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'Forward' - Bush's new favorite word?
Associated Press Writer

When he received his own copy of the Iraq Study Group report, President Bush praised the subtitle, "The way forward — a new approach." On Thursday, it was clear he had added the phrase to his lexicon. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair used "forward" or "way forward" about two dozen times during their news conference about the war and problems in the Middle East.

Some of the main points about the report and what Bush said about them:

Iran and Syria:

Report: The United States should speak directly to Iran and Syria under the sponsorship of a new group made up of Iraq's neighbors and other nations wanting to help strengthen the Iraqi government.

Bush: The U.S. has made it clear to the Iranians that if they want to engage America, they must verifiably suspend their uranium enrichment program. Syria must stop destabilizing the Western-backed government in Lebanon, allowing arms and money cross its border into Iraq and providing safe haven to terrorist groups.

"If people come to the table to discuss Iraq, they need to come understanding their responsibilities to not fund terrorists, to help this young democracy survive, to help with the economics of the country," Bush said. "And if people are not committed, if Syria and Iran is not committed to that concept, then they shouldn't bother to show up."

U.S. policy and diplomacy:

Report: The U.S. immediately should seek the creation of a group of countries that would work to strengthen Iraq's sovereignty. The group would include Iraq; Iran, Syria and other neighbors; regional states such as Egypt and the Gulf States; the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council; and the European Union.

Bush: "The idea of having an international group is an interesting idea."

U.S. troops:

Report: Increase the number of U.S. trainers bolstering Iraqi security forces to as many as 20.000 — up from 3,000 to 4,000 — with the goal of withdrawing the bulk of U.S. combat troops. By the first quarter of 2008 — "subject to unexpected developments in the security situation on the ground" — all combat brigades not necessary for force protection should be out of Iraq. At that time, U.S. combat forces in Iraq could be deployed only in units embedded with Iraqi forces or in missions, such as special operations or search and rescue.

Bush: "We want the Iraqis taking the fight, but it's very important ... as we design programs, to be flexible and realistic and — as the report said — ... depending upon conditions," Bush said. "I thought that made a lot of sense. I've always said we'd like our troops out as fast as possible."

"Our commanders will be making recommendations based upon whether or not we're achieving our stated objective," Bush said. "And the objective, I repeat, is a government which can sustain, govern, and defend itself."

Israelis and Palestinians:

Report: There must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the U.S. to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts, including Bush's commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.

Bush: "One of the reasons why there hasn't been instant success is because radicals and extremists are trying to stop the advance of a Palestinian state. Why? Because democracy is a defeat for them. That's what I strongly believe.

"And so, no question progress has been spotty. But it's important for people to understand one of the reasons why is, is because radicals are trying to prevent it, and they're willing to kill innocent people to prevent progress. Now, our goal is to help the (Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud) Abbas government strengthen its security forces, and we're doing that."



By: David Phillips
December 11, 2006

Hannity and O'Reilly love to ask this question, "Do you want us to Win in Iraq?"

The question is insulting and a cheap interview question... Why?

Being an American, I find it insulting because it questions my nationality, my integrity, and patriotism...If someone asked me this question I would tell them to Fu*k off, and I would not answer the question...

O'Reilly asked Letterman this question, and some people don't understand why he and many others don't answer...Well for the same reasons, Because it also questions their Nationality Integrity and Patrotism...

And as AMERICANS the answer to the question is obvious...It is merely asked so that if the person is reluctant or hesitant, he is made to look UnAmerican...And Hannity and O'Reilly can say, look he wants us to lose...

People like O'Reilly and Hannity always seem to ask this question of anyone who is against Bush and his Bull Shit War in Iraq...

It is one of the lowest of low interview questions, by partisan hacks...


