Osama bin Laden

A Tiny Friday News Roundup

Time is running-out for Al Gore to throw his hat into the ring. My guess is that he won't.

There is a rumor that Fidel Castro is dead. We'll see if that has legs. I had a feeling he was in trouble when it was reported that he has nearly made a full-recovery.

The August job report is in the red (-4000 jobs). Plus the June and July job reports have been revised down. An analyst at Oppenheimer calls the drop "dreadful" (when do analysts use those strong words?) and says, "it seems almost inevitable we are heading for recession." If the FED does not cut short-term interest rates by at least a quarter on September 18th, expect the Marks to throw the biggest tantrum ever.

With Boston's nail-biting, painful victory last night, the Baltimore Orioles are officially eliminated from playoff contention.

And the NY Post this morning ran this front page:

Yes, it seems that Osama bin laden has dyed his beard. Now we would expect a tabloid to make comments about the appearance of celebrities. The color of Osama's beard can be discussed in Page Six along with what so-in-so was wearing at a movie premiere (or look, it's Maggie on the front page as well). But the headline "die [dye] already" is a stark contrast to the "Wanted" poster both NY tabloids ran nearly 6 years ago. Despite his rumored diseased kidneys, Osama isn't going to die easily on his own. Wishing him to die is just sad for a newspaper that pretty much declared that Rudy and W were going to personally get him in the wake of 9/11.

Listen, Jerusalem Post, you can wish all you want. But we need action, not wishes. We have a 'decider' in Washington who either forgot about bin Laden or decided to drop the pursuit. We need a new president who can act as 'the avenger.'

Unfortunately, it seems that aside from Obama and Kucinich, not a single Democratic candidate, seems committed to the goal to capturing or killing bin Laden in their first term in office. That is even more sad. And Kucinich is the only one who has committed to the goal of a complete US withdrawal from Iraq. Even Obama fails when it comes to fully reversing the biggest disaster in US foreign policy.

So today I have arrived at a primary decision. I am for Kucinich.

UPDATE, 15:49 EDT: In bin Laden's new video message, he apparently asks US citizens to convert to Islam as a way of ending our occupation of Iraq. Silly as that is, he didn't demand it. Being the gentleman that he is, he asked us politely, saying, "I invite you to embrace Islam."

I think I said in an early post that bin Laden really is a gentle guy. You can picture him surrounded by sheep and children. He's a really nice guy...who finances massive acts of terrorism. He might be the most curious enemy this nation has ever had.

Stuck In Iraq While The War Against al Qaeda Fails

Thursday July 12th will go down as one of the more depressing days of the Bush administration.

In his press conference, the president told the nation, in broad terms, that he will keep our army and marines in Iraq through the end of his second term. He also said that he will leave Iraq to the next president, and his legacy to historians to judge. He tried to end his press conference with this sound byte:

When it's all said and done ... if you ever come down and visit the old, tired me down there in Crawford, I will be able to say I looked in the mirror and made decisions based upon principle, not based upon politics.

As if there was not enough evidence that Bush has become delusional. He even took a shot at his dad while politely telling a reporter to shut up:

Do we ever use 'kinder and gentler'? No.

Just hours before the president spoke, the latest National Intelligence Estimate was either rushed to leaked to the press, on the heels of Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff's pitiful 'gut feeling' that we will be attacked very soon. I take the NIE with a grain of salt. It could be somewhat embellished to serve a political agenda. But even so, it should be considered mostly factual. And the facts do not bode well for this administration. It means that after nearly six years of invasions, bombings, kidnappings, torture, secret prisons, spying, bullying, and suppressing domestic dissent, there are al Qaeda survivors relatively safe and sound in the mountainous region of the Afghan-Pakistan border. Among them, presumably, is Osama bin Laden.

They don't have passports. They have guns and some rockets. We assume they cannot attack American targets very easily. But this means that while Bush moved half of our global military into the sands of Iraq, our real enemy was given time to recover, regroup, and possibly replace members who were killed. This is nothing less than a defeat for Bush - and us. The US has failed to finish-off al Qaeda.

