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Giuliani: ‘Listen’ To Me On Iraq, Even Though I Quit The Iraq Study Group To Get Rich

Fri, 2007-09-14 13:49

In the New York Times this morning, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) ran an ad supporting Gen. David Petraeus’ recent sugarcoated testimony before Congress. In the ad, Giuliani asks “who should America listen to” on Iraq — critics of the war, or Petraeus and Giuliani:

On MSNBC this morning, Giuliani’s senior communications adviser, Jim Dyke, defended the ad, saying “we oughta have a serious discussion in this country about” Iraq:

I’m an American. And because I believe that the terrorists, the Islamic terrorists, have declared war on us. And I believe that we oughta have a serious discussion in this country about the approach to defending ourselves.

When host Contessa Brewer challenged Dyke’s implied contention that “people who question” the current war strategy are “un-American,” the Giuliani aide dismissed Brewer’s query as “a silly question.” Watch it:

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Indeed, America needs a “serious discussion in this country” on Iraq. One person who has proved himself to be someone America should not “listen to” is Rudy Giuliani. The former New York City mayor, who has never visited Iraq, has complained that “America is too consumed with Iraq.”

In 2006, Giuliani had an opportunity to study the issue as a member of the Iraq Study Group, but he quit the post because it conflicted with his lucrative speaking tours. Newsday reported:

Giuliani quit the group during his busiest stretch in 2006, when he gave 20 speeches in a single month that brought in $1.7 million.

In 2004, after tons of explosives in Iraq went missing, Giuliani defended President Bush by saying “the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there.”

Iceland to pull lone soldier out of Iraq.

Fri, 2007-09-14 13:16

In his Iraq speech last night, President Bush took a moment to thank “the 36 nations who have troops on the ground in Iraq.” TPMmuckraker’s Spencer Ackerman has been counting coalition members with troops on the ground and has been able to find only 34 — many of whom have just a minor presence in Iraq. In his search, Ackerman discovered that the total is about to drop to 33: Next month, Iceland is pulling out its one lone soldier.

Snow On Long-Term Military Occupation: ‘Yeah, The Iraqis Want That’

Fri, 2007-09-14 12:11

Yesterday, President Bush told the nation he would endorse a long-term U.S. military presence in Iraq:

At the same time, they understand that [Iraq’s] success will require U.S. political, economic and security engagement that extends beyond my Presidency. These Iraqi leaders have asked for an enduring relationship with America. And we are ready to begin building that relationship.

Reinforcing Bush’s call, this morning, outgoing White House Press Secretary Tony Snow went as far as to claim the Iraqi public supports Bush’s call for an “enduring” occupation:

Q: How long are we going to be in Iraq? Because the President last night was setting the stage for a long-term relationship with the Iraqis, which would include a U.S. military presence there.

SNOW: Yeah, well, the Iraqis want that.

Watch it:

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But earlier this week, an ABC News/BBC/NHK survey of Iraqis stated that 79 percent of Iraqis oppose the U.S. presence — including 84 percent of Shi’as and 98 percent of Sunnis:

Fifty-seven percent of Iraqis approve of attacks on U.S. troops, up from 17 percent in 2004. As Matthew Yglesias observed, “when an actual majority support killing our soldiers, then how, exactly, are the soldiers supposed to help Iraq’s population?”

Furthermore, in June, a majority of the Iraqi Parliament passed a resolution rejecting “the continuing occupation of their country.

Americans and Iraqis stand united in telling President Bush to withdraw.

Digg It!

Fox ignores Reed’s response to Bush.

Fri, 2007-09-14 11:47

Following President Bush’s speech last night, Fox was the only broadcast network that did not air Sen. Jack Reed’s (D-RI) rebuttal. Instead, anchor Shepard Smith directed viewers to watch Reed’s reply on cable at Fox News. “ABC, NBC, and CBS all aired the Democratic response,” MediaMatters notes.

Inhofe Praises Bush’s Iraq Plan As ‘Wise,’ Earlier Blasted Same Proposal By Warner As ‘Irresponsible’

Fri, 2007-09-14 10:27

On Aug. 23, Sen. John Warner (R-VA) called on President Bush to announce on Sept. 15 that approximately 5,000 troops “could begin to redeploy and be home to their families and loved ones no later than Christmas of this year.”

That same day, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) put out a statement blasting Warner’s proposal, calling withdrawal “irresponsible“:

A majority of the Senate voted to give General Petraeus until mid-September to implement a successful new surge strategy, and any effort to cut short this timeline and set an arbitrary withdrawal deadline is premature and irresponsible. The last thing we need is 535 ‘Generals’ in Congress telling our troops how to win this fight.

