"That's the trick for the president -- he has to turn around public opinion when he's at a low point in the polls," said John Weaver, a political strategist for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). "What they've got to do is win this argument and correct the misinformation that's out there about what's going on in Iraq and do so while leveling with the American people that it's going to be a long, hard slog."
IT WILL TAKE more than a trick, a lot more than another sales pitch to “correct the misinformation.” Bush’s problem is the people are a little too informed. And for people feeling previously tricked, John Weaver’s terminology is as poor as Bush’s repackaging of an old product.
TIP FOR ANDY CARD You don’t introduce old products in November, when people are already winter weary of war. Dan Froomkin has some great analysis. The key points?
Bush's speech -- combined with a new, rosy, slogan-filled White House document entitled " Victory in Iraq " -- kicks off a bold public-relations campaign to recast the debate about the war. But there are several reasons to suspect that it might not work: * It doesn't answer the most compelling question in contemporary American politics: When are the troops coming home? * It doesn't even include any objective ways of measuring progress towards an eventual U.S. pullout. * It is at heart a restatement, rather than a reappraisal, of a strategy that according to the polls the American public has overwhelmingly rejected. * The White House did not address, not to mention refute, the argument that the continued presence of American troops is making things worse, rather than better. * And nothing Bush said is likely to change the fact that he has a big credibility problem with most Americans.
COMPLETE WHAT? We will never accept anything but complete victory repeated over and over and over again sounds like complete BS.
WHAT YOU WILL HEAR a lot of for the next week at least.[White House transcript] Q Secondly, about the speech, couldn't people fairly ask why it is that the President hasn't had a strategy for victory before November 2005? MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's inaccurate.
NEW, BUT NOT IMPROVED Bush basically admitted today that "terrorists" are a small portion of the insurgencyresistance enemy. Who will call him on this? [White House speech transcript]
The third group is the smallest, but the most lethal: the terrorists affiliated with or inspired by al Qaeda . Many are foreigners who are coming to fight freedom's progress in Iraq. This group includes terrorists from Saudi Arabia, and Syria, and Iran, and Egypt, and Sudan, and Yemen, and Libya, and other countries. Our commanders believe they're responsible for most of the suicide bombings, and the beheadings, and the other atrocities we see on our television.
BUSH WILL ALSO NEED to explain just what "the rejectionists" are rejecting.
A LITTLE LATE ON THIS TOOA broad Pentagon directive issued this week orders the U.S. military to be sure, the next time it goes to war, to prepare more thoroughly for picking up the pieces afterward.
NOW THAT’S PROGRESSIn fact, Mr. Bush came the closest he has yet to acknowledging mistakes - without calling them that - since August 2004, when in an interview he acknowledged a "miscalculation" in assessing how quickly an insurgency might develop. The Heretik now realizes mistakes (and admitting them) are for those who don't have a two and half years too late Plan for Victory.
MISCALCULATION FROM MISS CHEERLEADER BUMILLER The political calculation behind President Bush's speech in Annapolis on Wednesday is that Washington, not Baghdad, is the battlefront that will decide the ultimate outcome of the war in Iraq, but that Mr. Bush's decisions do not have to be driven by fears of heavy Republican losses in the 2006 midterm elections. The Heretik knows Ms. Cheerleader Bumiller is getting this news straight from under somebody’s desk, probably Rumsfeld’s, but this is um the road to disaster. Whether Bush will “lose” in Iraq may be debated. Whether he “wins” at home may be something Republicans up for election can’t wait for. If you want a clue where Bumiller stands on this, her piece is entitled Gaining Control in Iraq, and Regaining Support at Home.
UPDATE THURSDAY AM Dem in CT at The Next Hurrah has bad news for the cheerleader girl and cheerleader Boy President in the White House. The Heretik completely agrees Bush may think he can run on Iraq . . . but he will run into complete disaster.
