Of all occupying Powers, the Americans showed themselves the most inept at the business of governing a conquered country. They maintained little or no continuity of policy. They never succeeded in making up their minds whether they wanted to administer stern justice or indulge Christ-like charity. They did not, indeed, make up their minds about anything except the 'superiority' of their own intentions. - Australian WWII war correspondent Osmar White
AMERICAN TO CONTROL IRAQI OIL INDUSTRY, GUARDIAN, UK - The US is preparing to install an American chairman on a planned management team of the Iraqi oil industry, providing further ammunition to critics who have questioned the Bush administration's agenda in the Middle East. The administration is planning to structure the potentially vast Iraqi oil industry like a US corporation, with a chairman and chief executive and a 15- strong board of international advisers. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, it has lined up the former chief executive of the US division of Royal Dutch/Shell, Philip Carroll, to take the job of chairman.
FRANCE AND GERMANY THINK ABOUT UNHOOKING FROM NATO, CHARLES BREMNER, TIMES, UK - Europe's self-inflicted wounds over Iraq will be on display tomorrow, when the leaders of France and Germany - dubbed the "Axis of Weasels" in America - start to try to lay the groundwork for a European Union military alliance that would compete with NATO. At a meeting in Brussels with the Prime Ministers of Belgium and Luxembourg, President Chirac and Gerhard Schröder, the German Chancellor, want to clear the way for a common European defense system that would start with a core of volunteer states ... Despite denials from Paris and Berlin, the session looks like a maneuver by French-led "old Europe" against the pro-Atlantic axis, led by Britain and Spain and featuring new EU states, which Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defense Secretary, called "new Europe." Britain, which has the EU's most powerful Armed Forces, was not invited. Nor were the leaders of the EU's other main pro-Atlantic states - Spain, Italy and the Netherlands.
SANTORUM'S OFFICE ELABORATES ON PREVIOUS COMMENTS, SCARLET PIMPERNEL: Below is a verbatim transcript of my call this morning to Senator Rick Santorum's Office.
SSO: "Senator Santorum's office."
Me: "Hello there... took me awhile to get through. Guess you're pretty busy what with all this going on."
Me: "Well I just wanted you to know that my wife and I are big supporters of the Senator, but we have just one question..."
Me: "Does oral sex between a husband and wife, when they're both consenting... does that constitute sodomy?"
SSO: "Umm.. no. It does not."
Me: "HOT DAMN! (calling out to wife:) HONEY? GREAT NEWS!"
SSO: (stifles laugh)
Me: "Thank You. Thank you very much. Just one more thing..."
Me: "How does the Senator feel about doggy-style?"
SSO: "Umm... I can't really speak for the Senator on that."
Me: "Oh Well... Thanks Again!" (Hangs up.)
WATCH ARI SQUIRM, Fleischer tries to do better than Santorum's receptionist
Q And if I can just shift gears very briefly, what's the President's beliefs about homosexuality?
MR. FLEISCHER: You know, that's a question that's been put to the President, and if you go back and you look at it, the President has said that, first of all, he doesn't ask that question about people. He judges people about who they are, their individual soul. That's not a matter the President concerns himself with. He judges people for how they act and how they relate, and that's his focus on that.
Q How they act sexually? Because I asked sexually --
MR. FLEISCHER: How they act as a person. The same way --
Q But the police in Texas asked how they act sexually.
MR. FLEISCHER: The same way you would say that about how anybody -- what's his reaction to this person or that person -- say, are they a nice person, what kind of person are they? It has nothing to do with their sexuality.
Q So does he believe that they ought to be free to be themselves, without interference from police?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President has always said that when it comes to legal matters, that it's a question of different groups, homosexual groups, gay groups should not have special rights or special privileges.
Q Is it a special privilege to be able to love the person you love the way you want to love them, without interference from the police?
MR. FLEISCHER: If you're asking about a matter that is a legal matter that is pending before the Supreme Court, that's a matter for the court to rule on, and we'll find out what the court says in the specific case in mind.
Q So he has no position on that?
MR. FLEISCHER: It's a matter that's pending before the court, in regard to your last question. . .
Q And second question, piggy-backing off of what Terry was asking. President Bush denounced what Trent Lott said. Why not denounce what Santorum has said?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, because I think the President views this exactly as I've indicated all week, that there is a legal matter pending before the Supreme Court, and that different individuals are going to offer legal theories about this matter. And that puts it in a different category.
