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U.S. Politics
A Slogger Guide to Poker Clichés For Hill Reporters
04/29/2007 5:36 PM ET
TedRall.com

Slogger's guide to D.C. style politics. Although "veto", "quorum" and filibuster aren't in the dictionary these terms may be helpful:

Ante A small portion of a bet contributed by each player to seed the pot at the beginning of a poker hand. Most hold'em games do not have an ante; they use "blinds" to get initial money into the pot.

All-In To run out of chips while betting or calling. In table stakes games, a player may not go into his pocket for more money during a hand. If he runs out, a side pot is created in which he has no interest. However, he can still win the pot for which he had the chips.

Backdoor Catching both the turn and river card to make a drawing hand.

Bad Beat To have a hand that is a large underdog beat a heavily favored hand. It is generally used to imply that the winner of the pot had no business being in the pot at all, and it was the wildest of luck that he managed to catch the one card in the deck that would win the pot.

Clean Out A card that would almost certainly make your hand best. If you are drawing at a straight, but there is a flush draw possible, then the cards that make your straight but also the flush are not clean outs.

Cripple As in "to cripple the deck." Meaning that you have most or all of the cards that somebody would want to have with the current board. If you have pocket kings, and the other two kings flop, you have crippled the deck.

Crying Call A call that you make expecting to lose, but feel that you must make anyway because of the pot odds.

Cut-Off The position (or player) who acts one before the button.

Dead Money (1) Money contributed to a pot by a player no longer in the pot. (2) A player in a tournament who has no realistic chance of winning.

Dog Shortened form of "underdog."

Draw To play a hand that is not yet good, but could become so if the right cards come. Also used as a noun.

Fast Play To play a hand aggressively, betting and raising as much as possible.

Fish A poor player -- one who gives his money away. It's a well-known (though not well-followed) rule among good players to not upset the bad players, because they'll stop having fun and perhaps leave. Thus the phrase, "Don't tap on the aquarium."

Foul A hand that may not be played for one reason or another. A player with a foul hand may not make any claim on any portion of the pot. " Gutshot Straight A straight filled "inside." If you have 9s-8s, the flop comes 7c-5h-2d, and the turn is the 6c, you've made your gutshot straight.

Heads-Up A pot that is being contested by only two players.

Hit As in "the flop hit me," meaning the flop contains cards that help your hand. If you have AK, and the flop comes K-7-2, it hit you.

House The establishment running the game.

Implied Odds Pot odds that do not exist at the moment, but may be included in your calculations because of bets you expect to win if you hit your hand. For instance, you might call with a flush draw on the turn even though the pot isn't offering you quite 4:1 odds (your chance of making the flush) because you're sure you can win a bet from your opponent on the river if you make your flush.

Jackpot A special bonus paid to the loser of a hand if he gets a very good hand beaten. In hold'em, the "loser" must typically get aces full or better beaten. In some of the large southern California card clubs, jackpots have gotten over $50,000. Of course, the jackpot is funded with money removed from the game as part of the rake.

Jam Leak A weakness in your game that causes you to win less money than you would otherwise.

Maniac A player who does a lot of hyper-aggressive raising, betting, and bluffing. A true maniac is not a good player, but is simply doing a lot of gambling. However, a player who occasionally acts like a maniac and confuses his opponents is quite dangerous.

Made Hand A hand to which you're drawing, or one good enough that it doesn't need to improve.

Muck The pile of folded and burned cards in front of the dealer. No-Limit A version of poker in which a player may bet any amount of chips (up to the number in front of him) whenever it is his turn to act. It is a very different game from limit poker.

Nuts The best possible hand given the board. Pay Off To call a bet when the bettor is representing a hand that you can't beat, but the pot is sufficiently large to justify a call anyway. Price The pot odds you are getting for a draw or call

Protect (1) To keep your hand or a chip on your cards. This prevents them from being fouled by a discarded hand, or accidentally mucked by the dealer. (2) To invest more money in a pot so blind money that you've already put in isn't "wasted."

Put On To mentally assign a hand to a player for the purposes of playing out your hand. Ragged A flop (or board) that doesn't appear to help anybody very much.

Rake An amount of money taken out of every pot by the dealer. This is the cardroom's income.

Rank The numerical value of a card (as opposed to its suit).

Scare Card A card that may well turn the best hand into trash. If you have Tc-8c and the flop comes Qd-Jd-9s, you almost assuredly have the best hand. However, a turn card of Td would be very scary because it would almost guarantee that you are now beaten.

Semi-Bluff A powerful concept first discussed by David Sklansky. It is a bet or raise that you hope will not be called, but you have some outs if it is. A semi-bluff may be correct when betting for value is not correct, a pure bluff is not correct, but the combination of the two may be a positive expectation play.

Showdown The point at which all players remaining in the hand turn their cards over and determine who has the best hand -- i.e., after the fourth round of betting is completed. Of course, if a final bet or raise is not called, there is no showdown.

Slow Play To play a strong hand weakly so more players will stay in the pot.

Table Stakes A rule in a poker game meaning that a player may not go into his pocket for money during a hand. He may only invest the amount of money in front of him into the current pot. If he runs out of chips during the hand, a side pot is created in which he has no interest. All casino poker is played table stakes. The definition sometimes also includes the rule that a player may not remove chips from the table during a game. While this rule might not be referred to as "table stakes," it is enforced almost universally in public poker games.

Time (1) A request by a player to suspend play while he decides what he's going to do. Simply, "Time, please!" If a player doesn't request time and there is a substantial amount of action behind him, the dealer may rule that the player has folded. (2) An amount of money collected either on the button or every half hour by the cardroom. This is another way for the house to make its money (see "rake").

Under the Gun The position of the player who acts first on a betting round. For instance, if you are one to the left of the big blind, you are under the gun before the flop.

Underdog A person or hand not mathematically favored to win a pot. For instance, if you flop four cards to your flush, you are not quite a 2:1 underdog to make your flush by the river (that is, you will make your flush about one in three times). See also "dog."

Courtesy of "Lee Jones's Winning Low-Limit Hold'em"

U.S. Politics
Bush Reaffirms Intent to Reject Timeline
By CHRISTINA DAVIDSON 04/27/2007 1:51 PM ET
CAMP DAVID, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush listens to translation as he is questioned by reporters during a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Camp David, Maryland, 27 April 2007.
Jim Watson/Getty
CAMP DAVID, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush listens to translation as he is questioned by reporters during a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Camp David, Maryland, 27 April 2007.

President Bush repeated his intent to veto the legislation passed this week by Congress, saying "I haven't vetoed the first bill yet, but I'm going to ... I made it clear I would veto it," at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Bush said he wanted to invite Congressional leaders to the White House for negotiations as soon as he vetoes the bill, so that an acceptable revised version can be presented quickly. Neither the House nor the Senate passed the measure with the two-thirds majority needed to override a Presidential veto, though they could always send back a revised version.