TIP FOR BUMILLER Once people read past the headline, they will see you run as broad and as shallow as Bush. Whether Bumiller is a Bush plant in the press here or not remains for speculation another day, but it can't help Bush's cred on the street, Arab or Wall, that the United States is planting Bush stories burning with the fire of freedom in Iraq. Can you say propaganda?
SAY HELLO to the Lincoln Group. HOW THE LINCOLN GROUP describes itself Our professionals often work in foreign communities where crime, insurgency, terrorism, extreme poverty and instability make communications and operations an extreme challenge. So, people often wonder "How Can You Work There?" It's not simple, but we rely on our experience, quality people, flexibility, and a low profile to get the job done. The Heretik says low profile? Very low, but obviously not low enough.
GOOD TIMING, LINCOLN It comes as the State Department is training Iraqi reporters in basic journalism skills and Western media ethics, including one workshop titled "The Role of Press in a Democratic Society." Standards vary widely at Iraqi newspapers, many of which are shoestring operations.
TRICKS? Did somebody say tricks? More obviously will be needed.
MORE FUN FROM THE LAND OF LINCOLN GROUP SPEAKWhat do you do when you're not working? That all depends upon location and interest. Most of us use our free time to explore the countries we work in. Our staff enjoy dinners with the local community, shopping in new markets, and travel to ancient sites most people only read about. We often meet with senior officials from the local nation and gain new insight into the country's future. We also volunteer our time to assist local community efforts. You might also find us speaking at industry, academic and government sponsored events.
AM EARLY THURSDAY UDPATE NOW APPARENT to those with new eyes or those who have eyes now open is Bush cannot give up the fight. The goal of whatever might be accomplished by “winning” in Iraq is now sacrificed to Bush’s ego. He must be the one to “win” in Iraq. And he thinks he can use Iraq to win in the 2006 midterm elections. Sy Hersch looks right on Bush only talking to God. See Maha also on Murtha with Chris Matthews on Harbdall.
BUT WHAT ABOUT the apparent schizophrenia of the White House mind that used to be so on message? Rice says withdrawals are coming in Iraq, Rumsfeld says it's their country, and don't look for Cheney to be anything but Cheney. The Bush White House is like the hydra of myth. Once one snapping talking head is lopped off, two more spring up to replace it.
NO ONE EXPECTS WAR to be sweet. In Iraq few now believe it to be the cakewalk the latest one was sold as. All death in war is terrible, but some more terrible than others. So some weapons are banned and some just as terrible are not. The head of GlobalSecurity.org, John Pike, is a regular resource around here on weapons of war. He has what might be the last word on both white phosphorus, WP, and willy pete and its perception in the world. This demands to be read in full beyond what is excerpted here.
The U.S. government only compounded the problem by denying that WP had been used in Fallouja for anything other than illuminating the battlefield. The government flatly rejected the charge that it had been used to burn enemy combatants. This claim, however, was untrue and easily disproved. An Army Field Artillery magazine article written earlier this year by soldiers who had fired the artillery in Fallouja described "shake and bake" missions — cannons firing WP incendiary rounds along with high-explosive shells to flush out insurgents from trenches and hiding places. As usual, it is the coverup that gets you into trouble. The guilty flee where none pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion. What are the facts? What is the law?
READ IT the whole thing, both for Pike’s facts and his conclusions. What seems the last word may in fact be the first of many. Willy Pete is what it is. War is the worst men do upon men, upon soldiers and civilians. If we can discuss the worst that men do upon men, we may also ask about why, when and where.
On the November 28 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, host Bill O'Reilly pointed to "a very secret plan" by the "secular progressive" movement, which he said aims to "diminish Christian philosophy in the U.S.A." It is a plan he links to his perception that many now avoid the holiday greeting "Merry Christmas." O'Reilly's disclosure of this "secret plan" was followed the day after by a rant on his radio show against the "hateful liars" who "spit out" "blatant propaganda" that is "picked up by the mainstream media, and rammed down the public's throat."
