Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Ex-Powell Aide Criticizes Bush on Iraq

Wilkerson had some "affirming" things to say about this administration... I say 'affirming' because its paints the same picture of the administration that many other former insiders have:

WASHINGTON - Former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff says President Bush was "too aloof, too distant from the details" of post-war planning, allowing underlings to exploit Bush's detachment and make bad decisions.

In an Associated Press interview Monday, former Powell chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson also said that wrongheaded ideas for the handling of foreign detainees after Sept. 11 arose from a coterie of White House and Pentagon aides who argued that "the president of the United States is all-powerful," and that the Geneva Conventions were irrelevant.

Wilkerson blamed Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and like-minded aides. Wilkerson said that Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults, because "otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard."

The picture this paints is one of an incompetent, hands-off president who has given the government over to a bunch of ideologues from the PNAC.

Those who voted for Bush (the first time around) must have known there were voting for a business failure and idiot who's resume features such successes as 3 failed oil businesses and using his connections to buy a baseball team.... But I don't think they realized they were really putting all the Kristol-type nuts in charge...

I still can't figure out why anyone voted for him a couple years ago... Even Nader couldn't do as much damage as this guy has...


Saturday, November 26, 2005

ID - The National Embarrassment

JJ over at Truth be Told says it all regarding this supposed debate. Give that post a read.

I say “supposed debate” because its really a national embarrassment more than an issue. As I say in my comments to his post:

Would someone please explain to me why we should look to the writings of nomadic, Bronze-Age tribesmen to explain the origin of the species? Maybe we should bring back medicinal ‘bleeding’ to treat disease and bring the humors back in balance (since we still don't understand how some diseases are aquired, etc.)...

The most religious in our society are not content in believing these things themselves. They have to justify their belief by forcing this crap on us: from the display of the ten commandments in the courts to teaching ID in biology.

Haven’t people noticed that the most advanced and developed societies on the globe are the ones who have adopted scientific inquiry and the rule of law as their foundation? Some on the religious right see mysticism and theocracy as the foundation of society… All we have to do is look around the globe to see how well that works out.

I think we need to give these folks what they want – maybe a small section of Idaho or something. If that keeps them from trying to force their beliefs on me, I’d say its worth it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

George Bush's Third Term

Friedman has a good article in today's NYTimes. Here are some of his most relevant points:

When I watch Mr. Bush these days, though, he looks to me like a man who wishes that we had a 28th amendment to the Constitution - called "Can I Go Now?" He looks like someone who would prefer to pack up and go back to his Texas ranch. It's not just that he doesn't seem to be having any fun. It's that he seems to be totally out of ideas relevant to the nation's future.

Since there is no such clause, Mr. Bush has two choices. One is to continue governing as though he's still running against John McCain in South Carolina. That means pushing a hard-right strategy based on dividing the country to get the 50.1 percent he needs to push through more tax cuts, while ignoring our real problems: the deficit, health care, energy, climate change and Iraq. More slash-and-burn politics like that will be a disaster.

For two men who have fought this war without deploying enough troops, always putting politics before policy, without any plans for the morning after and never punishing any member of their team for rank incompetence to then accuse others of lacking seriousness on Iraq is disgusting. Yes, we need to stay the course for now in Iraq, but we can't stay the course alone or divided. That's the point.

We are about to produce the most legitimate government ever in the Arab world, and the Bush-Cheney team - instead of acknowledging its errors on W.M.D., seeking forgiveness and urging the country to unite behind the important effort to defeat the jihadist madness in Iraq - does what? It starts slinging mud at Democrats on Iraq. Sure, some Democrats goaded them with reckless remarks - but they are not in power. Where are the adults? We can't afford this nonsense, while also ignoring our energy crisis, the deficit, health care, climate change and Social Security.

"We are entering the era of hard choices for the United States - an era in which we can't always count on three Asian countries writing us checks to compensate for our failure to prepare for a hurricane or properly conduct a war," said David Rothkopf, author of "Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power."

