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Posted on Feb 14, 2006
Condoleezza Rice with al Jaafari

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice listens while Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari speaks at a press conference in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone in Iraq in May 2005.  Jaafari refused to shake hands with Rice because she is a woman.

By Robert Scheer

Condoleezza Rice is someone I knew to be a very bright scholar when we were both fellows in Stanford University’s arms control seminar. Yes, we differed on occasion, but I never had cause to doubt her ability to reason. Now, I do.

Confronted by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos with the news that fiery Moqtada al-Sadr—whose Mahdi militia has twice engaged in fierce armed conflict with U.S. troops since the 2003 invasion—was the kingmaker in the selection of Iraq’s next prime minister, Rice replied sanguinely, “Iraq is a complex place, there’s a lot of voices.”

But as Stephanopoulos pointed out, the voice in question has been raised to offer military support to Rice’s nemeses, Syria and Iran. In Syria, Sadr pledged to fight in “the defense against our common enemies,” the United States, Britain and Israel. Visiting Tehran, he offered the support of Iraqi fighters in the event of an attack by the United States over the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, stating unequivocally, “If neighboring Islamic countries, including Iran, become the targets of attacks, we will support them.”

There is no way to soft-pedal it: The astounding rise of an anti-American firebrand like Sadr is an indicator of how wide and complete a political defeat pro-Western forces have suffered in Iraq. Written off by most Western observers as nothing more than a rabble-rousing irritant in the first months of the U.S. occupation, Sadr has more than survived his confrontation with the world’s only superpower: His faction was the big winner in the recent elections, now entrenched as the largest single force in the dominant Shiite coalition. So it is that the political support of a young radical, who not so long ago was considered a wanted outlaw by the occupiers, has now determined the selection of Iraq’s new leader.

Not that the new prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the leader of the Dawa Party, is much better. He has even closer ties to the fundamentalists in Iran, who provided him with a safe haven during his years of opposition to Saddam Hussein. He looks moderate only next to Sadr. Rice should recall that Jaafari pointedly refused to shake her hand when she visited Baghdad, because she is a woman. Even worse, the theocratic model for what is in store for this nation where women previously enjoyed a greater degree of freedom than in most of the Arab world has already been created in the Shiite-controlled region around Basra in the south: The veil is now de rigueur, armed religious enforcers patrol the streets and exercising free speech can earn one a de facto death sentence.


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With Shiites violently extending their grip on power under the cover of electoral democracy, the Sunni rebellion is only likely to escalate. Chaos rather than order is what the future holds for Iraq. That is why Yuval Diskin, the head of Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency, warned recently that his country might come to regret its decision to support the Iraq invasion. “I’m not sure we won’t miss Saddam (Hussein),” Diskin said in a speech to students at the Eli settlement that was secretly recorded and broadcast last week on Israeli TV. “When you dismantle a system in which there is a despot who controls his people by force, you have chaos.”

Bush’s ex-secretary of state, Colin Powell, made the same point when he reportedly warned Bush and his Cabinet of the so-called Pottery Barn Principle: If you break it, you own it. Unfortunately, it is not just Iraq that America is breaking, but the power and influence of the Islamic world’s secular nationalists—like Hussein—in their decades-long power struggle with ultra-religious forces. From Hamas’ victory in the Palestinian Authority to the resurgence of the theocrats in Tehran to the Talibanization of southern Iraq, anti-Western religious extremists are in the ascendancy. No wonder the commander of British troops in the Shiite-dominated Basra area sounds defeated: “It becomes more and more difficult for ourselves to be here. You almost move from being part of the solution to being part of the problem.”

Rice might contemplate those words of warning before she prattles on about the bright new day aborning in Iraq. Last June, when Stephanopoulos asked Rice if she agreed with Vice President Dick Cheney’s claim that the insurgency was in its “last throes,” Rice replied in the affirmative, citing the “elections again in December that will bring about a permanent government.” Unstoppable in her myopic optimism, she now blithely ignores the results of that election and predicts “an Iraq that is a tolerant Iraq, an Iraq that will fight terrorism.” In your dreams, Condi.

