Thursday, June 30, 2005

Why Don't We Seal the Syrian Border?

As usual, Steve Sailer (Best blog? Could be.) provides excellent insight on something you probably never even thought of.

We know how to seal borders, so why don't we seal the one between Syria and Iraq?

Steve puts forth four possible reasons here.

The bottom line is that Bush Inc. wants more conflict not less.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Juan Cole on Bush Speech

Juan Cole exposes the bush speech for what it is here.

He points on that Bush uses the war on terror terminology ("war on method") to blur the issue with regard to who we are fighting and who has attacked us. Are we fighting everyone who uses terrorism or are we attacking the particular group of people who used terrorism against us?

If we are really fighting all terrorism all over the world then we are failing to discuss a lot of terrorism that is going on outside the Middle East. I wonder why?

Monday, June 27, 2005

Open Thread

Still in Europe so lets try this.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Iraq Army a Tool for Invading Iran?

[Brian - If true, these folks have lost all touch with reality.]

Leslie Gelb,Council on Foreign Relations, says looks like to him that Iraqis will be used as conscripts in fight against Iran. Guess we can all ponder on why he made this statement public. Perchance Isrmerica is scaring even itself ..or Iran.

From the Boston Globe:

A former Pentagon official, journalist, and president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Leslie Gelb, a man with considerable political and military knowledge, came back from a fact-finding trip in Iraq.

In a report to the council, Gelb was scathing about America efforts to train an Iraqi army. ''If you ask any Iraqi leader, they will tell you these people can't fight. They just aren't trained. And yet we're cranking them out like rabbits." As for plans to train a 10 division Iraqi army by next year, Gelb was scathing. ''It became very apparent to me that these 10 divisions were to fight some future war against Iran. It had nothing to do, nothing to do," with taking Iraq over from the Americans and fighting the insurgents.[Would like to learn more about this!]

Americans have statistics for everything in Iraq, yet little of it reflects reality. ''The information seeps in, and you wonder" about its reliability," Gelb said. " You wonder if you really know what's going on, because essentially what you have are the statistics. It reminds me so of the Vietnam days."

Taken from comment by 'r'.

Link to Boston Globe

Out of Country

I am staying is a small town in Europe and my internet access is much worse that I expected.

Posting will be very light this week.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Market Doubting Bolton Confirmation

Tradesports has Bolton's confirmation chances dropping fast. Down from 80% to a little less than even money.

This will be a huge embarassment to the Bush administration.

I assume a recess appointment does not count as confirmation, but a non-confirmed Bolton at the UN will be damaged goods IMHO so I don't think Bush will take that step.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Rapture Crapture

As I have said before, Jewish people are not synonymous with the pro-Israel crowd or their friends the Israel-at-all-costs crowd. There are Christian groups (mostly Southern Baptist?) that have also decided the return of Jews to Israel is an important goal.

I believe the view of these Christian groups has something to due with "Rapture" and the belief that bringing the Jews back to Israel will cause the Rapture to take place. I gather that the Rapture is a good thing if you are a Christian.

My description of the Rapture concept is probably not completely accurate, but the point is these religious groups have allowed their interpretation of the Bible to affect their politics in a way that I don't think is good for the United States (and maybe not for Israel either).

So, I would ask anyone who believes the Rapture is comming to visit the Lighthouse World Ministries, which interprets the bible based on the Greek text, not the English translation. Based on the Greek text the Lighthouse Ministry believes this modern day interpretation of the Rapture is completely wrong.

More particularly the head of this ministry, John Anderson, believes:

[T]hat the "end times" prophecies in question were fulfilled by 70 AD with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. The modern idea of the Rapture, he believes, is not actually in scripture, and is misinterpreted or mistranslated and was first popularized in the 1830's, and more recently in the Left Behind books. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that people are going to fly off the Earth, he added.

We also learn that:

Anderson was critical of Rapture doctrine as he believes it can drive America's foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, and cause serious problems in that regard. [...] Anderson [thinks] that the Antichrist is not one person, but many that are already here. [Any ideas who that group of people might be GIR readers???]

Let's hope that Rev. Anderson can get his message out.

Link to Coast to Coast AM (I am a poor sleeper).

New Links

I've added two new permanent links.

The first link is the Fritz Hollings article on the pressure to invade Iraq from the Israel at all costs crowd. It is worth reading just because he points out that Bush knew Iraq and Al Qaeda were not related.

The second link is a Juan Cole post that shows just how disingenuous Paul Wolfowitz was when the US was deciding whether to invade Iraq.

