GOP Leadership Tries to Get its Story Straight

As Bowers says, this is starting to get good.
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) issued a statement Saturday in which he said that he had informed Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) of allegations of improper contacts between then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and at least one former male page, contradicting earlier statements from Hastert.

GOP sources said Reynolds told Hastert earlier in 2006, shortly after the February GOP leadership elections. Hastert's response to Reynolds' warning remains unclear.

Hastert's staff insisted Friday night that he was not told of the Foley allegations and are scrambling to respond to Reynolds' statement.
In order to keep their own heads above water, they are standing on the shoulders of poor Denny Hastert. The clock is ticking on your leadership position, Mr. Speaker. Start packing your office.

Chair of the Exploited Teens Caucus and the GOP Leadership

As the Representative Foley gay-cybersex-with-minors scandal was breaking, I didn't think it would cross my personal activation energy threshold for posting. Yes, I thought, it's yet another GOP-held seat that becomes a Democratic pickup opportunity, and yes, it plays right into the "Republicans are scandal-plagued" narrative that's been gaining momentum during this past year. Sure, Rep Foley was not just a member, but the founding member of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Teens Caucus, so it also hits the "Republican Hypocrite" meme that's been gaining power as they occupy the majority. But it seemed like Foley's quick resignation indicated the recognition of a serious breach of morality, while simultaneously cutting off the dripping of further revelations that would dominate many of the precious few newscycles remaining before the November elections. I thought that his resignation was the cutting of the cord, insulating the GOP from a cataclysmic fallout. After all, God's Own Party knows not to judge Republicans, lest they themselves be judged. Democrats are fair game, of course.

So I wasn't going to post anything about this, because in the current climate it seems almost hum-drum. But now we have developments that push it into the blockbuster category. It's almost a wet dream of Party over Country.

First, the Instant Messages that blew the story from "borderline inappropriate familiarity with minors" to "homosexual cybersex with minors" are from 2003. Given that it is now 2006, and pages don't serve for more than a year, that means that there are at least two boys that were targets of this predation, and something tells me it was quite a bit more widespread. I mean, do you think he took 2005 off as a vacation from the hard work of preying on minors? Right.

Next, the Republicans on the Page Board didn't inform Rep. Kildee, the only Democrat on the Board, thereby keeping a lid on the burgeoning scandal.

Finally, factor in these two bombshell facts discovered by TPM:
Finally, one detail here isn't getting enough attention. Rep. Alexander (R-LA), the first member of Congress to be alerted to the problem, says he contacted the NRCC.


Rep. Shimkus (Page Board Chair) says he interviewed Rep. Foley about the page matter with the House Clerk about 10 or 11 months ago.
Add in this reporting from the Washington Post:
Boehner said he told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), and that Hastert assured him "we're taking care of it."
These facts describe the arc of a coverup. The Republican leadership knew for 10 months, and what did they do? They ensured no Democratic member found out about it, and did not discipline Foley in the slightest. They allowed this man to continue sexually preying on minors so that they could keep his seat in the November Elections. That qualifies as outrageous, and catapults this scandal into a whole new ballpark - a ballpark so big it was built to contain other ballparks.

So, it's already clear that there was a concerted effort to put the GOP's politics above what is their sworn duty: protecting the people of the United States and upholding the honor of their institution, the Congress. If you needed more proof, they began to realize how problematic the leadership entanglements were only after Boehner made the above statement about Hastert "taking care of it." Now that they realize how much trouble they're in, you've got House Majority Leader Boehner changing his story like crazy:

Weisman and Babbington of The Washington Post this morning:

Rep. Foley Quits In Page Scandal - washingtonpost.com: House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of inappropriate "contact" between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he then told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Boehner later contacted The Post and said he could not remember whether he talked to Hastert. It was not immediately clear what actions Hastert took. His spokesman had said earlier that the speaker did not know of the sexually charged online exchanges between Foley and the boy...

Weisman and Babbington last night:

House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of some "contact" between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), and that Hastert assured him "we're taking care of it." It was not immediately clear what actions Hastert took. His spokesman had said earlier that the speaker did not know of the sexually charged e-mails between Foley and the boy...

Boehner's scramble to get back on message sounds much more credible when Boehner's claim that Hastert told him "we're taking care of it" is removed. Had Weisman and Babbington left that "we're taking care of it" in, the story would be less friendly to Majority Leader Boehner. And the story would be much less friendly to Majority Leader Boehner had Weisman and Babbington added in the third story Boehner was telling last night--the one he was telling to Roll Call:

Boehner strongly denied media reports late Friday night that he had informed Hastert of the allegations, saying "That is not true."

Not "I don't remember." Instead: "That is not true."

GOP Uber Alles! I wish I could say I was surprised. In 2002, I would have been.

The question now is how hard the Democrats are going to hit the Republicans over this coverup and scandal. Imagine the firestorm if the positions were reversed. We've got to think of a good -gate name for it, but everything I come up with doesn't quite have all the punch I'd like. Predatorgate is the best I can think of, but it doesn't convey all the many faceted nastyness of the situation. I want something that rolls the homosexual aspect as well as the legal minor aspect into one, easy to deliver shotgun blast of -Gateyness.

Condi Fails Us Again

Hot on the heels of news regarding Condi's direct involvement in lying to the public about the air condition around Ground Zero after 9/11, we have yet another bombshell. When this election cycle is done there wont be any more talk of Condi running for President in 2008.

This time, Condi directly stood in the way of preventing 9/11. The burden of guilt she must feel makes her stuttering performances on the topic during 2003 and 2004 more understandable. I remember thinking a number of times that she seemed on the verge of an emotional moment. Were I her, I certainly couldn't have withstood questioning after the role she played in this episode, described in Woodward's new book:
It describes how, on July 10, 2001, CIA Director George J. Tenet met with his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, at CIA headquarters "to review the latest on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Black laid out the case, consisting of communications intercepts and other top-secret intelligence showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaeda would soon attack the United States. The mass of fragments made a compelling case, so compelling to Tenet that he decided he and Black should go to the White House immediately."

Tenet called Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser. "For months," Woodward writes, "Tenet had been pressing Rice to set a clear counterterrorism policy... that would give the CIA stronger authority to conduct covert action against bin Laden.... Tenet and Black hoped to convey the depth of their anxiety and get Rice to kick-start the government into immediate action.