Last night, President Bush gave a prime time address on Iraq, announcing a plan that largely mirrors Warner’s proposal. Yet instead of criticizing it as being “irresponsible” and “arbitrary,” Inhofe immediately put out a statement calling Bush’s speech “wise”:

President Bush has resolved to follow the strategic advice of military commanders on the ground rather than be swayed by political attempts to micromanage the war from the halls of Congress. During recent months, General Petraeus successfully implemented a surge in troop levels resulting in visible military improvements. His recommendations come from first-hand experience and a distinguished 35-year long career in the U.S. Armed Forces — the President is wise to heed his advice.

Inhofe isn’t the only official to have a change of heart. The White House itself, in fact, “reached out to Warner’s staff and asked” the senator to back away from his position in August. White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said that the President believes “setting a specific timetable for withdrawal” would be a “disastrous course of action.”

McCain dismisses Boehner’s gaffe: ‘He misspoke.’

Fri, 2007-09-14 09:45

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a Vietnam veteran, weighed in last night on House Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-OH) comment that the sacrifice of soldiers who have died or been wounded in Iraq “will be a small price if we’re able to stop al Qaeda.” McCain spoke to Time’s Ana Marie Cox on his campaign bus:

“He misspoke. With all due respect, every American wounded or sacrificed is the greatest possible price to pay,” and we should all be grateful, “particularly those of us who sit in relative safety while those young men and women are fighting.”

Asked if Boehner’s comments deserve the same level of condemnation as the Petraeus ad, McCain said no. “He misspoke, he didn’t take out an ad… I’m not excusing him, I just think it’s a different level.”

Boehner’s office claims he was talking “about the money spent in Iraq,” but a transcript of his comments shows he was clearly asked about “the loss in blood, the Americans who are killed every month” in Iraq.

UPDATE: Cox emailed TPM’s Greg Sargent to note that she didn’t report all of McCain’s comments. He also said that Boehner “ought to retract it.”

Defying Bush And Cheney, White House Science Adviser Acknowledges Man-Made Warming Is A Fact

Fri, 2007-09-14 09:16

In an interview with the BBC, Professor John Marburger, Bush’s chief science adviser, said it was an “unequivocal” fact that climate change is man-made and that greenhouse gases emitted by human activity are to blame.

Marburger said he “strongly agrees” with the IPCC reports and “supports its conclusions.” He added:

I think there is widespread agreement on certain basics, and one of the most important is that we are producing far more CO2 from fossil fuels than we ought to be. And it’s going to lead to trouble unless we can begin to reduce the amount of fossil fuels we are burning and using in our economies. […]

The CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere and there’s no end point, it just gets hotter and hotter, and so at some point it becomes unliveable.

Watch the BBC report:

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Roger Harrabin, the BBC climate reporter who conducted the interview, noted that “historically, the White House has given a number of different messages on climate change. You hear one message from Dick Cheney saying that there’s a debate we’ll have to carry on.” On the other hand, Marburger says the science is undisputed. So far, Cheney has been winning the battle in setting U.S. policy.

Just this past February, Cheney asserted, “There does not appear to be a consensus” that global warming is “caused by man.” Bush has repeatedly echoed Cheney’s line that there is a “debate” over the science.

Harrabin noted that “there is very little pressure from the public,” causing a kind of “stasis” in the climate change debate. “The headway in the U.S. is very slow,” he said, “and that feeds into the international process where other countries are looking at the U.S. and saying, hey, you’re the big emitter, if you’re not cutting, then how’s that going to impact on our industries.”

Bush Admin Tamps Down Right-Wing Desire For Mass Deportation Of Undocumented Immigrants

Fri, 2007-09-14 08:52

At her Senate confirmation hearing this week, head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Julie Myers reported that it would cost $94 billion to deport all 12 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. An ICE spokesperson later reported that this figure does not include any costs for apprehension of undocumented immigrants.

While there are no current legislative proposals that call for direct deportation of all undocumented immigrants, the notion of such a mass deportation has been circulating among members of Congress and the conservative press for several years. For example, Congressman Tom Tancredo told the Heritage Foundation in September 2006:

When people say to me, and they do all the time, I hear this constantly—people go up, and tell me, they go, “Hey listen, what are you going to do with all the people who are presently in the country illegally? There’s 15 to 20 million — you can’t deport them.” And then they go on. Right. And I say “Hold it! Why not?

