[FoRK] The White House's Week From Hell

Contempt for Meatheads jbone at place.org
Fri May 21 08:08:49 PDT 2004

 From the war room, but not from Geraldine...  chock full o' linky  
goodness at the bottom, but too lazy to tie 'em back.


White House's Week From Hell

A few more rocky news weeks like this and president Bush will be pining  
for the good old days of say, February when his most pressing political  
concern was trying to explain why he skipped a year's worth of National  
Guard duty during the Vietnam War. Before we get to Friday's  
must-reads, a quick look back at the White House's week from hell.

First and foremost was the continued meltdown in Iraq, which included  
the assassination of Ezzedine Salim, head of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi  
Governing Council, warnings from U.S. generals that Iraq might actually  
turn more deadly following the June 30th transfer of power, and news  
that the popularity of Iraqi outlawed cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has  
surged. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz finally admitted,  
sort of, that the Pentagon's neocons were clueless about war planning,  
while the Baghdad office of their former INC point man, Ahmad Chalabi,  
was trashed during a Thursday morning raid, lead by Iraqi police and  
U.S. forces. And this Marine, Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey, just back from  
Iraq recounted how soldiers routinely 'lit up' unarmed Iraqi civilians.  
That, while the administration's unique policy of complete  
disengagement from the Middle East peace process lead to especially  
gruesome results.

On the Abu Ghraib prison abuse front, the scandal this week broke more  
ways than a Tim Wakefield knuckleball. Rather than fix the problem  
early on, the Army tried to curb the Red Cross' access to prison, the  
first of many court martial proceedings began, Reuters and NBC  
journalists claimed they were abused by GI's in mind-numbing ways,  
while Private Lynndie England recounted how prisoners were made to  
crawl through broken glass and wear Maxi Pads. And oh yeah, Sgt. Samuel  
Provance, who did intel work at Abu Ghraib, told ABC News that dozens  
of soldiers were involved in the widespread prison abuse and that,  
"There's definitely a cover-up."

More woes? Only the fact that if gasoline prices keep climbing at the  
pump, British motorists, once jealous of cheap U.S. petrol, are going  
to start feeling sorry for us.

The Washington Post reports Sen. John Kerry's fundraising efforts in  
April raced past that of Bush's, with the Democrat pulling in nearly  
twice as much as the incumbent. At the same time, Bush is spending at a  
rate like no other candidate in history, already burning through $130  

CNNdetails House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelos's blistering critique of  
Bush on Thursday. Highlights: "The emperor has no clothes. When are  
people going to face the reality? Pull this curtain back. The situation  
in Iraq and the reckless economic policies in the United States speak  
to one issue for me, and that is the competence of our leader. These  
policies are not working. But speaking specifically to Iraq, we have a  
situation where -- without adequate evidence -- we put our young people  
in harm's way. Instead of Iraq being a country that would readily pay  
for its own reconstruction, we're up to over $200 billion in cost to  
the American people." House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, is  
demanding an apology.

Unable to stop a anti-tax cut revolt within its own party, the New York  
Times reports the GOP shelved a planned budget vote until next month.  
Centrist Republicans in the Senate---including John McCain of Arizona,  
Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine, and Lincoln Chafee  
of Rhode Island--want to attach a pay-as-you-go rule to the budget  
resolution favored by Democrats but opposed by the House and the White  
House. The rule is designed to offset the cost of the permanent tax  

As for Abu Ghraib, the meltdown continues unabated. The Washington Post  
unveils the latest batch of abuse photos. The paper also details new  
GI-induced mayhem: "Previously secret sworn statements by detainees at  
the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq describe in raw detail abuse that goes  
well beyond what has been made public, adding allegations of prisoners  
being ridden like animals, sexually fondled by female soldiers and  
forced to retrieve their food from toilets.

"Another detainee told military investigators that American soldiers  
sodomized and beat him. The detainee, whose name is being withheld by  
The Post because he is an alleged victim of a sexual assault, said he  
was kept naked for five days when he first arrived at Abu Ghraib and  
was forced to kneel for four hours with a hood over his head. He said  
he was beaten so badly one day that the hood flew off his head. "The  
police was telling me to crawl in Arabic, so I crawled on my stomach  
and the police were spitting on me when I was crawling, and hitting me  
on my back, my head and my feet," he said in his sworn statement."

Meanwhile, NBC reports the abuse may not have been confined to Abu  
Ghraib, and that "U.S. military and intelligence officials familiar  
with the situation tell NBC News the Army's elite Delta Force is now  
the subject of a Pentagon inspector general investigation into abuse  
against detainees. The target is a top-secret site near Baghdad's  
airport. According to two top U.S. government sources, it is the scene  
of the most egregious violations of the Geneva Conventions in all of  
Iraq's prisons."

-- Eric Boehlert

[05:55 PDT, May 21, 2004]


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