From my blog at www.davidcorn.com….
Here’s a frightening sign of how bad things are in the Bush White House. In Friday’s Washington Post reporter Peter Baker reports on the recent staff exits at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The director of strategic initiatives, the counsel, the political director–each is fleeing the S.S. Bush, as chief of staff Joshua Bolten says this all part of the “natural ebb and flow.” The departed include Thomas Graham, Bush’s top Russia adviser. In recounting all these escapes, Baker writes:
The departures take their toll, though. Bush was embarrassed to learn that a Russian general he hosted in the Oval Office this week has been accused of war crimes in Chechnya. Some officials suggested that would not have slipped onto his calendar had Graham, a veteran Moscow watcher, still been at the National Security Council.
Now this is what’s scary. You don’t need to be a “veteran Moscow watcher” to know that that Vladimir Shamanov–the Russian general Bush had to the White House–is a suspected war criminal. Type his name into Google and the first reference is his Wikipedia entry, which starts,
Vladimir Shamanov is a governor of the Ulyanovsk region of Russian Federation. Shamanov is a Major General in the Soviet and Russian Army, awarded with title of Hero of Russia. He has been criticized by human-rights groups for failing to control his troops in military actions during the Second Chechen War.
War Crimes Accusations
When he was a commander in the North Caucasus (Chechnya) region, he was awarded the Hero of the Russian Federation title for actions around the village of Alkhan-Yurt. However, Human Rights Watch have asked the Russian government to open an investigation into the incident, which HRW has declared a “massacre.”
The “War Crimes Accusations” heading does appear in bold on that page.
Most sentient White House staffers would realize it might be problematic for Bush to meet with a general accused of overseeing a massacre. Isn’t it SOP for White House staff to vet visitors and brief Bush about the foreign officials he invites to the White House? So even if Bush’s top Russia guy had split, an intern could have Googled the general and prevented Bush from rubbing elbows with a fellow with bloody hands. If the White House cannot get something like this right, the Bush administration–and the country–is really in trouble. After all, anyone who wages war in the 21st Century really ought to know how to use the Internet.