Trigger Happy, Are We?

Last year Blair talked Bush out of bombing al-Jazeera.

The five-page transcript of a conversation between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair reveals that Blair talked Bush out of launching a military strike on the station, unnamed sources told the daily which is against the war in Iraq.

The transcript of the pair’s talks during Blair’s April 16, 2004 visit to Washington allegedly shows Bush wanted to attack the satellite channel’s headquarters.

Blair allegedly feared such a strike, in the business district of Doha, the capital of Qatar, a key western ally in the Persian Gulf, would spark revenge attacks.

The Mirror quoted an unnamed British government official as saying Bush’s threat was “humorous, not serious”.

However, another source told the Mirror Bush was serious.

A source told the Mirror: “The memo is explosive and hugely damaging to Bush.

“He made clear he wanted to bomb al-Jazeera in Qatar and elsewhere. Blair replied that would cause a big problem.

“There’s no doubt what Bush wanted to do — and no doubt Blair didn’t want him to do it.”

Another source said: “Bush was deadly serious, as was Blair. That much is absolutely clear from the language used by both men.”

What can one say but … Jeebus.

Shakespeare’s Sister
: “Looks like Instapundit DOES owe Eason Jordan a serious apology.”

Don’t hold your breath.

Padilla Indicted

Mark Sherman of the Associated Press reports that somebody finally brought charges against Jose Padilla. But they aren’t same the charges John Ashcroft talked about three years ago.

Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen held for three years as an enemy combatant suspected of plotting a “dirty bomb” attack in this country, has been indicted on charges that he conspired to “murder, kidnap and maim” people overseas.

A federal grand jury in Miami returned the indictment against Padilla and four others. While the charges allege Padilla was part of a U.S.-based terrorism conspiracy, they do not include the government’s earlier allegations that he planned to carry out attacks in America.

You mean Crisco John was wrong? Wow.

The indictment avoids a Supreme Court showdown over how long the government could hold a U.S. citizen without charges. Padilla’s lawyers had asked justices to review his case last month, and the Bush administration was facing a deadline next Monday for filing its legal arguments. The high court had been asked to decide when and for how long the government can jail Americans in military prisons.

If it took ’em three years to patch a case together, one suspects they didn’t have much on Padilla when they arrested him.

“Staying the Course”

Juan Cole writes about the national reconciliation conference in Cairo and the Iraqi agreement for withdrawal:

Al-Hayat gives the orginal Arabic wording of some articles of the agreement. One provision says, “We demand the withdrawal of foreign forces in accordance with a timetable, and the establishment of a national and immediate program for rebuilding the armed forces through drills, preparation and being armed, on a sound basis that will allow it to guard Iraq’s borders and to get control of the security situation . . .”

Sources at the conference told al-Hayat that they envisaged the withdrawal of foreign military forces from the cities within 6 months (i.e. mid-May?). They said that the withdrawal would be completed over a period of two years (i.e. November 2007). This timetable, al-Hayat says, appears actually to have been put forward by the Americans themselves. If that is true, we finally know exactly what George W. Bush means by “staying the course.” It is a course that takes us to withdrawal.

The Shiite United Iraqi Alliance list had originally called for an American troop withdrawal as part of its party platform, but that plank was opposed by Ibrahim Jaafari, and was dropped even before the January 30 elections, presumably because of American pressure.

Oh, what a difference a year makes. I’ll bet this very minute they are brainstorming in the White House over how to frame withdrawal so that it doesn’t sound like withdrawal. As soon as they’ve got that figured out, the Bushies will announce “withdrawal,” although they’ll call it something else. And I’m betting the announcement will come early next year, or even at the end of this year; between Christmas and New Year’s might be just the time. Nobody’s paying attention then.

One more time: If the Dems don’t show some leadership and get out in front with a withdrawal plan now, the Republicans will outmaneuver them again.

Over at BOP News, Stirling Newberry points to another sign that talk of withdrawal will soon become fact.

Sharon, whatever one may thing of his ideology, is an excellent strategist and tactician. He never lets anything get in the way of geographic, or chronological, realities. His breaking off to form the “Responsibility” Party is an attempt to destroy the socialist Labor, but also because he understands that America’s time in Iraq is running out.

… With US involvement in Iraq, the resources have flowed to striking at the US directly. …

… Sharon has been pragmatic, the day that the US occupation of Iraq ends, all of those roadside bombs will be destined for Israel, and the apparatus based in Iraq will spill out over the roads, and reach into the heart of his state. He must have a final solution, and a palestinian buffer state. And his time to make that deal is dwindling. His own Likud Party was the major obstacle, his hope is to be able to form a minority government, and go to Likud for economic policy, and to Labor for foreign policy – balancing both against the other to prevent a no confidence vote.

