Friday, May 27, 2005

These Days, It Seems Like Everything Borders on Treason


"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating
things over and over and over again for the truth
to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."

— President George W. Bush,
Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005

Because trebuchet was too hard to pronounce.



Just as I thought.

In the last 7 days the military has confirmed the
truth of 5 accounts of mishandling the Koran, and is
looking into others.

One of the unconfirmed accounts comes from the FBI
itself. In an interview with a detainee, the FBI
agent wrote:

"Personally, he has nothing against the United
States. The guards in the detention facility do
not treat him well. Their behavior is bad. About
five months ago, the guards beat the detainees.

They flushed a Koran in the toilet.”

"The guards dance around when the detainees
are trying to pray. The guards still do these
things," the FBI agent wrote.

Proof? No, the detainee could be lying. Does it read
like the FBI agent thought so?



"Maybe lying's not a big deal anymore."

–– Pat Tillman, Sr.


The more I read about this story regarding Pat
Tillman, the more it makes me sick.

Abusing terror detainees we think have information
about Al-Qaeda? That’s one thing.

But disgracing a genuine American hero for cheap

Is there absolutely nothing these people won’t do?

You remember Pat Tillman. The NFL football player who
walked away from a $4 million contract (and probably
lost a great political career) to join the Army after
September 11, only to be killed heroically in

His death and funeral were a national event, played
up, of course, by the Bush White House and the
neocons. And used as a recruiting tool in every high
school in America.

And, of course -- you knew it was coming -- just like
Jessica Lynch, WMD, “Mission Accomplished,” Enron,
Iraqi oil... you name it ... it was all a manufactured
propagandistic pack of lies.

But the truth is much uglier than I would have

Pat Tillman's family is lashing out against the Army,
saying that the military's investigations into
Tillman's death in Afghanistan last year were a sham,
followed by a deliberate, systemic cover-up that
involved lying to them, and using them their son for
political purposes.

Now we know that a little more than a ago, Pat Tillman
was not killed defending his fellow soldiers from
terrorists, which was the original, official
government story, but was in fact shot several times
by his Army Rangers on a craggy hillside near the
Pakistani border, in a horribly botched operation.

Tillman's mother and father said in interviews that
they believe the military and the government
deliberately lied, and created a heroic tale about how
their son died to foster a patriotic response across
the country.

They say the Army's "lies" about what happened have
made them suspicious, and that they are certain they
will never get the full story.

"Pat had high ideals about the country; that's why he
did what he did," Mary Tillman said in her a lengthy

"The military let him down. The administration let him
down. It was a sign of disrespect. The fact that he
was the ultimate team player and he watched his own
men kill him is absolutely heartbreaking and tragic.
The fact that they lied about it afterward is

The following story is hard to believe, but it is
true. Even more incredible is that the media which
jumped on “Newsweek” has yet to cover this:

After Tillman was killed by American troops, the Army
ordered all the soldiers on the ground not tell anyone
what really happened, and told Tillman's family and
the public that he was killed by enemy fire while
storming a hill, barking orders to his fellow Rangers.

This story was told at a public, televised, memorial
service, at which Tillman posthumously received the
Silver Star.

Incredibly, the Army even burned his uniform and body
armor to hide the truth. Burning a fallen soldier’s
uniform is a sign of great disrespect.

Patrick Tillman Sr., a San Jose lawyer, discovered the
truth, by going through witness statements and
investigative documents the Army has given to the

He decried what he calls a "botched homicide
investigation" and blames high-ranking Army officers
for presenting "outright lies" to the family and to
the public.

"After it happened, all the people in positions of
authority went out of their way to script this,"
Patrick Tillman said.

"They purposely interfered with the investigation,
they covered it up. I think they thought they could
control it, and they realized that their recruiting
efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if
the truth about his death got out. They blew up their
poster boy."

Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, an Army spokesman, says:

"In the case of the death of Corporal Patrick
Tillman, the Army made mistakes in reporting the
circumstances of his death to the family. For
these, we apologize. We cannot undo those early

Mary Tillman questions how an elite Army unit could
gun down its most recognizable member at such close

"It makes you feel like you're losing your mind in a
way," she said:

"You imagine things. When you don't know the truth,
certain details can be blown out of proportion. The
truth may be painful, but it's the truth. You start
to contrive all these scenarios that could have taken
place because they just kept lying. If you feel
you're being lied to, you can never put it to rest."

Patrick Tillman Sr. believes he will never get the
truth, and he says he is resigned to that now. But he
wants everyone in the chain of command, from Tillman's
direct supervisors to the one-star general who
conducted the latest investigation, to face discipline
for "dishonorable acts." He also said the soldiers who
killed his son have not been adequately punished.

"Pat's dead, and this isn't going to bring him
back. But these guys should have been held up to
scrutiny, right up the chain of command, and no one

That their son was famous opened up the situation to
problems, the Tillmans say, in part because of the
devastating public relations loss his death
represented for the military.

Mary Tillman says the government used her son for
weeks after his death, perpetuating an untrue story to
capitalize on his altruism -- just as the Abu Ghraib
prison scandal was erupting publicly.

She said she was particularly offended when President
Bush offered a taped memorial message to Tillman at a
Cardinals football game shortly before the
presidential election last fall. She again felt as
though her son was being used, something he never
would have wanted.

"Every day is sort of emotional," Mary Tillman said.
"It just keeps slapping me in the face. To find that
he was killed in this debacle -- everything that could
have gone wrong did -- it's so much harder to take.

"We should not have been subjected to all of this.
This lie was to cover their image. I think there's
a lot more yet that we don't even know, or they
wouldn't still be covering their tails."



For the first time, a majority of Americans say they
are likely to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton if she
runs for president in 2008, according to a USA
TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday.

53% would consider voting for her President.

Bush’s popularity right now is 43%.

An overwhelming 80% of liberals were likely to support
her, compared with 58% of moderates and 33% of

Anyone who thinks she isn’t running in 2008 is

These moves to the right are quite interesting. She’s
so inoculated on the left, in part because she is so
hated by the right, (in large part irrationally) that
she can now move more safely to the center.

A rather peculiar and dangerous game, but she is
smart. Probably politically smarter than John Kerry.
(Who is also preparing to run again, judging by the
pestering e-mails I’ve been getting.)

I still doubt she could be elected President, but
against someone like Frist or Santorum, who knows.



If John McCain is the nominee, the election will be
over before it starts, but the good news we’ll finally
have a liberal in White House.

