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Updated: 2 hours 37 min ago

WaPo mislabels Rep. McHenry as ‘an Iraq war veteran.’

Tue, 2007-09-11 10:02

In the Washington Post’s write up today of Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker’s second day of testimony, reporters William Branigin, Robin Wright and Peter Baker quoted Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) as saying, “Let the generals in the field dictate.” The reporters also referred to McHenry as “an Iraq war veteran“:

Republicans, by contrast, seized on the plan as a political lifeboat after months of being forced to vote against measures repudiating Bush’s policy. “Let the generals in the field dictate,” said Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (N.C.), an Iraq war veteran. “We would support it,” said Rep. Jack Kingston (Ga.), a member of the defense appropriations subcommittee.

McHenry, however, never served in the military, let alone the Iraq war. You can email the Post’s corrections page at [email protected].

UPDATE: The Washington Post has corrected the article.

New ThinkProgress Fellows Program: Get Paid To Blog

Tue, 2007-09-11 09:00

Earlier this year, ThinkProgress introduced a Blog Fellows Program and solicited interested applicants. Fortunately, we received hundreds of fantastic applications.

Our original plan was to pick only two fellows who would serve six-month terms. Given the high quality of applicants who applied, we found it extremely difficult to pick just two.

So, we went back to the drawing board and completely retooled the program. Today, we’re pleased to announce the new Blog Fellows Program that makes it possible for many more people to participate…and be compensated! Here’s how the new program works:

From now on, any reader who submits a blog post through the Blog Fellows Program application process that we select to publish on ThinkProgress will be paid $50, in the same way freelance writers are paid for contributions to magazines. The post will include your byline and a link to your blog/website, if applicable.

– A six-month blog fellowship will still be awarded under the new program. Individuals who ThinkProgress believes exhibit a demonstrated record of submitting quality posts on a frequent basis may be extended an offer to serve as Blog Fellows. Blog Fellows will serve six-month terms, earn a monetary stipend ($3,000), and receive paid travel to Washington D.C. for a weekend of training at the Center for American Progress. We hope to award blog fellowships to 2 or 3 individuals each six-month period.

You can read the full guidelines for submissions HERE, but they’re pretty simple. On the right hand side of the ThinkProgress homepage, you’ll see a new icon that says “Submit a blog post.” Any time you have an idea for a post, simply click on that icon and follow the directions. If we publish your work, you’ll get a $50 check in the mail.

SiCKO now third highest grossing documentary ever.

Tue, 2007-09-11 08:55

Michael Moore’s health care documentary SiCKO is now the third highest grossing documentary of all time, “grossing $24.2 million domestically since it debuted in theaters on June 29th.”

Path To 9/11 Writer Complains Of ABC’s Decision To Block His DVD, Compares Network To Stalin

Tue, 2007-09-11 08:18

Cyrus Nowrasteh, the avowed conservative activist who wrote the screenplay for ABC’s infamous docudrama The Path To 9/11, complains today in the Wall Street Journal that his fictional drama is being censored. On the one-year anniversary of the release of his film, Nowrasteh writes:

Left-leaning pundits, politicos and bloggers waxed hysterical about its supposed inaccuracies and anti-Clinton bias, though the vast majority of them had not seen it.

It wasn’t just the left, Cyrus. Conservatives protested almost as vociferously, calling his portrayal of 9/11 “defamatory,” “unacceptable,” and “strewn with a lot of problems.”

Nowrasteh repeatedly claimed his film was based on the 9/11 Commission report, but numerous members of 9/11 Commission spoke up to indicate that the docudrama did not reflect their findings. Counterterrorism analysts Richard Clarke and Roger Cressey, both of whom served in the Clinton and Bush administrations, said that key scenes in the film had no basis in reality.

