Pressed repeatedly, Snow answered, “Look, the Department of Defense is doing this. What I’m telling you is, you guys want to get those questions answered, you need to go to the Pentagon.”
A call to the Defense Intelligence Agency brought a referral to the main Pentagon press office. That office referred a caller to the Washington office of the Multi-National Force-Iraq, which responded with an e-mailed copy of Sunday’s briefing slides — containing no mention of the “highest levels” allegation and a request for questions in writing. Written questions brought no response. An official from the Pentagon Joint Staff said last night that Pace had seen the briefing slides but had “no personal knowledge of any senior involvement by senior Iranian officials.”
“The Bush administration plans to cut funding for veterans’ health care two years from now — even as badly wounded troops returning from Iraq could overwhelm the system. Bush is using the cuts, critics say, to help fulfill his pledge to balance the budget by 2012. … Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing rapidly — by more than 10 percent in many years — White House budget documents assume consecutive cutbacks in 2009 and 2010 and a freeze thereafter.”
Any speech by NASA’s James Hansen deserves attention. His remarks “On Acceptance of WWF Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal” are no exception.
Two features are especially noteworthy. First, Hansen includes his slides, so you can understand what he’s saying very clearly. Second, he speaks with increasing poignancy about what we are doing to this planet:
It is an uncomfortable inconvenient scientific truth: we cannot pour into the atmosphere all of the fossil fuels that were buried in the ground over millions of years without creating a different planet, without destroying creation, without being miserable failures in our stewardship of the planet we were blessed with.
we cannot pour into the atmosphere all of the fossil fuels that were buried in the ground over millions of years without creating a different planet, without destroying creation, without being miserable failures in our stewardship of the planet we were blessed with.” — NASA Institute for Space Studies chief James Hansen, in his latest “must read.“
In January 2003, Donald Rumsfeld famously said of European opposition to the Iraq war, “You look at vast numbers of other countries in Europe, they’re not with France and Germany…they’re with the US. You’re thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don’t. I think that’s old Europe.” At a conference in Europe yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates rejected Rumsfeld’s characterization:
Mr. Gates cast himself as a geopolitical realist and drew a knowing laugh when he focused on Mr. Putin’s assertion that the United States and its allies were dividing Europe.
“All of these characterizations belong in the past,” Mr. Gates said. “The free world versus those behind the Iron Curtain. North versus South. East versus West, and I am told that some have even spoken in terms of ‘Old Europe’ versus ‘new.’”
Today is Darwin Day, commemorating the anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and of the publishing of On the Origin of Species. The National Academy of Sciences, “the nation’s most prestigious scientific organization,” declares evolution “one of the strongest and most useful scientific theories we have.” President Bush’s science adviser John Marburger calls it “the cornerstone of modern biology.”
Yet, on February 23, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will be the keynote speaker for the most prominent creationism advocacy group in the country. The Discovery Institute, a religious right think-tank, is well-known for its strong opposition to evolutionary biology and its advocacy for “intelligent design.” The institute’s main financial backer, savings and loan heir Howard Ahmanson, spent 20 years on the board of the Chalcedon Foundation, “a theocratic outfit that advocates the replacement of American civil law with biblical law.”
McCain has an ambiguous record on whether he supports intelligent design in the science curriculum. In 2005, he said it should be taught:
Daily Star: Should intelligent design be taught in schools?
McCain: I think that there has to be all points of view presented. But they’ve got to be thoroughly presented. So to say that you can only teach one line of thinking I don’t think is – or one belief on how people and the world was created – I think there’s nothing wrong with teaching different schools of thought.
Daily Star: Does it belong in science?
McCain: There’s enough scientists that believe it does. I’m not a scientist. This is something that I think all points of view should be presented.
But last year, he said the intelligent design theory should not be taught in the science classroom:
“I think Americans should be exposed to every point of view,” he said. “I happen to believe in evolution…I respect those who think the world was created in seven days. Should it be taught as a science class? Probably not.“
As McCain continues his lurch to the right, where will he come down on intelligent design in the science classroom? We’ll be watching.
During an interview with C-SPAN today, President Bush impersonated the concerns of his Iran critics. “I guess my reaction to all the noise about, you know, ‘He wants to go to war’ is, first of all, I don’t understand the tactics, and I guess I would say it’s political,” he said. Watch it:
“The Rev. Jerry Falwell will co-host a ‘meet and greet’ for Sen. John McCain a week from today at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Orlando. The Arizonan is attending, but not speaking at, the convention, billed as ‘the premiere event in Christian communication.’”
New report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General finds, “Between three and four FBI laptop computers are lost or stolen each month on average and the agency is unable to say in many instances whether information on the machines is sensitive or classified.”
At Sunday’s briefing in Baghdad, U.S. officials attempted to tie the Iranian government to attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, claiming that “Iran’s export of the bombs to Iraqi Shiite militias was a deliberate strategy of the regime.”
But today, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace disavowed this claim. He told reporters he has no evidence of any links between the explosives killing Americans and top Iranian officials:
We know that the explosively formed projectiles are manufactured in Iran. What I would not say is that the Iranian government, per se [specifically], knows about this,” he said. “It is clear that Iranians are involved, and it’s clear that materials from Iran are involved, but I would not say by what I know that the Iranian government clearly knows or is complicit.
Pace isn’t the only one concerned about the intelligence presented at Sunday’s briefing:
Indeed, while the specific intelligence on the explosive formed projectiles is no longer disputed in the intelligence community, the CIA is questioning whether their export from Iran represents a strategy of the regime or the rogue actions of one of its security services, known as the Quds Force. [New York Sun, 2/12/07]
The officials offered no evidence to substantiate allegations that the “highest levels” of the Iranian government had sanctioned support for attacks against U.S. troops. [Washington Post, 2/12/07]
More on Iran in today’s Progress Report. Read it (and sign up) here.