Saturday, May 20, 2006

Law and Disorder

NYT: Misjudgments Marred U.S. Plans for Iraqi Police

Like so much that has defined the course of the war, the realities on the ground in Iraq did not match the planning in Washington. An examination of the American effort to train a police force in Iraq, drawn from interviews with several dozen American and Iraqi officials, internal police reports and visits to Iraqi police stations and training camps, reveals a cascading series of misjudgments by White House and Pentagon officials, who repeatedly underestimated the role the United States would need to play in rebuilding the police and generally maintaining order.

Before the war, the Bush administration dismissed as unnecessary a plan backed by the Justice Department to rebuild the police force by deploying thousands of American civilian trainers. Current and former administration officials said they were relying on a Central Intelligence Agency assessment that said the Iraqi police were well trained. The C.I.A. said its assessment conveyed nothing of the sort.

After Baghdad fell, when the majority of Iraqi police officers abandoned their posts, a second proposal by a Justice Department team calling for 6,600 police trainers was reduced to 1,500, and then never carried out. During the first eight months of the occupation — as crime soared and the insurgency took hold — the United States deployed 50 police advisers in Iraq.


"Looking back, I really don't know what their plan was," Mr. Kerik said. With no experience in Iraq, and little time to get ready, he said he prepared for his job in part by watching A&E Network documentaries on Saddam Hussein.


DynCorp officials said they fired the employees involved in the fuel theft and reimbursed the government, and put the controls in place. They said the company kept close watch on ammunition.

"We'd be very surprised if any of the U.S. officers we hired to train Iraqis are involved in anything like this," said Greg Lagana, a company spokesman. "If there is an investigation, we'll cooperate vigorously."

Richard Cashon, a DynCorp vice president, said the company billed the government about $50 million a month for its police trainers, including their $134,000-a-year salaries as well as security and other operating costs.

DynCorp officials, who noted that they never received field reports from their trainers, said they were not to blame for the inadequacies in police training.

"We are not judged on the success or failure of the program as they established it," Mr. Cashon said. "We are judged on our ability to provide qualified personnel."


By December 2004, there were also signs that the police were being drawn into the evolving sectarian battles. Senior officers in the police department in the southern city of Basra were implicated in the killings of 10 members of the Baath Party, and of a mother and daughter accused of prostitution, according to a State Department report.

By then there was a growing sense among American officials that the civilian training program was not working, and the United States military came up with its own plan. It was the Americans' third strategy for training the Iraqi police, and it would run into the worst problems of all. Basra was just the beginning.

Houston Roller Derby

The Houston Chronicle has a great multimedia piece on their website featuring Houston Roller Derby.

Roller Derby Reborn

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Friday, May 19, 2006

friday random ten

Photo by Ryan McManus

"King Eternal" - TV on the Radio
"Bring It On Home To Me" - the Animals
"When My Baby's Beside Me" - Big Star
"Empty String" - Bourbonese Qualk
"Black Plastic" - Ladytron
"That's Good" - Devo
"China Girl (Diplo Mix)" - Diplo
"Hard Luck" - The Undertones
"Loose Nuts on the Veladrome" - Liars
"It's All Gonna Break" - Broken Social Scene

bonus video: The Unicorns - "I Was Born a Unicorn"

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

wednesday morning reads

Bob Herbert - America the Fearful

On Bush sending 6,000 troops to border - The Guard troops would mostly serve two-week stints before rotating out of the assignment, so keeping the force level at 6,000 over the course of a year could require up to 156,000 troops.

Disappointed Fans Say DaVinci Code Movie Not Quite As Moronic As Book (via Bookslut)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Dance, Monkey, Dance

no news today*

*Just 6,500 Africans died today as a result of a preventable, treatable disease (HIV/Aids) Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 15, 2006

pass the crack pipe senator frist

REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Has the NSA data mining program helped catch any significant terrorists?
Bill Frist on CNN's Late Edition (via Liberal Oasis)

On CNN’s Late Edition, Wolf Blitzer put the question to National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

Hadley smoothly sidestepped the question the way he had all day when specific questions about the program came up: “I cannot confirm or deny the claims in the USA Today story.”

However, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is not very smooth.

After Blitzer read an USA Today excerpt describing the program, they had the following exchange:

BLITZER: Are you comfortable with this program?

FRIST: Absolutely. Absolutely. I am one of the people who are briefed --

BLITZER: You've known about this for years.

FRIST: I've known about the program. I am absolutely convinced that you, your family, our families are safer because of this particular program.

I absolutely know that it is legal.

The program itself is anonymous, in the sense that identifiers, in terms of protecting your privacy, are stripped off.

And, as you know, the program is voluntary, the participants in that program...

...the only way to connect [the] dots is to use 21st-century technology that protects your privacy, and that's exactly what this does.

Voluntary??? Anonymous??? WTF?

xanax, take me away

(Fox News/Freddie Lee/Handout/Reuters)

First lady Laura Bush said on Sunday she does not believe opinion polls showing her husband's approval ratings at record low levels.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Frank Rich


"We can see this charade for what it is: a Hail Mary pass by the leaders who bungled a war and want to change the subject to the journalists who caught them in the act. What really angers the White House and its defenders about both the Post and Times scoops are not the legal questions the stories raise about unregulated gulags and unconstitutional domestic snooping, but the unmasking of yet more administration failures in a war effort riddled with ineptitude. It's the recklessness at the top of our government, not the press's exposure of it, that has truly aided the enemy, put American lives at risk and potentially sabotaged national security. That's where the buck stops, and if there's to be a witch hunt for traitors, that's where it should begin."