"If they want to try again that which I've said is unacceptable, of course I won't accept it," the president said during a news conference here with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. "I hope it won't come to that."

White House counselor Dan Bartlett faced a tense moment on CBS this morning, as Hannah Storm loaded her question, first reminding him that a recent CBS news poll indicated 64% of the American public supported setting a timetable for troops withdrawals in 2008. "So this seems to be not only what Congress wants, but what the American people want," she said. "Is the President still going to veto?"

Of course Bartlett kept to talking points about how the Dems knew Bush would veto any timeline, and that Petraeus had briefed Congress about progress the surge was making and the challenges that lie ahead. Then he reaffirmed the President's intent to veto quickly, "so then Democrats and Republicans can come together and negotiate a way forward. What we found here was that Democrats were unwilling to negotiate with Republicans; they were insisting on these arbitrary deadlines."

Democrats have indicated they might drop the timeline that Bush refuses to accept, but have insisted there will be other strings attached, perhaps involving the benchmarks that received bipartisan Congressional support.

Reid had said Thursday that it could take another month to put together a new spending bill--an exaggeration comparable in size to Bush's claim that Democratic politics are pinching the pocketbooks of US commanders in Iraq.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., urged Bush on Friday to "carefully read this bill."

"He will see it fully provides for our troops and gives them a strategy worthy of their sacrifices," Reid said. "Failing to sign this bill would deny our troops the resources and strategy they need."

The bill's total pricetag is $124.2 billion, allocating more than $90 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Democrats added billions more for domestic programs, including assistance for Hurricane Katrina victims and veterans' medical care.

The legislation requires a troop withdrawal to begin July 1 if Bush cannot certify that the Iraqi government is making progress in disarming militias, reducing sectarian violence and forging political agreements. If they are making progress, the deadline for beginning withdrawal is extended to October 1.

A limited number of troops could stay to conduct counterterrorism missions, protect U.S. facilities and personnel, and train Iraqi security forces.

Eye on Congress
HR 1591 With Timeline Intact Will Arrive at White House for Veto Tuesday
04/26/2007 1:41 PM ET
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks at a news conference as (L-R) Iraq War veteran John Bruhns, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Rep. David Obey (D-WI), Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI), Iraq War veteran Jeremy Broussard and Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) listen.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks at a news conference as (L-R) Iraq War veteran John Bruhns, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Rep. David Obey (D-WI), Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI), Iraq War veteran Jeremy Broussard and Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) listen.

The Senate voted 51-46 Thursday afternoon to approve the HR 1591 conference report, the controversial defense supplemental spending bill that President Bush has repeatedly vowed to veto because of its inclusion of a schedule for withdrawal and non-war-related spending.

The $124 billion funding bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan includes $25 billion for farmers, Hurricane Katrina victims, and veterans’ programs, and a timetable that would require the "redeployment" of troops beginning October 1 and to be completed by April 1, 2008, or sooner if the Iraqi government does not meet certain benchmarks of progress.

The House approved the bill last night, and Congress is expected to deliver the bill to the White House on Tuesday--the fourth anniversary of President Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech.

In the passionate debate prior to the vote Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) argued that established benchmarks with the looming possibility of losing of US support is "the only realistic way to encourage the Iraqis to take responsibility for their future."

But Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut disagreed in his comments, calling the bill “a deadline for defeat," saying it would have “exactly the opposite effect that its supporters expect” because it would discourage the Iraqis.

Senator James M. Inhofe, (R-OK), said it was time to “look beyond the politics of this thing, and do the right thing” by letting Gen. David H. Petraeus a chance to finish the job.

But Kennedy, echoing the comments of many Democratic senators, had argued that the majority of the American people oppose the current involvement in the war, believing that the U.S. military "should not police Iraq's civil war indefinitely."

White House spokesperson Dana Perrino said earlier today that Bush would veto the bill "quickly," so Congress could get on with producing a revised version.

In the House of Representatives late Wednesday, the 218-208 party line vote fell short of the 290 that would be required to overcome a Bush veto. Two Republicans voted for the bill--Reps. Wayne Gilchrest (MD) and Walter Jones (NC)--thirteen Democrats--seven conservatives and six liberals--voted against it.

"Tonight, the House of Representatives voted for failure in Iraq," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said in a statement after the vote.

She further called the bill "disappointing legislation that insists on a surrender date, handcuffs our generals and contains billions of dollars in spending unrelated to the war."

Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), the ranking member on the Appropriations Committee, accused Pelosi and the Democrats of working “to undermine a successful outcome in Iraq” by establishing a withdrawal date for U.S. forces, while Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) called it “a vote of no confidence in our troops.”

But perhaps the most poignant appeal in the House debate prior to the vote came from an Iraq veteran, freshman Congressman Patrick J. Murphy (D-PA), who lost nine fellow paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne this week in one of the deadliest attacks of the war

"How many more suicide bombs must kill American soldiers before this president offers a timeline for our troops to come home?" he asked.

"How many more military leaders must declare the war will not be won militarily before this president demands that the Iraqis stand up and fight for their country? How many more terrorists will President Bush's foreign policy breed before he focuses a new strategy, a real strategy? This bill says enough is enough."

DC Buzz
General Also Discusses Iran and Syria Influence in Iraq
By CHRISTINA DAVIDSON 04/26/2007 12:25 PM ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The insurgency the US faces in Iraq is the "most complex" Gen. David Petraeus has ever seen, the commander of the Multi-National Forces-Iraq told a press conference at the Pentagon on Thursday.

Petraeus acknowledged a recent spike in spectacular car bombings, but reaffirmed that the recent surge of troops into Baghdad had reduced sectarian violence there by a third.

That reduction in sectarian killings seems to be the main achievement of the Baghdad security plan, with Petraeus citing US and Iraqi success at rolling up extrajudicial killing, or EJK, cells, as the main reason for the decline.

When a reporter asked what might happen if a date was enforced for the redeployment of US troops--such as is currently under debate in Congress--Petreaus cited a reversal of this recent progress as the most significant consequence of that type of proposed transition of mission.

The violence in Iraq is "exceedingly complex and very tough" Petraeus said, and the US goal is to create a space safe for the Iraqis to make political progress. "Success in the end will depend on Iraqi actions," he said, later adding that the US could provide Iraqis with the opportunity to take political steps, "but they must exploit it."

Petraeus also responded to questions about Iranian and Syrian involvement in Iraq, decribing a complex tangle of involvements with fuzzy details around the edges.

The General explained how much had been learned regarding the Iranian role by the capture in late March of seven members of the "Khazali network."

The Khazalis have been accused of involvement in the brazen attack on the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center, and the kidnapping and murder of five American soldiers in Karbala in January.