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By CSE, February 23, 2006 at 10:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

With the short memory of America, the notion of cumulative effect skates silently by…

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By kathy sullivan, February 19, 2006 at 5:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

thank goodness for Scheer, Ivins and Hightower—or i might be in the loony bin.  after the 2000 election coup, while living in republican florida, i sincerely thought i was going crazy—this was not my country—this was not happening in america and the press was absent or too afraid to challenge this insane administration.  people rise up, take your country back—this administration is a danger to the planet!  i am just glad that more people are becoming aware and getting active—i just hope we can endure—you have no idea what these hawks are capable of—dirty tricks, lies and deceit on just the tip of the ice berg.

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By M Gale, February 19, 2006 at 11:14 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Have you noticed that there is no republican as the “natural” sucessor to GWB? Does anyone think that if the republicans keep congress 2006 they might just lose the presidency in 2008 to a democrat and let him/her clean up the mess in Iraq?

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By Jack Davis, February 18, 2006 at 8:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Exactly, Mr. Scheer. It is disturbing the media has mostly not reported the horrible turn of events in Iraq. Violence by Muslim extremists in Iraq has escalated. It’s very upsetting to me that we lost 2,000 lives and billions of dollars to put people like Sadr and al-Jaafari in power.

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By Eleanore Kjellberg, February 17, 2006 at 7:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

And isn’t that crook Ahmed Chalabi the Oil Minister—that OIL addiction is a hell’uv thing to kick!

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By TJ, February 17, 2006 at 6:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How could this outcome not have been known prior to the war as the most probable outcome to Ms Rice. 
With the fundamentalist Islamic train having already left the station, so to speak, the Bush administration is clearly faced with a dilema on timing troop withdrawal with the 2006 elections upcoming.  Do you withdraw now, declare victory, and hope that the inevitable and increasingly bloody, fundamentalist Islamic victory celebration does not bloom on American televisions until after November (repleate with stories of Talibanic religious excess not heard since Afghanistan pre-invasion, and treaty ceremonies between the Iraq governemnt and Islamic enemies of America), or defer that very public debacle until closer to the 2008 presidential elections.
Reality can be a bummer.

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By Shag, February 17, 2006 at 4:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just someone tell me, is there anything this group of clowns have gotten correct, besides the taxcuts for their friend? Anything at all?

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By deblonay, February 17, 2006 at 7:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I look in amazement at the neo-con supporters who simply can’t come to term with the fact that all is lost in Iraq,and this is but the beginning of a wave of disasters in the Middle east,as the tide of Islamist movements ,incited by Bush’s stupid policies,sweeps on.  It was announced a few hours ago that the Eqyptian regime has cancelled planned Municipal elections,as it fears the Islamists will win a sweeping victory,just like Hamas.. So much for Bush’s call for democracy !the real problem is of course US support on all occasions for Israel,which incited Arab fury. Has Israel any lOng term future ?Perhaps they could all go back home to Brooklyn or NY City !

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By Fadel Abdallah, February 16, 2006 at 9:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I wouln’t make Condi the topic of a serious counterpoint. After all, she is just an employee of evil duo Bush-Cheney,  and their propaganda machine; she does not have a choice about even having an independent judgment! The legacy of evil duo Bush-Cheney in Iraq will be either a theocracy or a civil war. I will bet my reputation on this statement! I hope that you will not blame Condi when this happens!

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By Arnold Renz, February 16, 2006 at 5:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

She was on Chevron Texaco’s board and has an oil tanker named after her. Wake me when it’s over

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By John, February 16, 2006 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am a bit tired of reading about Ms. Rice “towing the Bush line.”  She has a job to do.  She is the face of America when it comes to dealing with foreign nations.  It’s insanity to think that she is going to pull an Al Gore and go to Saudi Arabia and bad mouth the United States as the personally chosen representative of a sitting president.  As most people know, going behind your boss and undermining his or her policies and authority is a good way to get fired if you are caught.  Of course, I am quite sure that this is exactly what the liberal left of America is waiting for.  Tha way, they can take Bush to task for racism in firing an African American woman.  As a matter of fact, I’d be interested in seeing that happen simply to watch the entire band of left wing loonies who have up to this point so hated Ms. Rice come together and rally around her in a show of support.

