During a press conference yesterday after President Bush’s briefing on Iraq progress, ABC’s Jake Tapper pressed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to speculate on post-withdrawal from Iraq.
Even though Reid responded and explained that the U.S. should withdraw because Iraqis feel more insecure right now, Tapper refused to back down. Later that night, he produced a segment for ABC’s World News Tonight attacking Reid. Watch it:var flvtapperreid832024014760 = new SWFObject('/wp-content/plugins/flvplayer.swf?file=http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/07/tapperreid8.320.240.flv&autoStart=false', 'em-flvtapperreid832024014760', '320', '260', '6', '#ffffff'); flvtapperreid832024014760.addParam('quality', 'high'); flvtapperreid832024014760.addParam('wmode', 'transparent'); flvtapperreid832024014760.write('flvtapperreid832024014760');
Tapper then wrote a piece for ABC News entitled “Benchmarks and Bickering: Where Are Dems on Iraqi Security?,” stuffed with right-wing rhetoric. He alleged that Reid “refused to discuss whether the United States had a moral obligation to secure the country for Iraqis or even answer questions as to whether withdrawing troops would make the country safer for the tens of millions of Iraqis.”
In fact, as the ABC segment showed, Reid did answer the question, telling Tapper: “It is clear that the Iraqi people don’t want us there. It is clear that there is now a state of chaos in Iraq, and it is up to the Iraqi people to make themselves safe.”
Nevertheless, the Washington Times picked up on the exchange today and reinforced Tapper’s attacks in an editorial titled “They Still Have No Plan“:
Mr. Reid’s response to this very reasonable question was to dodge here, dodge there. … What they [war critics] lack is any compelling rationale for the precipice over which they seek to push Iraq. Congress, do not turn a bloody and difficult stalemate in Iraq into an even bloodier, still more dangerous strategic catastrophe.
These talking points have been refuted time and again. Numerous military and diplomatic analysts argue that withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq would in fact “prevent Iraq’s multiple sectarian conflicts from spreading beyond its borders and gives Iraq and its neighbors the right incentive to help resolve Iraq’s internal conflicts.”
The AP looks at the costs of waiting until September for President Bush’s status report:
While many in Congress are pushing President Bush to alter course in Iraq by September if not sooner, his new status report on the war strongly implies that the administration believes its military strategy will take many more months to meet its goals.
The report cited no specific timeframe, but its language suggests what some U.S. commanders have hinted at recently: The troop reinforcements that Bush ordered in January may need to remain until spring 2008. […]
Between now and September the battle for Baghdad will intensify, likely costing hundreds of American troops’ lives.
Yesterday in an interview with right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) praised President Bush’s policies in Iraq and predicted that Bush will be remembered by historians as a great President:
HEWITT: Oh, that’s fascinating. Last question, how do you think history’s going to evaluate George W. Bush?
LIEBERMAN: Well, I personally believe look, mistakes were made, and I know the polls are down, but I think on the largest issue of our time, which is the rise of Islamist extremism, that he will be judged as a president who saw the threat, and in the midst of an unpopular war, he stuck with it. And so I think overall, over time, his ratings among the historians will be greater than his ratings in the polls today.
Lieberman’s comments echo those by Rush Limbaugh, who in May said, “Long after we’re all dead and gone, when historians who are not yet born begin to write about this era, they’re going to place George Bush in the upper echelon of presidents who had a great vision for America, who looked beyond our shores, who didn’t just restrict himself to domestic policy niceties.”
It’s interesting that now, with the war more unpopular than ever and violence skyrocketing, Lieberman decides Bush is a great president. In contrast, in May 2003, when Lieberman was competing for the Democratic nomination for president, he said the Bush administration “seems to have been unprepared for the quick victory it predicted.” Similarly, in Sept. 2003, Lieberman stated:
I am shocked at how unprepared the Bush administration was for what to do afterward. They’ve left a vacuum which the terrorists, the Saddam loyalists, our enemies, have jumped into.
Rush and Lieberman may not be aware, but historians are already debating Bush’s legacy. In fact, Rolling Stone recently wrote, “Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.”
Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), issued a
subpoena for RNC documents as part of ongoing congressional investigations into U.S. attorney purge. Statement from Conyers:
The White House has been stonewalling this investigation at every turn. We attempted to negotiate terms with the RNC as well as the White House to secure these documents. Yet again, the White House has stepped in to prevent the RNC from turning them over. So, we hope that the RNC - unlike Ms. Miers yesterday - will choose to comply with the legal obligation set out in this subpoena, as opposed to the opinion of the White House.