"Tenet had been losing sleep over the recent intelligence. There was no conclusive, smoking-gun intelligence, but there was such a huge volume of data that an intelligence officer's instinct strongly suggested that something was coming....

"But Tenet had been having difficulty getting traction on an immediate bin Laden action plan, in part because Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had questioned all the intelligence, asking: Could it all be a grand deception? "

Woodward describes the meeting, and the two officials' plea that the U.S. "needed to take action that moment -- covert, military, whatever -- to thwart bin Laden."

The result? "Tenet and Black felt they were not getting though to Rice. She was polite, but they felt the brush-off. President Bush had said he didn't want to swat at flies."

"Tenet left the meeting feeling frustrated. Though Rice had given them a fair hearing, no immediate action meant great risk. Black felt the decision to just keep planning was a sustained policy failure. Rice and the Bush team had been in hibernation too long....
They were warned by the Clinton Administration, and they were warned by their own Director of Central Intelligence - then the chief of all the USA's intelligence resources. They were strongly warned, and they didn't even have a meeting about bin Laden because Bush didn't want to "swat at flies." It's that same aversion to Clintonian "small bore initiatives" that I've mentioned before.

Clinton tried to get bin Laden. They had 8 months, strenuous warnings, and they did not try. At that time, Bush thought that his most serious duty, to protect the American people - a duty he's been reiterating over and over these past months - meant building a grand missile defense shield to protect us from a threat that does not exist. On the morning of September 11th, Condi was going to give a speech on the national security importance of the Ballistic Missile Defense Shield... needless to say, it was cancelled.

They did not try.

Woodward's Bombshells

Woodward's latest book, State of Denial, certainly is a departure from the tone of his last work, which cast Bush as the resolute leader. Now he's portrayed as the President we all know and love - inattentive, disengaged, easily led into folly, and thoroughly over his head. I suppose that with the 2004 election over, Woodward doesn't have to worry about his "access" being curtailed because he told the truth. Sigh.

I found this in the Canadian Press somewhere. I'm afraid I'm being a bad blogger, since I lost the link. The catalogue below is by no means an exhaustive list.

Among Woodward's allegations:

  • Former White House chief of staff Andrew Card twice tried to persuade President Bush to fire Rumsfeld, in 2004 and 2005.
  • Former National Security Council staff member Robert Blackwill pressed for more troops in Sept. 2003, but was ignored by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "The bottom line: we need more troops in Iraq," Blackwill wrote in a lengthy memo to Rice. He suggested 40,000 more soldiers.
  • Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East, complained to the C.I.A. director that the war was not going as well as Rumsfeld claimed. "These bastards in Washington have no idea what they're doing," Woodward quoted Abizaid as saying in one meeting.
  • Despite escalating violence, Woodward quotes Bush as saying in Nov. 2003 that "I don't want anyone in the cabinet to say it is an insurgency. I don't think we are there yet."
  • At one point, Rumsfeld and Rice were on such poor terms that the defence secretary refused to return her phone calls, until Bush intervened.
  • After former Secretary of State Colin Powell was removed from the administration in 2004, he said Rumsfeld should also leave. Powell apparently told a White House official: "If I go, Don should go."
  • Just two months before the 9/11 attacks, on July 10, 2001, CIA director George Tenet met with Rice to express concern over a possible impending attack, but later felt Rice did not take his warning seriously.
  • When the chief weapons inspector David Kay suggested the Iraq government may have had the ability to manufacture weapons of mass destruction without actually building any, C.I.A. Deputy Director John McLaughlin said: "Don't tell anyone this. This could be upsetting. Be very careful. We can't let this out until we're sure."
  • Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, who led the first Iraq Postwar Planning Office, told Rumsfeld in June 2003 the U.S. had made three initial mistakes in Iraq: removing Baath Party members from government positions; dismantling the Iraqi military; and, the dismissal of an eager interim Iraqi leadership group.
  • In May, the intelligence division of the Joint Chiefs of Staff circulated a secret document predicting that violence will continue for the rest of this year in Iraq and increase in 2007.


Iraqi's Support Attacks on US Troops

From an AP piece about the growing insurgency and sectarian violence in Iraq:
About six in 10 Iraqis say they approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces, and slightly more than that want their government to ask U.S. troops to leave within a year, according to a poll in that country.

The Iraqis also have negative views of Osama bin Laden, according to the early September poll of 1,150. The poll, done for University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes, found:
  • Almost four in five Iraqis say the U.S. military force in Iraq Iraq provokes more violence than it prevents.
  • About 61 percent approved of the attacks — up from 47 percent in January. A solid majority of Shiite and Sunni Arabs approved of the attacks, according to the poll. The increase came mostly among Shiite Iraqis.
  • An overwhelmingly negative opinion of terror chief bin Laden and more than half, 57 percent, disapproving of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
  • Three-fourths say they think the United States plans to keep military bases in Iraq permanently.
Man, this is depressing. I'm almost ready to go back to my bad-news-from-Iraq moratorium.

Gutting the Constitution

The single most disturbing thing about the Torture Bill the Republicans just passed is the fact that the President, by his say-so alone, can declare American citizens enemy combatants, and lock them away permanently without the right to challenge their detention even once. For those not in the know, that's called Habeus Corpus, and it's been a foundation of our justice system since the Magna freaking Carta. That's 800 years of tradition that has suddenly become "quaint."

From the LA Times:

The compromise legislation, which is racing toward the White House, authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States....It also allows him to seize anybody who has "purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States." This grants the president enormous power over citizens and legal residents. They can be designated as enemy combatants if they have contributed money to a Middle Eastern charity, and they can be held indefinitely in a military prison.

Not to worry, say the bill's defenders. The president can't detain somebody who has given money innocently, just those who contributed to terrorists on purpose.

But other provisions of the bill call even this limitation into question. What is worse, if the federal courts support the president's initial detention decision, ordinary Americans would be required to defend themselves before a military tribunal without the constitutional guarantees provided in criminal trials.


Iraqis Want Us Gone

The Washington Post, in association with the University of Maryland and two other polling outfits, has conducted an opinion poll across Iraq on the subject of the continued presence of Coalition troops. I bet no one could have guessed this, what with the tranquil easy life they're living in Iraq, but it turns out they want us gone. Ingrates.

