"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Theodore Roosevelt
The United States Agency for International Development is seeking applications for an Assistance Agreement from qualified sources to design and implement a social and economic stabilization program impacting ten Strategic Cities, identified by the United States Government as critical to the defeat of the Insurgency in Iraq. The number of Strategic Cities may expand or contract over time. USAID plans to provide approximately $1,020,000,000 over two years to meet the objectives of the Program. An additional option year may be considered amounting to $300 million at the discretion of USAID.
Embedded Reporter: Bush Lied About Iraqi Security Forces
Bush claims the Iraqi security forces primarily led the assault on the city of Tal Afar; he highlighted this as a sign of the progress that the security forces were making in Iraq. Michael Ware, Time Magazine's Baghdad Bureau Chief, personally witnessed the battle in Tal Afar and gives a much different take on the event (video).
Russia plans to sell more than $1 billion worth of tactical surface-to-air missiles and other defense hardware to Iran, media reported on Friday. Moscow is already at odds with the West over its nuclear ties with Tehran but has sought to use its warm relations with Iran to be recognized as a key mediator between the West and the Islamic Republic.
The operational commander of al-Qaida, possibly the No. 3 official in the terrorist organization, was killed early Thursday morning by a CIA missile attack on a safehouse in Pakistan, officials told NBC News. Pakistan's information minister later confirmed the militant leader's killing.
More than four years after the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. intelligence agencies still are failing to share information while Congress battles over security funding, a panel that investigated the terrorist hijackings will conclude in a new report. In interviews Friday, members of the former Sept. 11 commission said the government should receive a dismal grade for its lack of urgency in enacting strong security measures to prevent terror attacks.
Senator Warner addresses the Pentagon's propaganda campaign in Iraq without defending the right of the military to manipulate the press and avoids giving a clear opinion on the legalities. Even more significant, it seems as though he wasn't even aware of the practice (video).
General William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency, believes the only way to stabilize the Middle East is to leave Iraq now. The retired general points out that we are alienating our allies and we need a coalition to help us stabilize the region. The idea that things will be worse when we leave misperceives that we are causing those very things today -- we have created civil war in the region. The longer we stay, the worse the situation will become. Staying in and making matters worse, will embolden the terrorists even more -- we don't have a choice but to leave (video).
As we mentioned above, this goes down as the softest employment cycle ever. Here we are, four years into the business expansion, and employment has averaged 0.7% at an annual rate. This is more than 75% below what is typical of the past and makes a mockery out of the so-called jobless recovery of the early 1990s. What has kept the consumer intact has been the sharp drawdown in the savings rate from 2.4% in 2002 all the way down to a record low -1.5% in the third quarter of 2005.
Just like Bill O'Reilly's invented "War on Christmas", Ann Coulter is accusing unnamed "far left smear websites" of threatening harm against her. O'Reilly and Coulter claim they are declining to mention the websites by name as to not give them publicity. Funny, that never seemed to be an issue with the many references to MoveOn.org. Desperate times indeed in the land of the fair and the balanced (video).
"Those Democratic congressional leaders who try to suggest that we don't have a plan are deeply irresponsible," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan, who reiterated it was possible to bring some troops home next year.
A snap poll by CNN/Gallup/USA Today after Bush's speech said 55 percent of respondents believed Bush did not have a plan to "achieve victory for the United States in Iraq."
A thousand Shiite and Sunni Muslims prayed together Friday in a demonstration of unity in central Baghdad ahead of potentially divisive parliamentary elections and following years of sectarian violence.
After midday prayers, the two groups held a demonstration where they were united in their denunciation of military and police raids and widespread arrests of people suspected of participating in the insurgency.
Men waved Iraqi flags and women dressed in black robes carried posters of their missing sons. Some protesters held up portraits of Sunni clerics that have been in killed since the U.S. invasion in 2003.
Ford Motor Co. is likely to close five plants that employ about 7,500 workers, or about 6 percent of the company's North American workforce, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. Citing two people familiar with Ford's product plans, the paper said the company was likely to shut assembly plants in St. Louis, Atlanta and St. Paul, Minn., as well as an engine-parts plant in Windsor, Ontario, and a truck-assembly plant in Cuautitlan, Mexico.
Barbara Bush is allegedly ticked off at Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Andy Card, nearly all of them -- except Karen Hughes -- for how her boy is faring in the hearts and minds of Americans.
The matriarch of the Bush clan is colder than North Pole ice right now to those around her son who she thinks have undermined him. I'll tell who my sources are if Patrick Fitzgerald gives a call and makes me -- but the sources are very close to Poppa Bush (41), who has been traveling a bit with some of his old entourage, including Brent Scowcroft and others of the first Bush regime.
Fox News and Bill O'Reilly (again!) win the coveted prize for their hypocrisy regarding their made up "War on Christmas." Rush Limbaugh came in a close second for his "eagerness for people to see reality" by witnessing a kidnapping (video).
Ron Reagan and Pat Buchanan intensely debate the legitimacy of the Pentagon paying for "positive reports" in the Iraq press. Reagan raises the obvious point, if there is such good news in Iraq, why then does the US military need to pay the journalist to print good reports. He also points out that the Iraqis more than likely are way ahead of us and know the reports are false, which in turn diminishes what little credibility we have even more. Buchanan on the other hand doesn't believe the Iraqis deserve to know the truth (video).
On Connected Coast to Coast, AmericaBlog's John Aravosis weighs in on the reports concerning the Pentagon paying the Iraq press to publish "good reports." After the break, John and the panel discuss the rampant Republican corruption that has recently been exposed, and the subsequent missed opportunities by the Democratic Party (video).