Since their capture, the Khazalis have apparently admitted under interrogation that they trained on Iranian soil, and also received funding, weapons, ammunition, and other forms of assistance.

Petreaus stressed that he had no knowledge if the top ranks of the Iranian government had awareness of or directed these activities, adding that the highest ranking official he had confirmed involvement is a Qods Force Commander Sulaiyman.

The General also revealed that when the Khazali network was seized in late March, a search of one of their computer hard drives uncovered a 22-page memorandum detailing the planning and execution of the operation in which they kidnapped and eventually executed five US soldiers in Karbala in January. The military's assumption, he added, was that the document may have been prepared to show the Iranians how professionally and effectively they operated. There was no indication, he clarified, that the document had actually been an Iranian planning memo for execution by Iraqi proxies.

While focusing a great deal of attention on possible Iranian involvement in driving extremist activities, Petreaus carefully delineated between the kinds of activities of the Shi'ite, Sadr-affilited Khazalis, who focus the bulk of their attacks on US forces, and the al Qaeda-affiliated foreigners, the majority of whom, he said, perpetrate the "spectacular" attacks, usually car bombs or suicide attacks with civilian or otherwise very public targets. Those groups, he said, rely on an al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist network to assist their transportation to the battlefield, usually crossing the border into Iraq through Syria.

Though reluctant to give any specific numbers, Petreaus roughly estimated that "dozens" of foreign fighters cross into Iraq from Syria every month. Later in the press conference, when confirming that there was no evidence of any Iranian involvement in the "spectacular" bombings attacks, Petraeus said of the bombers in those incidents: "80-90% of those are foreigners coming in through Syria."

Petraeus also repeated his intent to return to Congress in "early September" to offer his assessment on the surge, making absolutely clear "that's a commitment" he has made with Ambassador Ryan Crocker. By that point, the full contingent of additional troops he has requested will have been in theater for almost three months, since he expects the final surge supplemental to arrive by mid-June.

Though Petraeus made the disclaimer that things "may get worse before they get better," his outlook at the moment was decidedly upbeat and his outlook for the future optimistic.

Eye on Congress
Dems Say Spending Bill Will Still Pass Tonight With Timeline Intact
04/25/2007 5:55 PM ET
WASHINGTON - APRIL 25: U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus (2nd L), commander of the Multinational Force in Iraq, walks from the House to the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol in between briefings to the armed services committees April 25, 2007 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty
WASHINGTON - APRIL 25: U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus (2nd L), commander of the Multinational Force in Iraq, walks from the House to the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol in between briefings to the armed services committees April 25, 2007 in Washington, DC.

What Gen. David Petraues told the closed joint session of Congress today "reinforced our view that the solution in Iraq is a political solution," Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said after emerging from the briefing.

Hoyer said he agreed with Petraeus's comments that progress in Iraq required political development. He added that the Democratic position of "articulating expectations" for the Iraqi goverment in the form of benchmarks is the way to encourage them to make progress on the political solution.

Petreus took the microphone after the Democratic leaders had finished speaking, and expressed a more positive approach to his outlook on recent developments in Iraq.

According to Petraeus, though Baghdad may have experienced a recent spike in spectacular mass casualty suicide and car bombings, overall sectarian murders are on the decline in the city--down one-third since the beginning of the Baghdad security plan.

In Anbar province, Petraeus acknowledged there remained much progress to be made, but said that all trends were pointing in the right direction.

The House will vote on the defense supplemental spending bill in a few hours.

Eye on Congress
Secretary of State Will Be Compelled to Testify About Pre-War Intelligence
04/25/2007 3:14 PM ET
Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty

The House Oversight committee voted 21-10 on Wednesday to suboena Condoleezza Rice to compel her to testify about her knowledge of the pre-war intelligence claims that made the case for the invasion of Iraq.

"There was one person in the White House who had primary responsibility to get the intelligence about Iraq right -- and that was Secretary Rice who was then President George W. Bush's national security adviser," said Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA).

"The American public was misled about the threat posed by Iraq, and this committee is going to do its part to find out why," Waxman said.

Not long after assuming chairmanship of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform following the Democratic takeover of the House, Waxman sent a letter to Rice to let her know that she couldn't ignore his requests for information now that his party had assumed the majority.

The State Department has sent reponses to some of the Chairman's most recent requests, though none that have answered the questions to his satisfaction.

The questions Waxman addressed to Secretary Rice include:

(1) whether you had any knowledge that would explain why President Bush cited forged evidence about Iraq's efforts to procure uranium from Niger in the State of the Union address;

(2) whether you knew before the State of the Union address of the doubts raised by the CIA and the State Department about the veracity of the Niger claim;

(3) whether there was a factual basis for your reference in a January 23,2003, op-ed to "Iraq's efforts to get uranium from abroad";

(4) whether you took appropriate steps to investigate how the Niger claim ended up in the State of the Union address after it was revealed to be fraudulent.

DC Buzz
Charges Failure to Remove Deadline No More Than Political Statement
04/24/2007 12:56 PM ET
WASHINGTON - APRIL 24: US President George W. Bush makes a statement to the news media on the South Lawn April 24, 2007 in Washington, DC.
Getty
WASHINGTON - APRIL 24: US President George W. Bush makes a statement to the news media on the South Lawn April 24, 2007 in Washington, DC.

President Bush lobbed an official response back to the Democratic Congress today in the ongoing confrontation over the defense supplemental spending bill, reaffirming his intent to veto any required withdrawal date.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Bush said that if "Democratic leaders insist on using the bill to make a political statement, they will leave me with only one option: I will veto it."

In Bush's view, the plan Democrats outlined yesterday "will fund our troops only if we agree to handcuff our generals, add billions of dollars in unrelated spending, and begin to pull out of Iraq by an arbitrary date."

"The security of our country depends directly on the outcome in Iraq," President Bush said, echoing statements similar to those uttered by his political opponents, though the two camps take dramatically different views on how the war affects US security.

From the President's perspective, "Precipitous withdrawal from Iraq is not a plan to bring peace to the region or to make our people safer at home. Instead, it would embolden our enemies and confirm their belief that America is weak."

In the view of many Congressional Democrats, however, setting a timetable for withdrawal would, in the words of Sen. Harry Reid yesterday, reduce "the specter of the U.S. occupation, which gives fuel to the insurgency."

See here for the full transcript of the President's comments.

Eye on Congress
Reid Says White House Can Expect Bill, Including Deadline, Within Days
04/23/2007 6:02 PM ET
Alex Wong/Getty

Just hours after President Bush reiterated that he would "strongly reject" any attempt to impose a schedule for withdrawal from Iraq, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said in a speech that within days Congress will pass legislation doing just that.

According to Reid, the proposed bill "immediately transitions the U.S. mission away from policing a civil war— to training and equipping Iraqi security forces, protecting U.S. forces and conducting targeted counter-terror operations."