Now Cyrus is trying to revise history. He complains that ABC’s decision not to release the DVD version of Path to 9/11 is censorship worthy of Stalin:

This passive self-censorship is just as effective as anything Joseph Stalin or Big Brother could impose. The result is the same: the curbing of free speech and creative expression, and the suppression of a viewpoint that may be an inconvenient truth for some politicians.

The real inconvenient truth for Nowrasteh is the fact that his film was never about objectivity. Much of the public first learned about the movie when Rush Limbaugh began talking about it. Limbaugh said, “The film really zeros in on the shortcomings of the Clinton administration in doing anything about militant Islamofascism or terrorism during its administration. It cites failures of Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright and Sandy Burglar.”

Nowrasteh later was forced to concede that his fictional drama was “not a documentary.” He even acknowledged that key scenes in the report were dramatized. “Accidents occur,” he explained.

What Petraeus and Crocker didn’t say.

Tue, 2007-09-11 07:48

McClatchy notes that while Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan Crocker yesterday repeatedly referenced declines in Baghdad’s sectarian violence, they completely ignored the city’s ethnic cleansing:

A chart displayed by Army Gen. David Petraeus that purported to show the decline in sectarian violence in Baghdad between December and August made no effort to show that the ethnic character of many of the neighborhoods had changed in that same period from majority Sunni Muslim or mixed to majority Shiite Muslim.

Neither Petraeus nor U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker talked about the fact that since the troop surge began the pace by which Iraqis were abandoning their homes in search of safety had increased. They didn’t mention that 86 percent of Iraqis who’ve fled their homes said they’d been targeted because of their sect, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Baghdadis ‘unimpressed’ with Iraq hearings.

Tue, 2007-09-11 06:46

A group of Baghdadis watching the testimony of Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker yesterday were “unimpressed.” “I don’t think this will change anything in our country because the Americans will never leave Iraq,” said Saleh Adnan, a car mechanic. “For me, the main report will be the one which announces the American departure.” A recent poll found that nearly 70 percent of Iraqis say the escalation has “worsened” their lives.

ThinkFast: September 11, 2007

Tue, 2007-09-11 06:05

In New York City, “the firefighters and first responders who helped rescue New Yorkers” — and later recovered the dead — from the World Trade Center, will “‘read victims’ names for the first time Tuesday at the sixth anniversary ceremony.” Tributes are also planned in Shanksville, PA, where Flight 93 went down, and in Washington, DC.

Six years after 9/11, just three in 10 Americans “believe that the U.S. and its allies are winning the war on terrorism,” according to a new CNN poll. That number is down from 41 percent “when the same question was asked at the beginning of last year.”

Contradicting President Bush’s homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend, who recently called Osama bin Laden “virtually impotent,” “U.S. intelligence and law enforcement chiefs and a Cabinet member said Monday that Osama bin Laden remained the most dangerous terrorist threat to the United States six years after the 9-11 attacks.”

A new AP poll finds that the “public sees the Iraq war as a failure and thinks the U.S. troop buildup there has not worked.” By “59 percent to 34 percent, more people said they believe history will judge the Iraq war a complete or partial failure than a success.”

Yesterday while Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan Crocker testified to Congress about progress in Iraq, nine U.S. troops in Iraq were killed. Additionally, a “truck bomb killed 10 people and wounded 60 in northern Iraq, police said.” (more…)

GOP Rep. Walsh to call for Iraq withdrawal.

Mon, 2007-09-10 20:05

The editorial blog of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle is reporting that Rep. Jim Walsh (R-NY), a moderate Republican, “is switching gears and is now calling for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.” Additionally, “Walsh, who visited Iraq during the weekend, says he will no longer support funding the war.” The paper’s Washington correspondent, Erin Kelly, will have full report tomorrow.

(Hat tip: TPM)

UPDATE: In the full article, Walsh says “Before I went, I was not prepared to say it’s time to start bringing our troops home. I am prepared to say that now. It’s time.”

UPDATE II: Here’s Walsh’s full statement.

