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:: Friday, July 25, 2003 ::

Why 16 words matter..

Joshua Marshall makes a good, and to my mind, central point, about the "16 words" scandal.
The challenges we're facing now stem from the fact that we dealt with the situation on the double-quick. And the fact that we dealt with it that way is inextricably linked to the issue of hyping and manipulating the intel.
Because the Administration lied, because they created the illusion of an imminent threat, the US acted without allies, without planning, and ultimately with little hope of actually accomplishing the goals we set for ourselves.
:: Morat 1:48 PM :: ::

The Amazing Stories of Condoleeza Rice

Via Tom Spencer, we have this interesting Buzzflash article: The Amazing Stories of Condoleeza Rice - A BuzzFlash Reader Commentary
Condoleezza Rice is the nation’s top national security official. After September 11th, she claimed that the White House had no prior knowledge that Al Qaeda was planning to hijack planes in a terrorist attack. That assertion was proven false. In the months before the Iraq War, Rice repeatedly reassured the public that the U.S. was seeking a peaceful resolution, and that war was not a foregone conclusion. However, it now appears that at the same time she was saying this, she was telling senior State Department officials that the decision to go to war had already been made – well before diplomatic efforts to diffuse the situation even began. Most recently, it appears that she has given three separate, incongruent stories about her role in the massive intelligence breakdown that led to the White House making false statements about Iraq’s nuclear capabilities. It appears that Rice has either been misleading the public about her role in that fiasco, or alternately, has been grossly negligent in not reading the government’s most important intelligence documents.

:: Morat 9:44 AM :: ::

The Daily Show

Just a note on The Daily Show and Wilson's appearance. The absolute best part of that was Wilson blandly stating he was sure the White House had no harsh feelings, because he'd just gotten a letter from Dick Cheney offering to join the Republican Leader's Club or some such group....

And then showed Jon the letter.

It's amazing who gets those fund-raising letters, and some of the choices are ridiculous...and it was just wonderful to see it showcased like that.
:: Morat 8:56 AM :: ::

:: Thursday, July 24, 2003 ::

What is Luskin smoking?

Via Calpundit, I saw this little tidbit from Donald Luskin
Who outed her, the White House or the CIA? Both. Both are understandably furious with Wilson -- the White House for the embarrassment he has caused and for what they see as his disingenuous and partisan statements in the media. But outing Ms. Plame was not to punish Wilson, but to refute him: Ms. Plame's involvement in Wilson's selection for the Niger assignment trivializes him, makes him seem less an expert and more of a hack on a nepotistic boondoggle. The administration officials who spoke to the press probably weren't even thinking about outing Ms. Plame, as such -- after all, Wilson had effectively already done that when he outed himself by going public with his CIA-sponsored work. And therein lies the reason why the CIA is furious at Wilson -- what he has done is an enormous breach or protocol and security.
I bolded the truly confusing bit. As best I can tell, Luskin's reasoning here is that Wilson was such a ludicrous choice for the job that a reasonable person, upon learning he had been sent to Niger, would immediately leap to the conclusion that his wife was a secret CIA operative.

Did I miss something here?
:: Morat 3:32 PM :: ::

A fitting response to Barnett's thoughts on the Left

I'm glad to see someone took the time to compile a better critique to Barnett's post than the one I managed yesterday. Ted Barlow writes
In my experience, people who hate liberals should avoid writing essays about 'what liberals think'; likewise with conservatives. They always say more about the person writing them than the intended target. At their best, they are spectacularly unconvincing. (I can't imagine that Mr. Barnett would be enlightened by a list of 'conservative beliefs' prepared by, say, Hesiod.) At their worst (see above), they're Coulterish exercises in self-deception.

If you want to argue with cartoons, stay home and yell at SpongeBob.
I honestly didn't have the energy to try anything substantive when I read Barnett's piece. Nor could I have said it half as well.