Rumsfeld memo admits Iraq strategy failing
Story Highlights
•Message to President Bush says war strategy not working
•Several options, including troop withdrawals, outlined
•Memo dated two days before defense secretary's resignation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told President Bush before he resigned that the administration's strategy in Iraq was not working and he proposed changes, including possible troop reductions, The New York Times reported Saturday.
"In my view it is time for a major adjustment. Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough," Rumsfeld said in the classified memo, dated November 6. The Times posted a copy of the memo along with an article about it on its Web site.
The Pentagon confirmed the memo's authenticity but declined to comment further.
Rumsfeld, as a planner and defender of Bush's Iraq strategy since well before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, has been a leading public face of the war. His memo adds to the voices calling on Bush to make a significant shift in strategy as the White House, the Pentagon and a congressionally created study group consider changes.
Rumsfeld outlined several options in the memo for policy changes, including reductions in U.S. forces and bases in Iraq as well as a recasting of the U.S. mission and goals there, but he endorsed no specific recommendations.
He said, however, a multiparty conference modeled after the 1995 Dayton, Ohio, talks that led to a peace agreement ending the Bosnian war was a "less attractive" option, as was continuing on the current path.
The memo was dated a day before Democrats captured control of Congress in midterm elections amid voter dissatisfaction over the Iraq war, and two days before Rumsfeld's resignation was announced.
Rumsfeld's language was echoed in remarks Bush made on November 8 when he announced the resignation.
Bush said it was time for a change in Iraq and Iraq policy was "not working well enough, fast enough."
Rumsfeld remains in office pending Senate confirmation of former CIA Director Robert Gates, nominated by Bush to succeed him.
The study group, co-chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker, is expected to urge a gradual withdrawal of U.S. combat troops when it makes its report Wednesday.
There are about 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, and more than 2,800 have been killed since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
'Want to hear all advice'

Bush has indicated he will look closely at -- but not necessarily heed -- the study group's findings and insisted he was not looking for a "graceful exit."
"I want to hear all advice before I make any decisions about adjustments to our strategy in Iraq," Bush said in his radio address Saturday.
Bush pledged to seek bipartisan consensus on the way forward in Iraq, and offered conciliatory words but no concessions to critics of his Iraq policy.
Among the proposals outlined in the Rumsfeld memo were positioning substantial U.S. forces near the Iranian and Syrian borders to reduce infiltration and reduce Iranian influence on the Iraqi government.
Many in Washington hope the bipartisan Baker commission will give Bush a way to start extricating the U.S. forces from what is increasingly being viewed as a sectarian civil war.
But State Department and National Security Council officials told foreign diplomats Wednesday not to expect any major policy shifts, no matter what the group recommends, The Washington Post reported, citing unidentified diplomats familiar with the private briefing.
The group's proposals -- said to include a U.S. shift away from a combat role over the next year or so, and a regional conference that could lead to talks with Iran and Syria -- will carry significant weight even if Bush chooses to ignore them.
Long accused by Democrats of ignoring their advice on Iraq, Bush in his radio address acknowledged violence there was unsettling for many Americans.
"Success in Iraq will require leaders in Washington -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- to come together and find greater consensus on the best path forward. So I will work with leaders in both parties to achieve this goal," he said.
Bush will hold talks Monday at the White House with a powerful party leader of Iraq's Shi'ite majority, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim.

Bush, Maliki to meet on Iraq violence

By Matt Spetalnick

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Jordan next week amid rising sectarian violence in Iraq and after Iran-Iraq summit in Tehran.

The meeting will come on the heels of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's visit to Tehran this weekend for a summit with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In Baghdad on Tuesday, Iraq and Syria restored diplomatic relations after a 24-year rift, a move Iraq hopes can help stem what it says is Syrian support for militants and encourage other Arab states to rally to its aid.

The U.S. president will fly to Amman after the NATO summit in Riga, Latvia, for talks on November 29-30 with the Iraqi leader to focus on "building security and stability in Iraq," said White House spokesman Tony Snow on Tuesday.

"We will focus our discussions on current developments in Iraq, progress made to date in the deliberations of a high level joint committee on transferring security responsibility and the role of the region in supporting Iraq," Snow said, reading from a joint U.S.-Iraqi statement as Bush flew back to Washington from a trip to Asia.

The chaos in Iraq has put mounting pressure on both Bush and Maliki to try to find a way to stem the violence. U.S. discontent over the handling of the Iraq war was a major reason voters ousted Bush's Republicans from power in Congress in the November 7 elections.

Allies have been urging Bush to talk about Iraq to his adversaries Iran and Syria, but Washington has so far reacted warily to that idea. White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said on Tuesday the administration had no objection to warmer relations among Iraq, Syria and Iran.