Also today, Conyers “wrote a follow up letter to Harriet Miers’ attorney informing him that her claims of immunity and privilege had been rejected,” and “could subject her to contempt proceedings.”
UPDATE: Novak says he’s “never going to retire.”
UPDATE II: In his upcoming memoir, Novak discloses that he has “never enjoyed such a good source inside the White House” as Karl Rove.
As the pro-Bush Wichita Eagle on Tuesday called on President Bush to “face reality” and “redeploy” U.S. troops out of Iraq, staunch Bush ally Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) also qualified his support for the war, stating that his support for Bush’s policy is “not locked into concrete: “We have to make some very tough decisions…We can’t continue to be engaged in a war which the American people do not support.”
What if it was “a woman’s world”? What if women made ALL the decisions? If men were their obedient subjects?
These questions and more will be explored when a group of strong, educated, independent women, tired of living in a man’s world and each with a personal axe to grind, rule over a group of unsuspecting men used to calling the shots on WHEN WOMEN RULE THE WORLD. […]
The participants will be brought to a remote, primitive location where the women will have the opportunity to “rule” as they build a newly formed society — one where there is no glass ceiling and no dressing to impress. For the men, their worlds of power and prestige are turned inside-out and upside-down. And for these women, turnabout is fair play! […]
How will the men react? How will the women treat the men? Can women effectively rule society? Will the men learn what life is like for some women in today’s world? Will this new society be a Utopia or a hell on earth? And in the end, who will be man enough to succeed in the new social order?
Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) — whose call for immediate redeployment in Nov. 2005 helped propel a national dialogue about withdrawal — said on CNN yesterday that Bush’s claims of progress are “delusional, to say the least”:
Nothing has gotten better. Incidents have increased. We’ve had more Americans killed in the last four months than any other period during the war. More Iraqis have been killed. Incidents are up. Unemployment is still 40 percent to 60 percent. Oil production is below prewar level. And this — this rhetoric about the constitution and the changes — they say, well, they’re making changes. There’s no changes that have been made.
Watch it:var flvmurthadelusional32024014755 = new SWFObject('/wp-content/plugins/flvplayer.swf?file=http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/07/murthadelusional.320.240.flv&autoStart=false', 'em-flvmurthadelusional32024014755', '320', '260', '6', '#ffffff'); flvmurthadelusional32024014755.addParam('quality', 'high'); flvmurthadelusional32024014755.addParam('wmode', 'transparent'); flvmurthadelusional32024014755.write('flvmurthadelusional32024014755');
Murtha said he sees “more and more people coming around. I’m more optimistic than I’ve ever been that we’re going to start redeployment before long.”
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Murtha how he would respond to the administration’s claims that a withdrawal would embolden al Qaeda to take over Iraq and establish a home base from which to attack America. “They see us as occupiers and they fire up the Sunnis and Shias,” Murtha responded. “As soon as we leave, the Shias and the Sunnis will get rid of Al Qaeda, because they’re such a small group.”
He added the administration has continued “to say for four -and-a-half years there’s progress. So why would I believe that there’s going to be chaos just because they say it?”
In the past six years, the basic principle of openness as the underpinning of democracy has been serious undermined. The Administration has taken an extreme view of the power of the presidency. In its view, its powers to operate are largely unchecked by the Congress, courts, states or the public.
Existing laws on openness have been undermined while secrecy is increased. The Administration has issued executive orders placing limits on the Freedom of Information Act and Presidential Records Act, expanded the power to classify information for national security reasons, and created a whole range of new categories of “sensitive” information. Classification of information has nearly doubled while efforts toward declassification have largely been stopped and many records were secretly reclassified.
Read the full report HERE.
The prominent conservative pundit and lobbyist, Jack Burkman, was outed yesterday when it was revealed that his phone number “appears in the database of phone records of the ‘DC Madam.’” Previously, Wonkette reported allegations that Burkman may have solicited sex from a young woman who later blogged about it on MySpace.
Burkman is running a Google AdWords campaign and website denying allegations that he solicited sex from anyone. “[A]llegations concerning sollicitation [sic] are simply and completely false, driven by a group of left-wing people seeking to intimidate conservatives and independents.” Anyone searching Google for “Jack Burkman” will be shown Burkman’s denial at the top of the page:
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is not surprised by revelations that Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) “patronized brothels and call girls.” In an interview with Capitol News Connection radio service, DeMint said, “I think all of us have to look at it and say, ‘We can be next. … This can be a very lonely and isolating place.’ I’m fairly surprised at how little it does happen.”
