Jul. 18th, 2003

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All of our current military difficulties stem from pesky civil service protections for Defense Department workers and the inconvenient practice of vetting new hires, up to and including congressional stalling on weapons systems and the flood of money going to Halliburton.

I may have thought of a way to fix this.
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Turns out the White House isn't all that anxious to hear from you.

There's a new system in place, where you have to navigate nine screens and put a great deal of personal information on the public record to contact the White House via e-mail. You also have to indicate before you start whether you're for or against the president's policies on a restricted list of issues.

The president's policies on those issues are not defined.

The economy is apparently not one of the issues the White House is interested in hearing about.

If you choose to discuss something not on the list by regular e-mail, the e-mail will not be read.

This system, the White House says, will allow them to respond to citizens in "real time" by sending a form letter.

If you have anything "personal" to send to the president, they suggest faxes or snail mail.

This is all designed to give you, the citizen, more of a voice.

This is also designed to give the secret service enormously more mail to go through looking for anthrax.

These are the people who want to be able to micromanage Defense.

Scared yet?
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from Kos:

File this under "holy shit": there's a reason Cheney was so adamant about keeping the deliberations of the Energy Task Force secret. It wasn't about Enron or ANWAR (although I'm sure they surely had their role), it was about divying up Iraq's oil fields. It really was about the oil.

Judicial Watch, the conservative legal group that bedeviled the Clinton Administration has effectively done the same for Cheney and Bush:
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and abuse, said today that documents turned over by the Commerce Department, under court order as a result of Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as 2 charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.”

As Kos points out, with the sanctions in place (and certainly they couldn't have been lifted, given all those WMDs and centrifuges and aluminum tubes and stuff) it doesn't seem as if the Iraqi oilfields could have affected our energy policy, does it.

It particularly doesn't seem as if we would need to know who their "suitors" were, since there were contracts already in place.

You know, unless we went to war with them and took over the oilfields.

Unless we decided to do that before 9/11.

Unless the former head of Iraq war contractor Halliburton, who currently receives a seven figure pension from Halliburton despite not having qualified for it under the terms of his contract, had some reason to believe that we would have access to the Iraqi oilfields.

No wonder Cheney fought this so hard.
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A senior White House adviser emerged Thursday as a key player in the mention of disputed intelligence on Iraq in President Bush's State of the Union speech, prompting a partisan tug-of-war over Bush's responsibility for the misleading claim.

The revelation moves the spotlight back to the White House and away from the CIA, where President Bush and CIA Director George S. Tenet had placed it last Friday.

Senior CIA officials told a closed Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Wednesday that, before Bush gave the speech, they discussed the reliability of intelligence about Iraq's alleged attempts to buy uranium in Africa with National Security Council aide Robert Joseph, according to two senior U.S. officials. Joseph, a top aide to Bush national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, coordinates policies to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

The two U.S. officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the hearing was classified.

Sen. Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat and an Intelligence Committee member, said Thursday on ABC News that Tenet told the committee that a White House official - whom Durbin didn't identify - was "insistent" that the uranium reference be in Bush's address. Later, two U.S. officials confirmed to Knight Ridder that Joseph was the White House aide Durbin described...

See, here's the thing.

What this means is that Dr. Rice and her department had the information about the inaccuracy of the uranium claims before the speech, but refused to take it out when told to by the CIA.

Kind of a hoot that Georgie Tenet, whose yeoman work at keeping a constant flow of investigations of Clinton non-scandals going was probably something of a factor in Bush keeping him on, was forced against his conscience to actually reveal malfeasance in the Bush White House.
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Someone in the comments to the story about the Cheney documents asks the very good question: Why were the maps of the UAE and Saudi oilfields there too?

In case you missed him last time, let me introduce you to Laurent Murawiec.

Just who the hell is Laurent Murawiec? The Post story and its follow-up, also by Ricks, do not explain. The Pentagon and the administration insist that the presentation does not reflect their views in any way. The Rand Corp. acknowledges its association with Murawiec, but likewise disavows any connection with the briefing. (Neither Murawiec nor Rand received money for the briefing, Rand says.) According to Newsday, Defense Policy Board Chairman Richard N. Perle, a former Pentagon official and full-time invade-Iraq hawk, invited Murawiec to brief the group, so Perle can't exactly distance himself from the presentation. But he can do the next best thingÑduck reporters' questions. Murawiec also declined reporters' inquiries, including one from Slate.

The first half of Murawiec's presentation reads calmly enough, echoing Fareed Zakaria's Oct. 15, 2001, Newsweek essay about why the Arab world hates the United States. Its tribal, despotic regimes bottle up domestic dissent but indulge the exportation of political anger; intellectually, its people are trapped in the Middle Ages; its institutions lack the tools to deal with 21st-century problems; yadda yadda yadda.

But then Murawiec lights out for the extreme foreign policy territory, recommending that we threaten Medina and Mecca, home to Islam's most holy places, if they don't see it our way. Ultimately, he champions a takeover of Saudi Arabia. The last slide in the deck, titled "Grand strategy for the Middle East," abandons the outrageous for the incomprehensible. It reads:

* Iraq is the tactical pivot
* Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot
* Egypt the prize

More on Murawiec here.

Interesting points:

- Murawiec was slapped silly for this, as was Perle
- Despite their ambassador et ux being invited to the ranch after their money paid for some of the flying lessons that propelled their citizens into the World Trade Center, Saudi Arabia has asked us to leave.

That's OK, though, because

- As it turns out, we have other bases in the region now.

Something to ponder.


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