Andrew Card, George W. Bush's White House Chief of Staff, says Pres. Obama has been "pounding his chest" too much over getting bin Laden.
I thought his statement was subdued, but I think his schedule is not subdued. Personally, I think it is premature to go to Ground Zero, in New York. I think my role model in this would be George H. W. Bush, when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. It was a day to celebrate, but we did not dance on the Wall.
The former President was invited to the Ground Zero ceremony in New York, but chose not to come. He is said to be miffed that he's not getting more of the credit for bin Laden, even though he himself once said he didn't spend all that much time or energy trying to do it, and had other approaches to terrorism that didn't involve bin Laden.
Card, one remembers, presided over the infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner fiasco. He once referred to the timing of the Iraq War in terms of product roll-out, and keeps blathering on and on about Reagan and Bush always wearing suit coats in the Oval, even though that is manifestly untrue.
The new Maliki government in Iraq now has the support of none other than Muqtada al-Sadr. Daily Kos just posted an item regarding the late Steve Guillard. It notes a post written by Guillard in 2005 in which he argued that al-Sadr was using the American military to promote, in effect, the "ethnic cleansing" of Sunni Muslims from Baghdad.
One might recall that, in the early phrase of the war, the primary opponents of the American military were Sunnis. Baghdad was indeed divided into various zones which were very difficult to traverse and were organized mostly along religious lines. The Sunnis were isolated and exposed. Their numbers kept dwindling.
With the Sunnis gone from the city, the Shi'a have an overwhelming majority of people within Baghdad. And who leads the Shi'a? Why, Muqtada al-Sadr, of course. As Guillard put it in 2005: "Americans troops are being asked to die to establish a Shia theocracy in Iraq."
While Sunnis represent the majority of Muslims, the Shi'a are dominant in Iran, Iraq's next door neighbor. With Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, now under strong Shi'a influence, the possibility of rapproachment in the relationship between Iraq and Iran is advanced at least a notch.
It is good to hear that combat operations have ended in this 7-year long war. Still, 55,000 US personel remain in Iraq, which is over 40% of the number of personnel at the high point of the war. These 55,000 will mostly be in military installations which also happen to be near the major oilfields of Iraq.
One obvious area where he (John McCain) will be needed is his favorite field, national security. Iraq, where he was prescient and persistent still poses challenges, and Afghanistan, where Obama badly needs a Republican partner, is likely to be in crisis before it can be called a success. Behind them looms Iran, which could be this nation's next big test. [. . .] A load of work -- but John McCain has never shirked.
He has uttered some real whoppers, no question about that, but occasionally Michael Steele will say something interesting, such as when he openly acknowledged what every Democrat has known for 50 years, which is that the GOP has had and still has a "southern strategy."
Now add his criticism of the Afghanistan war. He called it "a war of Obama's choosing," which, of course, is complete nonsense. He may have had in mind the President's renewed committment to the conflict, but the conflict itself has been going on ever since the beginning of the Bush administration.
He also said, "This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in." Yes, we did want to "engage in" it, but it could be argued that he's right that there have been times when it has not been "actively prosecuted."
In the first year of the conflict, we easily overwhelmed the Taliban forces. Then, however, forces were peeled off for the invasion of Iraq, where, we were told, there were just oodles of Weapons of Mass Destruction pointed at the United States. We let bin Laden get away at Tora Bora, and Afghanistan was put on the back burner.
Steele went on to say that "the one thing you don't do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan" and noted that "everyone who has tried over a thousand years of history has failed." The first person to say that you can't win a land war in Asia was Dwight Eisenhower, who knew whereof he spoke. That everyone who has tried to win one in Afghanistan has failed is a fact of history, which is something we should have taken more seriously from the beginning.
The reaction to Steele's remarks has been almost universally negative, especially within his own party. Bill Kristol, who, though he never fought in one, never saw a war he didn't love, said that Steele should resign. John McCain went all growly. Everybody else chimed in.
Is the Afghanistan war sacrosanct? Is the longest-running war in American history not to be challenged? Is our country's conflict in a region that sent the British and the Russians packing not open for debate?
Speaking personally, I support the effort in Afghanistan. Taliban Afghanistan was the base for al-Qaeda which was responsible for 9/11. You hit us, we hit you back--I'm not proud of it necessarily, but that's the way the world works.
Support for the effort does not mean, however, that it should never be questioned. Serious questions need to be asked and answered. Current approaches need continual re-evaluation.
Foreign and military policy conducted in the interest of the United States requires more than macho posturing and knee-jerk war-hawkery. We should not be suppressing criticism. We should be having a national debate, Michael Steele included.
The odious Dick Cheney lobbed another grenade into American politics a few days ago when he sent Politico a statement in which he, snarling, said the Obama administration didn't know we were at war, and, oh dear, oh dear, we're all going to die because it. One wonders: Which is scarier? A message from bin Laden, or a message from Cheney?
One also wonders: Why is it that every time al-Qaeda does anything, Cheney emerges from his bunker to whack the President? Or, to put it a different way, why does Cheney attack the United States whenever al-Qaeda attacks the United States?