Try spinning that, wingnuts, war hawks and fighting keyboardists. What are you going to say? It's Clinton's fault? It's the fault of liberals like me? John Kerry? Al Gore? I'm sure. Isn't it time you all got depressed and started doing hard drugs and just drifted away? Please do. Michelle Malkin, why haven't you and Ann Coulter hung yourselves in a Vegas hotel room yet? It's time you did that. You can do it naked as one last thrill for your fanboys. You can leave a note behind saying that you had sex with each other before doing it. That sounds hawt.

The pretty, bible-thumping Marie Jon'? Enough. Your articles defy reason. Stick to your MySpace page.

The very un-sexy Pam Atlas? Ew.

And let's not forget the male wingnuts out there. Especially the ones who keep making quasi-homoerotic comments but deny that they are gay. Militant homosexual brownshirts appear more than once in the current list of wingnuts.

Mark Steyn?

Jeff 'Manshake' Goldstein? Good lord. He is the personification of this theory.

How about "Vaginas are Icky" Ace of Spades, who this spring, famously described the female sex as resembling Play-Doh and bacon. That one is still getting laughs today. And Ace doesn't stop. He goes on to describe a woman's breasts as feeling like bags of sand. If he had ever touched a woman, maybe he would really know.

But seriously -

There have been many essays on yesterday's proceedings. I give you two of the best.

A Black Mark Not a Benchmark
by Rep. Jim McDermott
Huffington Post
Thu Jul 12, 5:51 PM ET

The President called another news conference today to pretend he is making progress in Iraq. It is the beginning of another White House White Wash.

This President is bound and determined to have U.S. soldiers fighting and dying in Iraq throughout every last day of his Administration.

The Administration's interim report released today represents a black mark, not a benchmark in the President's deadly and disastrous military escalation to prop up his failed Iraq strategy.

When the Vice President said in mid 2005: "I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency," 1,000 U.S. soldiers had already died in Iraq.

When the Secretary of State said in late 2005 that the U.S. would probably not need to maintain its current troop levels "very much longer," 2,000 U.S. soldiers had already died in Iraq.

When the President held a news conference in mid 2006 and predicted that "progress will be steady" toward achieving the U.S. mission there, 2,500 U.S soldiers had already died in Iraq.

When the Vice President said in early 2007: "We have, in fact, made enormous progress," 3,000 U.S. soldiers had already died in Iraq.

And as the President touted his latest vision of progress today, over 3,600 U.S. soldiers had already died in Iraq.

And we cannot forget the 26,000 U.S. soldiers who have been wounded, the 40,000 U.S. soldiers who will suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the uncounted tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians who have been killed and the millions of innocent Iraqi civilians who have fled the country.

But this President sees progress. I see a President willing to keep misleading the American people, no matter the consequences.

We are 17 months away from a new President being sworn into office and thousands of additional U.S. casualties if we follow this President.

It will be a travesty of justice if it takes getting to the 2008 general election and the American people throwing out every Republican in order to stop this war.

It is time for the Republican Members of Congress to stand up and stand down this President's war.

And this beautiful essay on our setback in the war against al Qaeda:

President Bush Loses His War On Terrorism
By Bob Cesca
Huffington Post
Thu Jul 12, 1:55 PM ET

President Bush is a loser of monumental proportions. We know this. But late Wednesday afternoon, the AP reported that al-Qaeda has returned to its pre-9/11 strength -- perhaps stronger, according to the latest National Intelligence Estimate.

Counterterrorism analysts produced the document, titled "Al-Qaeda better positioned to strike the West." The document focuses on the terror group's safe haven in Pakistan and makes a range of observations about the threat posed to the United States and its allies, officials said. Al-Qaeda is "considerably operationally stronger than a year ago" and has "regrouped to an extent not seen since 2001," the official said, paraphrasing the report's conclusions. "They are showing greater and greater ability to plan attacks in Europe and the United States."

All of the tens of thousands of dead and wounded American soldiers; all of the torture; all of the illegal wiretaps; all of the damage to our national reputation; all of the trespasses against the Constitution; all of the billions of dollars spent on this effort have succeeded in absolutely nothing positive. Nothing.

Al-Qaeda is not on the run.

