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Iraq: Mission Accomplished?

The naive bluster of Bush's now-infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech have been undermined by the harsh reality of the facts on the ground.

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GOOD NEWS

In a 94-34 vote, the New York State Assembly yesterday passed the first state resolution “urging President Bush not to veto a bill passed by Congress that calls for a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.”


STATE WATCH

WISCONSIN: State rolls out the Wisconsin Covenant, a pledge to guarantee a spot in college to high-performing students.

VERMONT: Several hundred citizens recently lobbied at the state capitol to support an impeachment resolution for President Bush.

CALIFORNIA: Los Angeles is the smoggiest city in the country. Again.

ENVIRONMENT: The global warming debate “is over in many states that are moving aggressively to curb greenhouse gases.”


BLOG WATCH

THINK PROGRESS: Time is up on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s “two to three month” window for escalation.

AMERICA BLOG: “Religious right uses victims of Virginia Tech massacre to slam gays, use Jesus Christ as a political prop.”

ORCINUS: Abortion clinic bombing related to Bush administration’s displaced focus on “eco-terror” instead of extremist right-wing terrorism.

AGONIST: Human Rights Watch cites Wal-Mart for denying workers basic labor rights.


DAILY GRILL

“The whole idea of weapons of mass destruction was never the issue, yet they keep trying to bring this up.”
— Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), 4/27/07, criticizing Congress and the media for “mischaracterizing” the reasons for U.S. involvement in Iraq

VERSUS

“Our intelligence system has said that we know that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction — I believe including nuclear.”
— Inhofe, 8/18/02


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 May 1, 2007

Mission Accomplished?

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Mission Accomplished?

On May 1, 2003, in a carefully orchestrated photo-op, President Bush landed aboard the U.S.S. Lincoln dressed in full fighter gear, announced to the nation and the world that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” Standing under a banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished,” Bush declared with gusto, “In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” Unfortunately, the naive bluster and confidence of Bush’s now-infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech have been undermined by the harsh reality of the facts on the ground. Four years later, with 146,000 American soldiers stuck in the middle of Iraq’s anarchic civil war, the battle of Iraq rages on with deadly consequences. Last month, 104 U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq, marking “the deadliest month so far this year” and the sixth deadliest month of the entire war. The anniversary of this fateful photo-op comes as Bush continues to threaten to veto legislation passed by the Congress and supported by the majority of the American people that would set a timetable for withdrawal and begin to bring an end to the war in Iraq. The best available alternative to Bush’s course remains Strategic Redeployment.

FOUR YEARS LATER: In the four years since Bush declared “Mission Accomplished,” the war in Iraq has cost America and its allies dearly in both lives lost and resources spent. When Bush made his speech, 139 members of the military had lost their lives. As of April 26, there have been 3,337 military fatalities in Iraq. Five hundred twenty-four Americans had been wounded in Iraq by this date in 2003, while today, 26,188 Americans have been injured in the war zone, many of whom have in turn received sub-par treatment in over-taxed military hospitals. In 2003, there was an average of eight insurgent attacks a day. Today, American soldiers face a daily toll of 148.9 attacks. At the time of the speech, America had spent $53 billion on the war. Currently, $448 billion has been spent, with another $124 billion set to be spent in the war funding supplemental passed by Congress. The public’s attitude toward Iraq has shifted dramatically over the past four years as well. In 2003, 75 percent of the public approved of Bush’s handling of the war while today only 24 percent of Americans support his leadership on the issue. In 2003, 70 percent of Americans believed the Iraq war was “worth fighting.” Now a minority of Americans — only 34 percent — believe that war has been worthwhile.

