition partners, hence your efforts to go back to the U.N. -- and, yet, we're losing coalition partners.
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that, one, the United Nations is playing a vital role in helping the Iraqi people move forward on the transfer of sovereignty; there's a U.N. mission there helping to move forward on the elections that are scheduled to be held, beginning in January of 2005. I think that on Mr. Brahimi's comments today, that he expects another U.N. resolution to be -- to be passed soon, is a welcome development. We already believe that countries have the ability to participate under existing resolutions, but we welcome another resolution that would encourage more countries to participate because this is about helping the Iraqi people realize their aspirations and hopes.
Q Would the other countries come in and participate? Will they be allowed to bid on contracts for the reconstruction?
MR. McCLELLAN: Those are questions you can direct to the Pentagon. I think we've addressed that, and many countries are participating in the contract process.
Q Scott, EU President Prodi, I guess, praised Spain's decision to pull out their troops and suggested that others will soon follow suit, almost encouraging them to do so. What do you make of those remarks?
MR. McCLELLAN: Italy, Poland and Japan and others have said otherwise; they recognize that this is about helping the Iraqi people realize a brighter future and we're all working toward a shared goal, which is a free and peaceful Iraq.
Q What do you hear from Thailand?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q Have you heard from them directly, that they will pull out, if attacked?
MR. McCLELLAN: You can check with others on that. I don't have any information on that.
Q Scott, with the Honduras announcement, is the President making any calls? What is the White House doing to ensure support, shore up support among the coalition members in Iraq? Or is there anything?
MR. McCLELLAN: Look at the strong statements of support from the coalition. The coalition in Iraq is strong and their resolve is firm.
The only strong and firm thing in Iraq are the security firms profit margins -- the rest of it is going to hell.
UPDATE: Dominican Republic is out.
"There's not an American ... that doesn't understand what we are engaged in today and what the prospects are for the future," Senator Chuck Hagel told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on post-occupation Iraq.
"Why shouldn't we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?" Hagel said, arguing that restoring compulsory military service would force "our citizens to understand the intensity and depth of challenges we face."
The Nebraska Republican added that a draft, which was ended in the early 1970s, would spread the burden of military service in Iraq more equitably among various social strata.
"Those who are serving today and dying today are the middle class and lower middle class," he observed.
The call to consider a imposing a draft comes just days after the Pentagon (news - web sites) moved to extend the missions of some 20,000 of the 135,000 US troops in Iraq.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Here's a heads up on its contents --
But according to a closely held Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) memo written in early March, the reality isn't so rosy. Iraq's chances of seeing democracy succeed, according to the memo's author—a U.S. government official detailed to the CPA, who wrote this summation of observations he'd made in the field for a senior CPA director—have been severely imperiled by a year's worth of serious errors on the part of the Pentagon and the CPA, the U.S.-led multinational agency administering Iraq. Far from facilitating democracy and security, the memo's author fears, U.S. efforts have created an environment rife with corruption and sectarianism likely to result in civil war.
Provided to this reporter by a Western intelligence official, the memo was partially redacted to protect the writer's identity and to "avoid inflaming an already volatile situation" by revealing the names of certain Iraqi figures. A wide-ranging and often acerbic critique of the CPA, covering topics ranging from policy, personalities, and press operations to on-the-ground realities such as electricity, the document is not only notable for its candidly troubled assessment of Iraq's future. It is also significant, according to the intelligence official, because its author has been a steadfast advocate of "transforming" the Middle East, beginning with "regime change" in Iraq.
This whole question anyone's patriotism and scolding allies who decide to leave because their people demand it is getting old. How much will Americans take? Free Speech Zones and GA laws to make any protest impossible, I guess the question is how close to fascism are Americans ready to get? How much will we sacrifice in the name of "security", especially when no one believes we are more secure -- even the pres says another major attack is inevitable.
Monday, April 19, 2004
Arab leaders have accused the administration of essentially taking away from the Palestinians their primary negotiating levers in any final peace deal — the disputes over whether Israel must remove all settlements from the West Bank, and whether Israel must allow back some Palestinian refugees.
Bush embraced Israeli rejection of any "right of return" for Palestinian refugees after his meeting with Sharon. Tensions also were inflamed in the Arab world by an Israeli helicopter strike that killed the Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi.
Nothing like making people choose sides, but just like the Iraq army, I wonder what side they will ultimately choose.