McCain’s election would be a lock, not because he is
so admired by the American people, or because they are
all conservative-moderate, but because the media (Tim
Russert, Chris Matthews, Don Imus) is in love with

This week there’s a movie coming out detailing McCain
heroics in Vietnam, which comes on the heels of McCain
putting the hammer on Frist and virtually taking over
the U.S. Senate.

So he’s got the glorious bio, he’s got the “straight
talk” and now he shown he’s got the chops to wrestle
with the Radical Right, thus answering the question
that John Kerry couldn’t -- “what do you do all the
day in the Senate anyway?”

I knew McCain was running in 2008 when he spent all of
2004 backing George Bush – a man he almost openly
despises – versus John Kerry, a close friend.

Even liberal bloggers were asking – “why is he doing

Of course it was to lay the early groundwork for 2008.
And this week when brokered the filibuster deal he
immediately became the front runner, except among
Republican primary voters.

His best hope, and it’s a good one, is that 5
conservatives run and split the vote and he sneaks in
as the only unabashed moderate, and the one who can
actually win. Democrats can hope that (A) He can’t
get the nomination, (B) Conservatives are so angry
they stay home in November and cost him the election,
or (C) He governs like a liberal.



There are two ways of looking at the filibuster deal.

(1) Democrats lost big. They surrendered their right
to filibuster Bush’s nominees, Bush’s worst nominees
will be confirmed, and all they get in return is the
right to filibuster in the future, as long as the
promise never, ever to do it again -- but Republicans
will, if they ever need to.

(2) The Right lost big. They could’ve put through all
of Bush’s nominees, and taken away the right to
filibuster ever again, but didn’t. Instead, at least
2 of Bush’s choices, and probably 3, are out, all
because Democrats, who are in the minority by 10
seats, just threatened to filibuster.

Right now, the Right is complaining the loudest. But
that’s in their nature. After all, Bush has had 96%
of his judges confirmed. Guess it’s just not enough
when you want – no, need – to rule the world.



In an upcoming episode of “Law & Order,” (“ripped from
today’s headlines!”) someone kills a judge's family,
and as the detectives hunt for the killer, one of them
quips, "Maybe we should put out an APB for somebody in
a Tom DeLay T-Shirt."


All the more surprising since Dick Wolf is a
well-known Right Winger.

Et tu, Dick?

Tom DeLay has called this a "slur" and demanded an

He says this is because he has spoken about "the need
for Congress to closely monitor the federal

More likely, it’s about what he told supporters right
after Terry Schiavo's death: "The time will come for
the men responsible for this to answer for their
behavior, but not today."

DeLay even claims his First Amendment rights are being

"To equate legitimate constitutional inquiry into the
role of our courts with a threat of violence against
our judges is to equate the First Amendment with

Considering the Right equates EVERYTHING on the left
with terrorism, call me less than impressed.



Rep. Spencer Bachus, Republican from Alabama, this
week took issue with remarks made by comedian Bill
Maher, on HBO's “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

"I think it borders on treason. In treason, one
definition is to undermine the effort or national
security of our country."

Maher pointed out the Army missed its recruiting goal
by 42 percent in April.

“More people joined the Michael Jackson fan club," he

To be fair, Bachus also said:

"I don't want Maher prosecuted. I want him off the

To be really fair, the most offensive thing Maher, who
is a raunchy comedian said, was that more Americans,
especially conservatives who supported the war, needed
join the military.

"We've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England
fruit, and now we need warm bodies."

That's a little offensive, but treason -- no.

To be really, really fair, Lynddie England, the first
person prosecuted by the military for abusing
prisoners, was apparently oxygen-deprived at birth, is
speech impaired and had trouble learning to read.

A defense witness at her trial, West Virginia school
psychologist Dr. Thomas Denne, said that the 22 year
old’s learning disabilities were identified when she
was in kindergarten.

"I knew I was going to know Lynndie England for the
rest of my life," Dr. Denne said.



Recently Fox News anchor Ron Asman was caught letting
his bias show:


"So, Senator, if WE should have done it and if WE had
the votes to do it in the Senate -- if you guys in the
Republican Party did -- then why did you need a


"Well, you know, I would argue that we probably should
have gone forward with the vote, all things

“We” ?



Some Americans are surprised to learn, yes, there are
Christians in the Middle East.

And that Jesus wasn’t actually a Republican. Or even
an American. (“If English was good enough Jesus
Christ, it’s good enough for the children of Texas.”)

Of course, Jesus himself lived his whole life in the
Middle East, and they were handing our Christmas
presents in Iraq 300 years before Europeans stopped
worshipping trees.

Echoing my sentiments exactly, Iraqis are sick of U.S.

The head of Iraq’s largest Christian community,
Patriarch Emmanuel Delly, recently scathingly attacked
the American evangelical Christians who have taken
their crusade to Iraq since the U.S. invasion of March

Emmanuel Delly told Al-Jazeera News on May 19 that
Iraq did not need Christian missionaries because its
churches dated back long before any Protestant

He also said trying to convert Muslims was not a good
idea, saying, "You can’t even talk about that here."

Delly was a strong opponent of the U.S. invasion of
Iraq. When he was asked if he had contacts with U.S.
authorities, he said:

"Frankly, I try to avoid meeting them as much as
possible. They are the occupiers. The occupied don’t
want to be occupied. That’s human nature.”


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Koran Story True After All?

According to Reuters, an FBI memo from 2002 and made public today reports that detainee held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had accused American jailers there of flushing the Koran down a toilet.

Is this proof that the story is true?

Not necessarily, though I wrote last Friday that I suspected it would turn out to be true. This document further solidifies the case. On the other hand, some say stories like this have been around since the early 1980s, and acquired the status of urban legend.

Given what we do know occurred, and is occuring, at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, I would see it is incumbent on the military to get to bottom of this, with no stonewalling.

Apparently in two interviews with an FBI special agent, whose name also is withheld, at the Guantanamo prison for foreign terrorism suspects, the detainee described what happened.

The agent wrote about the detainee:

"Personally, he has nothing against the United States. The guards in the detention facility do not treat him well. Their behavior is bad. About five months ago, the guards beat the detainees. They flushed a Koran in the toilet."

"The guards dance around when the detainees are trying to pray. The guards still do these things," the agent wrote.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005



"I think one of the marks of civilization is that we have not had our women in direct ground combat."

"In fact, we’ve decried the enemy when they have pushed women into the front lines and into combat situations, and utilized women to attack military forces."

"We’ve said that’s wrong. That’s not something that civilized nations do."

-- Rep. Duncan Hunter, Republican, Chair of House Armed Services Committee, "This Week With George Stephanopolous, ABC, Sunday, May 22, 2005.

