FUBAR

Blackwater mercenaries get immunity

A controversial immunity deal for Blackwater mercenaries involved in the murder of Iraqi civilians threatens a criminal investigation into the killings and has further angered the Iraqi government.

The immunity deal promised by the State Department is viewed by some as a cover up of Blackwater’s many illegal activities in the Iraq war and a blatant attempt by the Bush administration to whitewash the actions by a company whose owner is a major supporter of Republican political activities.

FEMA’s fake press conference backfires

Perhaps FEMA should stand for “Fake Every Morning & Afternoon.”

Officials of the embattled emergency management agency openly admit they screwed the pooch by holding a fake “news” conference, filling the room with staff members posing as reporters.

Both FEMA and the Bush Administration scrambled Friday to try and recover from trying to pass propaganda off as news: Another black eye for an error-prone administration.

But their excuses fell on deaf ears.

Fraud probe launched on Iraq deals

A team of specially trained investigators will hunker down in an Army office north of Detroit on Monday to begin poring over hundreds of Iraq war contracts in search for rigged awards.

This team of 10 auditors, criminal investigators and acquisition experts are starting with a sampling of the roughly 6,000 contracts worth $2.8 billion issued by an Army office in Kuwait that service officials have identified as a hub of corruption.

Do you feel a draft?

Here are a few facts that Americans should consider when contemplating the situation in Iraq and whether they support sustaining this invasion and occupation for the length of time the Bush administration has said it may take to put things on a sound, peaceful footing, if that is ever even possible.

What, exactly, is torture?

On one extreme of the debate over interrogating terrorists are the Jack Bauers, those who — like the lead character in Fox’s hit series “24″– think you do whatever it takes to get the information you need from someone plotting mass murder. At the other extreme is the anti-war left: It wouldn’t harm a hair on 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s head to save Disneyland at Christmas.

A not-so-exclusive list

Two points about that disclosure by the Government Accountability Office that the government’s terrorist watch list has more than 755,000 names and is growing by 200,000 names a year.

First, if there really are that many people out there actively seeking to do us harm at home, we’re in real trouble.

When free speech is too free

The other day a Democratic congressman accused President Bush of being amused by the death of U.S. troops. One right-wing talk-show host suggested women should never have been allowed to vote. Another condemned as phony soldiers Iraq war veterans who are critical of it. Exposure to the vitriol of American politics these days is like too much radiation. It takes a while but the cumulative buildup ultimately gets you.

Don’t worry, be ignorant

The public should be wary when the government doesn’t want the public’s confidence dented by inconvenient information, a case in point having been discovered by the Associated Press.

Says the AP: “Anxious to avoid upsetting air travelers, NASA is withholding results from an unprecedented national survey of pilots that found safety problems like near-collisions and runway interference occur more frequently than the government previously recognized.”

Playing the Plame game

After becoming the most outed spy in American history, Valerie Plame is telling her story.

Or parts of it…the parts the CIA will let her tell.

Plame’s new book is a far cry from the manuscript she wrote for publication. By the time her former employer, the Central Intelligence Agency, was through with it the story had lots of gaps and holes.

Still, what emerges is, for the most part, interesting reading.

Time for a new global narrative

What Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize says to me is that the world is deeply unhappy with America’s “war on terror” and desperately seeks new global narratives. It’s not that the world wishes us to be less active militarily or even to renounce the tactic of toppling bad regimes. The vision of America’s military Leviathan addressing the world’s many ongoing cruelties is hardly the creation of the neocons alone.