Washington and Iraqi leaders accuse Iran of backing militants pushing Iraq into all-out civil war.

Next month Bush is expected to receive recommendations on Iraq from a bipartisan Iraq Study Group. The Pentagon is conducting its own review of the approach on Iraq.

Hadley said Bush will want to hear from Maliki, "who's obviously been developing his own ideas on the way forward."



The Guardian reported that the Bush administration may be heeding Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) calls for an escalation in Iraq, noting that Bush "told senior advisers that the US and its allies must make 'a last big push' to win the war in Iraq and that instead of beginning a troop withdrawal next year, he may increase US forces by up to 20,000 soldiers."

In mid-June, President Bush announced a major effort to secure Baghdad, stating at a news conference that over 7,000 U.S.-led coalition troops would be moved into the city.

But 359 U.S. troops have died since the Baghdad operation began and a record number of Iraqi civilians were reported killed in October.

"Statistics issued by the Interior Ministry for Iraqis killed in political violence put civilian deaths last month at 1,289.

That is nearly 42 a day and is up 18% from the 1,089 seen in September.

September's figures themselves were a record high." In Baghdad, the morgue reported the official toll of violent deaths in August was 1535.

Even Bush admitted that the Baghdad operation was largely unsuccessful, stating, "I know many Americans are not satisfied with the situation in Iraq. I'm not satisfied, either."


TERRORIST-Al Qaeda On The March

Overshadowed by Gen. John Abizaid's Senate testimony on Wednesday was a surprisingly frank admission from the directors of the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency: al Qaeda is back and is growing, at an even more alarming rate than previously thought. 

"Al-Qaeda's influence and numbers are rapidly growing in Afghanistan," with fighters working in tandem with a resurgent Taliban to engage in a "bloody insurgency" that is "operating from new havens and mimicking techniques learned on the Iraqi battlefield."

The testimony is nothing that various Afghanistan analysts have not said before. Yet it contradicts frequent pronouncements by President Bush that terrorist networks worldwide are in decline.

"It's hard to plot and plan if you're on the run. It's hard to plot and plan if you're hiding," Bush said at several pre-election campaign rallies.

In fact, as U.S. intelligences again made clear yesterday, al Qaeda is on the march.



Numbers tell the story of Al Qaeda's recent growth in Afghanistan. Insurgent activity "has risen fourfold this year," with militants now launching more than 600 attacks a month in "a rising wave of violence that has resulted in 3,700 deaths in 2006."

One year ago, roadside bombs and suicide attacks "were rare occurrences in Afghanistan." This year, there have already been 90 suicide attacks -- roughly one every three days.

Though administration officials "have repeatedly said that the battle against al-Qaeda has led to the death or capture of more than half of Osama bin Laden's top people," CIA Director Hayden said that "the group's cadre of seasoned, committed leaders" remains "fairly cohesive and focused on strategic objectives, 'despite having lost a number of veterans over the years.'"

Hayden said that al Qaeda's losses since September 11 have been "mitigated by what is, frankly, a pretty deep bench of low-ranking personnel capable of stepping up to assume leadership positions."

Those "low-ranking personnel" are "dominated by men in their early 40s with two decades of experience fighting."

The bench is so wide, in fact, that according to CBS News, "al-Qaeda is sending fighters from Afghanistan to other theaters, especially Europe and the Arab countries."



"We have all been surprised by the intensity of the violence this year," Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asian Affairs Richard Boucher said Thursday.

Citing the exploding drug trade and Taliban safe havens along the Pakistani border, Boucher said that "efforts to extend the rule of President Hamid Karzai's government deeper into the provinces had run into tougher-than-expected resistance."

Violence has killed 3,100 people this year in Afghanistan, making 2006 the bloodiest year since the Taliban was ousted in 2001.

Afghans are also increasingly frustrated with the current political situation and pessimistic about the future of their country.

A recent USAID financed opinion poll, the largest in Afghanistan's history, found only 44 percent believing Afghanistan was headed in the right direction, down from 64 percent in 2004.

