In advance of the September White House report, the Pentagon is launching “a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week Iraq Communications Desk that will pump out data from Baghdad — serving as what could be considered a campaign war room.” “I would not characterize it as a war room,” Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said. “It’s far less sinister than that. It’s more like a library.”
Blogger Glenn Greenwald noted that Republican lobbyist Philip Zelikow had been making TV appearances calling for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s ouster without disclosing the fact that he was being paid by Iyad Allawi to lobby for Maliki’s removal. Today, ABC News released a statement stating the Zelikow had not informed them of his conflict of interest. ABC acknowledged that Zelikow’s appearances were “sullied by the fact that he did not disclose his relationship with Barbour Griffith & Rogers.”
UPDATE: Greenwald also notes that Zelikow has been retained to do consulting work for the Bush administration specifically on Iraq policy.
UPDATE II: Laura Rozen, who studied under Zelikow, contacted him and received this assurance: “Zelikow, a former counselor to Secretary of State Rice, says he did not know about the Allawi contract with BGR at the time of the ABC interview, and did not learn of it until he started getting called by the media about it two days afterwards.”
Yesterday, Sen. John Warner (R-VA), a senior and respected member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called on President Bush to begin a troop withdrawal from Iraq. Warner said Bush should announce in September that a few thousand U.S. troops will return home by the end of the year.
Despite the fact that Warner’s call for withdrawal was very tepid, the Senator came under heavy assault today from the right. The White House, concerned that the media was reporting that Warner had broken with Bush, “reached out to Warner’s staff and asked him” to back away from his position. But Warner would do no such thing:
Warner said Friday he stands by his remarks and that he took no issue with how his views have been characterized.
“I’m not going to issue any clarification,” Warner, R-Va., said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I don’t think any clarification is needed. [...]
When asked whether he had indeed split with Bush on Iraq, he declined to say and noted his remarks speak for themselves.
“You have to surmise that on your own,” he said.
Freedom’s Watch — a new White House front group whose mission is to maintain the escalation — attacked Warner. Appearing on PBS Newshour, Freedom’s Watch spokesman Brad Blakeman claimed Warner’s call for redeployment “hurts the cause of freedom.” (Blakeman refused to appear on the program with MoveOn’s Tom Matzzie and was called out for it by host Judy Woodruff. Blakeman comically suggested MoveOn was “not a credible group” like Freedom’s Watch.) Watch it:
Even colleagues of Warner’s took a shot at him. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said efforts to pre-empt the September White House report were ”premature and irresponsible.” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said, ”It’s a little curious to me that people are proposing a change in strategy when in fact the current strategy appears now to be working.”
Additionally, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch said that embracing Warner’s call of a redeployment before the end of the year would be “a giant step backward.”
UPDATE: Online Newshour has the full transcript.
UPDATE II: This morning on NBC’s Today Show, Bill Kristol said of Warner’s call: “I don’t think that’s based on serious military analysis. “
Scripps Howard News Service reports that former congressman Mark Foley “is unlikely to face criminal charges for sending sexually explicit e-mails to teenage boys. … That could change if new evidence surfaces in the next week that proved Foley, 52, sent online messages to male teenagers with the intent to ‘seduce, solicit, lure, entice, or attempt to seduce a child,’ a third-degree felony under Florida law.” The House has refused to let Florida investigators examine Foley’s congressional computers, stating that they are “congressional work papers” and only Foley can release them.
Rosa Brooks has the ultimate Bushite modest proposal — let’s re-invade Vietnam.
On June 26, someone in Rep. Adam Putnam’s (R-FL) office edited the congressman’s Wikipedia entry, removing information about financial contributions he received from disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL). The person also deleted a comment Putnam made after the 2006 elections, in which he claimed “white rednecks” lost control of Congress for the GOP. Using the new Wikiscanner tool, bloggers at the Putnam Report discovered the edit.
