Wednesday, July 06, 2005

July 11th: A Day Of Reckoning



Rumsfeld has until July 11 to produce Iraq benchmarks

Mon, 4 Jul 2005 18:23:47 -0700


The information required by this legal provision of the defense spending bill is specific and detailed. It includes measures of the security environment, including the number of engagements per day, the count of trained Iraqi forces and more. It orders up indicators of economic activity. It directs Rumsfeld to provide—either in public or in classified annexes—an estimate of U.S. military forces needed in Iraq through the end of calendar 2006 and the criteria the administration will use to determine when it is safe to begin withdrawing forces.

Broder’s “If” of “If and when it comes in…” is tantalizing. What might occur to prevent full compliance? A claim of Executive privilege? An invocation of a need for a cloak of secrecy so as no to tip the enemy off?

Will the Bush Administration allow the Pentagon to be so honest that it hurts?
[Posted By notforprophet]

By David S. Broder
Republished from The Daytona Beach News-Journal

A little-noticed provision of the defense spending bill requires a "comprehensive set of performance indicators and measures of stability and security," President Bush is facing a legal deadline to deliver what he has been most resistant to providing: a set of specific benchmarks for measuring progress toward military and political stability in Iraq.

Under a little-noticed provision of the defense spending bill passed by Congress in May, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld has until July 11 to send Capitol Hill a “comprehensive set of performance indicators and measures of stability and security” two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

If and when it comes in, it could do much more than the president’s Tuesday night speech at Fort Bragg to provide a factual basis for judging how close we may be toward reaching our goals in Iraq.

In that address, Bush once again demolished a straw man, denouncing any talk of a deadline for withdrawal of U.S. and coalition forces and any timetable for phasing them out. While public support for a pullout has grown, almost no one in Congress is advocating such a step.

What serious people are asking of the administration is a set of yardsticks by which the situation is Iraq can be realistically measured—and accountability established for a strategy to reach those goals. That is something the president has refused to provide.

This is our first M.B.A. president, a business school grad who generally operates on the principle that if you can’t measure something, you are flying blind. He insists that his Office of Management and Budget keep score on how well each department and agency is meeting its program responsibilities. Why not measure the enormously expensive investment in Iraq?

In a thoughtful June 21 speech, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, a Democrat who supported the invasion and vehemently opposes an early withdrawal, said continued public support depends on “a new compact between the administration and Congress to secure the informed consent of the American people, so that they give the president the time we need to succeed in Iraq.”

“The administration,” Biden said, “should develop with Congress clear benchmarks or goals in key areas: security, governance and politics, reconstruction and burden-sharing. We in Congress should aggressively assert our oversight responsibility by insisting that the administration report on progress toward those goals every month in public testimony.”

Last week, Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, the ranking Democrat on the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, pointed to language in the report accompanying last May’s Iraq funding bill that would satisfy most of those demands. It orders the first detailed status report on July 11 and follow-ups every 90 days.

The information required is specific and detailed. It includes measures of the security environment, including the number of engagements per day, the count of trained Iraqi forces and more. It orders up indicators of economic activity. It directs Rumsfeld to provide—either in public or in classified annexes—an estimate of U.S. military forces needed in Iraq through the end of calendar 2006 and the criteria the administration will use to determine when it is safe to begin withdrawing forces.

As a senior congressional aide told me, “if the Pentagon takes the law seriously and responds as robustly as it is capable of doing,” we may finally begin to learn where we stand.



Maybe I'm just a conspiracy theorist...

Maybe just looking at what they've done over and over it makes sense...

Maybe I'm just checking in with 'cause of the causal-approach to news...

Maybe stuff just doesn't happen...

Maybe I'm just being trite...


I was discussing middle-east politics with a Palestinian friend yesterday until 5 am. While it was obviously a great discussion, it's clear that there was a simple reason we didn't see eye-to-eye: how do you interpret what "they" say and do?

Do you take it straight?

Do you look for the roofies in the drink?


He was saying (paraphrased): "(Most of us Arabs think) they want democracy - on their terms, obviously, in Iraq and the middle-east. That's why they are doing this, and they're just cowboy idiots waging war so poorly they are accidentally creating more terrorism with every blunder".

I agreed with the former (sort of), but I disagreed with the latter: they don't seem to want to win this war very quickly. In fact, they don't seem to want to achieve any different results than what they are achieving now.

How can we tell?

Simply because they are so lazy in thinking of better solutions, or even in making simple logical changes to flawed existing policy.

I'm not even talking about "peace", I'm talking about waging the current "war on terrorism" better. There's a bunch of factors to judge in looking at this mess, but each one is a separate, important and relevant diagnostic. The fact that they always "justify and deny" seems more than just a classic character flaw of the paranoid and immoral...

I mean, they get called-out all the time for screwing up: from Osama, to pre 9/11 intelligence, to 380 tonnes of stolen weapons, to Guantanamo, to troop shortages, to Abu Ghaib, to lack of body-armor, to Zarqawi, to Fallujah, to Zarqawi, to...

July 11th.

So, this is the day of reckoning?


Now, I'm not saying it wasn't negotiated into the defense spending bill by Democrats with the best of efforts and intentions...