April 19 AP
Anyway, it looks like the coalition is strong. So strong, as a matter of fact, that Honduras may be reconsidering its troop involvement and Boucher said he was "not aware of any change" among the other Latin American troops, "but I'd have to check." Yeah, get back to us on that, will ya, because we're bracing for more withdrawals here. I mean, we got a whole hornets nest to take care of and the Iraqi's obviously won't do it themselves.
You have to read the article for the full enormity of the situation that is brewing (Iraqi troops being detained for failure to follow orders); however, here are a few quotes:
"They told us to attack the city and we were astonished. How could an Iraqi fight an Iraqi like this? This meant that nothing had changed from the Saddam Hussein days. We refused en masse," said Ali al-Shamari.
Bukhtiar Saleh, a Kurdish soldier, said US heavy-handedness had discouraged him from fighting.
"They were bombing the city with warplanes and using cluster bombs. I could not be a part of this," he said.
Sunni, Shia, and Kurds are disgusted by our actions. Ok, fine. Damn Iraqis can't deal with responsibility and aren't ready for democracy, but the Brit troops aren't too happy either.
Sunday, April 18, 2004
WALLACE: As we said, the Israelis killed Hamas leader Rantisi yesterday, the second attack on a Hamas leader in less than a month.
When the president met with Israeli Prime Minister Sharon this week, did he ask, and did he get any assurances, that the Israelis would not continue these assassination attacks?
RICE: The president said to the prime minister what he has said to him repeatedly, which is that it is important for Israel to defend itself, that everyone understands that Israel is in a war against terror, but that Israel needs to consider the consequences of the actions that it takes.
And, clearly, the important thing that the president and the prime minister talked about was the disengagement plan that the prime minister will now put to referendum before his party in Israel that would bring Israeli forces and Israeli settlements out of Gaza. That is ultimately going to be the best way to move this forward.
WALLACE: I want to get to that in just a moment, but on the question of assassinations, he did not say this is not helpful?
RICE: U.S. policy — well, first of all, the Israelis of course don't tell us that they're about to do something. And the United States has no advance knowledge of any sort of thing of that kind. The president has made clear in the past that it is important for Israel to keep in mind the consequences of everything that it does.
Obviously Wallace sees he's not going to get an answer so he changes topics. How hard can it be to say targeted assinations of leaders is a bad idea?
But this takes the cake:
WALLACE: The book also reports that after the CIA briefed the president in December of 2002 on the evidence that it had about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that Mr. Bush said this, and let's put it up: "I've been told all this intelligence about having WMD, and this is the best we've got?" And CIA Director Tenet answered the president, "Don't worry. It's a slam dunk."
Did that happen?
RICE: It did happen. The fact is that we all thought that the intelligence case against Iraq was very strong — not just the United States intelligence agencies...
WALLACE: But that's not what he's saying there. He seems to be saying, "That's all you've got?"
RICE: Well, the presentation, let's say, was not, I think, overwhelming to people. But let's review what we knew about Saddam Hussein. We knew that this was somebody who has used weapons of mass destruction, who was still deceiving the international community about weapons of mass destruction, who had a kind of association with them that was...
WALLACE: Dr. Rice...
RICE: ... well-, well-known.
WALLACE: But all I want to ask you about, how could the presentation to the president of the United States not be overwhelming?
RICE: That's what the president wanted to know.
It wasn't over-freakin'-whelming and we went to war? Somebody get me a drink.
I suppose this is not the way. 10 more dead today. Why die for a lie? It makes me sick.
Saturday, April 17, 2004
Q: (Egyptian President) Hosni Mubarak is saying the new U.S. policy on the West Bank could escalate violence. How do you respond to his concerns?
BUSH: Yes, I think this is a fantastic opportunity.
Which got me intersted, so I looked up the transcript.
First let's look at how the question/answer session opens
BUSH: Thank you, sir.
We will take three questions a side. So why don't you ask one question to each of us?
Q: Mr. President, did you ask Secretary (of Defense Donald H.) Rumsfeld to draw up war plans against Iraq in November 2001, just as the military action was getting under way in Afghanistan? Why couldn't Iraq wait?
And, Mr. Prime Minister...
BUSH: No, I thought we had one question apiece. Not one questioner, one question apiece.
BUSH: But the impression I got from having sat with the man right upstairs here in the White House was he views it as a hopeful moment as well and made it clear that it's a part of the road map process, and knows what I know: that as we gain confidence in a Palestinian leadership and a Palestinian state that committed itself to peace, further progress will be made - further progress will be made on territory.
And therefore at the final status discussions - and I repeat, which are not being prejudged by the American government, as stated clearly on Wednesday - will be easier to deal with. And that's what's important.
