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The Analogy Quagmire

"Without strong U.S. backing, Maliki would be hard-pressed to hold his 15-month-old government together in the face of opposition from lawmakers and from a public worn down by violence and other hardships that have followed the U.S.-led invasion of March 2003."

Journalist Nir Rosen tells Amy Goodman of Democracy Now that all the arguing over Maliki is irrelevant.

"AMY GOODMAN: What do you think of [Democratic] Senator [Carl] Levin calling for the Maliki and the whole government to disband?

"NIR ROSEN: Well, it's stupid for several reasons. First of all, the Iraqi government doesn't matter. It has no power. And it doesn't matter who you put in there. He's not going to have any power. . . . These days, you have a collection of city states: Mosul, Basra, Baghdad, Kirkuk, Irbil, Sulaymaniyah. Each one is virtually independent, and they have their own warlords and their own militias. And what happens in Baghdad makes no difference. So that's the first point.

"Second of all, who can he put in instead? What does he think he's going to put in? Allawi or some secular candidate? There was a democratic election, and the majority of Iraqis selected the sectarian Shiite group Dawa, Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution, the Sadr Movement. These are movements that are popular among the majority of Shias, who are the majority of Iraq. So it doesn't matter who you put in there. And people in the Green Zone have never had any power. Americans, whether in the government or journalists, have been focused on the Green Zone from the beginning of the war, and it's never really mattered. It's been who has power on the street, the various different militias, depending on where you are -- Sunni, Shia, tribal, religious, criminal. So it just reflects the same misunderstanding of Iraqi politics. The government doesn't do anything, doesn't provide any services, whether security, electricity, health or otherwise. Various militias control various ministries, and they use it as their fiefdoms. Ministries attack other ministries."

The Democrats

Jonathan Weisman and Anne E. Kornblut write in The Washington Post: "Democratic leaders in Congress had planned to use August recess to raise the heat on Republicans to break with President Bush on the Iraq war. Instead, Democrats have been forced to recalibrate their own message in the face of recent positive signs on the security front, increasingly focusing their criticisms on what those military gains have not achieved: reconciliation among Iraq's diverse political factions.

"And now the Democrats, along with wavering Republicans, will face an advertising blitz from Bush supporters determined to remain on offense. A new pressure group, Freedom's Watch, will unveil a month-long, $15 million television, radio and grass-roots campaign today designed to shore up support for Bush's policies. . . .

"'For people who believe in peace through strength, the cavalry is coming,' said Ari Fleischer, a former Bush White House press secretary who is helping to head Freedom's Watch. . . .

"GOP leaders have latched on to positive comments from Democrats -- often out of context -- to portray the congressional majority as splintering. Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Calif.), an Armed Services Committee member who is close to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said many of her colleagues learned a hard lesson from the Republican campaign.

"'I don't know of anybody who isn't desperately supportive of the military,' she said. 'People want to say positive things. But it's difficult to say positive things in this environment and not have some snarky apologist for the White House turn it into some clipped phraseology that looks like support for the president's policies.'"

CIA Watch

Joby Warrick and Walter Pincus write in The Washington Post: "Former central intelligence director George J. Tenet and his top lieutenants failed to marshal sufficient resources and provide the strategic planning needed to counter the threat of terrorism in the years before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to a summary released yesterday of a long-secret CIA report. . . .

"The report said Tenet bears 'ultimate responsibility' for the CIA's lack of a unified, strategic plan for fighting al-Qaeda. The intelligence community 'did not have a documented, comprehensive approach' to al-Qaeda, the document said, and Tenet 'did not use all of his authorities' to prepare one."

E-Mail Watch

Pete Yost writes for the Associated Press: "The Justice Department said Tuesday that records about missing White House e-mails are not subject to public disclosure, the latest effort by the Bush administration to expand the boundaries of government secrecy.

"Administration lawyers detailed the legal position in a lawsuit trying to force the White House Office of Administration to reveal what it knows about the disappearance of White House e-mails. . . .

"The office has prepared estimates that there are at least 5 million missing White House e-mails from March 2003 to October 2005, according to the lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a private advocacy group. . . .