I will say that Randy's piece did have an important, and positive, impact on me. It made me resolve to be more careful in the stereotypes I use, lest I sound like such an idiot myself.
:: Morat 2:40 PM :: ::

Go Jon Stewart!

According to the Angry Bear Ambassador Wilson is Jon's guest on The Daily Show tonight.

All I can say is that once Jon Stewart discusses the Plame affair, not even the liberal New York Times will be able to ignore the story.
:: Morat 1:42 PM :: ::

Another Plame explanation

I agree with Kleiman, that this Plame thing was always odd.
Maybe -- I say, 'maybe' -- whoever told Novak knew that Plame was with the CIA, but thought she was an overt analyst rather than a spook. That would have been an act of astonishing carelessness and incompetence, but not one of reckless cruelty and deliberate lawbreaking.

Here's how I imagine it might have worked: at some point, maybe back when Wilson was being recruited for the trip, someone at the CIA mentioned to someone in the White House that Plame had been asked to talk to her husband about going. Then, two weeks ago, when the order went out from the center to slime Wilson, someone remembered that detail and thought that the suggestion that Wilson had only gotten the assignment through his wife's influence might reduce his credibility a little. Without checking back with the CIA -- with which the White House is not, at the moment, on very good terms -- whoever it was then peddled the tale to Novak, and had someone else (these are two senior officials we're talking about) confirm it when Novak called to check.

That would still be a pretty ugly story. First, it appears that it wasn't true: Plame didn't lobby to have her husband, the father of her two young children, sent to an unappetizing part of Africa on an unpaid secret mission. Second, if it had been true, it wouldn't have been significant, except for the subliminal suggestion that Wilson, being dependent on his wife for getting work, wasn't a real man. (Go back and read the Novak column and see if you can catch any other point to it.) Third, though under this theory there was no intent to destroy Plame's career, threaten the lives of her sources, and weaken our ability to collect intelligence on WMD acquisition, there would still have to be incompetence calling for resigning and having the resignation accepted
It does make some sense. For one, as Kleiman says, it was such an obvious smear, with such obvious negative consequences.

Checking back, Novak only identified her as a "CIA operative" in his column, with no mention of covert or overt status. However, "operative" tends to mean "covert", and I can't imagine Novak not bothering to check her employment status. At the very least, if Novak thought she was an overt operative, some sort of analyst perhaps, he'd have come forward and said so. The fact that he has done nothing to dispel the belief that he meant "covert operative" is pretty telling...

I'm not sure, however, that it makes a bit of difference. Regardless of intent, a felony was still committed and the law was still broken.

Maybe this scenario is right. I'd certainly prefer to believe in incompetence than malice, but I also have to bear in mind that these people were the ones who attempted to smear a reporter as "Canadian and gay". The last few weeks have shown that, when desperate, the White House will do some remarkably stupid things in an attempt to get back at anyone even vaguely responsible. They tried to slime a reporter in the most ridiculous way, they tried to claim Durbin was burning intel assets....A month ago, I'd have jumped at this scenario, despite my dislike of the Bush Administration. I've always know they're incompetent.

But their malice and willingness to stoop to any level to try to get revenge has been on display lately too. And I can't help but see the Plame smear as a combination of both.

Regardless of intent, I'm not willing to let the Administration off the hook. When dealing with the CIA, with CIA operatives, you don't get to make mistakes like this.

Time will tell, I think. Time and Tenet, at the very least.
:: Morat 10:55 AM :: ::

Mea Culpa!

I had emailed Barnett's post on "The Left" (I blogged on it here) to Eschaton. However, at the time, I was under the very wrong impression Volokh had written it. Sadly, it appears he posted it before I worked out my mistake and emailed him a correction. Luckily, his readers noticed pretty quickly...

