This blog aims to accomplish two things. Given how quickly events are reported, misreported, and dropped by the MSM, we want to go back and see if we can't find some answers to questions that were and were not asked. Second, because the lazy MSM's chief tool for what passes as journalism is to quote pundits without having done any homework,the right questions don't get asked. We want to provide our readers the contact information for these pundits so we can ask them directly.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Iraq reconstruction costs written up in today's Wash Post

The article focuses on how the high cost of security due to the "unexpected" insurgency is eating into reconstruction project budgets.
It touches on prewar rosy assessments of those costs but forgets the phony reasons given after the fall of Baghdad as to how we were so far off.
They were either lying before or after the war...

Friday, July 22, 2005

Unanswered Questions, Part II

I watched George Bush's State of the Union speech live January 2003 and remember that when he uttered the words "...purchase significant quatities of uranium from Africa", I jumped up and yelled "where in Africa?" Did anyone else share this moment with me? Apparently, no one at the New York Times. Even in their article today rehashing that event, they stumble. They change it to "in Africa."

See my letter to the Times's Public Editor below:

Johnston, Yale, Stevenson, and Kornblut have Rove's fingerprints in sight...

...but don't see them, they report in "For Two Aides in Leak Case 2nd Issue Rises" July, 21:

"In his State of the Union address in January 2003, Mr. Bush cited reports that Iraq had sought to acquire a form of uranium in Africa as evidence of Mr. Hussein's intentions to gain weapons that he might provide to terrorists, use to threaten the United States or employ against other nations in the Middle East." (emphasis added)

When the President stated on that fateful moment that he had evidence from British intelligence that Iraq had sought uranium "from Africa", I yelled at the TV, "From where in Africa?"

Which presidential speech is pored over the most, each word carefully calculated for meaning and deniability? SOTU, of course. Who are the final arbiters of this task? Karl Rove on politics and Dick Cheney on policy. Any dispute so far?

It is literally and physically impossible to obtain anything "from Africa" and Bush's speechwriters, ever the wordsmiths, would have known that. Therefore, it begs the question, who, being less eloquent yet more politically savvy, would see that naming a specific country or "in Africa" would be too restricting in that it would foment natural questioning as to where exactly Bush was referring to. The "from Africa" construction was a calculated gamble that the WH press corps wouldn't catch it. Sadly it worked and continues to work brilliantly two and a half years after the event.

I'm no great seer, but if I was able to pick up on that, as a lowly layman, in real time, what does that say about the abilities or, more ominously, the motivations of our fourth estate?

Best regards,

PS I was unable to find the e-mail addresses of any of the contributing reporter for this article in the provided NYTimes e-mail list. Is there an updated version and how can I obtain it?

Readers, you see, the White House can't simultaneously be precise enough to include the words "significant quantities" but so general as to use the ridiculous phrase "from Africa." This shows that there were many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Natsios on Koppel 4/23/03 re: Reconstruction costs
Go to Air America's "Al Franken Show" July, 20 show audio archive. From about the 23rd minute they play Andrew Natsios, head of USAID emphatically telling Ted Koppel that "$1.7 billion will be the extent of US taxpayers' contribution" or something very close to that. He says it over and over.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Here is an excerpt and link to a State Dept. Press Brief of 9/4/03, topic, the upcoming donor conference for Iraq to be held Oct 23-24 in Madrid:

"U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman September 4, 2003


With Alan P. Larson Under Secretary for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs On Financing Reconstruction in Iraq and Donors Conference held in Brussels

September 4, 2003 Washington, D.C."

"...Q: And I was wondering, the U.S.'s -- Americans, the taxpayer, simply, is bearing a heavy burden for reconstructing Iraq. There are figures like $60- and $70 billion floating around, and as money the U.S. will have to spend on reconstruction.

Number One, I have lost track of the argument the administration made before and during the war that Iraq is an immensely rich country, rich resources, very skillful people, and if they could just get out from under Saddam Hussein -- it isn't like Afghanistan, you know, poor country -- they'd be off and running.

And all of a sudden, I find, you know, we're raising -- we're spending $60-$70 billion on this allegedly, potentially very rich country which produces oil, and we've looked at the gas station price -- the prices at the gas station. So here -- let me boil it down.

What will these donations do to the proportion that -- if you can estimate, that America now bears? How many tens of billions of dollars do you think can be raised by donations? And most of all, why is the world obliged to bail Iraq out, first of all, from the U.S.-led war, but secondly, bail out a country that's supposed to be potentially enormously rich?

LARSON: OK. Let me work backward.

First of all, we have made the case everywhere, including in testimony before the Congress and in meetings like the one we had yesterday, that this is about a responsibility the international community has to the Iraqi people; and that if you look at the hole that they find themselves in, it was not the result of a 25- to 30-day war, it's the result of a long period of neglect, misrule and so forth. And I think that argument is fairly substantially accepted by our friends in the international community.

Secondly, we have expressed the view that Iraq does, because Iraq has oil and other resources including a fairly well educated elite, that one can shoot for a reconstruction process that very quickly is financed predominantly by their own resources and by foreign investment and domestic investment. But there is no doubt that in the very short run there is going to need to be substantial requirement for foreign government assistance.

