American soldiers appear to be pushing Christianity in Fallujah.

Yeah, this is going to win the Iraqi’s hearts and minds:

McClatchy Washington Bureau – Iraqis claim Marines are pushing Christianity in Fallujah

Fallujah, the scene of a bloody U.S. offensive against Sunni insurgents in 2004, has calmed and grown less hostile to American troops since residents turned against al Qaida in Iraq, which had tried to force its brand of Islamist extremism on the population.

Now residents of the city are abuzz that some Americans whom they consider occupiers are also acting as Christian missionaries. Residents said some Marines at the western entrance to their city have been passing out the coins for two days in what they call a “humiliating” attempt to convert them to Christianity.

In the markets, people crowded around men with the coins, passing them to each other and asking in surprise, “Have you seen this?”

The head of the Sunni endowment in Fallujah, the organization that oversees Sunni places of worship and other religious establishments, demanded that the Marines stop.

“We say to the occupiers to stop this,” said Sheikh Mohammed Amin Abdel Hadi. “This can cause strife between the Iraqis and especially between Muslim and Christians . … Please stop these things and leave our homes because we are Muslims and we live in our homes in peace with other religions.”

Above and beyond the fact that the U.S. military has an official policy that forbids this sort of activity, this is the sort of thing that’s only going to piss off the Iraqis. Supposedly the incident is being investigated, but I doubt much will come of it. It would be nice, however, if our own military would stop making things any harder in Iraq than they already are.

Justice Deparment’s infamous torture memo finally released.

Call it Bush Administration Fatigue, but I find it hard to get outraged about the following story:

Memo: Laws Didn’t Apply to Interrogators – washingtonpost.com

The Justice Department sent a legal memorandum to the Pentagon in 2003 asserting that federal laws prohibiting assault, maiming and other crimes did not apply to military interrogators who questioned al-Qaeda captives because the president’s ultimate authority as commander in chief overrode such statutes.

The 81-page memo, which was declassified and released publicly yesterday, argues that poking, slapping or shoving detainees would not give rise to criminal liability. The document also appears to defend the use of mind-altering drugs that do not produce “an extreme effect” calculated to “cause a profound disruption of the senses or personality.”

[… ] Sent to the Pentagon’s general counsel on March 14, 2003, by John C. Yoo, then a deputy in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, the memo provides an expansive argument for nearly unfettered presidential power in a time of war. It contends that numerous laws and treaties forbidding torture or cruel treatment should not apply to U.S. interrogations in foreign lands because of the president’s inherent wartime powers.

“If a government defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network,” Yoo wrote. “In that case, we believe that he could argue that the executive branch’s constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions.”

Interrogators who harmed a prisoner would be protected by a “national and international version of the right to self-defense,” Yoo wrote. He also articulated a definition of illegal conduct in interrogations—that it must “shock the conscience”—that the Bush administration advocated for years.

We’ve long known about this memo and I’ve even written outraged entries about it in the past, but seeing the full version of it now just makes me shake my head. The fact that John C. Yoo to this day still tries to defend the memo as being just and correct just shows me how corrupt the people in the Bush Administration are, but that’s not a surprise either. Additionally the fact that the President believes we’ll look back on his presidency in 30 or so years and say he was right all along shows how far into his own little fantasy world the man has retreated.

I can’t get angry about it anymore. All I can do it look forward to that cold day next January when he’s finally gone for good and hope to hell that the next person we get in the White House does what he or she can to undue the damage done by the current occupant.

Bush on the romance of danger

President Bush, speaking by video conference to military and civilian workers in Afghanistan:

“I must say, I’m a little envious,” Bush said. “If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed.”

“It must be exciting for you … in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You’re really making history, and thanks,” Bush said.

Cross-posted from my blog but I just wanted to share it with my friends over here at SEB
– Tip ‘o the hat to Terry

Five years of war and Iraq is no closer to being self-sufficient than it was on day one.