SPIT OUT? Be careful around Bill. He seems to be foaming at the mouth. Very dangerous. Very dangerous indeed. Did you say bow to Christmas, Bill, or was that bow wow? Wow.
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTERS with the Devil Dog can be found here and here. Visit the Devil Dog's favorite site for examining the rabid right: Fire Dog Lake. And look for the Devil Dog's own new blog soon: French Poodle Pond featuring commentary from Baux Waux Waux.
THE WAR ON THE DEVIL DOG can be seen nightly on Fox News right after most of the program that will be dedicated to the War on Xmas Christmas. Neither of these religious wars should be considered part of the government’s Global War on Terror (GWOT), a completely owned subsidiary of the War on Everything TM.
CRUEL IS THE NEW BLACK Cruel and unusual is blacker than black. Check your watch? What century is it? It feels like 1692 all over again. Hope this won’t scorch your skirt, but what time can we expect the burning of the witches to start? The Heretik in me needs to know. Me no like fire. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. Okay. Maybe we’re not there yet.
SOME GUY STEALS MAIL gets caught, gets fined. The thief also gets ordered to do one hundred hours wearing a sandwich board with his crime announced on it. People don’t throw rotten food at him, not at the start. He doesn’t get too much abuse, not in the first few hours. But as he spends his time on the corner with his court ordered ankle bracelet in place, he feels like Quasimodo looking for the kindness of an Esmerelda as the abuse begins. On the second day, the same kind people who saw him the first day are comfortable with the idea that he is uncomfortable. A crowd gathers and heckles him. On the third day somebody has bought ad space on the sandwich board. Below where it says I stole mail, it now also reads: Your mail never gets stolen at Federal Express.
IF YOU DO THE CRIME you must do the time. And now you must endure the humiliation. Rehabilitation of the criminal is so retro, but not so retro and true as the new shame, circa 1692.
JUSTICE IS NOW BOTH PUBLIC and publicized, private shame has now been privatized. People who were comfortable tossing insults the second day start hurling food the third day. Fed Ex isn’t happy when tomato sauce runs down their logo. The next day a deal is brokered. Insults are free. Fed Ex logo water balloons are sold on the fourth day. Only licensed balloons may be hurled at the chump in the sandwich board that says the guy stole mail. Balloon throwers are told to aim the balloons at the sandwich board, not the guy’s head. The next day the producers realize the hit show comes the more times the guy takes a hit to the head. The ratings go through the roof.
SIGNS OF THE NEW JUSTICE and judgement are everywhere. Banishment may make a comeback. Shut up, O’Reilly. And get the hell out of here. Think about which of your neighbors are worthy of scarlet letters of your choice. Fucking A. Really. September Eleventh changed everything. The word is those who engage in rude language in public places will be chained in a small closet until the smallest mind makes the biggest stink. Legal drug abusers may expect the harshest prescriptions. Pot smokers are advised they may be stoned for more than the time of their crimes. Criminal trespassers should expect to be stomped. Brought to you in prime time by Doc Martens.
CRIME MAY NOT PAY but justice is expensive. And it takes, like, time. And time is money. So more corporate partners in justice are being actively sought. Just to defray the costs. The original plan where corporations could pick the crimes they wanted to be associated with has had some public relations problems. No corporate sponsors could be found for the white collar crimes. Viagra denies it was ever part of sponsoring sex crimes. Thank god that wasn't us. Human nature takes comfort in the discomfort of others. Cruel black is the color of the ancient reptilian heart. So we slither forward or is it backward? What cruel and unusual punishments could you come up with and for what crimes? We all have it in us. Now who will let it out.
BEHIND WHAT WAS the Iron Curtain . . . between the lines there is a truth here about CIA prisons in Eastern Europe. Even a blind man can see when he gets the feel of the words he hears here.
