Thursday, May 29, 2003

BBC: IRAQ WEAPONS INTEL 'TRANSFORMED' -- A senior British intelligence official has told the BBC that a government report on weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein's Iraq was "transformed" to make it "sexier."
Published last September, the dossier warned that Saddam Hussein had the capacity to activate his biological and chemical weapons in just 45 minutes.
...
The intelligence official told the BBC the dossier had been "transformed" a week before it was published on the orders of Downing Street.

He said: "The classic example was the statement that weapons of mass destruction were ready for use within 45 minutes.

That information was not in the original draft. It was included in the dossier against our wishes because it wasn't reliable.

"Most things in the dossier were double source but that was single source and we believe that the source was wrong."

He said "most people in intelligence" were unhappy about the changes because they "didn't reflect the considered view they were putting forward".
Naturally, the British government denies this, but it appears more and more likely that the American and British people were taken to war with Iraq on a false pretext. One can only hope that Mr Bush and Mr Blair are harshly punished by a righteous public. One can only hope.
BUSH CENSORS 9/11 REPORT -- A classified intelligence report that refers to key failures by the government prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks is being suppressed by the Bush regime. The regime claims the public must not have this knowledge for reasons of national security, but Senator Bob Graham, until recently the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee says the bipartisan report is being kept secret to cover up embarrassing mistakes by the administration.
The PDBs included warnings about possible attacks by Al Qaeda. (One PDB was given at the presidential ranch in Crawford, Texas, on Aug. 6, and dealt with the possibility that Al Qaeda might hijack airplanes.) But an administration review committee overseen by CIA Director George Tenet has refused to declassify anything that even refers to the existence of PDBs—though they are described on the CIA’s own Web site (www.CIA.gov). A U.S. intelligence official said the review committee must consult with the White House before releasing anything. But the official denied charges by Florida Sen. Bob Graham, a Democratic presidential candidate, that Tenet’s review committee was covering up White House embarrassments.
Where's the outrage about this one, too? Keeping this information from the public is disgraceful and deeply unpatriotic. The nation, especially the families of the martyred dead, have a right to know what happend before, during, and immediately after the 9/11 attacks. The public and the press (ha!) must demand this information now--not later.
ORGANIZED OPPOSITION TO U.S. IN IRAQ FORMING -- A new group calling itself the Unification Front for the Liberation of Iraq has been formed to organize resistance to the American occupation of Iraq. Its stated goal is to "liberate the Iraqi territories from foreign occupation," using "all adequate political and military means."

Well, that didn't take long. I wonder when we'll get organized political opposition to the Bush regime back home in America.
BUSH SUPPRESSED REPORT ON DEFICIT NIGHTMARE -- An economic analysis of the federal deficit and the Bush tax cuts reveals that the United States faces constant and acute pressure from an explosion in debt and the impending pension and medical requirements of the Baby Boom generation.
The Bush administration has shelved a report commissioned by the Treasury that shows the U.S. currently faces a future of chronic federal budget deficits totaling at least $44 trillion in current U.S. dollars.

THE STUDY, the most comprehensive assessment of how the U.S. government is at risk of being overwhelmed by the “baby boom” generation’s future healthcare and retirement costs, was commissioned by then-Treasury secretary Paul O’Neill.

But the Bush administration chose to keep the findings out of the annual budget report for fiscal year 2004, published in February, as the White House campaigned for a tax-cut package that critics claim will expand future deficits.

The study asserts that sharp tax increases, massive spending cuts or a painful mix of both are unavoidable if the U.S. is to meet benefit promises to future generations. It estimates that closing the gap would require the equivalent of an immediate and permanent 66 percent across-the-board income tax increase.
...
The study’s analysis of future deficits dwarfs previous estimates of the financial challenge facing Washington. It is roughly equivalent to 10 times the publicly held national debt, four years of U.S. economic output or more than 94 percent of all U.S. household assets. Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve chairman, last week bemoaned what he called Washington’s “deafening” silence about the future crunch.
...
Laurence Kotlikoff, an expert on long-term budget accounting, alleged in a recent Boston Globe editorial that the Bush administration suppressed the research to ease passage of the tax-cut plan.
So there you have it, folks. The Bush regime knows it is dooming the country to chronic deficits and economic instability and it doesn't care. In fact, by pressing ahead with the tax cuts, heedless of the consequences, and suppressing the report that reveals these consequences, the Bush regime seems to intentionally bringing this disaster down on our heads.

Hail to the Chief.
YOUR DAILY DOONESBURY -- Ah, memories.
IF A TREE FALLS IN THE FOREST -- The latest political cartoon from Chris Weyant.
THE BUSH ECONOMY, CONT. -- The economy grew by a paltry 1.9% last quarter. The sad thing is, that exceeded expectations, which hovered around 1.6 percent. The country needs growth of 3.0-3.5% to start creating jobs again and this isn't even close.
WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE? -- The New Republic wonders why the illegal attempt by the White House and Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) to use the federal government against Texas state legislators is not more of a scandal in the Washington press corps. Good question. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that the press vastly prefers Democratic scandals (even non-scandals like Whitewater) to Republican scandals. Also, this one doesn't involve Bill Clinton's sex life, so it is difficult for the Washington press corps to maintain any interest in the subject.
KERRY LEADS ALL DEMS NATIONWIDE -- It's a close race among Democrats right now and the first real battles have not been fought, but so far my boy Senator John Kerry (D-MA) is top of the head in a new Time/CNN poll. Senator Kerry leads everyone with 14% support. Rep. Gephardt (D-MO) and Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) are just behind at 13 percent.