Today is the fifth anniversary of Bush’s war in Iraq. An undertaking that was sold to the public with lies about the supposed threat Saddam posed to the rest of the world—because of a supposed stockpile of biological and chemical weapons—and with promises that the war would be quick, easy, and cheap. How many of you remember that at the start of the war the Bush administration predicted that the whole shebang would likely cost $50 billion to $60 billion total?

Yeah, that wasn’t even in the ballpark:

WASHINGTON — At the outset of the Iraq war, the Bush administration predicted that it would cost $50 billion to $60 billion to oust Saddam Hussein, restore order and install a new government.

Five years in, the Pentagon tags the cost of the Iraq war at roughly $600 billion and counting. Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and critic of the war, pegs the long-term cost at more than $4 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office and other analysts say that $1 trillion to $2 trillion is more realistic, depending on troop levels and on how long the American occupation continues.

That $4 trillion estimate by Stiglitz? That’s what he considers a conservative estimate so the actual cost will likely be much higher. If ever there was a good argument not to vote for John McCain come November the above, combined with the fact that McCain has indicated he would continue on the same course as President Bush with regards to Iraq, is one of the best.

Imagine what we could have done with that kind of money back here at home. Hillary Clinton as thought about it:

On the campaign trail, the Democratic candidates, Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, often say that money for the war would be better spent at home, as Mrs. Clinton did Tuesday when she pegged the war costs at “well over $1 trillion.”

“That is enough,” she continued, “to provide health care for all 47 million uninsured Americans and quality pre-kindergarten for every American child, solve the housing crisis once and for all, make college affordable for every American student and provide tax relief to tens of millions of middle-class families.”

Whenever universal health care is brought up the Republicans whine about how much it’ll cost and how we can’t afford it yet there seems to be no limits on available cash when they need to pull money out for the Iraq war. This just shows they don’t give a shit about the average American. They’re more than happy to run up a record national debt so long as the money isn’t used to help anyone other than their defense contractor friends. Fuck you assholes that are dieing of easily curable diseases simply because you can’t afford health care, they’re not going to run up a huge debt just so you can see a doctor. That’s just silly!

Want a good laugh? Remember Lawrence B. Lindsey? No? He was President Bush’s first economic adviser until he had the audacity to publicly state back at the start of the war that he though the initial cost estimates were too low. He predicted the war would cost between $100 billion to $200 billion and that got his ass fired because the administration thought he was just crazy stupid to think it would ever cost that much money. He’s got a new I-told-you-so book coming out:

“Five years after the fact, I believe that one of the reasons the administration’s efforts are so unpopular is that they chose not to engage in an open public discussion of what the consequences of the war might be, including its economic cost,” Mr. Lindsey wrote in an excerpt in Fortune magazine.

Mr. Lindsey insists that his projections were partly right. “My hypothetical estimate got the annual cost about right,” he wrote. “But I misjudged an important factor: how long we would be involved.”

Above and beyond the issue of money though is the fact that it’s cost the lives of 4,000 U.S. military personnel along with arguably countless Iraqi lives for no good reason. As bad as things were under Saddam at least they had running water, working electricity, and relatively safe neighborhoods. Iraqi women were allowed to drive and hold jobs and wear jeans, something that is increasingly rare in Iraq today as the Islamic fundamentalists exert control through their militias.

Meanwhile President Bush is still reporting in from La La Land where his fevered delusions continue to hide reality from him. In a speech today marking the fifth anniversary he defended his war:

“The battle in Iraq has been longer and harder and more costly than we anticipated,” Bush said.

But, he added, before an audience of Pentagon brass, soldiers and diplomats: “The battle in Iraq is noble, it is necessary, and it is just. And with your courage, the battle in Iraq will end in victory.”

The war isn’t noble, wasn’t necessary, and is far from just and no matter how many times you claim it is, Mr. President, that won’t change the reality of the situation.

