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Journal Journal: The Photo-Ops: What Could They Have Been Thinking?!? 3

Perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment.
-- Senator Mary Landrieu

ARD correspondent Christine Adelhardt, who witnessed Bush's visit to Biloxi, was shocked about the extent to which the event was staged. The President brought with him vehicles to cut though the debris and rescue search teams, for which Biloxi had waited for days. But they did not go to work where the victims were, but only served as photogenic background props in remote areas of the town, she reported.
-- German news agency ARD

ZDF News reported that the president's visit was a completely staged event. Their crew witnessed how the open air food distribution point Bush visited in front of the cameras was torn down immediately after the president and the herd of 'news people' had left and that others which were allegedly being set up were abandoned at the same time. The people in the area were once again left to fend for themselves, said ZDF.
-- Dutch news agency ZDF

How would you like to have the job of following Bush around tearing down disaster relief sites to get them ready for his next photo-op? That has got to be fairly low on the job satisfaction scale.


Journal Journal: LOCKDOWN(!) in New Orleans 7

Geraldo Rivera of FOX News TV, of all people, broadcast this video (WMV):

Geraldo Rivera and Shepard Smith are reporting that the authorities have just locked everyone in the convention center with no escape, and a checkpoint is stopping people from leaving New Orleans. They set up a check point at the bottom of the bridge out of New Orleans, it's the only way out, per Shep Smith, and if you go the checkpoint they turn you around and send you back to New Orleans.

-- Americablog

Wha...!?! I hope this is grandstanding.

The Media

Journal Journal: "Black people loot, white people find?" 14


Journal Journal: Freedom Died 8

An agreement was reached that Islam is the religion of state, and that no law shall be enacted that contradicts the agreed-upon essential verities of Islam. Likewise, the inviolability of the highest [Shiite] religious authorities in the land is safeguarded, without any allusion to a detailed description.... A Higher Council will be formed to review new legislation to ensure it does not contravene the essential verities of the Islamic religion.

-- London-based Arabic newspaper al-Hayat

Sorry about that, girls. As Digby said:

And what say you Hitchens, you useful fucking idiot? Americans just "freed" the Iraqis so they could live under Islamic law. That's quite a goddamned achievement. You must be so proud.

How about you Condi? Are you proud of what you've done? You just "freed" 13 million women into second class citizenship -- probably into hell. Tough luck ladies. Don't worry, though, your granddaughters might get their rights back in their lifetimes. You can't stop progress, you know.

And what about you, George you misbegotten cretin. Is this what you were talking about in all these windy speeches about freedom being the gift of the almighty and all that other flatulent twaddle you peddle to the silly rubes who confuse leadership with frat boy swagger? Did you free the Iraqis so they could live under Ayatollahs?

Iraqi women's lives have already become demonstrably less free. This will codify it. And tough shit if you're gay or secular or different in any way. Some fucking freedom.

I hope that everyone makes it their business to remind every Republican asshole they know that it wasn't the liberals who turned Iraq into a theocracy. This is happening on their watch, under their auspices. We don't believe in theocracy. They do. They do not believe in freedom. We do.

(They do believe in two primary freedoms: The freedom of their cronies in or invested in the military-industrial complex to profiteer at the expense of everyone else, and the freedom to tell as many unaccountable lies about it as they wish.)

The Courts

Journal Journal: Does Ellem Have to Volunteer at His Food Stamp Office? 19

Tomorrow is the day that my bet with ellem is decided, based on whether the Downing Street Memos are real, and not forgeries or fakes, according to the two-out-of-three judgement of the following three news sites, listed with their most recent articles mentioning the memos excerpted below. If I win, ellem has to volunteer for 8 hours at his local food stamp office. If ellem wins, I have to volunteer for 16 hours at my nearest country club.
  • FOX News

    Blair was asked about the leaked memos, which suggest strong concerns in the British government that the Bush administration was determined in 2002 to invade Iraq -- months before the United States and Britain unsuccessfully sought U.N. Security Council approval for military action.

