Betty Blogger welcomes you to Blues Night at Lefty's, a celebration of all artist blue and otherwise, of all genres special and general., The Heretik welcomes you as well. Good things to follow soon . . . .let's go down below . . .onward marching . . . shocking . . . we get letters. . . in the garden . . .new network forms . . .
Franz K. will be pouring for all who let free comments flow. Sharks blue and otherwise circle under a lbeautiful clear night on the Bay of Confusion. Welcome.
IMPEACHMENT: DOWNING STREET STORY HAS LEGS
And Apparently Arms, Hands, and a Body of Disgust. Plus Eyes on Numbers Read Falling Numbers for Bush on . . . . Impeachment
Today’s Zogby Poll has startling numbers for Bush apologists to stomach. Maybe now the mainstream media will take note. 42% of voters nationwide say they would favor bringing impeachment charges against the servant of sovereign people of the United States, President George Bush if it is found he misled the country about reasons for going to war with Iraq
[ZOGBY POLL] In a sign of the continuing partisan division of the nation, more than two-in-five (42%) voters say that, if it is found that President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should hold him accountable through impeachment. While half (50%) of respondents do not hold this view, supporters of impeachment outweigh opponents in some parts of the country.
NOTE ABOUT THOSE NUMBERS: That’s without any mainstream media coverage to
speak of about Downing Street. That’s without any Congressional
hearings. Bush will be the last to know. Stick a fork in him. He’s dead. Everybody who is coming on to this late can jump on the bandwagon now. It's headed to Bush's plot on the political cemetary.
RENDITION: ANARCHY USA The Secret is Out. The extraordinary rendition of Abu Omar gets to the heart of whether the United States respects the rule of law, the first principle of democracy. If not law first, criminals rule us in the end. By what means do we come to this end? Secrecy is a greater threat to our nation than any outside agents. What our agents do in our name is covered by a sheet of covert necessity. Pull that sheet off and we find ourselves in bed with chaos loosed upon the world. Even more than a story about warring intelligence agencies and laws broken in Italy, the extraordinary rendition of Abu Omar is reveals the turf of amoral anarchy on which the war on terror is fought. American exceptionalism has never played well to other nations. With every new detail that comes out in extraordinary rendition cases like Abu Omar’s, the CIA’s poker face cannot hide cards played far too quickly in a losing game for law. If we allow our cops to act like criminals for national security, from what are we secure?
FROM IL CORIERRE The victim was tailed on a street in Milan, immobilized with a chemical spray, kidnapped, sent in secret to the US air base at Aviano, and from there to the fastnesses of the Mubarak regime, with no legal guarantees whatsoever. Now the Abu Omar case threatens to widen the split between the United States and Italy, following the regrettable aftermath of the Sgrena case and the death of Nicola Calipari. Abu Omar’s abduction took place on the territory of a friendly sovereign state, and ally of Washington, which has courageously supported the postwar peace process in Iraq by sending troops to Nassiriya, thus exposing itself to Madrid-style terrorist reprisals. The fact that, in between dallyings in luxury hotels and expenses James Bond would have baulked at, the CIA chose to act without informing the Italian authorities confirms that the US administration has yet to grasp the scale of the damage wreaked on America’s image by the chains at Guantanamo, the photos of Abu Ghraib, and the covert actions of the CIA, whose strategic aims were explained yesterday to the Corriere della Sera by Robert Baer, a former member of the Directorate of Operations. What is the point of the forthright speech by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice urging America’s Egyptian and Saudi allies to at last open their societies to democracy if the CIA then sends Abu Omar, illegally abducted in Italy, to Cairo, to be unceremoniously interrogated without lawyers, transparency, or legal process, all considered superfluous luxuries in time of war by Washington hardliners? [MORE]
The United States currently engages in serious damage control on public relations here. On the United States side, no one has yet explained how and why its agents felt the need to totally discount respect for Italian sovereignty and law. When quick results are paramount, bad results are the consequence. When policy is not well thought out, thoughtless offense is inevitable
FROM THE WASHINGTON POST The CIA "told a tiny number of people" about the [Abu Omar] action, said one intelligence veteran in the management chain of the operation when it took place. "Certainly not the magistrate, not the Milan police." --snip-- The Italian court case offers an accidental glimpse into how U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies coordinate and communicate on sensitive counterterrorism matters in ways that are expressly kept secret, even from other parts of their governments. This bifurcation between stated policies and secret practices has become more common since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, as the CIA has sought cooperation from other governments to covertly apprehend and transport suspected terrorists to undisclosed locations without legal hearings. --snip— The Italian operation was highly unusual even in the context of 100 renditions.