Seize the moment is what the prime minister's saying.
That's the Palestinian fear, I believe.
You have to check out the last question "Q: Mr. President, if I could just ask you about Iraq again, the fact of the matter is that weapons of mass destruction have not been found and that a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida has not been proved and that a year on, troop numbers are coming up, not coming down. So however determined you are to make a better Iraq, isn't the awkward fact for both of you that you misled your peoples in taking troops to war and shedding blood as a result?"
And Blair dives in with a long and thoughtful reaction even though it was directed at Bush -- Bush says, "Good job, prime minister." And we wonder why he want to meet the commission with Cheney. Sheesh.
Friday, April 16, 2004
Iraq's nuclear facilities remain unguarded, and radioactive materials are being taken out of the country, the UN's nuclear watchdog agency reported after reviewing satellite images and equipment that has turned up in European scrap yards.
I guess we have bigger fish to fry.
Thursday, April 15, 2004
wait, that's not reall funny, but this is -- i promise --
Remember that imperviousness you had when you were 18. That feeling like "that shit happens to other people not me" and if it does happen to you, you say "weird" and what a fluke. As a nation Billmon touches on this. Do we truly believe we can do/say anything and no matter the disconnect from reality or the disconnect from the audiences perceptions of that reality may be, we will be fine? We'll be able to go to the local BW3's and karoake or play our xbox, or even take our shit in the same old way as ever before? The reality is, as Billmon alludes to, that there is a suitcase of hurt waiting for us, and there is whole population ready to bring it to us and we don't seem to have any clue. Simpsons is on. Trump is going to pick an apprentice. Whose going to get booted on American Idol 15? I've got some french onion dip to eat.
The worst part is that week kneed Kerry supports the new Bush policy because he is a politician. I wanted to believe in someone. I wanted to believe in change. The republicrat is alive and well -- this whole 2 party system sucks. It's about the $. Always about the money. Deepthroat knew it. Jesus knew it. We're just a little slow, I guess.
M. Yglesias has asked the question -- if Sadr is a terrorist, a criminal, then why the hell are we negotiating with him? Check out his post and the comments that follow.
It's not about learning, it's about the grade. It's not about learning how to be a constructive human being, a "whole person" as Henry Newman would say, instead it's about a piece of paper that will get a person a job. It's sad, really, that we must define ourselves this way. It's also sad that so many students cheat.
The biggest cheaters on college campus? Take a guess. If you remember all those wonderful stories about Enron, Tyco, and Mrtha Stewart, you would be correct in your prediction of business students. Moral clarity and ethics seems to be for social issues like homosexual marriage or affirmative action, but when it comes to making some bucks, it's a ok.
Paul Melendez, a University of Arizona administrator and lecturer, says:
What students do in the classroom has direct bearing to what they'll do later in the business world, says Melendez. "To us, there is a connection," he said. "If you cheat on exams and try to gain advantage through unethical behavior, that mind-set can be pervasive and carry over into careers and decision making."
Yeah, just look at Haliburton.
More on the hearts and minds via newsinsider.org -- troops beat a man to death for not removing a picture from his car. Makes sense to me.
And from the conservative newhouse news service an army strategist blasts emperor's conduct of war -- must be a pinko.
WASHINGTON -- In a broadside fired at the conduct of the war in Iraq, a senior Army strategist has accused the Bush administration of seeking to win "quickly and on the cheap" while ignoring the more critical strategic aim of creating a stable, democratic nation.
While the United States easily won the initial battles that toppled Saddam Hussein a year ago, the administration "either misunderstood or, worse, wished away" the difficulties of transforming that victory into the larger political goal, Army Lt. Col. Antulio J. Echevarria of the U.S. Army War College writes in a new paper.
Yes, it was rose petal and sweets. Later in the article
Col. John R. Martin, deputy director of the Strategic Studies Institute, stressed that the study "covers multiple administrations." By definition, he added, strategic analysis focuses on problems -- not on successes.
But the critique reflects frustration among some active-duty and retired officers about how Rumsfeld and his top advisers seized control of planning for and execution of the invasion and occupation. Indeed, Echevarria said the reaction to his paper from within the Army "has been pretty positive."
Many officers still are rankled by the treatment of former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, who last spring was sharply criticized in public by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz for suggesting the occupation would require significantly more troops than the initial war. At Rumsfeld's direction, the number was whittled back, with Rumsfeld and other senior officials arguing that "shock and awe" would collapse any opposition and the Iraqi people, as Vice President Dick Cheney said in a March 16, 2003 interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," would greet U.S. troops "as liberators."