    "People say the decision was already taken. The decision was not already taken." Blair said he was "a bit astonished" at the intensive U.S. media coverage about the memos, which included minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting between Blair and top officials at his Downing Street office.

    According to the minutes of the meeting, Sir Richard Dearlove, then chief of Britain's intelligence service, said the White House viewed military action against Saddam Hussein as inevitable following the Sept. 11 attacks. Bush "wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD" (weapons of mass destruction), read the memo, seen by the AP. "But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

    In the interview, Blair said raising such concerns was a natural part of any examination of the cause for war.

    "The trouble with having a political discussion on the basis of things that are leaked is that they are always taken right out of context. Everything else is omitted from the discussion and you end up focusing on a specific document," he said....

  • New York Times (full text here)

    The Downing Street memo, so named because the meeting was at the prime minister's London residence, was published in The Sunday Times of London on May 1.

    It is one of seven prewar documents leaked since September to Michael Smith, a reporter for The Daily Telegraph before he began working for The Sunday Times. One, written in preparation for the July 23 meeting and published Sunday by The Sunday Times, warned that "a postwar occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise" in which "Washington could look to us to share a disproportionate share of the burden."

  • Wall Street Journal

    A series of three-year-old British documents seized upon by those who think the Bush administration manipulated intelligence before the war with Iraq has demonstrated unusual staying power....

    Documents detailing the run-up to the Iraq war have been splashed across London newspapers since they surfaced in the fall and hit a crescendo on May 1 with the publication of the so-called Downing Street memo....

    The documents, summarizing meetings between U.S. and British officials in the spring and summer of 2002, appear to lend support to what administration critics have long alleged: That the White House was determined to invade Iraq nearly a year before it did and that it "fixed" intelligence to justify the invasion....

    The most politically provocative document summarized a July 2002 meeting between Mr. Blair and other British officials. Though U.S. newspapers at the time were swirling with leaked Pentagon war plans, Mr. Bush maintained he was dedicated to finding a peaceful solution. The Downing Street memo recounts a meeting between a British official referred to as "C" and his U.S. counterpart. Media outlets in Britain and the U.S. have identified "C" as a senior British intelligence official....

So, did I win the bet?

User Journal

Journal Journal: out for a while (personal drama extravganza) 10

[This post, after having been slept on, has been redacted in its entirety, but has been saved and may appear later in a retrospective edition. Summary: I've got so much stuff going on, really good and really bad, that I'm not going to be posting much if at all for months at least.]
United States

Journal Journal: We ARE Getting Out of Iraq! 5

Finally! Could be quicker....

US plans Iraq troop cuts as revolt rages
By Martin Sieff, UPI Senior News Analyst
July 27, 2005

WASHINGTON -- The struggle against the Iraq insurgency passed a crucial tipping point Wednesday with the current prime minister calling for major U.S. troop withdrawals and the U.S. ground commander there acknowledging they will probably come next year.

The commander, however, made clear he did not expect the insurgency to have dropped by then significantly below its current level.

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari made his comments in Baghdad at a joint news conference with visiting Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"We confirm and we desire speed in that regard," he said.

In Washington, well-placed military sources told UPI that "as many as," "20,000 or 30,000" U.S. troops might be withdrawn from Iraq next year. That would bring the current force levels of around 140,000 -- which many U.S. military officers privately, and most counter-insurgency experts publicly. agree are already far too low to deal with the insurgency -- down to only 120,000 or 110,000 troops....

Al-Jaafari said his government would welcome the move provided it had "two aspects."

The first, he said, would be that the United States would step up the scale and intensity of its training of massive new Iraqi security forces. Rumsfeld is expected to give the go-ahead for that with no hesitation.

The second, al-Jaafari said, was that the U.S. plans its withdrawals in coordination with the Iraqi government and its new security forces. U.S. senior officials have already assured Baghdad that will be the case, U.S. military sources have told UPI....