In most, if not all, other post-Sept. 11 renditions, the security service of the foreign country has apprehended the suspect, then transferred him into CIA custody. In the Italian case, operatives from the CIA's paramilitary branch, the Special Activities Division, were dispatched, making the risk of disclosure much higher.
Two of the CIA veterans said the operatives became directly involved because, by 2003, counterterrorism operations had become the main thing the agency's leadership and the White House cared about. "Everyone wanted into the game," a CIA officer said. "The CIA chief in Italy wanted to have a notch in his belt." [MORE]
The Italian press thus far has a far better understanding of how the Omar Abu case impacts our society than anyone in the American media and our as yet unknowing citizens
The finest moments in American history, from Lincoln to Roosevelt, show that despite all the gray areas, it is possible to defend democracy by force without distorting its spirit. . . . . Was this an unauthorized operation by the CIA? Did the White House know? Was the Pentagon informed? How far up did that knowledge filter? Did the Italian authorities give the green light? Or was the light yellow? Did any Italians attend the notification briefings, and if they did, why did they say yes? [MORE]
The letter of the law, the spirit of the law. If we do not see the letters of the law that are written on the wall of Omar Abu’s secret prison cell, the spirit of law and the best spirit of our nation will be lost. We will be left then in the care of monsters, in the wasteland of anarchy.
BUSH LISTENS TO NOBODY BUT . . . He Might Want to Listen to Talabani, the President of Iraq, whom Bush most likely would call by his first name Jalal. Unlike George Bush who won’t even go to a fallen soldier’s funeral, Iraq’s Jalal Talabani is a true war time president. The reality of war drops all around him. In a Spiegel German newspaper interview Talabani offered several insights into Iraq the mainstream press here will likely ignore: where the terrorists come from, who should be in charge of Iraqi security, and what the nature of the Iraqi government will be.
In speaking frankly on these subjects, Talabani points out what Bush does not. First and perhaps foremost Talabani point to Saudi Arabia and its state support of the intolerant Wahabi sect of Islam as the spring from which terrorism flows. At some point the United States is going to have to deal with this honestly as the entire security of the Middle East depends upon it. Wahabi brooks no moderation. For all Bush speaks about freedom on the march, no freedom or democracy will exist without a moderate center anywhere in the Middle East.
SPIEGEL: Do you have any more specific information about where the foreign mujahedeen are coming from?
Talabani: It's difficult to give you numbers, but we have arrested people from various countries, including Pakistan and Egypt, Palestine and Algeria. Many come from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia's extreme Wahhabism is a major source of terrorism. --snip-- SPIEGEL: There's also been a great deal of debate over how much longer US troops should remain in the country. General John Vines has said that 20,000 soldiers could be withdrawn after the election, while some politicians in Washington favor increasing troop strength.
Talabani: I'm in favor of reducing the number of American troops. In return, we should build up the Iraqi army. If the Americans want to stay longer, they could withdraw to individual bases -- the way it is in Germany. Security in the country is the Iraqis' business. --snip-- SPIEGEL: Hairdressers, artists and musicians are being killed in Baghdad these days -- just because Islamists see their work as frivolous. Do you understand the concerns of many of your fellow Iraqis that a religious government could establish Islamic law, or Sharia?