In Baghdad, for example, nearly three-quarters of residents polled said they would feel safer if U.S. and other foreign forces left Iraq, with 65 percent of those asked favoring an immediate pullout, according to State Department polling results obtained by The Washington Post.

....Another new poll, scheduled to be released on Wednesday by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, found that 71 percent of Iraqis questioned want the Iraqi government to ask foreign forces to depart within a year.

....The director of another Iraqi polling firm, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared being killed, said public opinion surveys he conducted last month showed that 80 percent of Iraqis who were questioned favored an immediate withdrawal.

So, the Iraqis don't support our occupation. Big surprise. When every indicator is pointing in the wrong direction - infrastructure, economy, utilities... hell, even torture is worse now than it was under Saddam.

Check out the graphical representations of the polling data. Those are what we call "strong majorities."
(h/t Drum)

A Mysterious Pseudo-NIE

So, it turns out that there are actually two NIE's. The first is the April estimate that was partially released yesterday and covers global trends in terrorism. The second is solely about Iraq and isn't going to be released until after the elections.

Ahhhh, I know this game. Cover up the intelligence community's consensus about Iraq so that the American people can make an electoral decision without being burdened by the facts. Facts are the primary enemy of the Tinkerbell Strategy for Iraq, after all.

Here's Jane Harman talking about 2nd report on Iraq alone, via TPMMuckraker.

Aside: Doesn't it go without saying that when people demand the release of a classified document, they don't mean that the government has to release all of it? It's accepted practice to redact publicly released classified documents of all "sources and methods" relevant to current intelligence activities, so why is Rush Limbaugh making a big deal about how the "Democrats want to give the terrorists our playbook?" Oh, right... he's dishonest. I always forget that.

Condi and the Dust of 9/11

In the days after 9/11, thousands of New Yorkers breathed the cloudy air with trepidation, allayed only by reassuring EPA pronouncements concerning air quality. Recently, Christie Todd Whitman has been somewhat of a punching bag on the issue of those "safe to breath" findings, since hundreds of first responders have been getting sick. It turns out that the contents of the buildings they inhaled are still there, irritating their lungs with a highly alkaline mixture - effectively giving them an internal chemical burn. These men and women are losing lung capacity at a shocking rate, and indeed, the first air-related fatalities are now being reported.

As I said, Christie Todd Whitman has been getting plastered over her involvement, so perhaps she's looking to spread the burden around a little. Any guesses who leaked these internal documents?
Condoleezza Rice's office gave final approval to the infamous Environmental Protection Agency press releases days after 9/11 claiming the air around Ground Zero was "safe to breathe," internal documents show.

Now Secretary of State, Rice was then head of the National Security Council - "the final decision maker" on EPA statements about lower Manhattan air quality, the documents say.

Scientists and lawmakers have since deemed the air rife with toxins.

Early tests known to the EPA at the time had already found high asbestos levels, the notes say. But those results were omitted from the press releases because of "competing priorities" such as national security and "opening Wall Street," according to a report by the EPA's inspector general.

The chief of staff for then-EPA head Christie Todd Whitman, Eileen McGinnis, told the inspector general of heated discussions, including "screaming telephone calls," about what to put in the press releases.
Whoever leaked this stuff, the upshot is the same. Shame on you, Condi. You failed your countrymen again - this time for political expediency. The August PDB bungle was just incompetence, whereas this is an active decision to put Wall Street's needs above the lives of our 9/11 heros.

Incidentally, at the end of the piece there's a quick allusion to the consequences of the Unitary Executive theory of Presidential power:
Now-retired Inspector General Nikki Tinsley told The Post her auditors tried to question the head of President Bush's Environmental Quality Council, but "he would not talk to us."
That's not some journalist that couldn't get answers - that's the IG.


Release the NIE

What began with a blogosphere effort to get the Bush Administration to release the April NIE developed into quite the mainstream story. I've done my duty, discovering and fowarding on to TPM the information about my Senate and Congressional Representative's positions on releasing the document. Surprisingly, two out of three of my Republican representatives are for the release. Wait... why is that surprising? The damning part of the NIE has already been released, so unless it contains even worse news for the Administration, which is doubtful, releasing the key judgments of the report can only serve to muddy the currently clear lesson of this little episode. By releasing the full report, they'll have parts they can point to that say something along the lines of, "Yeah, Iraq is making us less safe, but if we left, then we'd be really less safe."

addendum: April National Intelligence Estimate Key Judgments:


via Sullivan: Osama's Dead?

When I was reading Sullivan's Blog to see if he had commented on the newly leaked NIE that is so devastating to Iraq War supporters, I happened upon a couple of compelling posts that I had to pass on. First, in a post titled "The Apocalypse in Iraq," we have the following picture:
Ummm, yeah... "Apocalypse" sounds about right. For those not in the know, that's Muqtada Al Sadr, a man responsible for the deaths of many Americans and currently a Shiite political powerhouse in Iraq, although he is not a literal member of the government.

Then there's this post, relating to Rove's October Surprise:
First we read this:

According to two conservative websites, White House political strategist Karl Rove has been promising GOP insiders that there will be an "October surprise" before the midterm elections.

"In the past week, Karl Rove has been promising Republican insiders an 'October surprise' to help win the November congressional elections," reports Ronald Kessler for Newsmax.

The we hear this:

The daily newspaper for the Lorraine region in eastern France printed what it described as a confidential document from the French foreign intelligence service DGSE citing an uncorroborated report from Saudi secret services that the leader of the al-Qaida terror network had died.

The contents of the document, dated Sept. 21, or Thursday, were not confirmed by French or other intelligence sources. However, the DGSE transmitted the note to President Jacques Chirac and other officials, the newspaper said.

Hmmmm. Of course, we know how bin Laden really died.

I had heard that Osama may well be dead, of Typhoid Fever of all things, and it hit me hard. If this is Rove's October surprise, then he has badly miscalculated, because I think America's reaction to the news of his natural death will be characterized overwhelmingly by rage, especially when the Democrats start saying things like this: "Osama didn't deserve a natural death. He deserved the be scattered to the winds by one of our bombs, or executed in one of our jails. Bush let him get away when we had him in our sights, so that he could move the forces to Iraq. He let Osama get away so that he could fight a war that had nothing to do with 9/11, WMDs, or bringing Democracy to the Middle East. Bush let Osama get away so that he could start a war that is making us all less safe. It is positively infuriating that this towering evil of a man was allowed to die in peace."