Telephone records released by “D.C. madam” Deborah Jeane Palfrey indicate she placed calls that were answered by Sen. David Vitter’s Washington phone on five occasions while Vitter was in the House, from 1999 through 2001. “On four of those five days, the House was in session and Vitter participated in every roll call vote.”
At a Senate confirmation hearing yesterday, President Bush’s surgeon general nominee, James Holsinger, was forced to defend views he expressed in a 1991 paper suggesting that homosexuality is abnormal. He argued the paper has been taken out of context and “does not represent where I am today…who I am today,” Holsinger said. “But he did not spell out his current views, and the controversy has lingered.”
“In an unusual expression of frustration, the judge who sentenced former White House aide I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby to 30 months in jail, only to see the sentence commuted by President Bush, said he was ‘perplexed’ by the act of clemency.”
“Since 2001, more than 22,000 servicemen and women from all branches of the military have been separated under the personality disorder discharge.” ABC News explains, “This diagnosis means the personality disorder existed before military service, and therefore medical care and disability payments are not the military’s responsibility.”
The New York Times challenges Bush’s fear-mongering over al Qaeda in Iraq. “The militant group is in many respects an Iraqi phenomenon. They believe the membership of the group is overwhelmingly Iraqi. Its financing is derived largely indigenously from kidnappings and other criminal activities.” (more…)
For the past four years, President Bush has offered the constant refrain that progress is being made on the ground in Iraq. Americans Against Escalation in Iraq asks, “Senator McConnell: Is This Your Idea of Progress in Iraq?” Watch their ad:
Today on Fox News, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow defended the President’s Initial Benchmark Assessment Report, which argues that the administration is making “progress” in Iraq.
Snow attacked proposals to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, claiming:
To walk out of Iraq right now would plant a seed that ultimately would lead to destabilization there, hundreds of thousands of deaths, loss of our influence in the region, would create instability throughout the Middle East throughout East Asia, throughout Europe. And sooner or later it would come to our shores, to a shopping mall near you.
Watch it:var flvtonyshoppingmallu32024014743 = new SWFObject('/wp-content/plugins/flvplayer.swf?file=http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/07/tonyshoppingmallu.320.240.flv&autoStart=false', 'em-flvtonyshoppingmallu32024014743', '320', '260', '6', '#ffffff'); flvtonyshoppingmallu32024014743.addParam('quality', 'high'); flvtonyshoppingmallu32024014743.addParam('wmode', 'transparent'); flvtonyshoppingmallu32024014743.write('flvtonyshoppingmallu32024014743');
But this doomsday scenario is already playing out in Iraq, worsened by the President’s misguided policies:
– Since Bush announced his surge in January, violence has skyrocketed. Close to 600 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died since January. Military assessments suggest that “the U.S. military’s plan to secure Baghdad against a rising insurgency is falling far short of its goal.” A recent bombing killed over 150 in Baghdad, “one of the deadliest single bombings, if not the deadliest, since the 2003 invasion.”
– The war in Iraq has already destabilized the Middle East and exported terrorism throughout the world. “The rate of fatal terrorist attacks around the world by jihadist groups, and the number of people killed in those attacks, increased dramatically after the invasion of Iraq. Globally there was a 607 percent rise in the average yearly incidence of attacks.”
– The U.S. has already “lost influence” in the region. In a poll of 18 countries, the percentage of “saying that the United States is having a mainly positive influence in the world” dropped 11 points from two years ago, down to just 29 percent. Just 17 percent believe the United States is a stabilizing force in the Middle East.
Furthermore, national security experts recently called the possibility of terrorists following us home after leaving Iraq “remote at best.” Redeploying U.S. forces out of Iraq as quickly as possible would, in fact, enable the United States to better counter the global effects of Bush’s failed strategy.
The phone number of Jack Burkman, a conservative pundit and strategist, “appears in the database of phone records of the ‘DC Madam’” on 1/15/2006. Burkman, a former staffer for Rep. Rick Lazio (R-NY) and a Bush-Cheney ‘04 staffer, recently worked as a lobbyist for groups such as the Family Research Council, Caring To Love Ministries, and America’s Heros of Freedom. Media Matters has more on Burkman here.
In response to former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona’s explosive testimony earlier this week, in which he described how the Bush administration censored him from commenting on key public health issues, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) “announced his plans to introduce legislation to protect the Surgeon General from political interference.” Waxman said, “On key public health issues the Surgeon General has been muzzled. This problem will not solve itself.”
Firefighters: Giuliani Ditched 9/11 Body Recovery 24 Hours After Securing $230 Million In Buried Gold
Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani has regularly touted his leadership in the wake of 9/11 as one of his major selling points. A host of 9/11 responders have alleged, however, that Giuliani provided them with poor radios, misled them into working amidst toxic fumes, and most recently, hastily cleared out the rubble before bodies were all recovered.