"If President Bush doesn't rise to this challenge, our children and grandchildren will look at the burden he has placed on their shoulders and see this moment as the hinge between the American Century and the Chinese Century. George W. Bush may well be seen as the president who, by refusing to address these urgent questions when they needed to be addressed, invited America's decline."

Truly, I hope Mr. Bush rises to the challenge. We do not have three years to waste. To do that, though, Mr. Bush would need to become a very different third-term president, with a much more centrist agenda and style. If he does, he still has time to be a bridge to the future. If he doesn't, the resources he will have squandered and the size of the problems he will have ignored will put him in the running for one of our worst presidents ever.

The pessimist in me says it's already too late. Given the presidents cock-sure attitude and the fact that he has surrounded himself with yes-men I see very little chance of him having an intellectual epiphany and realizing he governs a nation of diverse people and interests. He'll continue to push policies based on his ivory tower view of capitalism and democracy unencumbered by the realities of these systems' shortcomings when practiced anywhere near their idealized form. To him, their textbook definitions should be realized by all societies.

Mr. Bush - Happy Turkey-day. You'll go down as the biggest turkey in the history of the White House.

Monday, November 21, 2005

General rant

From the CSMonitor:

Five top German intelligence officers say that the Bush administration and the CIA repeatedly ignored warnings about the veracity of the information that an Iraqi informant named 'Curveball' was giving about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. The Los Angeles Times, in a massive report published Sunday, reports that "the Bush administration and the CIA repeatedly exaggerated his claims during the run-up to the war in Iraq." They also say that 'Curveball,' whom the Germans described as "not a psychologically stable guy," never claimed that he had produced germ weapons, nor had he ever seen anyone do it.

The ineptitude is shown to be worse every day. But what should we have expected when the country puts an incompetent, inexperienced dolt into the highest position in the land?

I think we need a new election: not an presidential election, but a vote to decide if we allow the self proclaimed bible-thumping, 'values & morals' clan to vote and/or run in the next election. I know how I'd vote... and I have a solution that would make everyone happy.

We need to find a location for all these people -- maybe Idaho -- and give them their own country: Jesus-land ... where they can all argue about why god caused it to rain on one city and not another ... and whether exposing a woman's nipple during the Superbowl should be punishable via prison time or time in the stocks.

Its the perfect solution: the Jesus freaks can beat themselves up about who's the most pious and we can go about living our lives in a secular democracy.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Good, evil and dogma

The Intellectual Insurgent has a simply awesome blog on the implications of using (divine) revelation in the identification of good vs evil.
 
As I've posted previously, I feel the best course of determining right and wrong is the use of the human intellect. Many argue that our sense of right and wrong comes from god, or the gods. I certainly hope not: more atrocities have been committed in god's name than practically any other reason. And once the debate starts down that path: i.e. - here's what I believe my god says, truly critical thought is out the window.
 
No, I put my trust in our own gray matter... as II says:
 
Is it possible to be so confident that you have the one sole only Right answer without crossing the line between good and evil? No.
 
Question your conclusions. Seek out and analyze the facts. Adherence to dogma shuts down the thinking process. Without critical though you are on the path to blind obedience -- and you are on the path to disaster.
 

Monday, November 14, 2005

More idiocy from Pat

In case some of you haven't heard, Dover, PA recently tossed all of the Republican "intelligent designers" off the Dover school board and replaced them with Democrats.

Here's what the idiot 'n chief of the evangelical movement had to say. If anyone thinks this guy is anything more than a partisan political hack I'd like to hear why...

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover [Pennsylvania]: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city. ... God is tolerant and loving, but we can't keep sticking our finger in his eye forever. ... If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them."

-- Pat Robertson

Torture's Terrible Toll

The senator from my state, AZ, has articulated my thoughts on torture, and why we cannot sanction it in any form, far better than I could.
 
Give his Newsweek essay a read.
 
Its simply amazing to me that an administration that claims, above all else, a MORAL mandate would advocate a policy of "limited torture". This 'ends-justify-the-means' position is completely at odds with Bush's 'good and evil' world-view -- at least I don't see how you can reconcile the two.
 
If our enemies are evil because they abuse and torture their own people (Saddam, Islamic 'morality squads', etc.) how can we defend similar methods?
 