The White House dished back, and quite nicely:
[F]or seven years after 9/11, while our national security was overwhelmingly focused on Iraq -- a country that had no al Qaeda presence before our invasion -- Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda's leadership was able to set up camp in the border region of Pakistan and Afghanistan, where they continued to plot attacks against the United States. Meanwhile, al Qaeda also regenerated in places like Yemen and Somalia, establishing new safe-havens that have grown over a period of years. It was President Obama who finally implemented a strategy of winding down the war in Iraq, and actually focusing our resources on the war against al Qaeda -- more than doubling our troops in Afghanistan, and building partnerships to target al Qaeda's safe-havens in Yemen and Somalia. And in less than one year, we have already seen many al Qaeda leaders taken out, our alliances strengthened, and the pressure on al Qaeda increased worldwide.
To put it simply: this President is not interested in bellicose rhetoric, he is focused on action. Seven years of bellicose rhetoric failed to reduce the threat from al Qaeda and succeeded in dividing this country. And it seems strangely off-key now, at a time when our country is under attack, for the architect of those policies to be attacking the President.
Clive Hamilton: In 2003 while lobbying leaders to put together the Coalition of the Willing, President Bush spoke to France’s President Jacques Chirac. Bush wove a story about how the Biblical creatures Gog and Magog were at work in the Middle East and how they must be defeated.
Gog and Magog refers to a passage in the Book of Revelation in which two forces, Gog and Magog, gang up on Israel. Gog and Magog are mentioned a couple of times in the Old Testament and once in Revelation--even the Koran has a reference--and, of course, people have spun out every theory they can imagine as to who Gog and Magog might be. The Revelation text is:
“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle … and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”
President Bush told then French President, Jacques Chirac: “This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins”.
Chirac didn't have a clue what he was talking about so he dispatched his aides to find out. They consulted Thomas Romer, a professor of theology at the University of Lausanne. Romer had mentioned this story in an article published in 2007, but hardly anyone noticed. The story has now been confirmed by Jacques Chirac himself in a recently published book.
Dick Cheney would take Rush Limbaugh over Gen. Colin Powell--weird, but note the qualifier, "politically." The only way such a comment would any sense at all is if Cheney thought Limbaugh would be a greater advantage than Powell as a political operative. That nugget of it contains some truth. Limbaugh has more political stroke than Powell, "in terms of being a Republican."
CHENEY: Well, if I had to choose — in terms of being a Republican — I’d go with Rush Limbaugh, I think. My take on it was that Colin had already left the party. I didn’t know he was still a Republican. [...]
SCHIEFFER: And you said you’d take Rush Limbaugh over Colin Powell?
CHENEY: I would. Politically.
You can't miss Cheney's attack on Powell. "Is he still a Republican?" In terms of party politics, you can't issue a much bigger slam than that. This point also needs to be made: This is comparing a radio talk-show host with a Secretary of State, and National Security Advisor, who--Oh by the way--went out on a limb for Cheney, and has loyally served Republican administrations for thirty years--and taking the talk show host.
John Cole: At some point they are going to figure out that for most of us, we don’t care if the person has a ( R ) or (D) behind their name when they were instituting a policy of torture. That is what is so depressing (to me, at least) about the Ari Fleischer’s and the Thiessen’s of the world. They honestly seem to think this is nothing more than a partisan witch-hunt, the same old Washington gotcha poltics. It isn’t. When you torture people, you have crossed a really clear line. Innocent people are dead. Lives have been ruined. Our international reputation has been destroyed. Yes, the Bush administration will get most of the blame, but that is because they were in charge and they did this, not because of what party they happen to belong to. If Jane Harman and Nancy Pelosi knew about this and ok’d it, they are just as culpable.
Glenn Greenwald: The dispute over the role of Democratic leaders further bolsters the need for full-scale investigations: we ought to know everything that led to these crimes, including the true extent to which the "opposition party" was informed about what was being done and approved of it. The failure of the Democratic Party to meaningfully oppose what was done over the last eight years is a crucial part of the story here and light needs to be shined on that as much as anything else. I don't know of a single person who has devoted themselves to arguing for investigations who contests that fact.
See the article by former CIA head Porter Goss. How else to read this?
In the fall of 2002, while I was chairman of the House intelligence committee, senior members of Congress were briefed on the CIA's "High Value Terrorist Program," including the development of "enhanced interrogation techniques" and what those techniques were. This was not a one-time briefing but an ongoing subject with lots of back and forth between those members and the briefers...
The chairs and the ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, known as the Gang of Four, were briefed that the CIA was holding and interrogating high-value terrorists.
Recently, Cong. Jane Harman has been rumored to have been in contact with an Israeli agent. Marcy Wheeler wonders: Is the flap concerning Jane Harman an attempt to silence her? She notes that Goss, in a December 2007 interview, had named Harman, now Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL), Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) as having been briefed on CIA waterboarding back in 2002 and 2003. The lone person to raise a protest was Jane Harman.
In addition, Porter Goss is deeply implicated in the Bradbury torture memos and the torture tape destruction (and is one potential candidate to be the "senior agency official [who] failed to provide a full account of the CIA's detainee-treatment policy at a closed hearing of the House intelligence committee in February 2005, under questioning by California Rep. Jane Harman"). And it's quite likely that Jane Harman knows quite a bit about just how implicated he is.