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Archive for June, 2005

The Pentagon has promoted or nominated for promotion two senior Army officers who oversaw or advised detention and interrogation operations in Iraq during the height of the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal.The Army promoted Maj. Gen. Walter Wodjakowski, the former deputy commander of American forces in Iraq, earlier this month to be the head the Army’s infantry training school at Fort Benning, Ga. It has also nominated Col. Marc Warren, the top military lawyer for the American command in Baghdad at the time, to be a one-star, or brigadier, general.

[…]

An independent inquiry led by a former defense secretary, James R. Schlesinger, last August faulted all three officers for their actions in Iraq, but a subsequent review by the Army’s inspector general exonerated all of them, clearing the way for their advancement, military officials said.

Source: NYT

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The President’s lack-luster primetime address confirmed what we have all long suspected: the Bush administration is out of ideas when it comes to defeating the ever-growing insurgency in Iraq. On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Iraq’s leading Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, has endorsed a voting system that would elect candidates via provinces, not national lists, giving the Sunni minority greater political power.

Will the insurgency abandon its violence in favor of joining the legitimate political process? Only time will tell… meanwhile our president still has no plan…

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The Bush administration claims that the Central American Free Trade Agreement would bring tougher labor standards to Central American workers. But the agreement, which would encompass the United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, would have just the opposite effect. Such was the conclusion of the Department of Labor, only it chose to dismiss the inconvenient findings as “inaccurate and biased.”

Here is what the department was hiding:

Several countries the administration wants to be granted free-trade status have poor working conditions and fail to protect workers’ rights.

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The Washington Post is reporting that President Bush’s proposed budget would “eliminate many of the federal rules requiring public housing authorities to serve extremely low income people” resulting in “one of the most dramatic policy shifts in the 68-year history of public housing.” The President has wrapped the rule change in the rhetoric of “self sufficiency and encouraging home ownership.”

And while Republicans frequently lecture Americans on fiscal discipline, they rarely apply the same standards to large multi- national corporations. Take, for instance, the example of Defense Department officials providing Dick Cheney’s Halliburton with some $1.4 billion in “unjustified fees.”

  • $152,000 in movie library costs
  • $1.5 million in tailoring costs
  • $560,000 worth of unnecessary heavy equipment

The list goes on. Read the full report here.

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The Senate has voted to approve an additional $1.5 billion in emergency funds for Veterans Affairs health programs. The House is expected to vote similarly tonight. Yet President Bush and Republicans in Congress have previously obstructed Democratic efforts to make up for the anticipated shortfall. In a rather embarrassing “mistake,” (foreseen by many lawmakers and veteran advocates) the V.A. used pre Iraqi invasion statistics to estimate the number of veterans expected to be in need of treatment in the wake of the invasion.

If we are to view this latest snafu in conjunction with the president’s broader veteran policy, his incompetence, aloofness and lack of foresight all become apparent. The Center for American Progress reports on Bush’s veteran record. Consider the following:

Under President Bush, the VA…

    Following the lead of top administration officials (who have continuously miscalculated the strength of the Iraqi insurgency and the resilience of the Taliban in Afghanistan) Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson placed the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans at 23,000 soldiers. The actual number is close to 103,000, “leaving a funding gap of $2.6 billion for the next fiscal year.”

    One thing is clear: for a president who manipulated Americans into supporting his re-election bid by politicizing war, veterans and soldiers, the ever growing gap between rhetoric and action has reached its breaking point.

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    For those who heard or read President Bush’s Saturday June 25th radio address, his speech last night, touting a connection between 9/11 and Saddam, was hardly surprising. In an article published on Scoop, investigative reporter Jason Leopold, the journalist who broke the California Blackout and Enron stories, weighed in on Bush’s radio deception– providing the context and framework within which Bush’s lies can be identified. (Jason Leopold was also a guest on my radio show, click here to listen in mp3 format).

    That the President can still tout a connection in the wake of reports to the contrary by the 9/11 Commission and Senate Foreign Intelligence Committee is truly astounding. It speaks volumes of our failed media system and the ignorance of most Americans.

    The Bush administration is deliberately deceiving the public. Last night President Bush claimed that we must “defeat [the terrorists] abroad before they attack us at home.” But Bush-appointed CIA chief Porter Goss has previously claimed that Iraq is only increasing the terror threat and this latest CIA study substantiates his theory. Yet government reports have little affect on a pathetical administration. It is far easier to tell a lie than to dispute one. And in this case, delivering a “repeat of a speech he delivered 13 months ago,” and offering no new ideas for defeating an ever-growing Iraqi insurgency only goes to explain the president’s plummeting approval ratings.

    One thing was made clear last night: President Bush has ridden us into a dangerous war quagmire with no plan for reconstruction or evacuation. But if you read the Downing Street Memo you already knew that.

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    A classified CIA assessment has revealed that young jihads are leaving Iraq “experienced in and focused on acts of urban terrorism” and “form a potential pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries.”

    According to the report, President Bush’s invasion is “likely to produce a dangerous legacy by dispensing to other countries Iraqi and foreign combatants more adept and better organized than they were before the conflict.”

    I have long argued that Iraq is the Afghanistan of the ’80s, and the authors of this report listened. From the NYT piece:

    “They said the assessment had argued that Iraq, since the American invasion of 2003, had in many ways assumed the role played by Afghanistan during the rise of Al Qaeda during the 1980’s and 1990’s, as a magnet and a proving ground for Islamic extremists from Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries.”

    For more on this, read this column published in Marist’s “The Circle” on February 24, 2005.

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