So let us face reality, Bush is going to withdraw from Iraq – Sharon knows it – Bush’s problem is how to blame it, and therefore run the “stabbed in the back” play, on the Democrats.

If Dems don’t act now, that’s exactly what will happen.

The means for Dems to seize the issue and claim it as their own is right in front of them. Be sure to read “What Murtha Meant” by Fred Kaplain at Slate. Murtha’s plan is actually not a withdrawal, as is usually described.

True, his final line reads, “It is time to bring them home,” but his plan suggests he wants to bring, at most, only some of them home. The others are to be “redeployed” in the quick-reaction forces hovering just offshore.

Host Tim Russert never asked—nor did Murtha explain—what these forces will be doing offshore, or under what circumstances they might re-enter the conflict. But we can fill in the blanks by looking at a study, published last month by the Center for American Progress, titled Strategic Redeployment: A Progressive Plan for Iraq and the Struggle Against Violent Extremists, written by Lawrence Korb (an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration) and Brian Katulis.

Korb and Katulis begin with the same premises that Murtha does: that the U.S. military presence in Iraq is inflaming the insurgency, uniting nationalists with Islamo-fundamentalists, and bolstering America’s terrorist enemies worldwide; that the Iraqi government is using U.S. troops as a crutch; that maintaining 140,000 troops for another year will destroy the U.S. Army; and that, therefore, on several grounds, it is best for all that we get out.

They call for a phased, two-year plan, drawing the troops down to 80,000 by the end of next year and dispensing with most of the rest by the end of 2007. However, they don’t call for a total withdrawal. By their plan, all 46,000 members of the Guard and Reserve will go home next year, but most of the active-duty soldiers and Marines will be “redeployed” to Kuwait or Afghanistan. Even after that, many American troops will remain to train, advise, help secure the borders, and provide logistical and air support to the Iraqi regime.

Murtha seems to have at least partly based his plan on the Korb and Katulis study, and partly on discussions with former and current Army brass.

In other words, we’ve got a plan that offers to both remove U.S. troops as an occupation force without abandoning the region to terrorists. Dems could use this plan to push for an honorable withdrawal and still be tough on terrorism.

Instead, so far we’ve got Hillary Clinton’s non-position.

Dems? … Dems? … Hello? …

Adventures in RightieWorld II

In what was either an innocent glitch or a prank pulled by a techie somewhere in the employee labyrinth of CNN, yesterday an X flashed onscreen over the face of Dick Cheney while he was speaking at the American Enterprise Institute.

Whereupon the entire Right Blogosphere erupted in hysteria.

You can find links at Memeorandum. Top executives at CNN deliberately slammed the Vice President! With an X that lasted 2 frames or 1/15th of a second! And a subliminal message that reads, Transition begins after 5 frames of black.

“Transition begins.” Hmm, clearly a reference to either an act of terrorism or an armed takeover of Congress by Jack Murtha. “After 5 frames of black” obviously is secret code to let the cells of leftie Bush haters know when to strike.

Righties: I’m kidding.

One rightie blogger proclaimed that CNN has just driven another nail into the MSM coffin. And he’s not kidding. “[T]his ought to convince a lot of holdouts that traditional, ostensibly objective media sources are increasingly unreliable and agenda-driven,” he says.

No wonder you can’t have a rational converstion with these people. They’re nuts.

See also World o’ Crap.

Leading From Behind

Sen. Hillary Clinton finally addressed John Murtha’s Iraq redeployment proposal yesterday. Boldly, the Senator declared she was opposed to withdrawal but also opposed to remaining. Further, she is opposed to making any firm decisions for the time being.

The Associated Press reports,

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that an immediate U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq would be “a big mistake.”

While professing “the greatest respect” for Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Pa., the ex-Marine who has called for a pullout, the New York Democrat said, “I think that would cause more problems for us in America.”

On the other hand, she said, the administration’s pledge to stay in Iraq “until the job is done” amounts to giving the Iraqis “an open-ended invitation not to take care of themselves.”

The right approach, Clinton suggested, would be for the United States to await Iraq’s Dec. 15 elections for a clue about how soon the Iraqis can take over.

I wonder if she employs people to come up with positionless positions that don’t say shit but don’t scare away the swing voters, or if it just comes naturally.

Update update: See Avedon, “And the Truth Will Set You Free.”

If Democrats would spend more time reading The Left Coaster and Political Animal and less time listening to the tediously bland fraidy-cats they use as political consultants, they would know more, have plenty of verbal karate at their fingertips, and be prepared for all the lies that come out of the RNC. …

…We’ve been offering Democrats, for free, better advice than they’ve been paying for over the last several years, and their response has been to let the GOP convince them that anyone who disagrees with rabid right-wing talking points is some kind of loony. They can dismiss us as mere bloggers even while the Republicans make terrific use of their own “mere” bloggers. They use their resources while convincing Democrats to shun their own. And Democrats fall for it.