Friday, April 01, 2005

Boxer wants a timetable for leaving Iraq, should Russert meet the press?, and other items

From the LA Times, note Greg Miller and Bob Drogin's "Intelligence Analysts Whiffed on a 'Curveball': Report says one Iraqi defector singlehandedly corrupted prewar weapons estimates:"

Despite persistent doubts about his credibility, Curveball's claims were included in the Bush administration's case for war without so much as a caveat. And when CIA analysts argued after the war that the agency needed to admit it had been duped, they were forced out of their jobs.
The disclosures about Curveball and the extensive role he played in corrupting U.S. intelligence estimates on Iraq were included in a devastating report released Thursday by a commission established by President Bush to evaluate U.S. intelligence on weapons of mass destruction. The 601-page document is a sweeping assessment of U.S. intelligence failures that identifies breakdowns in dozens of cases involving multiple countries and terrorist organizations.
But in many ways, Curveball's story is the centerpiece of the report, a cautionary tale told in excruciating detail to highlight failures that plagued U.S. spy agencies at almost every step in the intelligence process -- from collection to analysis to presentation to policymakers.

From Editor & Publisher, note Allan Wolper's "Ethics Corner: Time for Russert to 'Meet the Press' As other journalists face jail time, the TV host needs to explain why he agreed to testify in the Valerie Plame probe:"

It's time for Tim Russert to meet the press. It's time for the host of NBC's long-running, Sunday morning interview program to stop hiding behind his bosses and start talking. It's time for him to answer questions about his secret testimony, delivered under oath in the Valerie Plame CIA-leak case.
It's long past time for Russert to explain why he testified last August and then remained a high-profile member of an organization founded 35 years ago to keep reporters away from subpoena-toting prosecutors. That organization, The Reporters Committee For Freedom of the Press, is a leader in the legal fight to stop special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald's crusade to catch The CIA Leaker and jail any reporter who resists him.
Russert's secret testimony has become a quiet embarrassment to the members of the Reporters Committee, whose members have until now kept their opinions to themselves. Russert's willingness to answer Fitzgerald's questions is astounding because he is a member of the RCFP steering committee along with Earl Caldwell, the former New York Times reporter whose refusal to obey a Nixon Administration subpoena was the motivating force behind the committee's formation.
"I was stunned when I found out that Russert testified," said Caldwell, now an endowed professor at The Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communication at Hampton University in Virginia. "A guy like Tim Russert, he should know better. But he didn't come out of journalism, he comes out of politics. Maybe he sees things another way."

From The Chicago Tribune, noteGlenn Jeffers "Marine reservist arrested on charge of desertion -- Family says he sought discharge, focused on school:"

Lance Cpl. Charles Lee, 21, of the 800 block of Concord Lane, Hoffman Estates, surrendered Wednesday to local police. Military officials say Lee was supposed to be with the Chicago-based 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment. That unit was called up June 1 and is in the midst of returning to the U.S. after serving south of Baghdad.But on Thursday, members of Lee's family said he thought he had completed his obligations to the Marine Reserves and was concentrating on completing his degree in biomedical engineering. "It's not fair," said Lee's mother, Sung Joo. "Two years ago, he tried to [get a] discharge, but nobody [would] accept it."Lee joined the reserves in the summer of 2001, shortly after graduating from Fremd High School, to help pay for school, said his brother, James, 19.

From the Washington Post, Rob e-mails "U.S. Soldier Convicted In Iraqi Shooting Death
Charge Is Reduced to Manslaughter
" by Melissa Eddy. From that article:

A military court Thursday convicted a U.S. Army tank company commander of a lesser criminal charge in connection with the shooting death of a wounded Iraqi man last year.
Capt. Rogelio Maynulet was found guilty of assault with intent to commit voluntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum of 10 years in prison. Prosecutors had sought conviction on a more serious charge of assault with intent to commit murder, which has a 20-year maximum.

From the BBC note Paul Wood's "Iraq war: two years on:"

Now, he has just become the first US serviceman from Iraq to be charged with murder. He is accused of killing two unarmed Iraqis, shooting them in the back, and putting their bodies on display as a warning to others.
Lt Pantano denies the charges. But the accusations against him, along with the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the growing insurgency, all show how Iraq has turned out to be so much more complicated than the Americans ever expected.

So far, more than 1,500 US servicemen and women have died in Iraq - 10 times the number killed in the "major combat operations" that President Bush said had ended on 1 May 2003.
And - literally - countless thousands of Iraqi civilians have lost their lives.
Just after President Bush made his declaration, I met Saed Abbas, whose wife and six children all died in an American airstrike.

In fact, 43 members of his extended family were killed by the single missile. His brother lost his six children; his sister, seven.

In These Times has "Wake Up! Washington’s alarming foreign policy" by Chalmers Johnson:

I believe that on November 2, 2004, the United States crossed its own Rubicon. Until last year's presidential election, ordinary citizens could claim that our foreign policy, including the invasion of Iraq, was George Bush's doing and that we had not voted for him. In 2000, Bush lost the popular vote and was appointed president by the Supreme Court. In 2004, he garnered 3.5 million more votes than John Kerry. The result is that Bush's war changed into America's war and his conduct of international relations became our own.
This is important because it raises the question of whether restoring sanity and prudence to American foreign policy is still possible. During the Watergate scandal of the early '70s, the president's chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, once reproved White House counsel John Dean for speaking too frankly to Congress about the felonies President Nixon had ordered. "John," he said, "once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it's very hard to get it back in." This homely warning by a former advertising executive who was to spend 18 months in prison for his own role in Watergate fairly accurately describes the situation of the United States after the reelection of George W. Bush.

Lastly, from The San Francisco Chronicle, note John Wildermuth's "Boxer wants deadline for leaving Iraq Senator says Iraqis can't rely forever on U.S. for security:"

Sen. Barbara Boxer, back from a visit to Iraq, called on President Bush Tuesday to set a deadline for pulling U.S. troops out of that country and letting the Iraqis handle their own defense.
"If we do not set a date, the signals are very mixed,'' Boxer said in San Francisco. "People will just sit back and let us defend them.''
While U.S. military leaders were both concerned about the growing danger of a lengthy stay in Iraq and confident that the newly trained Iraqi military forces can handle the country's security, Iraqi officials she talked to had their doubts about when their troops would be ready, the California Democrat said.