"Militarily, their statements are almost absurd" Top Military Strategist Says of Bush and Cheney "fear-mongering"

White House assertion of terror network in Iraq may undermine own case for war

Ft. Worth TX.- Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking at fund-raisers on Monday, offered his rationale for the American presence in Iraq. "Iraq has now become the central front in the war on terror," he said at a Bush-Cheney fund-raiser in Cleveland and at a fund-raising reception for Rep. Anne Northrup in Louisville, Ky. "We are aggressively striking the terrorists in Iraq, defeating them there, so we do not have to face them on the streets of our own cities."

It's a line that generates applause. It's also a line that makes several military and intelligence analysts cringe. They say it gives the impression that those carrying out terrorists acts against United States and allied forces are internationally organized with the power and reach to wage war on America's shores.

As Cheney and President Bush use the rhetoric, some experts say the White House is giving Americans a false impression of who the terrorists in Iraq are and their reasons for conducting deadly attacks. "Militarily, their statements are almost absurd," said Anthony Cordesman, a national security and military intelligence expert for the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "There is no evidence of activity … by extremist terrorist groups affiliated with al-Qaida."

The line from the Bush administration and similar ones from some of the Democratic presidential challengers reflect a difference of opinion between politicians and soldiers in the field, Cordesman said. White House officials say the line captures the essence and the urgency to defend America from the nontraditional, guerrilla-type warfare that's becoming an everyday occurrence in Iraq.

A senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Bush and Cheney's remarks reflect the belief that there are "al-Qaida or al-Qaida types" behind the terrorism in Iraq. "The president, (Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld, (Gen. John) Abizaid have talked about foreign fighters on Iraq soil, foreign jihadists' will to inflate terror," the official said.

But Cordesman and other analysts say military officials in Iraq already have an idea where the bulk of the terrorist threat there is coming from: the locals. Abizaid, the top military official in the region, told reporters two weeks ago that most of the resistance and violence in Iraq have been spawned by former members of Iraq's Baath Party and other groups loyal to former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who are waging a low-intensity war to return him to power. Abizaid said the resistance may only number 5,000, but they are a dedicated and dangerous bunch.

"It doesn't take a large group of people to commit terrorist acts," the senior administration official said. "The clear and most dangerous enemy to us at the present time are the former regime loyalists, the Baathist cells that operate in the areas primarily of Baghdad, Fallujah, Tikrit, Mosul, Kirkuk, and conduct operations against us primarily through the use of improvised explosives devices, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and, very infrequently but sometimes, small-arms fire," Abizaid said.

In addition, the Baathists have hired criminals "to do their dirty work" and work with a small but well-organized group of foreign fighters, according to Abizaid. Cordesman estimated that about 95 percent of the terrorist threat is from Saddam loyalists.

The argument by Bush and Cheney that fighting the terrorist threat in Iraq will help keep terrorists away from American cities diminishes the White House's original stance for going to war, said Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst for the Brookings Institution. Bush initially said that Saddam's brutality toward his own people, his decision to ignore countless United Nations resolutions and the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction that threatened to destabilize the Middle East justified going to war.

By now describing the war as an effort to get the terrorists before they get to America, "the administration, in a strange way, discredits its own case," O'Hanlon said. "It's a weak argument," he said. "There aren't that many in Iraq who are foreign fighters who are a threat to U.S. shores. I don't know if it's fear-mongering or false re-assuring."

Cordesman and others say that Americans won't get the full story on the war on terrorism as long as the White House keeps talking about Iraq as a beachhead. "It doesn't prepare the American people for a war forced on us to fight, for its length, its intensity and risks," he said. "It's the kind of politics that gets you through two weeks."
This is the same lying and posturing that Bush and Cheney used to lead us in to this war.

Is Our "Fearless Leader" a Chicken or a Turkey?