"Our women."

Monday, May 23, 2005

Never Mess With a Highlander



"Now we are forced to do something that
societies often do when people can't control
their desires. We have to pass laws to stop
their desires."

-- Senator Rick Santorum


At first seemed like there was not much going on this

Then all hell broke loose.

For one thing, one of the lamest members of Congress,
Norm Coleman, has been trying to make himself famous,
or at least popular among the right-wing nuts, by
investigating the so-called Oil For Food scandal.

This is gives the Right Wing a chance to bash the U.N.
AND serve up another justification for the war.

It’s all nonsense, of course, if for no other reason
than American, and especially Texas, firms were deep
into the Oil For Food payoffs.

But Norm, trust me, is a real dimwit, and put out a
paper directly accusing, apparently without evidence,
a British Member of Parliament of receiving kickbacks
from Saddam Hussein.

The guy was George Galloway, and he wasn’t in
Parliament when the report came out. Coleman may have
felt he was on safe ground, since, even among
liberals, in Britain, Galloway is regarded as
ultra-left nut.

Since, in the U.S. these days, being a member of the
wrong Protestant denomination can get you tagged as a
Communist, lord knows what they make of guy like
George Galloway.

Not to digress, but Galloway’s story is interesting.
He was a prominent member of Parliament, but was
kicked out of the Labor (or is Labour?) party for
opposing the Iraq war, strongly supported by Tony
("New" Labour!) Blair.

In elections held a few weeks ago, he ran for
Parliament again. This time under a fourth party,
called the “Respect” party, of which he is apparently
the only member.

And he ran in a district where he has never lived, 400
miles away from his home. He ran against a powerful
Member of Parliament, a popular friend of Tony Blair.

And therein lies another story.


In the 1950’s in Georgia, a man named Preston King was
granted a deferment from the draft while he earned a
Ph.D., which was common then (there was no war).

Until the draft board found out he was black.

They then attempted to draft him, and harassed him and
his family, and finally sentenced him to prison. With
a conviction and lengthy sentence hanging over his
head, he left for England, never to return, where he
had a distinguished career in academia, teaching at
the University of Lancaster.

In 2000, President Bill Clinton gave him a full
pardon, so he could attend his brother’s funeral, and
later honored Preston King at the White House, with
the 97 year old federal judge who had originally
sentenced him, and petitioned for his pardon, honoring
him as well.

Back in in England, Preston had a married a Jewish
Englishwoman, and they had a daughter, Oona, in 1967.

Oona was part white, part black, part Jewish, part
Christian, part American, and part English.

In 1997, Oona became the second black woman ever
elected to the British House of Parliament.

She became a darling of the Labour Party, one of the
“Blair Babes.”

She walked a fine line between supporting Blair and
criticizing the war, tough in her liberal district.

In May of 2005, George Galloway pulled of the most
stunning election result in years, defeating Oona King
in her own district, and become a party of one in

This one-man wrecking crew out-orated Oona, outfoxed
Tony Blair, and overwhelmed the entire British
political establishment.

Norm Coleman had no idea what he was in for.



Norm is from Minnesota. (Sort of.) He sits in the
ever respectful U.S. Senate.

And he lives in America, where liberals know their
place and politicians and the media never, ever, tell
the truth about anything.

He didn’t try to call George Galloway before the
Senate. He slimed, smeared and defamed him in a
Senate report for the benefit of the right-wing wackos
who read tripe like that while listening to Rush

But George, he likes the spotlight.

And Norm, he handed it to him on a silver,
Senate-plated platter. Galloway demanded to speak
before U.S. Senate. To confront Coleman personally.
To be on television. Before the whole world.

He came, he said, not as an accused, but to be an

He descended on Capitol Hill like a highland storm.
In a steady, deep, Scottish brogue, he spoke with the
wrath of a British schoolmaster lecturing impertinent
students. Like an infuriated Sean Connery, with a
touch of John Cleese. Hell hath no fury like a
Scotsman unjustly accused.

The BBC called it "one of the most flamboyant Senate
testimonies ever."

Another magazine called said:

“British MP George Galloway came to D.C.
after being named in the oil-for-food scandal
and delivered a historic ass-whipping.”

This is what he said:

(ALL CAPS used to emphasize a particularly vehement
display of Scottish temper – try to picture
Groundskeeper Willie wrestling a wolf…)

"Senator, I am not now, nor have I EVER been, an oil
trader. and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have
NEVER SEEN a barrel of oil, OWNED one, BOUGHT one,
SOLD one - and neither has anyone on my behalf.

"Now I know that standards have slipped in the last
few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are
remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am
here today but last week you already found me guilty.”

"You traduced my name around the world without ever
having asked me a single question, without ever having
contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned
me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And
you call that justice.”

"I want to deal with the pages that relate to me in
this dossier and I want to point out areas where there
are - let's be charitable and say errors. Then I want
to put this in the context where I believe it ought to
be. On the very first page of your document about me
you assert that I have had 'MANY MEETINGS' with Saddam
Hussein. This is false."

"I have had TWO meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in
1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the
English language can that be described as "many
meetings" with Saddam Hussein.

"As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein
has met him! The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him
to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to
target those guns!"

“I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions,
suffering and war, and on the second of the two
occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr
Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors
back into the country - a rather better use of two
meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary
of State for Defense made of his.”

"I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and
Americans governments and businessmen were selling him
GUNS and GAS. I used to demonstrate outside the Iraqi
embassy when British and American officials were going
in and doing commerce.”

"You will see from the official parliamentary record,
from 1990 onwards, voluminous evidence that I have a
rather BETTER record of opposition to Saddam Hussein
than you do and than any other member of the British
or American governments do.”

"Now you have NOTHING on me, Senator, except my name
on lists of names from Iraq, many of which have been
drawn up after the installation of your puppet
government in Baghdad.”

“If you had any of the letters against me that you had
against Zhirinovsky, and even Pasqua, they would have
been up there in your slideshow for the members of
your committee today.”

"You have my name on lists provided to you by the
Duelfer inquiry, provided to him by the convicted BANK
ROBBER, and FRAUDSTER and CONMAN Ahmed Chalabi who
many people to their credit in your country now
realize played a decisive role in leading your country
into the DISASTER in Iraq.

"There were 270 names on that list originally. That's
somehow been filleted down to the names you chose to
deal with in this committee. Some of the names on that
committee included the former secretary to his
Holiness Pope John Paul II.”