Sorry, Atrios....I'll be a bit more careful next time.
:: Morat 9:40 AM :: ::

More on Plame

Mark A. R. Kleiman is an excellent source for this whole story.
Reading the transcript of Scott McClellan's second press briefing in two days in which he was asked about the Plame story and couldn't give a credible answer convinces me that the WH knows it's in deep doo-doo and has no clue about how to get out. McClellan isn't even pretending that the Administration is upset that someone burned one of our spies. If it wasn't the senior officials Novak says it was, then why isn't the WH interested in finding out who it was?
...
And Tenet's silence is truly eerie. Someone burned one of his people. Why isn't he breathing fire, demanding the help of the Justice Department in getting to the bottom of it?
...
David Corn's new column makes more or less the same point: the apparent indifference of this administration, usually so reliable a source of theatrical outrage, is utterly damning.
Offhand, Tenet's silence is pretty interesting. Judging by his behavior since the White House decided to make the CIA play scapegoat, I'm half expecting him to hold a press conference and take full responsibility, declaring that protecting Plame's identity was his responsibility, and he never should have allowed Dick Cheney and Condi Rice to be told of her status.

Would fit, wouldn't it?

I'd imagine Tenet got over being angry when Novak's column first came out. He burned Rice (through Hadley) within the week, and according to Talking Points Memo (Permalink is down. Scroll to July 23rd, 7:25 PM "Interesting Insider Info"), there's more brewing.

If Tenet goes to the Justice Department now, Ashcroft might circular file the investigation...or let it die a quiet death once the scandal dies down a bit. However, if Tenet waits until the scandal is at full pitch (a scandal he's busily throwing fuel on), he has a good chance of using public opinion and the Senate hearings (another victory for him) to force a special prosecutor, taking it out of Ashcroft's hands.
:: Morat 9:26 AM :: ::

Electronic Voting fears...officially confirmed.

The Information Security Institute at John Hopkins just released the first independent study of computer voting systems. Bottom line: It's as bad as we feared. They analyzed real code, used on real machines in real elections. Analysis of an Electronic Voting System
Using publicly available source code, we performed an analysis of a voting machine. This code was apparently developed by a company that sells to states and other municipalities that use them in real elections. We found significant security flaws: voters can trivially cast multiple ballots with no built-in traceability,administrative functions can be performed by regular voters, and the threats posed by insiders such as poll workers, software developers, and even janitors, is even greater. Based on our analysis of the development environment, including change logs and comments, we believe that an appropriate level of programming discipline for a project such as this was not maintained. In fact, there appears to have been little quality control in the process.
Spread this one far and wide, people. Especially to your elected representatives. Even the dullest should see the problems, and even the most corrupt will note that this can be used against them.

This is actual Diebold code, used on actual Diebold machines. The entire state of Georgia voted on these things, and in 2004 they'll be joined by other states. (Link via Best of the Blogs) I've talked about this before. This is serious. Any insider can swing the election any way he wants, without risk of being caught.

At the very least, even if no one actually tampers with the election, it raises serious validity issues. How can I trust Georgia's 9 point swing from Democrat to Republican? Maybe it was part of a GOP surge, or maybe it was tampering. How do I know? How can I trust that election?

"Threat to Democracy" isn't hyperbole here. It's the honest to God truth.
:: Morat 8:46 AM :: ::

:: Wednesday, July 23, 2003 ::

Secret Agents and the CIA

You know, I'm really wishing I had more knowledge about how the CIA works. Tom Clancy books aren't really going to cut it here.

This whole Plame mess is still bothering me. What little I know about the CIA says that, routinely, they do not include any "means and methods" information in their reports. They scrub anything that could be used to ID the agent and, if possible, the method in which the information was learned. Wire tap, intercept, bug, whatever.

This seems like a pretty common-sense precaution. Reports occasionally get lost, stolen, or end up in the wrong hands. More importantly, people often have a need for information that isn't as highly classified as the means that produced it. It's enough for them to know that the CIA has confirmed that, say, the Iranians are moving tank divisions around, without knowing whether or not we have an Iranian agent watching from a rooftop or we used spy satellites.