 Senator McCain put it concisely:
 
To prevail in this war we need more than victories on the battlefield. This is a war of ideas, a struggle to advance freedom in the face of terror in places where oppressive rule has bred the malevolence that creates terrorists. Prisoner abuses exact a terrible toll on us in this war of ideas. They inevitably become public, and when they do they threaten our moral standing, and expose us to false but widely disseminated charges that democracies are no more inherently idealistic and moral than other regimes. This is an existential fight, to be sure. If they could, Islamic extremists who resort to terror would destroy us utterly. But to defeat them we must prevail in our defense of American political values as well. The mistreatment of prisoners greatly injures that effort.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

What's right

(Austin, Texas) Conservative church leaders, buoyed by overwhelming passage of a state amendment banning gay marriage in Texas, now ponder their next show of political strength.

The ban, which received support from pulpits across the state, rolled to an easy victory by a 3-to-1 margin Tuesday.

"If that becomes a trend, the evangelical community becomes the largest political voice not only in the state of Texas, but America," said the Rev. Ryan Rush, senior pastor of Bannockburn Baptist Church in Austin. "I think that's a positive thing because evangelical Christians stand for what's right."

 
If codifying discrimination into law is "what's right" -- I want to be with the guys that are wrong.
 
The influence of conservative christians in this country is alarming. Not because they are christians, but because any dogmatic, revealed religion operates on the premise of 'revealed truth'. Such a belief system doesn't leave room for debate, argument and reason: the very foundation of an enlightened society.
 
This is exactly what the founders sought to avoid when they approved the first amendment: government based on 'belief', not reason.
 
Even though fundamentalism is alive and well in the south, overall, the number of church-goers in this country is slowly dwindling. While that maybe unfortunate for the individual, it will be a good thing for our society.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Report Warned Bush Team About Intelligence Suspicions

From the NY Times:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 - A high Qaeda official in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.
[...]

But neither that report nor another issued by the Sept. 11 commission made any reference to the existence of the earlier and more skeptical 2002 report by the D.I.A., which supplies intelligence to military commanders and national security policy makers. As an official intelligence report, labeled DITSUM No. 044-02, the document would have circulated widely within the government, and it would have been available to the C.I.A., the White House, the Pentagon and other agencies. It remains unclear whether the D.I.A. document was provided to the Senate panel.

[...]

"It is possible he does not know any further details; it is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers," the February 2002 report said. "Ibn al-Shaykh has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may be describing scenarios to the debriefers that he knows will retain their interest."

Mr. Powell relied heavily on accounts provided by Mr. Libi for his speech to the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003, saying that he was tracing "the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these weapons to Al Qaeda."

At the time of Mr. Powell's speech, an unclassified statement by the C.I.A. described the reporting, now known to have been from Mr. Libi, as "credible." But Mr. Levin said he had learned that a classified C.I.A. assessment at the time went on to state that "the source was not in a position to know if any training had taken place."

Price of Loyalty

Ok, once again folks here at my office have motivated a blog posting.

Some of the "conservatives" here are up in arms about the democrats forcing the senate to address Phase II of the investigation into intelligence. For them, all of the issues have been put to bed. The Phase I report says that our intelligence was flawed, and that there doesn't appear to be coercion as to why it was flawed. But Phase I only addressed the intelligence agencies. Phase II is supposed to look into the administrations role more thoroughly.

To understand why this is necessary we need to go back and paint the complete picture. Let's start with a few of my personal thoughts:

Starting a war to depose a ruler and occupy a nation should only be considered as a last resort.

The US had every right to invade Afghanistan and oust the Taliban. We were attacked by fundamentalists who were harbored by that regime.

However, as I have said before, Iraq presented NO threat to us. I believe this administration was looking for reasons to invade Iraq from it's first days -- before 9/11.

1- We know the folks at the Project for New American Century had a bug up their butts about Iraq and Saddam... They (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc.) tried to get Clinton to do something about him.

2- We know that Saddam and Iraq was a priority from the first days of the administration: Paul O'Neil, the president's first Treasury Secretary and former Nixon official, told us the administrations fixation on the Iraqi regime via Suskind's book and his 9/11 testimony.