That doesn't seem to good for Senator Lieberman, considering he's got far more name recognition than any other Democrat in the race. What's more, Senator Lieberman's support in this poll has dropped from 21% in January 2003 to 13% now. Rep. Gephardt has stayed even and Senator Kerry has improved several points. Senator John Edwards (D-NC), Senator Bob Graham (D-FL) and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean are all languishing in single digits, behind Reverand Al Sharpton. That isn't good.
MMMM, DRINK UP! -- A corpse stuck in a main water supply pipe has left millions of Manila residents with a bad taste in their mouth.

The body of a male teenager got jammed in the Philippine capital's water system after the 19-year-old drowned last Saturday when he fell into an aqueduct while picking fruit from a tree. Since then, authorities haven't been able to dislodge the decaying corpse.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

THE CLINTON WARRIOR -- Sidney Blumenthal's new book "The Clinton Wars," which I'm devouring now, has attracted a lot of negative attention from the right-wing media and those journalists, like Michael Isikoff, who immersed themselves most deeply in the rank and fetid pool of fantastical anti-Clinton scandal-mongering during the 1990s. The Washington Post, one of the most credulous of the "neutral" media sources, has been particularly harsh. Of course, it might have something to do with the fact that Mr Blumenthal rightly and repeatedly skewers The Post's for its almost criminally incompetent and dishonest coverage of the Whitewater non-scandal and its appendages. However, a better and more accurate review may be foundhere, at The Washington Monthly.
Whatever their view of Blumenthal or the president he served, inside-the-Beltway skeptics should remember that for the most part, when it came to the motives and goals of the conservative movement, the Tim Russerts, Susan Schmidts, and so many other "neutral" reporters were wrong, and Sidney Blumenthal was right.
I suspect that only the passage of some time will permit the media and the public to understand and accept the truth of what people like Sidney Blumenthal and Joe Conason have been writing about the right-wing scandal machine of the Clinton years. As the current generation of scribes you shamed themselves during the 1990s is replaced by a different corps, the era will be viewed more properly and accurately by the media.

Just don't ever expect an apology from The Washington Post or The New York Times or the dozens of other elite sources that screwed up the Clinton "scandals" so royally. It'll never happen. At least not officially. Of all the many sins of the Washington press corps, pride is second only to ignorance.
OKAY, HERE'S WHY WE REALLY DID IT -- Been wondering why in the hell we really invaded Iraq? Well, you're not alone. Fortunately, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is around to explain it all to us.
For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on," Wolfowitz was quoted as saying in Vanity Fair magazine's July issue.

No chemical or biological weapons have been found in Iraq despite repeated assertions by President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair before the March 20 invasion that the threat posed by Saddam's vast stocks of banned weapons warranted a war to eliminate them.
Hard to believe our European allies doubted us, isn't it?
KERRY LEADS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE -- Senator John Kerry (D-MA), my choice for president, is currently leading the Dem pack in New Hampshire, according to the latest American Research Group poll. Twenty six percent of New Hampshire voters favor Kerry. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean receives support from 19% of likely Democratic primary voters. Congressman Dick Gephardt and Senator Joe Lieberman each receive support from 12 percent.
THE DEAN IS GRUMPY -- And who can blame him? The economy is in a mess, states are laying off teachers, and Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy have exploded the deficit to previously unseen heights. It's a sad state of affairs and Mr Broder seems to finally realize it. Too bad that during the 2000 election he and his ilk were more concerned with the color of Al Gore's clothing than with the disastrous implications of Mr Bush's fiscal policies. Do you think Mr Broder feels bad about it? Neither do I.
DRUNKEN LOUT WITH DOUBT -- Looks like Christopher Hitchens is a bit concerned about Mr Bush's New Iraq Order.
YOUR DAILY DOONESBURY -- Bush knows where Asia Minor is?

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

KRUGMAN STATES THE OBVIOUS -- And finds that, little by little, others are willing to state the obvious, too.
"The lunatics are now in charge of the asylum." So wrote the normally staid Financial Times, traditionally the voice of solid British business opinion, when surveying last week's tax bill. Indeed, the legislation is doubly absurd: the gimmicks used to make an $800-billion-plus tax cut carry an official price tag of only $320 billion are a joke, yet the cost without the gimmicks is so large that the nation can't possibly afford it while keeping its other promises.

But then maybe that's the point. The Financial Times suggests that "more extreme Republicans" actually want a fiscal train wreck: "Proposing to slash federal spending, particularly on social programs, is a tricky electoral proposition, but a fiscal crisis offers the tantalizing prospect of forcing such cuts through the back door."