The insurgents continue to enjoy excellent intelligence that enables them to attack Iraqi security forces and even massacre them at large gatherings. They remain able to kill officials in the new state structure at will around the country.

The U.S. forces' ability to protect Iraqi officials apart from the most senior remains "minimal," one U.S. military source said....

Gen. Casey told U.S. reporters in Rumsfeld's party that the withdrawal could start as early as spring next year provided there was continued progress on the political front and that the insurgency did not further expand.

Casey's first condition came as no surprise and senior Bush administration officials remain confident it would be fulfilled. The next step on the long and tortuous road to setting up a permanent democratic political structure as U.S. leaders have envisioned is a referendum that is expected to approve the new permanent constitutional structures.

But Casey's second condition was, in fact, a remarkable admission that even with the current troop levels, U.S. military leaders acknowledge that they do not realistically hope to break the insurgency or even significantly depress the levels of violence from it over the next year or so.

Another highly respected U.S. military expert, speaking on condition of anonymity Tuesday, said that the levels of U.S. forces in Iraq were far too low to be able to secure the country against the current level of the insurgency and that the trend of the insurgency over the past two years had been "consistently upward" in terms of the number of incidents recorded by U.S. forces and in terms of the numbers of casualties inflicted, especially on Iraqi civilians and military forces.

"We're not making forward progress," he said. "The insurgency has great untapped resources. The insurgency isn't defeated. It just isn't so...."

U.S. military analysts believe that only 5 to 10 percent of the insurgents are of foreign origin. And although this number includes most of the suicide bombers, it does not include the gunmen who continue to operate at will, carrying out assassinations around the country, they said....

"The ability of the insurgents to kill large numbers of Iraqis remains unimpaired," the respected military analyst cited above said. "They kill at all levels. They even kill washer-women working at U.S. bases. When they make a threat, they carry it out. Their ability to kill people is only increasing."

One Iraqi man, who preferred not to be identified, said, "The shock-and-awe terrorists have attacked the infrastructure, the children and all of Iraq. They are enemies of humanity without religion or any sort of ethics. They have attacked my community I will now rejoice in the flight of the shock-and-awe terrorists."


Journal Journal:

Have kids in school? Don't want them to be recruited to go around killing people and breathing uranyl oxide gas vapor fumes? Click here. You need to opt out twice for each kid: once for direct recruiting, and again for in-school recruiting.
United States

Journal Journal: Gallup: America Awakens 6

  • For the first time, a majority of Americans, 51%, say the Bush administration deliberately misled the public about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
  • By 58%-37%, a majority say the United States won't be able to establish a stable democratic government in Iraq, similar to the results when the question was asked in April 2004.
  • About one-third, 32%, say the United States can't win the war in Iraq. Another 21% say the United States could win the war, but they don't think it will. Just 43% predict a victory.

-- Gallup poll in USA Today, via DailyKos


Journal Journal: U.S. Shoots Iraqi Police Major Crimes Unit Chief 10

Shots to the Heart of Iraq
By Richard C. Paddock
L.A. Times Staff Writer

BAGHDAD -- Three men in an unmarked sedan pulled up near the headquarters of the national police major crimes unit. The two passengers, wearing traditional Arab dishdasha gowns, stepped from the car.

At the same moment, a U.S. military convoy emerged from an underpass. Apparently believing the men were staging an ambush, the Americans fired, killing one passenger and wounding the other. The sedan's driver was hit in the head by two bullet fragments.

The soldiers drove on without stopping.

This kind of shooting is far from rare in Baghdad, but the driver of the car was no ordinary casualty. He was Iraqi police Brig. Gen. Majeed Farraji, chief of the major crimes unit. His passengers were unarmed hitchhikers whom he was dropping off on his way to work.

"The reason they shot us is just because the Americans are reckless," the general said from his hospital bed hours after the July 6 shooting, his head wrapped in a white bandage. "Nobody punishes them or blames them...."

