No More Apples
"Adam ate an apple from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It's a shame we ran out of apples." -- The Sage.
"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." -- John Kenneth Galbraith
"Reality has a liberal bias." -- Stephen Colbert
We are proud members of the resistance.
Saturday, June 18
Friday, June 17
JEB BUSH WANTS MICHAEL SCHIAVO INVESTIGATED
Why has Jeb Bush anointed himself chief flagellator of Michael Schiavo?
Florida doesn't have any other problems that it can spare its governor to personally pursue, harass and torment this man? The GOVERNOR OF AN AMERICAN STATE is lending his support to the slander that Michael murdered Terri? Have you no shame, sir? At long last, have you no shame?
CHILDHOOD VACCINE SCANDAL: POISONING A GENERATION
What is happening to this country, when the lives and safety of our children are not as important as the revenues generated by big pharma? Have we completely lost our way, that so many of our nation's most prominent citizens make life-and-death decisions based on profitability rather than morality?
The federal officials and industry representatives had assembled to discuss a disturbing new study that raised alarming questions about the safety of a host of common childhood vaccines administered to infants and young children. According to a CDC epidemiologist named Tom Verstraeten, who had analyzed the agency's massive database containing the medical records of 100,000 children, a mercury-based preservative in the vaccines -- thimerosal -- appeared to be responsible for a dramatic increase in autism and a host of other neurological disorders among children. "I was actually stunned by what I saw," Verstraeten told those assembled at Simpsonwood, citing the staggering number of earlier studies that indicate a link between thimerosal and speech delays, attention-deficit disorder, hyperactivity and autism. Since 1991, when the CDC and the FDA had recommended that three additional vaccines laced with the preservative be given to extremely young infants -- in one case, within hours of birth -- the estimated number of cases of autism had increased fifteenfold, from one in every 2,500 children to one in 166 children.
But instead of taking immediate steps to alert the public and rid the vaccine supply of thimerosal, the officials and executives at Simpsonwood spent most of the next two days discussing how to cover up the damaging data. According to transcripts obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, many at the meeting were concerned about how the damaging revelations about thimerosal would affect the vaccine industry's bottom line.
Dr. Bob Chen, head of vaccine safety for the CDC, expressed relief that "given the sensitivity of the information, we have been able to keep it out of the hands of, let's say, less responsible hands." Dr. John Clements, vaccines advisor at the World Health Organization, declared flatly that the study "should not have been done at all" and warned that the results "will be taken by others and will be used in ways beyond the control of this group. The research results have to be handled."
I devoted time to study this issue because I believe that this is a moral crisis that must be addressed. If, as the evidence suggests, our public-health authorities knowingly allowed the pharmaceutical industry to poison an entire generation of American children, their actions arguably constitute one of the biggest scandals in the annals of American medicine. "The CDC is guilty of incompetence and gross negligence," says Mark Blaxill, vice president of Safe Minds, a nonprofit organization concerned about the role of mercury in medicines. "The damage caused by vaccine exposure is massive. It's bigger than asbestos, bigger than tobacco, bigger than anything you've ever seen."
POLITICAL FALLOUT FOR CONG. WALTER "FREEDOM FRIES" JONES
Brave Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC), who with Dennis Kucinich and two other Representatives introduced a bill requiring a pulldown of U.S. troops in Iraq, is feeling the heat back home.
AGAIN, GIVE IT UP FOR JOHN DANFORTH
I've remarked before on what a voice of wisdom and reconciliation is John Danforth, an ordained Episcopal priest and formerly U.S. Senator from Missouri and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. opinion piece is so good it's gold:
IT would be an oversimplification to say that America's culture wars are now between people of faith and nonbelievers. People of faith are not of one mind, whether on specific issues like stem cell research and government intervention in the case of Terri Schiavo, or the more general issue of how religion relates to politics. In recent years, conservative Christians have presented themselves as representing the one authentic Christian perspective on politics. With due respect for our conservative friends, equally devout Christians come to very different conclusions.
It is important for those of us who are sometimes called moderates to make the case that we, too, have strongly held Christian convictions, that we speak from the depths of our beliefs, and that our approach to politics is at least as faithful as that of those who are more conservative. Our difference concerns the extent to which government should, or even can, translate religious beliefs into the laws of the state.