Juan Cole first documents that Wolfowitz wanted to invade Iraq instead of Afghanistan right after 9/11. Can you imagine? We would be bogged down in Iraq AND Osama would still have a host country from which to plan and orchestrate more terrorism against the US.

Juan also documents Wolfowitz's stupefyingly inaccurate testimony to congress regarding the ease with which Iraq would be occupied. It is shocking.

If we assume Wolfowitz is not an idiot, then why would he advocate such misguided actions? Well, invading Iraq would be consistent with the policies set forth in the Clean Break paper, no?

So, we have statements of motive made in the Clean Break paper by Wolfowitz‘s close associates, followed by actions consistent with those statements that can‘t reasonably be explained by other motives. That's called corroborating evidence.

And they are trying it again with Iran.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Will they Bomb without Bolton in the UN?

It is clear the big push to Bomb Iran is on. The Washington Times has three op-eds on Iran today.

The first editorial claims the Iranian elections are a sham. Well, they are not perfect, but there are lots of countries with elections that are as bad or worse, many of whom we claim as allies. Why engage Iran now? Why not allow normal relations and trade to "open up" Iran as we do with China?

The second editorial (written by Nir Boms, an Israeli) calls for strong pressure against Iran's nuclear program. But Nir, isn't North Korea further along with their nuclear program than Iran? Isn't North Korea physically much closer to the US and therefore doesn't it pose a much greater threat to the US? On whose behalf are you demanding action against the Iranian nuclear program?

The third editorial paints the Iranian government as oppressive and wants us to remove the MEK from the terrorist organization list. But there are lots of oppresive governments out there. I am also sure there are many other places where we could help more people using fewer dollars and American lives than Iran.

So, there you have it. Three carefully timed editorials by people who have interests other than yours in mind, and who want to pull you into another conflict in the Mideast.

Just say no to that snake oil.

Link to Sky News

Did Bush Lie to Congress?

Do I think there is any chance Bush will be impeached? No.

Am I impressed, however, with the momentum building behind the "Downing Street memo?" Yes, actually.

From an article in the Baltimore Sun:

[T]he Downing Street minutes and other recently leaked documents illustrate that the intelligence was wrong by design.[Yup] The documents show officials at the apex of the government of our closest ally confirming among themselves what were the darkest suspicions about the Iraq war among ordinary Americans.

The evidence suggests that Mr. Bush has lied to Congress and to the American people about the justifications for war. It includes a formal letter and report that he submitted to Congress within 48 hours of launching the invasion in which he explained the need for the war in terms that appear to have been intentionally falsified, not mistaken.

Lying to Congress is a felony. Either lying to Congress about the need to go to war is a high crime, or nothing is.

Best of luck to them.


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Who's Dying for Whom

CBS News has a heart wrenching report on families that are destroyed by each death in Iraq.

A roadside bomb in Iraq killed Frank's husband, Capt. Stephen Frank. Now, alone with their 2-year-old son, she is broken-hearted beyond words.


The bomb that killed Stephen Frank also took the life of Capt. Jay Harting, whose family lives just around the corner and down the street from Laurel Frank.

Jennifer Harting is left with three small children. The baby, Warren, was born two weeks premature.

These soldiers did their job. The took Iraq in a matter of days. Only the deception and incompetence of the neocon scum and their keyboard lackies like Glenn Reynolds keeps these solders in Iraq. That is the only reason these kids will never know their fathers.

We should have never gone into Iraq in the first place, but when we knew the truth about WMD we should have left immediately. There is no need for even one more US death.

It is particularly sad that they are dying for zelots like this:

New Israeli families take root in doomed West Bank settlement

Just horrible.

Link to CBS News

Douglas Feith and Betar

We know that Douglas Feith was one of the authors of the "Clean Break" paper generated for the Likud party in 1996. We also know that he is law partners with an Israeli settler.

What I was not aware of, but which was listed in a previous GIR post, is that his father, Dalck Feith, was active in a territorial maximalist group called "Betar". Betar is a 'revisionist Zionist' group that has youth/campus organizations in the US and UK.

Betar - The love of the entire land of Israel. Betar supports the concept of a Jewish state with a Jewish Majority in its biblical-homeland. The entire land of Israel as given to the Jewish people by G-d with it's eternal capital Jerusalem. We therefore wholeheartedly support the settlement of all of Israel including Judea, Samaria, Gaza and the Golan Heights, and support the rights of all Jews to live anywhere in Israel.

If you go through the Betar website it is clear this is an extreme organization. One has to wonder if Douglas attended these "camps" as a child?