The question of whether European nations have been complicit in the administration's actions has seized the attention of Europe's press, public and politicians since The Washington Post first reported on Nov. 2 that prisoners had been secretly held in bases in Europe or transported through them. The newspaper withheld the names of specific nations at the request of the Bush administration, which has not confirmed or denied any details since then. Several European governments have denied playing a role or have demanded explanations. "Like I said, and we have said many times from this podium, we're just not in a position to confirm those reports," Mr. McCormack said Tuesday. He added that confronting terrorism was "a shared responsibility of all countries" and that perpetrators of terrorist acts "don't comply with any laws." "All U.S. actions comply with U.S. laws," Mr. McCormack said. "They comply with the United States Constitution, and they comply with our international obligations." Mr. McCormack declined to answer whether he was sure American actions complied with European laws.
QUESTIONS without answers yet. Why would the Bush Administration need to ask the Washington Post to withhold the names of nations if the story isn’t true? How many positions is Mister McCormack backpedaling from at once? What a dance of the damned this is.
"The United States realizes that these are topics that are generating interest among European publics as well as parliaments, and that these questions need to be responded to," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters, adding, "These are certainly legitimate questions."
LEGITIMATE QUESTIONS about illegitimate questions that don’t exist? Somebody call Kafka.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHEDagain. As poll numbers fall as Iraqis stand up, we will run as fast as we can we will stand down. Victory kind of is ours. Do not look at that request for yet more money the man behind the curtain.
"I want my poll numbers to go up our troops to come home, but I don't want them to come home without having achieved partisan advantage at home without victory," he [Bush] said in brief comments to reporters in El Paso during a visit to the Mexican border. "And we've got a strategy I have never been able to clearly state before for victory." The president was describing another delusional fantasy he will engage in a speech he plans to give Wednesday at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
A senior administration official said Mr. Bush's ultimate goal, to which he assigned no schedule, is to move to a "smaller, more lethal" American force that "can be just as successful." It is unclear how much of that vision Mr. Bush will explicitly describe Wednesday, in the first of four speeches about the Iraqi transition that he plans to give before the election of a long-term Iraqi government on Dec. 15.
IT IS UNCLEAR because as Bush struggles to clean up his political mess at home, we will engage in dirty war abroad. The predicted death squads are already there. Because Bush seeks political relief at home in no way means he is giving up on his goals in Iraq and the Middle East. The apparent war will become smaller in forces and its downsides smaller in the American consciousness. Mission Accomplished not yet.
FROM THE REVISED RUMSFELD BOOK OF REVELATIONS [NY Times]
"Our problem is that any time something needs to be done, we have a feeling we should rush in and fill the vacuum and do it ourselves. You know what happens when you do that? "First of all, you can't do it, because it's not our country. It's their country. And the second thing that happens is they don't develop the skills and the ability and the equipment and the orientation and the habit patterns of doing it for themselves. They have to do it for themselves."
ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING RESISTANCE IS FUTILE or language languishes when Marines and Iraqi’s agree on “withdrawal.” Yeah, we all want that, but the war of words over what “the resistance” means shoots back and forth [WaPo]
"We all want the withdrawal," Nasir Abdul Karim, leader of Anbar province's Albu Rahad tribe, told scores of the armed Marines and Sunni sheiks, clerical leaders and other elders at the gathering Monday in Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad. "We all believe it is an illegitimate occupation, and it is a legitimate resistance." "We're committed to withdrawing," responded Brig. Gen. James L. Williams of the 2nd Marine Division, "as soon as we have strong units" in the Iraqi army to replace U.S.-led forces. "I understand the resistance," Williams added, commenting later that he was referring to the peaceful opposition to the U.S. presence in Iraq. "But you must understand we're military people. People who are shot at will shoot back."
