6/13/2003

What a tangled web we weave

Something that should be kept in mind in the whole Middle East mess is the following
Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years. Israel "aided Hamas directly -- the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization)," said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies. Israel's support for Hamas "was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative," said a former senior CIA official. According to documents United Press International obtained from the Israel-based Institute for Counter Terrorism, Hamas evolved from cells of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928. Islamic movements in Israel and Palestine were "weak and dormant" until after the 1967 Six Day War in which Israel scored a stunning victory over its Arab enemies. After 1967, a great part of the success of the Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood was due to their activities among the refugees of the Gaza Strip. The cornerstone of the Islamic movements success was an impressive social, religious, educational and cultural infrastructure, called Da'wah, that worked to ease the hardship of large numbers of Palestinian refugees, confined to camps, and many who were living on the edge. "Social influence grew into political influence," first in the Gaza Strip, then on the West Bank, said an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity. According to ICT papers, Hamas was legally registered in Israel in 1978 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the movement's spiritual leader, as an Islamic Association by the name Al-Mujamma al Islami, which widened its base of supporters and sympathizers by religious propaganda and social work. According to U.S. administration officials, funds for the movement came from the oil-producing states and directly and indirectly from Israel. The PLO was secular and leftist and promoted Palestinian nationalism. Hamas wanted to set up a transnational state under the rule of Islam, much like Khomeini's Iran.
Which is basically the same pattern we see over and over and over again in the world, isn't it? There's a thorn in the side of a powerful government, so that government indirectly funds and supports another movement which is opposed to the current thorn. Then the law of unintended consequences kicks in and you have an even worse problem. Let's see. US supporting Saddam while he was a useful enemy of Iran and then became a frickin' pain in the asterisk when he invaded Kuwait. Ummm. The US supporting the Taliban when they were fighting against Russian occupation and then became a frickin' pain in the asterisk when they turned out to be worse than any communist ever was.
What took Israeli leaders by surprise was the way the Islamic movements began to surge after the Iranian revolution, after armed resistance to Israel sprang up in southern Lebanon vis-à-vis the Hezbollah, backed by Iran, these sources said. "Nothing provides the energy for imitation as much as success," commented one administration expert. A further factor of Hamas' growth was the fact the PLO moved its base of operations to Beirut in the '80s, leaving the Islamic organization to grow in influence in the Occupied Territories "as the court of last resort," he said. When the intifada began, Israeli leadership was surprised when Islamic groups began to surge in membership and strength. Hamas immediately grew in numbers and violence. The group had always embraced the doctrine of armed struggle, but the doctrine had not been practiced and Islamic groups had not been subjected to suppression the way groups like Fatah had been, according to U.S. government officials.
Which is why the adage "Careful what you wish for" is so critical one to remember. It's like having your henchmen slip you the brain from Abby Normal into your Frankenstein's monster.
Israel was certainly funding the group at that time. One U.S. intelligence source who asked not to be named said that not only was Hamas being funded as a "counterweight" to the PLO, Israeli aid had another purpose: "To help identify and channel towards Israeli agents Hamas members who were dangerous terrorists." In addition, by infiltrating Hamas, Israeli informers could only listen to debates on policy and identify Hamas members who "were dangerous hard-liners," the official said. In the end, as Hamas set up a very comprehensive counterintelligence system, many collaborators with Israel were weeded out and shot. Violent acts of terrorism became the central tenet, and Hamas, unlike the PLO, was unwilling to compromise in any way with Israel, refusing to acquiesce in its very existence. But even then, some in Israel saw some benefits to be had in trying to continue to give Hamas support: "The thinking on the part of some of the right-wing Israeli establishment was that Hamas and the others, if they gained control, would refuse to have any part of the peace process and would torpedo any agreements put in place," said a U.S. government official who asked not to be named. "Israel would still be the only democracy in the region for the United States to deal with," he said.
So go ahead and flame. Call me anti-Semitic because I think it's a really stupid strategy to help create the very thing that is now causing so much pain and suffering. To trade one enemy you don't want to negotiate with for a far worse enemy.
Aid to Hamas may have looked clever, "but it was hardly designed to help smooth the waters," he said. "An operation like that gives weight to President George Bush's remark about there being a crisis in education." Cordesman said that a similar attempt by Egyptian intelligence to fund Egypt's fundamentalists had also come to grief because of "misreading of the complexities." An Israeli defense official was asked if Israel had given aid to Hamas said, "I am not able to answer that question. I was in Lebanon commanding a unit at the time, besides it is not my field of interest." Asked to confirm a report by U.S. officials that Brig. Gen. Yithaq Segev, the military governor of Gaza, had told U.S. officials he had helped fund "Islamic movements as a counterweight to the PLO and communists," the official said he could confirm only that he believed Segev had served back in 1986.
So when you're thinking about all the chaos in the Middle East, and the very real tragedies and unspeakable suffering going on, just remember that there's more than a little bit of "setting fire to own's own hair and then trying to put it out by hitting it with a hammer" going on. Most of the time, the enemy of your enemy is likely to be your enemy as well.
Word. Know you've seen it, but
There's no point in getting mad at Mr. DeLay and his clique: they are what they are. I do, however, get angry at moderates, liberals and traditional conservatives who avert their eyes, pretending that current disputes are just politics as usual. They aren't — what we're looking at here is a radical power play, which if it succeeds will transform our country. Yet it's considered uncool to point that out.
Liberal Heathers, in other words. You know, people so plugged in and jaded that - although they have their own pet peeves against the Right - can't see the nose on their face. The ones who believe it will all blow over when the whole thing inevitably collapses. The kind of people who are sipping wine and eating cheese at the parties thrown by the jokers who are inserting a telephone pole where it shouldn't be in the body electorate. Those political history buffs who think this is all just a cyclical thing that the nation goes through all the time.
To Know Happy Friday the 13th, y'all.