In response to the nascent arguments for mass deportation, I co-wrote a report for the Center for American Progress more than 2 years ago in which we estimated the cost for apprehending and deporting all undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. to be more than $200 billion, with ongoing costs of at least $3 billion per year.

Unlike the ICE figure, our estimate included the substantial costs of apprehension. We estimated that apprehension costs would be about 74% of the total costs of apprehension and deportation. Applying this ratio to the ICE figure, gives a total estimated cost of apprehension and deportation of $362 billion, more than 50% higher than the estimate we produced in 2005! To put these figures in context, the entire 2008 budget request for the Department of Homeland security is $46 billion.

While calculations of this sort are difficult to do, the bottom line remains that apprehension and deportation would be incredibly expensive, whether that total would be $94 billion, $200 billion, or $362 billion. And removing all illegal workers from the economy would also quite likely be disruptive to the U.S. labor market.

That ICE is spending resources estimating a figure that we already estimated two years ago indicates that there is continuing disagreement between the White House and conservative members of Congress on what to do about the 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. While the White House favors a path to U.S. citizenship, more conservative members of Congress and conservative think tanks like the Center for Immigration Studies and the Federation for American Immigration Reform are pushing for higher levels of enforcement and “voluntary” deportation.

David A. Jaeger

Kurtz: Fox News is ‘entitled’ to ‘misinform our society.’

Fri, 2007-09-14 08:18

On Wednesday, during an appearance on Glenn Beck’s CNN Headline News show, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz said that Fox News is “entitled” to be “a cheerleader for the Bush administration” that is “misinforming our society.” Kurtz’s comments came in the context of dismissing the criticisms of MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, who routinely mocks the cable news network. Watch it:

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Snow Snipes At CNN’s Malveaux: ‘Your Credibility Ratings Are Lower Than The President’

Fri, 2007-09-14 07:30

On CNN’s The Situation Room yesterday, Tony Snow got testy in an interview with Suzanne Malveaux, snidely telling her, “Your credibility ratings, journalists credibility ratings, are lower than the President’s.”

Malveaux was asking Snow about a New York Times/CBS News poll that found 71% of American’s disapprove of how President Bush is handling Iraq.

But Snow wouldn’t accept the poll’s low numbers, arguing that the poll “also says most Americans think the surge is working.” When Malveaux pressed him again on the numbers, Snow continued to spin, saying that Americans also disapprove of Congress and the media:

SNOW: I know, I know, but you know what? They also have higher disapproval rates for Congress. The people here are tired of the atmosphere in Washington.

MALVEAUX: But I want to talk about the President.

SNOW: Ok, but Suzanne, I’m talking to you about the facts on the ground. The President’s gonna talk about the surge, and I’ve told you, what you’ve done is you’ve selected a popularity number. What I’ve done is taken something a lot more precise, which “is the surge working?”

MALVEAUX: How does the president regain the credibility that he needs to convince the American people that that’s true?

SNOW: Well, you know what, Suzanne? Your credibility, journalists credibility ratings, are lower than the President’s.

Watch it:

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Today marks White House press secretary Tony Snow’s last official day on the job. Throughout his tenure as Press Secretary, Snow has routinely used personal attacks to avoid answering hard questions about his boss’s lackluster performance in office:

- “Well, thank you for the Hezbollah view,” Snow told columnist Helen Thomas. [7/18/06]

- “Zip it,” Snow demanded of CNN’s Ed Henry after he asked a critical question. [3/19/07]

- The American people “think that you guys are focused on defeat,” Snow said to the press corp when asked about Iraq. [7/11/07]

Digg It!


Fri, 2007-09-14 07:09

Number of times President Bush referenced al Qaeda in his Iraq speech last night, which lasted just under 18 minutes. A recent Congressional Research Service concluded that attacks from al Qaeda are only a small percentage of the violence in Iraq.

ThinkFast: September 14, 2007

Fri, 2007-09-14 06:08

The mother of Sgt. Omar Mora, the soldier who co-authored a New York Times op-ed critical of the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq, is calling on the Army to explain her son’s death. “I want to know all the details of how he died. I want to know the truth,” said Olga Capetillo.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is “leaving office quietly today with a low-key farewell address to Justice Department employees in Washington.” One former senior official said that Gonzales had been “just sort of drifting off” and “minimizing his activity” for some time.

A new survey by a British polling agency suggests that the Iraqi civilian death toll from the war could be more than 1.2 million. The agency said it drew its conclusion from responses to the question about those living under one roof: “How many members of your household, if any, have died as a result of the conflict in Iraq since 2003?”