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By Ken Hathaway, February 16, 2006 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I guess we are all just stupid.  We should have put you in the White House so we could have Big fat Al G. as the head of the EPA, Fat Mike Moore as head of defence, Hillary as head of the IRS, John K. as head of state and of course Teddy K as head of ATF.  You know he just loves the first letter of the his job.  Sorry robert but you are not fit to be in the same room as Ms. Rice. Grow up old man before its to late and people come to know just how little a person you really are and how small your thought process is.

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By John Earl, February 16, 2006 at 9:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Here in Alabama Condi is granted celebrity status. In the newspapers there is speculation that she might be in line for a Presidential candidacy.

Enveloped by news photographers and television cameramen she walked to center field before the University of Alabama football game against Tennessee to toss the coin.

Hopefully when “W” leaves the scene Condi will too.

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By ancientmariner, February 16, 2006 at 9:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What is WRONG with Dr. Rice? Everyone who has known her attests to her brilliance in the past…but now? As far as I can see, Bush is no Svengali (the character, although I agree that he definitely has all the negative attributes associated with the word).

Rice acts like she has lost the ability to think!

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By Nick Byram, February 16, 2006 at 8:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is laughable for anyone who was and still is proudly affiliated with Ramparts Magazine to accuse anyone else of “delusions”.

Let’s get this straight. The Iranians are NOT Arabs. They are Persians. They are not liked by Arabs, even Shiite Arabs. Jaafari’s political career will be cut short if he is seen as an Iranian agent.

But Jaafari’s political career, so long as he plays by the rules now set up, is up to the Iraqi Shiite rank and file, not Scheer. So what is Bob Scheer advocating? That American forces initiate a Diem-style coup against Jaafari before he has even taken office? Lessons of Vietnam, indeed.

Or is he simply repeating the canard that Iraq was better off with Saddam in power? I’d like to see Mr. Scheer tell that to the 80% of Shiite or Kurd Iraqis, or even a good many of the 20% of Sunni Iraqis, and see how far he gets.

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By G. Anderson, February 15, 2006 at 10:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Isn’t this the reason for attacking Iran in the first place. To provoke Iran into retaliating against an Iraq occupied by our forces, and thus getting the new Iraq army to fight it’s old enemy, unifying the country against a common enemy?

But of course first black ops will have to “frame Iran” for some grevious deeds against Israel or some other convient innoscents, to prove to the world that Iran is out of control, part of the axis of evil.

Voila no more civil war. Thus the goal of blocking China and Russia’s moves to gather recsources in the area is accomplished.

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By Gary Kilner, February 15, 2006 at 5:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is in response to comment #3784 by Martin.

I, along with thousands of other LA Times readers, was sorely disappointed in your column being discontinued by the Times, which I thought provided some balance to the views of several far right wing columnists such as Jonah Goldberg and Max Boot. Well, as I look at it, The LA Times loss is the SF Chronical’s gain.

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By Fayez, February 15, 2006 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I would like to apologize for posting my comment
twice-the same one, consecutively.That was an
error on my part.
I’m not the sharpest crayon in the box when it
comes to matters of the computer and of the
Thank you Robert, Thruthdig and the readers.

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By Saul2006, February 15, 2006 at 1:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Condi sat out the Civil Rights years and now she is rewarded by being the one intellectual who really is close to Bush. Considering where she came from, she probably feels an obligation to mouth the Bush line.
When you consider that she was Russian expert for first Bush but had no plan for Russia imploding, had no plan for occupation of or existing Iraq although prone to go to war, sanctioned Hamas involvement in Palestine vote while screaming about terrorists (Hamas being one of the terrorists organizations not AlQueda, that Bush linked Saddam to) she has no creditability at all except amongst the right wing

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By Peter Hollings, February 15, 2006 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You’re right. But, maybe, you’re wrong.  What I mean is that it depends on what Bush’s goals in the Middle East are, something he has been less than clear about. If the goal is to bring “democracy,” then you’re right. We are failing at that. If the goal is to bring civil war, following which borders can be re-drawn around a bunch of weak states posing no threat to either Israel nor the US imperial plan, then, maybe, Condi is entitled to dream on.

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By Grover Syck, February 15, 2006 at 12:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is the end result of 2300 dead American soldiers (plus 16,500 severely maimed).

We have a lying fool for a president, and an army of morons following him.

He had his “democratic” elections.  Only thing is, the result was the beginning of another Islamic theocracy.