Either way, it is just beyond the pale that a man with these associations went on to become the number three man at the Pentagon in charge of gathering information about Iraq during the build up to the invasion. It would have been difficult to find anyone more bias.

We know the results. Feith formed the Office of Special Plans (OSP) which generated the WMD data on Iraq that we now know to be false. This led us to invade Iraq and cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars and seventeen hundred (1700) American lives with no end in sight.


More on Betar from this source:

Dalck Feith was a militant in Betar, a Zionist youth movement founded by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, an admirer of Mussolini. Betar, whose members wore dark brown uniforms and spouted militaristic slogans modeled after other fascistic movements, was associated with the Revisionist Movement, which evolved in Poland to become the Herut Party, which later became the Likud Party.

People would laugh if you tried to pass this off as plausible fiction. Unfortunately, it is reality.

Bolton Losing Ground

Quick hit from the Washington Post:

A key Democratic senator warned yesterday that the Bush administration may be losing ground in its bid to confirm John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations, as the White House continued to rebuff Democrats' request for documents related to the nominee.

This nomination is on the ropes. It will be very good news if the Bolton nomination is prevented. The Bush administration will look very weak.

Washington Post

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Coast to Coast AM

I was just listening to Coast to Coast AM, which is a late night talk radio show that deals with everything from UFOs to physics. The show is pure entertainment and nothing that comes out of it should be taken seriously, although it does have reputable guests from time to time.

In this particular show the guest was John Weisman, who is billed as "CIA expert and best selling author," so the topic of Iraq was on the table.

There was a very interesting call about 30 minutes into the show. The caller nailed John W. with a question about the "Clean Break" paper, the OSP, Larry Franklin and the well worn path between Likud and the Pentagon. It was fanstastic. It was like he was a GIR reader!

John Weisman choked on his answer for twenty seconds before placing the blame on Chalabi.(?) Pretty Sad.

Kudos to that caller. Every little bit helps.

The audio for the show can be found here.

Bolton Update Coming Tuesday

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Frist and McCain will hold a press availability to discuss the nomination of John Bolton, to be Ambassador to the United Nations.



The Washington Note has a summary of the press conference here. Really just another call for an vote on the floor. Frist and McCain are just being good soldiers for the President.

The most interesting observation is the comment that the Republicans are simply setting up justification for a recess appointment which would take place sometime in July.

Mosear Caned?

Xymphora has an excellent post on what we know and don't know about the 9/11 hijackers.

Most interesting are:

1) the passenger manifest has not been released even today.
2) CNN initially provided a name (Mosear Caned) that is not listed anywhere today.

While I don't subscribe to the typical 9/11 conspiracy theories, the lack of basic information regarding the events of 9/11 is surprising, and gives ample opportunity for the conspiracy theories to thrive.


If we are in Iran this must be June

Looks like the MEK is trying to stir things up in Iran.


Iran has blamed US-backed terrorists from Iraq for a series of bomb attacks in a province on their border and in the capital Tehran.

At least eight people were killed and 75 injured in a series of four blasts in the capital of the oil rich and ethnically divided province of Khuzestan, and two were killed and three wounded in a busy square in the capital Tehran.

So nice of them to provide another excuse to start the bombing of Iran, which appears to be running behind schedule.


Larry Franklin Indictment

As you probably know, Larry Franklin was indicted for leaking classified military information to an employee of an unnamed lobby group (AIPAC).

Fom Haaretz:

Five charges of the six-count indictment accuse Franklin of conspiring to disclose national defense and classified information to people not authorized to receive it, including information about potential attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq. One count accuses him of conspiring to communicate the information to an agent and representative of a foreign government. The indictment was handed down on May 26, but not unsealed until Monday.

It goes on:

Franklin, a 58-year-old Air Force Reserve colonel who once worked for the Pentagon's No. 3 official, Douglas Feith, pleaded innocent to all counts at the hearing in the federal court Monday. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis set a September 6 trial.

Franklin is 58 years old and facing up to (10) ten years.


The indictment is located here.


Tom Oliphant

Monday, June 13, 2005

Phase II of Intelligence Investigation

There are many Republicans who are concerned about the war and, in particular, how it will affect their chances for reelection should the public turn sour on it. This is particularly true in the Senate.

Lucky for them, another opportunity exists to identify those were responsible for pulling us into this costly and unproductive war. In particular, there will be a Phase II investigation by Senate Select Committee on Intelligence regarding what went wrong with the intelligence gathering during the build up to invading Iraq. (We hear at GIR II know exactly what went wrong.)