Other NIE Reactions

Glenn Greenwald:
So, a recap of the Iraq war: there were never any WMDs. The proliferation of government death squads and militias in Iraq means that, compared to the Saddam era, human rights have worsened and torture has increased to record levels. Iranian influence has massively increased, as a result of a Shiite fundamentalist government loyal to Tehran replacing the former anti-Iranian regime. We've squandered hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives. And we have -- according to the consensus of our own intelligence community -- directly worsened the terrorist problem with our invasion, and continue to worsen it with our ongoing occupation.
Kevin Drum:
The point of an anti-terror policy is not to look tough. The point of an anti-terror policy is to reduce terror. Republicans pretty clearly don't get this.
Of course, Rightblogistan has yet to comment. Neither RedState, nor Powerline, nor Little Green Footballs, or even Andrew Sullivan has commented on the story yet. So much for blog-speed when the news makes you look like a fool, eh?

Iraq Worsens Terrorism Threat - CIA

Go on, raise your hands and cop to it if the following comes as a surprise:
Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat
A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled "Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,'' it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

An opening section of the report, "Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement," cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

This was self-evident truth before the contents of this NIE was leaked, and indeed even before the invasion itself. In any other than the fairy-tale scenario, how could invading a country without reason and killing tens of thousands of innocent mothers, fathers, and children in the process make us any safer?

They go on:
The report "says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse," said one American intelligence official.

More than a dozen United States government officials and outside experts were interviewed for this article, and all spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a classified intelligence document. The officials included employees of several government agencies, and both supporters and critics of the Bush administration. All of those interviewed had either seen the final version of the document or participated in the creation of earlier drafts. These officials discussed some of the document's general conclusions but not details, which remain highly classified.
"The Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse." You can't get a more blunt statement than that.

This is our message for '06. George Bush's War has cost us 2700 American's lives, 20,000 Americans seriously wounded, $400 billion dollars, and now we know that it has made America less safe - putting your family at risk needlessly. The Rubber Stamp Republican Congress will never give President Bush serious oversight, so if you want more of this craziness, vote Republican. If you want a new direction for America, vote Democratic.


Perspicacious - mentally clear-eyed: mentally acute or penetratingly discerning. What a great word.

I've already been labeled Kepler the Acute, Kepler of the Long Reach, and Kepler the Moderately Handsome, which, funnily enough, gave birth to my most recent epithet: Kepler the Frequently Described.

At some point I'd like to add Kepler the Perspicacious. Unfortunately, in order for someone to label me perspicacious, people at large would need to know that word... Oh well.


More on Diebold

This is a slightly older story, but it further illustrates the inherent flaws with closed-source electronic voting machines.
In his Wednesday evening keynote address on Security at SD Best Practices, Boston, Cigital's Gary McGraw discussed a paper and shared clips from a video demo released today by Edward Felten, Ari Feldman, and Alex Halderman of the Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy, titled: Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting Machine. The paper details a simple method whereby the Princeton team was able to compromise the physical security of a Diebold voting machine, infecting it with a virus that could change voting results and spread by memory-card to other machines of the same type.
The reality of the threat posed by closed-source voting machines is such that, effectively, we no longer have a Republic. Instead, we have a government chosen by the proprietors of the voting machines, or any group interested in changing the outcome of an election. Or, rather, we have a government chosen based on trusting that absolutely no one in the vast group of people with the power to tamper with these machines will want to influence the election. What a stupid thing in which to place your trust - you're guaranteed to get burned in the long run.

A New Record for Iraq

From an ABC News story:
The number of Iraqi civilians killed in July and August hit 6,599, a record-high number that is far greater than initial estimates suggested, the United Nations said Wednesday.
I wonder why the real number was so much greater than initial estimates? Oh yes, now I remember. We were told the violence was getting dramatically better because of the "adapting to win" strategy the Administration implemented when it became clear that "stay the course" wasn't a viable option, but in reality the DoD just stopped counting the deaths they didn't want to be troubled by. When you add back in to the total the deaths due to carbombs and mortar attacks - which, for a very good reason I am sure, the DoD decided weren't part of the sectarian violence - you get this record breaking number.


In true liberal media form they don't include a mention of this scandal in the story as an explanation for the lower expected violence. Surprise, surprise, eh? But they do include some depressing trend numbers for the violence in Iraq:
For the previous period, the U.N. had reported just under 6,000 deaths 2,669 in May and 3,149 in June. That was up from 1,129 in April, and 710 in January.
That is not encouraging.

Update: Woops, it looks like ABC did mention the death-counting lie:
The U.S. military had initially claimed a drastic drop in the death toll for August, but the estimate was revised upward after the United States revealed it had not counted people killed by bombs, mortars, rockets or other mass attacks.


On Ballistic Missiles

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, Condoleeza Rice was scheduled to give a speech on the new cornerstone of the Bush Administration's National Security policy - the Ballistic Missile Defense Shield.
On Sept. 11, 2001, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to outline a Bush administration policy that would address "the threats and problems of today and the day after, not the world of yesterday" -- but the focus was largely on missile defense, not terrorism from Islamic radicals.

The speech provides telling insight into the administration's thinking on the very day that the United States suffered the most devastating attack since the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor. The address was designed to promote missile defense as the cornerstone of a new national security strategy, and contained no mention of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or Islamic extremist groups, according to former U.S. officials who have seen the text.

The speech was postponed in the chaos of the day, part of which Rice spent in a bunker. It mentioned terrorism, but did so in the context used in other Bush administration speeches in early 2001: as one of the dangers from rogue nations, such as Iraq, that might use weapons of terror, rather than from the cells of extremists now considered the main security threat to the United States.

The text also implicitly challenged the Clinton administration's policy, saying it did not do enough about the real threat -- long-range missiles.