THE WAR HITS HOME: Appearing on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos this past Sunday, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) noted that the Bush administration has shown “disregard and disrespect for the will of the American people” with their stay-the-course mentality in Iraq. Americans are speaking up to tell the administration that they are tired of being “disregarded.” In New York, the state legislature passed a resolution yesterday “urging President Bush not to veto a bill passed by Congress that calls for a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.” Nineteen other states have introduced similar resolutions. Upset with the war policies coming out of the White House, students and faculty at two universities are actively protesting upcoming commencement addresses by Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. At Brigham Young University in Utah, the announcement of Cheney as the graduation speaker “set off a rare, continuing protest at the Mormon university, one of the nation’s most conservative.” St. Vincent’s College, a Benedictine school located in Western Pennsylvania, has been a hot spot of controversy ever since Bush’s speech was announced as “some alumni have threatened to stop donating to the school, opponents have begun weekly protests and C-Span recently broadcast a heated student debate.” When Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who has tied his name to Bush’s course in Iraq, visited his home state on Saturday, he was greeted with “the biggest group of anti-war protesters he has seen.” 

MOVING FORWARD: The war supplemental passed by Congress last week is set to be delivered to Bush today for his expected veto. Appearing on NBC’s Today show Tuesday, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), a prominent proponent of withdrawal, chastized the President for ignoring the will of the American people if he vetoes the supplemental because of the timetable for withdrawal. “The American people want [the military] out. The Iraqis want them out. The world wants us out of Iraq, and it’s going to happen,” Murtha said. “The president better plan for redeployment or he’s going to have the kind of chaos he’s predicting.” With the veto expected, the post-veto legislative fight is just beginning. Iraq critics in Congress are already considering a number of options for the next phase, including an interim spending bill that would fund the Pentagon for a few months and the passage of a bill with provisions that “contribute to putting pressure on Bush” over his war policies. Center for American Progress President and CEO John Podesta, along with senior fellows Lawrence Korb, Scott Lilly, and Brian Katulis have issued a memo that lays out four principles to remember and four scenarios for Congress to consider in the wake of Bush’s veto. The scenarios include providing a short infusion of funding of $40 billion, demanding that the President account for military readiness of units sent to Iraq, demanding the certification of progress towards benchmarks for Iraq’s political progress, and continuing pressure for redeployment dates by offering redeployment language in the markups of fiscal year 2008 Defense Authorization and Appropriations bills.

Under the Radar

ADMINISTRATION — PATTERN OF PARTISAN INVESTIGATIONS BY LOYAL BUSHIES: On April 9, the New York Times noted that one “question…lurks behind the firing of eight top federal prosecutors: what did the surviving attorneys do to escape the axe?” Today, the Times may have an answer: “Since the dismissals of eight United States attorneys, local lawyers, politicians, editorial writers, members of Congress and defendants are questioning what they say is a pattern of investigating Democrats. They point to inquiries that drag on for years but end with no charges, an acquittal or convictions for relatively modest infractions.” For example, while in “Eastern Michigan since 2001, at least 21 Democratic public officials have been charged or linked to corruption inquiries,” the U.S. Attorney’s office in Detroit has identified just “one Republican who had been charged.” Similar objections have been raised in Pennsylvania, where a former federal prosecutor and Democratic officials are questioning “if Mary Beth Buchanan, the United States attorney there, has tried to impress her bosses in Washington by investigating Democrats.” Her office spent “more than two years” investigating Mayor Tom Murphy of Pittsburgh. “After Mr. Murphy left office, Ms. Buchanan announced she would not indict him.” Gonzales, however, has consistently denied any politicization of the Justice Department, saying “this notion that somehow we’re playing politics with the cases we bring, it’s just not true.” Two University of Minnesota professors recently “compiled a database of investigations and/or indictments of candidates and elected officials by U.S. attorneys since the Bush administration came to power. Of the 375 cases they identified, 10 involved independents, 67 involved Republicans, and 298 involved Democrats.”

ETHICS — LEAHY BLASTS GONZALES OVER ‘HIGHLY TROUBLING’ NEW SECRET MEMO: Murray Waas revealed in the National Journal yesterday that Alberto Gonzales “signed a highly confidential order in March 2006 delegating to two of his top aides” — chief of staff Kyle Sampson and counsel Monica Goodling, both of whom have since resigned — “extraordinary authority over the hiring and firing of most non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department.” Waas says the memo “suggests that a broad effort was under way by the White House to place politically and ideologically loyal appointees throughout the Justice Department, not just at the U.S.-attorney level.” One Justice Department official told Waas, “It was an attempt to make the department more responsive to the political side of the White House and to do it in such a way that people would not know it was going on.” In a new statement, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said the secret order “would seem to be evidence of an effort to hardwire control over law enforcement by White House political operatives,” and demanded that it be turned over to congressional investigators immediately. The Justice Department recently announced that it would be “removing political appointees from the hiring process for rookie lawyers and summer interns, amid allegations that the Bush administration had rigged the programs in favor of candidates with connections to conservative or Republican groups.”

