Monday, September 25, 2006

NYT: Study of Iraq War and Terror Stirs Strong Political Response" (Philip Shenon & Mark Mazzetti)

Democratic lawmakers, responding to an intelligence report that found that the Iraq war has invigorated Islamic radicalism and worsened the global terrorist threat, said the assessment by American spy agencies demonstrated that the Bush administration needed to devise a new strategy for its handling of the war.
Representative Jane Harman of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said that while she could not discuss details of the classified National Intelligence Estimate, "Every intelligence analyst I speak to confirms that" the Iraq war had contributed to the increased terrorist threat.
"Even capturing the remaining top Al Qaeda leadership isn’t going to prevent copycat cells, and it isn't going to change a failed policy in Iraq," Ms. Harman said on CNN’s "Late Edition." "This administration is trying to change the subject. I don't think voters are going to buy that."

The above is from Philp Shenon and Mark Mazzetti's "Study of Iraq War and Terror Stirs Strong Political Response" in this morning's New York Times. John McCain offers a laughable, modern update on the George Washington narrative. In the original, Washington states: "I cannot tell a lie" -- in response to did he cut down the tree? In the modern day version, John McCain offers, bascially, "I cannot tell a lie. I did chop down the tree but lightening could have struck it at any point and knocked it down so therefore . . ."

Richard A. Oppel and Abdul Razzaq al-Saiedi take a look at the delay (it's not stopped, just delayed) in the move from nation to federation in "Iraqis to Debate Bill on Creating Autonomous States:"

Moreover, Sunni negotiators emphasized that they did not agree to support the legislation that would be introduced this week but only to allow it to be debated, said Dhafir al-Ani, a leading Sunni lawmaker. “The issue is just to consider it and go with the process,” Mr. Ani said.
The deal does allow supporters to put the issue before Parliament with a promise from rivals to debate the issue in good faith. When the bill was brought up earlier, it spurred an acrimonious fight. Mahmoud Mashhadani, the speaker of Parliament and a Sunni Arab, accused supporters of trying to sneak the bill past him, while other Sunni legislators said they had been double-crossed.
The political progress came as violence continued throughout Iraq. Two marines were killed as a result of “enemy action” in Anbar Province on Sunday, the United States military said.

The (US) administration is still kicking themselves over their failed attempt to oust al-Mashhadani. They almost pulled it off. Big media reported the 'shame' and left you with the impression that he was off licking his wounds in private while the parliament was in their August recess. (Little media? This was August, there was no interest in Iraq.) Reality was that he was off in Jordan working on trade negotiations. Reality is that he's still around. Reality is that the administration's plan for a (physically) divided Iraq have to wait a little longer. (They despise al-Mashhadani for a number of reasons including the statements he made preceeding the puppet of the occupation's visit to DC where al-Maliki parroted the Bully Boy. al-Mashhadani's statements included: "Just get your hands off Iraq and the Iraqi people and Muslim countries, and everything will be all right. What has been done in Iraq is a kind of butchery of the Iraqi people." -- and they were made at a UN conference on July 22nd -- click here for Al Jazeera's report.)

On the topic of the delay, Martha notes Amit R. Paley's "Iraqi Parties Reach Deal Postponing Federalism" (Washington Post):

Under the compromise reached Sunday, parliament will form a 27-member committee on Monday to review the constitution and then introduce the Shiite measure on creating federal regions the following day, lawmakers said.
The federalism law would not take effect for at least 18 months after it is enacted, the parliament members said.
The deal appears to have forestalled for now a political crisis over federalism, but lawmakers emphasized that the issue remains unresolved.
"We still need a miracle to save the country," said Dhafer al-Ani, a spokesman for the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni bloc in parliament. "The process of sectarian cleansing is still going on, and the violence is not waning, and this may serve those proponents of federalism who want to make the people believe that living together in a unified country is not possible."

We'll close with Cindy's highlight, Elizabeth Holtzman's "Bush Seeks Immunity for Violating War Crimes Act" (Chicago Sun-Times via Common Dreams):

Press accounts of the provision have described it as providing immunity for CIA interrogators. But its terms cover the president and other top officials because the act applies to any U.S. national.
Avoiding prosecution under the War Crimes Act has been an obsession of this administration since shortly after 9/11. In a January 2002 memorandum to the president, then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales pointed out the problem of prosecution for detainee mistreatment under the War Crimes Act. He notes that given the vague language of the statute, no one could predict what future ''prosecutors and independent counsels'' might do if they decided to bring charges under the act. As an author of the 1978 special prosecutor statute, I know that independent counsels (who used to be called ''special prosecutors'' prior to the statute's reauthorization in 1994) aren't for low-level government officials such as CIA interrogators, but for the president and his Cabinet. It is clear that Gonzales was concerned about top administration officials.
Gonzales also understood that the specter of prosecution could hang over top administration officials involved in detainee mistreatment throughout their lives. Because there is no statute of limitations in cases where death resulted from the mistreatment, prosecutors far into the future, not appointed by Bush or beholden to him, would be making the decisions whether to prosecute.
To ''reduce the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act,'' Gonzales recommended that Bush not apply the Geneva Conventions to al-Qaida and the Taliban. Since the War Crimes Act carried out the Geneva Conventions, Gonzales reasoned that if the Conventions didn't apply, neither did the War Crimes Act. Bush implemented the recommendation on Feb. 7, 2002.

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