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By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2004 9:40pm PT  




By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2004 7:56pm PT  

Josh Marshall can turn a phrase...

When President Bush says Don Rumsfeld is doing a "superb job" you really have to shudder to think what we'd have in store for us if the guy came off his winning streak.

Heh...And in re: Bush's over-praising of Rummy at the Pentagon today...

You expect --- or perhaps better to say, you hope --- soon to see the sober, serious grown-up come along, put his hand on the guy's shoulder and say, "It's over" --- perhaps saying it a few more times, with arresting finality, until he understands.



Don't kid yourself, it goes all the way up to the top.
And not just to Rumsfeld...
By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2004 2:49pm PT  

From AP:

Up to 90 percent of Iraqi detainees were arrested by mistake, according to coalition intelligence officers cited in a Red Cross report disclosed Monday...

The 24-page report...says abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers was broad and "not individual acts," contrary to President Bush's contention that the mistreatment "was the wrongdoing of a few."

Red Cross delegates saw U.S. military intelligence officers mistreating prisoners under interrogation at Abu Ghraib and collected allegations of abuse at more than 10 other detention facilities...

Once again, giving the lie to the "Who cares, these were bad guys who deserved it" theory, the "It was just a few bad apples" theory and "It was just one prison out of control" theory. In just three short paragraphs.

Then there's this:

The Red Cross has emphasized that the report was only a summary of its repeated attempts in person and in writing from March to November 2003 to get U.S. officials to stop abuses. Those earlier interventions by the Red Cross far preceded the Pentagon's decision to investigate after a low-ranking U.S. soldier stepped forward in January.

...And so much for the "We acted decisively and immediately as soon as we heard about it" theory as well.

There's more in the full article about the fact that this was all "systematic" and "part of the process" as issued from the chain of command above. As of now, however, only a coupla low-level privates and lieutenants have lost their job. As of now...




By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2004 1:30pm PT  

BRAD BLOG readers will know that I don't put too much stock in most polls. But when it comes to Zogby, one must sit up and take notice as he's been the only one to have called the last 3 or 4 major elections almost entirely correctly (even while all the other pollsters had gotten it entirely wrong).

Based on his latest poll, John Zogby puts forth four arguments to back up his prediction now that "Kerry will win the election", or at the very least "it's John Kerry's to lose". His arguments for why this is so, are worth taking a look at. Particularly considering his excellent track record. (It's also worth noting that his article is based on polls taken before the Prison Abuse Scandal broke.)

Here's just one of his four arguments:


My most recent poll (April 12-15) shows bad re-election numbers for an incumbent President. Senator Kerry is leading 47% to 44% in a two-way race, and the candidates are tied at 45% in the three-way race with Ralph Nader. Significantly, only 44% feel that the country is headed in the right direction and only 43% believe that President Bush deserves to be re-elected - compared with 51% who say it is time for someone new.



By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2004 12:06pm PT  

The more you actually bother to learn about this mess (and I'm referring to the whole Iraq Mess, not just the Prison Abuse Mess), the harder it is to like any part of it. Perhaps that's why the information was kept from Bush for so long.

Baghdad Burning is a fascinating Blog said to be written by a "girl" in Iraq. The latest entry, entitled "Just Go" is quite moving and well-worth reading in full.

Here's a graf or two posted after the prison pictures story broke...the last one certainly caught my attention, as well - apparently - as many others in the Blogosphere...

Bush...makes an appearance on Arabic tv...He asks Iraqis to not let these pictures reflect on their attitude towards the American people… and yet when the bodies were dragged through the streets of Falloojeh, the American troops took it upon themselves to punish the whole city.

...

I sometimes get emails asking me to propose solutions or make suggestions. Fine. Today's lesson: don't rape, don't torture, don't kill and get out while you can- while it still looks like you have a choice... Chaos? Civil war? Bloodshed? We'll take our chances- just take your Puppets, your tanks, your smart weapons, your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises, your rapists, your sadistic torturers and go. [emphasis added]

So if the Battle for Hearts & Minds has been lost --- and I don't know that it is, but it certainly doesn't look good --- can we possibly win the War?