"We need to worry about the suitcase bomb, the car bomb and the vial of sarin released in the subway," according to excerpts of the speech provided to The Washington Post. "[But] why put deadbolt locks on your doors and stock up on cans of mace and then decide to leave your windows open?"
My shouted reply to the last question: "Because our windows aren't open, you dolt!" The very nature of such weapons - the ballisticity of them, if you will - means exactly that. A ballistic projectile means that the flight path, or trajectory of the object will be determined entirely by the object's own momentum and gravity, a science also known as orbital mechanics. It is this fact that makes interception of the missile theoretically possible at all, because it allows you to know, with an accurate measure of the target's current position and velocity vector, where that target is going to be at any point in the future. And since you can work the math forward to get an interception point, you can also work it backwards. Since we understand orbital mechanics so incredibly well, this means that all ballistic objects have an effective "return address." Just work the math and you know exactly where the sucker was launched.

Now, think for a second about the implications of that return address. Now, factor in the overwhelming nuclear superiority America posses compared to any potential aggressor - the putative rogue nation. It is as clear as day that no one will ever launch a ballistic missile attack against the United States, since their Assured Destruction will be airborne before their first strike even detonates. By attacking America with a ballistic missile, you are committing national suicide, and every leader in the world knows it. That is the value of our nuclear weapons. That is why they are called a "deterrent." There is no way the Bush Administration was not aware of this fact. Bright middleschoolers are aware of this fact.

There are many other compelling reasons to oppose a Missile Shield, mostly geopolitical in nature, but no others are required. The Ballistic Missile Shield should be opposed because it protects us from a threat which does not exist.

Now, if they would come forward and say that the Ballistic Missile Defense Shield is a massive government subsidy for high-tech industry, with the goal of developing technology that will improve the lives of all Americans while simultaneously maintaining our position of global superiority, then I might give them a serious hearing. The Apollo program or the ISS, for instance, are both projects that were not strategically critical, but which have resulted in huge technological advances for America and the human race in general.


Diebold Keys

From the Freedom to Tinker Blog we have a story touching on something that I have been freaking out on for years: Diebold. Why our Democracy should be reduced to trust for the contents of a black box I have no idea. It is amongst the most dire threats to our democratic republic.

Like other computer scientists who have studied Diebold voting machines, we were surprised at the apparent carelessness of DieboldÂ’s security design. It can be hard to convey this to nonexperts, because the examples are technical. To security practitioners, the use of a fixed, unchangeable encryption key and the blind acceptance of every software update offered on removable storage are rookie mistakes; but nonexperts have trouble appreciating this. Here is an example that anybody, expert or not, can appreciate:

The access panel door on a Diebold AccuVote-TS voting machine — the door that protects the memory card that stores the votes, and is the main barrier to the injection of a virus — can be opened with a standard key that is widely available on the Internet.

Yes, the security on the Diebold AccuVote system is reducible to the availability of a standard-issue hotel minibar key. That, as we say in the crypto field, is provably weak security. These machines need to be gone. There is no excuse for entrusting our Democracy to black boxes.

The fact that Diebold machines ever made it to the bigtime is illustrative of a troubling principle I see in our society. There is a strong compulsion to trust, and I'm not a big fan of trust. Human nature hasn't changed since the time of the Bible, so I know that power corrupts and am therefore distrustful of anyone that possesses a modicum of power. Of course, that distrust doesn't stop me from doing a good deal of business with them - it just prevents me from trusting them like I would my mother or father. Society at large doesn't have this same distrust, however. Over and over again, we are told to trust, but not verify the government. With warrantless eavesdropping we are told to trust that it not being abused. With the unregulated use of War Powers against U.S. citizens we are told to trust that internment camps aren't around the corner. And with Diebold voting, we are told to trust that the magical black box in front of us will faithfully count your vote. The populace trusts, and that puts our Republic at risk again and again. If people would read more of the founding fathers, they would come to realize that America is a nation of radicals, and that blind trust of authority is antithetical to that radicalism that has made us so great.

From Jefferson, this sums it up:
In questions of power then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.


Last Ditch Attempt

Via the NYTimes, it appears we're trying yet another strategy for securing Baghdad, after the Styker Brigades weren't enough, and after the huge improvement in violence turned out to be nothing more than another outrageous lie from the Bush Administration.

This last strategy is what you might call a "last ditch attempt."
The Iraqi government plans to seal off Baghdad within weeks by ringing it with a series of trenches and setting up dozens of traffic checkpoints to control movement in and out of the violent city of seven million people, an Interior Ministry spokesman said Friday.

The effort is one of the most ambitious security projects this year, with cars expected to be funneled through 28 checkpoints along the main arteries snaking out from the capital. Smaller roads would be closed. The trenches would run across farmland or other open areas to prevent cars from evading checkpoints, said the ministry spokesman, Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf.
The United States has shifted its emphasis to the capital in recent months, after concluding that sectarian violence between Shi'ites and Sunni Arabs was a greater threat than the Sunni Arab insurgency it has fought mainly in the west and north.

The U.S. military confirmed Iraqi plans, announced earlier this week, to restrict access to Baghdad by forcing cars through 28 checkpoints, but denied some Western media reports that the plan involves digging a giant 60 mile trench around the city.
So there you have it. If you can't secure your capital by normal counterinsurgent methods, the Americans will dig you a moat and everything will get better. Just put the Black Knight at the bridge and declare the problem solved.

Clap louder, everyone. You're not doing your part to help fight the war out there. Clap, damnit, CLAP!

Colin Powell supports the Democrats

Whoa! Surprise, Surprise: Colin Powell represents the big guns being brought out against the Administration's position on torture and detainee treatment:
"The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism," said Powell, who served under Bush and is a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk."
It's good to know that Powell agrees with me and my fellow Democrats, but it is surprising for him to come out and say it. Normally Powell is a loyalist, so he must feel very strongly about the issue. Strange, isn't it, how the Republicans that passionately oppose the Bush Administration's position on torture are all men who have served in uniform? Strange, isn't it, that given the lack of military men in the Bush White House, they don't seem to realize that they are putting our own troops in serious jeopardy?


The Torture Debate

... "The Torture Debate?" My god, how did we get to a point where I had to title a post "The Torture Debate." In a saner world, the only "torture debate" available would go something like this:
Debater 1: I think torture is wrong.
Debater 2: I agree with you.
But here we are, debating ways to redefine the Geneva Conventions so that we can engage in activities that are universally decried as torture. Here we are, The United States of America, the shining city on the hill, modifying a treaty obligation that has never been a burden adhering to for 57 years, through multiple wars, and enshrining torture with color of law at the same time.

