WHO TO BELIEVE? I read with interest today's Washington Postreport on the growing (if still limited) presence of Shiite militias -- Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, SCIRI's Badr Brigade -- in the oil-rich northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. With Kurdish forces digging in and insisting on solidifying Kurdish control of the city, the potential for a genuinely disastrous conflict is obvious.
MORE ON SABRI.Jonah Goldberglinks to this earlier NBC news report on the Naji Sabri issue. Jonah and his readers seem to have two points to make. One is that the NBC account allegedly contradicts the CBS account. The other is to mock CBS for being "a month behind" on the story. Both claims are false and, indeed, somewhat contradictory. The NBC story is different from the CBS story. This, however, is exactly why CBS wasn't "late" with their account. Rather, building on previously reported information, they added new information to the story. NBC reported that Sabri told the CIA that they were all wrong about Iraq's WMD programs.
FAKE CONSERVATISM. Can there be anything more silly looking than the oil industry's bought-and-paid-for GOP servants in Congress and the White House pretending to crack down on alleged price-fixing in the oil industry? No doubt some of this is going on (probably at the level of retail gas stations rather than the big business end of the deal), but the whole thing is obviously a red herring to avoid the real questions in energy policy. Why, to take one, does the government dole out generous subsidies to an industry that's both profitable, bad for the environment, and increasingly bad for our foreign policy?
As the housing bubble starts to unwind people will be looking for villains in this economic disaster. There are many, with the list including Alan Greenspan, the bulk of the economics profession, and of course, the reporters covering the housing market.
WASHINGTON POST PUBLISHES AN OPINION PIECE BY AN OPERATIVE FOR RIGHT-WING HATE GROUPS. Did anyone else notice this? Over the weekend, Fred Hiatt and other Washington Post editors allowed their paper to be used as a platform for an "opinion" piece written by a GOP operative who gets paid to help right-wing hate groups spread their messages and advance their agendas. On Saturday, it published an Op-ed by Craig Shirley, in which he argued that the GOP's pro-immigration "elites" would do well to listen to "Reagan populists," who were key to the right's ascendance and are now "concerned about lawlessness on our border."
KEEP THE SUNLIGHT OUT. House Republicans' latest bout of watering down the already-anemic lobbying ethics bill is genuinely funny. As subscription-only Roll Callreports, "Republican leaders have stripped out language forcing lobbyists to provide detailed disclosure of fundraising activities and contacts with lawmakers." What's funny here is that the standard, baseline position of all anti-reformers and defenders of lobbying practices is precisely a devotion to better disclosure -- to "letting the sunlight in" and arming voters with information rather than directly curbing any actual activities of lobbyists or officials.
BUSH LIED, THOUSANDS DIED. It's almost banal to keep harping on the lying point, but this 60 Minutesstory about pre-war intelligence really deserves blockbuster status. Tyler Drumheller was the CIA's top covert man in Europe. He turned Naji Sabri, Iraq's Foreign Minister, and got him working as a CIA asset. Drumheller told George Tenet who told George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice. They were excited, naturally, and wanted to know what Sabri had to say. Sabri, they were told, said that Iraq did not, in fact, have an active WMD program. They chose to . . . just ignore this.
MONEY, MEET MOUTH. It doesn't involve invading anyone, or kicking any ass that's evolved beyond the microbe stage, but if we could spur the pharmaceutical companies or the NIH to put a bit of money into the anti-HIV microbicides currently nearing breakthrough status, we'd save a lot of lives.
LISTEN TO ZBIG.Zbigniew Brzezinski, who people should have listened to before the Iraq War, had a great column on Iran in yesterday's LA Times. Brzezinski was one of a relatively small minority of recognized Democratic Party foreign policy experts who opposed the Iraq War in a clear and forceful manner, and I can't help but notice that, today, younger national security experts types who might be hoping for jobs in the next Democratic administration have been curiously silent on the leading issue of the day.