President Bush, May 5, 2003:

Al-Qaeda is on the run. That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly, but surely being decimated. Right now, about half of all the top al-Qaeda operatives are either jailed or dead. In either case, they're not a problem anymore. (Applause.) And we'll stay on the hunt. To make sure America is a secure country, the al-Qaeda terrorists have got to understand it doesn't matter how long it's going to take, they will be brought to justice. (Applause.)

Their leadership is certainly not depleted by 75 percent, and Pakistan has agreed to a treaty allowing al-Qaeda to occupy the border.

President Bush, September 2, 2004:

Today, the government of a free Afghanistan is fighting terror, Pakistan is capturing terrorist leaders [...] the army of a free Iraq is fighting for freedom, and more than three-quarters of al-Qaeda's key members and associates have been detained or killed. (Applause.)

Not a single one of the myopic bumper-sticker horseshit platitudes which the president, Republicans and right-wing pundits have bleated into our hemorrhaging eardrums have proved true. If I'm wrong, name one. Terrorists are stronger now than they have been since September 11, 2001, according to your government.

There's no other way to spin this news. The president has unequivocally failed at the one thing he's supposed to be good at: fighting those folks -- the terrorists. Vice President Cheney has repeatedly instructed us that he and his henchmen are the only ones who can keep us safe. Without Bush & Cheney and their successor Rudy, we're all doomed and al-Qaeda will get us.

But as it turns out, the Republicans can't hack it.

Every terrorist they've claimed to have captured or killed has been replaced, as predicted, by another terrorist. According to the September, 2006 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, your government said that the replacement terrorists have been recruited because of our ongoing occupation of Iraq.

And now, according to this latest NIE, some of the jihadists are dispersing elsewhere. In other words, they're not staying over there. In fact, they're evidently following us home even though we're still there.

At this stage of the effort, and with everything we know, you can't dream up a delusion large enough that says, "But hey -- that means we have to stay the course! That means we have to fight them in Iraq. Duh-yuk." Anyone who buys into this, after all the facts and events which have come to pass, is lying to themselves and to you.

That includes Mr. Giuliani, who rapidly evolved from a tarnished yet mildly popular mayor into the most delusional, narcissistic, opportunistic, fear-mongering, shameless, cock-a-hoop in the history of modern politics. Strong words, especially "cock-a-hoop," but all too true.

The Giuliani campaign theme of "staying on the offense against terrorism" is as laughable as it is meaningless. The evidence shows that staying on the offense has succeeded only in strengthening al-Qaeda, no? But this guy is proud to announce that he supports continuing the incompetent Bush/Cheney effort against (or, as it turns out, for) terrorism.

What other countries would Rudy invade in order to remain on the offense? How much longer would Rudy keep our boys in Iraq? Both scenarios have proved, to date, ineffectual at best and counterproductive at worst -- dangerous above all. If his only issue is horseshit, he has no choice but to drop out of the race now. Don't embarrass yourself any further, Rudy. Follow Senator McCain out the back door.

The Bush/Cheney/Giuliani policy has played out like that scene in Fight Club in which Edward Norton pummeled Jared Leto into a regurgitated bag of goo. Likewise, after 9/11, most of us felt like we needed to pummel something. But the pummeling surpassed the threshold of vengeful exhilaration and rapidly transformed into excessive and meaningless aggression. When we invaded Iraq, we surpassed a "stay on the offense" zero barrier, a point at which even the other pummelers cringed, took a step back and said, "Where'd you go, Psycho Boy?"

So where does that leave you and I? Our only course as Americans is to...continue onward as Americans. That means not acquiescing our constitutional rights for the sake of a little extra security. That means channeling our fear and uncertainty into supporting productive and forward-thinking measures, rather than meaningless sloganeering and futile military campaigns.

The Democrats, meantime, should be mandated to watch Michael Moore's appearance on CNN. Over and over again until the force of Moore's charisma bleeds into their collectively soupy Jell-O mold, hardening it to a razor sharp edge. Hopefully, then, they'll snap to the program. Hopefully, then, they'll cut the shit with this apologetic glad-handing and cease their reactive stammering in the face of a 29 percenter who has failed at everything at the peril of the entire world.