People of faith have the right, and perhaps the obligation, to bring their values to bear in politics. Many conservative Christians approach politics with a certainty that they know God's truth, and that they can advance the kingdom of God through governmental action. So they have developed a political agenda that they believe advances God's kingdom, one that includes efforts to "put God back" into the public square and to pass a constitutional amendment intended to protect marriage from the perceived threat of homosexuality.
Moderate Christians are less certain about when and how our beliefs can be translated into statutory form, not because of a lack of faith in God but because of a healthy acknowledgement of the limitations of human beings. Like conservative Christians, we attend church, read the Bible and say our prayers.
But for us, the only absolute standard of behavior is the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. Repeatedly in the Gospels, we find that the Love Commandment takes precedence when it conflicts with laws. We struggle to follow that commandment as we face the realities of everyday living, and we do not agree that our responsibility to live as Christians can be codified by legislators.
When, on television, we see a person in a persistent vegetative state, one who will never recover, we believe that allowing the natural and merciful end to her ordeal is more loving than imposing government power to keep her hooked up to a feeding tube.
When we see an opportunity to save our neighbors' lives through stem cell research, we believe that it is our duty to pursue that research, and to oppose legislation that would impede us from doing so.
We think that efforts to haul references of God into the public square, into schools and courthouses, are far more apt to divide Americans than to advance faith.
Following a Lord who reached out in compassion to all human beings, we oppose amending the Constitution in a way that would humiliate homosexuals.
For us, living the Love Commandment may be at odds with efforts to encapsulate Christianity in a political agenda. We strongly support the separation of church and state, both because that principle is essential to holding together a diverse country, and because the policies of the state always fall short of the demands of faith. Aware that even our most passionate ventures into politics are efforts to carry the treasure of religion in the earthen vessel of government, we proceed in a spirit of humility lacking in our conservative colleagues.
In the decade since I left the Senate, American politics has been characterized by two phenomena: the increased activism of the Christian right, especially in the Republican Party, and the collapse of bipartisan collegiality. I do not think it is a stretch to suggest a relationship between the two. To assert that I am on God's side and you are not, that I know God's will and you do not, and that I will use the power of government to advance my understanding of God's kingdom is certain to produce hostility. [emphasis mine]
By contrast, moderate Christians see ourselves, literally, as moderators. Far from claiming to possess God's truth, we claim only to be imperfect seekers of the truth. We reject the notion that religion should present a series of wedge issues useful at election time for energizing a political base. We believe it is God's work to practice humility, to wear tolerance on our sleeves, to reach out to those with whom we disagree, and to overcome the meanness we see in today's politics.
For us, religion should be inclusive, and it should seek to bridge the differences that separate people. We do not exclude from worship those whose opinions differ from ours. Following a Lord who sat at the table with tax collectors and sinners, we welcome to the Lord's table all who would come. Following a Lord who cited love of God and love of neighbor as encompassing all the commandments, we reject a political agenda that displaces that love. Christians who hold these convictions ought to add their clear voice of moderation to the debate on religion in politics.
God bless him.
WHY DOES BIG BIRD HATE AMERICA?
Molly Ivins on the BushCo initiative to destroy PBS:
have listened patiently to years of right-wing bull about liberal bias in the media, but let us be perfectly clear about what is happening at PBS. Big Bird is not in favor of affirmative action. Bert and Ernie are not gay. Miss Piggy is not a feminist. "The Three Tenors," "Antiques Roadshow," "Masterpiece Theater," "Wall Street Week" and nature programs do not have a political agenda. "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" is biased in favor of boring, old, white guys who appear on painfully well-balanced panels. "Washington Week in Review" is a showcase for "Inside the Beltway," conventional wisdom, power-parroting, political-geekhead, Establishment journalism -- there is nothing liberal about it.
But there is a plot to politicize public broadcasting. It is plain as a pikestaff, and it is coming from the Right. It is obvious, undeniable and happening right now.
I've read all those studies that show people on the Right lack the gift of empathy. I can see they have a real hard time imagining themselves as people on welfare or as blacks in East Texas -- that's quite a stretch even for white bleeding hearts like me. What I don't get is their inability to do the simplest exercise in elementary fairness -- how would you feel if the shoe were on the other foot?
Let's pretend Hillary Clinton wins the 2008 election. Who do you want her to appoint chairman of CPB? James Carville? Noam Chomsky? Or should she show how much she understands the importance of the independence of public broadcasting by naming an esteemed Republican, say John Danforth or Alan Simpson or Richard Lugar? How about anyone who understands that the function of journalism is not to toady to those in power but to challenge them? Is that too much to ask?
