National Review’s Greg Pollowitz says. “I think one of the greatest missed opportunities since 9/11 is that the govt. didn’t create a way for 30+ year old guys who want to help, but really can’t, to serve.” Actually, they did: “Welcome to the National Guard, where all citizens between the ages of 17 and 40 are eligible for service.”
Speaking in Atlanta today, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was sharply questioned about his pre-war claims about WMD in Iraq. An audience member confronted Rumsfeld with his 2003 claim about WMD, “We know where they are.” Rumsfeld falsely claimed he never said it. The audience member then read Rumsfeld’s quote back to him, leaving the defense secretary speechless. Watch it:
Of course, Rumsfeld did say he knew where the WMD were. From ABC’s This Week, 3/30/03:
STEPHANOPOULOS: And is it curious to you that given how much control U.S. and coalition forces now have in the country, they haven’t found any weapons of mass destruction?
SEC. RUMSFELD: …We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.
On the campaign trail President Bush blasted Sen. John Kerry for voting against $87 billion in funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Kerry was concerned that there wasn’t sufficient Congressional oversight over the disbursement of funds.) Here’s an excerpt from 9/2/04:
THE PRESIDENT: Again, my opponent and I have different approaches. I proposed, and the Congress overwhelmingly passed, $87 billion in funding needed by our troops doing battle in Afghanistan and Iraq. My opponent and his running mate voted against this money for bullets, and fuel, and vehicles, and body armor.
THE PRESIDENT: When asked to explain his vote, the Senator said, “I actually did vote for the 87 billion dollars before I voted against it.”
AUDIENCE: Flip-flop! Flip-flop! Flip-flop!
THE PRESIDENT: Then he said he was “proud” of that vote. Then, when pressed, he said it was a “complicated” matter. There’s nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat.
As Bush noted, Kerry’s vote was ultimately inconsequential. The bill passed anyway. Now, President Bush is threatening to veto $94 billion in emergency spending that he proposed for troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Bush is concerned that Congress has added too much additional spending for unrelated projects.) Here’s an excerpt from today’s White House press briefing:
QUESTION: And if that number that comes back in is over $94.5 billion, no question it will be vetoed?
MCCLELLAN: The president has made it very clear. He would veto legislation that goes above and beyond what he called for.
Bush’s veto threat may be appropriate. There are some shameful pork barrel projects tacked onto the Senate bill, including a $700 million “railroad to nowhere.”
It seems President Bush is learning that massive supplemental spending bills are complicated matters after all, not just an opportunity to score cheap political points.
called for restrictions on lobbyist-funded travel on Feb. 28. Six days later, he used “a BellSouth plane to travel to North Carolina and South Carolina.” Santorum said he did not have the “luxury” of a self-imposed ban because he is running “one of the most expensive Senate races in the country.”
Yesterday, the Senate unanimously passed an amendment to the Iraq supplemental spending bill proposed by Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) that would require the Bush administration not to use any appropriated funds for the construction of permanent bases in Iraq. The amendment also called for the U.S. not exercise control over Iraqi oil. Biden’s amendment reads as follows:
To provide that no funds made available by title I of this Act may be made available to establish permanent United States military bases in Iraq or to exercise control by the United States over the oil infrastructure or oil resources of Iraq.
Earlier this year, the House passed an amendment offered by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) that similarly stated no funds should be used for permanent base construction.
Congress has now spoken with a clear and unambiguous voice a time when there are troubling signs that the administration wants to make the U.S. presence permanent in Iraq. For example, the administration is currently constructing a $592 million U.S. embassy in Baghdad that spans the size of 80 football fields.
Will this be yet another law that the administration chooses to ignore?
UPDATE: Atrios believes Bush won’t listen.
The Orlando Sentinel reports today that former senior members of Rep. Katherine Harris’ congressional staff say they initially rejected corrupt defense contractor Mitchell Wade’s $10 million appropriation request last year “but reversed course after being instructed by Harris to approve it.” Wade had spent up to $2,800 entertaining Harris at one of Washington’s most expensive restaurants.
On September 15, President Bush stood in downtown New Orleans and pledged, “Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes, to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives.”
Today, nearly eight months later, “Housing remains in very short supply, only a handful of public schools have reopened and many neighborhoods resemble ghost towns.” But according to WWL-TV, FEMA is choosing to abandon New Orleans anyway:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency office charged with helping New Orleans devise a blueprint to rebuild destroyed houses, schools and neighborhoods after Hurricane Katrina is being closed and nearly all its workers reassigned. …
FEMA says it’s closing the long-term recovery office because local officials have failed to begin planning the recovery adequately. …
City officials are angered by the move, saying New Orleans is again being abandoned by the federal government. “We can’t plan on a paper napkin,” said New Orleans Deputy Mayor Greg Meffert.
Two points emphasizing just how outrageous this move is:
1) FEMA was partly responsible for the delays in developing city plans. FEMA says it is leaving because it’s tired of waiting for a plan from city officials. But “[o]ne major hold-up was the late release of FEMA’s flood elevation advisories,” WWL reports, “which offer guidelines on how high homeowners should raise their homes to qualify for flood insurance.” The advisories were issued last week, months late.
2) FEMA had promised to fund city planning efforts. New Orleans officials say they need federal help to pay for the planning efforts, and the former director of the FEMA’s recovery office “made a verbal promise to city officials to fund the effort.” In fact, “[s]everal employees of the disbanded office agreed [that the city needs federal assistance], saying that at the beginning the office worked closely with city officials, helping implement their plans.” Now that promise has been broken.
Yesterday in an interview with CNN’s John King, First Lady Laura Bush said “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with singing [the national anthem] in Spanish.” King then reminded the First Lady that her husband said the national anthem should only be sung in English. She quickly reversed her position, telling King “I think it should be sung in English, of course.” Just 25 seconds had elapsed since her first answer. Watch it:
Transcript: Read more
Public diplomacy to improve the image of the United States in the Muslim world is “not working.” A new Government Accountability (GAO) report finds that the Bush administration continues to lack “an interagency communication strategy to guide governmentwide public diplomacy activities.”
$6.89 billion: The first quarter profits of Royal Dutch Shell, the world’s third-largest oil company.
Former Homeland Security IG Clark Kent Ervin on former Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson’s lack of response to airport security: “[H]e asked few if any questions, appearing to be totally unfazed by the whole thing”¦I could only wonder why the man in charge of border and transportation security seemed so blase about how easy it had been to sneak guns, knives and bombs past airport screeners.”
Mary Cheney, daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney and a senior campaign adviser for Bush, said she nearly quit the campaign over the gay marriage issue: “I struggled with my decision to stay on the 2004 campaign,” she said. “I didn’t want to be there. No one banned me from being there. But I didn’t want to stand up and cheer.”
The Zacarias Moussaoui trial reveals a central contradiction in the Bush administration’s fight against terrorism — “bit players often have been put on trial, while those thought to have orchestrated the plots have been held in secret for questioning.” Read more