I think the most appropriate metaphor for the Iraq is the old tale about "Stone Soup". In this case, the "WMD imminent threat" was the "stone". Everyone then threw in their pet reason for going to war and pretty soon it was soup. It's like a variation of the scapegoat resolution of mimetic conflict. A way to engender collective blame so that any one individual isn't responsible. Well, except for the guy who started it all with the stone that is. Karl Rove is an evil, evil man.

6/12/2003

Cannabalistic Blogging Radio
It's a late night here on KJCB where we're at the end of a hour block of dedications from all you love birds. A J.C. dedicates this song to Atrios, jr. Kisses. And Pandagon*, this one goes out to you from a secret admirer. A special dedication goes out to Marduke from Bat boy. Finally, to all you other guerilla bloggers out there in the mist, here's a very special dedication from KJCB. _________________ * Interesting bit o' trivia. Pandagon and Atrios, jr. are linked here
Love Triangle (via Stratfor)
Iran's Nuclear Program: Risk-Mitigator or -Multiplier? Summary Over the past several weeks, Russian officials have made conflicting statements about an agreement to help Iran build the Bushehr nuclear facility. Moscow has appeared both to succumb to U.S. pressure to stop helping Tehran's nuclear program and to retain its commitment to the relationship, despite Washington's displeasure. Iran has complicated the situation by issuing several conflicting statements of its own. Both sides realize that they will have to yield to U.S. demands eventually, but each will try to extract maximum gains from the situation in the meantime. Analysis Russian officials in recent days have issued a series of seemingly conflicting statements about the construction of a nuclear power plant in Iran. On one hand, they assured the United States and Europe that they will not aid construction of the Bushehr plant until Iran's nuclear facilities meet the standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency. However, others have assured Tehran that the Bushehr deal -- which stands to net Moscow about $1 billion -- will move forward as is. Iran has been taking seemingly contradictory stands as well. It has consistently rejected U.S. claims that it is concealing a weapons program under the cloak of a nuclear power project for civilian use. But at the same time, officials in Tehran have acknowledged that they have not revealed certain details about the state's nuclear operations to the IAEA, as required by the international treaty on nuclear technology. In fact, Iran blocked an inspection of the Kalaye Electric Co. nuclear plant in Tehran on June 12, and the inspectors left the country shortly thereafter. The United States has not wavered in its demands that Iran avoid attempts to produce weapons of mass destruction and that Russia lend no aid to any Iranian weapons program. No one side will easily achieve all its objectives in this three-player game. The key question instead is what compromise, if any, is each side willing to make? Russia's position in this triangle is not critical, as its calculus does not depend upon facilitating Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons. Instead, its main objective is economic. Moscow desperately needs cash -- and wouldn't mind curbing growing U.S. power either. It is doubtful that Russia will be able to fully achieve both of these objectives by building the Bushehr plant, but if not, it has other ways of accomplishing its goals. Therefore, it is not crucial for Russia to follow the Bushehr deal through to the end. Moscow will ignore warnings from the United States for as long as it can. It will make as much money as possible from helping Iran -- while also trying to weaken Washington's position -- until U.S. pressure forces it to stop. Russia cannot withstand U.S. pressure indefinitely and, in the end, does not want to see Iran acquire nuclear weapons any more than Washington does. Iran also is aware of the limits to this game of brinksmanship. Tehran will try to advance its nuclear program, but ultimately wants to avoid a U.S. attack. The Islamist regime feels its sovereignty is threatened by the presence of U.S. troops to its east and west: Having seen the downfall of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Baath regime in Iraq, as well as being designated a member of the U.S. "axis of evil," the Iranian government has cause to worry about its future. Iran likely sees its security tied to the acquisition of WMD. Tehran believes that Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program was a factor in Washington's decision to attack Iraq before North Korea, the third member of the "axis of evil," and therefore is desperate to acquire nuclear weapons. But it is walking a tightrope: Rather than assuring Iran's security, pursuit of a weapons program easily could attract U.S. military action instead. Tehran is using a mixture of defensive and offensive tactics to avoid a U.S. attack. Most recently, Iranian officials have tried to put the ball back in the U.S. court by demanding that Washington produce evidence for its charge that Iran is not being transparent about its nuclear facilities. They also have claimed that the United States uses the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty selectively, citing its aid to nuclear-equipped Israel. Washington's position is clear: Under no circumstances does it want Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, with which it could threaten U.S. power in the Middle East. Tehran's goals also are apparent: Though it does not seek to provoke hostilities with the United States, it is not willing to give up its nuclear program and risk its long-term viability. Moscow's objectives are twofold. In the near term, the Kremlin wants to secure a billion-dollar deal with Iran by helping to build its nuclear facilities. And though having a nuclear-equipped Iran is not in Russia's long-term interests, Moscow nevertheless will try to thwart U.S. hegemony by aiding Iran at Bushehr. In this regard, Russia and Iran's interests converge: Through collaboration, they hope to check the United States' ability to act unilaterally. The triangular tension between Washington, Tehran and Moscow likely will persist. Russia will continue to assist Iran and ignore U.S. pressure for as long as possible, and Tehran will continue to use diplomacy to get the United States off its back while pursuing its nuclear objectives. It remains to be seen how Washington will react, however. Reports have surfaced that the Pentagon has suggested encouraging an internal uprising against the hard-line Iranian government. But the United States does not appear ready to open a third front in its war to effect regime change -- at least not yet.
Deflation
At the risk of sounding like Chicken Little, I am going to describe the economic situation in plain English. The United States is flirting with a low-grade depression, one that may last for years unless the government takes decisive action to overcome it. This would most likely be depression with a small d, not the financial collapse and "grapes of wrath" devastation Americans experienced during the Great Depression of the 1930s. But the potential consequences, especially for the less affluent and the young, would be severe enough--a long interlude of sputtering stagnation, years of tepid growth and stubbornly high unemployment, punctuated occasionally with a renewed recession. Depression means an economy that is stuck in a ditch and cannot get out, unable to regain its normal energies for expansion. Japan, second-largest economy in the world, has been in this condition for roughly twelve years, following the collapse of its own financial bubble. If the same fate has befallen the United States, the globalized economy is imperiled, too, since America's market for imports and its huge trade deficits keep the global trading system afloat.
