For the past four years, President Bush has offered the constant refrain that progress is being made on the ground in Iraq. Americans Against Escalation in Iraq asks, “Senator McConnell: Is This Your Idea of Progress in Iraq?” Watch their ad:
Logical Science has an exhaustive “list of quotes from scientific organizations, academies, scientists, industry spokesmen, etc supporting the existence of man made climate change and the need to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Today on Fox News, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow defended the President’s Initial Benchmark Assessment Report, which argues that the administration is making “progress” in Iraq.
Snow attacked proposals to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, claiming:
To walk out of Iraq right now would plant a seed that ultimately would lead to destabilization there, hundreds of thousands of deaths, loss of our influence in the region, would create instability throughout the Middle East throughout East Asia, throughout Europe. And sooner or later it would come to our shores, to a shopping mall near you.
But this doomsday scenario is already playing out in Iraq, worsened by the President’s misguided policies:
– Since Bush announced his surge in January, violence has skyrocketed. Close to 600 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died since January. Military assessments suggest that “the U.S. military’s plan to secure Baghdad against a rising insurgency is falling far short of its goal.” A recent bombing killed over 150 in Baghdad, “one of the deadliest single bombings, if not the deadliest, since the 2003 invasion.”
– The war in Iraq has already destabilized the Middle East and exported terrorism throughout the world. “The rate of fatal terrorist attacks around the world by jihadist groups, and the number of people killed in those attacks, increased dramatically after the invasion of Iraq. Globally there was a 607 percent rise in the average yearly incidence of attacks.”
– The U.S. has already “lost influence” in the region. In a poll of 18 countries, the percentage of “saying that the United States is having a mainly positive influence in the world” dropped 11 points from two years ago, down to just 29 percent. Just 17 percent believe the United States is a stabilizing force in the Middle East.
Furthermore, national security experts recently called the possibility of terrorists following us home after leaving Iraq “remote at best.” Redeploying U.S. forces out of Iraq as quickly as possible would, in fact, enable the United States to better counter the global effects of Bush’s failed strategy.
The phone number of Jack Burkman, a conservative pundit and strategist, “appears in the database of phone records of the ‘DC Madam’” on 1/15/2006. Burkman, a former staffer for Rep. Rick Lazio (R-NY) and a Bush-Cheney ’04 staffer, recently worked as a lobbyist for groups such as the Family Research Council, Caring To Love Ministries, and America’s Heros of Freedom. Media Matters has more on Burkman here.
In response to former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona’s explosive testimony earlier this week, in which he described how the Bush administration censored him from commenting on key public health issues, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) “announced his plans to introduce legislation to protect the Surgeon General from political interference.” Waxman said, “On key public health issues the Surgeon General has been muzzled. This problem will not solve itself.”
Firefighters: Giuliani Ditched 9/11 Body Recovery 24 Hours After Securing $230 Million In Buried Gold
Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani has regularly touted his leadership in the wake of 9/11 as one of his major selling points. A host of 9/11 responders have alleged, however, that Giuliani provided them with poor radios, misled them into working amidst toxic fumes, and most recently, hastily cleared out the rubble before bodies were all recovered.
Six weeks after 9/11, Giuliani abandoned efforts to recover remaining bodies and buckled to pressure from developers eager to “scoop” the rubble:
The fact is that the Mayor’s switch to a scoop-and-dump coincided with the removal of tens of millions of dollars of gold, silver and other assets of the Bank of Nova Scotia that were buried beneath what was once the towers. Once the money was out, Giuliani sided with the developers that opposed a lengthy recovery effort, and ordered the scoop-and-dump operation so they could proceed with redevelopment.
Yesterday, Harold Schaitberger of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) — the nation’s largest firefighters organization, consisting of 280,000 members — assailed Giuliani, detailing how the mayor ditched body-recovery efforts only 24 hours after recovering the $230 million in gold. “He found the gold on October 31, and on November 1 is when he issued the order to remove the firefighters from their recovery mode.” Watch it:
The IAFF has produced a video entitled “Rudy Giuliani: Urban Legend,” extensively documenting Giuliani’s negligence after 9/11, featuring “active and retired fire fighters, fire officers and families of the fallen speaking out about the ‘Real Rudy,’ his failed leadership and his disrespect for the recovery of those we lost.”