Six weeks after 9/11, Giuliani abandoned efforts to recover remaining bodies and buckled to pressure from developers eager to “scoop” the rubble:
The fact is that the Mayor’s switch to a scoop-and-dump coincided with the removal of tens of millions of dollars of gold, silver and other assets of the Bank of Nova Scotia that were buried beneath what was once the towers. Once the money was out, Giuliani sided with the developers that opposed a lengthy recovery effort, and ordered the scoop-and-dump operation so they could proceed with redevelopment.
Yesterday, Harold Schaitberger of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) — the nation’s largest firefighters organization, consisting of 280,000 members — assailed Giuliani, detailing how the mayor ditched body-recovery efforts only 24 hours after recovering the $230 million in gold. “He found the gold on October 31, and on November 1 is when he issued the order to remove the firefighters from their recovery mode.” Watch it:var flvrudygold8732024014736 = new SWFObject('/wp-content/plugins/flvplayer.swf?file=http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/07/rudygold87.320.240.flv&autoStart=false', 'em-flvrudygold8732024014736', '320', '260', '6', '#ffffff'); flvrudygold8732024014736.addParam('quality', 'high'); flvrudygold8732024014736.addParam('wmode', 'transparent'); flvrudygold8732024014736.write('flvrudygold8732024014736');
The IAFF has produced a video entitled “Rudy Giuliani: Urban Legend,” extensively documenting Giuliani’s negligence after 9/11, featuring “active and retired fire fighters, fire officers and families of the fallen speaking out about the ‘Real Rudy,’ his failed leadership and his disrespect for the recovery of those we lost.”
Already, the video has been attacked by the right wing as another form of “Swift Boating.” But as the Carpetbagger noted, “The comparison is ridiculous. The Swiftboat attackers were lying; the International Association of Fire Fighters aren’t.”
(HT: Crooks and Liars)
For the first time in history, a Hindu today delivered the Senate’s morning invocation. But three protestors belonging to the Christian Right anti-abortion group Operation Save America loudly interrupted the invocation, stating, “Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight.” Watch it:
TPM’s Eric Kleefeld spoke with the head of Operation Save America today, who called the Hindu invocation “gross idolatry.”
Today 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.”
The White House achieved its objective of spinning the media’s analysis. The New York Times reports the document as “finding some progress on political and security goals in Iraq.” The Washington Post says progress “has been mixed.” Similarly, the AP finds “mixed progress.”
According to National Security Network (NSN), however, there’s nothing mixed about the situation in Iraq; that is purely White House report spin. The NSN explained, the “benchmarks claimed as ’satisfactory’ … demonstrate minimal progress, not achievement” and “others have been achieved on the surface, but fail to accomplish the overall purpose of the specific measurement.”
The NSN debunks the White House report’s delusional accounts of “progress” in Iraq. Some highlights:
CLAIM: “The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward forming a Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) and then completing the constitutional review.”
FACT: “The Committee was originally scheduled to complete its work by May 15. Instead, it delivered a draft that did not address many of the key issues.” One CRC leader recently said, “We have not committed to doing it by September.” [LINK]
CLAIM: “The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward establishing supporting political, media, economic, and services committees in support of the Baghdad Security Plan.”
FACT: Such public services committees have “had little impact on Baghdad’s population which still lacks access to many basic services like water and electricity.” [LINK]
CLAIM: “The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward providing three trained and ready Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations.”
FACT: According to the Defense Department, “the three brigades that came to Baghdad were understaffed and poorly trained causing a major delay in Baghdad security operations.” Only “one-half to two-thirds” of the promised 330,000 Iraqi security forces have arrived. [LINK]
CLAIM: “The Government of Iraq with substantial Coalition assistance has made satisfactory progress toward reducing sectarian violence…”
FACT: According to the Brookings Institute, “sectarian violence has remained constant despite the ’surge.’” [LINK]
CLAIM: “The Government of Iraq — with substantial Coalition assistance — has made satisfactory progress toward establishing the planned Joint Security Stations in Baghdad.”
FACT: Iraqis living nearby such “Joint Security Stations” say they “feel less safe now, because many of the bases have quickly become magnets for rocket and mortar attacks.” [LINK]
CLAIM: “The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward ensuring that the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature are protected.”
FACT: “The Sunnis — one of the largest and most important minority groups — are currently boycotting the government. [LINK]
Indeed, the President’s assessment is all politics and his conduct — not that of Congress — has been the true “prescription for failure” in Iraq.