Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"General Affirms Anbar Analysis: But Zilmer Also Cites 'Progress'" (Thomas E. Ricks, Wash Post)

Although the U.S. military can achieve tactical victories daily, the general continued, the insurgency will be "problematic" in western Iraq until comparable success is achieved politically and economically.
According to several Defense Department officials who have read the report, Devlin also argued that the lack of political progress has created a political vacuum in the province. He wrote that the gap is being filled by the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, said one Army officer who read the assessment. Zilmer did not address that point in his comments to reporters.
"I'm really uneasy" about discussing specifics of the report, the general said, noting that it remains classified.
Until now, the U.S. military view of Iraq has tended to be more optimistic than that of much of the rest of the government, such as the CIA and the State Department. Devlin's report has been received respectfully at the Pentagon and in intelligence circles, where it has been much discussed since it was filed in mid-August.
During a hearing on Capitol Hill on Monday, senior Pentagon official Eric S. Edelman confirmed a Washington Post article about the intelligence assessment and discussed some of its findings.

The above is from Thomas E. Ricks' "General Affirms Anbar Analysis: But Zilmer Also Cites 'Progress'" (Washington Post), noted by Martha and a follow up to his scoop on Monday ("Situation Called Dire in West Iraq: Anbar Is Lost Politically, Marine Analyst Says") which Michael Gordon tried to hop on board Tuesday ("NYT: Gordo ought to come in brown wrapper") but the New York Times can't follow up on anything these days (except Michael Jackson trials and Jon-Benet) so they've already dropped the story. (And start "these days" with the NSA illegal spying which was finally run -- due to the book coming out -- and then quickly dropped. Don't believe the glowing report in New York and don't fall for the line that it must have been the last meeting between the paper and the administration.)

[Gordo tells you today that Zilmer spoke with him on the phone with al-Anbar yesterday which either means the big pow-wow in Baghdad was put on hold or finished early.]

Martha and Charlie both note Amit R. Paley and K.I. Ibrahim's "Federalism Plan Dead, Says Iraqi Speaker: Sunni Legislators, Others Had Balked" (Washington Post):

The speaker of the Iraqi parliament said Tuesday that a controversial plan to partition the country into three autonomous regions is politically dead.
Mahmoud al-Mashhadani said in an interview that legislation to implement a concept known as federalism, which threatened to collapse the country's fragile multi-sect government, would likely be postponed indefinitely after a meeting of political leaders on Wednesday.

The federalism plan would create a Shiite region in southern Iraq much like the autonomous zone in the north controlled by the Kurds. Sunnis have generally opposed the plan, on grounds that it would leave them only with vast swaths of desert in the country's middle, devoid of the oil reserves in the other regions.

To recap, the assessment (broken by the Post on Monday) is confirmed in Congress and federation is supposedly dead (for now) in Iraq. The Times, Carolyn Marshall returns to the court beat. (We'll get to it next entry.) Lucy notes Cindy Sheehan's "It's Personal" (Common Dreams):

"You didn't care about your son and you're a phony," the irate and probably inebriated man screamed at me as he followed me and my 20 year old daughter and two of her friends out of the store we had been shopping at in our old home town of Vacaville, Ca. My months of activism, and life in general, have taught me a few lessons; one of which is: never argue with a drunk person…that's a life lesson. My activism has taught me a few more lessons that have been learned the hard way.
One of the main lessons I have learned these past months since BushCo's war of terror took the life of my oldest son, is that one should also never argue with someone who is still so blind and/or so naive to stubbornly hold on to the gospel according to George and believe that Saddam had WMD or ties with al-Qaeda. The few of our fellow Americans who still support George and the other mendacious neocons should be pitied and prayed to their God for…not argued with, because, trust me, it is a lose-lose situation.
I would have loved to rationally discuss things with Drunky McRepublican (in vino veritas) when he yelled at me and the girls that I didn't care about my son. How can anyone, even a Bush supporter, believe that a mother doesn't care about one of her children? Did the tipsy man have the same kind of relationship with his mother that George apparently had with his? Does he truly believe that I don't care about Casey or mourn his needless murder with every passing moment of each day? But, this man had two strikes against him: he was drunk and naive enough to still believe the felonious lies of George.
I wish I could have shown to Mr. McRepublican the Washington Post article that reported about the Senate’s new release of the (purposefully) faulty intelligence that our government used to justify the invasion of Iraq when he called me a "phony." George, Dick, Rummy, Condi and Colin all used this cherry-picked and shady intelligence to convince people like my hostile harrasser that Saddam had ties to al-Qaeda. When presidential spokes-liar, Tony Snow, was asked about the report, he actually called it "old news" and said if people wanted to "re-litigate that, that's fine."

That's an excerpt and Sheehan ends by urging people to participate in Camp Democracy in DC (which is free and open to the public).

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