Military officers, by tradition and temperament, are reluctant to criticize the civilian leadership, especially in wartime.
"I know of the frustration of dealing with the ideologues in the Pentagon," said retired Army Maj. Gen. William L. Nash, a West Pointer who commanded an armored brigade in Desert Storm and led U.S. troops into Bosnia in 1996. "But these guys are very loyal and they are not going to grumble."
Nash and others argue that the U.S. campaign in Iraq has gotten off track by focusing on short-term military problems.
Short term is how Bush and neocons work. They don't remember anything -- we have always been at war with Eurasia. The last two paragraphs:
"But once you understand that the political objectives are supreme, you understand that you have to broaden the political coalition internationally, regionally and locally" to support nation-building in Iraq, he said.
"That's hard to do, and even harder if you have to swallow your pride," Nash said.
Bush can't even come up with one mistake, I don't think swallowing pride is an option. You really have to read the whole article.
"I don't know what you expect President Bush to do."
Yeah, leading the country out of some unwinnable situation is out of the question. Answering a damn question is a completely foreign concept. Having just a tad bit of personal responsibility for anything would be a complete change of pace. So I concede to J.O.
"Bill Clinton was too busy getting blown to worry about terrorism."
Two things: 1) Clinton was railed by the Republican Congress for wanting more action on terrorism. Laws he wanted to pass predate Dear Leaders wonderful Patriot Act. A number of counter terrorism professionals addressed this issue in the liberal, hehe, Washington Times. In 1999 after he stopped a terrorist attack BEFORE it happened he put the Taliban on notice, saying they will be held responsible along with, yep, you guessed it Osama. We could continue but I know how ADHD works, so....
Meanwhile the 911 commission praises Clinton on his forthcoming appearance (look, even the freerepublic has a positive article here) and wonder why the Bush administration will only release a few of the documents even though Clinton said he had no problem giving them access. Emperor, meanwhile can't even meet them by himself:
QUESTION: Mr. President, why are you and the vice president insisting on appearing together before the 9-11 commission? And, Mr. President, who will we be handing the Iraqi government over to on June 30th?
BUSH: We'll find that out soon. That's what Mr. Brahimi is doing. He's figuring out the nature of the entity we'll be handing sovereignty over.
And, secondly, because the 9-11 commission wants to ask us questions, that's why we're meeting. And I look forward to meeting with them and answering their questions.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) I was asking why you're appearing together, rather than separately, which was their request.
BUSH: Because it's a good chance for both of us to answer questions that the 9-11 commission is looking forward to asking us. And I'm looking forward to answering them.
I won't even get into the other misteps while Bush was vacation in Texas (yes, he has spent 40% of his presidency on vacation -- I want a job like that).
2) What's this focus on Clinton's penis? I can't figure this out. If it's a moral issue, I would imagine misleading people to go to war which resulted in thousands of deaths is a little more serious than a few spermies swimming on an intern's blue ocean. If it's not a moral issue, sexual peccadilloes is not limited to Clinton (Rep Hyde, Gingrich, etc.) are well known. Maybe, dare I say it, Olympus would like to shoot a lightning bolt of his own?
"But President Bush led the country into battle to stop terrorism. We can't just sit back and let the terrorists come to us like Clinton wanted. We have to take the fight to them."
That's my exact point -- Terrorist = Osama. Dictator = Saddam. Osama attacked us. Saddam just stuck out his tongue at us. Bush took troops from Afgahnistan to fight in Iraq. Bush inflamed the region and helped recruitment for Osama while alienating our allies. Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with terrorism. None. Why is that so hard for people to understand? Maybe it's coming back to the previous point about Clenis envy.
Nobody, absolutely nobody wants terrorism. Not even Bush (though he has benfited both in polls and in $ from it).
"Ask yourself this, pinko:"
Is this for real? hehehehe. Ad Hominems are classic -- he's been watching too much Fox. Communism is not liberalism just like FASCISM is not conservativism.
"Are we better off without Saddaam than with him? Better yet: Are we better off without BJ Clinton than with him?"
Uh, Saddam never garnered a whole lot of my attention -- he was a non factor. And, no.
Write again, Olympus, maybe make an argument next time.
UPDATE: Looks like these must be pretty standard talking points by the right -- check out the email Josh Marshall received:
It is just amazing how some people can be so stupid; especially the Left and the Democrats in this country. The idiots that run your party do not give a flying ---- about the United States nor the citizens that live here.