The second phase calls for phased redeployment of troops to begin no later than October 1, 2007 with a goal to complete withdrawal within six months--except for a limited number that would stay behind to continue training, counterterrorism ops, and to protect US facilities and personnel.

In Reid's view, the deadline puts the Iraqi government under intense pressure to perform, would allow troops to be re-directed to Afghanistan, could relieve some of the current strain on the military, and would reduce "the specter of the U.S. occupation which gives fuel to the insurgency."

See here for the full transcript of Reid's speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC.

Eye on Congress
Senate Leader Says War Needs Diplomatic, Economic, Political Efforts
04/19/2007 4:11 PM ET
Washington, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush speaks during a bicameral and bipartisan leadership meeting as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, looks on 18 April 2007 in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty
Washington, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush speaks during a bicameral and bipartisan leadership meeting as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, looks on 18 April 2007 in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told President Bush that the surge is failing and the war has been lost during a White House meeting with Congressional leaders on Wednesday.

"This is the message I took to the president," Reid told reporters in a press conference Thursday.

"Now I believe myself ... that this war is lost, and that the surge is not accomplishing anything, as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday," Reid said, referring to Wednesday's bombings in Baghdad that killed close to 200 people.

"I know I was like the odd guy out yesterday at the White House, but at least I told him what he needed to hear, not what he wanted to hear," he added.

Yesterday's meeting was reportedly convened to hammer out differences on the pending defense spending legislation, but no compromise on the timeline was reached.

In Reid's view, the continuation of combat operations will not achieve success for US interests because "I believe the war at this stage can only be won diplomatically, politically and economically, and the president needs to come to that realization.”

Speaking in Tipp City, Ohio on Thursday, Bush told his audience, "I think it's a mistake for Congress to tell the military how to do its job," he said.

Bush reiterated his threat to veto any legislative measure that includes a date for withdrawal of US troops, explaining, "If you're a young commander on the ground, or an Iraqi soldier, and you've been tasked with a mission to help provide security for a city, and an enemy hears that you're leaving soon, it affects your capacity to do your job."

Diplomatic Buzz
Bush Loosens Restrictions for Special Immigrant Visa
04/17/2007 1:03 PM ET
Geneva, SWITZERLAND: US Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, Paula Dobriansky (L) and US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, Ellen Sauerbrey attend a press conference following the opening day of the UNHCR conference in Geneva.
Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty
Geneva, SWITZERLAND: US Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, Paula Dobriansky (L) and US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, Ellen Sauerbrey attend a press conference following the opening day of the UNHCR conference in Geneva.

The Bush Administration is sending to Congress draft special immigrant visa (SIV) legislation, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky announced today in Geneva at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' international conference on Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons.

The proposed legislation gives the Secretary of State the worldwide authority, under exceptional circumstances, to lower the number of years a Foreign Service National (FSN) must work in order to be eligible for the existing SIV program from 15 to 3 years.

The Under Secretary also endorsed the intent of Senate Bill 1104 introduced by Senators Kennedy and Lugar, and H.R. 1790 introduced by Representatives Berman and Fortenberry. Both Bills seek to expand the existing law on SIV to allow as many as 1,500 interpreters under Departments of Defense and State authority, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, access to the SIV program.

Eye on Congress
Flanked by Generals, Reid Calls for 'Responsible' End to War
04/16/2007 6:34 PM ET
WASHINGTON - APRIL 16: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (C) speaks as Army Lt. General Robert G. Gard (Ret.) (L) and Brig. General John H. Johns (Ret.) (R) looks on during a news conference to call for a change of course in Iraq April 16, 2
Alex Wong/Getty
WASHINGTON - APRIL 16: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (C) speaks as Army Lt. General Robert G. Gard (Ret.) (L) and Brig. General John H. Johns (Ret.) (R) looks on during a news conference to call for "a change of course in Iraq" April 16, 2

"The American people, a bipartisan majority of Congress and senior military leaders, including these two distinguished officers standing next to me, have all called for a change of course in Iraq. But President Bush and Vice President Cheney refuse to listen. They are isolated in their thinking and are failing our troops and our country," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today said today at a press conference standing next to Lt. General Robert G. Gard, Jr. (USA, Ret.) and Brig. General John H. Johns (USA, Ret.).

"Congress is committed to fully funding our troops, changing the course in Iraq and responsibly ending the war," Reid continued. "When Democratic leaders sit down with the President this Wednesday we will be bringing with us the concerns of the American people and the advice of military experts."

Reid's press conference came on the same day that Bush staged his own media event, surrounded by military families, reiterating his intent to veto any legislation that includes a timetable for withdrawal of US troops.

Full Report PDF
Cordesman: Success to Be Measured in Years, Not Months
04/16/2007 5:49 PM ET
From Iraq's Troubled Future: The Uncertain Way Ahead by Anthony Cordesman the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The prospects in Iraq are not good, and the level of violence and civil conflict is significantly higher than most Iraqi and US government sources like to publicly admit. Two sets of recent public opinion polls are used in this analysis, along with data taken from the most recent Department of Defense Quarterly Report, to show the level of conflict, and highlight Iraqi concerns and fears.

At the same time, the same Iraqi public opinion polls show that the majority of Iraqis, other than Kurds, still want some form of national unity, not federalism or separation. They also show that many Iraqis have not given up on the future. The real question now is whether the US has the patience to at least play out its current strategy, and accept the fact that any hope of success must be measured in years of US action, not months.

Conciliation and Coexistence and Realistic Timelines are the Key

Each of these conflicts involves political, ethnic, religious, and economic struggles for control of space and resources, as well as sheer political power. Each struggle will continue in some form almost indefinitely into the future and the ability to influence the level to which they can be brought under control will depend at least as much on improved US civil military progress as any success at arms.

In practice, the US needs to take the following measures in dealing with civil-military affairs:

• Use US pressure and influence in civil-military areas, but don’t export the burden or the blame to Iraqis. It won’t pressure them in ways that are not destructive.

• Develop honest metrics of security tied to each struggle, covering the entire country, and linked to the local economic situation and quality of governance. Create net assessments that do not focus on threats, but the overall situation and progress, with summary reporting at the level of major cities and governorates. Tie US programs and priorities to such efforts, provide the level of credibility and transparency necessary to build broader Congressional and US public support if this is still possible.

• Continue to make political conciliation and compromise a key priority, but accept the message that Iraq cannot easily be unified as a secular national entity. Accept the practical need to create safe and viable Arab Sunni, Arab Shi’ite, and Kurdish areas within Iraq; find ways of sharing revenues and power on sectarian and ethnic terms. At this point. Divided Kurdish and Arab areas, and Sunni and Shi’ite areas with limited numbers of mixed cities seem almost certain to emerge.