Talabani: Iraq will never be an Islamist state. Far from all Iraqi women wear headscarves, and alcohol is served in Baghdad's bars and cafés. On the other hand, we will not have a secular state, because that would mean a strict separation of state and religion. We recognize Islam as our state religion and see Sharia as a source of our jurisprudence. [SPIEGEL]
Dear Quasi: While I would tell anybody that you agnostics are scum in public, I need to ask you a question in private. I don't know who else to turn to at this point in my life. I am on quite a roll, but am starting to doubt whether it might possibly be heading downhill. Short of murder, I have gotten away with everything in my life. Will this continue forever?
Sincerely, Karl R.
Karl, thank you for your question. We agnostics are undecided on whether we take being called scum from the likes of you a compliment or not. The answer to your question is yes and no. Yes, a man without a conscience can get away it forever. But in the end what he gets away with is not worth having if what matters most is lost. While we are undecided on whether there is a hell or not, we hope you enjoy your time for all eternity there.
The Quasi have spoken. Do you have a problem with love, life or work? The Quasi Deist Agnostics are here to help. Leave question in the comments. Think the Quasi got it wrong or want to suck up? You can do that to.
THE BEGINNING OF THE BEGINNING OF THE END Somebody Should Tell Bush He’s Done. Stick A Fork in Him. It’s Over.
It is just a matter of time. The man behind the curtain we were not
supposed to pay any attention to has been found out. The fraud is
revealed. What an inspiring a sorry performance by the President in front of the troops at Fort Bragg and the entire nation Tuesday night. The only thing more inspiring sorrier was Scott McClellan’s bold new insights even sorrier regurgitations at Wednesday’s White House Press Briefing Court Stenography Session. Somebody should tell Scott McClellan it is time for a raise new job.
opened with a PR announcement on the President’s website dedicated to
supporting the troops Bush himself does not support. Then McClellan
turned thing over to Frances Townsend. Fran Townsend continued what
was supposed to be another White House Press Briefing Court Stenography Session with a brilliantly
an oddly timed appearance to talk about the Silberman Robb Commission
Report on Terror, WMD and whatever else can distract us from the
president’s sinking performance the night before on national
television. McClellan made the mistake of then taking questions.
HIGHLIGHTS are mine, the lowlights are all Scott.
Q Q So what do you make of all of the Democratic criticism of the President's speech last night, particularly the very harsh words that Senator Rockefeller had --
MR. McCLELLAN: I didn't see exactly what he said. You might want to refresh me on what he said.
Q -- perpetrating a fraud on the American people.
MR. McCLELLAN: I would just say that I don't think politics and pessimism help us complete the mission. The President is focused on completing the mission. And last night he outlined a very clear strategy for the way forward that the American people heard. That strategy
is to stand up Iraqi security forces, and as we do that, to stand down
American forces. And that's the way forward in Iraq. And it's important
that we all focus on completing the mission so that our troops can return home as soon as possible. [WHITE HOUSE]
Mission, mission, strategy, strategy, mission. If
the strategy now is to remind people of a mission yet unaccomplished,
these geniuses in the White House are making a big mistake. Somebody
should tell Scott reminding people about the mission that isn’t a
accomplished only reminds them that the mission is . . . not accomplished.
Q Can I follow on that? Part of what Senator
Rockefeller said was that by using the references to 9/11, that the
President was trying to click a patriotic button that would make people
more patient. He called it "amazing." He further said that there was no
connection between Osama bin Laden, Iraq and 9/11, and effectively was
saying the President was using that national tragedy. How do you
respond to that?