Where is that scotch?
Lying Media Bastards has posted the latest Eat The State satire "The Majority of Americans Agree" - thank "Bob" he couldn't wait.
In a related story, the Bush White House has announced steps to counteract what it describes as "800 years of liberal bias," in America's history classes and has ordered the revision of textbooks to reflect that the reason Europeans invaded and colonized North America in the first place was to prevent Native Americans from developing weapons of mass destruction. In a speech announcing this new program, President Bush declared that, "If our forefathers hadn't stepped in and stopped the weapons programs being conducted in secret by Native Americans, who were known to possess smallpox infected blankets among other things, in clear violation of numerous treaties and solemn promises, we might very well be speaking Ojibojiway, Kicklitilcattat or some other impossible to pronounce language today." When queried by a reporter (who was immediately fired by his employer and then hustled out and shot) why, after several hundred years, US forces had not found any of these claimed Native American weapons of mass destruction, Presidential Spokesman (Ret.) Ari Fleishcher responded with, "The United States is a large country, larger than California and Iraq combined and the Pre-Columbian regime had well over 12,000 years to hide those weapons. These things take time, but the Administration is confident they will eventually be found. And I shouldn't have to remind anyone that, as dozens of John Wayne movies have clearly shown, the Native American regime expressed its enmity and hatred over and over again for traditional American values and our way of life." Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has suggested that the weapons were destroyed shortly after the sails of Columbus's ships were spotted on the horizon. He also pointed to the thousands of unmarked graves that are still being uncovered by archaeologists as proof of the brutality of the Pre-Columbian regime. According to polls, 87% of Americans are satisfied with the explanations of the Administration on the matter, while slightly more, 91% would prefer to have it explained by a trained monkey.
US plays aid card to fix war crimes exemption Ah, now it becomes clear.
In an exercise in brute diplomacy which is causing more acute friction with the European Union following the rows over Iraq, the US administration is threatening to cut off tens of millions of dollars in aid to the countries of the Balkans unless they reach bilateral agreements with the US on the ICC by the end of this month.
SupremeBeing.com. Didn't know she/he/it was so lousy at HTML, but I guess we should give him/her/it a break.
THIS IS NOT A CHRISTIAN WEB SITE, NOR IS IT AN ISLAMIC, JEWISH, OR BUDDHIST SITE. YES I AM THE "SUPREME BEING", BUT I AM DEFINITELY NOT AFFILIATED WITH ANY EARTHLY RELIGION.
A bit of entertainment in an otherwise completely bleak day. I'm kind of scared to click on the streaming audio, though...
It's history, but it's not dead. Anne is much better at this than I. Dovetails nicely with Josh's post...
Lies about why we went to war matter, if such lies exist. Not because, as liberals have been forced to say again and again, Hussein should have been left in peace, but because the ends do not justify the means. If we're commencing with pre-emptive invasions to insure our access to oil, then say so. If we're undertaking a series of wars with an eye to bringing freedom to the third world, then say so. If we're just sick and tired of the turmoil in the Middle East and the way it threatens to destabilize the West, then say so. You might be surprised at how many people in the USofA and elsewhere would agree with any of those motives. I'm not saying that I would, but there are millions who would. It's not the war, tragic as it is that so many have died. It's the lies that matter. If an Administration isn't open with us about why we're invading a country before said invasion, then why should be believe anything they say after the fact?
Where is that drink? Brad DeLong has three successive posts about how exactly full the glass is A Glass That Is One-Third Full Make That, "The Glass Is at Most 1/4 Full Make That, "The Glass Is Only 1/8 Full" I'm going home and getting drunk.
Super-strong nanotube threads created Things are going to get pretty surreal. Remember the tethered elevator to space? The technology required to do this is quickly becoming a reality.
Clothes woven with electrically conducting threads are a significant step closer with the creation of super-strong carbon nanotube fibres up to 100 metres long. They are stronger than any natural or synthetic organic fibre known. Materials made from such strong threads could be used to make bullet-proof vests as light as a T-shirt. And their electrical properties could be harnessed to put microsensors into our clothes, measuring everything from temperature to heart rate. The nanotube threads, created by Ray Baughman and colleagues at the University of Texas, Dallas, and Trinity College, Dublin, have a breaking strain of 570 Joules per gram. This is more than three times stronger than the toughest natural material, spider silk.
I Found Life on Mars in 1976, Scientist Says This is a really weird story.
During the Viking mission, Levin was in charge of the life-detection experiment, known as "Labeled Release," in which he used nine samples of Martian soil to test for metabolic activity. The samples were moistened with a radioactive carbon and incubated for up to ten days to allow for any microorganisms to consume the nutrient and give off radioactive gases, which could then be measured. "The data was clear," said Levin. "The experiment, as designed, performed in a manner that everyone before the mission agreed indicated the presence of life." But before announcing that life had been found on Mars, NASA conducted more experiments, searching for evidence of organic matter. Nothing was found. This presented a serious problem. Living organisms are made of organic materials. If there is no organic material, there can be no life. "NASA opted for the easy way out, that there's no life on Mars," said Levin. He now charges that the organic analysis instrument used by NASA for the Viking expedition was too insensitive, requiring millions of microorganisms to detect any organic matter. It even failed to detect organic material on Earth in some instances, said Levin.
Scientists may have succeeded in reproducing matter as it first appeared after the big bang
Scientists studying the unique physical properties of the quark-gluon plasma have been trying to recreate this primordial matter using an accelerator, called RHIC, built especially for this purpose at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. This accelerator creates two beams of gold ions and accelerates them one towards the other, causing a head-on collision. The power of the collisions (about 40 trillion electron volts, also termed 40 tera electron volts) turns part of the beams' kinetic energy into heat, while the other part of the energy turns into various particles (a process described by Einstein's well-known equation E=mc2). The first stage in the creation of these new particles, like the first stage of the creation of matter in the Big Bang, is assumed to be the stage of the quark-gluon plasma.