CONGRESS — LIEBERMAN: ‘BLOGGERS HAVE ADDED ANOTHER DIMENSION OF VITUPERATION TOXICITY’ TO POLITICS: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) led a panel discussion yesterday at the American Enterprise Institute discussing “options for restoring civility in American politics.” Lieberman and Boehner both decried the harsh incivility in politics today while portraying themselves as paragons of independence and cordiality. Lieberman described his own politics as “stand[ing] up for what I believe is right and…work[ing] across party lines to get things done.” As for the rest of politics, “The majority of people are sick of it. They think our political system is sick.” Lieberman blamed “attack ads, the kind of divisiveness of the cable news coverage of politics, talk radio,” and bloggers who “have added another dimension of vituperation toxicity to it.” Boehner agreed, saying he has worked to “find ways of disagreeing without being disagreeable.” He asked, “Where does all the partisanship come from?” and answered it by lamenting how blogs and other outlets have put “more information out in the public realm than there ever was, and some of it is to drive one point of versus other, dividing people more and more.” He called this the “breakdown of America” (See the video HERE). Iraq, more than any other issue, has contributed to the divisiveness in politics today. And on that issue, Lieberman and Boehner have acquiesced to a failing, unpopular Bush policy while harshly demeaning those who seek to change it. Just this month, Lieberman stated that critics of President Bush’s Iraq policy were engaging in “a kind of harassment.” Boehner said that people who oppose escalation are taking the “bait” of “al Qaeda and terrorist sympathizers” by using Iraq to “divide us here at home” and derided critics’ war policies as simply “failure at any cost.” 


Think Fast

The number of terrorist attacks worldwide rose by 20,000 (40 percent) last year, “mostly due to greater violence in Iraq. … Iraq alone accounts for nearly two-thirds of all terrorism-related deaths last year.”

“Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced a measure Monday to force the Pentagon to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and move the trials of Al Qaeda suspects to the United States.”

Paul D. Wolfowitz defended himself vigorously on Monday, declaring that it would be ‘unjust and frankly hypocritical’ for the World Bank’s board to find him guilty of ethical lapses. But he also hinted that he would discuss whether to resign as bank president if the board cleared him of misconduct.”

Scott Bloch “has demonstrated a willingness to go after [Karl] Rove, at least on the small stuff: The [Los Angeles Times] has learned that Bloch investigated complaints that Rove’s politically related travel had been improperly billed to the government. Bloch’s action resulted in a reimbursement to the Treasury Department for what some described as a bookkeeping error.” 

“The Senate homeland security committee plans to hold hearings this summer on the Bush administration’s handling of offers of foreign aid after Hurricane Katrina. … Of $854 million offered after the storm — in cash and oil that was to be sold for cash — only $44 million has gone to disaster victims or reconstruction so far.”

“The largest bloc of Sunni Arabs in the Iraqi Parliament threatened to withdraw its ministers from the Shiite-dominated cabinet on Monday in frustration over the government’s failure to deal with Sunni concerns. President Bush stepped in to forestall the move.”

A study ordered by the Pentagon “concludes that all four branches of the military must ‘fundamentally transform‘ their assumptions about energy, including taking immediate steps toward fielding weapons systems and aircraft that run on alternative and renewable fuels.”

And finally: According to an AP survey on what presidential candidates like to cook, “Republican presidential candidates are literally red-meat conservatives.” Mitt Romney makes good hot dogs and Sam Brownback replied that he likes “beef.” On the Democratic side, Bill Richardson said he makes a mean “diet milkshake” and Chris Dodd’s favorite meal is an “August New England dinner: Lobster, corn and tomatoes.”