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Monday, December 18, 2006


The Good Soldier Spoke Out

Colin Powell * The 4th Circuit Court in Virginia

The man who stood a good chance of being elected president if he had decided to run in 2000, spoke about the mess in Iraq. After serving four humiliating years, when he was mostly a figurehead used by the neocon clique in the Bush Administration, General Powell left quietly to nurse his wounds. Finally, during his appearance on CBS' Face the Nation (Sunday, December 17), he was strongly critical of the "new strategy" being considered to deal with Iraq. Does his voice still carry weight? After his dog and pony show at the UN to sell the war he does not have much credibility left. True that he was snookered like majority of the Americans were but he was no ordinary American. He remained silent too long after the lies and deceptions used by the Bush Administration came to light.

Former secretary of state Colin L. Powell said yesterday that the United States is losing what he described as a "civil war" in Iraq and that he is not persuaded that an increase in U.S. troops there would reverse the situation. Instead, he called for a new strategy that would relinquish responsibility for Iraqi security to the government in Baghdad sooner rather than later, with a U.S. drawdown to begin by the middle of next year.

Powell's comments broke his long public silence on the issue and placed him at odds with the administration. President Bush is considering options for a new military strategy -- among them a "surge" of 15,000 to 30,000 troops added to the current 140,000 in Iraq, to secure Baghdad and to accelerate the training of Iraqi forces, as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and others have proposed; or a redirection of the U.S. military away from the insurgency to focus mainly on hunting al-Qaeda terrorists, as the nation's top military leaders proposed last week in a meeting with the president.

Bad News for Conservatives

The ripple effects of midterm elections continue. The conservatives' success in filling up court appointments with agenda driven judges could be coming to an end. The Washington Post's report about the 4th Circuit Court is good news for the rest of us.

A growing list of vacancies on the federal appeals court in Richmond is heightening concern among Republicans that one of the nation's most conservative and influential courts could soon come under moderate or even liberal control, Republicans and legal scholars say.

A number of prominent Republican appointees have left or announced plans to leave the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which has played a key role in terrorism cases and has long been known for forceful conservative rulings and judicial personalities.

Republican concerns also are fueled by the pending Democratic takeover of Congress, as several of President Bush's 4th Circuit nominees were already bottled up in the Senate when Republicans ran it. From the GOP's perspective, the situation now will worsen.

The 4th Circuit's rulings affect everyone who lives, works or owns a business in the area, which encompasses Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the Carolinas. The court's influence also has been widely felt nationally, and the emerging battle over it is part of a broader struggle for control of the federal judiciary.


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