40 TRILLION electron volts. 40 TRILLION. Ye gods.
Practice to Deceive. Josh's most recent post neatly sums up the situation.
The only thing that's pretty clear is that there was no imminent threat. And there is a growing body of evidence -- much of which was known, frankly, before the war -- that the administration did everything it could to push the claim that there was an imminent threat using what was often very, very weak evidence. I don't think 'lie' is necessarily the best word for it. I think a more apropos analogy is a lawyers' brief. You pull together every piece of evidence you can find -- good, bad, flimsy, obviously bogus, uncertain, it doesn't matter, just throw it all in -- and you make the best case you can with what you have. You put in everything that helps your case and forget about everything that hurts it. And the case was that there was an imminent threat that required war against Iraq. I repeat, imminent.
And the imminent threat was used as a big stick to beat the ever living crap out of anyone who dared question either the war itself or the way it was being prosecuted (I fall into the latter category). The imminent threat was used to destroy international treaties, alliances, and organizations. It was used as a trump card in any argument for the war. From the liberal hawks to the neocon jackanapes. Everyone. The imminent threat was used to bend, if not break, certain constitutional mechanisms that would have required a calmer look at the evidence and more time to figure out what to do. But then, I've already whined about this at some length... No need to regurgitate what you can merely link to.
Stratfor has a rosy view of the Middle East situation.
The Israelis and Palestinians are at war again. What had struck us as amazing -- that Hamas was even considering a cease-fire -- has turned into short-lived amazement. One can parse the events as finely as one wants to try to figure out who wrecked the U.S.-supported peace plan, but that really depends on where you start in a regression that leads back indefinitely. Each side will make its claims, but the stark geopolitical fact is that there is no way to end this war. Looking back, we should remember that U.S. President George W. Bush's administration really had no confidence in the entire process. It had tried to stay clear of making any grandiose moves, like former U.S. President Bill Clinton's Camp David initiative, on the theory that nothing good will come of it. It was trapped into the peace plan by the Iraq campaign. The Saudis, among others, tried to deflect U.S. pressure on them to support the war by arguing that they could not participate while the United States did nothing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In general, this was simply an attempt to deflect U.S. pressure to participate in the war. The administration defused it by guaranteeing that, following the war against Iraq, Washington would commit itself to an attempt to resolve the conflict. The United States never really believed it would work, but it hoped that the psychological shift engendered by the Iraq campaign would induce caution on the part of the Palestinians. For a few days it seemed to do that. Hamas seemed to be saying that, given U.S. power, it would have to at least consider the peace plan. The problem was that, from the Palestinian side, the plan simply didn't provide enough in the early stages. More important, the invention of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas by the United States, instead of marginalizing Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, actually gave him substantial leverage. Not intending to be pushed aside and fully intending to delegitimize Abbas, Arafat aligned himself with Hamas. Hamas, no longer isolated, refused to grant a cease-fire in the context of the peace plan. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, for his part, had nothing to lose. If the process succeeded, he would be a hero. If it failed -- as he fully expected -- he would be positioned as a man who tried peace and was thwarted. An interesting question to ask -- after last weekend's attacks on Israeli troops -- is if Sharon had used a response other than an attempt to kill Hamas leader Abdul Aziz Rantissi whether today's suicide campaign would have begun. That is the wrong question to ask -- in our view. The right question is this: Every major peace initiative attempted in the past decade has ended in catastrophic warfare. What made anyone think that this would be different? The fact is that we don't think that any of the players thought that the peace plan would work. The United States viewed it as a Camp David II, but went ahead to please its allies. The Israelis didn't think it would work, but went ahead to please the Americans. The Palestinians didn't think it would work, but went ahead because their prime minister had been selected solely for the purpose of proceeding with this process. What little can be done to salvage the situation is being done. Omar Suleiman, Egyptian intelligence chief, met with Abbas and Arafat to calm down the situation, Reuters reported June 11. Suleiman promised to resume talks with Hamas on Abbas's appeal for a cease-fire. Bush called for an end to funding of the Palestinian militants. All of it is futile in the long run. The situation is simply this: People have said in the past that the land is large enough to accommodate two nations. Empirically, that simply doesn't seem to be the case. Israeli requirements and Palestinian requirements are not unreasonable. They are simply incompatible. Apart from an occupation of the region by foreign troops -- which would have to be crazy to take on the task -- there is no way to solve the problems. Some problems are insoluble, and this seems to be one of them. There seem only two possible outcomes. One is a war in which one or the other side is defeated so completely that war is no longer possible. The second is a total moratorium on all peace initiatives from the outside -- particularly those that are undertaken to satisfy Saudi, European or Chilean requirements. This disaster was brewed up as a sop to opponents of the war in Iraq. If there is one thing that should be obvious, whenever a major peace initiative occurs, violence rises dramatically. This shouldn't be a surprise. Peace initiatives raise fundamental questions about Israeli and Palestinian nationhood for which there are no answers, and which are better left unasked. Moreover, peace initiatives bring in major powers from the outside, giving Israeli and Palestinian factions a global audience in which to act out their drama. Clearly, the consistency of the failure of peace initiatives should drive home certain obvious principles: First, no outside power should ever propose to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Second, no one should ever agree to undertake a settlement attempt trade for an unrelated strategic accommodation. Third -- and most important -- where there can be no general settlement, there is a chance for small ad hoc accommodations by people who want to make a living, raise their children and live their lives. There are people like this on both sides but they are rendered powerless when the grand architects get to work. The quietist times in the region occurred when outsiders stayed away. The land is too small, the people are too many and the differences are too great. The choice is not between war and peace but between levels of violence.

6/11/2003

So, with the current situation in Israel, it certainly looks like yet another strategic reason for the Iraq war - i.e. that we would be able to achieve peace in the middle east with Saddam out of the way - is likely to bite the dust. And given what's going on - now with 26 deaths, 96 injured in 2 days - maybe it will become obvious to everyone that perhaps the problem wasn't Saddam at all.