MR. McCLELLAN:And who made any suggestion of a link to the attacks? What the President was talking about was that September 11th taught us important lessons. It taught us that we must confront threats
before they full materialize, before they reach our shores. That's why
the President decided we were going to take the fight to the enemy. We are taking the fight to the enemy abroad so that we don't have to fight them here at home. We are on the offense, not defense. And that's the way you fight and wage and win the war on terrorism. [WHITE HOUSE]
September 11th, threats, enemy, home, terrorism. And who made any suggestion of a link to the attacks?Here
we have the beginning of the beginning of the end. People will only
play the fool for so long. Soon people will say they are not fools. In time
they will say they never were fooled. Then they will say there is only
one fool. The fool in the White House. Who does that fool think he is
fooling? Stick a fork in him. He’s dead. Bush just doesn’t know it
Q I guess the question Democrats have is, is
the enemy in Iraq the same enemy that struck the United States on
September 11th, 2001?
MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, the President talked about it last night. He said the terrorists have chosen to make Iraq a central front in the war on terrorism. They are the same -- they have the same hatred and -- let me back up -- they have the same ideology of hatred and oppression that the terrorists who attacked us on September 11th held. These are the same kind of people. They are terrorists who seek to dominate the Middle East. The Middle East is a dangerous region of the world, and the President made the decision that we could no longer ignore these emerging threat that were building in the Middle East. The Middle East was a breeding ground for terrorism
for decades; we looked the other way or tolerated dictators for the sake of peace and stability in the Middle East. We got neither. Threats were emerging and the terrorists
thought that history was on their side. They attacked us at the World
Trade Center in 1993; they -- you saw the attacks on our troops in
Somalia and the attack on our Marines in Lebanon. They launched attacks
in other civilized countries, as well.
Then September 11th came. War was brought to our shores. And the President made a decision that the terrorists
were going to be the ones that were going to be on the defensive. We
were going to take the fight to them. And when you engage the enemy abroad, this is what happens. The enemy
recognizes that a free Iraq is going to go right to the heart of their
survival because it will help send a powerful message to the rest of
the Middle East and help transform that region to bring about freedom
and democracy, which is the way to defeat the ideology that they
espouse. [WHITE HOUSE]
Danger, enemy, threats, attacks, September 11, Iraq. The
President made a decision. We were going to take the fight to . .
.Iraq. Every word the President say, everything McClellan says in
support of his illegal war . . . supports the truth in the Downing
Street Memos. Bush sticks the fork in himself. He just doesn’t know
Q So while the President isn't arguing that
Saddam Hussein and his regime were behind 9/11, he's saying that
essentially they're the same kind of people?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, remember, we talked about how his regime was a sworn enemy of the United States. And what the terrorists did was choose to make Iraq a central front in the war on terrorism. No matter where you stood on the decision to go into Iraq -- we talked about the decision about why we went into Iraq -- I think all of us can recognize that the terrorists have made it a central front in the war on terrorism. The President quoted Osama bin Laden last night.
The President has heard from his commanders, General Abizaid, who
oversees that theater. And General Abizaid has talked about the
importance of succeeding in Iraq and Afghanistan, and talked to the
President about how when we succeed in Afghanistan and Iraq, it will be the beginning of the end for the terrorists and their ideology.
If we were to lose in Iraq, it would simply be the beginning of the beginning. [WHITE HOUSE]
Paranoia strikes three. Sworn enemy, terrorists , we all recognize.
We do all recognize something now. The White House is repeating things
that worked in the past that will work against them now and in the
future. You can only wave a bloody flag so long and then people see
the blood has dripped down to where it always belonged. On Bush. Stick
a fork in him. He's done. Bush just doesn’t know it..