Bush sneaks in and out of Baghdad airport in 2 hours under cover of darkness unlike some Presidents we remember
Since things are slow this weekend I took the time to catch up on reading the League of Liberals. Here is what I found from our illuminating and diverse membership:
Indigo Ocean has finished her first novel and ended a dead end
T-Rex Updates Where are they Now and explains why Republicans are bad for the economy
Our Democratic Veteran tracks the brother's Bush and takes two shots at a. sullivan
A MUST READ AND COPY - Natalie Davis All Facts and Opinions 10 Actions to Stop Bush and a few Dem Candidates are failing her test.
George is always a target rich environment says Dohiyi Mir, even with his stagecraft
The Politburo Diktat on less than good intelligence developed a map that fails to give mention to a single L o L member What's up with that?
The People's Republic of Seabrook has Tom Delay as Turkey of the Year and a nice shot at a Compassionate Conservative
Officially Unofficial covers the aftermath of the Shrubs shrubbery damage and other Orwellian happenings
Turkey and more Turkey is the T-Day offering of WTF is it Now?
Turkey at Pen-Elayne's looks appetizing during the Thanksgiving Day Parade which was not to some bigots.
The Cosmic Iguana covers a different Byrd while mentioning that the turkey has landed
Pharyngula found the Turkey in Iraq insulting but the timing of The Two Towers to be Turkey perfect
Cup O Joe ruminates on the recent L o L chat and reminds us that Repugnicans Hate Soldiers
Hammerdown gives us a few thousand words in pictures
The Happy Furry Puppy has T-day predictions
Concentration Camps and UN Resolutions are on the menu at Anarchy Xero
Different Strings covers the FOX "nuze" and Church and State
What can Bush do in IRAQ that Saddam can't asks 18 Minute Gap: answer - Nothing
If Byte Back had tallied the reactions of L o L blogs Ricky would have a very large tally although TPRS would have added to "the Left"
Why North Georgia Dogma is worth note I cannot devine. I make the L o L count about 20 to 2 on the side of "chicken little sneaks in under cover of darkness for photo op = Zero style points or more Mission Accomplished"
Rick's Cafe rates some sites for the King of Blogs and tells us the Marine Girl is back at Across the River
Bush V. the Troops Clareified by Bush Vs the Troops Again Pt II
Failure, babbler, and Blowhard are the 3 Screaming Points
Left is Right has Quotes of the Week and Friday Fun
The Gunther Concept on James Yee
Speedkill says it's serious when they don't tell Fox on the way home
The Poison Kitchen - President's in war zones and a new toy.
The Art of Worldy Wisdom Anonymoses - from Whom God Hid Nothing
Futurballa on Clinton's 21 books and a vote for Damage

The rest will wait until tomorrow



The Charges that HALLIBURTON hoped would die
find some powerful support in Congress
Wed 26 November 2003, 23:54 GMT__ Halliburton, the Houston-based oil services and construction group once headed by US Vice President Dick Cheney, is again under fire. The energy giant and its subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root have been accused by three US lawmakers of fleecing ordinary American taxpayers by charging "inflated prices" for selling petrol to US troops in Iraq.

Senator Joseph Lieberman and Representatives John Dingell and Henry Waxman on Tuesday called for a US Defence Department investigation of the company. They said Halliburton was charging US taxpayers $2.65 per gallon to transport gasoline from Kuwait to Iraq, while the Iraqi state oil company paid only 96 cents per gallon. The Defence Department's own fuel distribution centre also paid considerably less, between $1.08 dollars and $1.19 per gallon.

In a letter to the Inspector General of the Defence Department, the three lawmakers have insisted "transparency and accountability are essential if the efforts to reconstruct Iraq are to succeed".

"We hope you will help restore transparency and accountability to this process by undertaking the important investigations described in this letter" "We hope you will help restore transparency and accountability to this process by undertaking the important investigations described in this letter," the trio said.

Alarmed that the company had cornered Iraqi reconstruction contracts worth $500 million, other congressmen have questioned why so much work had been given to Halliburton's subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) without any competition.

Instead of asking for fresh bids, the Pentagon awarded Halliburton new contracts based on a 2001 contract it had won for supplies to US troops. This led to allegations Halliburton was being favoured for its ties to Cheney.

The three Democrat politicians also allege some of the fuel payments to Halliburton come out of the Development Fund for Iraq, which is meant to pay for humanitarian efforts in the occupied country. The Fund, some non-government agencies say, is being mismanaged and the latest furore over "inflated prices" is likely to fuel the charge further.
Democrats ask Pentagon to probe Iraq oil imports
WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 — Three U.S. Democratic lawmakers asked the Pentagon inspector general on Tuesday to investigate alleged overpricing of gasoline sent to Iraq by Halliburton, the firm once run by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman from Connecticut, Rep. Henry Waxman from California and Rep. John Dingell from Michigan, also urged the Pentagon to look into the use of money from a humanitarian account, the Development Fund for Iraq, to buy gasoline and possibly weapons.

''We hope you will help restore transparency and accountability to this process by undertaking the important investigations described in this letter,'' the lawmakers wrote. A subsidiary of Texas-based Halliburton has been importing gasoline into Iraq under a contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers until the oil-rich country's refineries are running at full capacity.

Halliburton, where Cheney served as chief executive from 1995 to 2000 when he left to become U.S. President George W. Bush's running mate, has denied claims of overbilling and says the dangerous security situation has elevated prices. The Corps of Engineers also said it has not found evidence of wrongdoing but is looking into cheaper ways of importing oil.

The lawmakers asked the Pentagon to look into why it cost as much as $2.65 a gallon to import gas from Kuwait when the Iraqi state oil company told them it paid less than a dollar a gallon. The Army says it costs an average of $1.60 a gallon. ''The price Halliburton has charged to import gasoline from Kuwait needs thorough investigation,'' the lawmakers wrote.