Just watching Tucker Carlson and some Republican yokel on CrossFire use the "Conspiracy" excuse for WMD MIA. The idea being that it would take a conspiracy theory to explain how all the intelligence agencies in the world were duped. The short answer is that the rest of the world's intelligence agencies seem to get the vast bulk of their intelligence from the US. U.K., by their own admission, gets something like 70% of their intelligence from the US. They simply can't afford to spend as much as we do. Yes, they do their own analysis. But when the vast bulk of the raw material and even processed material comes from one source... Well, you're pretty much reliant on them to tell you the truth, right? But hey! We're allies. And it's not like all the civilians you usually hear quoted in this excuse (national figures, usually Democratic politicians) have their own intelligence agency either. Well, not unless they are Sam Nunn. In any event, almost without exception each one of these Liberal individuals are relying 100% on US intelligence. I'll even bet that France and Germany get a very significant chunk of their intelligence from the US as well. China and Russia are probably the only major nations which get most of their own intelligence via their own mechanisms. But they probably intercept our analysis and that forms a significant input source for them as well. So to say that it would take a conspiracy to fool the entire world into believing Saddam had WMDs... Well, all it really would take would be the single source of the bulk of the world's intelligence input to be slanted or politicized. Then everyone would be pretty much reading the same script, wouldn't they? Again, diversity of sources is a good thing. Isn't it an odd coincidence that this Administration values loyalty over all else? Even David Frum - hardly a liberal - says that they value ideology over intelligence. If you're a pointy headed intellectual, then you can probably count the number of days before you're out of a job. If you don't get fired, they'll make it so you really, really wish you were fired. Heathers. Purity of Essence.
U.S. Stocks Rise, Sending S&P 500 to Highest in Almost a Year But then, as Republicans were so quick to point out in the past, the Stock Market is not the Economy. Still, good news.
Wolf Blitzer's poll today is on whether we should send US troops to the West Bank and Gaza strip to keep the peace. Looks like all the humanitarians on the right have Freepered the poll, as it's running 80% negative. Quite frankly, if they actually believed the non stop drivel they are shelling out regarding human rights in Iraq, they should be behind this 100%. But the problem is that this would be a HUGE black eye to Israel. After all, having to have peacekeepers in your country isn't something you want to put on all the tourist brochures. Somebody needs to send some peace keeping troops in there and needs to do it fast. Just penciling out a roadmap on the back of a napkin isn't enough. Both sides need monitoring. Both sides need to see we're serious. Chances of happening: 0.
GOP Rejects Formal Probe of Iraq Intel Know you've seen it, but I just love this line by Pat Roberts
"I will not allow the committee to be politicized or to be used as an unwitting tool for any political strategist"
But politicization of the committee before the war with Iraq, being used as an unwitting tool for the republican strategist Karl Rove... Well, that's okay with Pat.
Icy claim that water has memory I know, I know. But read the article.
WMD: What went wrong? Busy, Busy, Busy has an excellent shorter version of the above. But what I loved about the piece was this line
We do not need a frenzy, but we do need coolheaded analysis and a plan of action to get answers now.
Right. We need a cool head now when the Administration is under attack, but back when we were warmongering, the last thing we needed was a cool head and careful analysis because of that non-existent imminent threat.
Last night I was leafing through an old copy of the Economist from last year in my... uh... reading room, and there was a nice piece about the "defiance" of Saddam. The article was written before the Iraqi disclosure of their WMD capability to the UN. What's interesting was the use of "We know you have WMDs, so if you say you don't we're going to use that as a material breach" argument over and over and over. I almost fell off the throne when I read that again. But Morat, over at Skeptical Notion pointed me at very nice post that underscores the ridiculousness of this entire situation.
All right, let me see if I understand the logic of this correctly. We are going to ignore the United Nations in order to make clear to Saddam Hussein that the United Nations cannot be ignored. We're going to wage war to preserve the UN's ability to avert war. The paramount principle is that the UN's word must be taken seriously, and if we have to subvert its word to guarantee that it is, then by gum, we will. Peace is too important not to take up arms to defend. Am I getting this right? Further, if the only way to bring democracy to Iraq is to vitiate the democracy of the Security Council, then we are honor-bound to do that too, because democracy, as we define it, is too important to be stopped by a little thing like democracy as they define it. Also, in dealing with a man who brooks no dissension at home, we cannot afford dissension among ourselves. We must speak with one voice against Saddam Hussein's failure to allow opposing voices to be heard. We are sending our gathered might to the Persian Gulf to make the point that might does not make right, as Saddam Hussein seems to think it does. And we are twisting the arms of the opposition until it agrees to let us oust a regime that twists the arms of the opposition. We cannot leave in power a dictator who ignores his own people. And if our people, and people elsewhere in the world, fail to understand that, then we have no choice but to ignore them.

Top ten excuse for not finding WMD

10 - Iraqi weapons program personnel fooled Saddam into believing he had a WMD program. These sly jokers also fooled the US into believing this as well. 9 - Saddam managed to scrub Iraq so clean, the CSI team from the TV show can't even tell they've ever been there. Our vast intelligence didn't detect a thing. 8 - Syria felt so confident about having the US armed forces on their border, they decided to take the WMD hot potato from Iraq. Our vast intelligence didn't detect a thing. 7 - Iran, with their own nuclear bombs just months away, decided that they needed to trade up to Anthrax and VX. Our vast intelligence didn't detect a thing. 6 - Saddam, Uber-capitalist, used the vast wealth of Iraq's oil to create a really, really huge Just In Time WMD factory. All he was waiting for was a purchase order from Ossama. 5 - There were so many strategic reasons to take over the country, the only one we thought the American electorate would buy was Weapons of Mass Destruction. 4 - By the time we got around to searching things, the looters had kept themselves warm at night by burning the incriminating documents in radioactive drums they found lying around. 3 - Hey, we found some Trailers of Hydrogen Production. That sounds like Weapons of Mass Destruction if you say it fast enough. 2 - It's a country the size of California. That's a heck of a lot of oil wells and pumping stations to get online, you know. 1 - We all believed Bill Clinton's CIA reports that told us WMDs were there. Just goes to show how soft Democrats are on national security. Reposted because I really find them hillarious and I'm easily amused.