I really do not understand this. I can't believe that we're openly calling for the embrace of torture. Do our leaders not realize that in order to win this Global Counterinsurgency, our moral authority is even more important than our military might? If this was symmetric war, where the devastation and capitulation of a defined enemy was the target, then so be it - letting your opinion in the world burn in order to achieve military victory might be worthwhile. But in counterinsurgency your main objective is to stem the flow of recruits, a task to which the use of military force is antithetical. Put simply, if this conflict is fought as an ordinary war we assure our utter failure, as Bush's execution of the War thus far has proven.

The really painful thing here is that the person advocating torture isn't some kook academic cloistered in a thinktank - he's the President of the United States of America, and he's sullying all of us while simultaneously making us less safe. I know that sounds awfully like a "blame America first" position, or that I "care more about protecting the terrorists than the American people," but that is, of course, ridiculous. This has nothing to do with Al Qaeda - it has everything to do with America, who we are as a people, and whether or not we want to get serious about winning the War on Terror, because with these policies we are an immoral nation and we will never be safe.

I am chagrined to even forward an argument, but lets do so for a sense of completeness, shall we?

Regardless of the specifics of the Geneva Convention itself, the reason America ratified the Convention was to protect our soldiers from unacceptable treatment. That protection of our soldiers is achieved by the common standards set out in the Convention - in other words, you get the protection for your own soldiers you guarantee to soldiers you capture. So, when looking at modifications to the Geneva Conventions, the first thing America needs to consider is whether our new standards would be acceptable when applied to our soldiers.

Under President Bush's standards for detainee treatment, Iran could capture a non-uniformed special agent, torture a confession from him, convict him in a special court without allowing him to see the evidence against him, and execute him. If one of our soldiers was subjected to that treatment, Iran could claim what it did was completely justified, since America herself would approve of the approach.

How can you say you support the troops when you subject them to such treatment? How can that simple scenario not completely decide this "debate?" Who could remain unconvinced?


Santorum the Scaredy-Cat

OK, this sort of rhetoric is normally relagated to the fever swamps of conservative radio, but this week it has made quite the splash into the mainstream via incumbent Senator Rick Santorum.

Santorum, at a campaign event, abandoned all rationality and sense of proportion in order to say the following of Al Qaeda:
This is an enemy more dangerous than any we have faced in the 20th century. This is the fight of our time.
Wow, that is some powerful crazy.

Why are Republicans so afraid of our enemy? In no sense is Al Qaeda an existential threat to America, or anywhere even close. We should buy Republicans security blankets so they don't have to run into their parent's room to get away from terrorist nightmares.

(h/t TPMcafe)

Daily Show Beatdown

I'm mostly interested in the section after the 6 minute mark, where Stewart tries to communicate on a level Bush can appreciate. He makes a point that has been made before, but John Stewart really nails it:
If this is a battle for civilization, make your case and gear it up - let's World War II this thing. And if it's not, then stop scaring the shit out of everybody every two years."


The Neocon's Iraq Plan and Reality

The Washington Post has an op-ed by two of the nation's most influential neoconservatives, William Kristol and Rich Lowry, wherein they lay out their vision for the future strategy to win the War in Iraq. They begin by recognizing the reality of our current situation:
We are at a crucial moment in Iraq. Supporters of the war, like us, have in the past differed over tactics. But at this urgent pass, there can be no doubt that we need to stop the downward slide in Iraq by securing Baghdad.
So that's a good start, right? A few months ago, acknowledging the "downward slide in Iraq" got you branded a terrorist enabler, so this strikes me as a healthy trend. They go on to lay out the crux of their strategy.
The bottom line is this: More U.S. troops in Iraq would improve our chances of winning a decisive battle at a decisive moment. This means the ability to succeed in Iraq is, to some significant degree, within our control. The president should therefore order a substantial surge in overall troop levels in Iraq, with the additional forces focused on securing Baghdad.
Up to this, I find myself agreeing as long as I keep my thought process insulated from the grander reality we occupy. Granted, more troops would allow us to win the Iraq War. Put a pair of Marines in every living room and Mosque and the insurgency would die off very quickly. So I'm with them, in a fantasy-world sorta way.

Then they go off the rails:
There is now no good argument for not sending more troops. The administration often says that it doesn't want to foster Iraqi dependency.
This is where it becomes clear that the insular reality that I found myself agreeing with is, in fact, Kristol and Lowry's entire understanding of the circumstances surrounding the war. While they are correct in saying that there is no argument for not increasing troop levels, there is a reason. That reason has nothing to do with "not wanting to foster Iraqi dependency," and everything to do with the fact that we don't have any more troops to deploy. How can such intelligent men be fooled by the Administration on that one?

Over and over again we hear that the Army is near a breaking point, where both men and equipment are worn down. Our resources have been diverted from the normal equipment maintenance and replacement cycles towards the immediate needs of war - you know, bullets and their associated accoutrements. This continuous-duty meatgrinder has taken us to our current situation, where two-thirds of Army units are unready for combat, and that number is even higher for the National Guard. The problems with our recruitment efforts have been well documented, and make it even harder to increase troop levels. While there may not be an argument for keeping more troops out of Iraq, the reason we don't deploy more troops is that there are no more troops to be deployed.

These intelligent men cannot truly be ignorant of such basic facts. A far more likely explanation stems from the fact that they have crafted an entire public persona around masculinized strength and military fortitude. To advocate realistically would bar them from forwarding the "Increase the Troops" strategy, leaving what, exactly? If there are no more troops available, and the current troop levels stand no chance of achieving victory, then redeployment is the only strategy available to us - a strategy that essentially acknowledges a loss in Iraq, and for them to acknowledge that loss would destroy their career. It's hard to get someone to understand something their salary depends on not understanding, even when thousands of deaths are the price.

George Allen's Noose? That's just a lasso!

Here's an excellent writeup on Senator George Allen's evolving descriptions of his "colored" past. And by colored, I mean racist.