What is interesting is that:

The "office of special plans (OSP)" was off limits to Phase I [Why?] of the committee. People should be pushing hard for Phase II and contacting the chair of that committee republican Senator Pat Roberts and the co-chair Democratic Senator Rockefeller.

Yes, people should be pushing very hard. This is something that both congress and the media should be contacted about.

TRACEBACK<0> Senate Investigation Committe Drops Iraq Intel Investigation


Drums Beating Louder

From the generally pro-war World Net Daily, Vox Day writes we should "End the Charade". This is good news. The drum beat to get US out of Iraq continues to grow.

The Vox Day article is so concisely written that it is hard to separate anything out, so you should read the entire thing yourself. However, the first two paragraphs give you a taste of the entire piece:

The cognitive dissonance required to believe the Bush administration is approaching critical mass. Some semblance of victory in the War on Method has been declared at least four times that I recall, and yet American troops are still being murdered on a weekly basis in free and democratic Iraq.

The armed forces are now reduced to lying about who killed its poster boys, putting its own troops on trial and revising its recruitment targets to disguise the fact that no amount of media triumphalism suffices to convince most young Americans that extending the Pax Americana to the Middle East is worth death by improvised explosive device.

I love the "War on Method" idea. Declaring a war on "terror", which is just a method for conflict, is rather silly when you think about it.

We also see that our old friend Walter Jones (R-House) received some national coverage this week on "This Week", promoting the latest bill to establish a time table for leaving Iraq.

A Republican congressman who voted for the
Iraq war said Sunday that "we've done about as much as we can do" in the country and that the reason for invading Iraq has proven false.

Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina will be among the lawmakers introducing legislation this week calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops in Iraq.

"When I look at the number of men and women who have been killed — it's almost 1,700 now, in addition to close to 12,000 have been severely wounded — and I just feel that the reason of going in for weapons of mass destruction, the ability of the Iraqis to make a nuclear weapon, that's all been proven that it was never there," Jones said on ABC's "This Week."

And finally, from bella ciao we see that the "Downing Street Memo" continues to create buzz on the internet:

Six weeks ago The Sunday Times published the leaked minutes of a July 2002 Downing Street meeting in which Tony Blair committed Britain to war in Iraq months before parliament was consulted.


By any standards these were fascinating revelations. Nothing, however, could have prepared us for what a worldwide impact the story would have. More than a month later it still features in the daily top 10 most popular stories on our website, with 330,000 people estimated to have logged on to read it.

Also, the Bolton nomination is falling off the radar screen and the Republicans will lose this battle unless they make a move.

The momentum seems to be with the antiwar folks, for now. As with any good scrum, however, any attempt to stop push will be disastrous.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Israel, an American Value?

Nice summary of the myths and realities of the US' relationship with Israel here.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Democrats Playing Cards Well

It is already the 8th day of June and a) no bombs have been dropped on Iran, and b) John Bolton has not been confirmed as ambassador to the UN. Perhaps the two items are related, no?

I didn't think the Democrats would be able to juggle both the Bolton nomination and the various other judicial nominations for so long, but so far they are hanging tough. They have to be careful, but so far they have held up the appointment without looking obstructionist by simply demanding certain additional information.

From Reuters:

Democrats insist the administration turn over e-mails and other internal communications leading up to testimony Bolton gave Congress on Syria's weapons. They also want some access to classified National Security Agency intercepts sought by Bolton that contain the names of Americans.

"This is now beyond Mr. Bolton. It's about whether the Senate should have a right to certain information pertaining to a nominee," said Sen. Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat.

I also note that every the pro-war Lieberman is holding firm on the demand for additional background information on Bolton.

The demands from the Democrats are plausible enough that they will not get much heat from the public. The Bush admin will be forced to either play ball or pull the nomination. Either scenario is good for the antiwar effort.


Some of the People Some of the Time

Looks like the American people are wising up. Nearly 6 in 10 think the war was not worth fighting. A majority think it has not made us any safer.

From the Washington Post:

Nearly three-quarters of Americans say the number of casualties in Iraq is unacceptable, while two-thirds say the U.S. military there is bogged down and nearly six in 10 say the war was not worth fighting -- in all three cases matching or exceeding the highest levels of pessimism yet recorded. More than four in 10 believe the U.S. presence in Iraq is becoming analogous to the experience in Vietnam.