Lack of security, the Taliban threat, and warlords were cited as the biggest problems among those expressing pessimism in the survey, which excluded two southern provinces "due to extreme security problems."


Iraq Says It Needs $100 Billion in Aid

KUWAIT CITY (AP) -- War-ravaged Iraq needs around $100 billion in the next four to five years to recover and rebuild its infrastructure, a government spokesman said Tuesday at the opening of an international aid meeting.

''Until the oil sector picks up ... we will need this much for the infrastructure and for investment expenses,'' Ali al-Dabbagh told reporters at a preparatory meeting for the International Compact for Iraq, a five-year plan to ensure Iraq's government has funds to survive and enact key political and economic reforms.

Al-Dabbagh called the $100 billion an ''unofficial figure,'' and said he hoped more countries, especially Arab states, would participate in the program.

Iraq's deputy prime minister, Barham Saleh, told the meeting: ''You can participate by offering serious and new financial and economic support to cover for the shortage in budget revenues needed for enhancing Iraq's security capabilities, to build the infrastructure and to enable the Iraqi government to improve public services.''

The Iraqi government established the International Compact for Iraq in June, shortly after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took office. Tuesday marked one in a series of meetings to discuss details before the compact is finalized by the end of this year.

A donor's conference for Iraq held in Madrid in 2003 raised pledges for $13.5 billion, but so far only around $3.5 billion has made its way to the country, mired in sectarian fighting.

The remaining $10 billion is being held up by a lack of viable projects or by fears that aid will be siphoned away in Iraq's corrupt contracting environment.

''The government of Iraq, needless to say, has the primary responsibility for tackling the grave challenges it faces today,'' Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, the special representative of the United Nations secretary-general, told the meeting. ''But given their magnitude, the support of the international community and particularly of its compact partners is indispensable if Iraq to succeed.''

Robert Kimmit, U.S. deputy treasury secretary, headed the American delegation at the one-day meeting in oil-rich Kuwait, a major ally of Washington. Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United Kingdom, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund were also present.

''Iraq is a very rich country,'' that does not need donations, but it needs to know it has ''friends and brothers'' willing to help, Kuwait's foreign minister, Sheik Mohammed Al Sabah, told reporters.

''All that we ask for as neighbors is that Iraq stays united and does not slip into civil war,'' he said.


Rumsfeld may face criminal prosecution in Germany for detainee abuses

Days after his resignation, outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other American officials may face criminal prosecution in Germany for their alleged roles in abuses at the military-run prisons at Abu Ghraib, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

New legal documents, to be filed next week with Germany's top prosecutor, would seek a criminal investigation and prosecution of Rumsfeld, along with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior U.S. civilian and military officers, the Time magazine reported on Friday.

The plaintiffs in the case included 11 Iraqis who were detained at Abu Ghraib, as well as Mohammad al-Qahtani, a Saudi held at Guantanamo, whom the U.S. identified as the so-called "20th hijacker" and a would-be participant in the 9/11 hijackings, the report said.

Qahtani underwent a "special interrogation plan," personally approved by Rumsfeld, which the United States said produced valuable intelligence. But to obtain it, according to the log of his interrogation and government reports, Qahtani was subjected to forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, prolonged stress positions, sleep deprivation and other controversial interrogation techniques.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said that one of the witnesses who would testify on their behalf was former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, the one-time commander of all U.S. military prisons in Iraq.

Karpinski, who the lawyers said would be in Germany next week to publicly address her accusations in the case, had issued a written statement to accompany the legal filing, which said, in part: "It was clear the knowledge and responsibility [for what happened at Abu Ghraib] goes all the way to the top of the chain of command to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld."

Germany was chosen for the court filing because German law provides "universal jurisdiction" allowing for the prosecution of war crimes and related offenses that take place anywhere in the world. A legal action was brought in Germany in 2004, which also sought the prosecution of Rumsfeld.

U.S. officials had warned that the case could impact U.S.-Germany relations adversely. Rumsfeld had indicated he would not attend a major security conference in Munich unless Germany disposed of the case.

Source: Xinhua


Well, for the last few years Bush has been telling everyone, that as the Iraqi security forces stand up, the Americans forces will stand down...

Bush has said that 325,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained...