WHAT THE PRESS IS SAYING ABOUT BUSH
BLURRING THE LINE BETWEEN FACT AND PROPAGANDA Critics were quick to point out that several of those
links were more a consequence of the Iraq invasion than a justification
for it. The connections described by Mr Bush at Fort Bragg were
more conceptual than the close relationship described by the White
House before the war. The prewar rhetoric portrayed that
relationship as long and deep. Dick Cheney, the vice-president, who
took the lead in making the claims described evidence of the
relationship as "overwhelming". Mr Cheney said in late 2001 it
had been "pretty well confirmed" that the lead September 11 hijacker
Mohamed Atta had met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in April
2000. Mr Bush said in October 2002: "We've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaida members in bomb-making and poisons and gases." He
also pointed to the alleged presence of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a
Jordanian Islamist militant in Baghdad, and of a radical Sunni group,
Ansar al-Islam, in Kurdistan as further proof of the connection. Those alleged connections crumbled under postwar scrutiny. --snip-- Despite the dearth of evidence of a solid link since the war, the picture of the relationship remains muddy in the US. Mr
Cheney, in particular, has refused to retract his war claims and has
continued to hint at hidden connections between Saddam and Bin Laden. Robin
Hayes, a Republican congressman from North Carolina, appeared on
television yesterday claiming to have seen secret evidence of Iraqi
involvement in the September 11 attacks which he could not share. Such
cryptic claims were widely rejected as groundless yesterday, but Mr
Bush's more subtle rendering of the alleged Iraq-Bin Laden axis will
serve to blur the hard lines between fact and propaganda. [GUARDIAN UK]
The New York Times says Bush couldn't resist temptation.
President Bush told the nation last night that
the war in Iraq was difficult but winnable. Only the first is clearly
true. Despite buoyant cheerleading by administration officials, the
military situation is at best unimproved. The Iraqi Army, despite Mr.
Bush's optimistic descriptions, shows no signs of being able to control
the country without American help for years to come. --snip-- We
did not expect Mr. Bush would apologize for the misinformation that
helped lead us into this war, or for the catastrophic mistakes his team
made in running the military operation. But we had hoped he would
resist the temptation to raise the bloody flag of 9/11 over and over
again to justify a war in a country that had nothing whatsoever to do
with the terrorist attacks. [NY TIMES]
MORE OF WHAT THE PRESS HAD TO SAY ABOUT BUSH, GOOD AND BAD
USA Today Editorial, June 29
ago, an ebullient George Bush flew to an aircraft carrier ... to
celebrate the supposed end of major combat in Iraq ... Mr Bush on
Tuesday again appeared before hundreds of US troops, this time to
respond to questions and growing concerns about the mission ...
Bush's half-hour speech outlined a sound, steadfast approach to dealing
with the mess that Iraq has become. But whether it can stem erosion in
support for the war remains to be seen. There was no acknowledgment of
the misjudgments that many Americans now see plainly, but Mr Bush seems
unable or unwilling to recognise. The administration is reaping the
backlash from its rosy predictions that invading Iraq - and getting out
- would be quick and relatively painless."
Cragg Hines Houston Chronicle, June 29
Bush's setting may have been Fort Bragg, the big, war-ready base in
North Carolina, and his audience may have been assembled troops, but
the president's target, however, as it has been throughout much of his
tenure, was his political base, which he needs to rally ...
[latest] Washington Post-ABC survey could point to increased trouble
ahead for Mr Bush. For the first time in this survey, a majority
(52%-48%) believe the administration intentionally misled the American
public in the run-up to the war ... This is a dangerous shift in public
perception for a 'values' politician such as Mr Bush. Hence, the
John Podhoretz New York Post, June 29
Bush was compelled to ... make the case yet again for the war in Iraq
at a time of mounting insurgent attacks on Americans and Iraqis -
something he might not have needed to do if he had maintained a
laser-like focus on the war on terror at the outset of his second term
"The speech marked ... a return to the war presidency ... It
was a strong speech ... because it took the criticisms of the war and
the war effort seriously and sought to advance better arguments than
those offered by the critics ... Thus, the president made clear, the
story of Iraq isn't just the daily use of ... car bombs. It's a story
of political progress that is threatened only by a loss of resolve on
our part - a loss of resolve that will result in a major victory for
Washington Post Editorial, June 29
Iraq is now a prime battlefield for Islamic extremists ... But Mr Bush
didn't explain how a war meant to remove a tyrant believed to wield
weapons of mass destruction turned into a fight against Muslim
militants, a transformation caused in part by his administration's many
errors since Saddam Hussein's defeat more than two years ago.