The ideological Republicans are destroying a fine public institution.
I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW
A bright young-ish VP of my company, a moderate Republican, just stopped into my office for a brief chat about politics. Towards the end I remarked, "I wish someone would explain to me just what our goal really is in Iraq now. Is it the old domino theory thing where if we turn Iraq into a model democracy the other nations of the Middle East will follow suit and abandon Islamic fascism?" He replied, "I don't see what it is you don't understand. It's as clear as Bush's Social Security plan."
He also opined that if Bill Frist or another creature of the "Christian right" gets the Republican nomination in 2008 and the Dems select a moderate such as Bill Richardson or Harry Reid (his suggestions), the Dems will win his vote and the presidency.
HOWARD DEAN TONIGHT
Tonight I'll be attending the Howard Dean rally in Dallas. I am so looking forward to being with other Dallas Democrats and observing the temper of the group. Are there really other Dallasites who feel as I do? My few Dem friends here agree that it is not possible to conduct a meaningful discussion about the state of the nation in most settings, at the office, at a party, at church... there's a cloud of disapproval, even intimidation, that hangs over us all when we're in the midst of Texas Republicans. I'm the most outspoken, but I get a kind of ride because I've always been considered eccentric. Yet even I often experience an unsettling sense of fear of wingnut reactions to my boldness. My liberal friends say they can't talk to their friends or relatives. What a sad situation.
THE ARROGANCE REVEALED IN THE DOWNING STREET MEMOS
A must-read interview with Sunday Times reporter Michael Smith, who has led coverage of the Downing Street Memo.
As some of you may have guessed by now before I became a journalist, I served in the army. That makes me all the more angry when people fight wars they don't need to and kill people who don't need to be killed, not least because it is never the politicians who get killed it is the ordinary soldiers.
Bin Laden is a legitimate target, Iraq, even an Iraq led by Saddam Hussein, was not. This was an illegal war but the most criminal part of it all was the lazy, arrogant way they went into it. (British tanks crossing the start lines, in a war being fought about WMD, did not even have any chemical or biological filters fitted because the Ministry of Defence failed to buy them in time.)
Just look at all those memos again, don't look for fixed intelligence, don't look for illegality. Just look at the lack of preparation, look how right all those experts who said it would all turn out badly were and then wonder how many British and American soldiers died because those politicians were too arrogant to take the advice of the experts.
THIS TWILIGHT ZONE PRESIDENCY
Imagine if we had a serious president:
SOMEWHERE, in a parallel universe, real leaders in a country very much like our own are dealing with real problems. Imagine what America might be like if our top officials were addressing the genuine challenges that confront us.
In a decade, historians will ponder how the American people could possibly have reelected a president who lives in a fantasy world and who is doing such damage to the real world.
The poet e.e. cummings wrote, at the end of a fine poem lamenting the condition of humankind, ''Listen, there's a hell of a good universe next door. Let's go." We, alas, don't have that option. We have to bring sanity to the world we are living in.
"America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've got to want it bad, because it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil who is standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the 'land of the free'? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the 'land of the free'...This is a time for serious people, Bob, and your 15 minutes are up."-- Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas) in The American President
Thursday, June 16
CONTEXT FOR THE DOWNING STREET MEMO
THEY'RE AFTER DICK DURBIN AND PAT LEAHY
Oh my. Talk radio is livid over Sen. Dick Durbin's (D-IL) remarks Tuesday on the floor of the Senate. And they're accusing him and Sen. Patrick Leahy of KILLING our soldiers (direct quote from Dallas KLIF talk host Darrrell Ankarlo).
Taranto: "We are fighting an enemy that murdered 3,000 innocent people on American soil 3 1/2 years ago and would murder millions more if given the chance--and according to Dick Durbin, our soldiers are the Nazis."
First of all, read Durbin's actual words. He was clearly referring to interrogators, not ordinary soldiers. And secondly, he was right: "If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners."
Would we, a few years back, have believed what we've seen at Abu Ghraib, Gitmo and elsewhere to be the work of Americans? We had a very different picture then of ourselves as a nation and a people. Many Americans excuse these acts despite what we know about the conduct of this war. Many Americans are ostriches and won't accept what they don't choose to believe, despite all evidence to the contrary. Some Americans still believe Michael Schiavo murdered Terri.