THE PLAN, THE PLAN! From the White House comes the plan on paper: National Strategy for Victory in Iraq. Olvier Willis: There’s really no concrete definition of victory here, still. California Yankee: Why a document like the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, assembling our strategy into a single unclassified document, has never been done before now escapes me. It was obviously something that should have been done long before now. [WaPo] The new report says the U.S. strategy is working in Iraq, but victory will take time and many challenges remain. Think Progress: The problem is, it’s not a new strategy for success in Iraq; it’s a public relations document. The strategy describes what has transpired in Iraq to date as a resounding success and stubbornly refuses to establish any standards for accountability.
VERY EARLY REAL DEMOCRATIC RESPONSE [AP] Even before Bush finished speaking, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid issued a statement claiming that Bush "recycled his tired rhetoric of 'stay the course' and once again missed an opportunity to lay out a real strategy for success in Iraq that will bring our troops safely home."
The Pentagon says white phosphorus was never aimed at civilians, but there are lingering reports of civilian victims. The military can't say whether the reports are true and does not intend to investigate them, a decision we find difficult to comprehend. Pentagon spokesmen say the Army took "extraordinary measures" to reduce civilian casualties, but they cannot say what those measures were. They also say that using white phosphorus against military targets is legal. That's true, but the 1983 convention bans its use against "civilians or civilian objects," which would make white phosphorus attacks in urban settings like Falluja highly inappropriate at best.
GEN. PACE: White phosphorus is a legitimate tool of the military. It is used for two primary purposes. One is to mark a location for strike by an aircraft, for example. The other is to be used -- because it does create white smoke -- to be used as a screening agent so that you can move your forces without being seen by the enemy. It is not a chemical weapon, it is an incendiary (sic) [It is not an incendiary weapon as defined by the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons], and it is well within the law of war to use those weapons as they are being used for marking and for screening. Q But you and I have both seen the results of "Willy Pete" in Vietnam. And when it's on the skin, it doesn't stop burning until it goes all the way through or runs out of oxygen. It's a pretty tough weapon. Do you want to use it in urban areas such as Fallujah? GEN. PACE: No armed force in the world goes to greater effort than your armed force to protect civilians and to be very precise in the way we apply our power. A bullet goes through skin even faster than white phosphorus does. So I would rather have the proper instrument applied at the proper time as precisely as possible to get the job done in a way that kills as many of the bad guys as possible and does as little collateral damage as possible. That is just the nature of warfare. SEC. RUMSFELD: Let's see if there's a New York Times editorial quoting General Pace tomorrow. Unlikely.
THE WAR OVER WILLY PETE is at a stalemate. A lot of smoke. The Times asks a question the Pentagon doesn’t think needs an answer. Defenders of WP will find nothing new, nor will opponents. Only the people who talk about the topic change, the positions not at all.
OWNING A WAR is tough for Democrats and Republicans alike. Hillary Clinton is owning up to her vote for the war and still thinks we need to finish what we started. Donald Rumsfeld who went to war with the army he had, not the one he wanted, seems to think he can dictate who the enemy is he wants, not the one he has. The war and its beginnings are part of the battle still even as George Bush tomorrow makes a first step how United States involvement might end. Reality is the war will sooner or later be left to the Iraqis to win or lose. Fantasy begins and will not end in the coming days with how the politicians write and rewrite their stories of the war’s beginnings and how they think it will end. Clinton plays the deceived party. [story]
"Given years of assurances that the war was nearly over and that the insurgents were in their 'last throes," this administration was either not being honest with the American people or did not know what was going on in Iraq," she wrote. Clinton's allies billed the letter as her most comprehensive statement on the war to date. "It is time for the president to stop serving up platitudes and present us with a plan for finishing this war with success and honor," she wrote.
NOTED HERE IS how Clinton attacks the President’s platitudes with platitudes of her own. As she begins to stand for the inevitable run for president, her party runs past her toward the ground Murtha staked, the ground the brave Democrats refused to beach themselves on as their ship sank in an undefined policy sea.