Bill Allen, the former head of Alaskan oil company VECO Corp., “admitted yesterday in court that he bribed three Alska legislators,” including Ben Stevens, the son of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK). The elder Stevens is currently the target of a federal investigation also involving VECO.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said that, while he was aware of “subprime” lending practices, he failed to see early on that “an explosion of mortgages to people with questionable credit histories could pose a danger to the economy.” “I didn’t get it” until later on, said Greenspan. (more…)

New WH Report Contradicts Bush’s Claim That Troop Drawdown Is Result Of ‘Success’ In Iraq

Thu, 2007-09-13 20:17

Tonight in his prime time address, President Bush announced that he plans to withdraw approximately 23,000 U.S. troops from Iraq by mid-July, returning the force to pre-surge levels and “leaving about 137,000 U.S. troops in place.” He claimed that because of his escalation’s “success” on the ground, troops can now be drawn down:

Iraqi forces are receiving increased cooperation from local populations. And this is improving their ability to hold areas that have been cleared.

Because of this success, General Petraeus believes we have now reached the point where we can maintain our security gains with fewer American forces.

Watch it:

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Yet as White House reports show, this “success” is nothing but rhetoric. In July, the White House released its “Initial Benchmark Assessment Report” claiming that the Iraqi government has “shown satisfactory performance so far on 8 of the 18 benchmarks.”

As the National Security Network pointed out, even the “satisfactory” benchmarks demonstrated “minimal progress, not achievement” and “others ha[d] been achieved on the surface, but fail[ed] to accomplish the overall purpose of the specific measurement.”

A new White House report to be released tomorrow largely mirrors the gloomy July conclusions. The new report shows that the Iraqi government has shown “positive movement on only one of the benchmarks.” The AP reports that the new White House analysis will cite unsatisfactory progress on issues such as:

-Enacting legislation to formally distribute oil resources equally among Iraqis without regard to their sect or ethnicity.

-Ensuring that the Iraqi security forces are providing evenhanded enforcement of the law.

-Increasing the number of Iraqi security forces units capable of operating independently.

-Ensuring that Iraq’s political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the Iraqi security forces.

Recently, the Bush administration has attempted to distance itself from the benchmarks framework. Earlier this week, outgoing White House Press Secretary Tony Snow claimed that they were “something that Congress wanted to use as a metric.” Actually, as The New York Times notes, it was “the White House and the Iraqi government, not Congress, that first proposed the benchmarks for Iraq that are now producing failing grades.”

Matthews: Bush’s claim of ‘36 countries’ in Iraq is ‘ludicrous.’

Thu, 2007-09-13 19:27

In his address to the nation tonight, President Bush said, “To the international community: The success of a free Iraq matters to every civilized nation. We thank the 36 nations who have troops on the ground in Iraq and the many others who are helping that young democracy.” In the MSNBC post-debate analysis with Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews slammed Bush’s allegations that so many countries were fighting:

The fact we have 36 countries fighting on our side in Iraq must be news to the soldiers over there. I don’t know who these people are or how many divisions they have. All we read about in the papers are American GIs getting killed by IEDs and terrible accidents and all kinds of enemy action over there. … The idea we’re one of 36 countries fighting the war I think is ludicrous and why the President would throw that out there, I think it only opens him up to ridicule.

Watch it:

CNN reported in February that there are now fewer than 25 countries who still have a presence in Iraq, down from the 49 that made up the original “coalition of the willing.”

UPDATE: The AP reports that with 168,000 troops, the United States has “the overwhelming majority of troops” in Iraq. Albania, for example, has just “120 soldiers there and Bulgaria has 150 non-combat troops in Iraq.”

Boehner misleadingly responds to ’small price’ criticism.

Thu, 2007-09-13 18:30

Last night, TPM caught House Minority Leader John Boehner saying that the sacrifice of soldiers who have died or been wounded in Iraq “will be a small price if we’re able to stop al Qaeda.” After Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), DNC Chairman Howard Dean and DCCC Chair Chris Van Hollen condemned the remarks, Boehner’s office finally responded, telling the Politico that he was “asked about the money spent in Iraq, and that’s what Mr. Boehner was referring to” with his “small price” comment. But a look at the interview’s transcript clearly shows he was asked about troop deaths:

BLITZER: How much longer will U.S. taxpayers have to shell out $2 billion a week or $3 billion a week as some now are suggesting the cost is going to endure? The loss in blood, the Americans who are killed every month, how much longer do you think this commitment, this military commitment is going to require?