I really don't know...


Let's see what happened after the last major reckoning...



Yahoo! News
June 29, 2005

Bush OKs Shake-Up of Spy Agencies

Associated Press Writer

"In its scathing 600-page report released in March, the commission called the spy community "dead wrong on almost all of its prewar judgments" about Iraq's weapons."


"President Bush granted the new national intelligence chief expanded power over the FBI on Wednesday and ordered dozens of other spy agency changes as the White House heeded a presidential commission that condemned the intelligence community for failures in Iraq and elsewhere."

And the beating goes on...

It's much clearer in this example, where a "presidential commission" ripped into faulty intelligence agencies for failures - yet again, thus diverting attention from "their" (neo-con cabal) potential culpability - yet again, and conveniently suggesting they get more power and responsibility to fix the situation - yet again.

This story is easily picked-up as an "Oops! My bad!" slo-pitch home-run for the press, their largely forgotten journalism-school-rooted liberal conscience finally getting to breathe by attacking the failures of government and the CIA a bit.

Unfortunately, the wind-and-steroid-assisted homer is hit by citing the "presidential commission" negative findings and suggested solutions verbatim, with a smattering of mostly bland quotes from politicians usually endorsing whatever policy suggested by the "presidential commission" is on the table. Even those who question it are usually they just hoping for a better version of the same policy, or that it follow-through on promised success.

It also legitimizes the insane idea that more intelligence power and authority given and directed by the President's Office is needed: can the best-trained, equipped and funded intelligence service(s) in the world really screw up that badly? And if so, what makes us think giving them more money and power is the answer? And if so, should the President's Office royally screwing up nearly every domestic and foreign policy geared to "winning" the "war on terrorism" sooner rather than later, really get a free-press-corpse-pass to run all the intelligence agencies better too?


Maybe it's the editors with the corporate guns to their heads killing journalistic analyses, but it's also becoming a disturbing trend to snootily close-ranks around the reality of their job-restrictions as opposed to fighting them, classic defiant reactions of a proud profession to losing independence, power and relevance.

It makes sense for journalists to look at overwhelming evidence supported by millions of potential readers outside of conventional wisdom, even if only to nuance or confirm it. This isn't the olden days where random "conspiracy nuts" would supposedly write bizarre libertarian tracts about alleged crimes of government secrecy: it's right now, where the internet is proving that there are in fact millions of "conspiracy theorists" cross-referencing sources - and proving many of the conspiracy O.G.'s were actually right. As we know there are few mainstream eyes out for true lies, and outside of a guys like Seymour Hersh, few ready to dig deep enough to assign extended culpability beyond suggested incompetence...

So, what's going to happen on July 11th?

I'm not sure, but I believe you can bet on one of two things:

1) An utter pack of lies suggesting Iraq is going well, and on it's way to being a beacon of freedom and democracy and role-model for the middle-east.

2) An utter pack of truth saying things are going horribly, and more money, more troops, more private contractors, more intelligence... more "war" is needed to control the evil fundamentalist "terrorist breeding ground" we've created.

Oh, and by the way the "terrorist breeding ground" is full of horrible Islamic young male filthy Arab "terrorists" (As seen on TV!) who hate us more and more every day, and are quite likely to blow up The World's Biggest Hoagie in Springfield, Wherever. So, and sadly, even though the nation has been shamefully caught and apologised for it several times, more "torture" is an unfortunate yet acceptable response to protect The Homeland.


As I said to my Palestinian friend, if I saw him kickin' it outside our local shawarma joint and called him a racial epithet in full-public view of others on the block, and no one said anything, I would gain power from it. The next day I may try spitting on him, and if no one said anything, my power would grow. The next day I might smack him in the head, and if no one said anything...

Classic stuff.

So, recently added to the torture "camps, prisons, flights and renditions", are new (or newly discovered) "torture ships" afloat in international waters, where no U.S. laws can "prosecute" them.

So... I guess it's okay then.

It seems there has never been a "moral" imperative to change policy, only a "practical" one: how can we find a way to keep doing this? How can we say "we're not breaking any laws"? How can we phrase responses like "Karl Rove never **knowingly** revealed any classified information about CIA Agent Valerie Plane to TIME Magazine"?

How do we (slowly but surely) change laws and policies to make all this stuff legal, and thus publicly morally justifiable through the corporately-controlled media in using conventional legislative yardsticks?


There are solutions to this, but the first step is accurately diagnosing their own solutions. We just can't expect their own checks and balances to work, they haven't so far, and so we can't digest them easily like tasty red-herrings. Our natural cynicism is often tempered by our worship of power and the convoluted legitimacy it inherently conveys, so while it makes sense to hope for the best on July 11th, it makes at least as much sense to expect the worst.

As distasteful as the reality is, "they" haven't reacted to accusations or evidence that should obliterate Watergate from history with anything approaching humility thus far. It seems that any problems found are at best finally barely acknowledged, and then turned into billion-dollar solutions, like war-appropriations bills, intelligence-spending bills, recruitment-effort bills, corporate-tax-cut bills, weaponization-of-space bills...


That's a whole lot of bills.


Like any good cop'll tell you: to find the crime, just follow the money...

Peace, (NOW!!!)