So why on earth would any White House officials, senior or not, know Valerie Plame was an operative? I'm sure, if they wanted to find out, that a good number of them have high enough security clearances. But that's the sort of question you'd have to know to ask.

So why would they know? I speculated that, given the importance of intelligence on Iraq and WMDs, that perhaps a White House official was briefed on the "means and methods" as a way of familiarizing themselves with how the information was gathered and how trustworthy it was. Maybe, maybe not.

I don't think there were many people in the White House who would have any clue Plame was an agent. I'm shocked there was even one (I'm guessing one told the other, and not that two officials had found out separately). Perhaps someone at the CIA leaked it to the White House. The CIA has office politics too, I'm sure, and we all know they were being leaned on. Who knows?

Perhaps it was even something as simple, originally, as rumor mill conversation among those "in the know" on whether Wilson's wife had any role in selecting Wilson. People get overheard....even in the CIA.

I would guess that, in light of the quiet war between the CIA and the White House, that if anyone at the White House "officially" knew Plame's status, that the CIA will leak that name to the press. If no one "officially knew" then I'd guess that, right know, the CIA is trying to find out who told.

What I don't believe is that Novak lied or exaggerated his sources. Why would he? It's a particularly damaging claim, and Novak undoubtedly realized the potential backlash. He's not exactly a liberal partisan. He's had plenty of time to "revise" his statement if it turns out that he got the information elsewhere. I really doubt that Novak would stick to a lie or deceptive statement if it meant badly damaging, to the point of a felony investigation, someone's reputation. There are only a dozen or so people Novak's source could be, after all...

Nonetheless, if Novak is telling the truth (and I've no reason to doubt him), two senior Administration officials told him the identity of a CIA operative. One they knew was a covert operative. Regardless of how they found out, they chose to burn a US intelligence asset deliberately and in violation of the law.
:: Morat 7:51 PM :: ::

It's nice to have confirmation...

From Talking Points Memo:
9. Until or unless the President steps in to provide leadership, the long-awaited showdown between the 'neoconservatives' and the 'pragmatists' will soon reach crisis proportions..this, due to CIA director George Tenet's extraordinary decision to name the President's staffers responsible for misleading, or false, pre-Iraq war intel, Administration sources confirm today.
-- and the war has just begun, intelligence community sources warn. The Iraq/Niger debacle is but one of 'a whole series of stories which are ready to break', a source told us today, adding, 'I've never seen such hostility and disdain as now being expressed between the White House and the CIA. Never...'
Josh is quoting a bit of the Nelson Report there, but it's nice to see that I was right about the CIA not lying down on this one.

As I thought, it looks like a war is brewing between the CIA and the White House. I would imagine that outing Wilson's wife didn't do anything to defuse the situation, and it wouldn't surprise me if the CIA leaks which "Senior Administration Officials" knew of Plame's status. (Although from a means and methods standpoint, I'm still not sure why any would know).

I don't think Bush is going to come out of this whole. At the moment, it looks like the man would have to jettison half his senior staff. And who would he replace them with, and how would he calm worries that he was appointing someone worse?

If he has to get rid of so many of his advisors for "misleading him", so to speak, then that speaks volumes about his character judgment...and his ability to be led by the nose. No matter what happens, Bush comes out looking weak.
:: Morat 6:14 PM :: ::

Fun Physics!

You know, posts like this one at Uncertain Principles really make me want to win the lottery, quit my job, and tackle that physics degree I always wanted.
:: Morat 1:01 PM :: ::

A simple answer for a dumb question

Barnett's latest on Glenn Reynolds blog
This socially constructed reality changes all the time to fit current ideological needs. One day, Bush is a moron; the next he is Machiavelli reborn; the next he is a moron again. Flip-flops don't seem to faze them in the slightest. They just "move on".
...
Has it always been this blatant or extreme? I do not think so but, if not, what has changed? The perception on the Left that they have lost their grip on power? The access of so many to open microphones? Anger over Ronald Reagan's victory and popularity? Republicans' taking control of the House and their impeaching Clinton? George W. Bush winning the legal challenge to the decisions of local election officials brought by Al Gore?
I wonder if a simpler answer has occurred to him.

