"So, sure, Gates appears to be at least nominally reality based. That's great. But it's a pretty low bar for getting excited about a cabinet nomination, no?"* AJ:
"It's difficult to tell whether the ISG report ultimately represents a failure of brainpower or a failure of nerve. The point of the group's report was to explain the current situation in Iraq and how to best move forward, but instead it ultimately (if unsurprisingly) became a political entity. They took into account political positions in an attempt to craft solutions that would be politically palatable, rather than stating their unvarnished findings. In other words, either all these smart people took eight months to tell us what we all already knew, or they watered down their opinion for the sake of not making waves. Neither option is especially heartening.
The report also fails to put Iraq in the greater context of our national security. Although it does mention how the Israel/Palestine is a crucial issue, and it rightly suggests increased dealings with regional powers, it doesn't explain to the American public how the Iraq war is crippling our greater foreign policy, our international legitimacy, and our long-term national security. Democratic leaders are endorsing the plan, but because it confirms many of their past assessments, not because it's anything especially new or special.
Finally, to some extent the report is the worst of all worlds, because it caved to political pressures but has no implementation power, which leaves the Bush administration able to pick and choose, creating a bad version of some of the recommendations while claiming to adhere to the report. If only there was a similar kind of project, something in the past for which important figures crossed party lines to come together and offer suggestions for the good of the country in the wake of a disaster. If we had this kind of example, maybe we could see what the Bush administration tends to do in such a situation. Oh, wait! That sounds awfully like the . . . 9/11 Commission, which the Bush administration fought, then allowed, then ignored, then picked pieces from, casting aside the most important suggestions, and claimed to have implemented. Not exactly a successful precedent, but one I expect to be largely followed in this case."
* mary cheney is pregnant. in virginia. i hope the baby is black.
* glenn continues his great work on the House of Death case:
"The context of this "visit" by federal agents to Conroy's home and office, as well as the accompanying threats issued to him, must be emphasized: the story which Conroy had reported on for Narco News involved the complicity in multiple murders on the part of federal DHS agents as well as the U.S. attorney who sent the agents to Conroy's home and business. Under the circumstances, receiving a "visit" to one's home and business by federal agents sent by the Bush associate at the heart of this matter would be seen by any reasonable person as quite intimidating, just as intended.
Ordinarily -- meaning when our Republic works the way it is supposed to -- grave misconduct of this sort is investigated by Congress, which has as one of its principal functions the duty of oversight. It is the responsibility of Congress -- and, really, only Congress can fulfill the responsibility -- to ensure that the vast law enforcement powers under the control of the Executive branch [in order (theoretically) to execute our laws] are not abused.
But, needless to say, our Republic hasn't been functioning the way it is supposed to, in large part because the Congress has been ruled by authoritarian followers of the President who believe that the Leader does not err. Therefore -- outside of Narco News and a couple of isolated, ignored reporters -- nothing relating to any of these events has been investigated, neither by the media nor the Congress. And that is really as pure of a microcosm of the last five years as anything I can think of.
There just must be a Congressional investigation into this entire matter. The extent of wrongdoing here is staggering. It would be one thing if it were just some rogue law enforcement officers engaging in excessive, criminal and/or violent behavior. By itself, that would compel all sorts of investigations and corrective actions, but that would be a more commonplace outrage.
I think some sort of campaign is in order to demand a Congressional investigation into all of these events. It is a modest and focused enough objective such that an effectively designed campaign could succeed. I would think all that would be necessary is to find one new Chair of a House or Senate Subcommittee with some possible jurisdiction who would find this matter worthy of investigation. That shouldn't be too difficult.
As I said yesterday, the primary reason that this is all so worth investigating (beyond the heinous conduct that drove all of this) is because (a) the sheer lawlessness and thugishness is how the administration operates generally, (b) it involves political officials at very high levels of the administration, and (c) it removes terrorism manipulation and national security excuses from the equation.
And all of the issues here -- political, legal and moral -- are very straightforward and clear. Our Government really shouldn't be standing idly by and, worse, paying, actively protecting and assisting a homicidal psychopath while he continues with his torture and killing spree (that he records with our Government's equipment). Nor should it threaten and intimidate career DEA agents and investigative journalists who object all because high-level administration officials were directly responsible for the misconduct.
Pervasive, systematic criminality plagues our federal government. Investigating this most egregious matter seems to be a manageable and modest way -- not to mention, for Democrats, a politically risk-free way -- to expose and punish at least some of it."