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The Daily Journal: April 9, 2007

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The Giuliani-Kerik-Corruption Connection

Mobbing each other with love

Character and the presidency? It's usually a canard. It doesn't matter who a politician sleeps with, what he drinks, what he snorts, what he reads and what he does or doesn't pray to. But it does matter what kind of people he appoints, whom he recommends for appointment, and how he goes about doing so. On those counts, Rudy Giuliani's history reveals a flawed character. From the Post:

When former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani urged President Bush to make Bernard B. Kerik the next secretary of homeland security, White House aides knew Kerik as the take-charge top cop from Sept. 11, 2001. But it did not take them long to compile an extensive dossier of damaging information about the would-be Cabinet officer. They learned about questionable financial deals, an ethics violation, allegations of mismanagement and a top deputy prosecuted for corruption. Most disturbing, according to people close to the process, was Kerik's friendship with a businessman who was linked to organized crime. The businessman had told federal authorities that Kerik received gifts, including $165,000 in apartment renovations, from a New Jersey family with alleged Mafia ties. Alarmed about the raft of allegations, several White House aides tried to raise red flags. But the normal investigation process was short-circuited, the sources said. Bush's top lawyer, Alberto R. Gonzales, took charge of the vetting, repeatedly grilling Kerik about the issues that had been raised. In the end, despite the concerns, the White House moved forward with his nomination -- only to have it collapse a week later. A reconstruction of the failed nomination, assembled through interviews with key players, provides new details and a fuller account of the episode -- how Giuliani put forward a flawed candidate for high office, how Bush rushed the usual process in his eagerness to install a political ally and how Gonzales, as White House counsel, failed to stop the nomination despite the many warning signs. "The vetting process clearly broke down," said a senior White House official. "This should not happen." [...] The investigation has put Giuliani's relationship with Kerik back in the spotlight at a time when the former mayor leads the Republican presidential field in national polls. [...] Aides said they now believe they were lulled by Kerik's swaggering Sept. 11 reputation, and were too passive in accommodating the president's desire for secrecy and speed and too willing to trust Giuliani's judgment. [...] In the White House, there is still resentment toward Giuliani for foisting the problem on the president. "There are two people who are to blame for what happened -- Rudy Giuliani and Bernie Kerik," said one former White House official. Still, a senior administration official acknowledged some responsibility as well. Bush wanted "a hard-charging personality" to get the department in line, he said. "Instead, we ended up shooting ourselves in the foot." The full story...

Bush Lie: "The Enemy Would Follow Us Here"

From McClatchy: "It’s become President Bush’s mantra, his main explanation for why he won’t withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq anytime soon. In speech after speech, in statement after statement, Bush insists that “this is a war in which, if we were to leave before the job is done, the enemy would follow us here.” The line, which Bush repeated Wednesday in a speech to troops at California's Fort Irwin, suggests a chilling picture of warfare on American streets. But is it true? Military and diplomatic analysts say it isn't. They accuse Bush of exaggerating the threat that enemy forces in Iraq pose to the U.S. mainland. “The president is using a primitive, inarticulate argument that leaves him open to criticism and caricature,” said James Jay Carafano, a homeland security and counterterrorism expert for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy organization. “It’s a poor choice of words that doesn’t convey the essence of the problem - that walking away from a problem doesn’t solve anything.” U.S. military, intelligence and diplomatic experts in Bush's own government say the violence in Iraq is primarily a struggle for power between Shiite and Sunni Muslim Iraqis seeking to dominate their society, not a crusade by radical Sunni jihadists bent on carrying the battle to the United States. [...] "Attacks by terrorist groups account for only a fraction of insurgent violence,” said a February DIA report. While acknowledging that terrorists could commit a catastrophic act on U.S. soil at any time - whether U.S. forces are in Iraq or not - the likelihood that enemy combatants from Iraq might follow departing U.S. forces back to the United States is remote at best, experts say. [...] "The war in Iraq isn't preventing terrorist attacks on America," said one U.S. intelligence official, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he's contradicting the president and other top officials. "If anything, that - along with the way we've been treating terrorist suspects - may be inspiring more Muslims to think of us as the enemy." The full story...

Insurgency Seminars

What's the best way to become a better criminal in the United States? Spend a while in US prisons, the graduate schools of crime (because the American prison mentality is too busy punishing and dehumanizing to worry about reforming and reintegrating). What's the best way to become an insurgent in Iraq? Spend a little time in oen od the many US-run prisons there. From the LATimes:

U.S.-run detention camps in Iraq have become a breeding ground for extremists where Islamic militants recruit and train supporters, and use violence against perceived foes, say former inmates and Iraqi officials. Extremists conducted regular indoctrination lectures, and in some cases destroyed televisions supplied by the Americans for use with educational videos, banned listening to music on radios, forbade smoking and stoked tensions between Sunni and Shiite detainees, they said. Iraqis swept up in security operations and held indefinitely while the Americans try to determine whether they have any links to the insurgency are susceptible to the extremists' message, former detainees said. Their accounts of life in Camp Cropper, the main U.S. detention center at the Baghdad airport, indicate that three years after the abuse scandal at the Abu Ghraib prison, the U.S. is still struggling to find a balance in the way it runs its detention system. [...] But as U.S. troops continue to confront the insurgency, the inmate population has soared, to 18,000, from 10,000 in 2003. [...] "It looks like a terrorist academy now," said Saad Sultan, the Iraqi Human Rights Ministry's liaison to U.S. and Iraqi prisons. "There's a huge number of these students. They study how they can kill in their camps. And we protect them, feed them, give them medical care. "The Americans have no solution to this problem," he said. "This has been going on for a year or two, we have been telling them." The full story...

Ohdave's Sunday Reading
Dave Eggers's What Is the What

From Ohdave's Into My Own: "What is... this novel? David Eggers' What is the What is a new form of writing, a novel that isn't really a novel, a novel that manages to be non-fiction at the same time. It is part polemic, part clarion call in the disguise of a first person narrative epic, a ghost-written autobiography that calls itself a novel, literature as social activism. The book tells the story of one of the famous "Lost Boys," refugees from southern Sudan who were celebrated in the US for their courage and tenacity in leaving war-torn Africa behind. The audience is the world, every individual in the West without knowledge of the Sudanese civil war and the wider ethnic conflicts in Africa of which the Sudanese civil war is merely an example." The full review...


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