"The White House has said it is aware that some e-mails may not have been automatically archived on a computer server for the Executive Office of the President.

"The e-mails, the White House has said, may have been preserved on backup tapes.

"'The Office of Administration is looking into whether there are e-mails not automatically archived; and once we determine whether or not there is a problem, we'll take the necessary steps to address it,' said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel.

"The first indication of a problem came in early 2006 when special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald raised the possibility that records sought in the CIA leak investigation involving the outing of Valerie Plame could be missing because of an e-mail archiving problem at the White House."

The Advance Manual

Peter Baker writes in The Washington Post that "the White House evidently leaves little to chance when it comes to protests within eyesight of the president. . . .

"A White House manual that came to light recently gives presidential advance staffers extensive instructions in the art of 'deterring potential protestors' from President Bush's public appearances around the country. . . .

"The techniques described have become familiar over the 6 1/2 years of Bush's presidency, but the manual makes it clear how organized the anti-protest policy really is. . . .

"The manual offers advance staffers and volunteers who help set up presidential events guidelines for assembling crowds. Those invited into a VIP section on or near the stage, for instance, must be ' extremely supportive of the Administration,' it says. . . .

"To counter any demonstrators who do get in, advance teams are told to create 'rally squads' of volunteers with large hand-held signs, placards or banners with 'favorable messages.' Squads should be placed in strategic locations and 'at least one squad should be 'roaming' throughout the perimeter of the event to look for potential problems,' the manual says."

The manual was turned over to the American Civil Liberties Union as part of a lawsuit filed on behalf of people ejected from Bush events. One couple, Jeffery and Nicole Rank, were handcuffed and removed from a July 4, 2004, speech on the West Virginia state Capitol grounds for wearing anti-Bush T-shirts. Two others were kicked out of a Denver rally after arriving in a car with a bumper sticker that said, "No more blood for oil."

The ACLU put the manual online in June; it was first reported by Ann Imse of the Rocky Mountain News on June 28.

The manual says: "If the demonstrators are yelling, rally squads can begin and lead supportive chants to drown out the protestors (USA!,USA!,USA!). As a last resort, security should remove the demonstrators form the event site. The rally squads can include, but are not limited to, college/young republican organizations, local athletic teams, and fraternities/sororities."

The Ranks were on MSNBC Monday night. Asked if they ever got to see the president that day, Nicole Rank replied: "No. We were removed probably a couple of hours before he ever even spoke. And it wasn't until after our arrest, our detention and finally being released, when we were reeling from the incident, that we saw his speech being replayed in the hotel lobby where we were staying on a big-screen television, and -- and just kind of choked to hear him speak about free speech and freedom of expression."

Conspiracy Theory Watch

Bush and his fellow North American leaders had to spend some of their time yesterday swatting down a conspiracy theory that has spread through right-wing Web sites like WorldNetDaily.

Jon Ward writes in the Washington Times: "President Bush and the leaders of Canada and Mexico yesterday ridiculed the notion that their countries are conspiring to create a regional supergovernment similar to the European Union. . . .

"The rumors of an EU-style plot, which started out on obscure Web sites and talk radio, have since been picked up by CNN anchor Lou Dobbs and have now gained traction among some of the House Republicans who successfully derailed Mr. Bush's immigration-reform plan. . . .

"Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper joked that a superhighway rumored to be in the works linking the three countries could also be 'interplanetary.'"

Here's Dobbs in October: "These three countries moving ahead their governments without authorization from the American people, without congressional approval, this is straightforward an attack on national sovereignty as there could be, outside of war."

From Bush's remarks: "I'm amused by the difference between what actually takes place in the meetings and what some are trying to say takes place. It's quite comical, actually, when you realize the difference between reality and what some people are talking on TV about."

Live Online

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Crawford Watch

John Hendren of ABC News has a lighthearted look at the White House press corps in Crawford -- and how they pass the time. (Hans Nichols of Bloomberg writes poetry.)

Late Night Humor

Jon Stewart on Karl Rove's greatest hits.

Cartoon Watch

Dwane Powell on the effects of the Bush presidency.

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