“raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, corrupt charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified United States government report has concluded.”
As of today, the war in Iraq has lasted longer than the U.S. involvement in World War II — three years and just over eight months. “Only the Vietnam War (eight years, five months), the Revolutionary War (six years, nine months), and the Civil War (four years), have engaged America longer.”
In tomorrow’s Washington Post, global warming activist Laurie David writes about her effort to donate 50,000 free DVD copies of An Inconvenient Truth (which she co-produced) to the National Science Teachers Association. The Association refused to accept the DVDs:
In their e-mail rejection, they expressed concern that other “special interests” might ask to distribute materials, too; they said they didn’t want to offer “political” endorsement of the film; and they saw “little, if any, benefit to NSTA or its members” in accepting the free DVDs. …
[T]here was one more curious argument in the e-mail: Accepting the DVDs, they wrote, would place “unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters.”
As it turns out, those supporters already include “special interests,” including Exxon-Mobil, Shell Oil, and the American Petroleum Institute, which have given millions in funding to the NSTA. And while the NSTA showed no interest in helping educators get copies of Al Gore’s movie (which scientists gave “five stars for accuracy“), it has distributed oil industry-funded “educational” content, like this video produced by the American Petroleum Institute:
The first line of “Fuel-less”: “You’re absolutely not going to believe this, but almost everything I have that’s really cool comes from oil!” (Watch a video clip.) As Laurie David notes, an API memo leaked to the media in 1998 explains the motivation behind such videos: “Informing teachers/students about uncertainties in climate science will begin to erect barriers against further efforts to impose Kyoto-like measures in the future.”
Vice President Cheney is greeted by Saudi Crown Prince Sultan upon his arrival in Riyadh today “in what is seen as a US diplomatic push to stem surging violence in Iraq.”
Hey, good job reviving your franchise! I kept reading that this was a “grittier” James Bond, but I didn’t really see that. They gave us a more human scale Bond than recent films had offered and, most importantly of all, made it genuinely sexy instead of all fake-sexy. They also kept up a reasonably coherent story where you were actually interested to see what happened. That said, the central poker game narrative didn’t really make sense to me.
Okay, good. I expected the big post-victory news to be about administration officials finally feeling the heat to comply with Democratic document requests lest they face a torrent of subpoenas and requests for sworn testimony. Instead, the House leadership fight took central stage. But here comes the oversight rushing back in. Sadly, an awful lot of our Senate Committee chairs (Lieberman, Conrad, Baucus, Rockefellet come to mind) strike me as fairly useless. And then there’s Joe Biden. I’m all about Carl Levin at Armed Services, but the Armed Services roster includes an awful lot of timid hawks (Lieberman, Clinton, Bayh, both Nelsons, Reed) so I’m not sure how much they’ll get done unless Jim Webb manages to give this crew a shot in the arm. That leaves the House, of course, but also Pat Leahy whose very good and leads a feisty Democratic team on the committee. Early returns look good to me:
With little more than two weeks gone since the elections that gave his party a majority in both houses, Mr. Leahy has already begun pressing the Justice Department for greater openness. In a letter last Friday, he asked Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to release two documents whose existence the Central Intelligence Agency, in response to a suit by the American Civil Liberties Union, recently acknowledged for the first time. Although their details are not known, the documents appear to have provided a legal basis for the agency’s detention and harsh interrogation of high-level terrorism suspects.
One document is a directive, signed by President Bush shortly after the September 2001 attacks, that granted the C.I.A. authority to set up detention centers outside the United States and outlined allowable interrogation procedures.
Obviously, though, the administration’s not going to go quietly. There are going to need to be subpoenas, and lawsuits and all sorts of mess. Not only is this administration “obsessed with secrecy” but these kind of inquiries aren’t leading to, say, possibly embarrassing revelations about the White House travel office, they’re leading to serious war crimes, major violations of constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties, and what you can only call a large-scale aversion to following the all. Torture, surveillance, detentions, it’s all in the Judiciary Committee’s jurisdiction.
Chuck Hagel continues to prove he can be an impressive thinker and analyst when he chooses to. The question continues to be: Can he be an impressive United States Senator? As a member of the majority, he never seemed to find ways to use the power of his office effectively to reorient national policy. As a member of the minority, can and will he find ways to forge coalitions with liberal Democrats to push the kind of foreign policy he’s interested in? Can he tempt other Republican members to throw Bush overboard? Little in his record inspires confidence that smart op-eds will lead to effective action, but he remains a very tempting figure the Republican who, from time to time, sees these national security matters much more clearly than his colleagues. And where’s Dick Lugar gone off to these days?
An Orlando Sentinel analysis of votes that didn’t get counted in the race for Katherine Harris’ old House seat determines that they were not only in a Democrat-friendly country, but in specifically Democrat-friendly precincts:
The group of nearly 18,000 voters that registered no choice in Sarasota’s disputed congressional election solidly backed Democratic candidates in all five of Florida’s statewide races, an Orlando Sentinel analysis of ballot data shows.
Among these voters, even the weakest Democrat — agriculture-commissioner candidate Eric Copeland — outpaced a much-better-known Republican incumbent by 551 votes.
The trend, which continues up the ticket to the race for governor and U.S. Senate, suggests that if votes were truly cast and lost — as Democrat Christine Jennings maintains — they were votes that likely cost her the congressional election.
This is, shall we say, suspect. Whether or not you’re looking at any deliberate foul play here, the odds that these 18,000 people simply chose not to vote in a House race but did vote in all these races has to be judged extremely small. A screwed-up vote-counting process — however exactly it got screwed up — cost the Democrats the race.
from Iraq. From his op-ed in today’s Washington Post:
There will be no victory or defeat for the United States in Iraq. These terms do not reflect the reality of what is going to happen there. The future of Iraq was always going to be determined by the Iraqis — not the Americans.
…The time for more U.S. troops in Iraq has passed. We do not have more troops to send and, even if we did, they would not bring a resolution to Iraq. Militaries are built to fight and win wars, not bind together failing nations.
…The United States must begin planning for a phased troop withdrawal from Iraq.