Who would have guessed that the one and only American to stand down, would be Donald Rumsfeld ...Oneyoda


Army: Troops to stay in Iraq until 2010

AP Military Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - For planning purposes, the Army is gearing up to keep current troop levels in Iraq for another four years, a new indication that conditions there are too unstable to foresee an end to the war.

Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, cautioned against reading too much into the planning, which is done far in advance to prepare the right mix of combat units for expected deployments. He noted that it is easier to scale back later if conditions allow, than to ramp up if they don't.

"This is not a prediction that things are going poorly or better," Schoomaker told reporters. "It's just that I have to have enough ammo in the magazine that I can continue to shoot as long as they want us to shoot."

Even so, his comments were the latest acknowledgment by Pentagon officials that a significant withdrawal of troops from Iraq is not likely in the immediate future. There are now 141,000 U.S. troops there.

At a Pentagon news conference, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, said that as recently as July he had expected to be able to recommend a substantial reduction in U.S. forces by now. But that plan was dropped as sectarian violence in Baghdad escalated.

While arguing that progress is still being made toward unifying Iraq's fractured political rivalries and stabilizing the country, Casey also said the violence amounts to "a difficult situation that's likely to remain that way for some time."

He made no predictions of future U.S. troop reductions.

Appearing with Casey, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he and other senior Pentagon officials are still studying how the military might keep up the current pace of Iraq deployments without overtaxing the Army and Marine Corps, which have borne the brunt of the conflict. Rumsfeld said one option is to make more use of the Air Force and Navy for work that normally is done by soldiers and Marines.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Wednesday that the advance planning Schoomaker described was an appropriate cautionary approach. However, he added, the Pentagon should increase the overall size of the military to reduce stress on troops repeatedly sent into combat.

"I applaud the new realism but I think they also have to recognize that this (war) is going to put a huge stress on our forces," said Reed, a former Army Ranger. Reed and other Democrats have called on President Bush to start bringing home troops within a year to force the Iraqi government to take more responsibility for security.

At his news conference, Rumsfeld was asked whether he bears responsibility for what has gone wrong in Iraq or if the military commanders there are to blame.

"Of course I bear responsibility," he replied in apparent exasperation. "My Lord, I'm secretary of defense. Write it down."

In recent months the Army has shown signs of strain, as Pentagon officials have had to extend the Iraq deployments of two brigades to bolster security in Baghdad and allow units heading into the country to have at least one year at home before redeploying.

The Army is finding that the amount of time soldiers enjoy between Iraq tours has been shrinking this year. In the case of a brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, its deployment to Iraq was delayed by about six weeks because it otherwise would have had only 11 months to prepare instead of the minimum 12 months. As a result, the unit it was going to replace has been forced to stay beyond its normal 12-month deployment.

In separate remarks to reporters, Gen. Richard Cody, the Army vice chief of staff, said soldiers need more than 12 months between deployments to Iraq so they can do a full range of combat training and complete the kinds of educational programs that enable the Army to grow a fully mature officer corps.

That kind of noncombat experience is necessary "so that we don't erode and become an Army that only can fight a counterinsurgency," Cody said. He added that North Korea's announced nuclear test "reminds us all that we may not just be in a counterinsurgency fight and we have to have full-spectrum capability."



A newly translated letter from al Qaeda’s leadership to its Iraq organization shows the Bush administration’s “stay the course” Iraq strategy is exactly what al Qaeda wants:

"The most important thing is that you continue in your jihad in Iraq," the letter's author "Atiyah" writes, "Indeed, prolonging the war is in our interest."

The letter was an internal communication, intercepted during  the raid which killed Abu Musab Zarqawi.

This summer, Bush administration officials repeatedly justified their Iraq policy of "stay the course" by pointing to al Qaeda propaganda.

For instance, White House counselor Dan Bartlett said, "It doesn't matter what we say. We should be taking the - the words of the enemy seriously. They think [Iraq is] the fight of the war on terror, so, we might as well." 

It remains to be seen whether the Bush administration will change its tune now that al Qaeda has endorsed "stay the course."

Related News:

Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, again said the Bush administration is suppressing a classified intelligence report on Iraq that paints a "grim" picture of the situation.