3- The PNAC guys also focused on Iraq immediately after 9/11:
Iraq

We agree with Secretary of State Powell’s recent statement that Saddam Hussein “is one of the leading terrorists on the face of the Earth….” It may be that the Iraqi government provided assistance in some form to the recent attack on the United States. But even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism. The United States must therefore provide full military and financial support to the Iraqi opposition. American military force should be used to provide a “safe zone” in Iraq from which the opposition can operate. And American forces must be prepared to back up our commitment to the Iraqi opposition by all necessary means.

4- Richard Clarke also testified that Bush told him to find a link between 9/11 and Saddam. Remember, this was sworn testimony before the Senate. Why didn't Bush or Cheney testify otherwise? They couldn't -- at least not under oath.

5- Remember the aluminum tubes? Why wasn't the Dept of Energy's (DOE) report sought out? They are the experts in this area. Their report confirmed that the tubes were not suitable for a centrifuge.

6- WMD - yes, most every intelligence agency thought Iraq was working on WMD, but the inspectors, military and our allies (and the UN) all wanted the administration to give the inspectors more time to do their work. The threat of invasion could have worked. Besides, we had NO evidence Saddam's regime intended giving nuclear material to terrorists. On the contrary, he was opposed to fundamentalists who would likely use such weapons against HIS regime.

7- The Niger letter: We know it took the IAEA less than 30 min to confirm the letters were forgeries. Why didn't our government explore that possibility? If you are considering war, shouldn't you make damn sure your information is accurate? .. to the best of your ability?

On top of this we have an administration that is willing to leak a covert operatives name to discredit dissenters. Whether or not a crime was committed is not the point: the fact that this administration could do such a thing during a time of war is despicable.

All of this points to one conclusion: the administration was looking for evidence to support its case for war with Iraq. It was not interested in honest debate on any of the criteria it was using to make that case. In fact, the administration actively, and in some cases brutally, put-down dissent ruining careers and endangering lives. This is the most disastrous type of leadership: searching for 'facts' to support your conclusion instead of analyzing the facts and deriving a sound policy from them.

As the MSNBC article points out:

This has been the Bush pattern. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill presciently says a second tax cut is unaffordable if we want to fight in Iraq—he's fired. Bush's economic adviser Larry Lindsey presciently says the war will cost between $100 billion and $200 billion (an underestimate)—he's fired. Army Gen. Eric Shinseki presciently says that winning in Iraq will require several hundred thousand troops—he's sent into early retirement. By contrast, CIA Director George Tenet, who presided over two of the greatest intelligence lapses in American history (9/11 and WMD in Iraq) and apparently helped spread "oppo ammo" to discredit the husband of a woman who had devoted her life to his agency, receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The conventional Washington explanation is that this is just old-fashioned politics. As long as you don't lie to a grand jury, there's nothing illegal here. But the consequences of a bias for loyalty over debate—even internal debate—have been devastating. The same president who seeks democracy, transparency and dissent in Iraq is irritated by it at home. O'Neill tells his story in a book by Ron Suskind called "The Price of Loyalty," and that title is the missing link in explaining the failure of the Bush presidency. The price of loyalty is incompetence. Issues don't get aired; downside risks remain un-assessed.

Such is the way of 'faith based leadership' when a president believes he's doing god's work...

Pat Tillman - what, our gov lie?

For those that doubt the ability of our government to use propaganda, or out-right lies, to propagate an image, check out this Fox story on Pat Tillman...

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,174359,00.html

Couple excerpts:

So what's going on here? Why would the Pentagon and Army brass cover up Tillman's friendly fire death? [...]

It would have been tough for the military to concede its own ineptitude caused the death of the war on terror's poster soldier in any setting. But just days after Tillman's death, the Abu Ghraib scandal broke. The military was in desperate need of some good news. Recycling Tillman's selfless bravery put torture stories on the backburner for at least a news cycle or two.