George Bush is more of a leader than Clinton ever was. Meanwhile he was running this country he was getting his ---- sucked by a teenager while lying to the American public. Finally we get a leader and you have the audacity to put him down.
The enemy knows how to manipulate us because of -------- like you and the media that tries to divide our nation. You call [it] the Freedom of Speech? I call it treason and we [have] laws in this country that unfortunately give the freedom that you would not be getting in the Muslim world.
What an arrogant a-----e.
The arguments condensed: Stupid, idiot, unpatriotic, bj and terrorst lovin' dolt. You should be killed.
I've been reading a great deal of the American Revolution lately and you know those crazy people who were loyal to the king said exactly the same things -- more later.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
That's why as of today we have 787 total coalition deaths and over 3400 wounded in Iraq. At least 8500 Iraqis have been killed. I can't even begin to to reason this garbage logic out. I don't think people would be complaining if these numbers were related to Osama's organization or its supporters, but they don't. Nough said.
But more importantly are all those "support troops" from countries like the Phillipines which are now considering pulling out.
All civilian contractors are being told to get the hell out.
If things are going so swell in Iraq, why the hell is everybody going home? I just picture Bush standing alone with a shovel and pail on some beach looking out to a balck ocean. Meanwhile everyone else has packed up because of a coming hurricane. "It's not that bad, just a little wind."
(a condensed version of the press conference can be found here by criticalviewer or you can find the real text here if you want to wade through the freedom is hard, terrorists, war, freedom, insurgents, love democracy, freedom, change the world)
A few things that I'm sure others will touch on:
How will the occupation end on June 30th when we don't know who we are giving Iraq over to and if our troops are staying after for "secrurity" reasons? American troops on Iraq soil will be perceived as an occupation, period.
The emporer could not find fault in anything the administration has done nor come up with one mistake he's personally made in the past 3.5 years of office. Must be nice to not be human.
He said there was no way of knowing planes could be missles to the threat to Genoa spurring his call for PBD in the same breath. Logic is not his game.
No one wants to see bodies on their TV, but, beg your pardon, oh emporer, I haven't seen any bodies on TV. I haven't seen any troops injured either.
When a question was asked about the PBD, he started on the historical argument and CNN cut to Rice and Rove. Card had some wierd sort of smile on his lips. He was either thinking of a BJ or laughing about how they would have to spin the emporer's poor performance. "How are we going to salvage this -- oh shit, we're screwed."
A Blair aide just lost his or her job. Bush claims we're changing the world and this person says, yeah, moving it back ten years.
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
"If they're trying to find a peaceful way out of this, great. But at this point, there seem to be few options other than to get innocents out and level it, wipe it clear off the map," said 1st Lt. Frank Dillbeck, scanning the city's outskirts with binoculars during a relative lull in fighting.
No problem, it's only a city of 200 thousand people. It's like wiping out Baton Rouge, or Montgomery, or Lubuck, or Modesto. Are you kidding me?
Now we have Karimov, Uzbekistahn's "president", and you have to check out his laundry list of dirty tricksies. Counterspin has followed this much more closely than I.
Meanwhile we have president Chalabi in the making, though that plan is probably the closest thing to a disaster as you can get. We are buds with Khadafi again. And you gotta love our newfound friends in Jamaica.
Dictators will only be dictators in our media if they are adverse to US policy. Sucks to be Chavez.
The creation of a new Iraqi army that can follow orders is seen as key to America's withdrawal plans from Iraq.
We need some "yes men" and Saddam's officers were very good at that.
Monday, April 12, 2004
First there were these tidbits:
A supply truck was also ambushed and set ablaze Monday on the road from Baghdad's airport. Looters moved in to carry away goods from the truck as Iraqi police looked on without intervening.
Sanchez, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, acknowledged that a battalion of the Iraqi army refused to fight in Fallujah — a sign of Iraqi discontent with the siege.
So the police and the new Iraqi army we are training and paying for are not willing to engage their own on our behalf -- go figure.
Second it showed us Sanchez is a boob. Sanchez said, "This one specific instance did in fact uncover some significant challenges in some of the Iraqi security force structures ... We know that it's going to take us a while to stand up reliable forces that can accept responsibility."
How long is awhile? How many is some (we don't have a whole lot of them to begin with, right)? And how long are we going to accept this shitty spin coming from Iraq?
Update -- so images of their neighbors being killed actually turn them against us? Meanwhile, let's shut down another forum -- we force a newspaper in Iraq to close and an uprising ensues -- we kick out arab television, I wonder what our image will be in the arab world. Cripes, could this get any more screwed up?