Today, insurgents bombed “a bridge over a tributary to the Tigris River on Monday, cutting off the most popular route from the northeastern part of Diyala province to Baghdad.” It was the third straight day of attacks on bridges in Iraq, and the seventh such attack in the past two months.
A person affiliated with a rival campaign directed my attention to this Ted Koppel commentary on NPR in which he observes:
I ran into an old source the other day who held a senior position at the Pentagon until his retirement. He occasionally briefs Senator Clinton on the situation in the Gulf. She told him that if she were elected president and then re-elected four years later she would still expect U.S. troops to be in Iraq at the end of her second term.
I find that the tendency when I talk to people leaning in a Clintonish direction is that they express confidence, as Clinton herself does in the debates, that all of the Democrats will, if elected, move rapidly to end the war. If anything, I think the stronger argument for Clinton is the reverse — that while she seems disinclined to really end the war, it’s not clear that her main rivals are inclined to do so either. Neither Edwards nor Obama has, after all, exactly come out swinging against Clinton on Iraq in a forward looking sense. There have been some indications that Clinton’s envisioned “residual” force would be bigger than what other candidates have in mind, but her main rivals haven’t argued this explicitly.
It’s all over the internet already, but it really does look like some Albanian steals Bush’s watch here:
At about 0:50 seconds, you can see a watch on Bush’s wrist. Then his wrist is obscured for a bit because he’s shaking hands and then when you next see the wrist, there’s no watch.
Fun fact: I realized recently that most older people don’t realize that these days few young people wear watches because we’re all used to checking the time on our cell phones.
Jonah Goldberg’s for it, Sara Mead’s against it. I bet you can guess whose side I’m on. Sample: “Goldberg comes to this conclusion based on the Washington Post’s recent series focusing on the horrible state of the District of Columbia Public Schools–which is sort of like concluding we should abolish the U.S. military because of the Abu Ghraib scandal.” Indeed.
A recent study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that in the first three months of 2007, Fox News devoted considerably less coverage to the Iraq war than did CNN and MSNBC, but almost twice as much time to the Anna Nicole Smith story:
Today on his radio show, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly derided the group behind the report as the “Project for Excellence in Left-Wing Journalism,” but then said he wouldn’t dispute their findings. He defended his lack of Iraq war coverage, stating that the only reason CNN and MSNBC “do so much Iraq reporting is because they want to embarrass the Bush administration”:
Now the reason that CNN and MSNBC do so much Iraq reporting is because they want to embarrass the Bush administration. Both do. And all their reporting consists of is here’s another explosion. Bang. Here’s more people dead. Bang. [...]
They’re not doing it to inform anybody about anything. The terrorists are going to set off a bomb every day because they know CNN and MSNBC are going to put it on the air. That’s a strategy for the other side. The terrorist side. So I’m taking an argument that CNN and MSNBC are actually helping the terrorists by reporting useless explosions.
Do you care if another bomb went off in Tikrit? Does it mean anything? No! It doesn’t mean anything.
The explosions in Iraq have killed over 3,500 U.S. troops since 2003. Journalists stationed in Iraq stress that coverage of the violence is necessary to ensure that the American public understands soldiers’ sacrifices:
CBS News Correspondent Lara Logan: When you see an American kid get shot and friends come to his aid and risk their lives, and see how they live day after day, you realize it is very hard for people far away to understand just how great are the sacrifices being made.
CNN International Correspondent Michael Ware: Clearly, it’s very hard to distill into one story the reality of life on the ground. Many of the soldiers I was with recently in Ramadiyah feel that people back home are turning off to an extent. They feel they’re fighting this war in a vacuum. That’s where you see the true strength of these men. They continue to do their jobs professionally and bravely.
O’Reilly constantly claims that he supports the troops. For O’Reilly, supporting the troops means ignoring their work and saying that the explosions killing them don’t “mean anything.”