We all remember the story of Felix Allen and the Noose, don't we? Watch the contortions the Allen campaign resorts to in order to escape the perception of racism:

George Allen and the Noose

It looks like George Allen is trying to clean up his image on race before a possible presidential run:

Senator George Allen, a Virginia Republican accused in the past of insensitivity on race issues, introduced a bill on Tuesday to apologize officially for the Senate's role in blocking antilynching legislation through decades of killings across the South.

...In his 2000 campaign to unseat Senator Charles S. Robb, Democrats and civil rights groups accused Mr. Allen of racial callousness for having displayed a noose in his law office and a Confederate flag in his home.

Mr. Allen described those as parts of collections of flags and Western memorabilia. "I had all sort of Western stuff in my office," he said, characterizing what others called a noose as "more of a lasso." He said, "It has nothing to do with lynching."

"More of a lasso"? Here's how the Richmond Times Dispatch originally reported it in 2000:

U.S. Senate candidate George Allen wears his conservative heart on the sleeve of his cowboy shirt and makes no bones about his commitment to law and order.

Visitors to his old law office near downtown Charlottesville used to see a grim and graphic reminder of his view of criminals.

Dangling from a ficus tree in the corner was a noose, a reminder that the Republican politician saw some justification in frontier justice.

And here's how Allen's own campaign manager described it in a Washington Post story during the campaign:

Christopher J. LaCivita, Allen's campaign manager, said the noose was one item in a collection of cowboy memorabilia that Allen displayed in his Charlottesville law office in the early 1990s.

Far from being a racially charged symbol, the noose was an emblem of Allen's tough stance on law-and-order issues, LaCivita said.

This defense was echoed by Allen himself according to a Virginian-Pilot report in 2000:

The noose on a tree outside his law office, he has said, symbolized his belief in strong punishment for violent criminals and was not meant to have racial overtones.

And according to the Richmond Times Dispatch, when Allen was asked about the noose again in September 2004 when he first introduced the bill, a spokesman still did not dispute what it was:

When Allen was asked after his news conference about the Confederate flag, he said he no longer displays it, and that he is a flag collector. Later, an Allen spokesman said the noose was part of an "Old West," law-and-order motif for Allen's former law office, and it had nothing to do with racial issues.

Lasso, noose, what's the difference? I can't believe Allen thinks people are this stupid.

My Reaction: "Oh, mama."

Via TPMCafe, we have Sheldon Whitehouse's first ad against Lincoln Chafee:

Bam. That's what I'm talking 'bout.

Abridged Lie

A lie in the leadup to the Iraq War the Bush Administration actually wasn't allowed to make:
The claim that terrorist leader Mohamed Atta met in Prague with an Iraqi spy a few months before 9/11 was never substantiated, but that didn’t stop the White House from trying to insert the allegation in presidential speeches, according to classified documents.

Cryptic references to the White House efforts are contained in a new Senate Intelligence Committee report released last Friday that debunked purported links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. However, attempts by committee Democrats to make public a more explicit account of White House interest in the anecdote were thwarted when the “intelligence community” refused to declassify a CIA cable that lays out the controversy, according to congressional sources. Democrats charged in a written statement that intelligence officials had failed to demonstrate “that disclosing the [cable] ... would reveal sources and methods or otherwise harm national security.” The Democrats also complained that officials' refusal to declassify the cable “represents an improper use of classification authority by the intelligence community to shield the White House.”

According to two sources familiar with the blacked-out portions of the Senate report that discuss the CIA cable's contents, the document indicates that White House officials had proposed mentioning the supposed Atta-Prague meeting in a Bush speech scheduled for March 14, 2003. Originated by Czech intelligence shortly after 9/11, the tendentious claim was that in April 2001, Atta, the 9/11 hijack leader, had met in Prague with the local station chief for Iraqi intelligence. The sources said that upon learning of the proposed White House speech, the CIA station in Prague sent back a cable explaining in detail why the agency believed the anecdote was ill-founded.

According to one of the sources familiar with the Senate report's censored portions, who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject, the tone of the CIA cable was “strident” and expressed dismay that the White House was trying to shoehorn the Atta anecdote into the Bush speech to be delivered only days before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The source said the cable also suggested that policymakers had tried to insert the same anecdote into other speeches by top administration officials.
Despite the fact that the CIA nixxed inclusion of this alleged meeting into official pronouncements, you've still heard it before, haven't you? I wonder how you would have heard it if the CIA was actively barring it from the speeches coming out of our leader's mouths...

They tried to use the Atta Prague meeting in official speechs, and the CIA wouldn't sign off becuase those speeches are vetted and someone's ass would have been on the line, just as Tenet's ass was hung out to dry over the "Slam Dunk" comment. Now, rather than being defeated by the liberal CIA, the Administration came up with another solution. Instead of putting the lies into official speeches, they just used it on Meet the Press and other non-vetted venues, because it's OK to lie to the American people to get us into a war, it's just not OK to do it from behind a podium. It fits their pattern exactly. The story - a shadowy meeting between the lead 9/11 hijacker and the head of Iraqi Intelligence - was just too damned usefull not to be used. It made the case for war so well, so thoroughly, that they could have cared less what the reality was.

It's dispicable. 20,000 casualties on their heads.


Olbermann on 9/11

Keith Olbermann has just been on fire for the last few months. Here's his take on the anniversary of 9/11:

This is the kind of rhetoric I like to see on our side of the aisle - very aggressive, and making no appologies for the convictions we hold. I believe Congressman Conyers used one of Olbermann's commentary pieces on the House floor last week, in fact. More of this, please.

When the YouTube link goes down, you can watch it here, thanks to Crooks and Liars.

Standing Interviews?

Is this some sort of new meme in interviewing? It's the second hard interview in a month with Bush where they're standing up so that Bush can get all up in the interviewer's face. I mean, look at the hand gestures Bush uses. In a normal conversation, if you had your pointing finger 8 inches from someone's face, you're being awfully aggressive. Watch as he dismisses questions, he swipes his hand 3 inches below Lauer's chin! Bush is attempting to intimidate the reporters into softer questioning. Very interesting.

I wonder if the interviewers are picking up on this and practicing against flunkies trying to throw them off their game like this.

Consequences for Iran?