Q But Ari, on January 15th, Dr. King's birthday, the President delivered an amicus brief for the University of Michigan, saying he was against their points policy for admission. Why not get involved in this situation?
MR. FLEISCHER: Actually, because the matters are not analogous. One involved federal programs, admissions, that the federal government is directly involved in. This is a matter clearly applying to a state law.
Q Does he denounce Santorum's comments, though?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President views it exactly as I've indicated. This is a question of a legal matter before the courts. And different people have different legal theories. . .
Q Ari, both Senator Frist and Senator Specter have publicly supported Senator Santorum. And my question: Does the President believe they were wrong to do so, because while governor of Texas he never tried to get that state's sodomy law repealed?
MR. FLEISCHER: As I said this morning, Lester, the President has confidence in Senator Santorum, both as a senator, as a member of the Senate leadership.
Jesus. (EDITOR'S NOTE This word pops into the transcript without attribution.)
Q Wait a minute, I have one follow-up.
MR. FLEISCHER: Go ahead.
Q The Culture and Family Institute --
MR. FLEISCHER: But calm down. (Laughter.)
Q I will. Thank you. The Culture and Family Institute estimates that 30 to 40 percent of Americans are evangelical Christians, and these, plus loyal Catholics and conservative and orthodox Jews comprise a large portion of the Republican base, which so narrowly elected the President. Robert Knight of this institute says that the President's refusal to support Senator Santorum, "looks like a suicide move." Is your statement just now a refutation, in that he is supporting --
MR. FLEISCHER: I can't refute something that was asked me after I made my statement. I made my statement, and I would just say this, when it comes to faith --
Q So he does support Santorum.
MR. FLEISCHER: No, no, no, I want to say this -- you raised a question whose premise deals with faith. Faith is an important part of life for many Americans, regardless of their party, regardless how one party or another has different people of different faiths. It's one of the things that makes America one country, regardless of what party people fall into. And the reaction I gave is based on the President's views as a governmental matter, and that's he approaches it.
IN MUNCIE, NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER DOESN'T INCLUDE NON-CHRISTIANS REX W. HUPPKE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, MUNCIE, IN - The minister who has planned this city's National Day of Prayer service for the last decade ran into a dilemma this year. The Jewish community wanted to show up. So did the Muslims, Unitarians and Hindus. Rev. William Keller, 85, an evangelical Christian, decided everyone would be welcome to join him at noon Thursday between the flowering pear trees that flank the steps of City Hall. But only on one condition: People of other faiths could not take the microphone and pray to their God; they could only listen to Keller pray to his. Talk of God is common in this town of more than 100 churches, but religious controversy is rare, so the emotional tempest stirred up by Keller's stance has swept through like a tornado on the Indiana flatlands. It has resulted in fiery letters to the editor and claims of bigotry, and it has prompted critics to organize a separate interfaith service. . . The flap is unfortunate for Muncie, but if history is any indicator, it could carry overtones for the rest of the country as well. For decades, this east-central Indiana town of about 70,000 - whose residents proudly claim "we're so ordinary, we're unique" - has served as a much-studied barometer for the nation. In the 1920s, Muncie became the focus of a landmark sociological work called "Middletown: A Study in Contemporary Culture." Since then, the city on the banks of the White River has been polled, observed, monitored and written about more than any other community its size, so much so that "Middletown" is more than a nickname, it's a state of mind. Perhaps the most telling statistic of Muncie as a bellwether is the fact that residents have voted for the winning U.S. president in all but one election since 1932.
PERLE CLAIMS 'WE'RE NOT GOING TO STOP' IN IRAQ, SCOTSMAN, Pentagon adviser Richard Perle, a key architect of the US-led drive to topple Saddam Hussein, told a French newspaper that Washington had not run out of countries to target as part of the war against terrorism. "The military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq are part of efforts to fight against terrorism," Mr Perle told Les Echos. "We are not going to stop there. We shall continue to fight against countries who harbor terrorists and develop weapons of mass destruction." He said the UN Security Council was ill-suited to dealing with such threats and should be reformed.
BRITISH COMMANDER WARNS OF BASRA REVOLT, BBC - The population of Basra could turn against British forces if quality of life does not improve, a UK military commander has warned. Brigadier Graham Binns, commanding officer of the 7th Armored Brigade, the Desert Rats, spoke as doctors warned of a potential cholera outbreak in the southern Iraqi city.