Transcript: Read more
Tomorrow, the Senate Rules Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Bush’s FEC nominee Hans von Spakovsky, who formerly was a controversial appointee in the DoJ’s Civil Rights Division. Today, six former Justice Department career professionals wrote a letter urging the committee to reject von Spakovsky:
The matter which best demonstrates Mr. von Spakovsky’s inappropriate behavior was his supervision of the review of a Georgia voter ID law in the summer of 2005. It demonstrates the unprecedented intrusion of partisan political factors into decision-making, the cavalier treatment of established Section 5 precedent of the Voting Section, and the unwarranted and vindictive retaliation against Voting Section personnel who disagreed with him on this matter. [...]
We urge you to explore Mr. von Spakovsky’s role in this unfortunate endeavor and refuse to reward him for this dubious stewardship.
Read the full letter from DoJ officials HERE.
“U.S. military officials say troops are trained to avoid civilian casualties and do not fire wildly,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “Iraqis, however, say the shootings happen frequently and that even if troops are firing at suspected attackers, they often do so on city streets where bystanders are likely to be hit.”
Since mid-February, Los Angeles Times stringers across Iraq have reported at least 18 incidents in which witnesses said troops had opened fire wildly or in areas crowded with civilians, usually after being attacked. The reports indicated that at least 22 noncombatants died in the incidents. Because they are based on various witness accounts and reports from hospital and police officials, many of whom refuse to give their names, it is not possible to independently verify most reports.
If the anecdotal evidence is an indication, such deaths often occur after troops are shaken by roadside bombs, as occurred when The Times employee’s son was killed April 17.
Gen. Wesley Clark writes in response to Lieberman’s calls for attacking Iran, “Only someone who never wore the uniform or thought seriously about national security would make threats at this point. What our soldiers need is responsible strategy, not a further escalation of tensions in the region. Senator Lieberman must act more responsibly and tone down his threat machine.”
Time to gear up for battle on CAFE with the Senate considering serious legislation. The U.S. Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) has “launched radio advertisements in 10 states that contain false claims and factually inaccurate information,” as the National Environmental Trust notes on their website.
NET is a great source of hard facts for those who want to take on the auto industry’s disinformation. For instance, did you know that polling reveals, “pickup owners overwhelmingly support requiring the auto industry to increase fuel efficiency standards.”
I actually joined a conference call with NET for reporters in Arkansas on fuel economy — audio is available here.
NET’s debunking of the industry ads is reprinted below:
Former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham (D-FL) was one of 23 Senators to have voted against the Iraq war resolution in October 2002. “With sadness,” he told his colleagues, “I predict we will live to regret this day, Oct. 10, 2002, the day we stood by and we allowed these terrorist organizations to continue growing in the shadows.”
Just four months after Bush launched the Iraq war, Graham floated the idea of impeachment. “Clearly, if the standard is now what the House of Representatives did in the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the actions of this president [are] much more serious in terms of dereliction of duty,” he said. In an interview this week with ThinkProgress, Graham said he stood by his 2003 statement:
How many Americans would say that it is a greater dereliction of duty as President of the United States to have a consensual sexual affair or to take the country to war under manipulated, fabricated, and largely untruthful representations which the President knew or should have known. I think the answer to that question is clear.
Graham added that it’s unlikely Bush would be impeached, explaining that he learned the word impeachment is an “incendiary word” that Americans shy away from. “Americans don’t like impeachment because it connotes the kind of instability that so many other countries around the world have known.” But he added that his original remark regarding impeachment “was a truthful statement at the time and it’s even more truthful today.”
Right before the Senate vote on the Iraq resolution, the mild-mannered Graham sounded the alarms in unusually stark language. “If you believe that the American people are not going to be at additional threat,” he said, “then, frankly, my friends — to use a blunt term — blood is going to be on your hands.”
Asked to reflect on that statement today, Graham said, “There are 3,500 fewer American servicemen alive today in the world since the day I made that statement. There are tens of thousands of civilians who’ve lost their lives. The United States is at dramatically greater risk of terrorism… So I’m afraid that the blood has flown fuller, deeper, and redder that I thought it was going to.”
Graham also ridiculed Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s (I-CT) calls for taking “aggressive military action” against Iran:
I don’t know where we’re going to get the troops to take aggressive offensive action against Iran. Iran’s a country that’s approximately 2.5 times the population of Iraq. It has a GDP that’s twice that of Iraq. It is a much more significant force in the world. And we see how bogged down we are in Iraq, how in the world are we going to even consider using massive military force against Iran?