Perhaps, just perhaps, Randy is making something of a classic mistake. Perhaps, just perhaps, he's trying to hammer a large and diverse class into a tiny, predefined hole. And getting very upset when nothing seems to fit right.

Indeed, if I was of the opinion that the "Right" was all the same, I'd have much the same question. I'd wonder how they could be all for individual freedoms one minute, then nastily trying to restrict them the next. Of course, as best I understand, it's different elements of the Right in each case.

Ultra-conservative Christians and ultra-conservative libertarians are very different people, with very different agendas. Yet they can both be called "the Right".

I think the simply answer is that Randy is just being sloppy, and trying to stereotype a very diverse group of people. If so, the problem isn't with the left and their views of reality. It's in Randy's head, and his insistence that every member of the "Left" somehow marches in ideological lockstep.

I know members of the left who think Bush is Machiavelli reborn. I know others that think he's a moron. And I know others still who aren't sure if it's him, Rove, or some weird mix of Bush and his staffers that manage to mimic Machiavelli. I guess, to Eugene, that's just more "flip-flopping" from the Left.

But hey, I'm sure it's just as likely that half the population lives in a delusional fantasy-land in order to ignore the points Barnett raises, as it is that Barnett himself is merely guilty of sloppy stereotyping.

UPDATE: I got the name wrong. It was Randy Barnett, not Volokh who posted it. Which certainly makes life make sense again, as it seemed utterly offbase from what I'm used to from Volokh. I had known that at least two people contributed to the Volokh conspiracy, so no excuses for the mistake! I've corrected the names and thanks go to Gabriel for pointing it out. My apologies to Volokh, as I should have stopped and thought a bit more about how out of character this sounds and checked a bit more carefully.
:: Morat 12:26 PM :: ::

More on Plame-gate

Mark A. R. Kleiman
It's official: the Bush Administration deliberately blew the cover of a secret agent who had been gathering information on weapons of mass destruction, endangering the lives of her sources and damaging our ability to collect crucial intelligence. (And, not incidentally, committing a very serious crime.) The apparent motive: revenge on Joseph Wilson, her husband, for going public with the story of his mission to Niger, which blew a hole in the Yellowcake Road story.
Mark's been following this pretty heavily. If you want a good synopsis, he's helpfully posted the start of that thread of posts.

This is serious stuff. In some ways, far worse than something like Watergate. Nixon abused his power to try to cover up an ordinary crime, a purely political crime. Partisan politics, partisan crimes we can understand.

But all Wilson did was go to Africa at the request of his country, and tell the truth about what he learned. All Valerie did was serve her country through the CIA. That's the truly disturbing part. Their service is what made Wilson a target, and Valerie a weapon.

I don't know who authorized it. I don't care. I want their heads. Regardless of party, regardless of anything....they need to be found and prosecuted. There are some things you don't do. Ever And this is one of them.

UPDATE: I've been trying to work out who might have told Novak. If I had to guess, I'd say it's likely that Rice was one of them. I think it far more likely that someone already knew Plame's CIA status prior to Wilson's Times Op-Ed, as I just can't see a White House official thinking "Hey? What if Wilson's wife is like a CIA operative? We could so smear him! Let's ask the CIA!". As NSA, Rice is most likely to have, for one reason or another, known of Plame's status.

Then again, it's possible it was gossip of the day at the White house way back in January. Still, I agree with Mark. Given that it's classified information, it shouldn't be too difficult to determine who knew.
:: Morat 9:20 AM :: ::

More on Valerie Plame..

