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Bloody Prelude to a September Alibi in Iraq

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Message Ron Fullwood
In the wake of their cynical presentation of the interim July 15 Iraq report mandated by Congress explaining the the effect of their escalation of their occupation, Bush and his White House cabal are trying to deflect public interest in this week's flurry of Iraq legislation in Congress by continuing to point to the prospect of some sort of September surprise from General "Surge" Petraeus.

The AP reported this week that, despite the full compliment of U.S. forces in place and in full battle against resistant Iraqis, in July, 'civilian deaths jumped backed up to levels of violence not seen since December, with an average of at least 75 Iraqis being killed each day.' The U.S. 'protectors' suffered their own heightened casualty rate over the same period, pushing the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq since the initial invasion to over 3600, with over a hundred U.S. deaths a month in repetition since Bush's decision to deploy more forces.

With the Iraqi parliament fully committed to their plan to advantage themselves of the sacrifices of our soldiers, Iraqi legislators are firmly resolved to take flight from the oppressive heat of the Iraqi summer and vacation out of country for the month of August; leaving 160,000 of our troops bogged down even deeper into the scorching sand in defense of their recalcitrant government. Yet, Petraeus still insists that "September is September" as he resisted congressional legislators' refusal to wait until Fall to declare the obvious inanity of the administration's deadly gamble.

In an interview this week, Petraeus said his September report to Bush that he and the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq will collaborate on, will provide a "forthright, comprehensive assessment of the situation at the time and provide discussion of the potential consequences of various courses of action that might be considered." Petraeus is clearly angling to keep our soldiers engaged in assaults against the resistance to the propped up Iraqi regime, even as he admits that their government's progress and effort that our soldiers are supposedly defending "has been less than what all of us -- the Iraqis as well as coalition leaders -- had hoped to see."

Weighing in from her uncharacteristically muted post at State, Secretary Rice took time today to personally hawk Petraeus' and the administration's September dodge, calling the floundering Maliki regime a "work in progress."

"Let's look at the whole picture," Rice said during one of her several morning show appearances Friday, ignoring the inanimate political spectacle of the reclining Iraqi legislature, "You're not going to be able to go by step by step, benchmark by benchmark . . . We'll have a much better view of that whole picture when Gen. Petraeus and (U.S. Ambassador) Ryan Crocker report in September . . . that's the wisest course" she said.

In their September alibi, Petraeus and Crocker are destined to provide more cover for the Iraqi regime's summer stall by referring Congress again to the Iraqis our combating forces succeed in cowing or killing while they're waiting for the parliament members to return from their privileged retreats. Petraeus reportedly brushed past the escalating deaths of the 600-plus U.S. troops who've lost their lives since the start of the administration's cynical 'surge' to highlight 600 servicemembers in Iraq who re-enlisted on the fourth of July. The General wants us to know that his self-perpetuating war business is booming.

Petraeus enjoys the personal 'trust' of Bush. "He's an honest man . . . he's a straight shooter," Bush told reporters Thursday as he declared himself in an imperious partnership with his general in controlling every aspect of the use and direction of our nation's defenses in Iraq; except for the money he expects Congress to oblige him with to further wage his escalated assaults against Iraqis.

Unembarrassed by his aversion to truth and reality, Bush had, anyway, pronounced himself 'satisfied' Thursday, as he trumpeted the 'progress' his public relation wizards had conjured out of an Iraq report that was reported as a total failure the day earlier; 'progress' declared by the Decider in reaching eight of the 18 'benchmarks' Congress legislated two months ago. His declaration to Congress Thursday was the predictable response from the proliferate abuser of 'signing statements' in which he regularly redefines and ignores settled law, as he rhetorically obliged the letter of the new law he cited, requiring him to report on "whether satisfactory progress toward meeting these benchmarks is or is not being achieved."

Bush told reporters how hard it was to conduct his 'war' without popular support. "Do you, personally -- do you ever have trouble balancing between doing what you think is the right thing and following the will of the majority of the public, which is really the essence of democracy?" Bush was asked.

The presidential Decider re-framed the question before he answered, "Their question, it seems like to me, is, can we succeed?" he parried. To respond to the myriad of weekly polls of Americans who overwhelmingly reject every justification and every aspect of his occupation, would, Bush said, "dispirit our troops." Sectioning off the military and their families from that overall negative verdict on his fiasco, Bush insisted that he would be using his own "judgment" as a substitute as he decided to press ahead anyway.

Bush sees Congress as his handmaiden to his imperious reign over every aspect of the deployment and "positioning" of our military forces. He doesn't mind 'consulting' with legislators as he presses our troops forward in Iraq, as long as they leave the 'deciding' over the direction and scope of that deployment to the Executive's military cabal. The commander-in-chief will just position himself behind his decidedly uninhibited general until the next time he's obliged to write his next 'progress' report and present it to Congress.

Democrats, and whatever number of nervous republicans emerge to oppose Bush on Iraq, don't have to wait until September to see whether Bush is satisfied enough with his destabilizing military muckraking to admit his deception and retreat. Every action they take should assume a confrontation with an Executive which has effectively assumed unilateral control over the constitutionally shared responsibility for the exercise of our military forces, especially in Iraq.

Every action by Congress regarding Iraq should be an assertion of their own inherent power to determine who our country will war against and for how long. Such a determinate expression of authority from Congress will represent the demonstrated will of the majority of Americans who voted in the last election to replace republicans with legislators pledged to end the occupation. Congress should act as if they're prepared to take our country back from these would-be usurpers, and approach this administration as if they understand that these lame-duck traitors in the White House are akin to the very danger, within, that they intend to defend our country against from without.
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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price
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