• Success means actually implementing the best achievable mix of:

o An oil law and technical annexes that assure all major Iraqi factions of an equitable share of today’s oil revenues and the future development of Iraq’s oil and gas resources.

o Giving the Sunnis real participation in the national government at every level, and creating ministries and government structures that fairly mix Arab Shi’ite, Arab Sunni, Kurd, and other minorities.

o Re-Ba’athification and giving a clean slate or amnesty to all who served under the Ba’ath not guilty of violent crimes.

o Amending the constitution to create a structure that protects the rights of all Iraqis, and which creates viable compromises, or clearly defers or omits, areas of critical sectarian and ethnic division. --As part of this, working out an approach to federation that will avoid civil conflict.

o Creating and implementing local election laws, particularly at the provincial level.

o Disbanding or assimilating militias, or creating retraining centers and funding programs to deal with members.

• Focus on day-today government services, not politics and further to rush democracy and Western standards into Iraq.

• Measure progress and problems in terms of Iraqi perceptions, not US plans, projects, or spending. Analyze US success in terms of the impact of USA actions on the Iraqis most affected by each of the four struggles outlined by Secretary Gates.

• Recast the Iraqi force development effort to focus on what can actually be done at the rate it can be done. Accept the limits to how fast the army can be effective, real world hopes for the National and regular police, and real-world ability to eliminate local dependence on militias and local security forces.

• Develop honest and meaningful metrics of progress in Iraqi force development, not spin- oriented nonsense like “trained and equipped” manpower and forces “in the lead.” Create force development plans based on realistic time scales and with adequate levels of resources. Tie force development far more firmly to aid efforts to build up the legal system, governance, and legitimate local authority. “Win” is pointless without “hold” and “build.”

• Focus aid on immediate efforts at use aid funds to support stability and to ease Iraq’s diverse conflicts. Eliminate USAID and USACE managers in Washington, and US contractors in both the US and Iraq, as much as possible. Concentrate on CERP and PRT driven aid as critical tool in “hold” and “build” and to make up for lack of Iraqi government presence, competence, and integrity. Focus national efforts on showing Iraqis that the US will aid them do it the Iraqi way in critical areas like revitalizing state industry.

• Accept the fact no meaningful victory is possible within the life of this Administration. Make bipartisan efforts to both create an understanding of the long-term efforts needed if the current security plan succeeds, and to recast the US role in Iraq and Gulf on an enduring basis if it does not.

Eye on Congress
Statement in Advance of Wednesday Meeting with Leaders
04/16/2007 12:41 PM ET
Washington, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush speaks during a press conference 16 April 2007 in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC.
JimWatson/AFP/Getty
Washington, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush speaks during a press conference 16 April 2007 in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC.

President Bush reminded the Democratic Congress of his power and intent to veto any bill that would commit the US to a date for withdrawal of combat troops in a prepared statement to the media at the White House on Monday.

"Congress needs to pass an emergency war spending bill without strings and without further delay," Bush said, speaking to the press with a backdrop of members of veterans organizations and soldiers' family members standing behind him. Without it, "the readiness of our troops will suffer."

"Listen, I understand Republicans and Democrats in Washington have differences over the best course in Iraq," Bush said. "That's healthy. That's normal, and we should debate those differences. But our troops should not be caught in the middle."

Bush's statement came in advance of a meeting with Congressional leaders Wednesday, during which Bush expects to forge a compromise with the one major sticking point concerning the issue of a timeline for withdrawal.

"That's what we're supposed to do -- we're supposed to talk out our differences," Bush said. "I'm looking forward to the meeting. I hope the Democratic leadership will drop its unreasonable demand for a precipitous withdrawal."

"I am willing to discuss any way forward that does not hamstring our troops, set an artificial timetable for withdrawal, and spend billions on projects not related to the war," Bush said.

Both chambers of Congress back timelines for troop withdrawal as a condition of the additional war funding, though the House version requires all U.S. combat troops to withdraw from Iraq by Sept. 1, 2008, and the Senate's approach would begin troop withdrawals this year with a goal, not a mandate, that combat troops leave by March 31, 2008.

The House and Senate Democrats are expected to hammer out a compromise version to forward to the White House for signing this week, though President Bush has vowed to veto any bill that includes a date for withdrawal.

Blogosphere
What the State Department Is Not Accomplishing in Iraq
By CHRISTINA DAVIDSON 04/13/2007 4:35 PM ET
"The experience of one senior foreign service officer—a woman named Kiki Munshi who came out of retirement to run the PRT in Diyala Province, northeast of Baghdad, for most of 2006—is instructive," writes Robert Kaplan in a new piece on Atlantic Unbound.

Kaplan has interviewed Munshi about her year-long experience, and what that has taught her about the utility and effectiveness of provincial reconstruction teams--something that was apparently of little interest to representatives of the US State Department.

What Munshi’s team really needed—along with improved security in Diyala—was more financial autonomy and access to a higher level of technical expertise on a short-term basis. They needed real experts dispatched for a month or two to the field, rather than Army reservists with basic skills dispatched for up to a year.

Munshi tried to communicate all this to the State Department upon her return, but nobody especially wanted to debrief her. The after-action meetings she did have were set up at her own insistence, she told me, with bureaucrats who were sympathetic but ultimately powerless. The State Department and USAID apparently have no debriefing system in place, even for someone as crucial as a PRT leader in one of the most violent parts of Iraq. Without a mechanism for reporting lessons learned, any bureaucracy is moribund.

The PRTs, as presently constituted, are often smoke and mirrors operations, Munshi intimated. As a concept, they have been successfully sold to the outside world, but they have yet to be sufficiently staffed and bureaucratically developed. They provide useful fodder for pep talks to the media, but on the ground, they run the risk of irrelevance. Unfortunately, the same could be said of other operations in Iraq.

The entire piece deserves a read--particularly the part about what a pain it was to rely on Blackwater for security, a situation that left Munshi a virtual "prisoner of the base" for the first month of her appointment in Diyala.

Fleeing Iraq
50,000 Flee Home Every Month, UNHCR Seeks Help
04/13/2007 3:38 PM ET
CAIRO, Egypt, April 13 (UNHCR) – The brutal experiences of one Iraqi family in Baghdad, their life as refugees in Cairo and their expected resettlement to Australia provide a glimpse of the crisis as the UN refugee agency convenes an international conference on those displaced by the violence in Iraq.

"How long will the world watch our tragedy on television screens and stay silent about our suffering? Iraq is bleeding and Iraqis are suffering," said Adel*, a 48-old-Iraqi refugee who arrived in Egypt with his wife Shareefa* and their three children in 2005 after being driven out of Baghdad by sectarian violence, kidnapping and death threats.

UNHCR will host an international conference on refugees and internally displaced people in Iraq and the surrounding region next Tuesday and Wednesday, seeking a continuing global commitment to find solutions. More than 450 participants from at least 60 nations, 37 inter-governmental organisations and 64 non-governmental organisations have registered.