“You quote Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Well, you have
something on me, I've NEVER met Mr Dahar Yassein
Ramadan. Your sub-committee apparently has. But I do
know that he's YOUR prisoner, I believe he's in Abu
Ghraib prison. I believe he is facing war crimes
charges, punishable by DEATH."

"In these circumstances, knowing what the world knows
about how you treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, in
Bagram Airbase, in Guantanamo Bay, including I may
say, British citizens being held in those places, I'm
not sure how much credibility anyone would put on
anything you manage to get from a prisoner in those

"And if you had ANY evidence that I had EVER engaged
in any actual oil transaction, if you had any evidence
that anybody ever gave me any money, it would be
before the public.”

“And if you had anybody who ever paid me a penny, you
would have produced them today.”

"Now, one of the most serious of the mistakes you have
made in this set of documents is, to be frank, such a
schoolboy howler as to make a fool of the efforts that
you have made. You state that The Daily Telegraph
article cited documents from 1992 and 1993 whilst you
are dealing with documents dating from 2001.

“Senator, there could possibly be no documents
relating to Oil-for-Food matters in 1992, 1993, for
the Oil-for-Food scheme DID NOT EXIST at that time.”

"But perhaps you were confusing the Daily Telegraph
action with the Christian Science Monitor. [But] These
documents were unmasked by the Christian Science
Monitor themselves as forgeries.”

"Now, the neo-con websites and newspapers in which
you're SUCH a HERO, senator, were all absolutely
cock-a-hoop at the publication of the Christian
Science Monitor documents, they were all absolutely
convinced of their authenticity. They were all
absolutely convinced that these documents showed me
receiving $10 million from the Saddam regime. AND THEY

The existence of forged documents implicating me in
commercial activities with the Iraqi regime is a
PROVEN FACT. It's a PROVEN FACT that these forged
documents existed and were being circulated amongst
right-wing newspapers in Baghdad and around the world
in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Iraqi



At this point, having finished defending himself,
Galloway decided to use his stage to demolish U.S.
policy, expose hypocrisy, reveal the lies, and attack
supporters of the war.

In Washington! A foreigner! Where does he get the

Must be all that haggis…..

(Read it, it’s good stuff….)

"Now, Senator, I gave my HEART and SOUL to oppose the
policy that YOU PROMOTED. I gave my political life's
BLOOD to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the
sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis,
most of them children, most of them DIED before they
even knew that they were Iraqis, but they DIED for no
other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the
misfortune to born at that time. I gave my HEART and
SOUL to stop YOU committing the DISASTER that you did
commit in invading Iraq.

“And I told the world that your case for WAR WAS A

“I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims
did NOT have weapons of mass destruction.”

“I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq
had NO connection to al-Qaeda.”

“I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq
had NO connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001.”

“I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the
Iraqi people would RESIST a British and American
invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad
would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the
end of the beginning.”

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq -- I turned
out to be RIGHT and YOU turned out to be WRONG -- and
100,000 people paid with their LIVES; 1,600 of them
American soldiers sent to their deaths on a PACK OF
LIES; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled
forever on a PACK OF LIES."

If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose
dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to
President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of
corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to ME and
the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in
the DISASTER that we are in today.

“Senator, this is the MOTHER OF ALL SMOKESCREENS.”

You are trying to divert attention from the CRIMES
that YOU supported, from the THEFT of billions of
dollars of Iraq's wealth!”

"Have a look at the REAL Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a
look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad,
the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth
went missing on YOUR watch. Have a look at Halliburton
and other American corporations that stole not only
Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer!”

"Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter,
that you were shipping out of the country and selling,
the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a
look at the $800 million you gave to American military
commanders to hand out around the country without even
counting it or weighing it.”

"Have a look at the REAL scandal breaking in the
newspapers today, revealed in the earlier testimony in
this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters
were not me or Russian politicians or French
politicians. The real sanctions busters were YOUR OWN
companies with the connivance of YOUR OWN Government!"

Game, Set, and Match.



The other really big story this is week is all the
outrage over that fact "Newsweek" apparently got a
story wrong, and so the spin goes, 17 people got
killed. The drummed up faux-outrage is a
demonstration of the power of the right-wing in our

"Newsweek" printed one line in the Periscope section
of the paper that said that as an interrogation tactic
in Guantanamo Bay, some soldiers had flushed pages of
the Koran down the toilet. Given was has been going
on there, I’d find it hard to believe is this DIDN’T

The story sparked some outrage among some Muslims, and
there some protests in Pakistan, which would have
happened anyway. (Osama may well be hidden in
Pakistan – it doesn’t take much.)

Newsweek’s source was a reliable military official,
and they ran the story by the Pentagon, which said
nothing. And they continued to say nothing even after
the riots, except to deny that the story had any role
in the violence, because they were afraid it was

Then the source backed off the part where he said the
Pentagon had produced an internal document regarding
this incident, and now Newsweek has retracted the

Suddenly the Right is very concerned about the “root
causes” of terrorist violence, and says Newsweek is
directly responsible for all the deaths that occurred.
Not the killers, just Newsweek. Funny how they are
not usually worried about what causes terrorism, just
now that is serves the President’s agenda.

The media has fallen for this completely.

The Newsweek retraction story was on Page 1 of the New
York Times, Page 1 of the LA Times, and Page 3 of the
Washington Post. That's pretty strong coverage for a
story about a newsmagazine retracting a small error in
a short piece from two weeks ago.

How did these same news organs respond three weeks ago
to a leaked British memo making it clear that
President Bush had already committed himself to war
with Iraq by the summer of 2002 and was actively
"fixing" intelligence and facts to support that

It eventually ran on Page 3 in the LA Times, Page 18
in the Post, and nowhere at all in the New York Times
aside from a buried Page 9 piece that treated it as
strictly a British election issue.

The White House, loving this story, is acting shocked,
SHOCKED! that anyone would dare suggest they might
mishandle the Koran.

“Our military goes out of their way to handle
the Koran with care and respect. There are
policies and practices that are in place. This
report was wrong. Newsweek, itself, stated that
it was wrong. And so now I think it's incumbent
and -- incumbent upon Newsweek to do their part
to help repair the damage.”

–– Scott McCellan

I am not going to write the ridiculousness of this
Administration and its supporters worrying about
“mistakes” causing “deaths.”

Or holding up signs saying “Newsweek Lied, People

Or obsessing on why we are to blame for people
engaging in violence.

Or, most absurdly of all, fretting that America’s
image around the world may be tarnished as a result of

Who are they kidding?