president also didn't speak candidly enough about the primary mission
the US now has in Iraq, which is ... constructing a stable government
in spite of Iraq's sectarian divisions and violent resistance from the
former ruling elite. It's harder to explain why Americans should die in
such a complex and ambitious enterprise than in a fight with
international terrorists, but that is the case Mr Bush most needs to
Los Angeles Times Editorial, June 29
pep talk to the nation ... was a major disappointment. He again rewrote
history by lumping together the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001
and the need for war in Iraq, when, in fact, Saddam's Iraq had no
connection to al-Qaida ... Mr Bush might be right to now put Iraq at<
the centre of the 'global war on terror', but it didn't have that
status before the invasion ...
"Americans are understandably
upset at spending $200bn [£111bn] and so many lives in Iraq, while
hearing only rhetoric about staying the course. If more months pass
with Iraqi forces leaning on the safety net of US troops, politicians
putting tribe and religious community ahead of nation, and the daily
havoc of suicide bombers, presidential scrutiny through rose-coloured
glasses will fall on ever deafer ears."
New York Times Editorial, June 29
Mr Bush is intent on staying the course, it will take years before the
Iraqi government and its military are able to stand on their own. Most
important of all - despite his lofty assurance [on Tuesday] that in the
end the insurgents 'cannot stop the advance of freedom' - all those
years of effort and suffering could still end with the Iraqis turning
on each other, or deciding that the American troops were the ultimate
enemy after all ...
"No one wants a disaster in Iraq, and Mr
Bush's critics can put aside, at least temporarily, their anger at the
administration for its hubris, its terrible planning and its inept
conduct of the war in return for a frank discussion of where to go from
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Editorial, June 29
their growing unease and even distrust, most Americans do understand
the potentially dire consequences of failure in Iraq. They don't like
how we got into this mess, they don't believe it's being handled well,
but they accept - at least for now - the necessity of sticking it out.
All in all, they appreciate the seriousness of the situation, and are
ready to act accordingly. They deserve an equal seriousness of purpose
from the Bush administration." ROUNDUP FROM [THE GUARDIAN]
Tonight at Lefty's Lounge The Heretik celebrates all great Americans red, white, or blue. Betty Blogger salutes Americans of every stripe and even those with spots. There is no cover charge for those who comment freely. If you have an all american favorite, please let us know. Zeit Geist is behind the bar with her brother Paul T.
UNCIVIL REALITIES Neither the Warrior Princess Condoleezza Rice nor her would be Zero King George Bush has the slightest understanding of the uncivil reality of Iraq. The Zero King has zero idea what he actually faces in Iraq. The Zero King sees the world as one thing or another. Fractions are not allowed because they would admit a more complex whole reality. Given a mind set that sees nation states as primes actors, the Warrior Princess sees things as the Zero King George would. Iraq is a place that would have unity if these pesky outsider terrrorists with their ideology of hate would just give up. Reality and the Downing Street memos reveal that the King and his court and his warrior princess consort never gave consideration to the real possibility of civil war. To admit that mistake would admit a greater uncivil reality. These gung ho guys and gals don’t have a god damn idea what they are talking about or what they face in opposition.