Harman wrote a letter to CIA Director Michael Hayden requesting the document's release.



VoteVets.org, a political advocacy group formed and funded by veterans, released the first-ever poll of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans yesterday.

Respondents, most of whom were conservatives, delivered a damaging assessment of the current state of the military.

"Forty-two percent of the troops surveyed said their equipment was below the military standard of being 90 percent operational.

Nearly two-thirds said the Army and Marines were overextended, and a quarter said their families faced hard times financially because of their deployments."

Jon Soltz, an Iraq war veteran and chairman of VoteVets, said, "The results of this poll should be a wake up call to every American.

We are shortchanging our troops, in combat and at home." He added, "I am proud of my service in Iraq, but my job was made more difficult by the real life-or-death challenges I faced when it came to equipment and supplies that were inadequate or not fully operational."

See the full results here.



The Program on International Policy Attitudes last week, released a new poll on Iraqi public opinion that finds that seven in ten Iraqis want U.S.-led forces to commit to withdraw within a year.

Moreover, an overwhelming majority believes that the U.S. military presence in Iraq is provoking more conflict than it is preventing.

The poll was conducted during the first week of September. Some key findings: A large majority of Iraqis -- 71 percent -- say they would like the Iraqi government to ask for U.S.-led forces to be withdrawn from Iraq within a year or less. 

Support for attacks against U.S.-led forces has increased sharply to 61 percent (27 percent strongly, 34 percent somewhat). This represents a 14-point increase from January 2006, when only 47 percent of Iraqis supported attacks.

More broadly, 79 percent of Iraqis say that the U.S. is having a negative influence on the situation in Iraq, with just 14 percent saying that it is having a positive influence.

Fifty-three percent said setting a timeline for withdrawal "would strengthen the government," while just 24 percent said it would weaken the government. 

Asked what effect it would have “if U.S.-led forces withdraw from Iraq in the next six months,” 58 percent overall say that violence would decrease (35% a lot, 23% a little).



"We're all winners," Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said about the recent agreement on detainee legislation, "because we've been able to come to an agreement through a process of negotiations and consensus."

"But the details - not to mention crowing from the White House - indicate that the administration is walking off with a major victory while allowing the Senate to save face."

The White House agreed "not to reinterpret the Geneva Conventions," but the legislation "would give the president explicit authority to interpret 'the meaning and application' of the relevant provisions in Common Article 3."

The War Crimes Act will now include a list of "grave breaches" of the conventions, while the president "could decide on his own what actions might be a lesser breach...and what interrogation techniques he considered permissible."

The legislation "would permit CIA interrogators to use harsh techniques critics call torture." "In effect, the agreement means that U.S. violations of international human rights law can continue as long as Mr. Bush is president, with Congress's tacit assent."

The administration admitted it had gotten exactly what it wanted from the Senate. "We proposed a more direct approach to bringing clarification," Dan Bartlett said. "This one is more of the scenic route, but it gets us there."



According to a top NATO commander, General James Jones, the Taliban and Al Qaeda are raking in record profits from opium sales and NATO is losing ground in efforts to quell poppy production.

Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has risen 59 percent from 2005 levels to record highs, with most of the increases seen in the Taliban strongholds of Kandahar and Helmand provinces.

Recently, a former Chief of Intelligence for the Drug Enforcement Agency said the failures go back to decisions made by U.S. officials in 2001: "The White House and Pentagon position was that drugs don't matter," and U.S. beat back British efforts to focus on uprooting the Afghan opium economy.

But drugs do matter. House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Henry Hyde said yesterday during a hearing on Afghanistan, "The [drug] revenues are financing and strengthening the Taliban and anti-Coalition activity, increasing crime and corruption, and eroding the authority of central governing institutions."

Addressing these failures requires a comprehensive anti-drug policy that combines harsher crack-downs on drug lords with more development assistance that "makes farmers think twice about planting opium."

Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.



In an interview with the Hampton Roads Daily Press last last week, retiring Army Transportation Corps commander, Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, revealed that in the months heading up to the Iraq war, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said "he would fire the next person" who talked about the need for a post-war plan. 

Scheid was a colonel with the U.S. Central Command, the unit that oversees military operations in the Middle East, in late 2001 when Rumsfeld "told us to get ready for Iraq."