''Transparency and accountability are essential if the efforts to reconstruct Iraq are to succeed,'' they added. To date, the members of the U.S. Congress said Halliburton had been paid more than $380 million for all gasoline imports into Iraq and an additional $690 million has been approved for future fuel imports.

The lawmakers said that based on figures provided by the Iraqi state oil company, SOMO, Halliburton may have overcharged the U.S. government by about $150 million to date. The lawmakers asked who in the U.S. Defense Department had approved Halliburton's billing and whether the oil services company had violated any laws or regulations.

Referring to the Development Fund, the lawmakers said the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq was attempting to use the money to buy assault rifles and millions of boxes of ammunition. These funds were intended to ''meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people,'' they said. The Pentagon's Inspector General's office said it had received the letter and was examining it.
From the Left:
SouthKnoxBubba __ another Mission Accomplished and the must read GOP Bizarro World Politics
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo ___ the CGI President and Culture Clashing with the Facts
Ruminate This ___ AARP; Just Another Insurance Agency and Another Vain and Vindictive Run

Damage: Global Warming Catastrophe - New Evidence

We support Damage in this week's new blog showcase. Read the entry above and while you are there check the archives.
More required reading: The False Hero The Mahablog


Big Fish Set to Swallow Spoils of Iraq War


Nov. 24 20:58 David Nash, head of the new Iraq Infrastructure Reconstruction Office (IIRO), appealed to businesses' patriotism last week at a conference designed to enlist them in the effort to rebuild the war-torn country. But Mr Nash, a retired rear admiral, must have felt as if he had walked into hostile fire when it came to question time. One by one, small businessmen aired concerns that they would be cut out of the process.

Sylvester Myers, an independent construction supervisor, appeared to sum up the mood when he asked Mr Nash whether Halliburton, the Houston oil-services giant, had an information booth at the conference. "These are the guys who are going to be running the show," Mr Myers said warily. "I know how it works."

Many procurement experts agree with that assessment - although they do not believe a conspiracy is to blame. The scale of the rebuilding effort is so vast, they say, and the timetable so ambitious that it seems all but guaranteed that the government will call on large, familiar companies such as Halliburton. The deteriorating security situation in Iraq should also tilt the competition in large companies' favour, they argue, as government agencies put more emphasis on bidders' ability to protect themselves.

"At the prime contractor level there are going to be a bunch of the usual suspects," predicted Steven Kelman, a professor of public administration at Harvard University. Peter Kant, a procurement specialist at Jefferson Consulting in Washington agreed. "You're definitely going to see the more traditional government contractors. If it's not Bechtel this time, it will be Fluor or Shaw," Mr Kant said.

That could prove embarrassing for the administration of President George W. Bush since the IIRO was created in part to meet criticism that large, well connected companies were cashing in while others were being shut out. Halliburton, for instance, which from 1995 to 2000 was headed by Dick Cheney, now US vice-president, was granted a contract to restore Iraq's oil fields - valued at up to $7bn - without competition.

But it looks as though Mr Nash and the IIRO will have to rely on such companies given the time constraints. The IIRO plans to award $18.7bn in new contracts for tasks - ranging from repairing Iraqi sewers and roads to refurbishing hospitals and training the new Iraqi Army - by early February. To place the mission in context, the federal government spent about a decade ramping up a similar-sized programme to provide food stamps to poor Americans.

"This is an adventure with no comparison anywhere else in the world," said Andrew Bearpark, the Coalition Provisional Authority's director of operations in Iraq and a veteran of several post-war rebuilding exercises. "The sums are absolutely staggering."

The IIRO's central strategy, however, appears to be "bundling". It plans to divide the funds into 25 enormous contracts that will each be overseen by a prime contractor who will then carry out some of the work themselves but also subcontract much of it. "A lot of what the primes are going to be doing is managing a system of subcontracting," Mr Kelman explained.

The small business community objects to bundling because it puts the resulting prime contracts - typically the most lucrative ones - out of their reach. In the case of Iraq, each averages about $750m. "We feel frustrated in the process because the government bundles these large contracts," one small businessman complained to Mr Nash last week. "I doubt we'll see one penny from helping to rebuild Iraq."

Even companies with the capacity for such large assignments are unlikely to win unless they have worked for the government before. The shortened time scale means rounds of vetting, bidding and rebidding that might have proved their credentials will have to be condensed. Competition for the first round of contracts may not be as level as many hoped, but it seems to be following the natural law of government contracting.

"During Desert Storm a huge number of contracts were awarded very quickly and there wasn't even a pretence of full and open competition," said Jim Nagle, a Seattle lawyer and author of the book History of Government Contracting. "What you gain in efficiency, you sacrifice in fairness."
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