Senator fights leak allegation - The Hill.com -
"At Durbin's request, the Intelligence Committee will investigate whether administration officials compromised the identity of Wilson's wife.
Durbin said he understands that the chairman and ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), respectively, intend to call White House staffers before the committee "to ask what led up to this situation and why we're in the position that we're in today.'
It's a start. Given that someone committed a serious felony, I'm sure the committee will be busy. (Link via Eschaton)

I was discussing this with a friend, and he had what amounts to a very good question: How did anyone in the White House know Plame was an operative? The CIA, as I understand it, routinely scrubs the means and methods it uses to acquire intel from it's reports. Makes it harder for a politician, for instance, to accidentally let something slip.

I would imagine that, had Plame contributed anything that crossed desks in the White House, as most she would be identified as a generic "operative working in the energy business" or similar designation. Something that would indicate, vaguely, where the information was acquired.

So, given that the CIA does take pains to hide means and methods, why would anyone in the White House know this tidbit about Wilson's wife? I'd imagine that her identify wouldn't be highly classified, but you'd have to know enough to ask. I sincerely doubt the CIA is in the business of volunteering agent information.

So how did someone at the White House learn? Who asked? Who told?

UPDATE: Tom Spencer is wanting to know when the rest of the media is planning to pick this up. It's a good question. A felony was committed. Someone told Novak the name of a covert CIA operative. Someone broke the law in a particularly egregious fashion. As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no defense. No explanation. No wiggle-room. And perhaps that's the problem.

Perhaps the media is somewhat afraid of where the finger might point. After all, the Bush White House is famous for it's bullying tactics over even small things. How bad will they get when they're trying to protect Rice or Cheney or whomever from a felony charge? There's no way to play "He said, she said" on this one. The law was clearly broken. No semantic games, not even room to lie. This is going to be real hardball.
:: Morat 8:53 AM :: ::

:: Tuesday, July 22, 2003 ::

House Leaders Delay AmeriCorps Action

House Leaders Delay AmeriCorps Action
Facing a majority of House members in favor of emergency spending for AmeriCorps, House Republican leaders who oppose the increase for the program decided today to put off a floor confrontation.
So, what do you think? Compassionate conservatism? Or GOP Democracy in Action?
:: Morat 9:46 AM :: ::

A nice look at the budget

Dwight Meredith has an excellent look at the 2004 budget and where the money really goes. It's a good read, and I recommend it. Especially for those who honestly believe that we can ditch the deficit by getting rid of "wasteful" spending.

:: Morat 9:43 AM :: ::

Columnist Blows CIA Agent's Cover

Columnist Blows CIA Agent's Cover
Intelligence officials confirmed to Newsday yesterday that Valerie Plame, wife of retired Ambassador Joseph Wilson, works at the agency on weapons of mass destruction issues in an undercover capacity - at least she was undercover until last week when she was named by columnist Robert Novak
And now Newsday says it's been confirmed. (Link via Thinking it Through)

It appears to be pretty established at this point that Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA operative, whose specific work appeared to be closely related to Bush's favorite topic: Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Which means that someone broke a very important law, and committed an act quite close to treason, when they told Mr. Novak. Now, Mr. Novak claims those people were "Senior Administration Officials", which means Cabinet level or close to it.

So, if Novak is telling the truth about his sources, it appears we have a felon in the White House. And not just any old Watergate-type felon. Nope. This felon decided to blow an intelligence asset, in the most delicate and important of areas, just to score political points....against a man whose only crime was telling the truth about a trip to Africa..

There isn't a defense to this. Some free advice to Bush: Find whoever did it, whoever authorized it, and cut them loose and have them prosecuted. It's your only way out.


:: Morat 9:20 AM :: ::

White House striking back?

White House striking back?
"NOW IN AN NBC News exclusive, Wilson says his family is the subject of a smear campaign. Wilson tells NBC News the White House deliberately leaked his wife’s identity as a covert CIA operative, damaging her future career and compromising past missions after he criticized the administration on “Meet the Press” and in the New York Times.
Calpundit pointed this one out. It looks like Wilson has confirmed that his wife was a covert agent, and not some open operative.

