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You Call That Progress? The outrageous White House report on Iraq.

According to the report, which was required by Congress, progress has been “satisfactory” on eight of the benchmarks, “unsatisfactory” on another eight, and mixed on two. At his press conference this morning, President Bush, seeing the glass half full, pronounced the report “a cause for optimism”—and for staying on course.

Yet a close look at the 25-page report reveals a far more dismal picture and a deliberately distorted assessment. The eight instances of “satisfactory” progress are not at all satisfactory by any reasonable measure—or, in some cases, they indicate a purely procedural advance. The eight “unsatisfactory” categories concern the central issues of Iraqi politics—the disputes that must be resolved if Iraq is to be a viable state and if the U.S. mission is to have the slightest chance of success.

Army report implicates Iraqi police in Karbala attack

USA Today has obtained an Army report implicating Iraqi police in a January, 2007 insurgent raid during which four U.S. troops were captured and later slain. The story notes that the new Pentagon spokesman in Iraq, Brigadier General Kevin Bergner, gave a briefing last week blaming Iran for the attack but neglecting to mention the complicity of the Iraqi police.

There Are Very Few Causes Worth Dying For – Iraq Is Not One of Them

Like being shot by a sniper on the western front at 10.59am on November 11, 1918, to die now as a British soldier in Iraq is its own special category of tragedy. What has he died for? Is Iraq a safer and more secure place? Is the rest of the world, including Britain, likewise? Is the Middle East more democratic, more optimistic of its future? But adjust these lofty aims: is the price of oil lower? The answer is not just that these things have stayed much the same; it is in all cases the incendiary opposite. Worse than all this futility, worse even than the bogus prospectus for the invasion that took him there in the first place, the dead soldier will know in the last days of his life that only a small number of his fellow citizens want him and his comrades to be there

Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves

Constitutional Hardball in the Bush Administration

We might divide the Bush Administration’s practices of constitutional hardball into three categories. The first are acts used to gain power. The second are acts used to attempt to transform the government into a new constitutional order. The third are acts designed to head off accountability following the failure of the attempt. The second set fit most closely Mark’s original model of constitutional hardball. But the first and third set are equally important for understanding the phenomenon.

[ ]…At this point in Bush’s Presidency three things matter above all others. They motivate this final round of constitutional hardball: The first is keeping secret what the President and his advisers have done. The second is running out the clock to prevent any significant dismantling of his policies until his term ends. The third is doing whatever he can proactively to ensure that later governments do not hold him or his associates accountable for any acts of constitutional hardball or other illegalities practiced during his term in office.

If the NSA program and the Torture Memos were examples of the second round of constitutional hardball, the Libby commutation and Harriet Meiers’ refusal to testify before Congress are examples of the third round. Although his Presidency now seems to be a failure, Bush’s third round of constitutional hardball may be every bit as important as the first two. That is because if Bush is never held accountable for what he did in office, future presidents will be greatly tempted to adopt features of his practices.

While I lifted quite a bit of this post from Balkinization it would be worth your time to read the whole thing. That last bit about future presidents disturbs most Democrats, but the important point is that it doesn’t seem to bother Republicans. At least not yet. We’re all aware of the Right’s unhinged hatred of all things Clinton; what will there reaction be if Senator Clinton becomes president and does what Bush has done in regards to issues such as ignoring Senate subpoenas or using the Justice Department as a way to harass voters of the opposing party. Polls aside Congressional Republicans with a few exceptions continue to genuflect for Bush’s every political and legal maneuver. Knowing that Bush might be setting Constitutional precedents and that a future Democratic president may use or abuse those precedents denotes something of the kamikaze mentality in play among conservatives. They seem willing to let whole fragments of our Constitutional framework and thus democracy go down in flames as some kind of symbolic gesture. Its like a game of chess where they’re know they’re knowing to loose so they just randomly cause as much havoc as they can before checkmate. Contrary to what delusional neocons like Bill Kristol say there are many reasons other then Iraq that Bush will go down in history as our worse president and Bush is young enough to see once he leaves office even his own grand illusions about himself will come crumbling down.

Speaking of Kristol Think Progress caught him doing a one-eighty on Iraq’s sectarian violence, Kristol: ‘We’re Not In A Civil War’ In Iraq, ‘This Is Just Not True’

Approximately one year ago — in an August 2006 appearance on the Charlie Rose show — Bill Kristol acknowledged that Iraq was teetering on the edge of civil war, stating: “It is true that we are at risk of a sectarian civil war there, and I’m extremely worried about that. I don’t quarrel about that.”

Since Bush adopted his escalation strategy earlier this year, Kristol has turned to defying the reality of the situation on the ground in Iraq in order to justify the troop increase. Today, on Fox News Sunday, Kristol argued that the violence in Iraq does not constitute a civil war:

We’re not in a civil war. This is just not true. American troops are attacking al Qaeda. They’re attacking some elements of the Shi’a militias. They’re doing other things, helping with reconciliation. They are not in the middle of a civil war. It’s not true.

It’s not that Kristol isn’t clever it is more that he is a conservative elite bullshitter then intellectual. He doesn’t even know who is fighting who or why. If you can’t read the play book and don’t know the players how can he go around telling people who to bet on. Saudis’ role in Iraq insurgency outlined Sunni extremists from Saudi Arabia make up half the foreign fighters in Iraq, many suicide bombers, a U.S. official says

BAGHDAD — Although Bush administration officials have frequently lashed out at Syria and Iran, accusing it of helping insurgents and militias here, the largest number of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq come from a third neighbor, Saudi Arabia, according to a senior U.S. military officer and Iraqi lawmakers.

About 45% of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia; 15% are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10% are from North Africa, according to official U.S. military figures made available to The Times by the senior officer. Nearly half of the 135 foreigners in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq are Saudis, he said.

Fighters from Saudi Arabia are thought to have carried out more suicide bombings than those of any other nationality, said the senior U.S. officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject’s sensitivity. It is apparently the first time a U.S. official has given such a breakdown on the role played by Saudi nationals in Iraq’s Sunni Arab insurgency.

For those on the Right that loath all details and see all Muslims as the enemy this isn’t much of a problem, but for Kristol and Bandar Bush some explanations are in order. Are those Iraqis and American soldiers killed by Saudi extremists less dead then the ones killed by fighters that might be from Syria or Iran. If Iran is responsible and even worthy of nuclear attack for some of its citizens fighting in Iraq then is Saudi Arabia or northern Africa (Egypt?) also worthy of nuclear annihilation.

Both the White House and State Department declined to comment for this article.

“Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth” – Ralph Waldo Emerson