Bush isn’t alone in his delusions. Vice President Cheney continues to insist not only that the war was necessary and a success, but that he doesn’t give a fuck if you don’t like it:

CHENEY: On the security front, I think there’s a general consensus that we’ve made major progress, that the surge has worked. That’s been a major success.

RADDATZ: Two-third of Americans say it’s not worth fighting.

CHENEY: So?

RADDATZ So? You don’t care what the American people think?

CHENEY: No. I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls.

The surge hasn’t worked. The stated goal of the surge was to give the Iraqi government some breathing room so they could work on reconciliation and laying the ground work for power sharing among the factions. They have yet to do so and troops are being drawn down to pre-surge levels. Based on the stated goal of the surge it is a failure. Signs are that the reduction in violence, and it’s arguable whether or not the surge had anything to do with that reduction, are starting to fade as of late.

So here we are five years later on the verge or possibly already within a recession at home, a subprime mortgage mess not helping the situation any, an ongoing war that has yet to bring any of the promised liberty, stability, and democracy to Iraq, and a President who still refuses to own up to what a colossal fuck up he is. Happy Anniversary America!

Child Soldier or Terrorist?

In the past I have tried to retain a neutral position regarding this story.  I am a suporter of our and our Allies actions in Afghanistan, past and future; however stories like this make it hard to have faith in our allies.

Was Omar Khadr Coerced? (National Post)

Even thought the Khadr family history is less than impresive, the Canadian governments performance on this has also been less than impressive.

I leave it to the reader to make thier own judgement.

President Bush: Clearly delusional and built to stay that way.

Today’s bit of President Bush failing to recognize irony when he’s giving a speech comes from the recent CPAC event.

Bush: “Peace And Prosperity” At Stake In Election – Politics on The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — President Bush, rallying conservatives for a battle against Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, says “prosperity and peace” are at stake in the upcoming election for his successor.

“We have had good debates and soon we will have a nominee who will carry the conservative banner into this election and beyond,” Bush said in prepared remarks of a speech he was to give Friday to the Conservative Political Action Conference.

“Prosperity and peace are in the balance,” the president said in speech excerpts the White House released on Thursday night. “So with confidence in our vision and faith in our values, let us go forward … fight for victory … and keep the White House in 2008.”

The man responsible for five years of war started under false pretenses and an ever burgeoning and record breaking deficit has the gall to imply that if a Democrat wins the election then peace and prosperity will be in danger? My irony meter doth asplode!

935 flat-out lies to justify a war.

That’s what a new report by The Center for Public Integrity says the Bush Administration engaged in to sell the American public on the war in Iraq:

President George W. Bush and seven of his administration’s top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Nearly five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.

On at least 532 separate occasions (in speeches, briefings, interviews, testimony, and the like), Bush and these three key officials, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan, stated unequivocally that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or was trying to produce or obtain them), links to Al Qaeda, or both. This concerted effort was the underpinning of the Bush administration’s case for war.

It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to Al Qaeda. This was the conclusion of numerous bipartisan government investigations, including those by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (2004 and 2006), the 9/11 Commission, and the multinational Iraq Survey Group, whose “Duelfer Report” established that Saddam Hussein had terminated Iraq’s nuclear program in 1991 and made little effort to restart it.

In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003. Not surprisingly, the officials with the most opportunities to make speeches, grant media interviews, and otherwise frame the public debate also made the most false statements, according to this first-ever analysis of the entire body of prewar rhetoric.

If that’s not an impeachable offense then what is? Oh, right, blow jobs are.

Update: Official White House response to the report by Press Secretary Dana Perino? How we sold the war “is not worth spending time on.”

I hardly think that the study is worth spending time on. It is so flawed, in terms of taking anything into context or including — they only looked at members of the administration, rather than looking at members of Congress or people around the world.