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By Darrel King, February 15, 2006 at 12:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hi Robert,
  I’m setting here in the little town of Paxico Kansas. (pop) 250.
  I think it’s great that I can go to your Truthdig web site and find the real truth about what’s really going on in Iraq and other parts of the world.
  Great web site and a great story!

Darrel King
Paxico Kansas

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By Fayez, February 15, 2006 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Good article.
Guess what? It’s true.The war criminals that invaded Iraq-Neo-cons in the U.S. making that policy- the stupid-ass British{why is there never any difference
between Labor and Conservative parties in London on foreign policy?]
And, of course the sucker Italians and Spanish, suffering losses, though to a lesser degree.
So, thanks alot neo-cons, most of whom are right-wing jewish Israeli firsters[read:treason to America.}
By the way, the shaking hands deal… why…the mayor of Jerusalem will not shake hands with a woman cause’ a his Jewish faith, orthodox or whatever.
Condi, you historical and cultural retard!
Hillary you too…oh wait, it’s just politics.
Not a word by anyone about the theocracy we know as Israel.
Ah…the Middle East…
To the neo-cons= Welcome Idiots. The only problem is innocent American troops are dying, not your
selves or your kid, relatives, etc.
Kristol people of Aipac[the Israeli lobby]
What a damn shame.
Later Alligator-Fayez

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By Dr Robert Millward, February 15, 2006 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Your assessment of Rice is on the money. What else would we expect from one of Bush’s minions. She puts more thought into her shopping for clothes than she does to her assessment of the world picture. She has been wrong so many times that her credibilitry is akin to Bush and the rest of the gang of zealots in Washington. They can’t be believed nor can they be trusted.
The sooner we impeach Bush and get rid of his minions, the safer the world will be

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By william martin, February 15, 2006 at 11:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

God help us
there has to be away to stop these people from destroying this great nation and what it has always stood for, the total incompetence of this administration is staggering
Willian S Martin
Springfield Mo.

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By Don Hutton, February 15, 2006 at 10:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I view Ms Rice as corrupt. It matters little how this has occurred. She must be judged by her deeds, not her words. She lives in a glass house and throws stones. . . .

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By bob choquette, February 15, 2006 at 10:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Once again Bob your observations are on the money. However politically astute as Condi may be, we know her present job forces her to be locked in step with the commander in chief. As the Republican leadership race approaches will she be able to distance herself from her own past statements and put a positive spin on this no win situation? Colin must be smiling right now.

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By roy lechtreck, February 15, 2006 at 10:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The entire Bush administration has its head in the clouds.  There is no way that elections in Iraq will produce a democracy.  Since the Shiites and Sunnis believe in a theocracy, democracy is impossible.  If the two disagree on what type of theocracy whould be put in place, the Shiites will win because they are the largest group in Iraq.  The best we can do is allow the country to break into three pieces.

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By Daniel Fyffe, February 15, 2006 at 10:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

With an eye on the prize, Ms. Rice holds no surprice.
For the next five years, oil companies will not be paying royalties to the U.S. government for oil pumped on our public lands as announced in yesterdays New York Times.
About 7 billion down the toilet or in the coffers of companies demurely announcing record profits (take your pick).
People do no conduct business based on hand-shakes these days, so why should Condi care when it comes to securing the oil-fields of Iraq for Chevron, Exxon and friends?
Is it not humor how (president) Bush proclaims how we should lessen our dependancy on oil?
WIth the brief attention span of the general public, Enron, and Abramoff is yesterdays news to the republican juggernaut, and may we pray that big oil business comes out of the closet in campaign contributions this coming election!?
With apoligies to any possibly bruised egos, there will not be an oil-tanker named after Mr. Scheer anytime soon, and Condi’s loyalty and gratitude to her old bosses is evident in how she takes on the world.

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By blueneck, February 15, 2006 at 10:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Call me cynical if you like, but “success” in “the Long War”—as it’s now being called—depends on radicalizing the Arab World.  If your goal and intention is to enrich those cronies that feed off the Security/Military/Industrial complex, then you need to make sure that you have generations of people who will opose and fight us.
These developements are exactly what the war profiteers ordered.

