United States News Digest
CNN Broadcasts Special on the 'Generals' Revolt'
CNN highlighted the generals' revolt against the Bush Administration's Iraq war policy in an hour-long special Sept. 30, entitled, "Donald Rumsfeld, Man of War." Even with appearances by such Rumsfeld allies Paul Bremer, former Presidential envoy to Iraq, and head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace providing support for the Administration line and for Rumsfeld's "transformation" of military policy, the point of the special was to highlight the generals' ongoing revolt against Rumsfeld and the Bush Administration policy overall.
The program quoted Gen. Paul Eaton, who has called for Rumsfeld to resign, saying, "The [former Chief of Staff Gen. Eric] Shinseki incident had a chilling effect on the military, and the military got the message." He further commented that "it is Rumsfeld's military and it is the loyalit's not loyalty. It is fealty that he demands." Gen. John Riggs was quoted: "If you press the military, like the generals, so hard, they will eventually say, 'Yes sir, Mr. Secretary, three bags full. We'll take what you have given us and do the best with it.'"
Gen. John Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, when asked if he had enough troops and if he had gotten more troops when he asked for them, replied, "I asked for 22,000 troops to secure the countryside and the oil infrastructure in an area of Iraq the size of West Virginia. I didn't get them."
The special then quoted Rumsfeld: "I was unaware of this need, and the commanders had what they needed, and I was assured that it was appropriate."
Warner, Levin Ring Alarm Bells on Iraq
In separate Oct. 5 press conferences to report on their findings from a recent trip to Iraq, where they met with Iraqi leaders, U.S. military leaders, and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Senators John Warner (R-Va) and Carl Levin (D-Mich), the chairman and the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, both gave dramatic reports on the collapsing situation in Baghdad and Anbar province.
Warner characterized the situation as qualitatively different from his earlier trips. He said that the four-point plan put forth by Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki as an "agreement" between all sides to end the sectarian violence offered some hope, but that there were no signs that all sides had actually agreed, and the violence has only increased. He said the economic situation in many places was horrendous, and that the situation was at best "drifting sideways." He said at one point that the current offensive in Baghdad was "lost," but later changed that by saying that the Madi militia of Muqtada al-Sadr in Sadr City must be subdued and disarmed, or the battle will be lost. He said that Maliki believes he can deal with al-Sadr peacefully, but Warner doubts it. He said that the "uniforms" (the U.S. military officers) give a "more cautious evaluation" than the Administration line, and that the next 60-90 days will determine if the Iraqis can end the violence, or, if not, the Congress must take a stand of its own, separate from the administration, to deal with Iraq.
Senator Levin was even more pessimistic than Warner. He reported that when he told Ambassador Khalilzad of his belief that the U.S. must set a date for beginning a phased withdrawal, to put the Iraqis on notice, Khalilzad told him twice that that would be an excellent message to be delivered to the Iraqis "by the Senate," although clearly this contradicts administration policy and Khalilzad could not say it himself.
NATO Commander Confirms Remarks on Rumsfeld
NATO Supreme Commander Gen. James L. Jones acknowledged remarks he'd made to Bob Woodward, reported in Woodward's new book State of Denial, in a Washington meeting of the N.Y. Council on Foreign Relations, according to the Washington Post Oct. 5. Jones acknowledged a discussion, reported in the Woodward book, with Gen. Peter Pace before Pace was made Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Specifically, he told Pace that the uniformed military had improperly surrendered their authority to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and that he'd told Pace not to become a parrot on Rumsfeld's shoulder. He also agreed that he'd told Woodward that Iraq is a debacle, though not that he'd used that specific word, but that it was a problem. However, Jones said he did not associate himself with the so-called "revolt of the generals," and won't do so when he retires.
Guantanamo Detainee Challenges His Detention
One of the 14 high-value "war on terrorism" detainees who was recently transferred to Guantanamo from CIA secret prisons has challenged his detention in Federal court in Washington, D.C., the first of those detainees to do so, the Baltimore Sun reported Oct. 5. In addition to asserting that Majid Khan, a former Maryland resident who was seized in Pakistan, is being wrongfully held, the case also contests the legality of the CIA secret prisons program. The case was filed this Sept. 29, just before Congress passed a detainee bill, which prohibits an unlawful combatant from challenging his detention.
Khan was arrested in Pakistan in March 2003, and detained in a CIA prison. The Sun reports that a government intelligence document released last month describes him as a young Pakistani who got caught up in Islamist networks while in Maryland, and while in Pakistan, was introduced by his uncle and cousin to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Khan reportedly researched blowing up gas stations and poisoning reservoirs in the U.S. Khan, however, denies any affiliation with the Taliban or al-Qaeda, and says the only Islamic group with which he associated in the U.S. was a mainstream organization which condemned the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
New Woodward Book Exposes More Lies to Congress
Discussion of Bob Woodward's State of Denial revelations about White House official lies over Iraq, dominated the Sunday talk shows Oct. 1, which featured White House spokesman Dan Bartlett, on three separate programs, attempting to employ sophistic techniques to avoid telling the truth. In addition, the Sunday talk shows included the spectacle of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who is mentioned prominently in the Woodward book, blowing up at CNN's Wolf Blitzer, as former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski looked on.
"Secret Reports Counter Bush Optimism" was the Washington Post headline, referring in particular to one smoking gun, a secret memo on attacks on U.S. forces by insurgents in Iraq, which is reproduced with charts in Woodward's book. The charts show the level of attacks growing over more than three years, to a (previously unexposed) record level of 900 attacks/week in May and June 2006, and to 1,000 attacks/weekone every 10 minutes around the clockin July 2006. This enormous and worsening level not only directly contradicts Cheney's and Bush's public statements and confirms the assessment of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa), it also contradicts official Pentagon assessments given to Congress, which were supposed to represent the Joint Chiefs' analysis. As Blitzer put it on CNN's Late Edition, " 'Wednesday, May 24th,' of this year, 'the intelligence division of the Joint Staff, J-2, circulated an intelligence assessment classified "secret" that showed that the forces in Iraq were not in retreat. In large print, that assessment said, quote, 'The Sunni Arab insurgency is gaining strength and increasing capacity despite political progress and Iraqi security forces development. Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase current level of violence through next year .' " Days after that JCS memo, the Pentagon gave Congress an assessment, required by law, which said the opposite: The insurgency was expected by military intelligence to wane through 2006 and 2007.
The memo from CENTCOM of early 2003 which Woodward publishes, specifying 400,000 troops needed for an Iraq war, and Rumsfeld's response to it, are just as damaging.
As to Henry Kissinger, Woodward writes in State of Denial: "Former Secretary of State Kissinger has a powerful, largely invisible influence on the foreign policy of the Bush Administration. Vice President Cheney told me in the Summer of 2005, 'I probably talk to Henry Kissinger more than I talk to anybody else.' The President also met privately with Kissinger every couple of months, making the former secretary the most regular and frequent outside adviser to Bush on foreign affairs."