This is Twilight Zone time. Do they really expect us
to believe the Official American Policy Memo reads:

TO: Everybody

“You are allowed to beat, torture, use electric
shock, waterboarding, chain up prisoners with
dog collars, humiliate, starve, force prisoners to
wear the Israeli flag, force them eat pork, forbid
them to pray, threaten them with vicious dogs,
mock their religion, degrade, debase, kill
prisoners and have your grinning picture taken
with their dead bodies, but whatever you do,
don’t desecrate the Koran.”

The story could still turn out to be true, (believe it
or not, the White House has not actually denied it)
and that does point out a problem this Administration
has with revenge and scoring points. This move is
awfully tempting, but it’s not tactically smart.
Maybe the Bush White House has finally Jumped The

In every movie I’ve ever seen, the bad guy wins and
wins and wins, and then is defeated when he gets cocky
and thinks he can’t be beaten, goes for too much and
overreaches and slips and is defeated. It’s all about
hubris. So maybe it goes back to the Greeks.

As one blogger put it:

“Rove is daring every media organization
in the US to make prisoner abuse a Page 1
story again. What is he thinking? Stories of
Koran-abuse are coming - and the harder the
White House spins, the worse they'll look when
they arrive. For the life of me, I can't understand
why Rove didn't just let the story die. The media
had nearly convinced itself that prisoner abuse
stories don't matter, but Rove has just lit a flame
under journalists everywhere.”."

Another writes:

“By the time this is all over, I suspect the
Pentagon is going to be sorry it ever made a fuss over the
Newsweek item in the first place. Every reporter in
town is now going to start investigating this
stuff, and the results are not likely to be pretty. Stay
tuned for a fusillade of deeply researched stories
about allegations of religious desecration by
American troops starting in about a week.”

It’s probable that journalists will be a little more
wary about reporting abuse stories, but they will be
looking for verified reports of abuse, and now they
HAVE to ask about it, since the Administration has
taken a strict Holier Than Thou attitude.

This reminds of the time Gary Hart dared reporters to
follow him around to see if he really was having an
affair. We all know how that turned out.



Last week more than 30,000 people—including the Vice
President, the first lady, and a former first
lady—were evacuated from their offices or homes in
Washington, D.C., when a Cessna flew into the city,
but the President, who was biking in Maryland, was
never notified, even though the evacuation lasted more
than one hour, until it was all over with.

For watchers of the show, “24,” this will seem
familiar, but remember, the nervous guy in that show
is at least the VP – in this scenario, the blissful
bicyclist is the President.

Journalists also wondered about the small matter of
the president being commander in chief and the
capital, theoretically, coming under attack.

McClellan: “Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Reagan were here at the
White House and they were taken to a secure location”.

Q: “You can't say on the grounds or off the grounds?
All right. But you're saying that—but the Vice
President was actually evacuated—“

McClellan: That's right.“

Q: “—off the grounds?”

McClellan: “That's correct.”

Q: “Why the distinction, given the history of this?”

McClellan: “Well, the Secret Service has security
precaution protocols that are in place. And as I
mentioned at the beginning, those precautions were
followed. That's what they have in place. And it was
consistent with the protocols that were in place.“

As one blogger put it:

“In other words, if Bush is pedaling his bike,
don't bother the little feller. Let him play.
We'll put him before the cameras when we need him.
But for God's sake, protect Cheney. He's the one
who made all the decisions, such as they were,
on 9-11. As long as there's oil underneath other
countries, protect Cheney.”

“In the unlikely event that Bush isn't biking but
is reading—say, The Pet Goat—don't disturb
him then either. The grownups have everything
under control. Except for the billions of Muslims
angry at us.”


While Bush was traveling in Russia and Latvia the
other day, he decided to stop off to bash a half
century of American policy.

Look, I get it. Bush wants to be seen as this guy who
really, really believes in freedom, and unlike all the
wimps and pantywaists who were President before him,
he means it. (Except when he holds hand with
bloodthirsty dictators like the Saudi King. Or the
Dictator of Uzbekistan. Or Pakistan.)

And I understand that the people of Latvia are miffed
that they were occupied by the Soviets for many years,
and they want to someone to feel their pain, dammit.

And I get that damming Yalta speaks to a Birchian code
McCarthyites salivated for years ago.

But just far off the deep end do you have to be to
give this speech in a foreign country?

“The agreement at Yalta followed in the unjust
tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop
Pact. Once again, when powerful governments
negotiated, the freedom of small nations was
somehow expendable. Yet this attempt to
sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability left
a continent divided and unstable. The captivity of
millions in Central and Eastern Europe will be
remembered as one of the greatest wrongs
of history.”

In fairness, in context, sandwiched between
condemnations of Auschwitz and praise for the Cold
War, it reads more like pablum than a grotesque libel
of Roosevelt and Churchill.

Nevertheless, he said, he meant it, and it’s not just
wrong, it defames an entire generation – just so Bush
can strut and play the hero like he did on that
repositioned aircraft carrier.

Munich was an agreement to let Adolf Hitler possess

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, of August 1939, was an
agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union to
allow Hitler to invade Poland, (which he broke later)
and begin his campaign of genocide in earnest.

To compare them to Yalta is just, well, you use your
own word.

In any case, Yalta did not “give” Stalin Eastern
Europe – he was already there, having defeated the
Nazi army.

Bush would have us believe that if HE had been
President, HE would have immediately asked exhausted
GIs to defeat a Soviet Army far larger than ours, at a
time when were preparing an epic invasion of Japan.


This coming from a President, who can’t, or won’t,
secure the road from Baghdad to the Baghdad airport.

Bush needs to get off his high horse, stop the macho
posturing, get rid of the phoniness and the lying, and
do the job he was elected to do.


Looks like I’ve run out time, and I haven’t even
addressed the Nuclear Option, crazy judges, or Bush’s
falling popularity.

I leave with this semi-humorous piece….



Ah, the vaunted spellchecker! Where would we be
without it? And to think I wasted all that time
winning spelling prizes in school…

For some, though, spelling matters more than others.
Like the government.

This week the House of Representatives issued a report
that discussed nuclear tests conducted in Sudan from
1962 to 1970.

The Sudanese government must have more on the ball
that we think, because they read it (I mean, who reads
this stuff?) and freaked out.

I must admit, I too, was a bit surprised. I mean, Tom
Lehrer, from whom I used to get all of my political
news, never mentioned Sudan in his song about nuclear
proliferation, “Who’s Next?” (LP: “That Was The Year
That Was” 1968).

The Sudanese government took a break from committing
genocide in Dafur (and you thought WE weren’t paying
attention!) to call up Condi Rice and say, “Um, what
the hell are talking about? You think we can afford
nuclear weapons? And they we wouldn’t have used them
yet if we did have them?”