Already, the video has been attacked by the right wing as another form of “Swift Boating.” But as the Carpetbagger noted, “The comparison is ridiculous. The Swiftboat attackers were lying; the International Association of Fire Fighters aren’t.”
(HT: Crooks and Liars)
Climate Progress is not a fan of the safety valve. Turns out Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) isn’t either. E&E News reports today:
A fundamental component of a new Senate global warming bill unveiled this week to much fanfare was dismissed outright today by the chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Sen. Barbara Boxer told reporters today she disagreed with the “safety valve” provision that Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) inserted in their attempt to establish mandatory limits on heat-trapping pollution in the United States. Bingaman, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, included the clause in his bill to help assure nervous lawmakers about the limited economic effects of a new mandatory U.S. climate policy.
But taking the side of many mainstream environmental groups, Boxer cautioned that the safety valve in Bingaman’s legislation would hamper growth in new energy technologies. “A safety presents problems because the business people tell us it will undermine the certainty of their investments,” Boxer said. “I think it’s a problem, and most business people don’t want it.”
The rest of the story is here:
AP reports that the House today voted 223 to 201 to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by April 1, 2008, despite a veto threat from President Bush.
UPDATE: The Gavel has video from the debate HERE.
UPDATE II: Roll call vote here.
For the first time in history, a Hindu today delivered the Senate’s morning invocation. But three protestors belonging to the Christian Right anti-abortion group Operation Save America loudly interrupted the invocation, stating, “Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight.” Watch it:
TPM’s Eric Kleefeld spoke with the head of Operation Save America today, who called the Hindu invocation “gross idolatry.”
Today the White House released its “Initial Benchmark Assessment Report” claiming that the Iraqi government has “shown satisfactory performance so far on 8 of the 18 benchmarks.”
The White House achieved its objective of spinning the media’s analysis. The New York Times reports the document as “finding some progress on political and security goals in Iraq.” The Washington Post says progress “has been mixed.” Similarly, the AP finds “mixed progress.”
According to National Security Network (NSN), however, there’s nothing mixed about the situation in Iraq; that is purely White House report spin. The NSN explained, the “benchmarks claimed as ‘satisfactory’ … demonstrate minimal progress, not achievement” and “others have been achieved on the surface, but fail to accomplish the overall purpose of the specific measurement.”
The NSN debunks the White House report’s delusional accounts of “progress” in Iraq. Some highlights:
CLAIM: “The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward forming a Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) and then completing the constitutional review.”
FACT: “The Committee was originally scheduled to complete its work by May 15. Instead, it delivered a draft that did not address many of the key issues.” One CRC leader recently said, “We have not committed to doing it by September.” [LINK]
CLAIM: “The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward establishing supporting political, media, economic, and services committees in support of the Baghdad Security Plan.”
FACT: Such public services committees have “had little impact on Baghdad’s population which still lacks access to many basic services like water and electricity.” [LINK]
CLAIM: “The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward providing three trained and ready Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations.”
FACT: According to the Defense Department, “the three brigades that came to Baghdad were understaffed and poorly trained causing a major delay in Baghdad security operations.” Only “one-half to two-thirds” of the promised 330,000 Iraqi security forces have arrived. [LINK]
CLAIM: “The Government of Iraq with substantial Coalition assistance has made satisfactory progress toward reducing sectarian violence…”
FACT: According to the Brookings Institute, “sectarian violence has remained constant despite the ‘surge.’” [LINK]
CLAIM: “The Government of Iraq — with substantial Coalition assistance — has made satisfactory progress toward establishing the planned Joint Security Stations in Baghdad.”
FACT: Iraqis living nearby such “Joint Security Stations” say they “feel less safe now, because many of the bases have quickly become magnets for rocket and mortar attacks.” [LINK]
CLAIM: “The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward ensuring that the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature are protected.”
FACT: “The Sunnis — one of the largest and most important minority groups — are currently boycotting the government. [LINK]
Indeed, the President’s assessment is all politics and his conduct — not that of Congress — has been the true “prescription for failure” in Iraq.