Brit Hume’s exclusive one hour interview

Mon, 2007-09-10 19:00

with Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker proved Fox News to be an even friendlier forum than expected. Hume opened the interview by asking Petraeus to give a “synopsis” of his testimony before the House today. Petraeus then proceeded on an uninterrupted 16 minute soliloquy, turning the Fox News “interview” into a powerpoint presentation on national TV. While Petraeus was presenting his charts, a Fox chyron read “A briefing for America.” After taking a commercial break, Hume allowed Crocker to give his own 10 minute uninterrupted speech. Hume never asked a critical question of either Petraeus or Crocker.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall, who was also watching, has more.

FACT CHECK: Petraeus To Withdraw Troops Next Summer Because Of Broken Military, Not ‘Progress’

Mon, 2007-09-10 16:00

In today’s hearing, Gen. David Petraeus suggested that he will withdrawal 30,000 troops from Iraq next summer, citing that “security gains” and future progress due to the escalation have allowed the move:

Based on all this and on the further progress we believe we can achieve over the next few months, I believe that we will be able to reduce our forces to the pre-surge level of brigade combat teams by next summer without jeopardizing the security gains that we have fought so hard to achieve.

The traditional media has largely accepted Petraeus’s spin. The New York Times reported that “the hard-won progress made in Iraq” permitted the withdrawal. “[S]ecurity progress in Iraq should allow” withdrawal next summer, reported Bloomberg. The “President’s troop escalation plan in Iraq had met its military objectives” according to Petraeus, stated ABC.

But in reality, security and political progress in Iraq is nonexistent. Petraeus, who has said he wants to stay in Iraq for 9-10 years, is in fact reducing troop levels next summer because the escalation has overstretched and overburdened the military to its breaking point.

Several current and former Bush administration officials have publicly warned for several months that current troop levels cannot be sustained past next summer:

Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace: Pace “is expected to advise President Bush to reduce the U.S. force in Iraq next year by almost half” and “is likely to convey concerns by the Joint Chiefs that keeping well in excess of 100,000 troops in Iraq through 2008 will severely strain the military.” [8/24/07]

Army Chief of Staff George Casey:
“Right now we have in place deployment and mobilization policies that allow us to meet the current demands. If the demands don’t go down over time, it will become increasingly difficult for us to provide the trained and ready forces.” [8/20/07]

Commanding General Odierno: “We know that the surge of forces will come at least through April at the latest, April of ‘08, and then we’ll have to start to reduce…we know that they will start to reduce in April of ‘08 at the latest.” [8/26/07]

Army Secretary Peter Geren:“[T]he service’s top official, recently said he sees ‘no possibility’ of extending the duty tours of US troops beyond 15 months.” [8/30/07]

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell: “[T]hey probably can’t keep this up at this level past the middle of next year, I would guess. This is a tremendous burden on our troops.” [7/18/07]

The Petraeus spin operation is simply buying more time for an escalation that will ultimately mean more American and Iraqi deaths.

UPDATE: Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) office put out the following fact-check of Petraeus’ testimony here and here. The Speaker’s blog adds more.

UPDATE II: The Center for American Progress produced this pre-buttal video of Petraeus’ testimony that lays out the key myths and facts. Watch it:

Conyers blasts DoJ for cherry-picking U.S. attorney docs.

Mon, 2007-09-10 15:13

In July, Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) and other members of the House Judiciary Committee wrote to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales requesting documents from U.S. Attorney’s offices that participated in prosecutions with political overtones. The Department has refused to turn over most of the documents. Now, Conyers and his colleagues want Gonzales to explain why DoJ is withholding the documents:

Since our original letter, even more evidence has come to light showing an aggressive effort run by White House political operatives to use the machinery of government for partisan advantage and establishing that top members of your staff attended political briefings led by Karl Rove. […]

The few materials that the Department has provided are clearly insufficient. You have offered approximately 350 pages of public pleadings, but even this production has been limited to pleadings that represent the Government’s position in those matters.