Chris Hayes: “Ever wonder what happened to the Cardigans? Here’s your answer.” Unfortunately, the video that Chris links to sucks. The truth, however, is that the Cardigans have some good post-“Love Fool” work, notably including “I Need Some Fine Wine” off 2005′s Super-Extra Gravity:
So there. In other music news I just got the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Is Is EP and I see no reason that other Yeah Yeah Yeahs fans wouldn’t like it every bit as much as I did.
Yesterday, the National Intelligence Estimate reported “measurable but uneven improvements” in the security situation in Iraq. While the White House has rushed to suggest that the modest gains were the result of escalation, the improvement can more plausibly be the product of Iraqi expectations of a U.S. withdrawal. (Some gains have also resulted because large numbers of Iraqis have fled their homes and ethnic cleansing has taken place.)
Much of the touted security gains have come in the Anbar province, a region that was not the target of Bush’s escalation. In fact, progress in Anbar pre-dated the surge and occurred while troop numbers were being reduced in the region.
The NIE states that local security arrangements such as those in Anbar province are being formed in response to imminent U.S. withdrawal, and that these “bottom up” security initiatives “represent the best prospect for improved security over the next six to 12 months”:
“[F]earing a Coalition withdrawal, some tribal elements and Sunni groups probably will continue to seek accommodation with the Coalition to strengthen themselves for a post- Coalition security environment” [...]
“The IC assesses that the emergence of ‘bottom-up’ security initiatives, principally among Sunni Arabs and focused on combating AQI, represent the best prospect for improved security over the next six to 12 months, but we judge these initiatives will only translate into widespread political accommodation and enduring stability if the Iraqi Government accepts and supports them.”
In April, Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged, “The debate in Congress…has been helpful in demonstrating to the Iraqis that American patience is limited.” It appears that the Iraqi expectation of a U.S. troop reduction has actually produced tangible progress.
The New York Times reported that Sunnis’ perception of an impending withdrawal changed their attitudes. “Many Sunnis, for their part, are less inclined to see the soldiers as occupiers now that it is clear that American troop reductions are all but inevitable, and they are more concerned with strengthening their ability to fend off threats from Sunni jihadists and Shiite militias,” the Times wrote in July. In fact, leading Sunnis continue to demand a timetable for withdrawal.
Gareth Porter, writing for Inter Press Service, reported recently, “The apparent success of Petraeus’s shift from relying on U.S. military force to relying on Sunni troops to take care of al Qaeda could be used as an argument against continuation of the U.S. military presence in Anbar.” He added:
Recognition that there is a far more effective alternative to U.S. military operations to reduce al Qaeda’s influence would be a major blow to George W. Bush’s argument against a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops, which has relied increasingly on the threat of an al Qaeda haven in Iraq.
One key example of the mainstreaming of crackpottery that I mentioned earlier is things like the Max Boot. Here he is with a column explaining that George W. Bush’s endorsement of goofy revisionist accounts of Vietnam was “a skillful bit of political jujitsu.” He holds a variety of other crackpot views and has for years. His latest piece is in the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal, which are well-known venues for crackpottery and factually inaccurate claims. And, indeed, it was as a Wall Street Journal editorialist that he got his start.
Meanwhile, he’s now also a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
That hardly means every other fellow at the CFR — much less every “member” — is a bad person with dumb ideas, but you can see why this sort of thing leads liberals to not have such warm feelings about the Council, especially when you consider that Boot tends to (undeservedly) have a much higher media than do worthier CFR types like Ray Takeyh.
So you want some do-it-yourself climate solutions. Popular Science is the place to go.
The magazine details how, for $300, you can build a vertical wind turbine (pictured below) for your home in about 3 days. It will generate 50 kilowatt-hours per month, which might be about 10% of your electricity use, depending on the size of your house and how efficient you are. You can also download plans at windstuffnow.
Or maybe you want something a tad bit easier to make, something to “keep your gadgets powered even when the grid fails you.” Follow these instructions, and for a mere three hours in work and $150 in parts, you’ll have your very own solar charger (pictured below).