Good for The Financial Times. It seems that stating the obvious has now, finally, become respectable.
How long will it take for the rest of the media to catch up to Paul Krugman and the FT editorial board? The Bush regime is the most reckless and fiscally irresponsible administration since at least time of President Herbert Hoover. It's obvious. So state it.
SURPRISE, SURPRISE -- Bush regime assurances in March that Mr Bush still had not made up his mind whether or not to attack Iraq (or had Mr Cheney make his mind up for him) were lies. In fact, the Bush regime determined in December 2002 to go to war against Iraq. The French sensed this and adjusted their skeptical, but friendly attitude to one of outright opposition.

It appears French President Chirac isn't backing down either, in spite of his appeals for western unity. "A war that lacks legitimacy does not acquire legitimacy because it has been won," the French president told the FT in a report published on Monday.
U.S. ALLY BOILS OPPONENTS ALIVE -- Yeah, you read that correctly. Our ally, President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, hosted by Mr Bush and recipient of $500 million of aid a year, has an atrocious human rights record that includes damn near any brutality you'd never like to imagine.
Independent human rights groups estimate that there are more than 600 politically motivated arrests a year in Uzbekistan, and 6,500 political prisoners, some tortured to death. According to a forensic report commissioned by the British embassy, in August two prisoners were even boiled to death.
...
Craig Murray, the British ambassador to Uzbekistan, said: "The intense repression here combined with the inequality of wealth and absence of reform will create the Islamic fundamentalism that the regime is trying to quash."

Another senior western official said: "People have less freedom here than under Brezhnev. The irony is that the US Republican party is supporting the remnants of Brezhnevism as part of their fight against Islamic extremism."
This is exactly right. We're going to create another Iranian Revolution by supporting this sort of nonsense and when angry students storm over the walls of the U.S. embassy in Uzbekistan and furious Uzbeks drive truck bombs into our buildings, clueless Americans and a supine media will once again be asking: "Why do they hate us?"

This is why, dummies.
FRITZ WILL RIDE AGAIN -- Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) will seek re-election next year. He's 81.
"I'd like to beat the hell out of the Republicans," Hollings told Gannett News Service. "Right now, I'm scheduled to (run).
Amen, old bro'!
PVT JESSICA LYNCH RESCUE: TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE? -- Three House Democrats want to know the truth.
NY POST ADMITS ITS OWN PLAGIARISM CASE -- Rupert Murdoch's right wing tabloid The New York Post has been flailing away at the New York Times for the Jayson Blair plagiarism case, but must now admit its own screw-up.
After kicking the stuffing out of the New York Times over the Jayson Blair fiasco, the New York Post has acknowledged its own brazen act of plagiarism.

Freelancer Robin Gregg has admitted that he lifted a May 15 story that Wal-Mart was dropping Kathie Lee Gifford's sportswear line almost verbatim from the National Enquirer. Says Editor in Chief Col Allan: "We were deceived by Mr. Gregg and he will never contribute to the Post again."
Think this one will be blamed on white people getting jobs they don't deserve?
AUSSIE: U.S. INTELLIGENCE POLITICIZED -- It won't come as a shock to anyone paying attention to current affairs for the past year or so, but U.S. intelligence agencies have been seriously politicized by the Bush regime during the run-up to the Iraq War. So says Mr Andrew Wilkie, who resigned in March from the Office of National Assessments (ONA) over Australia's likely involvement in an Iraq war.
The U.S. information was faulty because there was a lot of political pressure to come up with a smoking gun," Wilkie told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"I think the U.S. agencies were also misinformed by disinformation that people in Iraq were wanting to pass to the U.S. to encourage the U.S. to intervene."
Hmmm. I wonder when the Liberal Media will pick up on this one?
DAILY DOONESBURY -- Our silly Caesar welcomes his ol' college drinking buddies to the White House.
U.N. OFFICIAL IN IRAQ WARNS OF ANTI-AMERICANISM -- The senior U.N. humanitarian official in Iraq, Mr Ramiro Lopes da Silva is warning of an alarming increase in anti-Americanism in Iraq, as a result of decisions such as the demobilization of 400,000 Iraqi troops, who have no jobs waiting for them at home. Mr da Silva accused the U.S. of acting according to the dictates of "ideology," rather than according to the facts on the ground. There has been "talk about grandiose plans and a lot of promises but there were no decisions," said Mr da Silva.

The Bush regime and its defenders in the media, no doubt, will denounce this warning as just another sign of wishy-washy internationalism from the U.N. So, is there evidence to support Mr da Silva's warning? Well, how about renewed fighting in Iraq that has taken four American lives over the last 24 hours?

As I and others have repeatedly warned, the Bush regime is about to lose the peace--the successful reconstruction of Iraq--after claiming credit for the victories of our troops during the Iraq War. Will the American media, which knows of this risk, begin to report honestly about it? Don't bet the farm.
A BULL IN A CHINA SHOP -- Literally.
KANGAROOS 'NEARLY ENDANGERED' -- A severe drought has caused starvation of kangaroos by the millions and the desperate animals are increasingly invading urban and surburban turf in their quest for food.