We understand that the Committee may obtain publicly filed documents from the courts without the Department’s assistance, but we question the value of the Department selectively providing those few pleadings supporting its arguments but not providing any responsive pleadings or court decisions that present contrary arguments and facts.

REPORT: Petraeus Spent At Least 17 Days In August Flacking For Bush’s Escalation

Mon, 2007-09-10 13:34

The Washington Post reported this weekend that the White House political office and Gen. David Petraeus’ unit have been “hard-wired” together, working jointly to “map out ways of selling the surge.”

The White House has used Petraeus as a PR flack over and over again to sustain its failing Iraq strategy. Last month, Petraeus kicked his political activities into overdrive. He hosted over 38 congressional members inside the Green Zone, and he gave numerous radio, print and TV interviews.

ThinkProgress has compiled a report of Gen. Petraeus’ public activities in August which show that the top general in Iraq spent at least half the month flacking for Bush’s escalation.

Below is calendar of Petraeus’ busy PR operations last month. The red dates are those which we know from media reports that Petraeus was either hosting “dog and pony shows” for members of Congress or giving media interviews. You can scroll over each of the red dates for more details. Please let us know if there’s something we missed.

Petraeus Falsely Claims That Six Months Ago, ‘No One Would Have Forecast’ Anbar’s Success

Mon, 2007-09-10 12:06

Today in his testimony to the House, Gen. David Petraeus cited the reduced violence in the Anbar province as evidence that President Bush’s “surge” is working. He added that it would be “premature” to withdraw U.S. troops now, because in January, “no one would have dared to forecast that Anbar Province would have been transformed the way it has in the past 6 months“:

However, in my professional judgment, it would be premature to make recommendations on the pace of such reductions at this time. In fact, our experience in Iraq has repeatedly shown that projecting too far into the future is not just difficult, it can be misleading and even hazardous. The events of the past six months underscore that point. When I testified in January, for example, no one would have dared to forecast that Anbar Province would have been transformed the way it has in the past 6 months.

Watch it:

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Yet in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Commitee six months ago — just two weeks after Bush first announced his escalation plans — Petraeus admitted that in Anbar, there already appeared “to be a trend in the positive direction where sheikhs are stepping up”:

You’ve seen it, I know, in Anbar province, where it has sort of gone back and forth. And right now there appears to be a trend in the positive direction where sheikhs are stepping up and they do want to be affiliated with and supported by the U.S. Marines and Army forces who are in Anbar province. That was not the case as little as perhaps six months ago, or certainly before that. [Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, 1/23/07]

Bush’s “surge” is not responsible for progress in Anbar. The Sunni sheik who forged the alliance with the Americans “traced the decision to fight al-Qaeda to Sept. 14, 2006, long before the new Bush strategy.” Nevertheless, the Bush administration “dispatched another 4,000 U.S. troops to Anbar to exploit the situation.”

Last week, CNN correspondent Michael Ware also noted that the Sunni insurgency in Anbar offered to work with U.S. troops — not the Iraqi government — to fight al Qaeda in 2003, but the United States rejected the offer. Only “after four years of bloodshed” was the United States “finally ready to accept those terms.”

UPDATE: The Gavel has video of the opening statements by House Armed Services Committee chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) and Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Lantos (D-CA).

Deadline arrives for missing White House emails.

Mon, 2007-09-10 11:51

Today marks a key deadline set by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for the White House to “turn over a report first requested three months ago about the White House’s problems with lost e-mail,” which was “generated by the still-unknown private contractor who claims to have ‘lost’ those 5 million White House e-mails.”

Rumsfeld: Afghanistan Has ‘Been A Big Success!’

Mon, 2007-09-10 10:40

In a new interview with GQ, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld makes it clear that he’s not ready to discuss any of his “regrets.” “I mean you’d always wish things were perfect, but they never are,” he states. One area where he has no regrets is on the war in Afghanistan:

“Look at Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, 28 million people are free. They have their own president, they have their own parliament. Improved a lot on the streets.”