Which gets rid of the last real explanation that doesn't involve someone in the White House breaking the law.
:: Morat 9:03 AM :: ::

Who's Unpatriotic Now?

Krugman's latest column covered, among other things, the Valerie Plame mess.
Who's Unpatriotic Now?
And while we're on the subject of patriotism, let's talk about the affair of Joseph Wilson's wife. Mr. Wilson is the former ambassador who was sent to Niger by the C.I.A. to investigate reports of attempted Iraqi uranium purchases and who recently went public with his findings. Since then administration allies have sought to discredit him — it's unpleasant stuff. But here's the kicker: both the columnist Robert Novak and Time magazine say that administration officials told them that they believed that Mr. Wilson had been chosen through the influence of his wife, whom they identified as a C.I.A. operative.
Think about that: if their characterization of Mr. Wilson's wife is true (he refuses to confirm or deny it), Bush administration officials have exposed the identity of a covert operative. That happens to be a criminal act; it's also definitely unpatriotic.
Well, let's see...Krugman picked it up. It was on NBC yesterday, and I believe it Hardball had an ex-CIA operative on last night as well, ripping into the administration over it.

I'd say Mark doesn't have much longer to wait to find out what's up here. It appears the national press have finally started looking at this story, so perhaps the facts can be fully verified. Not that I blame him for taking a "wait and see" attitude. Skepticism, as we all know, is a virtue.

But then again...all things in moderation.

:: Morat 8:57 AM :: ::

:: Monday, July 21, 2003 ::

Officials Debate Whether to Seek a Bigger Military

Officials Debate Whether to Seek a Bigger Military
Mr. Rumsfeld has been telling Congress in recent days that before the Pentagon takes the major step of asking for money to enlarge the military, he hopes to cut back on less urgent foreign assignments, to move people in uniform out of administrative tasks and back into combat units and to change the balance of assignments between active-duty forces and those in the National Guard and Reserves.
"Change the balance of assignments" is, I believe, shorthand for "Using the Guard and Reserve units a lot more" which is also shorthand for "Making sure that no one joins the Guard and Reserves, and as many people quit as possible".

Here's a free bit of advice to Rumsfeld: People who want to spend a year or more on active duty join the Army, not the Guards or the Reserves.

Which means that all those Reservists and Guards who have been stuck on duty for the least year or more are going to quit. Which means that planning to "use the Guards and Reserves more heavily" is just going to make the problem worse.
:: Morat 10:18 AM :: ::

More on Valerie Plame

Valerie Plame redux
"Valerie Plame is #4 on Howard Dean's list of questions for the President. I don't know how much, if any, fact-checking Dean's staff did before posting the question. But if the charge that the White House blew an agent's cover as an act of political revenge on her husband is false (as the Tom Maguire, the MinuteMan, suspects [*]) Dean is now a sitting duck for the White House or any journalist with the energy to get to the facts.
How hard is this to find out? Is the entire press corp so lazy that no one has bothered to check to see if Plame has a non-CIA day job? Or is it simple so well-known that no one bothers publishing it?

As for Dean, I don't agree. Dean's list phrased it so that there's plenty of wiggle room. I can't see it hurting him. Now, had he said "Why haven't you found out who told Novak and had them arrested?", then yes...he'd be in for it if Corn's charge doesn't play out.

Personally, I'm having to agree with Mark that, most likely, Valerie Plame is, or was, doing CIA work on the side. For pretty much the same reasons.
:: Morat 9:56 AM :: ::

Do we need a bigger military?

From Tacitus:
"File under 'barn door closed, horses gone': do we need a bigger military? After all, we've got, er, three whole brigades untasked. Legislators need to stop waiting for the DoD self-analysis wheels to turn and simply mandate a force increase, particularly for the Army. If Iranian and North Korean reactors are coming online, there will be work to do shortly"
To do that, without ditching Iraq, would involve doubling (more likely tripling or more) the size of the Army.