By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2004 11:43am PT  

A letter writer cuts through the clutter, in this weekend's LA Times:

Bush logic: Saudis blow up the World Trade Center --- invade Iraq. Our troops abuse Iraqi prisoners - apologize to the king of Jordan.
Pat Mauer - Pasadena



By Brad Friedman on 5/9/2004 8:49am PT  




Irony Watch Flashback Edition
By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2004 7:17pm PT  

"As long as the Middle East remains a place of tyranny and despair and anger, it will continue to produce men and movements that threaten the safety of America and our friends."
- George W. Bush, State of the Union address, Jan 20, 2004




Flip-Flop Flashback Edition
By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2004 7:15pm PT  

"It really depends upon how [our] nation conducts itself in foreign policy. If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us. If we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us."
-George W. Bush, Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University Oct 11, 2000




If you believed they put a man on the moon...
By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2004 6:34pm PT  

Something fun to ponder from LA Weekly while the rest of the world crumbles...

Before Kaufman died (or “died”) on May 16, 1984, he told several friends that he was planning to fake his death, disappear and return in 20 years, precisely. So, on May 16, 2004, Comic Relief, the charity organization [best friend and writing partner, Bob] Zmuda founded in 1985, will present . . . something. Something secretive, something at House of Blues on Sunset Strip. Title: Andy Kaufman — Dead or Alive?

“So this May 16 isn't going to be exactly like [Andy's infamous show at] Carnegie Hall,” Zmuda concludes...“But it's gonna be in the ballpark.”

...

“Is this a Comic Relief fund-raiser?”

“No. It's a Comic Relief event, but it's not a fund-raiser. And there will be an important Comic Relief announcement made there.”

“What kind of announcement?”

“I can't tell you.”

“Thank you. What can you tell?”

“Well, it's going to take place at the House of Blues, which usually holds 1,200, with people standing on the main floor. But because of the nature of what we'll be doing that night, we're bringing in chairs. So there's only gonna be 350 seats available.”

“And what is the nature of what you're doing? Perhaps some form of . . . entertainment?”

“I can tell you some of it, some of it I can't. [Kaufman alter-ego, now supposedly embodied by Zmuda] Tony Clifton will perform — if he shows — with his band, the Cliftones, and his dancers, the Cliftonettes. And there's going to be the premiere of an Andy Kaufman film that's never been presented in public, and will never be shown again.”

“How do you know it won't be shown again?”

“It won't. I can't explain, but . . . it won't.. . . and I really can't tell you any more. But we really want the hardcore Kaufman fans to show up, because it is going to be a historical night, around one basic theme: Andy did say that if he was going to fake his death, he would return 20 years later, to the day. That's the day.”

“You know, in your book, it says 10 years.”

“Yeah, I know. When I wrote the book, that's what I thought he'd decided. But after [Andy's girlfriend] Lynne read it, she called and said, ‘You got that wrong.' I said, ‘Whaddya mean?' She said, ‘Don't you remember? Andy was always debating whether it should be 10 or 20 years,' and that he decided, as he put it, to ‘separate the men from the boys.' If he was going to be a boy about it, it'd be 10 years. If he was going to be a man, it'd be 20 years."

“Have you considered someone trying to fake it?”

“Yes. I'm sure there'll be some nuts showing up that night, claiming to be Andy Kaufman. And who knows how Andy'd look, 20 years later? But we will have there, that night, a foolproof way to determine if in fact they are.”

“And that foolproof way is . . .?”

“I can't tell you.”

The full article actually has some tantalizingly "credible" info on a return of Andy. Which --- of course --- may be the point. On the other hand, we live right around the corner from the House of Blues...should we pop $50 a piece for SRO tickets to be there? Just in case...? I'd bite! :-)




By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2004 4:40pm PT  




Even the NeoCons are trying to get the message to Bush
By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2004 3:13pm PT  

Neo-Cons Robert Kagan and William Kristol (one of the early principal architects and supporters of the whole Iraq Mess) are at least intellectually honest enough to recognize when things are going horribly wrong.

From their article in the latest Weekly Standard:

The Bush administration seems not to recognize how widespread, and how bipartisan, is the view that Iraq is already lost or on the verge of being lost. The administration therefore may not appreciate how close the whole nation is to tipping decisively against the war.

