Sunday, April 09, 2006

NYT: Operation Happy Talk takes a hit

An internal staff report by the United States Embassy and the military command in Baghdad provides a sobering province-by-province snapshot of Iraq's political, economic and security situation, rating the overall stability of 6 of the 18 provinces "serious" and one "critical." The report is a counterpoint to some recent upbeat public statements by top American politicians and military officials.
The report, 10 pages of briefing points titled "Provincial Stability Assessment," underscores the shift in the nature of the Iraq war three years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Warnings of sectarian and ethnic frictions are raised in many regions, even in those provinces generally described as nonviolent by American officials.

The above is from Eric Schmitt and Edward Wong's "U.S. Study Paints Somber Portrait of Iraqi Discord" in this morning's New York Times. Copy and paste the article or clip it from the paper but keep it handy for when the next wave of Operation Happy Talk begins. And good for Schmitt and Wong for using the term "fatalities" to describe American military deaths. "Casualties" can include fatalities but when you're writing of wounded and of the dead, it's more precise to use the term "fatality." Also note the following:

A copy of the report, which is not classified, was provided to The New York Times by a government official in Washington who opposes the way the war is being conducted and said the confidential assessment provided a more realistic gauge of stability in Iraq than the recent portrayals by senior military officers. It is dated Jan. 31, 2006, three weeks before the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in Samarra, which set off reprisals that killed hundreds of Iraqis. Recent updates to the report are minor and leave its conclusions virtually unchanged, Mr. Speckhard said.

So the next report may be even more dour. Eli e-mailed to note this article and as I read over it, there are points I'd quibble with, but I see Eli's point that this is the strongest reporting the Times has done thus far on Iraq. (How much that has to do with having an "official report" to point to . . . No quibbling, just moving through quickly.)

The latest on Scooter comes via David E. Sanger and David Barstow's "Iraq Findings Leaked by Cheney's Aide Were Disputed:"

President Bush's apparent order authorizing a senior White House official to reveal to a reporter previously classified intelligence about Saddam Hussein's efforts to obtain uranium came as the information was already being discredited by several other officials in the administration, interviews and documents from the time show.
A review of the records and interviews conducted during and after the crucial period in June and July of 2003 also show that what the aide, I. Lewis Libby Jr., said he was authorized to portray as a "key judgment" by intelligence officers had in fact been given much less prominence in the most important assessment of Iraq's weapons capability.

Why call him "Scooter," wondered Iwana? I think that's going to be addressed at The Third Estate Sunday Review. We're done with half of the online features and have roughed out the remainder. That is planned to be a brief entry. If it's not done there, I'll note it tonight in the "And the war goes on" entry.

If you caught KPFA's Friday broadcast of Living Room or if you've read Ruth's Public Radio Report, you know that Robert Parry (link takes you to the article he was discussing on the broadcast) feels there are two points not being covered. The meeting of Patrick Fitzgerald with Bully Boy's criminal attorney shortly before making the announcement of Scooter Libby's indictment is point one, point two is the interview Bully Boy gave on June 24, 2004 about his knowledge or lack of knowledge with regards to the outing of Valerie Plame.

The article by the Davids continues the "Poor Collie got a blot" sighing that attempts to let Powell off for his testimony to the UN (false statements). But apparently he's a "good guy" the same way Hentry Kissinger is so we're all supposed to look the other way. We're advised that Powell suffered from "queasiness." I did last week, I took Pepto Bismol but I didn't lie about WMD. I guess it hits each person differently?

There's a little anonymouse ("White House official") trying to do damage control and he is all over the place:

The evidence will show that the July 6, 2003, Op-Ed by Mr. Wilson was viewed in the Office of the Vice President as a direct attack on the credibility of the vice president (and the president) on a matter of signal importance: the rationale for the war in Iraq," Mr. Fitzgerald argued.
But in interviews, other former and current senior officials have offered alternative explanations.
"Remember, this was taking place in the middle of the White House-C.I.A. war," one former White House official who witnessed the events said this week, refusing to be named because he was not authorized to discuss the subject.

Valerie Plame worked for what agency? The CIA. Is that why she was outed? What was the "war" over? The lie that intelligence was wrong. Who sent Wilson to Niger? The CIA. There is no wall (Gorelick or otherwise) no matter how hard the anonymouse attempts to make you see one. "The White House-CIA war" that is referred to is over intelligence and the Bully Boy's repeated assertion that it was the intelligence that was wrong (translated by the chat and chew pundits as "We all got it wrong") was a lie. (So is the chattering of "We all got it wrong.") One of the pieces of intelligence was what Wilson didn't find in Africa (to note the title of the op-ed). There is no degree of separation on this, it's interlinked. And apparently, that is why the administration felt they could attack Wilson and out his wife.

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