Mr. Bush hates comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq. But after watching the president, we couldn't resist reading Richard Nixon's 1969 Vietnamization speech. Substitute the Iraqi constitutional process for the Paris peace talks, and Mr. Bush's ideas about the Iraqi Army are not much different from Nixon's plans - except Nixon admitted the war was going very badly (which was easier for him to do because he didn't start it), and he was very clear about the risks and huge sacrifices ahead.
A president who seems less in touch with reality than Richard Nixon needs to get out more.
This photo running on today's Associated Press wire shows Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) laughing it up with Goldman Sachs' CEO at the celebration of the groundbreaking of the company's new New York City headquarters. I wonder if they are laughing about how much New York's politicians sold out New York taxpayers by giving away hundreds of millions of dollars to the company, which is one of the wealthiest in the world? Because boy, at a time of federal, state, and local deficits, that's really hilarious, isn't it?
Here's what I'm talking about: Goldman Sachs managed to use its well-oiled political machine to actually get New York officials to hand over hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate welfare for the company - one of the richest in the world - to build its new headquarters. This, at a time when the federal, New York state, and New York city governments face massive budget deficits.
If she gets the Democratic nomination we have no other rational choice but to send our vote her way. But clearly, before the primaries, we should aim higher than the lesser of evils.
Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans, major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.
And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.
As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.
The articles, written by U.S. military "information operations" troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents, and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.
While the articles are basically truthful, they present only one side of events and omit information that might reflect poorly on the U.S. or Iraqi governments, officials said. Records and interviews indicate that the U.S. has paid Iraqi newspapers to run dozens of such articles -- with headlines such as "Iraqis Insist on Living Despite Terrorism" -- since the effort began this year.
Efforts to train thousands of federal agents to protect commercial flights during heightened terror alerts were quietly abandoned more than a year ago because Congress objected to the cost, government investigators said Tuesday.
The worst stuff I saw was from the detaining units who would torture people in their homes. They were using things like burns. They would smash people's feet with the back of an axe-head. They would break bones, ribs, you know. That was serious stuff.
I remember one guy who was forced to sit on an exhaust pipe on a humvee, and he had a pretty huge blister on his leg. Another guy, I don't know what they used to burn him, his legs. He was blindfolded so he didn't know either, but it looked like it might have been a lighter. He had some pretty big, [some] smaller blisters, but a lot of them.
Drugmaker Merck & Co., squeezed by Vioxx lawsuits, tumbling revenues and other troubles, is eliminating 7,000 jobs and five production plants and revamping manufacturing in the first phase of a global reorganization. The long-awaited announcement Monday drove Merck shares down more than 4 percent.
But something tells me, the vast majority of those getting cut were not the ones setting the priorities. Tragic.
Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) resigned from Congress Monday morning after pleading guilty to conspiring to take bribes in exchange for using his influence to help a defense contractor get business.
A member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee accepting bribes from a contractor in a time of war -- how patriotic.
The Bush administration is considering a plan to put America's awesome airpower at the disposal of Iraqi commanders, as a way of reducing the number of US troops on the ground. The plan is causing consternation among commanders in US air force, who say it could lead to increased civilian casualties and lead to airstrikes being used as means of settling old scores.
According to an article in the New Yorker magazine by Seymour Hersh, the possibility of using airpower as a substitute for American troops on the ground has caused unease in the military, with air force commanders objecting to the possibility that Iraqis will eventually be responsible for target selection.
"Will the Iraqis call in air strikes in order to snuff rivals, or other warlords, or to snuff members of your own sect and blame it on someone else?" a senior military planner told the magazine. "Will some Iraqis be targeting on behalf of al-Qaida, or the insurgency, or the Iranians?"
Aside from the obvious moral bankruptcy, it's just plain stupid. Fucking idiots.
A second Time magazine reporter has agreed to cooperate in the CIA leak case and will testify about her discussions with Karl Rove's attorney, a sign that prosecutors are still exploring charges against the White House aide.
Viveca Novak, a reporter in Time's Washington bureau, is cooperating with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who is investigating the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity in 2003, the magazine reported in its Dec. 5 issue.
Novak specifically has been asked to testify under oath about conversations she had with Rove attorney Robert Luskin starting in May 2004, the magazine reported.
The White House for the first time has claimed possession of an Iraq withdrawal plan, arguing that a troop pullout blueprint unveiled this past week by a Democratic senator was "remarkably similar" to its own.
Human rights abuses in Iraq are now as bad as they were under Saddam Hussein and are even in danger of eclipsing his record, according to the country's first Prime Minister after the fall of Saddam's regime.
'People are doing the same as [in] Saddam's time and worse,' Ayad Allawi told The Observer. 'It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things.'
In a damning and wide-ranging indictment of Iraq's escalating human rights catastrophe, Allawi accused fellow Shias in the government of being responsible for death squads and secret torture centres. The brutality of elements in the new security forces rivals that of Saddam's secret police, he said.
Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pennsylvania, was airlifted to a military hospital in Germany for an MRI on his neck, Marshall told the Macon Telegraph. Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Missouri, was sent to a Baghdad hospital, he said.
Marshall, a Georgia Democrat, said he was not hurt.
The congressional delegation was riding in a box-like vehicle that troops called the "ice cream truck" that streaked through the middle of the road to deter oncoming motorists, Marshall said.
But shortly after dark, an oncoming truck refused to yield.
"Then all of a sudden brakes get slammed on. Then we hit something and go off the side of the road and tip over," Marshall said.
We think especially this week of those military families who are mourning the loss of loved ones. Every person who dies in the line of duty commands the eternal gratitude of the American people. The military families who mourn the fallen can know that America will not forget their sacrifice, and they can know that we will honor that sacrifice by completing the noble mission for which their loved ones gave their lives.