America's new mission was and remains: Extirpating the flaming nutballs and the societies that nurture them Praise "Bob" and pass the ammunition. Who knew that this is what "in order to form a more perfect union" meant. I mean, given all the grousing from the right during the '90s regarding being the world's policemen, who knew that the thing they were really angry about was that we weren't just cracking enough heads when we did it?
And another thing. The whole fixation on the actual numbers of artifacts looted from the Iraqi museum is just bizarre. Guess what? We have specific claims about what, where and how much WMD Iraq has, and we haven't found ANYTHING. Think that'd be a bigger story to Glenn Reynolds, wouldn't ya?
Glenn Reynolds is a moron. Your logic has defeated me again Batman. I note that NOWHERE in any of the comments used to justify their actions does anyone say that Iraq's WMDs was an imminent threat. Hey Glenn, the issue is not whether anyone thought he had WMD. At issue was whether Iraq posed an imminent threat to the US that justified a preemptive war. Go back and gather some quotes claiming that we had to act NOW to get rid of Saddam. Bozo.
Israel's predicament: taking anti-Semitism seriously
The divide in the Israeli and Jewish world regarding the fate of the territories is often characterized as a dispute between Right and Left, or hawks and doves, or conservatives and liberals. I want to suggest a different categorization: between people who take anti-Semitism seriously, and people who don't. To put my cards on the table: I oppose the current road-map initiative and hope that, in the foreseeable future, Israel concludes no further deals and makes no further land concessions to the Palestinian Authority or, for that matter, Syria. My basic reason is that the people Israel is supposed to deal with are anti-Semites. I take anti-Semitism seriously and don't believe Jews should sign agreements with, trust, much less give up land to people who espouse it.
You know, I'm just getting sick and tired of the linkage of "Jew Hating" to "Criticism of Israel as a nation". To turn it on its head, are all the Israelis anti-Arab because they oppose a Palestinian state? And if they are, does anyone care that they are anti-Arab? It's like a blood feud. I'm getting really sick of it. Both sides. They're like adolescent punks trying to climb on top of a pile of crap and claim moral superiority. "They hate us" is the reason that they give for hating each other, and then they go and beat the ever living crap out of the other side to prove how much they are morally superior. Geez. Go ahead. Flame away. Call me anti-Semitic too for thinking the whole situation is a big pile of crap caused by both sides.
Rumsfeld Repeats "Old Europe" Comments The man is a menace to society.
NASA May Plan Extreme Shuttle Inspections Just had to add that because of the headline. Sounds like a new sport for the young, don't it? Or a new reality TV show. Wait a minute. It already is.
Sidney has an interesting point - already made, of course, regarding 9/11 and the charge that the Clinis is responsible for it.
Crystal City, Va: Good morning, Mr Blumenthal. How do you respond to the charges made by right-wingers that Clinton is to blame for 9/11? Didn't he try to put an anti-terrorism bill through Congress, and wasn't it watered-down by the GOP? Sidney Blumenthal: After the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and after the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 President Clinton proposed a host of anti-terrorism measures, a number of which were defeated through an unlikely alliance of right-wing Republicans and left-leaning Democrats. Some of these measures were finally passed, like roving wiretaps after 9/11. President Clinton, after the East Africa embassy bombings in 1998, organized a concerted campaign against al Qaeda. He tried to kill bin Laden, but the missile strike against his Afghan base camp missed him by just hours. We rolled up terrorist cells and stopped the plot of the millennium bombings around New Year's of 2000. President Clinton wanted to drop Special Forces into Afghanistan to kill bin Laden but the Pentagon, including Gen. Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was opposed. The Clinton national security team gave three extensive briefings on the present danger of al Qaeda to the incoming Bush administration. In my book, I quote three-star general Donald Kerrick who was Deputy National Security Adviser under Clinton and served during the first four months of the Bush Administration on the National Security Council. Gen. Kerrick tells me that he wrote a memo for the Bush NSC stating, "We will be struck again." Gen. Kerrick says he received no response to his memo and was not included in any meetings. Dick Clarke, head of counter-terrorism on the NSC, was very frustrated during the first nine months of the Bush Administration. As he tried to get the principals committee, the central body of top national security figures in any administration, to take up terrorism as an issue. The principals committee discussed terrorism finally only once, in that case, deciding against funding the unmanned predator drone plane over Afghanistan before 9/11. I believe it's essential that all the details of the so far unreleased 9/11 report become public so that the American people can understand what happened and have an informed opinion about what changes must be made in regards to our intelligence agencies and government to meet the challenge of terrorism.
But we all know it was an "intelligence failure", right?
Read My Lips I woke up this morning and it appears I've entered into a parallel universe. One where Tom Friedman is actually making sense.
Democrats have been groping for a way to counter George Bush's maniacal tax cuts, which are designed to shrink government and shift as many things as possible to the market. May I make a suggestion? When you shrink government, what you do, over time, is shrink the services provided by federal, state and local governments to the vast American middle class. I would suggest that henceforth Democrats simply ask voters to substitute the word "services" for the word "taxes" every time they hear President Bush speak. That is, when the president says he wants yet another round of reckless "tax cuts," which will shift huge burdens to our children, Democrats should simply refer to them as "service cuts," because that is the only way these tax cuts will be paid for — by cuts in services. Indeed, the Democrats' bumper sticker in 2004 should be: "Read my lips, no new services. Thank you, President Bush." Say it with me now: "Read my lips, no new services — or old ones." Whenever Mr. Bush says, "It's not the government's money, it's your money," Democrats should point out that what he is really saying is, "It's not the government's services, it's your services" — and thanks to the Bush tax cuts, soon you'll be paying for many of them yourself.
This is a fantastic strategy. Because the single biggest problem facing the democrats is the complete ignorance of the US population as to what the US government does for them. And waiting for everyone to wake up after the destruction takes place is a stupid strategy. Stupid. Sure, they'll wake up eventually. But think about the amazing amount of damage that will have to occur to get that to happen. The conservatives have often complained that the Democrats are just waiting for bad things to happen. Let's get on the offensive and make damn sure these horrible things don't happen. Amazing. Who'd of thought? Tom Friedman actually doing some penance for the Iraq fiasco.