An investigation followed and ultimately some an
astute undersecretary (an intern, more likely) figured
out the source of the mess.

Turns out, the report was right. Nuclear tests were
conducted between 1962 and 1970 -- not in Sudan,
Africa -- but in Sedan, Nevada.



Friday, May 13, 2005

Pat Buchanan On WWII


"But before Britain declared war on Germany, France, Holland and Belgium did not need to be liberated. They were free. They were only invaded and occupied after Britain and France declared war on Germany - on behalf of Poland."
-- Pat Buchanan

First George Bush compare Yalta to the appeasement at Munich, and now Pat Buchanan comes forth to argue that America is really to blame (why do these people hate America so much?) for appeasing Hitler ENOUGH.

I'm not a military historian, though I have some graduate study in this field. And I can't be sure, since the device has yet to be invented that fully penetrate Pat Buchanan's mind, but it sounds like he is saying that we, or at least Britain and France, were wrong to declare war on Germany just because it had invaded Poland. Further, that the Western Europe brought all its problems on itself, for provoking Hitler, and still further, that Communism being the real enemy, we should have focused on the Soviet Union (perhaps by making an alliance with the Nazis?)

Now, maybe I'm attacking an argument no serious person the left or right agrees with, except for Pat, and possibly his friends at MSNBC. But there is some commonality with what he is saying and the ideas put forth by George W. Bush and his cohort, namely, that American made a huge mistake in giving away the store at Yalta, and that focusing on Hitler, instead of Stalin, was a strategic and moral error.

This is so ridiculous one hardly knows where to begin. I assume the idea that Hitler would have stopped comfortably at Poland (like he did after Munich) has been thoroughly discounted. Given that, British and French actions were not only justifiable, but necessary. More to the point, one wishes that the U.S. had also declared war right then as well. Instead, as we know, Japan attacked the U.S., before the U.S. declared war, further discrediting Pat's argument.

It is also worth pointing out that Hitler's genocidal war (that is how I see it) would, and ought to have, pushed Britain, France, and the U.S. to eventually declare war even absent strategic reasons. Otherwise they would have sat idly by as Hitler would have been setting up massive death camps in Germany, Poland, Eastern Europe and likely the USSR. If he weren't challenged, Hitler would not have been able to resist the targets to his West, in any case.

As if all that weren't enough, IF Britain, France and the U.S. had been content to sit and watch, then Hitler would have invaded Russia, and either succeed in spreading genocidal fascism to Eastern Europe and the USSR to the Pacific, or the USSR would have prevailed and Communism would have spread, at least to Eastern Europe and probably beyond.

Unless Pat is arguing we should have waited until this happened, then declared war on the Soviets. A rather risky, not to say immoral game, but one suspects the American and British people would have asked the question we would ask Pat now: If the occupation of Poland was not worth fighting over in 1939, why would it be in 1945?

The flip side of this question is easily answered: it simply wasn't feasible to engage the USSR in a war over Eastern Europe in the aftermath of WWII. Of course, this may be argued against, but without a time machine, it will be difficult to come a firm conclusion. Nevertheless, that is the answer.

I'm all for studying historical events in order to learn from them. And we should try to be clear eyed about what was done right and wrong in the past, even on behalf of our nations.

But a culture of truth cannot let Buchanan's remarks go unchallenged. They are ahistorical, non-factual, highly misleading, and, as such, just a little dangerous.

Question of the Day


The Air Force is looking into widespread allegations that evagelical christians have been harrassing students on the campus of the Air Force Academy. What did the Pentagon do this week to address the issue?

A) Interviewed students on campus to get their opinion.

B) Praised the individuals who brought the issue to their attention.

C) Released a statement clarifying that the Air Force does not endorse any single religion.

D) Announced they would not accept harrassing of students.

E) Fired a distinguished Captain who agreed with the allegations.

Answer: E

The Captain Morton mentioned in the above quote is the same as mentioned in this one:

From the "Washington Post,": "An Air Force chaplain who complained that evangelical Christians were trying to "subvert the system" by winning converts among cadets at the Air Force Academy was removed from administrative duties last week, just as the Pentagon began an in-depth study of alleged religious intolerance among cadets and commanders at the school.

"They fired me," said Capt. MeLinda Morton, a Lutheran minister who was removed as executive officer of the chaplain unit on May 4. "They said I should be angry about these outside groups who reported on the strident evangelicalism at the academy. The problem is, I agreed with those reports."

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Voinovich Blasts Bolton, Will Vote No


According to MSNBC, Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio today questioned John Bolton's qualifications to be President Bush's U.N. ambassador, citing "serious deficiencies."

Voinovich described Bolton as “arrogant” and “bullying.”

The senator said he would vote AGAINST the nomination in committee.

“John Bolton is the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be,” Senator Voinovich said.

He also said that John Bolton would be fired if he was in private business.

Voinovich also said he supported sending Bolton's nomination to the full Senate for a vote. “We owe it to the president to give Mr. Bolton an up or down vote on the floor.”

Republicans hold a 10-8 edge on the committee.

All eight Democrats have said they would vote against Bolton.

Therefore Voinovich's single “no” GOP vote would cause a tie in a vote to approve Bolton and keep the nomination from going to the floor. One more would kill. John Chafee, liberal Republican, also sits on the committee.

This is pretty shocking, though. Good for Voinovich.

Even if Bolton's behavior is common in Washington, which I very much doubt, that doesn't make it right.

Stop Him Before He Sub-References Again! Done.


Reports are that Dennis Miller's show on CNBC has been cancelled. Either the last show will be on Friday the 13th (how appropriate) or . . . . never.

I used to really like Dennis Miller, even when he could be annoying, with all the obcure pop culture references and such.

But what a waste that show was!

Bad, boring television, poor production values, and a weak host. His inept, if not outright appalling interview with Eric Alterman was the nadir for the show and probably the network. By the end, Miller made John McEnroe look like Edward R. Murrow.

Miller seemed to have been to driven to some sort of midlife, post-September 11 imbecility, ranting (naturally) not just standard Republican cant (thought that was his fallback position) but a sad, sort of pathetic kind of whining that seemed to culminate in a frustration with our lack of ability to nuke everyone, everywhere.

I'm paraphrasing, having not seen the show on a regular basis.

Whither Miller? Hard to say, be unlike some die-hards, his heart just didn't seem be in it these days. He's probably glad it's over.

Don't feel too bad, Dennis. Shilling for Bush has broken tougher men than you....