Bush: bin Laden is Hiding! Breaking News!

Excuse me while I vent. But this statement from our president had me seething with furious anger.

Bush: Bin Laden isolated, not leading parades
Thu May 24, 2007 2:10PM EDT
By Tabassum Zakaria, REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who has eluded a U.S. manhunt, is plotting against the United States but has been isolated and driven into hiding, President George W. Bush said on Thursday.

This is a history lesson for those who are not caught-up, right?

"He's not out there traipsing around. He's not leading many parades," Bush told a news conference after being asked why bin Laden had not been caught. "He's not out feeding the hungry.

He's only had time to lead a couple of parades since 9/11. But he's not regularly playing in meadows with sheep and children (although he looks kind enough to do so, right? That is his evil charm.) He's not sunbathing and surfing at the beach. He's not waiting in line at Jamba Juice or WholeFoods. He's not engaging in online dating. OK. We get it!!

He's isolated, trying to kill people to achieve his objective."

But not personally. bin Laden is a financier of terrorist attacks. The plan for 9/11 wasn't even his idea. But he put up the $300K in cash. Moot point.

Bush, who declared after the September 11 2001 attacks that he wanted bin Laden captured dead or alive, pledged that the hunt would go on.

Just not under the direction of US Forces. We're letting our "allies" in Pakistan "search" for him. That's a euphemism meaning the Pakistani military dictatorship isn't doing jack shit.

Security officials believe that bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri are hiding in the mountainous region along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"He is in a remote region of the world. If I knew precisely where he is, we would take the appropriate action to bring him to justice," Bush said.

You and the CIA know god dammed well where he is. Not the exact location. But you know the general area. You damn well know. Northern Pakistan, along a 200-mile stretch of border with Afghanistan. If we had satellites that work and special forces on the ground, we could find him in a few months. But we choose not to.

"He is attempting to establish a base of operations in Iraq," he said. So far bin Laden had not succeeded in establishing a cell there and "that's why we've got to stay engaged," Bush said.

bin Laden is a nihilist. Building bases or nations is not his thing. And he wouldn't want to set-up terrorist camps in Iraq now - not with the largest US embassy ever built on the Tigris, and the country tearing itself into three states. However, bin Laden will encourage terrorism in Iraq so long as we are there. That might be a reason we should NOT stay engaged.

""Had he been able to establish an internal cell that had safe haven, we would be a lot more in danger today than we are," he said.

We wouldn't be more vulnerable than we already are today. bin Laden does not need a base in Iraq in order to arrange an attack on US soil, and Bush knows that too.

Bush has repeatedly warned that U.S. troops must stay in Iraq until it is secure and that al Qaeda must be defeated overseas or it will again launch attacks on U.S. soil.

Bin Laden and Zawahri have issued taped messages over the years showing they are still alive despite efforts by U.S. forces to find them.

Democrats, who have gained a more forceful voice since winning a majority in Congress in last year's elections, criticize Bush for the Iraq war, saying it diverted resources from pursuing the al Qaeda leaders.

In trying to make a case for sending more troops to Iraq despite the increasing unpopularity of the war among the American public, Bush insists that al Qaeda and insurgents must be defeated there or they will "follow us" to the United States.

Again, I ask: How? With what vehicles? With what passports? Does he mean customs would actually let them in if they arrived at JFK? I thought we fixed that little problem? We didn't? Our borders are wide-the-fuck open?

"I would hope our world hadn't become so cynical that they don't take the threats of al Qaeda seriously. Because they're real," Bush said.

They were real in 2001. Did the president suspend his Crawford vacation when he received word of the threat? Did he even read the August 6th PDB?

"He appeared to be referring in part to comments by Sen. John Edwards, a Democratic presidential hopeful, on Wednesday that Bush's declared "war on terror" was "a slogan designed only for politics."

And Edwards is correct. He grew balls. He's even leading Hillary in the Iowa polls.

"Trying to rally support for his Iraq policy, Bush used a speech at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday to detail continued efforts by bin Laden to attack on U.S. targets since September 11.

I refer you to my post from Tuesday. Whatever.