UNHCR and its partners estimate there are close to two million Iraqis displaced within Iraq and a similar number outside – mainly in Syria and Jordan and nearby countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and Iran. While many had left before 2003, increasing numbers of Iraqis are now fleeing their homes – up to 50,000 a month.

In a modest one-bedroom apartment in the city of 6th of October on the outskirts of Cairo, where many Iraqis have now settled and live off small business, Adel tearfully described how his family became part of the refugee statistic.

"At age 48, I was at the peak of my career with a good life. I was the director of a multinational company in Iraq working in the private sector, making good money and raising a family," said Adel. "You were safe and secure if you stayed away from politics and the regime. We were Sunni, Shiite, Christian neighbours, brothers and friends but then everything suddenly changed."

Adel said the first few months after the U.S.-led invasion were relatively calm but by the middle of 2004, the situation was getting worse by the day.

"We were an easy target because my husband worked in the private sector and had name recognition in the business community," said Shareefa. Soon the family started to receive death threats written on white paper – in blood –telling them to leave the neighbourhood.

"We never paid attention to these threats in the beginning, till one night the door was banging really hard and before we knew it there were more than 100 people in our home all dressed in black with masked faces. Imagine 100 people in a two-storey home," recalled Adel. "They dragged my 16-year-old, beating him up and then took him outside to a car. They started beating me up till I passed out."

The militia men looted their home and the family's life savings before driving Adel and his son to an unknown location where they were tortured for three weeks. When they were finally released, they were warned not to go back to their home and to immediately leave Iraq.

"Our story is the story of many other Iraqis from all factions who are subject to daily threats. We immediately realised that we have no other option but to leave immediately," said Shareefa. In Cairo they are no longer in danger, but life is difficult and they still suffer from the traumas of their experience.

"We finally feel safe and secure but we are having a hard time surviving, especially with a six-year-old who is psychologically traumatised after being beaten up by the militias and seeing his father and brother tortured and kidnapped. He needs special care," said Shareefa, breaking down in tears.

"How can one forget these scenes? My five-year-old on the floor and one of the militia men standing with his shoes pressing on the child's neck and head. The boy immediately lost control and started urinating. I cannot forget these scenes."

Adel registered the family with UNHCR as soon as they arrived in Cairo. "I am not sure what we would have done without the help we received from UNHCR. We were about to be deported for overstaying our visa but the authorities granted us resident permits after UNHCR intervened," said Adel.

There are more than 100,000 Iraqis in Egypt. The UN refugee agency has registered 6,400 Iraqis, with another 6,200 registration interviews scheduled. The total is large, but dwarfed by the estimated 1.2 million Iraqis now in Syria and 750,000 in Jordan. In addition there are up to 40,000 Iraqis in Lebanon, 54,000 in Iran and 10,000 in Turkey.

The family awaits a new life in Australia, reporting that they have been accepted by the government under a special humanitarian programme outside the resettlement programme operated by UNHCR.

"We are vulnerable, demoralised and have lost interest in everything in life. We hope that we can start a new life and forget the wounds and scars that we will carry along for many years to come," said Mahmoud*, the 16-year-old son. "I can't ever go back to Iraq. I get nightmares every time I put my head on the pillow."
DC Buzz
Reiterating Support for Unpopular Views in Policy Address
04/11/2007 2:05 PM ET
LEXINGTON, VA - APRIL 11: Republican U.S. presidential hopeful John McCain speaks on the war in Iraq at the Jackson Memorial Hall of the Virginia Military Institute April 11, 2007 in Lexington, Virginia.
Alex Wong/Getty
LEXINGTON, VA - APRIL 11: Republican U.S. presidential hopeful John McCain speaks on the war in Iraq at the Jackson Memorial Hall of the Virginia Military Institute April 11, 2007 in Lexington, Virginia.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), in a foreign policy address at the Virginia Military Institute on Wednesday, reiterated his support for the war in Iraq, just as CBS released the results of a poll indicating that more people than not believe the Senator misrepresents the situation on the ground there.

In his speech, McCain defended his views, and explained why he does not consider retreat an option:

“Democrats who voted to authorize this war, and criticized the failed strategy that has led us to this perilous moment, have the same responsibility I do, to offer support when that failure is recognized and the right strategy is proposed and the right commanders take the field to implement it or, at the least, to offer an alternative strategy that has some relationship to reality. Democrats argue we should redirect American resources to the ‘real’ war on terror, of which Iraq is just a sideshow. But whether or not al Qaeda terrorists were a present danger in Iraq before the war, there is no disputing they are there now, and their leaders recognize Iraq as the main battleground in the war on terror.”

Today's CBS poll indicates that 39% of those asked said McCain's descriptions of U.S. progress in Iraq make things sound like they're going better than they actually are, compared to 29% who believe what he says. Thirty-one percent have unfavorable views of McCain, compared to 26% who like him, indicating that McCain's unpopular views are weakening the support of potential voters.

Eye on Congress
Oversight Committee to Hear From Lynch and Tillman Family
04/11/2007 10:09 AM ET
U.S. Private First Class Jessica Lynch being loaded into a military helicopter on her way out of Iraq April 2, 2003.
CENTCOM/Getty
U.S. Private First Class Jessica Lynch being loaded into a military helicopter on her way out of Iraq April 2, 2003.

The Democratic Congress is not done examining the manner in which the Pentagon initially portrayed the circumstances surround the death of Pat Tillman, and now they have added the Jessica Lynch story to their roster of incidents to investigate.

The House Committee on Geovernment Reform and Oversighthas announced a hearing April 24 titled "Misleading Information from the Battlefield," which "will examine why inaccurate accounts of these two incidents were disseminated, the sources and motivations for the accounts, and whether the appropriate Administration officials have been held accountable."

Private Lynch was captured when her convoy became lost in An Nasariyah, Iraq, on March 23, 2003. US troops rescued Lynch from the hospital where she was being held in an operation that was portrayed as a dangerous raid, though information later emerged indicating that the public accounts of the circumstances were exaggerated.

The Pentagon had also released an account of Lynch's capture in which they related an account of the private heroically defending herself, though it later came out that Lynch's gun had jammed and she hadn't fired a shot.

Lynch told ABC News in an interview after her release that she was uncomfortable with the way US military officials had portrayed her capture and rescue, and felt compelled to speak out to set the record straight.

Lynch is scheduled to provide testimony at the hearing, as well as members of Pat Tillman's family.

Eye on Congress
Calls Info Supplied "Inadequate," Reasserts Request to Testify
By CHRISTINA DAVIDSON 04/09/2007 5:40 PM ET
Chairman of U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA)
Alex Wong/Getty
Chairman of U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA)

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, fired another pointed letter off to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on Monday, again demanding information regarding the fraudelent claim that Niger supplied uranium to Saddam Hussein.