All your theories worked there, in other words.

“It’s been a big success!”

Perhaps in comparison to Iraq, Afghanistan has been a “big success.” But in reality, the country has been abandoned in the war on terrorism:

– Afghanistan’s embattled president, Hamid Karzai, recently said that security in his country had “definitely deteriorated.” A former national security official called it “a very diplomatic understatement.”

– At least 20 Afghans were killed in two suicide bombings today. Such attacks are on the rise, with the Taliban carrying out “103 suicide bombings in Afghanistan in the first eight months of 2007, a 69 percent increase over the same period last year.”

– For the second year in a row, “Afghanistan produced record levels of opium in 2007,” led by a “staggering 45 percent increase in the Taliban stronghold of Helmand Province.”

Despite taking credit for the toppling the Taliban, Rumsfeld had a role in Afghanistan’s deterioration. In Feb. 2002, then Secretary of State Colin Powell proposed that “American troops join the small international peacekeeping force patrolling Kabul and help Karzai extend his influence beyond the capital.” Yet Rumsfeld blocked his proposal. Rumsfeld only “reversed course and cajoled European allies into sending troops” when the situation was clearly spiraling out of control.

When asked by the GQ interviewer whether he misses President Bush, Rumsfeld gave a “wry Rummy smile” and replied, “Um, no.” But he said he still sees Cheney. He also claimed that he continues to receive “hundreds and hundreds” of letters “complimenting” him on his service to the country.

O’Hanlon pushes Iraq line in right wing press tour.

Mon, 2007-09-10 10:27

This morning, Brookings analyst Michael O’Hanlon published a column on National Review Online pre-emptively defending Gen. David Petraeus’ testimony to Congress about Iraq. He followed it up with an appearance on Laura Ingraham’s conservative radio show. As Matthew Yglesias points out, O’Hanlon appears to now be casting “himself out of the broad left-of-center community in favor of becoming a conservative movement propagandist whose salary just happens to be paid by Brookings.”

Petraeus hearing underway.

Mon, 2007-09-10 09:42

Gen. David Petraeus is testifying today before 107 members of Congress all at once. It is a joint hearing of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. All the members will be allowed five minutes to question him. The testimony is being carried live by all three cable networks, and his appearance marks the most high-profile appearance of a war general on Capitol Hill since Gen. William Westmoreland testified on April 28, 1967, that America was making progress in Vietnam. The members were not given an opportunity to see Petraeus’ testimony beforehand.

UPDATE: The AP files its first report: “Gen. David Petraeus went before a deeply divided Congress on Monday, the commander of 165,000 troops heckled and attacked by anti-war critics before he began to speak. ‘Tell the truth, general,’ shouted protesters as the four-star general made his way into the crowded hearing room.”

Washington Times’ McCaslin Gives Platform For Hillary Clinton Death Wish

Mon, 2007-09-10 08:25

Last week, in his Inside the Beltway column, the Washington Times’ John McCaslin printed an anecdote about former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe’s son, Jack. In the story, the youngster accidentally runs into then-First Lady Hillary Clinton with a golf cart at Camp David, causing his father to joke, “What a career wrecker, my son kills the first lady.”

Clinton was not hurt in the incident. But in his column today, McCaslin prints the comment of a reader who wishes she had been killed:

Try, try again?

In our previous column, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe told the story about his young son, Jack, accidentally stepping on the gas pedal of a golf cart instead of the brake and running into then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, sending “her flying.”

Mr. McAuliffe’s immediate concern: “My son kills the first lady.”

Fortunately, Mrs. Clinton was able to pick herself up from the ground at Camp David and dust herself off.