Scheid said the emphasis in the war-planning stages was on taking out the Saddam regime and then leaving. 

"The secretary of defense continued to push on us ... that everything we write in our plan has to be the idea that we are going to go in, we're going to take out the regime, and then we're going to leave," he said.

"We won't stay." Rumsfeld rejected recommendations to plan for a post-invasion occupation. Even if the troops didn't stay, "at least we [would] have to plan for it," Scheid said. 

"I remember the secretary of defense saying that he would fire the next person that said that," Scheid said. "We would not do planning for Phase 4 operations, which would require all those additional troops that people talk about today. "He said we will not do that because the American public will not back us if they think we are going over there for a long war."



The Senate Intelligence Committee voted last week to release a 400-page report that "covers only two of the five topics outlined under Phase II" of the committee's report on the manipulation of intelligence preceding the Iraq war. "Much of the information -- on the intelligence supplied by the INC and Chalabi and the overestimation of Saddam's WMD threat -- has been documented in numerous studies."

The documents are now available on the committee's website .

The "heart of the report" -- an "analysis comparing the Bush administration's public statements about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein with the evidence senior officials reviewed in private" -- "remains mired in partisan recrimination and will not be released before the November elections."

Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) promised to continue working on the report, although he has in the past called Phase II a "monumental waste of time."

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said the released portions would show the "administration pursued a deceptive strategy of using intelligence reporting that the intelligence community had already warned was uncorroborated, unreliable, and in some critical circumstances, fabricated."



Nearly five years after the Taliban was overthrown, "the fighting in Afghanistan is the bloodiest since" the beginning of the war.

A violent Taliban resurgence has killed more than 1,600 people over the past four months, including many American and NATO soldiers.

Last week, "a suicide car bomb struck a convoy of U.S. military vehicles in Kabul on Friday, killing at least seven people," including two American soldiers.

This increase in violence has prompted NATO commander Gen. James L. Jones to call for "as many as 2,500 more soldiers and additional aircraft" in an effort to prevent provinces in southern Afghanistan from collapsing.

Among the Afghan public, "resentment and disenchantment" are spreading because of the "glacial pace of reconstruction coupled with corrupt and inept local government," leading many to support the Taliban.

Basic social infrastructure, such as a police force, judiciary, and civil service, has "[fallen] by the wayside."

In addition, because "ordinary Afghans still live without power, water or other amenities," many have resorted to growing one of the nation's top cash crops: opium.

Afghanistan's opium harvest is up 60 percent since last year, causing concern in the United Nations that "the bumper crop was helping fuel the deadly Taliban-led insurgency in the south."



Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), the number-two Republican on the Armed Services Committee, has proposed legislation that would essentially "remove George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld from the military chain of command over Iraq." 

Weldon "is a strong supporter of the U.S. military mission in Iraq," and once made plans to travel to Iraq and secretly "go digging by the Euphrates” for a cache of WMD he believed to be there.

The Hill reports, his resolution "would give military commanders -- instead of President Bush or Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld -- decision-making authority over when American troops should return home."

Weldon is "in the midst of a difficult reelection campaign because of voters’ generally sour view of the war in Iraq." Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), two members of the Armed Services Committee, suggested the legislation was unconstitutional. “It would subvert civilian leadership of the military,” Graham said.



The Pentagon's new Army field manual "provides Geneva Convention protections for all detainees and eliminates a secret list of interrogation tactics."

The manual bans several controversial techniques: "forcing prisoners to endure long periods of solitary confinement, using military dogs to threaten prisoners, putting hoods over inmates' heads" and waterboarding

It "also reverses an earlier decision to maintain two interrogation standards -- one for traditional prisoners of war and another for 'unlawful combatants' captured during a conflict but not affiliated with a nation's military force."

"All detainees will be treated consistent with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention," said one military officer.

The White House at one time claimed in an executive order that "common Article 3 of Geneva does not apply to either al-Qaida or Taliban detainees."

Official military policy now holds this is not the case. The new rules follows a memo by Defense Deputy Secretary Gordon England that said Article 3 of the Geneva Convention "applies as a matter of law to the conflict with al Qaeda.



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