Since assuming chairmanship of the oversight committee, Waxman has stepped up the pressure in examining pre-war manipulation of intelligence by Bush Administration officials. On March 12, Waxman forwarded a letter to Rice requesting information by March 23 about the Niger uranium claim in Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech.

The State Department never responded, and so on March 30 Waxman sent a request for her to answer the questions in testimony before his committee. On April 3 he received what he calls an "inadequate" response from Jeffrey Bergner assistant secretary for legislative affairs.

In his return letter to Rice, Waxman states:

I asked you to answer specific questions raised in a June 10, 2003, letter and a July 29,2003, 1etter, both of which I enclosed. These questions included: (1) whether you had any knowledge that would explain why President Bush cited forged evidence about Iraq's efforts to procure uranium from Niger in the State of the Union address; (2) whether you knew before the State of the Union address of the doubts raised by the CIA and the State Department about the veracity of the Niger claim; (3) whether there was a factual basis for your reference in a January 23,2003, op-ed to "Iraq's efforts to get uranium from abroad"; and (4) whether you took appropriate steps to investigate how the Niger claim ended up in the State of the Union address after it was revealed to be fraudulent.

Rather than address any of these questions, Mr. Bergner forwarded copies of two old State Department letters that have no bearing whatsoever on your knowledge of, your role in, or your statements about the Niger claim.

Mr. Bergner also failed to respond to the Committee's questions about the seemingly inconsistent way in which the White House has responded to leaks of classified information, such as the disclosure of the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson.

Waxman said that "because of the inadequacies" of Bergner's response, the committtee would not withdraw its request to have her testify on April 18, though he offered to shift the date if that day did not work with the Secretary's schedule.

During today's State Department press briefing, spokesman Sean McCormack said he "didn't see the need" for Rice to testify, though he stopped short of saying she would refuse to do so. McCormack also expressed confusion about why Waxman would say the State Department response was insufficient in an answer bordering on incoherent:

"It would be interesting for them to detail in what regard it’s insufficient, in that we detailed some correspondence — and through all the correspondence that they alleged was not responded to, and detailed for them exactly how it was responded to, including a letter that they said that they sent that nobody could find any evidence it had been sent. So, clearly, we were answering our mail, looking at it, and responding to it. I’m not quite sure that they have done the same."

Full Text
Recall the Optimism on Eve of Baghdad's Fall
04/08/2007 11:20 AM ET
WASHINGTON - APRIL 8, 2003: U.S. President George W. Bush waves to the media as he returns to the White House from a summit in Belfast, Northern Ireland April 8, 2003.
Alex Wong/AFP/Getty
WASHINGTON - APRIL 8, 2003: U.S. President George W. Bush waves to the media as he returns to the White House from a summit in Belfast, Northern Ireland April 8, 2003.

Joint Statement by President Bush, Prime Minister Blair on Iraq's Future, April 8, 2003

The future of Iraq belongs to the Iraqi people. After years of dictatorship, Iraq will soon be liberated. For the first time in decades, Iraqis will soon choose their own representative government.

Coalition military operations are progressing and will succeed. We will eliminate the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, deliver humanitarian aid, and secure the freedom of the Iraqi people. We will create an environment where Iraqis can determine their own fate democratically and peacefully.

We are grateful to our men and women in uniform, as well as to the brave troops of Australia and Poland, and to forces contributed by other members of the Coalition. They have demonstrated enormous bravery and professionalism in the face of great danger. We mourn for the members of the Armed Forces who have sacrificed their lives, and extend our deepest sympathies to their families.

We also grieve for the loss of civilian life in Iraq. Coalition forces take great care to avoid civilian casualties. The Iraqi regime has done the opposite. It has deliberately put Iraqi civilians in harm's way, and used women and children as human shields. It has sent execution squads to kill Iraqis who choose freedom over fighting for a brutal regime. We condemn Iraqi regime forces' attacks in civilian clothing, false surrender, and mistreatment of prisoners of war. These acts are an affront to all standards of human decency and international law.

We are taking every step possible to safeguard Muslim holy sites and other protected places in Iraq that are important to the religious and cultural heritage of Islam and of Iraq. We have no confidence that the Iraqi regime has done the same, and are deeply concerned by reports that it is deliberately endangering such sites and using them for military purposes.

The Coalition is delivering food, medicine, and other humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people. This flow will increase as more of Iraq's territory is liberated and United Nations specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations are better able to operate. We welcome the adoption by the United Nations Security Council of Resolution 1472, which will allow shipments of humanitarian items to Iraq to resume under the Oil for Food program.

As we said at our March 16 meeting in the Azores, we will uphold our responsibility to help the people of Iraq build a nation that is whole, free and at peace with itself and its neighbors. We support the aspirations of all of Iraq's people for a united, representative government that upholds human rights and the rule of law as cornerstones of democracy. We reaffirm our commitment to protect Iraq's natural resources, as the patrimony of the people of Iraq, which should be used only for their benefit.

As the Coalition proceeds with the reconstruction of Iraq, it will work with its allies, other bilateral donors, and with the United Nations and other international institutions. The United Nations has a vital role to play in the reconstruction of Iraq. We welcome the efforts of U.N. agencies and non-governmental organizations in providing immediate assistance to the people of Iraq. As we stated in the Azores, we plan to seek the adoption of new United Nations Security Council resolutions that would affirm Iraq's territorial integrity, ensure rapid delivery of humanitarian relief, and endorse an appropriate post-conflict administration for Iraq. We welcome the appointment by the United Nations Secretary General of a Special Adviser for Iraq to work with the people of Iraq and coalition representatives.

The day when Iraqis govern themselves must come quickly. As early as possible, we support the formation of an Iraqi Interim Authority, a transitional administration, run by Iraqis, until a permanent government is established by the people of Iraq. The Interim Authority will be broad-based and fully representative, with members from all of Iraq's ethnic groups, regions and diaspora. The Interim Authority will be established first and foremost by the Iraqi people, with the help of the members of the Coalition, and working with the Secretary General of the United Nations. As coalition forces advance, civilian Iraqi leaders will emerge who can be part of such an Interim Authority. The Interim Authority will progressively assume more of the functions of government. It will provide a means for Iraqis to participate in the economic and political reconstruction of their country from the outset.

Coalition forces will remain in Iraq as long as necessary to help the Iraqi people to build their own political institutions and reconstruct their country, but no longer. We look forward to welcoming a liberated Iraq to the international community of nations. We call upon our partners in the international community to join with us in ensuring a democratic and secure future for the Iraqi people.