Some Americans still don't believe "it could happen here."
UPDATE: Notes and memos prove military lawyers warned that the interrogation techniques being used at Gitmo could land top officials in jail. How dare they? Why do they hate America? They should be thrown into the same cage as Durbin and Leahy.
DO TERROR DETAINEES HAVE RIGHTS?
The Bush administration continues to feel the heat regarding the indefinite detention of terror suspects at Gitmo.
Defending holding them indefinitely, with no charges being filed and with no rights to legal representation, has proved a harder concept to embrace and defend, even for Bush loyalists. It appears to violate cherished bedrock American tenants of jurisprudence.
"The overwhelming majority of the people at Guantanamo Bay have never been charged with any wrongdoing, they have never appeared before any court of law. ... They may be held for as long as the president sees fit under any conditions the military may devise," said Joseph Margulies, a Minneapolis lawyer who represented Mamdouh Habib, an Egypt-born Australian citizen recently released from Guantanamo after being held for three years.
...Gonzales said, "We can't release them and have them go back to fight against America." He said terror suspects could be detained "for the duration of hostilities."
That first paragraph hits the nail on the head. Most Americans, though finding it distasteful, seem to be able to swallow the reported incidences of prisoner abuse, but abhor the idea of keeping someone locked up for years upon years with no charges filed against them and no access to legal recourse. But the argument that makes the least sense to me is the one I hear most regularly from the Republican leadership, Fox News and talk radio: that these are "dangerous terrorists" we simply can't let go to return and fight America again. If we're so sure these guys are terrorists, what's keeping us (the U.S.) from filing charges and proving our case? The fact that we don't makes many of us suspicious that we're reluctant to admit we've kept many innocents incarcerated this long so we continue to insist on keeping them incommunicado to avoid public embarrassment.
To suggest that we'll keep them until "the duration of hostilities" is outrageous. Does anyone seriously believe that Dubya is going to declare an end to his war on terra in the forseeable future? These people could be there for decades.
Wednesday, June 15
THE REVOLVING DOOR: BUSH APPOINTEES WHO LEAVE TO WORK FOR THEIR CORPORATE MASTERS
Remember Cooney, the non-scientist, former oil industry lobbyist/White House staff member who repeatedly revised government scientific reports on global warming? He's gone to work for Exxon Mobil.
Some climate scientists and environmental campaigners said Mr. Cooney's quick shift from the White House to Exxon was evidence of a near-seamless relationship between the Bush administration and the oil industry.
"Perhaps he won't even notice he has changed jobs," said David G. Hawkins, who directs the climate center at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a private environmental group.
TOM FRIEDMAN HAS OUTLIVED ANY USEFULNESS ANYONE EVER THOUGHT HE POSSESSED
I was so appalled at Tom Friedman's column today I was speechless, but Oldman of Blogging of the President says it right well:
All the chances for what might have been were pissed away by the dumbest war prosecution in the modern history of our country. Rumsfeld and Bush and Condi will go down as being the instigators of Vietnam II, the war that broke the back of the American volunteer military, encouraged nuclear and terrorist proliferation around the world, raised oil prices precipitously, destablized the entire middle-east, and destroyed the public legitimacy of America as a moral leader among nations.
So what he [Friedman] is really asking for is that people who had no part in the making of this mistake, who argued against it from day one, who never promoted the lies, who never defended the indefensible war prosecution, who told the truth about the death spiral of Iraq, and who never hyped the stupid elections, he's asking for these people to either die or have their children involuntarily sent to die to clean up his mistake.
FOR SOME, THE FACTS FROM SCHIAVO'S AUTOPSY ARE IRRELEVANT
For the reality-based community, it's no surprise:
The autopsy showed that Schiavo's brain had shrunk to about half the normal size for a woman her age and that it bore signs of severe damage.
"This damage was irreversible, and no amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons," said Pinellas-Pasco County Medical Examiner Dr. Jon Thogmartin, who led the autopsy team. He also said she was blind, because the "vision centers of her brain were dead."
But for the twilight zone-based community, facts don't matter:
Nevertheless, attorney David Gibbs III said Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, continue to believe she was not in a vegetative state and questioned the conclusion that she was blind.
In Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the autopsy did nothing to change President Bush's position that Schiavo's feeding tube should not have been disconnected.
JUST WHO ARE THE OBSTRUCTIONISTS HERE?
Nadler, Conyers, and other Dems are turning up the heat.
Sensenbrenner abruptly gaveled the hearing to a close Friday over cries of protest from Nadler and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas). Parliamentary practice in the House generally requires that the committee chairman adjourn on motion or without objection, neither of which was the case Friday.
Democrats continued to make statements and witnesses continued to offer testimony after Sensenbrenner had left the room. C-SPAN cameras were still rolling as the committee’s majority staff rushed to turn off microphones and lights on the Democrats, prompting the television crews to break out boom mikes.
The hearing was one of a dozen the Judiciary Committee has held on the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, but it was the only one to feature solely witnesses put forth by the panel’s Democrats.
Partisan tension has been growing in recent months on the committee. Democrats have frequently complained that the panel has not held hearings on topics of interest to them. In December, ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.) began holding alternative hearings using one of the committee’s smaller hearing rooms.
After Conyers’s most recent forum several weeks ago, Democrats were notified that they would be denied future use of hearing rooms.
Now Conyers plans to take the meetings to the Democratic National Committee headquarters on South Capitol Street...One such Democratic hearing is slated for tomorrow covering the so-called “Downing Street Memo” on prewar intelligence.
They try to arrest our lawfully elected representatives, deny them meeting space and then call us "obstructionist"? Pot, meet kettle.
HELP MOVEON SAVE NPR, PBS
Tomorrow, the House Appropriations Committee will decide whether to approve massive cuts to NPR and PBS. We need 500,000 people to sign the petition to Congress opposing the most severe cut in the history of public broadcasting and save "Sesame Street," "Reading Rainbow" and other commercial-free quality programming. The proposed cuts would end federal funding altogether within two years.
The next vote on the cuts will take place tomorrow (Thursday, June 16). You can sign the petition here.
MSM BLAMED FOR POOR MILITARY RECRUITING REPORTS
Gary Bauer of American Values agrees, saying the mainstream media "can barely hide their glee" that the U.S. military is having trouble filling its ranks. "If you are an 18-year-old American watching the news, you seldom, if ever, hear about a heroic U.S. soldier who rescues a wounded comrade, captures a terrorist thug or saves the lives of civilians -- even though those things are happening every day," Bauer observes.
"On the other hand, every young American has seen countless hours of coverage of Abu Ghraib prison guards on their way to jail, and demonstrators calling U.S. soldiers war criminals," he says.
Hello! Did I miss something? Where was the demonstration in which U.S. soldiers were called war criminals? Is he talking about '68 or '05? I thought recent history was filled with denunciations of our LEADERS, not the troops who just do what they're told.
Some people just can't get over 'Nam. The refrain "baby killers!" keeps them awake all night.
Wish the killing itself would do the same.
Tuesday, June 14
DO YOU BELIEVE BUSH IS DOING THE LORD'S WORK?
(Hat tip to Pacificus.)
This is the way these people work:
On Thursday June 16, 2005, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Wasserman Room at 430 S Capitol St. SE, Washington, D.C., Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, and other Congress Members will hold a hearing on the Downing Street Minutes and related evidence of efforts to cook the books on pre-war intelligence.
The hearings are being held at the Democratic National Committee because the Republicans controlling the House Judiciary Committee refused to permit the ranking Democratic Member to use a room on the Hill. Nonetheless, Republicans are welcome to attend.
Somebody, quick, quote me a wingnut talking about how Dems have "lowered the tone" of the national conversation. We've lowered it, all right. Lowered it to almost freaking-mute-setting (can't be heard when the Rethugs shut off the microphones, eh?).
"Granny" Doris Haddock: ONE SUPERB GRADUATION SPEECH
Read it all and be inspired.
...here is a great nation for you! Here is the land of the free, but, by God, it had better be the land of the brave if you would keep it. You had better be the patriots you now require.
But do not act from anger; the defense of freedom and fairness comes best from a loving and tolerant heart.
Accept no leaders who would lead you with fear or anger—who are forever dividing and punishing the people instead of uniting, encouraging and empowering them. Great leaders lead from a better vision of a possible future. Great leaders—and you must include yourself in this—lead themselves, their families, friends, communities, nations and their world from the great, golden idea that people should be free and should in every way be encouraged to fulfill their highest potentials and live life responsibly as they choose. Great leadership comes from love, and great societies come from confident, mass empowerment.