Bush's predictably sluggish reaction to what Americans already perceive (rightly or wrongly) as necessary in Iraq continues to damage his case. Witness the foot-dragging about increasing the troop numbers in Iraq --- called for now for over a year from both sides of the aisle --- which has lead directly or indirectly to the latest mess at Abu Ghraib (or Camp Hubris, as I like to call it) and Bush's painfully inadequate baby steps towards appropriate apology for the disaster, followed by his inability to recognize the good (for America, if not his own re-election chances) that would come from removing Rumsfeld immediately.

But George W. Bush has never been one to put America before his own political interests, so why should he start now?

Well, one answer is Bill Kristol! If Bush listens to nobody else in the press, he does (or at least his advisors seem to) listen to Kristol from time to time, as Kristol generally takes the lead in representing Neo-Con interests in the media. Lose them, and Bush has lost everything.

In their column, Kristol and Kagan go on to call for moving up the current January '05 election date to September '04 and they spell out a number of good reasons for it. Amongst them, the need to increase troop size:

The Pentagon continues to fiddle while Iraq burns. Everyone in Iraq with whom we talk bemoans the shortage of troops and equipment. It is now impossible to travel safely throughout most of Iraq. This is terrible news, and would be even if we weren't preparing for an election. But if elections are announced, the Pentagon could be forced to overcome its arrogant stubbornness and beef up the force.

Team Bush seems to have painted itself into a corner on the Elections issue. They want "free and fair elections", but they've been spending over a year now trying to figure out how to avoid the inevitable outcome of the Shi'ite Majority in the country turning the place into an Iranian-style Theocracy. Seems like they shoulda thought of that before they moved in.

There's a lot it seems like they shoulda thunk of first --- but that sort of common-sense look-more-than-one-move-ahead planning has never gotten in their way before. So --- again --- why should they start now? Answer: Bill Kristol is talking to you! I'd expect Bush may soon begin paying attention. Maybe.




By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2004 2:03pm PT  


SEN. BAYH: Would it serve to demonstrate how seriously we take the situation --- and therefore help to undo some of the damage to our reputation --- if you were to step down?

SEC. RUMSFELD: That's possible.

SEN. BAYH: I appreciate your candor.

Me too.

On the Irony Watch, most impressive questioning of the day at yesterday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearings; Republicans Lindsey "House Impeachment Manager" Graham and John McCain. Least impressive: Joe "Missing the Point as Usual" Lieberman.




By Brad Friedman on 5/7/2004 7:25pm PT  




At least 3 deaths are now being investigated.
And now the CIA enters the picture. Of course.
By Brad Friedman on 5/6/2004 5:15pm PT  

So much for the "few bad apples" theory that I challenged last night.

Take a look at selections from this report in today's NY Times:

The Justice Department is examining the involvement of Central Intelligence Agency officers and contract employees in three suspicious deaths of detainees, two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, federal law enforcement officials said Wednesday.

One of the victims of suspected abuse was an Iraqi major general in the Republican Guard, who died in November 2003, several days after he was questioned at an interrogation center in western Iraq by C.I.A. officers, according to a senior law enforcement official.

In November 2003, the official said, a detainee at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad died, apparently as he was being questioned by a C.I.A. officer and a linguist who was hired by the agency as a contractor...The agency official said the detainee was not touched, but "slumped over" during the interrogation. The C.I.A. officers who interviewed General Mohush also denied mistreating him.

In a third case, in June 2003, a detainee in Afghanistan died during questioning by an independent contractor working for the C.I.A., a case in which the agency official did not rule out mistreatment.

...

Another area of possible wrongdoing by the agency disclosed Wednesday relates to requests by C.I.A. personnel to military authorities at Abu Ghraib prison to hold suspects without listing them on the prison's rolls, according to newly available passages of an internal military report on abuses in Iraqi prisons.

The practice was routine, according to a passage in the report by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba...

Detainees kept off the prisoner roster at Abu Ghraib were referred to as "ghost detainees," the report said. In one instance, the report found, a group of six to eight prisoners "was moved around within the facility to hide them from a visiting International Committee of the Red Cross survey team."

Get the feeling we're still looking at just the tip of the iceberg?

And is it George Tenet's turn (finally? yet again?) to join Rumsfeld on the hot seat? Or does he get to skate as usual? Probably...As we know, a report is never enough, unless it includes pictures!




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