Well, this Iran situation looks like it will continue its arc of incessantly increasing interestingness. The Iranians steadfastly refuse to fold on any points as a precondition for talks - a position that, perhaps, shouldn't have been as surprising as it was. I was truly hopeful that Iran would play ball, take its essentially meaningless lumps as a silent nod to the superpower in the room and get what they really wanted anyway. Instead, they've decided to rub our noses in the fact that George W. Bush has squandered our moral and strategic superiority, daring us to further prove our impotence. Oh well.

Bush will continue the escalating rhetoric in a continuous series of speeches, and speak to the General Assembly of the U.N about Iran's intransigence. He will question the relevance of the body should they not support "robust," or "firm" action. This will be one part of a large effort to lay the groundwork for the final October push on Iran. They'll push for tough action using every tool at their disposal. One of those tools is the President's Executive Authority as Commander in Chief, and we've seen Rove use that power politically before. In the quest to figure out how the Democrats are going to lose this election, let's think about how the President could use the power of the Executive to take unilateral action against Iran.

Of course, War with Iran is out of the question, so there will be no dramatic morning bombing extravaganzas. It will have to be a soft escalation - something that might look prudent to the American people yet will still be useful in cementing the narrative of President Bush the Great Protector.

So, it needs to be an action that the President can take unilaterally using his Executive Authority, but it can't be anything that would readily be called "war." We do have troops on either side of Iran's country, so we could try to close the borders and thereby enact unilateral sanctions, although this is of limited usefulness since there is a substantial length of Iran's border that we cannot control. We could blockade their ports, and try to squeeze the oil revenue from the country and decrease imports in general. The blockade would preposition ships to interdict the mine laying that would undoubtedly be one of Iran's retaliations against open war, so it would be a forward leaning move towards War without actually being War. Unfortunately, at the same this that this strategy helps protect the Strait of Hormuz, through which 35-40% of the world's oil flows, it also completely defeats the "over the horizon" strategy. In other words, by blockading Iran's ports, our ships are not just open to attack - they are in danger of being sunk outright by a simple brace of anti-ship missiles.

Taking it all into account, I think that if the Bush Administration believed there would be no escalation, a blockade might be likely. I'm not an expert on the broadly arrayed levers of power the President has available to him, but subtlety is not something we're looking for here. Can anyone think of something else showy enough to be politically useful that isn't tantamount to War with Iran?


Imperial Agency

Because it offers a window into the philosophy of the current Administration, and I have never written about it, I thought that I should enter into the record this seminal interview prior to the 2004 election with an unnamed senior administration official:
The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
That about sums it up. The agency of humans grows ever faster, convincing some naive participants that the current reality is not as important as the reality we create through that agency. To dismiss attempts at reacting to an objective reality is to abandon rational decision making. With this attitude, the neoconservative's stated goal for Iraq - an ally of Israel, base for military operations against Syria and Iran, and guaranteed oil access - not only trumped the reality - sectarian divisions, potential insurgencies and "broke it/bought it" obligations - it removes the requirement to even be aware of reality. It removes the requirement to take reality into account. In other words, it makes the job a lot easier since you don't have to do research to support your reasoning. Magical thinking dominates.

In fact, it was this passage that gave rise to the "reality-based community" meme to which so many of the left blogosphere are adherents. The abandonment of rational thought that it represents guided me to the name of this blog.

The other thing that strikes me about the comment is that it reminds me of the sophomoric application of undergraduate political philosophy. It's got that tinge of undeserved self-seriousness that inexperienced literary theory students espouse. "Let's get together and get heavy on some Derrida, man. And let's not use any Es while we we're at it." Those pompous lightweights make me shudder.

Lies about Al-Qaeda/Iraq Connections

The lies told to get us into the Iraq War are voluminous, and their count has been growing for years. The latest entry in the ledger concerns the constantly invoked, yet untrue connection between Saddam's Iraq and Al Qaeda. The interweb veritably bristles with examples of Administration members claiming meaningful ties. Cheney was, and continues to be the worst offender in this regard, but he is not alone. In fact, I saw this on Fox News Sunday this morning:
Rice, giving a series of interviews ahead of the fifth anniversary of the September 11 Al-Qaeda attacks on the United States, brushed aside a recently released US intelligence report (PDF) saying there was no evidence Saddam's regime was helping Al-Qaeda obtain such arms.

"There were ties between Iraq and Al-Qaeda," she said on Fox News Sunday.
It's that sort of statement that led a sizeable majority of Americans to believe that, well, Iraq had ties with Al-Qaeda. Let's look at some non-partisan truth, and see if it matches Condi's rhetoric. From a 2005 CIA analysis:
The CIA assessed that prior to the war, "the regime did not have a relationship, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates."
Luckily, if you listen to Rush Limbaugh as much as I do you're smart enough to know that the CIA is just lousy with liberals bent on staging a silent coup of the government, controlling our foreign policy within the Agency rather than allowing the duly elected President to exercise his Constitutional authority over our foreign engagements. I know that whenever I think about the CIA, the first thought that comes to mind is "so that's where the ACLU gets its funding."

Even for a dittohead, though, the following passages from the Senate Intelligence Committee must give you pause, since it's Republicans that dominate the committee and the Senate. If Republicans write the report, it must be trustworthy, right?
The Committee uncovered no information in postwar Iraq about Saddam's intent to use terrorism in the event of a U.S. invasion... Saddam was resistant to cooperating with al-Qa'ida or any other Islamist groups. No information has been uncovered that indicates Iraq considered soliciting al-Qa'ida's assistance in attacks against the U.S.
Postwar findings indicate that Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qa'ida and viewed Islamic extremists as threats to his regime, refusing all requests from al-Qa'ida to provide material or operational support.
As recently as two weeks ago, President Bush said at a news conference that Mr. Hussein "had relations with Zarqawi.''
Put it together yourself. He's lying to you. The partisan pretzel you have to twist yourself into to believe that the Republican-controlled Intelligence Committee lied to politically damage the Republican President undoubtedly wont stop some from continuing to believe that Bush is honest, and the mean Republican Senators are just terrorist appeasers. ...Actually, I suppose if you were twisting yourself that much already, you'd go the extra mile and cast blame on the Democrats, despite the fact that it's the Republicans that authored the report. The fantasy world some Republicans have crafted for themselves is remarkably powerful.

If you need more citations for the established lack of a pre-war Al-Qaeda/Iraq connection, click the link below and be overwhelmed.

(h/t georgia10)