THE U.S. CONTRIBUTION TO GLOBAL WARMING...BY THE NUMBERS
A wake-up call for American voters.
If we consume the lion's share of the world's resources and are responsible for far more than our share of pollution and impact upon global warming, you'd think we'd at least have the common decency to pretend to be concerned.
WHEN DID BUSH DECIDE ON WAR?
Uggabugga has posted an Iraq decision timeline.
MORE BUSH HYPOCRISY
U.S. Opposed Calls at NATO for Probe of Uzbek Killings.
But then we NEED those bases and Bush has probably been peering into another (Karimov's) soul, so he knows he's OK.
There are stirrings of dissent on Capitol Hill about placing access to the air base at the center of U.S. policy, however. Six senators warned Rumsfeld and Rice in a letter last week that "in the aftermath of the Andijan massacre, America's relationship with Uzbekistan cannot remain unchanged."
The senators -- Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), John McCain (R-Ariz.), John E. Sununu (R-N.H.), Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) and Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) -- added that "we believe that the United States must be careful about being too closely associated with a government that has killed hundreds of demonstrators and refused international calls for a transparent investigation." They suggested that the administration explore alternative basing arrangements "in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and elsewhere in the region" to give Washington more flexibility.
APPLICATIONS TO U.S. MILITARY ACADEMIES DROP
West Point down 9.3%, USN Academy off 20%, and Air Force Academy drops 22.7%.
Isn't it interesting how "the economy is improving" is given as the excuse for every other kind of decline?
MINING THE MOON
The real reason behind NASA's restructuring?
DECEPTION ABOUT PAT TILLMAN'S DEATH CONTINUES
Mary Tillman says, "The case of Pat's death is not closed, as the Army suggests."
The documents that Mary Tillman is referring to are gathered in a six-volume record of the military's investigation, which were recently made available to the family but not to the media or public. Although heavily redacted, including one wholly censored volume, the files I have read make unmistakably clear that the true cause of Tillman's death was known in the field shortly after he was killed and reported as fratricide up through the military command. Yet those facts were systematically kept from the family — including Pat's brother and fellow Army Ranger, Kevin Tillman, who was serving in the same unit in Afghanistan — while a markedly inaccurate story played itself out in the world's media.
The publicly unreleased files also present major contradictions of fact and logic as to how this fratricide occurred, including questions about the decision to split Tillman's unit; why the shooting continued even after the identification of the target as friendly by the driver of the attack vehicle; what were the light conditions and distances involved; what was the medical treatment administered; and how was it decided to burn Tillman's clothes and body armor, which bore tell-tale markings of penetration by U.S. ammunition.
The files also make plain that in the rush to honor Tillman with the Silver Star before a much-publicized memorial service, the Army deliberately obfuscated the fact that Tillman was a victim of friendly fire — implying in the official press release that he had been killed by Taliban or Al Qaeda forces while taking "the fight to the enemy forces … on the dominating high ground." In fact, no physical evidence was ever found that proves enemy fighters were even in the area.
None of this, of course, lessens the fact that Tillman died acting heroically in what he initially believed to be a battle with an enemy he had forsaken fame and fortune to fight.
That Bush has not acknowledged the controversy over Tillman's death, yet was so quick to invoke Tillman's heroism in the midst of the Abu Ghraib scandal and on the campaign trail, speaks volumes about how politicians exploit soldiers, both the living and the dead.
ELBARADEI'S RECONFIRMATION A DEFEAT FOR BOLTON
The first of many?
Bolton and other neoconservatives don't like ElBaradei because, among other things, they think he's too soft on Iran. The 62-year-old Egyptian favors the European approach, which is to negotiate with Iran and offer it incentives to give up a nuclear weapons program that Iran claims it doesn't have (the U.S. strongly believes otherwise). ElBaradei has urged Iran to allow inspections and criticized the U.S. for making assertions without evidence and failing to take part in the European negotiations.
ElBaradei is right on both counts — just as he was three years ago in the run-up to the Iraq war, another sore spot for the neocons. He consistently urged a diplomatic rather than military approach to Iraq and was skeptical of U.S. claims about its nuclear weapons program. The fact that no evidence has emerged of any such program gives added weight to ElBaradei's current stance on Iran. The fact that he is a Middle Eastern-born Muslim at a time of deep confrontation between Western nations and the Muslim world, and his long experience in the field of nuclear nonproliferation, also make him ideal to head the U.N. agency.
