Zoellick Another PNAC Neoconservative Hack

Today president Bush nominated Robert Zoellick to replace Paul Wolfowitz as head of the World Bank. Both men, along with Donald Rumsfeld, James Woolsey, and Richard Armitage were signatories to an open letter to president Clinton in 1998 seeking an American invasion of Iraq.

Securing The Homeland For Minimum Wage

After September 11th, businesses started to place steeper demands on the capabilities of private security guards, many of which make the minimum wage or just a little more.

Headlines (5/22/2007)

Relief for the most needy among us. This past week, Congressman Tim Ryan participated in the Food Stamp Challenge. The Challenge is to live on $3 a day for a week. That amount is what the average food stamp recipient receives.

NYPD surveillance prior to the 2004 GOP convention: a list. In NYC during the GOP convention and wonder whether the police were spying on you. Chances are, they were. Just disclosed documents detail who they where keeping an eye on.

Mental Health Problems Among Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. Casualty statistics should be more than a body count. Consider the lives ruined by mental illness as a result of combat.

Iran's secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq.

High School Student Arrested For Modeling School For Game

A senior at Clements High School in Fort Bend, Texas was arrested by police for creating a 3-D model of his school for use in a video game.

Understanding The Insurgency In Algeria

During the 1990s, a political party, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), began to make serious inroads into the political dominance of the National Liberation Front. After the FIS made serious gains in the first round of a December 1991 election, the Algerian military stepped in and suspended the elections.

What motivated the army were fears by the secular community of an extremist led government. The eventual crackdown on the FIS by government forces has led to a decade and a half of unrest. Elections did eventually resume with the FIS excluded.

In recent years, insurgents loyal to the FIS and extremist causes have diminished their attacks. In 2003, they were ready to lay down their arms in the face of government offered amnesty; but, instead they have joined forces with al Qaeda operatives. While Algerians do not face day-to-day warfare, insurgents do occasionally make attacks where government influence is thin (e.g., rural villages.) There are also the occasional car bombs.

House Passes 9/11 Commission Bill With Veto-Proof Majority

Yesterday evening, the House of Representatives delivered on one of its 100 hours proposals and passed a bill to implement much of the remaining 9/11 commission recommendations. The bill passed with a veto-proof 299-128 majority including 68 Republicans.

It remains unclear as to what the bill's chances are in the Senate. With the Senate split 50-49, with one democrat hospitalized, sixteen Republican Senators would have to vote along with the Democrats to pass the bill with a veto proof majority. 10 would have to side with the democrats just to see the bill come up for a vote at all.

100 Hours: The 9/11 Commission

Incoming Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has indicated a desire to implement 'all' recommendations of the 9/11 Commission during the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress. This is perhaps the most sweeping and overreaching commitment made in her platform of 100 hours initiatives.

I describe it as overreaching because many of the recommendations are outside the Congress' constitutional authority to implement. The recommendations of the commission are detailed in sections 12 and 13 of their report (link below.) Section 12 is all about foreign policy, and is, therefore, something Congress can do little about.

So, that said, let's assume she was talking about Section 13 and let's see what she can commit to there. Here are the specific bullet points of contained in Section 13.

  1. unifying strategic intelligence and operational planning against Islamist terrorists across the foreign-domestic divide with a National Counterterrorism Center;
  2. unifying the intelligence community with a new National Intelligence Director;
  3. unifying the many participants in the counterterrorism effort and their knowledge in a network-based information-sharing system that transcends traditional governmental boundaries;
  4. unifying and strengthening congressional oversight to improve quality and accountability; and
  5. strengthening the FBI and homeland defenders.

Indefinite Detention Possible For Immigrants In U.S.

The Bush Administration, citing a new anti-terrorism bill, claims that they can detain foreigners arrested on U.S. soil indefinitely "on suspicion of terrorism."

Detainees would have no right to have a U.S. court hear an appeal for their release.

Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar, was arrested in 2001 while studying in the United States. He has been labeled an "enemy combatant," a designation that, under a law signed last month, strips foreigners of the right to challenge their detention in federal courts.

Anyone who thinks last Tuesday's election marked a return to democracy should keep stories like this in mind.

Afghanistan Continues To Slip Away

As the American military and people are distracted by the War in Iraq, the United States' first victory in the Bush Administration's 'War on Terror' continues to slide into defeat. Consider this lede from an Oct 2 Associated Press article:

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday that the Afghan war against Taliban guerrillas can never be won militarily and urged support for efforts to bring "people who call themselves Taliban" and their allies into the government.

Surprised by that? I was. I'm not surprised by the recognition that a war against an armed insurgency would be long and potentially futile. I'm surprised that that is coming from the Republic Majority Leader in the Senate.

It is also surprising the extent to which that sentiment undercuts the activities of NATO allies. Consider the appeal from the NATO Commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Richards, for more troops to bolster his 32,000 man force:

He said the south of the country, where NATO troops have fought their most intense battles this year, has been "broadly stabilized," which gives the alliance an opportunity to launch projects there. If it doesn't, he estimates about 70 percent of Afghans could switch their allegiance from NATO to the Taliban.

Chertoff Asserts Protecting America Too Expensive

In testimony before congress, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff stated that protecting every possible target in America against attack would bankrupt the nation. I have no doubt that such an overly simplistic statement is true. But what of our current priorities:

Mr. Chertoff, since he was named secretary in February 2005, has talked of the need to make spending risk-based, but his department has also been lambasted for compiling a list of possible targets that included a petting zoo, a bourbon festival and a popcorn factory, while at the same time it cut antiterrorism grants to high-risk cities like Washington and New York.

Religious Slant To CNN Reporting

"Muslim bomber guilty of killing 17" reads the sensationalized title for a CNN story about a series of bombings that happened in Mumbai, India, in 1993.

Did the bomber happen to be Muslim? Yes. The article even explains what they believe to be the motivation:

... revenge for the demolition of a 16th century mosque in northern India by Hindu nationalists.

Another Take On The 'War On Terror'

Huffington Post Blogger, George Lakoff, delves into why George W Bush insists on calling our fight against terrorism a war. Terrorism, he argues, is a crime, nothing more. But, if you call it a war, you can get congress to authorize use of the military to fight it.

BBC News Analysis of the 'War on Terror'

What is the purpose of George W Bush's 'War on Terror' and what does it mean to the world? Has America's conduct in the 'War' shattered the coalition built up after September 11, 2001?

Five years after the terror attacks on September the 11th, the BBC takes a look at the 'War on Terror', its successes, its failures, and its consequences.

France Rejects 'War on Terror'

The French Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, has rejected George W Bush's 'War on Terror' in a speech to the French Parliament.

Villepin went on to highlight France's opposition to the U.S. Invasion of Iraq pointing out the destabilizing effect it has had on the region.

Mission Unraveling

As the Bush Administration continues to pat itself on the back for its successes in the Global War on Terror, err, I mean War Against Islamic Fascists, Afghanistan continues to slip back into Taliban control.

Afghanistan's southern provinces are now producing record crops of opium amounting to 92% of the world's supply. Much of which fueling the Taliban.

In response to the problem, the Bush Administration's answer is to fund the fledgling Afghan goverment's efforts to eradicate the crops rather than taking matters into their own hands.

I thought we had learned our lesson when it comes to outsourcing in Afghanistan. If we'd had the backbone to handle the Tora Bora conflict ourselves during the invasion, instead of making the locals do it, we might have captured Osama bin Laden then.

When will the administration learn that Americans still support what we did in Afghanistan -- it's the one gold star on their report card. They need to retake ownership of the problem before it becomes another embarrassment.

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