RUMSFELD IS DELUDED a man who had previous mastery of the press with every word, who now has words that press with desperation. The presumption with which the master of transformation Rumsfeld entered the war continues now in his view of insurgents. Rumsfeld had an epiphany over the weekend and calling the enemy insurgents “gives them a greater legitimacy than they seem to merit." To call the enemy that [story] [DOD transcript]
I think that you can have a legitimate insurgency in a country that has popular support and has a cohesiveness and has a legitimate gripe. These people don't have a legitimate gripe. They've got a peaceful way to change that government through the constitution, through the elections. These people aren't trying to promote something other than disorder and to take over that country and turn it into a caliphate, and then spread it around the world. This is a group of people who don't merit the word "insurgency," I think. But I'll look it up. You look it up for me, too. I'm sure you will.”
VIETNAM IRAQ UPDATE I FINALLY HAVE A NOT SO SECRET PLAN TO WIN THE WAR [MSNBC]
The administration is under pressure to convince increasingly skeptical Americans that the president’s strategy for Iraq is headed in the right direction nearly three years after the U.S.-led invasion. The president is to give a speech on the subject Wednesday at the Naval Academy and the White House is to release a 35-page document titled “Our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.” The document is a public version of a classified strategy of military, political and economic efforts that are being implemented by Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Zalmay Khalizad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. The document defines the enemy in Iraq and discusses experiences and lessons learned during the conflict, a senior White House official said.
THE HERETIK CAN ONLY imagine why we are getting this information now. Cynics will have their say. At last "victory" or something is assured.
WAR OF WORDS UPDATE [MSNBC] Are the insurgents responsible for such insubordination?
Even Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who stood beside Rumsfeld at the news conference, found it impossible to describe the fighting in Iraq without twice using the term “insurgent.” After the word slipped out the first time, Pace looked sheepishly at Rumsfeld and quipped apologetically, “I have to use the word ‘insurgent’ because I can’t think of a better word right now.”
INSURGENT LANGUAGE and most likely insurgents will continue on. If Rumsfeld cannot get even Pace to go along, the war of words is lost. The other of course waits for "victory" however it is newly defined.
NOTE CLINTON’S SHADING [NY Times] "I believe we are at a critical point with the Dec. 15 elections that should, if successful, allow us to start bringing home our troops in the coming year, while leaving behind a smaller contingent in safer areas with greater intelligence and quick strike capabilities," she wrote. "I call on the president both for such a plan and for a full and honest accounting of the failures of intelligence - something we owe not only to those killed and wounded and their families, but to all Americans." In the past few weeks, Mrs. Clinton has voted in the Senate to move toward a phased withdrawal of troops as early as next year, and has called for a smaller American "footprint" in Iraq and the region, according to her spokesman, Philippe Reines.
STATE SECRETS TRUMP JUSTICE Sibel Edmonds’ September Eleventh whistleblower case was rejected without comment by the Supreme Court. Edmonds had claimed key pre attack Arabic translations were bungled by the government and then covered up. Charges of espionage and security breaches followed. When Sibel Edmonds persisted in pressing forward, she was fired. Herwhistle blower case has been distinguished by the government’s unwillingness to show its case in public.
THE GOVERNMENT CLAIMS states secrets privilege more than it admits, sixty times since the concept was born in the McCarthyite, anti communist hysteria of the Nineteen Fifties. In most instances, the state secrets privilege has been used to prevent certain pieces of evidence from entering court. As evidenced in the Edmonds case, the Bush Administration is expanding scope by seeking dismissal of entire cases. National security turned out not to be the issue in the first case that formed the basis for thestate secrets privilege doctrine, United States v. Reynolds. What was argued as a case involving secret military equipment and national security 50 years later turned out to be shoddy maintenance of the United States B-29 fleet.
IN THE EDMONDS CASE testimony given to Congress in open session was later retroactively classified. The way the Bush Administration uses the state secrets privilege the truth may be classified forever.