"We have numbed ourselves with drugs and alcohol, and taught our kids that premarital sex is a good thing if it is simply done right. We have pursued materialism and false security, while ignoring the Architect of our souls.

As a nation, we have rebelled against the Creator. Our culture is steeped in immorality and self-sufficiency and is growing increasingly hostile toward religious expression.

Almighty God continues to bless America despite the fact that we corporately and individually have turned our backs on Him in many ways.

But our Creator is patient with us, granting His favor and forbearance even though WE DON'T DESERVE IT."

-- Shirley Dobson, Chair, National Day of Prayer, at the White House, May 5, 2005.

Why does the Right Wing hate America?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

George Mitchell Sets the Record Straight

In the New York Times May 10, former Democratic Senate Majority Leader corrects some misperceptions -- lies -- told about filibustering judicial nominees.

He quotes Republican Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, in a speech called her "Declaration of Conscience," directed against Republican Senator Joe McCarthy.

"I don't believe the American people will uphold any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest," the senator said. "Surely we Republicans aren't that desperate for victory. While it might be a fleeting victory for the Republican Party, it would be a more lasting defeat for the American people. Surely it would ultimately be suicide for the Republican Party and the two-party system that has protected our American liberties from the dictatorship of a one-party system."

Mitchell writes:

"The Senate's power to confirm or reject judicial nominees balances the president's authority to nominate them. The proposal by some Republican senators to change rules that have governed the Senate for two centuries now puts that system in danger."

Some facts presented by Mitchell:

"Since 1789, the Senate has rejected nearly 20 percent of all nominees to the Supreme Court, many without an up-or-down vote.

In 1968 Republican senators used a filibuster to block voting on President Lyndon B. Johnson's nominee for chief justice of the Supreme Court.

During the debate, a Republican senator, Robert Griffin, said: "It is important to realize that it has not been unusual for the Senate to indicate its lack of approval for a nomination by just making sure that it never came to a vote on the merits. As I said, 21 nominations to the court have failed to win Senate approval. But only nine of that number were rejected on a direct, up-and-down vote."

Between 1968 and 2001, both parties used filibusters to oppose judicial nominees. In 2000, the last year of Bill Clinton's presidency, Republican senators filibustered two of his nominees to be circuit judges. They also prevented Senate votes on more than 60 of Mr. Clinton's judicial nominees by other means.

So much for the assertion that filibustering to prevent votes on judicial nominees is a new tactic invented by Senate Democrats.

Senate rules can be changed, and they often have been. But Senate Republicans don't have the votes for a change within the rules. So they propose to go around them, to act unilaterally to get their way. It's what they call the "nuclear option."

They claim that their actions are justified because the filibuster is being used unfairly to stop the confirmation of President Bush's nominees.

But 208 of the president's 218 judicial nominees have been approved.

That's right: the Senate has confirmed 95 percent of Mr. Bush's judicial nominees. That's a higher percentage of approval than any of his three predecessors achieved.

During my six years as majority leader of the Senate, Republicans, then in the minority, often used filibusters to achieve their goals. I didn't like the results, but I accepted them because Republicans were acting within the rules; and we were able to work together on many other issues. There were 55 Democratic senators then. We had the power to take the drastic action now being proposed, but we refrained from exercising that power because it was as wrong then as it is now.

Most Americans may not be aware of the complexities of the Senate's rules, but they do know and understand two fundamental principles: playing by the rules and dealing fairly with others.

The nuclear option violates both. If it's exercised, I hope that enough modern-day Senator Smiths, guided by what is best for the nation and the Senate, will vote to stop it."

-- Former Senator George Mitchell

Baptist Preacher Quits

The Associated Press is reporting that the Baptist preacher who forced nine members to leave his church because they refused to support President Bush has himself been.... forced out.

"For me to remain now would only cause more hurt for me and my family," the preacher, the Rev. Chan Chandler, said as he left a meeting at East Waynesville Baptist Church.

Looks like they were kind of shocked by the attention, specifically, the IRS.

Congregants of the 100-member church have said that Mr. Chandler endorsed Mr. Bush from the pulpit during last year's presidential campaign and said that anyone who planned to vote for the Democratic nominee, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, needed to "repent or resign."

The church members said that he continued to preach about politics after Mr. Bush won re-election, culminating in a church gathering last week in which the nine members said they were ousted.

The right wing will spin this as: "Preacher forced out for reading from the Bible in Church," you can be sure.

It's very simple:

This is about taxes. If you own property, you pay taxes. If you have income, you pay taxes. But not if you're a church.

If you don't want to pay your fair share of taxes, then play by the rules.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Jim Lampley Writes on the Biggest Story


Jim Lampley is a sports commentator and has a guest blog on Arianna Huffington's new site.

Looks like Jim is a fan of a culture of truth!

He writes:

"At 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Election Day, I checked the sportsbook odds in Las Vegas and via the offshore bookmakers to see the odds as of that moment on the Presidential election. John Kerry was a two-to-one favorite. You can look it up."

Oddsmakers consulted exit polling and knew what it meant and acknowledged in their oddsmaking at that moment that John Kerry was winning the election.

And he most certainly was, at least if the votes had been fairly and legally counted. What happened instead was the biggest crime in the history of the nation, and the collective media silence which has followed is the greatest fourth-estate failure ever on our soil.

We know that margins for error are valid, and that results have fallen within the error range for every Presidential election for the past fifty years prior to last fall. NEVER have exit polls varied by beyond-error margins in a single state, not since 1948 when this kind of polling began. In this past election it happened in ten states, all of them swing states, all of them in Bush's favor. Coincidence? Of course not.

Karl Rove isn't capable of conceiving and executing such a grandiose crime? Wake up. They did it. The silence of traditional media on this subject is enough to establish their newfound bankruptcy.

The revolution will have to start here. I challenge every other thinker at the Huffington Post: is there any greater imperative than to reverse this crime and reestablish democracy in America? Why the mass silence? Let's go to work with the circumstantial evidence, begin to narrow from the outside in, and find some witnesses who will turn. That's how they cracked Watergate. This is bigger, and I never dreamed I would say that in my baby boomer lifetime."

-- Jim Lampley

Bigger than Watergatge.

Is he right?

The only way to know is to investigate.

We need to ask: What is at stake, and what do we need to do about it?

We need to know the truth.

New York Times May Embrace a Culture of Truth


The New York Times recently had an internal committee make recommendations as to how to make the paper more readable, and less the object of mockery.

