The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Friday, January 05, 2007

News Dump

When it rains, it pours, and there were many, many 'stories of note' hitting the blogs today.

Whoops, Apocalypse: The Project on Government Oversight charged that a nuclear warhead almost exploded in 2005 while it was being dismantled at the government's Pantex facility near Amarillo, Texas. . .

The plant itself, which is managed by private contractor BWX Technologies and used to decommission nuclear weapons, was fined $110,000 for violating safety procedures during disassembly, and "is now being investigated by the Department of Energy for a number of other alleged safety problems."

The Los Angeles Times followed up with more: Employees characterized conditions at the plant as "degraded," and a letter to the president of BWXT complained that engineers required to work up to 84 hours a week, and production technicians 72 hours a week. According to the Times, the letter also stated that "some managers lacked specific experience in handling nuclear weapons."

More on the story-- National Nuclear Security Administration head sacked.

But aren't we only fired for incompetence after the shitstorm?: Now that Democrats are in charge of Congress and plan to start firing up investigations, the Bush administration badly needs a counsel with whom it can go to battle--someone who thrives on confrontation, who can invoke executive privilege at every turn and denounce even the most routine request for documents as "excessive partisanship." Harriet Miers, apparently, wasn't the right person for that job. Not nasty enough.

The Incredible Shrinking Surge: A State Department official leaked word this week that President Bush is considering sending “no more than 15,000 to 20,000 U.S. troops” to Iraq. “Instead of a surge, it is a bump,” the official said.

This claim was bolstered last night by CBS’s David Martin, who reported that military commanders have told Bush they are prepared to execute a troop escalation of just 9,000 soldiers and Marines into Iraq, “with another 10,000 on alert in Kuwait and the U.S.”

The right-wing blogs try to kill a guy: Associated Press Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll on Friday criticized those who questioned the existence of an AP Iraq source, who was proven this week to be real, saying the scrutiny has now endangered the man's life. (. . .)

Dozens of conservative bloggers have been harshly critical of AP in recent weeks for failing to prove Hussein's existence. Former CNN president Eason Jordan claimed today that Hussein should have stepped forward sooner and asked why AP did not produce him.

"The man is now under the threat of arrest and imprisonment," Carroll said in response to Jordan's comments. "I guess people who ask that are among those who don't believe the AP, and that is certainly their prerogative."

Not even loyalty can save you: With significant policy details left to be worked out this weekend, the administration is nonetheless moving ahead on several personnel changes. It is set to announce that Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, who gained fame for his early success in training Iraqi troops and securing a volatile city in northern Iraq, will replace Gen. George W. Casey Jr. as commander of the multinational forces in Iraq, officials say.

The administration also intends to nominate Navy Adm. William J. Fallon to head the Central Command, replacing Gen. John P. Abizaid as the top U.S. military commander for the Middle East. Some military officials consider Fallon an unusual choice, because he is a naval officer in charge of the Pacific Command with limited experience in the Middle East and would be in charge of two ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yes, it's still going to be a very, very long two years.