Where, exactly, do you plan to get half a million new soldiers and how, exactly do you plan to get them enlisted, equipped, and trained in the next, say, five years?

The draft? Good luck with that.

UPDATE: I noticed Tacitus responded on Calpundit's comments, and he's estimating about 350,000 for Iran and maybe 100,000 or so for Korea (assuming S. Korea helps). So, half a million ain't a bad estimate.

Moreover, I think Tacitus is probably more conservative about committing troops than our current head of state. I'd imagine that if Rumsfeld had another half a million troops, we'd be in Syria, Iran and North Korea right now....and people would be discussing the need for a larger Army.

:: Morat 9:33 AM :: ::

Dennis Hastert: Idiot Extraordinaire

CNN.com - Bush's 16 words still hotly debated - Jul. 20, 2003
"But House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, said on 'Meet the Press' that President Clinton launched a four-day bombing campaign against Iraq in December 1998 based on the same evidence.
'He didn't give a speech about it, he just did it,' Hastert said"
Dennis, you idiot, if you can't tell the difference between a four day bombing campaign and an invasion, complete with overthrowing a government and a nice multi-year occupation, what the hell are you doing in office?

I know you're not that stupid. I'm just pointing out that, frankly, you Republicans suck at justifying things. My six year old wouldn't have tried that line. How you get elected is beyond me....

The rest of the article is worth a read. For the most part, idiots aside, the GOP is starting to admit that "throwing Tenet from the train" isn't going to solve the problem.
:: Morat 9:12 AM :: ::

Oh, lovely irony

Wolfowitz Warns Iraq's Neighbors Not to Interfere
'I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq,' said Wolfowitz, who is touring the country to meet U.S. troops and Iraqi officials.
I wonder if I can sue the government for a ruined keyboard?

UPDATE: Just noticed Eschaton has this one too.
:: Morat 9:07 AM :: ::

Just when you thought it was safe...

More Terrorism Stupidity
Jerry Wilson, the district attorney for Watauga County, has charged Martin Dwayne Miller, 24, of Todd with two counts of manufacturing a nuclear or chemical weapon in connection with a methamphetamine arrest Friday...
'Not only is the drug methamphetamine in itself a threat to both society and those using it, but the toxic compounds and deadly gases created as side products are also real threats. I feel that, as a prosecutor, I have to address this. Something has to be done to protect society.'
I got this via Eschaton. I don't have much to add, this being stupid enough all on it's own. However, just bear something in mind.

Whenever you hear Ashcroft, or your own AG, talk about how many terrorism plots they've foiled....remember, they're counting stuff like this.
:: Morat 9:03 AM :: ::

CEO President

Bush ran on, among other things, the promise of being the first CEO President. Bringing in a bit of that business drive and desire for results that typifies the business world, and applying it to government.

Well, it made a lot more sense before Enron. But that's neither here nor there.

The point being, after watching the latest scandal blossom for our CEO President, I've come to understand why all his business ventures went bankrupt.

He's a really bad CEO.

Take the current State of the Union mess. Most CEOs, for instance, would be very eager to know who screwed up. They would want to know exactly where things broke down, and fix it. Assuming, of course, the breakdown wasn't at the top.

A good CEO, for instance, would have canned Condi Rice the minute it was announced that she hadn't read "all the footnotes" in the NIE. A good CEO would have said "Condi, that's your job. Your failure to do it made me look bad, and cost this company credibility. I want a letter of resignation by the end of the day".

A good CEO, for instance, would have been very upset to know he was parroting false claims and looking like a fool in public. He'd be very interested in making changes to ensure it never happens again.

All in all, it's no surprise that every business (save the Rangers. But I don't count a government bailout) he was involved in went bust. He doesn't seem to care that things broke down, doesn't seem to want to fix them....he doesn't seem to care at all.

He seems to be the type that wants the title, but not necessarily the job. A man who wants to be called President, but doesn't really have any wish to be President.
:: Morat 8:52 AM :: ::

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