Number one is reducing errors, which is good, because during the Clinton years, (for example, Whitewater) and certainly during their painfully fact-free coverage of Al Gore in the 2000 election, plus their coverage of the non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction, not to mention with all their recent scandals, has made perusing the venerable old newspaper an exercise in playing “Fact or Fiction?”

Can we get "The Times" to sign on to a commitment to nurturing a Culture of Truth?

Naturally other areas which need improvement are increasing coverage of religion, rural areas and "middle America," and "cover the country in a fuller way," because, darn it, not enough Red Staters are reading "The New York Times."

Or perhaps they were, and noticed that articles in the Science Section hardly ever mentioned creationism.

Also they want to start a blog, which I suppose is one step on the journey back to credibility. Most blogs are a lot more reliable.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Wesley Clark Writes on War and Democracy



By General Wesley Clark

Operating on the theory that if you say something enough times people will believe it, the Bush administration and its allies have in the last few years confidently put forth an array of assertions, predictions, and rationalizations about Iraq that have turned out to be nonsense. They've told us that Saddam's regime was on the verge of building nuclear weapons; that it had operational links with al Qaeda; that our allies would support our invasion if we stuck with our insistence about going it alone; that we could safely invade with a relatively small number of ground troops; that the Iraqi people would greet us as liberators; that Ahmed Chalabi could be trusted; that Iraq's oil revenues would pay for the country's reconstruction; and that most of our troops would be out of Iraq within six months of the initial invasion.

Now, they tell us that recent stirrings of democracy elsewhere in the Middle East are a direct consequence of our invasion of Iraq, that the neoconservative vision of contagious democracy has been realized. Given the administration's track record, we would be wise to greet this latest assertion with suspicion.

It's understandable that the administration would want to make this claim. After all, by any honest accounting, the Iraq operation has been a mess. The U.S. military has performed brilliantly for the most part. But we invaded the country for the express purpose of removing weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist. That effort has cost $200 billion and more than 1,500 American lives. It has strained our alliances, damaged America's reputation in the world, pushed the all-volunteer military to the breaking point, and left our troops exposed in a hostile country with an open-ended exit strategy. It would be convenient to be able to say that the intent all along was just to bring democracy to the region and that this was simply the necessary price. Convenient, but not true.

Certainly, the sight of Iraqis voting on January 30 was welcome, and a tremendous credit to the U.S. military efforts to provide security (though it was the Iraqis themselves who were most determined to hold the elections then, rather than delay the vote). The image of those purple Iraqi fingers was a powerful reminder that democracy knows no ethnic, religious, or geographic boundaries, and that freedom-loving hearts beat just as soundly under Arab robes as they do under grey suits.

At the same time, the demonstration effect of those elections has to be weighed against the immense damage our invasion has done in the region. Intensification of anti-Americanism and the ability of regional leaders to point to the chaos in Iraq as a reason to maintain the stability of current regimes are just some of the negative consequences of our invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Anyone who has traveled regularly to the Middle East over the years, as I have, knows that the recent hopeful democratic moves in Lebanon, Egypt, and the Palestinian territories have causal roots that long predate our arrival in Iraq, or that are otherwise unconnected to the war. American groups like the National Endowment for Democracy and numerous international organizations have been working with and strengthening reform-minded elements in these countries for years, and to some extent we are now seeing the fruits of that quiet involvement. But it is a mistake to believe that everything that is happening in the region—whether positive or negative—is a result of American military actions or rhetoric from Washington.

In Iran, for instance, the hopeful movement toward democracy went into remission after we invaded neighboring Iraq. Did our invasion cause democratic reform to falter in Iran? Not necessarily. There are many reasons—most of them internal—for why reform movements within a country wax and wane. But it is hard to claim that the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq was responsible for pro-democratic reactions in some Middle Eastern countries, but not for anti-democratic reactions in others.

Each of the positive developments that are currently bringing hope to the Middle East was more directly the result of a catalyzing local event than the consequence of American foreign policy. The death of Yasser Arafat made possible the democratic breakthrough within the Palestinian Authority and the progress we're now seeing between the PA and Israel. In Lebanon, it took the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri and the outrage, both internal and international, that followed to spur Syrian withdrawal. And across the region, leaders like Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have recognized the need to seek greater legitimacy by opening the door for democracy in order to stave off mounting threats from Islamic fundamentalists.

The administration has generally responded to these openings by adding to the pressure, calling for withdrawal of Syrian forces and for democracy. But like the rooster who thinks his crowing caused the dawn, those who rule Washington today have a habit of taking credit for events of which they were in fact not the primary movers. Many of them have insisted, for instance, that the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was largely the consequence of President Reagan's military policies. As a military officer at the time, and a Reagan supporter, I would be happy to give the Gipper that credit. In truth, however, our military posture was only one factor. As in the Middle East today, individuals who labored for freedom within these countries performed the bulk of the work. Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, and other contemporaries looked at America as an ideal, not as the muscle, on every street corner. Other, truly transformative agents of Western influence, such as Pope John Paul II, the labor union movement, international commercial institutions, and the influences of next-door neighbors like the Federal Republic of Germany were at work.

Today, American democratic values are admired in the Middle East, but our policies have generated popular resentment. Although it may come as a surprise to those of us here, there is a passionate resistance to the U.S. “imposing” its style of democracy to suit American purposes. Democratic reformers in the Middle East don't want to have their own hopes and dreams subordinated to the political agenda of the United States. It's for this reason that the administration shouldn't try to take too much credit for the coming changes. Or be too boastful about our own institutions. Or too loud in proclaiming that we're thrilled about Middle Eastern democracy—mostly because it makes us feel safer. A little humility is likely to prove far more useful than chest-thumping.

As we work to help establish the conditions for democracy in Iraq, our most useful role elsewhere is surely behind the scenes. For example, the situation in Lebanon creates a power vacuum which could lead to the same kind of instability that ignited civil war there 30 years ago. We can, and should, be working diplomatically to provide the support, balance, and reassurances necessary for the revival of independent democracy in Lebanon. We should engage Syria to encourage cooperation in Iraq and liberalize its politics at home. At the very least, we should be helping to craft what comes next before we tighten the noose further on an already-shaky Assad. In our eagerness to help, we'd do well to heed the motto of my Navy friends in the submarine service: “Run silent-run deep.”

Democracy can't be imposed—it has to be homegrown. In the Middle East, democracy has begun to capture the imagination of the people. For Washington to take credit is not only to disparage courageous leaders throughout the region, but also to undercut their influence at the time it most needs to be augmented. Let's give credit where credit is due—and leave the political spin at the water's edge.

** Gen. Wesley Clark, U.S.A. (Ret.), was Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, from 1997-2000.