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By agronomo, February 15, 2006 at 9:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Somehow I doubt that she suffers from “myopic optimism”.  I think she just mouths these comforting lies for the benefit of the faithful. Condi, Cheney, Rummy and the rest of the “cabal”, maybe even their puppet, Prez Shrub, must understand the mess they are in. All the more reason to expect that they will soon bomb Iran. A majority of our credulous fellow citizens appear to believe their agitprop and will rally round when the “threat” is eliminated. And there will be no evidence to contradict their rationale. Their real objective may be the vaunted “clash of civilizations”, and the “Long War” they need to kill the last vestiges of our democracy.

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By Tony Wicher, February 15, 2006 at 9:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The only thing the U.S. can do is get out of the Middle East and develop energy independence. The U.S. could take, say, 25% of its current military budget and devote it instead to a crash program to develop energy independence. In ten years it could be done if the political will were there, that is, if common sense and not big oil were contolling our foreign policy, which should be to strengthen international law, international courts and the United Nations. As far as Israel goes, it was a bad idea in the first place. That alliance should be ended. It just doesn’t make sense. Israel has nuclear weapons; let them defend themselves or negotiate their own modus vivendi with the Muslims.

Then Muslims will have no one to blame but themselves for their problems, and terrorism will no longer have a moral leg to stand on.
It’s the only way. Let’s hope we can get a government elected in the next few years that will do this.

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By Larry Warshawsky, February 15, 2006 at 8:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It seems that every time a repressive dictator is overthrown, dies or otherwise eliminated, the country he controlled is thrown into chaos and/or revolution. With the removal of Hussein, as despicable as he was, it seems like the same is happening in Iraq. Just one more example of forgetting the lessons of history.

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By Chris Veith, February 15, 2006 at 7:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ridiculous Analysis.  Banal would be the appropriate word. Most Arabs, including the Iraqis, have little trust of the Iranians.  Sadr, by aligning himself with Iran, is creating his own fatal domestic mistake.

And Scheer’s atempt to depict Saddam as a defender of secular freedom is enough to make one gag.  Women had rights as long as they followed the Batthist line.  Otherwise, Saddam was murdering and torturing them.  Should we congratulate Herr Hitler on his separation of church and state? 

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By Mark Privett, February 15, 2006 at 6:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just wanted to lend my voice to the choir I suppose, but these are truly surreal times.The “it’s not what you know but who you know” cliche is being played out to the nth degree with incompetence on every level (foreign policy, energy policy, environmental policy, the oversight of giving out hunting licenses) by this tunnel visioned administration.That you could make a murderous psychopath like Saddam Hussein look good is damn near a feat worse than death.

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By Barry, February 15, 2006 at 5:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yep, seems all plausible to me. One thing regarding secular regimes: isn’t Syria one of the few secular regimes left in the Middle East, now thrown into the arms of Iran by Washington?

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By Bill Durbin, February 15, 2006 at 5:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Is the issue really the Secretary of State’s intelligence? It seems to me that the issue is this administration’s persistent refusal to answer almost any question with a modicum of honesty. After five years of this, I wonder why we even bother to ask.

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By Martin, February 15, 2006 at 5:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It was the greatest news when I found out that you were fired from the Times, know hopefully we can get rid of a few more Left Wing Nuts, and we can have a paper that is equal and normal and reporting the news fair and with know Left Wing Tilt such as you did for all those years.


A Happy Times Reader   ::))

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By G. Anderson, February 14, 2006 at 11:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This conflict has never been about reason. And so reason will never convince those who have formulated this policy that they are wrong. It will only convince them that they need to spend more lives, more money, and conduct more psyops until they have achieved their objectives.

Even if we were to be defeated completely, militarily, financially and held up to the rest of the world, as an imoral nation the likes of which no one has seen in the last 50 years, it will not dissuade this adminstration from it’s chosen course.

Reason can often be a disguise for darker delusions, for even the sociopath wants to appear reasonable in their own eyes.

It’s really come do to this: anyone who opposes is viewed as a threat to the cause.

They are willing to do or say anything, true or false, real or unreal, right or wrong to achieve their political will.

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By Ron Ranft, February 14, 2006 at 11:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hopefully with the fall of the Bush Administration, Rice will pass into oblivion, known only as another one of Bush’s cabal that was not only too blind to see what the right thing to do was, but also suffered from the ability to learn from their mistakes of which they never admitted to any!

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