Friday, September 29, 2006

Morning News Roundup (29 September)

Woodward Returns
A couple of days before the typical fanfare of rolling out the publicity machine for his new book (with the required visit to 60 minutes and excerpts in his home paper, the WaPo), the NYTimes scooped up Bob Woodard's new tome -- State of Denial -- and hits the highlights:
  • Mr. Woodward’s first two books about the Bush administration, “Bush at War” and “Plan of Attack,” portrayed a president firmly in command and a loyal, well-run team responding to a surprise attack and the retaliation that followed. As its title indicates, “State of Denial” follows a very different storyline, of an administration that seemed to have only a foggy notion that early military success in Iraq had given way to resentment of the occupiers.
  • Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld is described as disengaged from the nuts-and-bolts of occupying and reconstructing Iraq — a task that was initially supposed to be under the direction of the Pentagon — and so hostile toward Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, that President Bush had to tell him to return her phone calls. The American commander for the Middle East, Gen. John P. Abizaid, is reported to have told visitors to his headquarters in Qatar in the fall of 2005 that “Rumsfeld doesn’t have any credibility anymore” to make a public case for the American strategy for victory in Iraq.

  • Vice President Cheney is described as a man so determined to find proof that his claim about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was accurate that, in the summer of 2003, his aides were calling the chief weapons inspector, David Kay, with specific satellite coordinates as the sites of possible caches. None resulted in any finds.
The WaPo plays catch-up with the scoopage:
Former White House chief of staff Andrew Card on two occasions tried and failed to persuade President Bush to fire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. [...] Card made his first attempt after Bush was re-elected in November, 2004, arguing that the administration needed a fresh start and recommending that Bush replace Rumsfeld with former secretary of state James A. Baker III. Woodward writes that Bush considered the move, but was persuaded by Vice President Cheney and Karl Rove, his chief political adviser, that it would be seen as an expression of doubt about the course of the war and would expose Bush himself to criticism.

Card tried again around Thanksgiving, 2005, this time with the support of First Lady Laura Bush, who according to Woodward, felt that Rumsfeld's overbearing manner was damaging to her husband. Bush refused for a second time, and Card left the administration last March, convinced that Iraq would be compared to Vietnam and that history would record that no senior administration officials had raised their voices in opposition to the conduct of the war.
Friends in Low Places
  • From George Bush's second inaugural address:
    We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people. America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies. Yet, rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.
  • Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the authoritarian Central Asian ruler who has cracked down on human rights and quashed other political freedoms in his country, will meet with President Bush at the White House today. Nazarbayev also was hosted at the Kennebunkport estate of former President George H.W. Bush. “Nazarbayev has suffered no consequences for his rejection of the democracy agenda.” [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]
BushCo's Wars
  • $16 billion: The amount Iraq has lost in potential foreign oil sales “over two years to insurgent attacks, criminals and bad equipment.” Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen found “Iraq also is paying billions of dollars to import refined petroleum products it needs.” [ThinkProgress' ThinkFast]

  • Reuters reports almost 40 persons killed in political violence as a result of Iraq's civil war on Thursday. Guerrillas set off several bomb attacks and fired mortars inside Baghdad, accounting for a number of the deaths.

    In addition, Police found 60 bodies in various parts of Baghdad, showing signs of torture. They were victims of Sunni-Shiite sectarian reprisal killings. The inability of the current "Forward Together" campaign by the US and Iraqi militaries in Baghdad to deter this widespread murder and lawlessness suggests that the problem is long-term and intractable now. [Juan Cole's Informed Comment]
Domestic Potpourri
  • A new group called Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good said yesterday that it will distribute at least 1 million voter guides before the Nov. 7 elections, emphasizing church teachings on war, poverty and social justice as well as on abortion, contraception and homosexuality. The 12-page booklet, called "Voting for the Common Good: A Practical Guide for Conscientious Catholics," is part of a broader effort by liberal and moderate religious groups to challenge the Christian right on moral values. [WaPo]

  • Hundreds of contacts between top White House officials and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his associates "raise serious questions about the legality and actions" of those officials, according to a draft bipartisan report prepared by the House Government Reform Committee.

    The 95-page report, which White House officials reviewed Wednesday evening but has yet to be formally approved by the panel, singled out two of President Bush's top lieutenants, Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman, as having been offered expensive meals and exclusive tickets to premier sporting events and concerts by Abramoff and his associates. [Roll Call via AmericaBlog]

  • "He's apologizing to others, certainly he should apologize to us as well." That's B. Frank Earnest Sr., the Virginia commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, on George Allen. The Post reports that the group is outraged the senator would turn his back on the flag of the Confederacy. Allen, who recently stopped campaigning for re-election so that he can devote his full attention to offering apologies for his offensive behavior, denounced the Southern Cross last month. He said he regretted his earlier embrace of a flag that "is, for black Americans, an emblem of hate and terror." No word yet on when Allen plans to apologize for his apology. [Slate's Today's Papers]


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