Iraqi leader: U.S. raid that killed 2 breached accord – CNN.com

Iraqi leader: U.S. raid that killed 2 breached accord – CNN.com.

Let me get this straight. The Iraqi government accuses the U.S. military of participating in a raid without authorization, which resulted in the deaths of 2 people: “Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is accusing U.S. troops of violating the security agreement between the two countries after a raid in Wasit province Sunday that left two people dead.”

However, the U.S. states the raid was “fully coordinated and approved by the Iraqi government.” So whom do we believe, especially since “Al-Maliki has asked Gen. Raymond Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, to release the suspects detained in the raid, and to hand over ‘those who committed the crime’ — or U.S. troops — to the Iraqi judiciary, state television reported.”?

Here’s the answer: “Iraqi State TV reported that Iraq’s defense ministry ordered the arrest of two Iraqi commanders in Kut who apparently allowed the U.S. military to carry out the raid.”

So if the U.S. conducted an unauthorized raid, why did Iraq arrest two of its own commanders for providing authorization to the U.S. for the raid?

This kind of behavior reminds me of the former Iraqi Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf who is famous for such gems as: “There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!”

Abu Ghraib head finds vindication in newly released memos – CNN.com

Abu Ghraib head finds vindication in newly released memos – CNN.com.

I think Col. Karpinski – no offense intended – is exhibiting a flaw in her logic. She might just have been a scapegoat, I’m not denying that possibility, but she states that the newly released memos “vindicate” her.

Col. Karpinski stated, “That is what we have been saying from the very beginning, that, wait a minute, why are you inside pointing the finger at me, why are you pointing the fingers at the soldiers here? There’s a bigger story here.”

What is the “bigger story”?

“The Senate Armed Forces Committee released a report Tuesday, five days after the memos were released, stating that senior Bush administration officials authorized aggressive interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists, despite concerns from military psychologists and attorneys.

“The report points to then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s approval of such techniques — including stress positions, removal of clothing, use of phobias (such as fear of dogs), and deprivation of light and auditory stimuli — in December 2002 for detainees at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. His OK prompted interrogators in Afghanistan and Iraq to adopt the aggressive techniques.”

These so-called aggressive interrogation techniques (which some people call torture but others do not. There is no consensus that they are torture.) that were “approved” included keeping prisoners temporarily naked, or sensory deprived, or made to think that an object of a phobia is present (which may or may not be true). What was not “authorized” in the memos written by Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee and other people was what occurred at Abu Ghraib.

This is where Col. Karpinski’s logic breaks down. How does allowing prisoners to be kept temporarily naked suddenly equal “stacking” naked prisoners on top of each other and taking photos of them? Those are completely different things. In any case, calling what was done “torture” begs the question. Was it really torture? Some people think it was, others do not. Col. Karpinski says it was torture.

“I think it was torture, absolutely. You know, I was never inside an interrogation room where they were conducting interrogations, but I read the memorandums many times over,” she said. “Waterboarding is torture.”

Again, that’s begging the question. In any case, the parts of the memos I’ve read in no way authorized what occured at Abu Ghraib. Maybe what was authorized and some of what occured only differ by degrees but those degrees make a large difference. In no way am I defending what occurred at Abu Ghraib, I think it was despicable. However, saying these memos vindicate her is an awfully large and faulty leap in logic by Col. Karpinski. She might have been unfairly punished but that’s not a judgment I can make.

House Republicans roll out alternative budget – CNN.com

House Republicans roll out alternative budget – CNN.com.

I’ll comment more on this later but here’s one gem from the article: “Democrats were quick to criticize the GOP proposal as little more than a way to help the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the rest of the country.”

Let me get this straight. Democrats criticize the Republicans for spending far less ($3.6 trillion less borrowed over 10 years) than the Democrat proposal by saying that the Republicans only want to help the wealthy. And what exactly is all of the deficit spending of the Democrats doing for anyone? Who’s going to pay for the all the spending? Just the wealthy? Not a chance; all Americans will be paying in some form or another. Democrats asked for an alternative plan (the Republicans, unlike the Democrats, actually took some time to craft their budget proposal. They took time to read it over and talk about it, unlike the Democrats who rushed their bill through so quickly no one had time to actually read the whole thing.) and their first reaction when a plan is presented is the stale, incorrect, and whiny “It only benefits the rich.”

Further, the result of the G20 summit is that the U.S. will spend an additional $400 billion or so to help shore up the international economy. We are spending money we don’t have. We need to stop this wasteful spending. While some may be necessary in order to help stabilize the economy, we need to take some time and figure out better ways to stabilize instead of just throwing as much money as we can at companies.