Now, the numbers you quoted -- the Secretary [Secretary of State Colin Powell] -- I'm not going to add -- the Secretary commented on the numbers today, basically, by saying he wasn't going to comment. I'm not going to go any further than --"


This is an excerpt from an article before the Madrid conference that paints Powell as the good cop on the Iraq infrastructure question. Just a few weeks later, Powell would prove to be quite willing to spread pentagon lies.
"While Bush was listening to Powell's arguments for going to the UN, the US's viceroy in Iraq, Paul Bremer, paid him a visit and explained that the reconstruction effort would fail without an infusion of "tens of billions" of dollars. Most of it that money will be earmarked for rebuilding Iraq's water and electrical infrastructure, much of it damaged by a US bombing campaign made necessary by Rumsfeld's insistence on using the minimum number of US troops during the invasion. In spite of the Pentagon's insistence that the infrastructure was in bad shape before the war, subsequent looting has made the problem much worse and, of course, there aren't enough troops on the ground to guard these "key structures.""

Link to article:

Here is an op-ed piece written by Colin Powell in which he furthers the lie that only saddam is to blame for the destruction of Iraq's infrastructure.


Hello and welcome

This blog initially aims to accomplish two things. Given how quickly events are reported (if they are picked up at all), misreported, and then dropped by the MSM, we want to go back and see if we can't find some answers to questions that were and were not asked. Second, because the lazy MSM's chief tool for what passes as journalism these days is to quote pundits/experts/politicos without having done any prepatory homework, oftentimes the right questions don't get asked. We want to provide our readers, with their help, the contact information for these pundits/experts/politicos so we can ask them directly. Maybe by doing this they might be a bit more careful about what they say (one can dream) or become more reluctant to go on these shows or be quoted in an article.
Let's start the ball rolling:
For this first one, we have to go back about 2 years (there's alot of that going around, just ask Scott McClellan).
Does anyone remember the 9/03 Madrid donors' conference? It was attended by Colin 'the vial' Powell. It was intended to get our pesky peacenik friends in 'old Europe" to pony up money for the reconstruction of a new west-loving, democratic Iraq.

At the time, the BIG STORY was wmd, as in, where are they? That's a very important story that is still very much alive. But the whole Iraqi Survey Group project under Kay then Duelfer cost $1-2 billion tops, that's about 1-2 weeks worth of our current spending.
What if I told you there was another scandalous claim, based on lies, that is costing us far more in dollars and blood?
It is this, at that Madrid conference, Powell was asked how the US could have so drastically underestimated the cost of rebuilding Iraq. Does anyone remember the answer? Was it because Iraq had less oil than we thought? No. Was it because we didn't have hundreds of defectors to tell us about the state of Iraq's infrastructure before the war? No, Powell's own State Dept. interviewed hundreds for a 2000 page report on postwar Iraq. Was it because we didn't control Iraq's airspace and didn't have our best satellites trained on the country? No, we controlled Iraq's skies for 12 years prior to the war and we certainly had shifted the bulk of all our intel assets (including imaging) to Iraq from, guess where, Afghanistan.
So what was the reason we went from Wolfowitz: "Iraq will pay for it's own rebuilding", to the head of USAID: "The cost to US taxpayers will not exceed $1.7 billion" (in Senate tesimony, no less!) to the Madrid conference, where we hoped to garner commitments of, now seems paltry, $50 billion?
Powell's reason, which was repeated by various administration and really only reported overseas was, "We had no idea how 30 years' of neglect under Saddam had damaged Iraq's infrastructure."
No idea? Is anyone besides me even a little suspicious of this claim? As I mentioned above, we were watching this country like a hawk. But I want to bring up another point. Unlike wmd's, roads, power plants, water treatment centers, etc. are not hidden, they exist in plain sight. So even if, in our endless generosity, we could give Bush & Co. as "pass" on wmd's (hey, we were all wrong!) Do we have to give them a "pass" on this too? After all, this "misread" is costing us much more than the wmd snafu.
So, are you with me? Does anyone have any link to any info that will help us answer how we got this even wronger than wmd's? Of course, I have some theories. Like, why spend $10 million refitting an old Soviet-era power plant with parts that are either sitting in Iraq or Russia when you can 1) bomb it to smithereens and 2) rebuild it from scratch with gold-plated US materials and expensive "expertise?"
James Glanz of the NY Times wrote an article about unused construction materials being smuggled to Jordan and sitting in neat little piles to be auctioned off, possibly back to Halliburton. This is the closest I have seen a journalist get to this issue.
Does anyone know how to find our bombing target lists? Could this be the reason we were so nonchalant about the looting? Could this all be about profiteering? This is important. Because if we knowingly damaged that country's infrastructure more than was necessary in order for US corporations to make more money, well, that keeps our boys and girls there longer than it would have otherwise.
So you see, this is important on many different levels and barely one drop of ink has been spilled to shed light on it.
We await any response or leads/links on this.

Our second goal, to make talking heads a little uncomfortable will start with this guy. His name is Robert D. Luskin, he is an attroney with Patton Boggs, a heavyweight firm in DC. He has been all over the news both quoted by name and as "someone who has been briefed..." regarding the Karl Rove/CIA case. Even though every day sources "close to the case" request anonymity because "all parties have been requested by the prosecutor not to comment" Luskin is out there doing what poor Scottie McClellan can't(or won't, take your pick). If he can use the public airwaves and media to defend the indefensible, the public should be able to holler back at him.
Well we can!
You too can communicate with a legal titan! Let him know how great it is that he can make $500 an hour to defend a toad.
Robert D. Luskin's direct telephone number at his firm, Patton Boggs, is 202-457-6190. His e-mail address is is Luskin's bio page on the PB website:

I'm sure he will be happy to hear from you!

Ciao for now.