Thursday, July 28, 2005

Oil and Blood - New York Times

“It is now generally understood that the U.S.-led war in Iraq has become a debacle. Nevertheless, Iraqis are supposed to have their constitution ratified and a permanent government elected by the end of the year. It's a logical escape hatch for George W. Bush. He could declare victory, as a senator once suggested to Lyndon Johnson in the early years of Vietnam, and bring the troops home as quickly as possible.

His mantra would be: There's a government in place. We won. We're out of there.

But don't count on it. The Bush administration has no plans to bring the troops home from this misguided war, which has taken a fearful toll in lives and injuries while at the same time weakening the military, damaging the international reputation of the United States, serving as a world-class recruiting tool for terrorist groups and blowing a hole the size of Baghdad in Washington's budget.

A wiser leader would begin to cut some of these losses. But the whole point of this war, it seems, was to establish a long-term military presence in Iraq to ensure American domination of the Middle East and its precious oil reserves, which have been described, the author Daniel Yergin tells us, as "the greatest single prize in all history."

You can run through all the wildly varying rationales for this war: the weapons of mass destruction (that were never found), the need to remove the unmitigated evil of Saddam (whom we had once cozied up to), the connection to Al Qaeda (which was bogus), and one of President Bush's favorites, the need to fight the terrorists "over there" so we won't have to fight them here at home.

All the rationales have to genuflect before "The Prize," which was the title of Mr. Yergin's Pulitzer-Prize-winning book.

It's the oil, stupid.…”

The point here is that the invasion of Iraq was part of a much larger, long-term policy that had to do with the U.S. imposing its will, militarily when necessary, throughout the Middle East and beyond. The war has gone badly, and the viciousness of the Iraq insurgency has put the torch to the idea of further pre-emptive adventures by the Bush administration.

Dreams of empire die hard. We're dug into Iraq, and the bases have been built for a long stay. The war may be going badly, but there is a tremendous amount of oil at stake, the second-largest reserves on the planet. The global competition for oil reserves intensifies by the hour.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

Reporter Malpractice, Texas Hold-em & the Plame Game

“It's not news that the U.S. has an intelligence agency, and it's not news that some of the agencies employees are double-naught spies. Further, the name of Valerie Plame isn't news, either -- there's nothing about her that makes her identity lede-worthy according to any standards of journalism I've ever seen. (If the agent were, say, Michael Jackson, that might be news, especially in today's Big Media world.)

At this point, there isn't a story in what the contact is offering (the New York Times never ran a story suggesting that this was news); the contact's actions themselves do constitute a story (‘Did White House official violate U.S. law in outing CIA operative?’ is showing serious legs); and finally, the contact has implicated the reporter in an expansive web of intrigue that may result in the reporter going to prison.

This last part is key because it goes to the core of the implicit contract between reporter and source. A great deal of attention has been focused on the misguided idea that naming Whitehouse would violate a sacred trust, but this view misunderstands the responsibilities both parties incur when such an agreement is struck.

When Bob Whitehouse dropped Plame's identity on Miller, he immediately breached his contract with her. An agreement of confidentiality binds both parties, not just the reporter. When the source swears the journalist to secrecy, he/she incurs an obligation to behave ethically, as well. A reporter's good faith oath isn't a license of indenture, and it may not be played in bad faith to place a reporter in undue jeopardy. If Whitehouse breaks that trust, the reporter is no longer under any obligation whatsoever to protect his name.

Miller needed to step back and say “thanks Bob, but no thanks -- you're the story now.” Reporters are obligated to the truth, and allowing themselves to be pimped by those who would use them as tools against the truth is a crime against the profession and the society it serves. Protecting that which you are bound to expose is malpractice.

As somebody who has given and honored his word many times, I can respect that somebody is willing to go to jail rather than do something they see as reflecting on their reputations. But in doing so, you may be acting on a personal principle, not an industry code. The distinction is important.

There are few things in our entire culture that are more essential than the freedoms codified in the 1st Amendment. Press freedom isn't just important to democracy, it's a prerequisite. Further, I'm all in favor of doing anything we can to encourage whistle-blowers in this age of high governmental and corporate kleptocracy. Most editorials and comments I'm seeing this last week or two insist that the Plame case is about just these issues.

I don't buy it. From where I sit, Miller went to jail not to protect the name of a source, but to protect the name of a former source who may be a felon.”

Former Intelligence Officers Hit White House on Plame Leak

Former U.S. intelligence officers criticized President Bush on Friday for not disciplining Karl Rove in connection with the leak of the name of a CIA officer, saying Bush's lack of action has jeopardized national security.

In a hearing held by Senate and House Democrats examining the implications of exposing Valerie Plame's identity, the former intelligence officers said Bush's silence has hampered efforts to recruit informants to help the United States fight the war on terror. Federal law forbids government officials from revealing the identity of an undercover intelligence officer.

"I wouldn't be here this morning if President Bush had done the one thing required of him as commander in chief-- protect and defend the Constitution," said Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst, who calls himself a Republican. "The minute that Valerie Plame's identity was outed, he should have delivered a strict and strong message to his employees."

When they thought it would die down they talked tough, but, when it came back to haunt them they suddenly were ‘helpless’ until the investigation was over.

Apparently, none of them imagined a prosecutor as relentless as Fitzgerald. He just kept dotting the i's and crossing the t's until he had a trail that lead him to the offices of the President and Vice President of the United States. So now, it's time to change the subject…, again…

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Just a Sound Check

“Like it says. This is just a sound check.” ‘’

…It should also help me claim my channel at…

Monday, July 11, 2005


this is an audio post - click to play


It's that day of infamy in December of '41. If you can imagine congress declaring war on torpedo bombers instead of the Japanese, then you're beginning to see the problem I have with the war on terror.

