Wednesday, October 11, 2006

600,000 Iraqis have died from violence

* wednesday's WSJ via dkos:
"WASHINGTON -- A new study (Lancet, Johns Hopkins) asserts that roughly 600,000 Iraqis have died from violence since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, a figure many times higher than any previous estimate."
* arkin:
"For all of the public talk of going on the offensive and not letting ambiguous smoking guns of today turn into mushroom clouds of tomorrow, the actual Bush capability that has been built over the last five years is barely an improvement over what existed under the previous administration. In fact, combating WMD and "counter-proliferation" has become so complicated and lost in management and reorganization, the U.S. military capacity to stop a country from going nuclear, short of going to war, is zero.

No wonder then that when North Korea conducts a nuclear test, the Bush administration is reduced to protesting.
What we are really witnessing is government at its worst, not just promising a capability on which it cannot deliver, but worse, communicating American resolve and toughness on the one hand while exposing weakness and impotence when it matters."
* Ken:
"The Republican leadership is lying when they claim that Democrats have engineered an “October Surprise”; there was never a plan undermine the G.O.P. or to destroy Hastert personally, as the speaker has vaingloriously suggested. I know this with absolute certainty because Harper’s was offered the story almost five months ago and decided, after much debate, not to run it here on Washington Babylon.

In May, a source put me in touch with a Democratic operative who provided me with the now-infamous emails that Foley had sent in 2004 to a sixteen-year-old page. He also provided several emails that the page sent to the office of Congressman Rodney Alexander, a Louisiana Republican who had sponsored him when he worked on Capitol Hill. “Maybe it is just me being paranoid, but seriously, This freaked me out,” the page wrote in one email. In the fall of 2005, my source had provided the same material to the St. Petersburg Times—and I presume to The Miami Herald—both which decided against publishing stories.

It was a Democrat who brought me the emails, but comments he made and common sense strongly suggest they were originally leaked by a Republican office. And while it's entirely possible that Democratic officials became aware of the accusations against Foley, the source was not working in concert with the national Democratic Party. This person was genuinely disgusted by Foley's behavior, amazed that other publications had declined to publish stories about the emails, and concerned that Foley might still be seeking contact with pages.

Though the emails were not explicitly sexual, I felt strongly that Foley's behavior was inappropriate and that his intentions were clear. Why would a middle-aged man ask a teenager he barely knew for his photograph, or what he wanted for his birthday? I contacted Foley and he strongly denied any ill intent. He told me there was “nothing suggestive or inappropriate” about his emails to the page, adding that if the page “was intimidated, that's regrettable.”

My theory about the emails was that Foley was throwing out bait to see if the teen would bite. I spoke to a Foley staffer who violently rejected that interpretation of the emails and who blamed the whole problem on the page, saying it was all a misunderstanding due to the young boy's overactive imagination. The staffer also said that Foley's motive in asking the page for a picture was entirely innocent: he merely wanted an image of the boy so he could remember him more clearly in the event that he wanted a job recommendation down the road. Needless to say, none of this sounded even remotely convincing."

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