Now, Inside the Beltway has received this shortened, one-sentence letter from Kensington resident Roger Johnson: “To Jack McAuliffe: If at first you don’t succeed …

In the past, McCaslin has taken a much different approach to citizens wishing for the death of public officals. In a 2004 column, titled “Hot Republicans,” McCaslin wrote of a grandmother who had contacted the Secret Service after seeing a woman wearing a “kill Bush” button. McCaslin noted at the time that the Secret Service “frowns upon such expressions of presidential demise, regardless of party or campaign season”:

It’s getting ugly out there.

With less than two weeks before Election Day, Willa Untiedt, a grandmother who lives in Northern Virginia, was in Hancock Fabrics in downtown Vienna to pick up a pattern to make her 5-year-old grandson a red velvet vest.

“Here I am buying thread,” observes Untiedt, “and there is this woman next to me looking at trim who is wearing a button. Now I wear bifocals, so I had to move forward to see this button, and…then I stepped back very quickly. I have learned to keep away from people like that.”

The button read “Kill Bush.”

“She was in my age range,” says Untiedt.

So what did Untiedt do next?

She felt it her civic duty to contact the Secret Service, which frowns upon such expressions of presidential demise, regardless of party or campaign season. The president’s bodyguards went so far as to patch the loving grandmother into Uncle Sam’s new terrorist hot line.

Apparently, when the threat is aimed at Hillary Clinton, McCaslin feels his “civic duty” is to give it a national platform.

You can e-mail McCaslin at [email protected].

Digg It!

Poll: Nearly 70 Percent Of Iraqis Say Escalation ‘Has Worsened’ Their Lives

Mon, 2007-09-10 07:26

In June, outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace argued that U.S. success in Iraq “is not about levels of violence” but that “it’s about progress … in the minds of the Iraqi people“:

What’s most important is do the Iraqi people feel better about today than they did about yesterday, and do they think tomorrow’s going to be better than today? If the answer to those two questions is yes, then we’re on the right path.

By Pace’s own metric, the U.S. is on the wrong path. An ABC/BBC/NHK poll released today shows that since the escalation began, Iraqi opinion has starkly turned against the U.S. occupation, as most Iraqis see “deepening dissatisfaction with conditions in Iraq, lower ratings for the national government and growing rejection of the U.S. role there”:

On the escalation:

65 to 70 percent of Iraqis say the escalation has “worsened rather than improved security.”

78 percent say “things are going badly for the country overall,” up 13 points since winter.

Overall conditions:

39 percent say “their lives are going well,” down from 71 percent in Nov. 2005.

23 percent say things will be better in a year, one-third of the Nov. 2005 level.

23 percent report “effective reconstruction efforts in their local area,” down 10 points since March.

On the U.S. presence:

79 percent oppose the presence of coalition forces, unchanged since winter.

63 percent say it was wrong for the U.S. to have invaded Iraq, up from 52 percent in March and 39 percent in Feb. 2004.

47 percent now favor “immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces,” a 12-point rise since March.

Last week, Bush proclaimed that “normal life is returning” in Anbar, but 74 percent of Anbar residents believe their children’s lives will be worse than theirs. In June, Petraeus said life in Baghdad was showing “astonishing signs of normalcy,” but zero percent of Baghdad residents report feeling “very safe” at home. Overwhelming majorities of those surveyed give negative ratings to electricity, jobs, and access to health care.

RawStory has more.

Clarke: I’d rather kill myself than be Bush’s press secretary.

Mon, 2007-09-10 07:00

In Robert Draper’s new book Dead Certain, he writes that chief of staff Josh Bolten’s first choice to replace Scott McClellan as press secretary was Donald Rumsfeld’s former spokeswoman in the Pentagon, Torie Clarke. Clarke informed Bolten that she would “rather commit suicide” than take McClellan’s job. Bolten’s second choice, Tony Snow, was given the job despite the fact that he “botched his three run-throughs — failing to even recite the White House’s Iraq talking points.”