Because, as you’ll remember, we were part of a broad coalition of countries that deposed the dictator based on a collective understanding of the intelligence.

In short, it’s not our fault because we weren’t the only ones who believed the lies we were spewing and we had help from other governments in spewing those lies. Someone needs some sense slapped into them.

The cost of the war in Iraq just keeps climbing.

First, a brief bit of history. Cure spooky flashback sequence sound effects:

What would war with Iraq cost? – CNN.com, January 2nd, 2003

WASHINGTON (CNN)—The White House is downplaying published reports of an estimated $50 billion to $60 billion price tag for a war with Iraq, saying it is “impossible” to estimate the cost at this time.

White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels told The New York Times in an interview published Tuesday that such a conflict could cost $50 billion to $60 billion—the price tag of the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

But Trent Duffy, an OMB spokesman, said Daniels did not intend to imply in the Times interview that $50 billion to $60 billion was a hard White House estimate.

“He said it could—could—be $60 billion,” Duffy said. “It is impossible to know what any military campaign would ultimately cost. The only cost estimate we know of in this arena is the Persian Gulf War, and that was a $60 billion event.”

Remember those days? Remember when the estimate was only $50 to $60 billion dollars and the White House, worried that people would think that was too expensive, tried to downplay the estimate and then refused to give an estimate of their own because they felt there were too many variables to make an educated guess? Looking back it was a smart move on the White House’s part to refuse to give an estimate on the cost because it turns out that we’re already 40 times over what Mitch Daniels guessed as the cost and it’s growing bigger every day: 

U.S. war costs in Iraq up: report – Yahoo! News

“Funding for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and other activities in the war on terrorism expanded significantly in 2007,” the Congressional Budget Office said in a report released on Wednesday.

War funding, which averaged about $93 billion a year from 2003 through 2005, rose to $120 billion in 2006 and $171 billion in 2007 and President George W. Bush has asked for $193 billion in 2008, the nonpartisan office wrote.

“It keeps going up, up and away,” Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad said of the money spent in Iraq since U.S. troops invaded in 2003.

“We’re seeing the war costs continue to spiral upward. It is the additional troops plus additional costs per troop plus the over-reliance on private contractors, which also explodes the costs,” said Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat who opposed the war.

Since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Congress has written checks for $691 billion to pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and such related activities as Iraq reconstruction, the CBO said.

This is Bush’s legacy. This is the mess the next President will inherit. What have we got to show for it? Osama bin Laden is still on the loose. Not a single weapon of mass destruction was ever found in Iraq. The vast majority of people in Iraq are worse off than they were under Saddam.

Good job, Bushie.

President Bush doesn’t accept the findings of the NIE.

This Newsweek article probably explains much about why Bush insisted that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. If what he believes to be true is contradicted by intelligence experts then he ignores them:

That NIE, made public Dec. 3, embarrassed the administration by concluding that Tehran had halted its weapons program in 2003, which seemed to undermine years of bellicose rhetoric from Bush and other senior officials about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But in private conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week, the president all but disowned the document, said a senior administration official who accompanied Bush on his six-nation trip to the Mideast. “He told the Israelis that he can’t control what the intelligence community says, but that [the NIE’s] conclusions don’t reflect his own views” about Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, said the official, who would discuss intelligence matters only on the condition of anonymity.

Because, ya know, he’s the Deciderer. Just because he’s been catastrophically wrong in the past shouldn’t be any reason to doubt his judgment now, right?

Just a friendly war reminder…

The cost of the war is just about to break $15 billion a month.

Let me say that again: $15 BILLION DOLLARS a MONTH!! That means in two months time we will have spent the entirety of the cost the expansion to SCHIP that Bush vetoed a little while back. Of course we couldn’t afford that expansion. We’re busy wasting it on the war. Too bad it only buys us two months worth of expenses.

Oh, and as of December 26th we’re up to 3,900 dead American soldiers to boot. Happy New Year!