When I watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center, I turned around and said this is Al Qaeda's third attack. I expected immediate action against Bin Laden and the Taliban, but it took months despite nearly every military power on earth offering us their assistance.

An incredible amount of time was wasted trying to link the attacks to Iraq, Iran and even North Korea was dragged into the axis of evil.

In the end we declared war on the tactic instead of the enemy, making Bin Laden's escape at Tora Bora almost inevitable.…

I think it's because too many people can't imagine an attack by anything but a state, but jihads, crusades, and holy wars don't need a state in the traditional way. In any case, Al Qaeda isn't state sponsored terrorism, the Taliban was a terrorist sponsored state.

At some point in the middle ages, I'm told they tried to outlaw archery. They went so far as to hang every archer they came across, but the sanctions didn't end the problem. Only a more effective tactic (guns) succeeded in replacing bows.

The taliban weren't much of a state, and our military is geared up for war with states so we found one, pounded it into the ground, disbanded its army, defeated it in every way possible, while Al Qaeda metastesized throughout the entire Islamic world.

Al Qaeda can be defeated, but, where surgery would have been adequate, we now need chemotherapy and radiation and the patient might not survive. By the way, the patient has a large family that holds grudges, and they've already started planning the malpractice suit.

In the meanwhile, some are declaring success because it's been years since the attack. There were years betwween the embassy attacks and the U.S.S. Cole. Our interests and our servicepeople have been under constant attack. We have self inflicted wounds Bin Laden could only have dreamed of causing as we trade freedoms for “security.”

And the people of Iraq have the vote, but less security, less electricity, less gasoline, less health care, less water, but they're still giving us the benefit of the doubt. But even they aren't going to do that forever.

We've got to demand responsibility from congress, and accountability from the executive, because winning this war can't be a faith based initiative.
Since the London attacks eighteen of our twenty partners in our coalition of the willing and the billing have suffered terrorist attacks. Our soldiers, wounded in Iraq, who die in transit, or on arrival in other countries, aren't properly counted as war dead. This game of let's pretend is costing us dearly. Soon, we'll look in the mirror and won't recognize America at all.
Al Ingram (Updated July 11, 2005)

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Hunting Ambassador Wilson via Valerie Plame?

Rove told MSNBC's Chris Matthews that ValeriePlame, CIA operative and wife of former ambassador Joseph Wilson, was "fair game," according to an October 2003 report in Newsweek.

“This bumper sticker was spotted by Left in SF over the weekend -- disturbingly, on an SUV parked among a crowd of cars out for a gay-pride rally.

These "permits" have been around for awhile now, mostly circulating on the fringes of the far right, but they've been increasingly making their way into broader circulation. One of the Minutemen described in
Andy Isaacson's mash letter to that extremist phenomenon sported just such a sticker on his rig.

The people sporting such stickers, no doubt, will contend that it's just a joke -- as though such a fig leaf could disguise the violent attitudes and beliefs required to find it humorous. Next they'll argue that stickers saying "Hitler Needed to Finish the Job" are just meant to be funny.

This is, of course, just another permutation of the rising tide of
eliminationist rhetoric directed at liberals. It's everywhere -- including now, thanks to Karl Rove, the highest echelons of the Bush administration.

I can't say I was terribly surprised by
Rove's remarks, but they are well worth noting for their precise content:
"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Mr. Rove, the senior political adviser to President Bush, said at a fund-raiser in Midtown for the Conservative Party of New York State.

Citing calls by progressive groups to respond carefully to the attacks, Mr. Rove said to the applause of several hundred audience members, "I don't know about you, but moderation and restraint is not what I felt when I watched the twin towers crumble to the ground, a side of the Pentagon destroyed, and almost 3,000 of our fellow citizens perish in flames and rubble."

...Mr. Rove also said American armed forces overseas were in more jeopardy as a result of remarks last week by Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who compared American mistreatment of detainees to the acts of "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others."

"Has there ever been a more revealing moment this year?" Mr. Rove asked. "Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."”

Mystery of Karl Rove/Matt Cooper Connection Deepens

By E&P Staff

Published: July 08, 2005 10:00 AM ET

NEW YORK The mystery deepened today over top White House aide Karl Rove's involvement in the Plame case and how strongly special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is interested in that. The Washington Post's Dan Balz reports today that Fitzgerald "still appears to want more answers about Rove's role" and apparently is "focused on" his conversations with Time magazine's Matt Cooper, who has now agreed to testify in the matter.

Yesterday The New York Times reported that Cooper’s dramatic reprieve from jail, after his unnamed sourced freed him from their confidentiality agreement, came after he got a personal okay from Rove. At the same time, The Post reported that Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, denied that Rove had called him.

"Yesterday, however," Balz reports, "Luskin declined to comment on a New York Times report that the release came as a result of negotiations involving Rove's and Cooper's attorneys, nor would he speculate that Cooper was released from his pledge in some other fashion than a direct conversation with Rove. 'I'm not going to comment any further,' Luskin said."

Balz also noted that Luskin's previous confirmation that Rove had spoken to Cooper two years ago "appeared at odds with previous White House statements. In retrospect, however, these statements -- which some interpreted as emphatic denials -- were in fact carefully worded."

Rove told MSNBC's Chris Matthews that Valerie Plame, CIA operative and wife of former ambassador Joseph Wilson, was "fair game," according to an October 2003 report in Newsweek. "At a minimum Fitzgerald could turn up embarrassing information that may yet become public about how the Bush White House operates," Balz writes today.

I think no more needs to be said.
Al Ingram
con·cept: July 2005