BOEHNER: I think General Petraeus outlined it pretty clearly. We’re making success. We need to firm up those successes. We need to continue our effort here because, Wolf, long term, the investment that we’re making today will be a small price if we’re able to stop al Qaeda here, if we’re able to stabilize the Middle East, it’s not only going to be a small price for the near future, but think about the future for our kids and their kids.

In Speech Tonight, Bush Will Lay Out Long-Term Plan To Stay In Iraq

Thu, 2007-09-13 15:22

In his “eighth” major Iraq speech, President Bush will tonight endorse the Gen. David Petraeus’s plan to stay 9-10 years in Iraq, prolonging the escalation until next summer. Bush will falsely allege that he supports “redeployment” from Iraq, heralding the strategy as “a way to bring a divided America together.” From excerpts of tonight’s speech:

These Iraqi leaders have asked for an enduring relationship with America. And we are ready to begin building that relationship.

Today, NBC’s Tim Russert added further details about Bush’s “long-term commitment” to Iraq:

At the end of 2008, by the best calculations, there will be anywhere from ninety to 110,000 troops still in Iraq. And if in fact there’s going to be this long term strategic relationship, that number will necessarily have to go down, but it indicates that we are in Iraq for the long, long haul.

Watch it:

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So what would Americans have to commit to Bush’s long-term plan? Today, the Center for American Progress offered a “conservative projection,” suggesting that “we could well suffer between 8,220 and 11,167 additional deaths” and potentially 59-80,000 wounded.

Furthermore, despite three different scenarios on troop levels (70,000, 100,000, and 130,000), each adds up to well over $1 trillion in tax dollars spent on the war by FY2017.

As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stated, “The Bush-Petraeus plan of 130,000 Americans in Iraq for 10 more years is not a reduction in our footprint; it is an insult to the intelligence of the American people to call that a new direction.”

15 percent:

Thu, 2007-09-13 14:36

Number of Americans who can name the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Roberts, compared with 66 percent of Americans who can name “at least one of the judges on the Fox television show American Idol.” The new study also reveals that 70 percent of those surveyed did not know that Supreme Court decisions are final.

Bush climate change program ’saddled with delays.’

Thu, 2007-09-13 13:50

A Bush administration program for improving climate research “is saddled with delays and threatened by cuts,” a panel said in a report today. It added that “insufficient effort has gone into translating advances in climate science into information useful to local elected officials” and others potentially affected by climate change.

Bush To Adopt Warner Drawdown Proposal — Is He ‘Hurting The Cause Of Freedom?’

Thu, 2007-09-13 13:06

Tonight in his prime time address, President Bush will announce that a “total of 5,700 of the 21,500 combat troops added this year will return by Christmas.”

This plan mirrors an August proposal put forth by Sen. John Warner (R-VA), who called on Bush to announce on Sept. 15 the that he will “initiate the first step in a withdrawal“:

I say to the President, respectfully, pick whatever number you wish. You do not want to lose the momentum. But certainly, in the 160,000 plus — say 5,000 — could begin to redeploy and be home to their families and loved ones no later than Christmas of this year.

Watch it:

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Yet on Aug. 23, the White House shot down the prospects of such a drawdown. Asked to respond to Warner, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said, “I think it’s inappropriate for me to say from here right now what the president will or will not consider.” A reporter followed up:

QUESTION: The president has frequently said a timetable would be a disastrous course of action.

JOHNDROE: Yes, and I don’t think that the president feels any differently about setting a specific timetable for withdrawl.

The White House, concerned that the media was reporting that Warner had broken with Bush, “reached out to Warner’s staff and asked him” to back away from his position. But Warner refused to do so, stating he stood by his remarks would not “issue any clarification.”

The right wing also swiftly attacked Warner. Freedom’s Watch spokesman Brad Blakeman claimed Warner’s drawdown “hurts the cause of freedom.” Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol said of Warner’s call: “I don’t think that’s based on serious military analysis.”

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said efforts to pre-empt the September White House report were “premature and irresponsible.” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said, “It’s a little curious to me that people are proposing a change in strategy when in fact the current strategy appears now to be working.”

Boehner is Bush’s new BFF.

Thu, 2007-09-13 12:30

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) “has quietly become President Bush’s indispensable confidant on Capitol Hill. He chats almost daily about the war in Iraq with Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice or other top administration officials.” Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) said that Boehner is useful for the administration to reach Congress because the “White House has no credibility with this issue.”

UPDATE: Barry Jackson, who has taken over the “management of the four offices Rove supervised,” is the former chief of staff to Boehner.