6/10/2003

Record deficit -- $400 billion -- in store for U.S. Ever notice how this estimate keeps getting bigger and bigger? Just a few short months ago it was at $200 billion.
Blix: I was smeared by the Pentagon I don't think Hans is going to be forgetting this any time soon, do you?
Hans Blix, the UN chief weapons inspector, lashed out last night at the "bastards" who have tried to undermine him throughout the three years he has held his high-profile post. In an extraordinary departure from the diplomatic language with which he has come to be associated, Mr Blix assailed his critics in both Washington and Iraq. Speaking exclusively to the Guardian from his 31st floor office at the UN in New York, Mr Blix said: "I have my detractors in Washington. There are bastards who spread things around, of course, who planted nasty things in the media. Not that I cared very much. "It was like a mosquito bite in the evening that is there in the morning, an irritant."
Turned comments back on. Just as a side note here. I use AdSubtract as a proxy for my web browsing. Filters out all the annoying crap that makes the web so tedious sometimes. Anyways, AdSubtract completely screws with Enetation comments that a lot of blogs use. The upshot is that I have to completely disable AdSubtract to even notice a blog has comments. And that usually means that pop ups and flash presentations start pummeling me into an epileptic spasm at which point I turn AdSubtract back on and comments melt away from the blogs. Trying to work out a compromise with the blasted program. Nothing seems to work. Maybe there's an alternative... Will see if I'm motivated enough to search for one.
(heh) Ask and ye shall receive.
Well, let me think. Offhand,
He hasn't publicly announced forced conversions to Christianity He hasn't instituted illegal trials for captured Iraqis. He hasn't planted chemical or biological weapons
That's all I can think of. And, as you note, they're not things he did right. They're large errors he didn't make. Or hasn't.
Let me just add the adverb "yet". I'm sure there are ways to screw things over no body has thought of yet. I have a feeling their just warming up for their second act in 2004. Imagine how cool the second term is going to be.
Looting Leaves Iraq's Oil Industry in Ruins Can anyone name one - just one - strategic objective that has been reached in this Iraq campaign? I mean, we're occupying Iraq, so I guess that's one. Is there another? It's looking more and more like Iraq is a boat anchor, rather than a launching pad for Rummy's nation building tour de force. What is the mind boggling wonder that has somehow thrown us into a war where the overthrow of entire countries are considered to be merely battles?
Wow. Brad Delong rips Sullivan but good.
Does Sullivan, in writing the phrase "Strauss's profound understanding of the... foibles of modernity" and in endorsing Bret Stephens's piece really intend to send a coded esoteric message that he--Andrew Sullivan--thinks that the Jeffersonian principles on which the United States is founded are complete nonsense? I cannot tell. If Sullivan is writing as a normal guy, then no. If Sullivan is writing--as Stephens is--as a second-order disciple of Leo Strauss, then yes. This is what is so poisonous about the whole Straussian circle: They are not talking to us. We are "gentlemen": to be propagandized, to be lied to, and to be blocked from understanding the esoteric message that is the true teaching of the inner party. We are not to be informed, or to be listened to, or to be argued with.
Which pretty much hits the nail right on the head. No thumb involved.
Weapons of political destruction found half-buried in Washington. Found this very interesting post via KillingGoliath
Let's try to understand the nature of how political scandals develop in Washington and how the elite media cover political news. You need, as a start, an aggrieved community inside the Beltway - and finally we have one, or two, or three. The intelligence "community," pushed and shoved by the neocons and radical nationalists in the Pentagon and the White House, sidelined, forced to support positions with which they felt uncomfortable, pressured to come up with information supporting the administration's secret decision to invade Iraq, undoubtedly filled with personal (and political) pique, roused by a sense of injury, are now carrying their grievances to the press. I almost feel sorry for well-connected journalists. We're not talking leaks any more; we're talking torrents, we're talking cascades of unnamed, angry sources.
As I've said in the past, the white hats were being set up from the start as the fall guys for the empire building. Kevin Drumm, Nicholas Kristof and hundreds of others on the net are all finding themselves in a really strange position: defending the CIA. Myself, I don't find that such a strange position. As much as I hate what the CIA has done in the past, I do actually see the need for them. In my fantasy world, our intelligence organizations are populated with folks of high moral fibre on the level of Jean Luc Picard from Next Generation. Intelligence is a dirty business, but someone has to do it. I'm not a pacifist, either. But having said that, I know that our intelligence agencies are likely populated with people who have run of the mill morals at best. I'm sure they lean very far to the right and because of the job they're in, do some extremely nasty things. For the most part, I think that they've been repeatedly used as a tool by pretty corrupt people, and that kind of stuff likely doesn't wash off. It just accumulates. But still. It's incredible to see the level at which Rumsfeld and company are stooping to pin all the blame on the intelligence agencies. Just like 9/11.
And then, who should come out of the woodwork but John Dean, a central figure in the now three decades old Watergate scandal, now writing columns for a legal website (see below). He sums up the controversy over what the president said and when he said it, reminding us that scandals like this, if they get a certain momentum, can lead in unknown directions as Watergate showed. His key line, "It's important to recall that when Richard Nixon resigned, he was about to be impeached by the House of Representatives for misusing the CIA and FBI."
Well, I'll believe it when I see it. Having done my share of trolling through the right wing blogs and given the state of nonchalance of even my centrist friends, I can't imagine anything turning into a scandal regarding the whole WMD imminent threat. I think pretty much everyone really did know that the whole thing was just an excuse for us to lash out at a wimpy enemy, while at the same time getting us prime real estate in the middle east. Which kind of makes the whole thing just a big bag of shit. I mean, the whole WMD thing was used as a big stick to beat the ever living crap out of anyone who dared to express a different point of view. Even by those who were in the war for "the right reasons". Which means that pretty much everyone knew it was a crock of shit, but it was a convenient crock of shit, and they just rolled over the opposition and our constitution anyway. Which is worse? A leader who lied to take us to war or a population that knew he was lying but just let it happen anyway because the whole thing sounded so good. Going to be interesting. Well, that is if it doesn't fade away like I suspect it will.