ElBaradei's return might be Bolton's first major diplomatic defeat since President Bush nominated him, but if he's confirmed, it won't be his last. There are radical differences between Bolton's views and those of diplomats from the rest of the world. Bush believes those differences will help bring needed reforms to the U.N. The danger is that they will only further alienate U.S. allies and potential allies and destroy American credibility in international affairs.
Monday, June 13
WHAT'S BEHIND CURT WELDON'S TURN AS 007?
Laura Rozen has the low-down on Congressman Curt Weldon's (R-PA) new book about his spying efforts into Iranian terrorism. A great read.
What’s far more important, says Murray, is that Weldon’s freelance 007 crusade to be his own spymaster has ultimately done a disservice to the American people and to national security.
“Most of us [CIA officers] have been consumed with preventing real terrorist threats to the U.S. for the past four years,” he said with a fierce squint. “And virtually everything Ghorbanifar and his people come up with diverts us. I have hard-working people working for me, and they don’t have time for this bullshit.”
Sunday, June 12
THE MYSTERY OF CHUCK HAGEL
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NEB) on Late Edition is talking about being in Vietnam in '68 and observing the development of a culture that was very dangerous. He goes on to compare it to what is happening at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere. He thinks it's a "drift" that will come back to haunt the U.S. He and Dianne Feinstein agree that it's ridiculous to pretend this sort of thing isn't happening. Hagel indicates that either there is a lack of leadership or the wrong kind of leadership that is leading to the development of this culture of outrages justified by the "war on terra." Neither of them understand why we didn't learn from Abu Ghraib.
Hagel often strikes me as a Republican of conscience. It's hard to reconcile with my well-based suspicions that he finagled his elections, and others'.
MORE REVELATIONS FROM DOWNING STREET
The heat is intensifying.
The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal.
The document said the only way the allies could justify military action was to place Saddam Hussein in a position where he ignored or rejected a United Nations ultimatum ordering him to co-operate with the weapons inspectors. But it warned this would be difficult.
“It is just possible that an ultimatum could be cast in terms which Saddam would reject,” the document says. But if he accepted it and did not attack the allies, they would be “most unlikely” to obtain the legal justification they needed.
The suggestions that the allies use the UN to justify war contradicts claims by Blair and Bush, repeated during their Washington summit last week, that they turned to the UN in order to avoid having to go to war. The attack on Iraq finally began in March 2003.
UPDATE: WaPo has more. And AmericaBlog directs us to this definitive article.
ON COL. WESTHUSING'S DEATH
I've been getting quite a bit of traffic focused on this post about the death of Col. Westhusing in Iraq. I referred to a report I'd heard on CNN. Here's the transcript of what I heard:
Westhusing's death is listed as non-hostile. That category includes accident, illness, foul play, an act of nature, such as being struck by lightning, or suicide.
Military sources confirm to CNN that family members have been told Westhusing was found with a single gunshot wound. But the Army emphasizes it is conducting a full investigation to determine what happened.
WESTHUSING BROTHER: It just breaks your heart, it really does, that there's such, you know, a great person that had so much capability, so much to offer. It's gone. I'd just like for people to know that he gave everything he had to make a difference.
STARR (on camera): No one can yet say what may have happened to the Colonel Ted Westhusing, but friends and family remember a military career served in peace time and war time with years of honor.
Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
I've been accused of "adding to the confusion" around the cause of Westhusing's death because I said there was an implication in the report that it could have been suicide. Obviously, if he died of a single gunshot wound it could have been inflicted by someone other than himself. But the way Starr framed her last comment, "friends and family remember a military career served in peace time and war time with years of honor," coming as it did directly after the phrase, "No one can yet say what may have happened..." seemed curious to me, and in the nature of a justification.
By all accounts, Col. Westhusing was an extraordinary person and fine American. I was casting no aspersions upon him by reading something into the reporter's tone and the structure of her report. Col. Westhusing's death was ruled as non-combat-related. That category includes accident, illness, foul play, an act of nature, such as being struck by lightning, or suicide. If he died of a gunshot wound, that eliminates everything in that category except murder or suicide. Either is a sorry end for a gallant and courageous officer.