What's tragic is that the military's duplicity in all of this has buried the better story - what a remarkable man Tillman was. Tillman, we've since learned from media interviews with friends, family, and fellow soldiers, was a thinker. He defied easy classification. He was a poet, kept a journal (which vanished after his death), and subscribed to the Economist. He admired Winston Churchill, but was also interested in anti-war academic Noam Chomsky. He read Emerson and Thoreau. He wasn't religious, but had read the Bible, the Koran, and the book of Mormon. He brought along a portable library of classic novels for his platoon pals to read.

Perhaps most interestingly, Tillman opposed the war in Iraq. He'd told platoon mates he thought the war was "illegal," and a distraction from the war on Al Qaeda, but fought in Iraq anyway, owing to a sense of duty.

We lost a complicated, interesting, fascinating guy 18 months ago, a guy who exhibited the kind of critical thinking that seems to be in short supply among the men who commanded him. They, and we, owe Tillman a lot. Truth and accountability would be a good start.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The CIA, WMD and responsiblity - where does the buck stop?

Some colleagues here are work are trying to defend the Bush administrations use of 'error filled' intelligence in the lead up to war. They argue that since the intelligence has been shown to be bad, you really can't blame Bush and Co. for going to war.
 
Yes I can... Here's my reasoning:
 
It took the IAEA less than 30 min to discredit the UK Report on Niger Uranium. The simply fact is that the signatories to the document weren't even officials in Niger at the time...

From the Senate report on intelligence failures: "That said, it is hard to deny the conclusion that intelligence analysts worked in an environment that did not encourage scepticism about the conventional wisdom."

The president is captain of the ship -- he is responsible for what goes on in his administration. It is pretty well established that they were looking for reasons to go to war -- not for an objective rendering of the situation.

Again, I point you to the Project for a New American Century's web site: Cheney, Rummy, Wolfy, et al. TOLD US THEY WANTED TO GO TO WAR WITH IRAQ back in the '90s. 9/11 gave them the excuse and they used everything they could to convince us war with Iraq was a necessity.

When you look for reasons to go to war, you find them...  Is that the type of leadership people want? Starting with a preconceived end-state and looking for the evidence to support it while ignoring contrary evidence?

Bush is either president and responsible for his decisions or he is incompetent for not aggressively asking for all sides of the story... including dissenting opinions on WMD.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Free Markets

I have long said free markets and capitalism needs oversight to function properly.
 
Here's another example of what happens in a capitalist economy that contains powerful corporations: they exercise that power to squash innovation and competition.
 
 
"Microsoft had proposed that device makers that included a CD with the Windows Media Player with their devices not be allowed to include any competing software. In other words, devices that wanted to run the Windows Media Player would have to do so on an exclusive basis."
 
Seems like Microsoft is using their influence to REDUCE the number of options a consumer has. Surprise!!
 
Sure, the consumer can go and find another media player, research it to determine if it works on the player he just bought, download, install and configure it... But what if "xyz corp" (the player vendor) knows that another media player works well and wants to include it for the benefit of their customers? That's a win for everyone: xyz sells a media player and we get options on the software without the hassle...
 
Sounds like a good idea to me -- but, in this case, the government HAD TO STEP IN to ensure we get those options. The "free market" would have reduced our options. Or, at the very least, made it harder to evaluate one software package with another...

Folks - the natural outcome of competition is a group of very powerful corporate winners. The problem begins when these guys start using that muscle to stifle competition in very uncapitalistic ways. Without regulation, this will ALWAYS happen.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Scowcroft: Pragmatism vs Ideology

If you haven’t read the article in the New Yorker by JEFFREY GOLDBERG you need to.

Brent Scowcroft, the National Sec Advisor to HW Bush and former AF General, is the central figure in this interview/article. A close friend of the Bushs’ he recently wrote an op-en in the WSJ blasting this administration.

Scowcroft is no pacifist. In fact, he was the main advocate (on the NSC) pushing for military action against Iraq during HW’s reign.