Full Report PDF
New Report Cites Fresh Post-invasion Intel
04/06/2007 6:57 PM ET
As noted earlier on Slogger, a newly declassified report prepared by the Pentagon Inspector General audits prewar intelligence activities of the office of then-Defennse Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith, and rebuffs the most controversial arguments made in the leadup to the Iraq invasion.

Acting Inspector General Thomas Gimble released a summary of the report in February, but the full text has only just been released, and is available for download (PDF, 5MB) on the website of Sen. Carl Levin, who was instrumental in the document's declassification.

As an example of what the report calls "inappropriate" intelligence activits, Levin also made available a series of briefing slides (PDF) prepared by Feith's office before the war, alleging that the Ba'thist regime and al-Qa'ida were linked.

While the report's conclusions were available in summary form since February, the newly declassified docuument significantly advances the story by referring in a footnote to post-invasion intelligence assessments that validate the pre-war skepticism of the intel community of Saddam-Qa'ida ties:

Noteworthy is that post-war debriefs of Sadaam Hussein, Tariq Aziz, al-Tikriti and al-Libi as well as document exploitation by DIA all confirmed that the Intelligence Community was correct: Iraq and al-Qaida did not cooperate in all categories. The terms the Intelligence Community used to describe the relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida were validated, “no conclusive signs,” and “direct cooperation ... has not been established.” (p. 11).

Under the heading "Results" the report's conclusions are expressed:

The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy developed, produced, and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al-Qaida relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision makers. While such actions were not illegal or unauthorized, the actions were, in our opinion, inappropriate given that the intelligence assessments were intelligence products and did not clearly show the variance with the consensus of the Intelligence Community. This condition occurred because of an expanded role and mission of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from policy formulation to alternative intelligence analysis and dissemination. As a result, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy did not provide “the most accurate analysis of intelligence” to senior decision makers.

For further reading, see Slogger's coverage of reaction to the release of the report summary, from Karen Kwiatkowski and Michael Scheuer as well as the letter from Senators Hoyer, Reyes, and Skelton asking Robert Gates what measures he proposes be put in place to prevent the kind of flawed assessments the DoD's IG report found came from Feith's unit.

IraqSlogger's Christina Davidson reported on Feith's efforts to counter the conclusions of the report. See also the dissenting response of the current undersecretary for policy, Eric Edelman, whose reaction to the draft report is included in the appendeces to the full declassified document.

Full Report PDF
New CATO Analysis Assesses "Energy Alarmism"
04/06/2007 2:21 PM ET
Many Americans have lost confidence in their country's "energy security" over the past several years. Because the United States is a net oil importer, and a substantial one at that, concerns about energy security naturally raise foreign policy questions. Some foreign policy analysts fear that dwindling global oil reserves are increasingly concentrated in politically unstable regions, and they call for increased U.S. efforts to stabilize—or, alternatively, democratize—the politically tumultuous oil-producing regions. Others allege that China is pursuing a strategy to "lock up" the world's remaining oil supplies through long-term purchase agreements and aggressive diplomacy, so they counsel that the United States outmaneuver Beijing in the "geopolitics of oil." Finally, many analysts suggest that even the "normal" political disruptions that occasionally occur in oil-producing regions (e.g., occasional wars and revolutions) hurt Americans by disrupting supply and creating price spikes. U.S. military forces, those analysts claim, are needed to enhance peace and stability in crucial oil-producing regions, particularly the Persian Gulf.

Each of those fears about oil supplies is exaggerated, and none should be a focus of U.S. foreign or military policy. "Peak oil" predictions about the impending decline in global rates of oil production are based on scant evidence and dubious models of how the oil market responds to scarcity. In fact, even though oil supplies will increasingly come from unstable regions, investment to reduce the costs of finding and extracting oil is a better response to that political instability than trying to fix the political problems of faraway countries. Furthermore, Chinese efforts to lock up supplies with long-term contracts will at worst be economically neutral for the United States and may even be advantageous. The main danger stemming from China's energy policy is that current U.S. fears may become a self-fulfilling prophecy of Sino-U.S. conflict. Finally, political instability in the Persian Gulf poses surprisingly few energy security dangers, and U.S. military presence there actually exacerbates problems rather than helps to solve them.

Our overarching message is simply that market forces, modified by the cartel behavior of OPEC, determine most of the key factors that affect oil supply and prices. The United States does not need to be militarily active or confrontational to allow the oil market to function, to allow oil to get to consumers, or to ensure access in coming decades. as military intervention and peacetime presence.

Excerpt from Executive Summary of "Energy Alarmism: The Myths That Make Americans Worry about Oil" by Eugene Gholz and Daryl G. Press

Eugene Gholz is assistant professor of public affairs at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Daryl G. Press is associate professor of government at Dartmouth University.

The full pdf report "Energy Alarmism" is available on CATO's website.

DC Buzz
Claims Dem Delay Threatens Operations, Recent CRS Report Disagrees
04/03/2007 12:20 PM ET
Washington, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush speaks on the Iraq war supplemental 03 April, 2007 in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC.
Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty
Washington, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush speaks on the "Iraq war supplemental" 03 April, 2007 in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC.

"If Congress fails to pass a bill that I can sign by mid-April, the Army will be forced to consider cutting back on equipment, equipment repair and quality of life initiatives for our Guard and Reserve forces," President Bush said in a press conference today in the Rosa Garden.

Bush has threatened to veto any measure that includes a date for a scheduled withdrawal from Iraq, making both recently-passed versions of the defense supplemental spending bill unnacceptable for the White House.

Bush contends that Dem delay on proposing a version of the spending bill sans deadline "will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines, and others could see their loved ones headed back to the war sooner than they need to."

Last week, however, the Congressional Research Service released a report concluding the military has funds sufficient to finance operations in Iraq far longer than previously thought.

In a thorough review of U.S. Army data, non-partisan budget experts at CRS informed Congress Friday that the Army could maintain its wartime operations well into July 2007 with funds already provided.

"This study confirms that the president is once again attempting to mislead the public and create an artificial atmosphere of anxiety. He is using scare tactics to defeat bipartisan legislation that would change the course in Iraq. After waiting months for this administration to send us its funding requests, both houses of Congress worked quickly to pass the emergency supplemental bill for our troops," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

The LA Times on Sunday quoted an anonymous Pentagon official who said staff warned SecDef Gates to be cautious with "doomsday" predictions, since the military always seems able to find money for war operations. "My experience is there are always two more holes left in that belt," the official said. Further, the LA Times reports:

A senior Army official said the Army, if pressed, could make do until the end of May with the $70 billion it has in hand. The CRS report, taking into account additional funds the military could shift from elsewhere, estimated the Army could last through most of July.

But the Army official insisted that because of the recent troop increase in Baghdad — a plan that was not in place when the initial $70 billion was provided — the Army is burning through its war funds in Iraq at a much more rapid pace than last year: $8.6 billion per month, as opposed to $7 billion monthly in 2006.

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