It’s the Sunnis, stupid, not the terrorists that oppose your government. Warrior Princess, surely you remember the Sunnis. They were the religious group in power in Iraq before the invasion. A minority in Iraq, but a majority in the rest of the Arab world, the Sunnis are not to happy to lose power to the Shia, the majority in Iraq, but a minority in the Arab world. Zero King and Warrior Princess, surely you had a plan that would work for the Sunnis to accept minority status in a new government, right? Sure there are terrorists now in Iraq fighting against U.S. forces, but Fallujah was not a city filled with terrorists before it was destroyed to save it. Fallujah was a Sunni city. The problem in Iraq for the United States is that Sunnis are all over Iraq. The Zero King must now face the uncivil idea that civil war is already a reality. Talking about freedom on the march against an ideology of hatred shows what a fool and a zero in understanding King George is. If you look at the Warrior Princess Condoleezza Rice and the Zero King George Bush, it remains sad and tragic that these people were around when September Eleventh 2001 rolled over on the calendar. After rolling around in the hay down in Crawford, Texas and a month long vacation, the Zero King was refreshed and ready to respond as only he could. Rice the student of empires Chinese and Russian cannot understand a people Moslem and Arab with some Kurds tossed in. And if Bush thinks of Kurds, he probably thinks of cheese he might have served by a servant in a summer cottage. Reality is Iraq is a country broken up into parts Bush cannot comprehend. Iraq is broken and cannot by us be put together again. The cruel stability of the madman Saddam was something the Zero King George couldn’t stand. When he saw his chance, the Zero King stole our future and Iraq’s as well. Iraqis will pay a price for some time as we make our way from hell.
HELPFUL BACKGROUND AND OPINION
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ON IRAQ As with most of the nations in that region, the boundaries [of Iraq] are the result of political decisions, mostly arbitrary, by the colonial powers early last century," said James P. Reams, retired Army Artillery Field officer and former West Point geography instructor. "That the boundaries have lasted into the 21st century is more a tribute to the series of local despots that have run these 'countries' since the colonial powers left." [MORE]
HOW SOME OF THE BRITISH SEE IT TODAY The insurgency was born of the American invasion, but it is hard to determine which of three related developments - the US occupation, the transfer of power from Sunnis to Shias, or the rise of fundamentalism - is the most basic cause. The most pertinent facts about the insurgency are that it is a minority movement in Iraq, since it is confined to Sunnis, and yet it appeals to the angry and disaffected within the Arab world as a whole, where Sunnis are a majority. Minority status in Iraq means the insurgency is characterised by a grave weakness, yet the ability to draw on the worldwide Sunni majority gives it strength.
Again and again the administration has proclaimed that the war would be over once some necessary stage was passed, whether it was the formation of a government, the drafting of a constitution or the completion of some phase in the training of Iraqi forces. Yet the bombs keep on going off, the mortars keep on coming in, and the bullets keep on finding their marks, often enough in the bodies of Sunni moderates. [GUARDIAN UK]
THE ORIGINS OF THE SUNNI/SHIA SPLIT IN ISLAM The Shia shahadah (declaration of faith) states: "There is no god but Alláh, Muhammad is the Messenger of Alláh, Alí is the Friend of Alláh. The Successor of the Messenger of Alláh And his first Caliph." If you are already familiar with standard Sunni beliefs, you will immediately notice the addition to the shahadah regarding Imam Ali (ra), cousin of the Prophet (pbuh), husband of his daughter Fatima, father of Hassan and Hussein and the second person ever to embrace Islam. The term Shia or Shi'ite derives from a shortening of Shiat Ali or partisans of Ali. [ISLAM TODAY]
A MESSAGE FROM FIRST LADY LAURA BUSH As a former teacher and librarian for six months, I can tell you I appreciate the importance of a good book, particularly a good history book. And as First Lady of the United States and the only woman in your president’s thoughts, I can sincerely tell you how proud I was of my husband when it seemed everywhere we went we were the center of attention in 2001.
As a wife, a historian, as an American with a burning desire for truth, I can tell you my husband was right when he summed up his first year in office and the year of September 11, 2001 thusly: "But all in all, it's been a fabulous year for Laura and me."
We would not be where we are and we would not face our fabulous future together if my husband did not have such great insights into history. As far as the present goes, never you mind about those Downing Street Memos. As George likes to say, they were all written in British anyway.
Even after his rather stiff performance in his speech in front of the troops last night at Fort Bragg, you can count on George to be stiff in his resolve and stiff in all other things as well. I know I will. Laura Bush