U.S. military officials say the troops must protect themselves by shooting the driver of any suspicious vehicle before it reaches them....

The U.S. military says it investigates all shootings by American personnel that result in death. But U.S. Brig. Gen. Don Alston, spokesman for the multinational force in Iraq, said he was unaware of any soldier disciplined for shooting a civilian at a checkpoint or in traffic. Findings are seldom made public....

On June 27, the day he turned 49, Salah Jmor arrived in Baghdad to visit his family. His father, Abdul-Rihman Jmor, is the chief of a Kurdish clan that numbers more than 20,000. Salah had left Iraq 25 years ago for Switzerland, where he earned a doctorate in international relations and eventually became a Swiss citizen. For a decade, he represented Iraqi Kurds at the United Nations Office at Geneva. In 1988, he helped call the world's attention to Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons on Kurds in the northern Iraqi town of Halabja and the massacre of at least 100,000 Kurds in what is known as the Anfal campaign....

The morning after he arrived in Baghdad, he decided to go with his younger brother, architect Abdul-Jabbar Jmor, to his office. Abdul-Jabbar, 38, drove his Opel hatchback down the eight-lane Mohammed Qasim highway through central Baghdad....

The brothers were in the fast lane as a U.S. military convoy of three Humvees was entering the highway from the Gailani onramp. Neither of them saw the soldiers, Abdul-Jabbar said.

Abruptly, Salah slumped over into his brother's lap. Abdul-Jabbar asked what was wrong and then saw blood pouring from Salah's head. There was a single bullet hole in the windshield.

He saw the convoy moving ahead as he pulled over to the side of the road. He said he had seen no signal to slow down and heard no warning shot.

The soldiers turned around and came back a few minutes later. One said he was sorry, Abdul-Jabbar said. Together they waited more than an hour for an ambulance to arrive....

Abdul-Jabbar said he and his family had supported the U.S. troops when they first invaded Iraq, but no longer.

"This kind of incident makes people hate the Americans more and more," he said. "They don't care about the lives of the people. Each day they make new enemies."

There is a strong tradition of revenge in Iraq's tribal culture. The killing of such a prominent clan member could have triggered a bloodbath that would claim 200 lives, said the patriarch, Abdul-Rihman. But the Jmors, a well-educated family of doctors and engineers, say they want the judicial process to hold Salah's killer accountable.

"People say if they kill my brother, I have to kill one of them," Abdul-Jabbar said. "But I believe in justice. I can't just go kill them. The United States says it is the leader of justice in the world. Let us see that...."

A recent case highlighted by the Iraqi government in its criticism of the U.S. was the June 24 killing of Yasser Salihee, 30, an Iraqi special correspondent for Knight-Ridder newspapers. Salihee, a physician, had taken a rare day off and planned to take his wife and daughter swimming. He went to get gasoline and was returning home at midmorning. By then, U.S. troops were conducting a military operation in his neighborhood. It appears he did not see them until it was too late.

The route he chose was not blocked off and there was no sign warning motorists to halt, witnesses say. As he neared the scene of the military operation, a U.S. Army sniper fired at his car. One bullet hit a tire. The other hit Salihee in the forehead. That bullet also severed fingers on his right hand, indicating he was holding up at least one of his hands at the time he was killed. U.S. officials are investigating the shooting.

Salihee's widow, Raghad al Wazzan, said she accepted the American soldiers' presence when they first arrived in Iraq because "they came and liberated us." She sometimes helped them at the hospital where she works as a doctor. But not anymore.

"Now, after they killed my husband, I hate them," she said. "I want to blow them all up."

To any who still thinks that we need to stay in order to "finish what we started," I say this: You are a deluded fool. We are starting so many things that we have no hope of finishing every day we stay.

U.S. out of Iraq now!

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"We shall reach greater and greater platitudes of achievement." -- Richard J. Daley