Perhaps most ominous for President Bush, 52 percent said war in Iraq has not contributed to the long-term security of the United States, while 47 percent said it has. It was the first time a majority of Americans disagreed with the central notion Bush has offered to build support for war: that the fight there will make Americans safer from terrorists at home. In late 2003, 62 percent thought the Iraq war aided U.S. security, and three months ago 52 percent thought so.

I had family over last week and I tried, ever so gently, to explain my opposition to the war. It was difficult in two ways.

First, I had to explain to one family member already opposed to the war that it was not about oil, but rather about a group of fanatic Israel supporters pushing us into the war to "Secure the Realm". Not an easy task, but I printed out the "Clean Break" and highlighted the relevant sections. I also explained that John Bolton is a member of JINSA and that at least one of the originators of the Clean Break paper was also a member of JINSA. I think I started to connect the dots.

Convincing other pro war relatives was more difficult, but explaining that the war was not in the best interests of the US was the most effective method. I think I started to place the seeds of doubt.

Since the mainstream media won't tackle these issues head on, the use of slow, gentle and persistent pursuastion is a tool you must continue to use.

Washington Post Link.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Iraq Won't Get Better Anytime Soon

The "War Nerd" explains what is going on in Iraq:

Funny thing happened in Iraq: the war came back. Just when we were settling into the national pastime of premature high fives with purple-stained thumbs, the place blew up again. Car bombs, assassinations, and a big, Nam-style sweep by the Marines in Anbar province near the Syrian border, complete with body counts and PR officers claiming they'd "flushed out the insurgents" once and for all.


It's par for the course in guerrilla war. What we're seeing now is a stage every guerrilla war goes through: the leaner, meaner insurrection. It's all about learning: learning by seeing your buddies blown up.


What happened in those eight months is that the invincible invaders turned into occupiers, and the locals started to see what dummies they were when it came to running the neighborhood. [...] [W]hen the Iraqis saw how easy it is to blow up a convoy, everybody wanted to help throw out the invaders. So you got a sort of "rainbow coalition" insurgency -- room for everybody! Climb on board the bandwagon!

Botton Line: We have made a lot of mistakes, and we don't seem to be doing the things necessary to correct them. The situation in Iraq will continue along the current path for a while.

War Nerd

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Shared Values?

You often hear that Israel and the US have "shared values" and that shared values are a basis for the strong support for Israel by the US.

But, just how shared are the values between the US and Israel really?

One obvious difference between Israel and the US is their religious and secular nature, respectively. This difference manifests itself in many ways including, for example, that Jews cannot be married to non-Jews in the state of Israel.

Not much value sharing there, as these types of policies are offensive to an American sensibility.

More recently, the "Trojan Horse" software spying incident in Israel makes us wonder just what the national character of Israel is. As we hear from the Forward:

The most startling aspect of the case was the scale of the operation. It involved dozens of companies in a range of fields. All of them allegedly had bought illegally obtained information about their rivals' plans and strategies.


Over the next three days, close to two-dozen top businessmen and private investigators were arrested or called in for questioning. The parade of top executives into police headquarters — one Ha'aretz reporter said the fraud unit "looked like a business convention" on Monday — prompted bitter media comments about the general state of morality, standards and law abiding in Israel as a whole.[Emphasis added]

Whether it is human trafficking, money laundering, or, as in this latest case, industrial espionage, Israel seems to have a criminality problem, which is very troubling when combined with their reluctance to extradite.

Given this, one has to wonder if the US and Israel really do have a substantial set of shared values, or if such a thing would even be desirable from a US point of view.

Link to Forward Article.

Techniques to Silence Debate

Techniques to Silence Debate

Michael Scheuer wrote a piece "Toward a Sensible Israel Policy" a while back (March 22, to be precise). I is a good piece, but here is a passage that is worth a quote:

history holds few instances where an important area of foreign policy debate in a Great Power has been stifled by a small, faraway, and friendly country. Through magnificent lobbying efforts, suborning American citizens to serve as its spies, the negative impact of dual citizenship, and playing on unjustified U.S. feelings of guilt about the Holocaust – America and its allies, after all, utterly annihilated the Holocaust's perpetrators – Israel and its American supporters have made discussing the issue of Israel difficult and politically dangerous in the United States. A term that is never defined as "hate speech" is the epithet "anti-Semite," which is so often hurled at Americans by Americans to preempt debate on the U.S.-Israeli relationship.[Emphasis Added]

There is a lot of truth in this paragraph.

We have already seen the anti-Semite blast used against Pat Buchanan and Robert Novak on this blog. It is certainly a lot easier than debating the issues.

You can also see the groudwork being laid for finding anti-Semitic motivations for the Franklin investigation at the FBI.