Saturday, November 19, 2005

Deja Vu All Over Again 

Alternet, Nov. 18:

by Stephen Pizzo

When did this happen?

WASHINGTON - White House advisers convene secret sessions about the political dangers of revelations that American troops committed atrocities in the war zone ….. in the face of an increasingly unpopular war, they wonder at the impact on support at home. The best way out of the war, they agree, is to prop up a new government that they hope can unite the fractured foreign land… The President, meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told them to pull out all the stops. "don't worry, we're taking the political heat. "Publicly, we say one thing," he told aides. "Actually, we do another."

You are forgiven for assuming that was from George Bush and Dick Cheney's talking points the other day. Actually, it's straight out of newly-released Nixon administration documents from 1969. ...

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Woodward: "I Hunkered Down More Than I Usually Do" 

Associaated Press, Nov. 17:

When Woodward learned Plame's name, he told The Associated Press Wednesday, he was in the middle of finishing a book about the administration's decision to go to war in Iraq, and didn't want to be subpoenaed to testify.

"The grand jury was going and reporters were being jailed, and I hunkered down more than I usually do," Woodward said, explaining why he waited so long to tell Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. what he knew about the Plame matter. ...

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

After Denial, U.S. Admits Using White Phosphorous in Iraq 

Guardian, Nov. 16:

US forces yesterday made their clearest admission yet that white phosphorus was used as a weapon against insurgents in Iraq. A Pentagon spokesman told the BBC last night that it had been used as "an incendiary weapon" during the assault last year on Falluja in 2004.
Lieutenant Colonel Barry Venable said the substance, which can be used to lay smokescreens but burns down to the bone in contact with skin, was not covered by international conventions on chemical weapons.

But Paul Rodgers of the University of Bradford's Department of Peace Studies said the substance would probably fall into the category of chemical weapons if used directly against people.

The Pentagon spokesman's comments also appeared to contradict the US ambassador to London, Robert Tuttle, who denied in a letter to the Independent that white phosphorus was deployed as a weapon. Mr Tuttle said: "US forces participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom continue to use appropriate lawful conventional weapons against legitimate targets. US forces do not use napalm or white phosphorus as weapons."

A recent documentary by the Italian state broadcaster, RAI, claimed that Iraqi civilians, including women and children, had died of burns caused by white phosphorus during the assault on Falluja. The report has been strenuously denied by the US. But Col Venable said it had been used to dislodge enemy fighters from entrenched positions in the city. ...

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Bush's Vision of Iraqi "Democracy" 

BBC, Nov. 16:

Iraq's government says it has begun an investigation into the alleged abuse of more than 170 detainees held by Iraqi security forces in Baghdad.

The prisoners, many malnourished and some showing signs of torture, were found when US troops took control of an interior ministry building on Sunday.

The US raid followed repeated enquiries by the parents of a missing teenager.

Iraq's prime minister has promised to find those responsible for any abuse. Most of those held were Sunnis. ...

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TPM on Woodward's Disception 

... And I'll need some time to digest them. At a minimum, though, Woodward seems to have some explaining to do, at least for the fact that he became an aggressive commentator on the leak story without ever disclosing his own role in it, not even to his editors. ...

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Blogs Jump on Woodward 

Editor & Publisher, Nov. 16:

The Washington Post broke the news so late last night that few mainstream sources were able to weigh in quickly on Bob Woodward's unexpected testimony before the Plame grand jury this week. That left the field pretty clear for the blogosphere, and they have responded enthusiastically, as usual.

Herewith a few samples from among the most popular blogs

From Joshua Micah Marshall at Talking Points memo:

The details still seem sketchy and I suspect we're going to find out a lot more in the next few days. But it now seems that Woodward -- who has long been publicly critical of the Fitzgerald investigation -- has been part of it from the beginning. Literally, the beginning. ...

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Ben Bradlee Defends Woodward 

Editor & Publisher, Nov. 16:

Former Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee today defended Bob Woodward, who revealed in a story Wednesday that he waited more than two years before disclosing to current Post editors a conversation he had in 2003 with a White House official about CIA Agent Valerie Plame.

"I don't see anything wrong with that," said Bradlee, who ran the Post during the turbulent Watergate coverage that made Woodward famous. "He doesn't have to disclose every goddamn thing he knows." ...

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Big Oil Execs Lied Before Congress 

Washington Post, Nov. 16:

A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.

The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.

In a joint hearing last week of the Senate Energy and Commerce committees, the chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips said their firms did not participate in the 2001 task force. The president of Shell Oil said his company did not participate "to my knowledge," and the chief of BP America Inc. said he did not know. ...

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Woodward and "Pinky" Pincus Agree to Disagree 

Washington Post veteran staffers can't get their stories straight:

Washington Post, Nov. 16:

... Woodward's statement said he testified: "I told Walter Pincus, a reporter at The Post, without naming my source, that I understood Wilson's wife worked at the CIA as a WMD analyst."

Pincus said he does not recall Woodward telling him that. In an interview, Pincus said he cannot imagine he would have forgotten such a conversation around the same time he was writing about Wilson. ...

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