However, Scowcroft demonstrates a pragmatism in foreign policy matters – and in the use of force in general – that this administration wholly lacks.
A principal reason that the Bush Administration gave no thought to unseating Saddam was that Brent Scowcroft gave no thought to it. An American occupation of Iraq would be politically and militarily untenable, Scowcroft told Bush. And though the President had employed the rhetoric of moral necessity to make the case for war, Scowcroft said, he would not let his feelings about good and evil dictate the advice he gave the President.

It would have been no problem for America’s military to reach Baghdad, he said. The problems would have arisen when the Army entered the Iraqi capital. “At the minimum, we’d be an occupier in a hostile land,” he said. “Our forces would be sniped at by guerrillas, and, once we were there, how would we get out? What would be the rationale for leaving? I don’t like the term ‘exit strategy’—but what do you do with Iraq once you own it?”

The first Gulf War was a success, Scowcroft said, because the President knew better than to set unachievable goals. “I’m not a pacifist,” he said. “I believe in the use of force. But there has to be a good reason for using force. And you have to know when to stop using force.”

Scowcroft does not believe that the promotion of American-style democracy abroad is a sufficiently good reason to use force. “I thought we ought to make it our duty to help make the world friendlier for the growth of liberal regimes,” he said. “You encourage democracy over time, with assistance, and aid, the traditional way. Not how the neocons do it.”

The neoconservatives—the Republicans who argued most fervently for the second Gulf war—believe in the export of democracy, by violence if that is required, Scowcroft said. “How do the neocons bring democracy to Iraq? You invade, you threaten and pressure, you evangelize.” And now, Scowcroft said, America is suffering from the consequences of that brand of revolutionary utopianism. “This was said to be part of the war on terror, but Iraq feeds terrorism,” he said.
Goldberg points out that this administration is plagued by group-think – that they didn’t seriously consider differing opinions: all the stuff we’ve heard from a half-dozen former insiders:
[…]this is remarkable: Scowcroft’s best friend’s son is the President; his friend Dick Cheney is the Vice-President; Condoleezza Rice, who was the national-security adviser, and is now the Secretary of State, was once a Scowcroft protégée; and the current national-security adviser, Stephen Hadley, is another protégé and a former principal at the Scowcroft Group.

According to friends, Scowcroft was consulted more frequently by the Clinton White House than he has been by George W. Bush’s. Clinton’s national-security adviser, Samuel Berger, told me that he valued Scowcroft’s opinions: “He knows a great deal, and I always found it useful to speak to him.”
And as I’ve always thought, a lot of this “policy certainty” is born of evangelical roots: the notion that “we’re the good guys bringing justice to the world”:

Rice’s split with her former National Security Council colleagues was made evident at a dinner in early September of 2002, at 1789, a Georgetown restaurant. Scowcroft, Rice, and several people from the first Bush Administration were there. The conversation, turning to the current Administration’s impending plans for Iraq, became heated. Finally, Rice said, irritably, “The world is a messy place, and someone has to clean it up.” The remark stunned the other guests. Scowcroft, as he later told friends, was flummoxed by Rice’s “evangelical tone.”
What we need are leaders who are pragmatic; leaders who study and analyze; leaders who seek out dissenting opinions and ideas and weigh the consequences of not only action, but inaction.

This analysis must be done in the light of reason and critical thought, not under the pre-conceived notion of good and evil. Yes, good and evil exists: but taking up the gauntlet against a perceived evil doesn’t necessarily spell its demise… it may be just the reaction evil was hoping for.

Real Homeland Security

The administration and Republicans have the reputation of being strong on national defense. I think rational people believe that spending<$200 BILLION on Iraq is, at best, a HUGE gamble: it may help stabilize the region in the long run, but right now our actions there have only stirred up more anti-Americanism throughout the world.

If found this picture that was published by the NY Times (approximately a year ago). Check it out…

Seems to me that if WMD in the hands of terrorists was a real concern we’d be actively trying to secure the huge amounts of weapons grade material floating around the former Soviet states.

As far as homeland security: doesn’t it make sense to put serious money into port and other ‘critical infrastructure’ security?

How about boarder security? That would seem to be an important issue for the federal government to deal with?

If we had spent a fraction of the money spent in Iraq here at home we could have real security instead of dead soldiers and a 'hope' for a more stable Middle East.