Thursday, March 23, 2006

Other Items

"James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32; and Briton Norman Kember, 74" of Christian Peace Teammakers were rescued "between the towns of Mishahda, 20 miles north of Baghdad, and the western suburb of Abu Ghraib, 12 miles from downtown" (Associated Press) in what's being noted as a rescue by "coalition forces" but was earlier reported as a rescue by British forces.

From "British and Canadian Hostages Freed in Iraq" (early AP version that appeared on the New York Times website):

Briton Norman Kember, 74, and Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, were freed during a military operation in Baghdad involving British special forces.

And from the BBC:

The BBC's Andrew North said the peace group the men were working for in Iraq, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), had issued a statement saying no-one was hurt in the rescue -- including those holding the hostages.

The fourth member, Tom Fox, was found dead on March 9th. Kidnapped reporter Jill Carroll's whereabouts remain unknown.

Thursday has seen multiple explosions in Iraq. From Sinan Salaheddin 's "Attacks in Central Iraq Kill More Than 25" (Associated Press):

Two separate car bomb explosions killed at least 21 people and wounded more than 50 in the capital on Thursday, police said.

And, in addition to those two bombings:

Roadside bombs targeting police patrols also killed four people in Baghdad and at least one in the nearby city of Iskandariyah, police said. Dozens of others were wounded.

From the BBC's "Blast hits Iraq anti-terror unit:"

At least 23 people, 10 of them policemen, have been killed and dozens wounded in a series of bomb attacks in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
In the deadliest incident, a suicide bomber blew up his car outside the headquarters of the anti-terrorist unit in Karrada, killing 15 people.
Another car bomb near a Shia mosque in the south-western district of Shurta killed at least five people.

Zach notes Sam Parry's "State after State Repudiates Bush" (Consortium News):

George W. Bush's admission that he expects to leave the Iraq War mess behind for his successor to clean up underscores why he is facing a historic collapse in polls across the country, with tracking surveys now showing him with net negatives exceeding 20 percentage points in more than half the states.
According to, which tracks Bush's approval ratings in all 50 states, Bush’s support in the March readings plunged to double-digit net negative numbers even in some staunchly Republican states: -12% in South Carolina, -17% in Indiana, -18% in Virginia, and -19% in Tennessee. In Bush's home state of Texas, public disapproval topped approval by 14 percentage points.
All told, Bush -- dragged down by the Iraq War, his inept Katrina response and the exploding federal debt -- has higher disapproval than approval numbers in 43 states. Bush is at -10% or worse in 37 states; -20% or worse in 26 states; -30% or worse in 13 states; and a staggering -40% or worse in six states.
The March readings show Bush with positive numbers in only seven states (and then by mostly narrow margins): Nebraska +1%, Mississippi +2%, Oklahoma +2%, Idaho +3%, Alabama +5%, Wyoming +7%, and Utah +13%.
While's averaging of the numbers for the 50 states fits with recent national surveys showing Bush with about 35% approval and 60% disapproval -- a net negative of 25 points -- the state-by-state numbers highlight the pervasiveness of Bush's political troubles.
Electoral Fears
The dismal numbers also help explain why some Republicans, facing elections this November, are shying away from Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, who suffers even lower ratings than Bush.
Plus, over the past half year, Bush has shown little ability to rebound. His national numbers have been low since last summer's Katrina debacle reinforced doubts about his administration's competence, which already had taken a beating over the Iraq War. Those concerns now have mixed with growing suspicions about his honesty.

On the topic of the press conference, Jane notes William Greider's "No Light in the Tunnel" (The Nation):

George W. Bush called the press conference to sell hope--give people a reason to keep on believing--but trampled his own objective. Instead, he deepened the public's fear--not of Muslim terrorists--but of his own leadership at war. Does this guy know what he's doing? He got us into this mess; does he know how to get us out?
A fatal admission was revealed when Bush was asked whether he could envision a day when US troops were out of Iraq. The President shrugged, as though the question does not apply to him. "That'll be decided," Bush said, "by future presidents and future governments of Iraq." When I heard this, I thought, that's going to be tomorrow's headline. Sure enough, it was in the Washington Times, a conservative newspaper that always rallies to Bush's side. "Bush commits until 2009," the banner headline declared.

In today's New York Times, Elisabeth Bumiller notes that Bully Boy is no longer commenting or reffing that earlier remark while Scott McClellen tries to spin the press by attempting to direct attention away from the Bully Boy's comments.

Eddie notes "COURT OF APPEALS HEARS ARGUMENTS ON GOVERNMENT'S EFFORT TO DISMISS GUANTANMO CASES: Attorneys Representing Guantánamo Detainees Ask Court to Enforce Supreme Court's Decision in Rasul v. Bush" (Center for Constitutional Rights):

On March 22 in New York a three-judge panel heard arguments from attorneys representing Guantánamo detainees in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals (Al Odah v. United States of America and Boumediene v. Bush). They asked the panel to reject the Government's effort to have the cases dismissed. CCR won the Supreme Court case establishing the detainees' right to challenge their detention in U.S. court (Rasul v. Bush), and currently oversees more than 500 pro-bono attorneys representing the detainees.
Barbara Olshansky, CCR Deputy Legal Director who attended oral arguments today stated:

Despite the government's effort to the contrary, I feel that the Court understood the great importance of preserving the writ of habeas corpus. Their questions about ensuring the Court's ability to consider factual evidence of innocence made clear that justice is their true concern.

Olshansky expects a ruling from the Court in the next few weeks. According to recent estimates, the government is currently detaining about 490 prisoners at the Guantánamo Bay prison camp. CCR is working around the clock to achieve their release to freedom or a fair trial.

And Mia notes Jason Leopold's "Woodward's Plame-Leak Deep Throat" (CounterPunch) on Plamegate:

He is referred to as "official one" and he is the mysterious senior Bush administration official who unmasked the identity of an undercover CIA operative to Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Bob Woodward in mid-June 2003 and conservative columnist Robert Novak a month later.
The identity of this official is shrouded in secrecy. In fact, his name, government status, and the substance of his conversation with Woodward about the undercover officer are under a protective seal in US District Court for the District of Columbia.
But Woodward tape-recorded the interview he had with "official one." Woodward gave a copy of the tape to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, according to a Feb. 24 federal court hearing, a transcript of which was obtained by this reporter.
Woodward emerged as central figure in the leak of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson in November. For the better part of two years, Woodward had publicly discounted the importance of the Plame Wilson leak and had referred to Fitzgerald as a "junkyard dog" prosecutor in interviews during the course of the investigation. He then revealed in November that he had been told about Plame Wilson's CIA employment in June 2003--before any other journalist.
Woodward wrote a first-person account in the Washington Post in November about the individual who told him that Plame Wilson worked for the CIA. He identified his source as a "senior administration official." He also said that the interview with the official who told him about Plame Wilson had been set up simply as "confidential background interviews for my 2004 book 'Plan of Attack' about the lead-up to the Iraq war, ongoing reporting for the Washington Post and research for a book on Bush's second term to be published in 2006."

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