“A new U.N. report said Wednesday that al Qaeda in Iraq is aiming ‘to launch attacks wherever targets are available’ and that some ‘senior fighters have left Iraq to gather existing supporters and these fresh recruits into new cells.’ The report…said that both the core al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan and the more active leadership in Iraq are making efforts to extend their influence.”
Breaking news from Reuters:
President George W. Bush on Thursday chose Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne as his choice to replace Gale Norton as Interior secretary, a Republican official said.
Bush was expected to make a formal announcement at 5:30 p.m. EST on Thursday.
UPDATE: In 2003, Kempthorne was rumored to be Bush’s choice to head the EPA. He didn’t end up getting the job, but Knight-Ridder wrote this analysis:
During Kempthorne’s four-and-a-half-year tenure as governor, Idaho’s pristine air has gotten dirtier, more rivers have been polluted, fewer polluters have been inspected and more toxins have contaminated the air, water and land, according to a Knight Ridder analysis of Idaho pollution data from EPA and state records.
UPDATE II: Kempthorne has very close ties to the same industries he would oversee in the Interior Department. In his last reelection campaign, he raised $86,000 “from timber, mining and energy industries” that wanted greater access to national forests in his state: Read more
Moments ago, the House of Representatives narrowly defeated an amendment proposed by Rep. Martin Sabo (D-MN) that would have provided $1.25 billion in desperately needed funding for port security and disaster preparedness. The Sabo amendment included:
– $300 million to enable U.S. customs agents to inspect high-risk containers at all 140 overseas ports that ship directly to the United States. Current funding only allows U.S. customs agents to operate at 43 of these ports.
– $400 million to place radiation monitors at all U.S. ports of entry. Currently, less than half of U.S. ports have radiation monitors.
– $300 million to provide backup emergency communications equipment for the Gulf Coast.
Meanwhile, the Bush budget – which most of the members who voted against this bill will likely support – contains an increase of $1.7 billion for missile defense, a program that doesn’t even work.
Today, the White House released its long-overdue National Security Strategy (NSS). Like the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq before it, the NSS is a pure public relations stunt that has little basis in reality. Here is a quick fact-check of the document:
NSS: “A multinational coalition joined by the Iraqis is aggressively prosecuting the war against the terrorists in Iraq.”
FACT: “The past two weeks have changed the war in Iraq, shifting its focus from a U.S.-driven fight against Sunni insurgents to a direct battle for power and survival between Iraq’s empowered Shiite majority and disempowered Sunni minority.” [Washington Post, 3/13/06]
NSS: “The al-Qaida network has been significantly degraded.”
FACT: “Al Qaeda terrorism remains the most serious threat to U.S. national security, and the insurgency in Iraq shows no sign of abating, the nation’s top intelligence official told the Senate yesterday. “¦ The merger of al Qaeda with the Iraq-based terror group headed by Abu Musab al Zarqawi has extended the reach of the group and broadened its ideological appeal.” [Washington Times, 2/3/06]
NSS: “Terrorism is not simply a result of hostility to U.S. policy in Iraq.”
FACT: Former neocon Francis Fukuyama, author of a new book highly critical of Bush’s handling of Iraq, writes: “By invading Iraq, the Bush administration created a self-fulfilling prophecy: Iraq has now replaced Afghanistan as a magnet, a training ground and an operational basis for jihadists, with plenty of American targets to shoot at.” [Christian Science Monitor, 3/15/06]
Yesterday, the hosts of Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” questioned the motives of former Abu Ghraib detainee Ali Shalal Qaissi (aka “Clawman”) for speaking out about his situation.
BARBER: He’s taking advantage of this in a lot of ways. He’s put this picture on his business card and is working for a human rights group, trumpeting this.
HILL: So this article is very sympathetic to this guy.
(HT: News Hounds)
Full transcript below: Read more
46 percent of Americans (48 percent of voters) support Sen. Russ Feingold’s censure resolution, while 44 percent (43 percent of voters) oppose the idea, according to an American Research Group poll.
As former co-chair of the 9/11 Commission, Lee Hamilton knows national security. He also knows basketball. In 1952, he “led his team” to the Final Four, and was later inducted into Indiana’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
As we tip off March Madness, it is important to remember that we’re rooting not just for our teams, but for the college athletes that make up those teams. We want them to win in the tournament and to continue to provide for this great country long after they leave the court. A college degree is fundamental to achieving that goal, which is why I so strongly support this effort. In fact, it’s madness not to support Graduation Madness.
The thinking behind Graduation Madness is simple: College athletics sponsors like Nike, Adidas, and Reebok make millions of dollars each year by adorning college athletes with their “swooshes” and other brand logos. Now, those corporations have an opportunity to help college athletes in the classroom. Graduation Madness encourages corporate athletics sponsors to start including incentives for academic performance in their sponsorship contracts. It’s an innovative, progressive way to harness market forces to improve the future for our country’s young athletes, the overwhelming majority of whom will go on to careers outside of sports.
Join us today — it’s a fight we can win.
Less than 6 months ago Gen. Richard B. Myers retired as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking military officer in the country. He’s quickly found alternative employment. From the Chicago Tribune’s The Swamp:
Northrop Grumman, one of the nation’s largest and best-known defense firms, announced Wednesday that Myers, an Air Force veteran and former fighter pilot, has joined its board of directors.
As one of 11 “non-employee” directors, Myers will earn $200,000 a year, according to a company spokesman. Half of that sum is paid to the company’s 12 directors in stock.
In exchange for his 200K, Myers will have to attend “eight scheduled board meetings this year, two of which are conducted by phone.
Billions of taxpayer dollars are wasted each year on unnecessary weapons systems. Meanwhile, the defense industry rewards top military brass for looking the other way.