'Trick or Trick!' Halloween's Early This Year.

No October surprise — Bush and crew are already scaring us

White House

Good news, bad news: Above, that Barney Bush (right, with Karl Rove) is just about the cutest little feller, isn't he? Below, the International Crisis Group's new report squashes hope on Iraq, no matter what Bush may tell you.
Harkavy

Oh, you'll be scared this month, but you won't have to wait until Halloween.

On the other hand, you probably won't be shocked. No "October surprise" this year — unless it has to do with the Plamegate probe, which is nearing some sort of conclusion.

That scandal eerily has some elements in common with the October 1980 hostages caper by Bill Casey and other GOP operatives on the eve of the Reagan-Carter vote — White House officials, the CIA, forbidden and foreign intrigue. See the Washington Post's analysis this morning of the roles played by tricksters Karl Rove and Scooter Libby in Plamegate.

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I wouldn't be surprised if Plamegate somehow intersected with Wampumgate, in which bogeymen Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff have already been unmasked.

And there's no surprise about what's happened — or what will happen — to New Orleans. Shock, disgust, dismay, anger, grief? Yes. Surprise? No. All tricks, no treats — we knew the Bush regime was capable of doing a heck of a job. Besides, Louisiana features the only race that George W. Bush and his handlers are willing to ignore.

And if you're talking about Iraq, that waking nightmare where Americans are continuing to kill and be killed, there's no surprise. Or is there?

The word issued Saturday from London by the highly respected and respectable International Crisis Group is that Iraq actually "deteriorated" last month.

How the hell could it get any worse? Yet, the ICG, a sober, establishment-oriented group of analysts with not only Democrats but Reaganites on its international board, says it has.

Any day now, you're probably expecting an announcement that a state of civil war now exists in Iraq. Lots of people, including me, have been calling it that for a while, anyway. There's no need for a formal announcement. So it's no surprise that the ICG bluntly says in its monthly CrisisWatch:

    Iraq is heading toward de facto partition and full-scale civil war.

As we hurtle toward Halloween, here's the rest of the forecast by the ICG, which has proven to have a well-functioning crystal ball:

    For October 2005, CrisisWatch identifies Iraq, Nepal and Somalia as Conflict Risk Alerts, or situations at particular risk of new or significantly escalated conflict in the coming month. Nepal is also a Conflict Resolution Opportunity.

Surely, there's a chance for conflict resolution in Iraq, as well.

Nope.

What about Somalia? We're fighting terror there, too, according to our current chief cowboy in the Horn of Africa, Major General Timothy Gormley, who explained his mission at a September 21 Pentagon briefing:

    I want to make it really clear I'm not a direct action unit. I don't saddle up and go out and hunt down the enemy. That's not to say I don't have the inherent right of self-defense. My people go out, they have force protection.

No wonder Somalia isn't considered a "conflict resolution opportunity."

So, Nepal is it. No surprise that it's the only one of the three countries where we're not officially "hunting down the enemy."

For those of you who, through no choice of your own, know more about Natalee than Nepal, the latest word from the International Commission of Jurists, just back from Katmandu, is pretty grim. As reported today in the Qatar daily Peninsula:

    "We found a sense of foreboding in civil society that an intensifying political conflict between King Gyanendra, who assumed power Feb 1, on one side, and the political parties and civil society on the other, may lead to a new crackdown by the government," said Nicholas Howen, ICJ’s secretary-general who led the mission.

    Howen said if the royalist government and Maoist insurgents, who have been fighting to overthrow [the] monarchy, really want peace, they should both declare "indefinite ceasefire" and commit themselves to a human rights code of conduct which could be monitored by the UN office for human rights established in Nepal this year.

    The global body expressed concern at the continuing "culture of impunity" in Nepal that bred unlawful killings and torture by both the state and the communist guerrillas.

Murder and torture actually being bred in a country renowned among Westerners for the dreamy haze induced by its extraordinarily mellow black hash? Now that is a surprise.

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