Not that there aren't any Right Wing Christian Fundamentalist Terrorists, mind you. This story has gotten minimal media play. What's the story? I tell ya. If this guy had only been a Muslim, then the entire media would be swarming around and we'd probably have a rushed through PATRIOT Act II right now. But White, Christian Terrorists? Well, they're not something to worry about. Again, I'm just in shock n' awe at the Christian Right's ability to compartmentalize.
A novel way to squeeze more data onto CDs and DVDs. While the idea of using water to produce blue laser light is incredibly cool, there is a further story here. Blacklight Power is a company with an interesting history. I first found out about them about 8 months ago on a fusion site I belong to. The company has produced a book about their Grand Unified Theory of Classical Quantum Mechanics . I ordered the book and it really is quite good. Surprisingly. Most quantum theories outside of the mainstream are entirely insane and this one actually survives the idiot test and beyond where I can make any rational judgement about the theory. In any event, what they claim to be doing is extracting power from hydrogen through a process which they contend causes the electrons in the hydrogen atom to fall to a lower orbit than predicted by current theory. They call this the Blacklight Process. It's a fascinating thought. Even more fascinating, however, is their Blue Light laser which Sony is going to be using for the 5x increased storage DVDs. Normally, when a company is based on the whacky theories of the founders, the company is a huge black hole sucking in money and never - ever - producing anything of value. Black Light power has managed to produce a product, and not just a product but a very novel, very good product. It at least shows that they're not just a bunch of bozos. Someone to watch...

6/09/2003

Andrew Sullivan has some pretty scarry powers.

Top ten excuse for not finding WMD

10 - Iraqi weapons program fooled Saddam into believing he had a WMD program. These jokers also fooled the US into believing this as well. 9 - Saddam managed to scrub Iraq so clean, the CSI team from the TV show can't even tell they've ever been there. Our vast intelligence didn't detect a thing. 8 - Syria felt so confident about having the US armed forces on their border, they decided to take the WMD hot potato from Iraq. Our vast intelligence didn't detect a thing. 7 - Iran, with their own nuclear bombs just months away, decided that they needed to trade up to Anthrax and VX. Our vast intelligence didn't detect a thing. 6 - Saddam, Uber-capitalist, used the vast wealth of Iraq's oil to create a really, really huge Just In Time WMD factory. All he was waiting for was a purchase order from Ossama. 5 - There were so many strategic reasons to take over the country, the only one we thought the American electorate would buy was Weapons of Mass Destruction. 4 - By the time we got around to searching things, the looters had kept themselves warm at night by burning the incriminating documents in radioactive drums they found lying around. 3 - Hey, we found some Trailers of Hydrogen Production. That sounds like Weapons of Mass Destruction if you say it fast enough. 2 - It's a country the size of California. That's a heck of a lot of oil wells and pumping stations to get online, you know. 1 - We all believed Bill Clinton's CIA reports that told us WMDs were there. Just goes to show how soft Democrats are on national security.
Step-by-Step Tax Reform Finally all illusions are cast off
The Bush administration -- wisely -- has not proposed fundamental tax reform in a single piece of legislation. But the president has been taking deliberate steps toward such reform with each tax cut. There are five steps to a single-rate tax, which taxes income one time: Abolish the death tax, abolish the capital gains tax, expand IRAs so that all savings are tax-free, move to full expensing of business investment rather than long depreciation schedules and abolish the alternative minimum tax. Put a single rate on the new tax base and you have Steve Forbes and Dick Armey's flat tax. Each of the Bush tax cuts, past and proposed, moves us toward fundamental tax reform. The step-by-step annual tax cut avoids the problem that faced Bill and Hillary Clinton's too ambitious effort to nationalize health care in one gulp: It is easy to stop oversized reforms.
And it's really hard to stop a bait and switch.
In crafting its agenda for economic reform, the Bush administration has the luxury of being able to think and plan over a full eight years. This is because the 2002 redistricting gave Republicans a lock on the House of Representatives until 2012 and the Founding Fathers gerrymandered the Senate for Republican control. In the 50-50 election that was 2000, Bush carried 30 states and Al Gore 20. Over time, a reasonably competent Republican Party will tend to 60 Republicans in the Senate. This guarantee of united Republican government has allowed the Bush administration to work and think long-term.
Well. There you have it.
Bush Insists Iraq Had Illicit Weapons Where there's smoke, there's a fire. Note the shift in rhetoric
In a subtle shift, some U.S. officials have begun to talk of finding weapons "programs" or "capabilities." "Programs in and of themselves give rise to tremendous concern with the weapons themselves," Fleischer said.
Which is a sure sign of spin. We were damn specific in our claims. Now we're just getting more and more nebulous as time goes on. Another thing to note is that almost all of the quotes in the above article are from Ari, not GW. Curious.
Did Iraq Need Defanging? The monitor gets into the game. Mostly a rehash, especially this
But the latter-day conspiracy theorists who contend Iraq had neither weapons nor the labs to make them also have to explain why Hussein put up with UN sanctions for so many years. They must also ask if such a tyrant and aggressor, who invaded two countries and used unconventional weapons twice to kill thousands of civilians, would throw those weapons away or even eliminate all knowledge and capability to make them. They can also ask themselves why top Clinton-administration officials and French officials also believed intelligence about the existence of Iraq's weapons.
Yi. I can see how this is all going to turn out like Iran-Contra. Gotta love this country.
A Lower Standard for Krugman? Luskin really is becoming a complete embarrasement for the NRO. I mean, this guy is a complete loon. Purity Of Essence.
The duty officer asked General Ripper to confirm the fact the he had issued the go code and he said, "Yes gentlemen, they are on their way in and no one can bring them back. For the sake of our country and our way of life, I suggest you get the rest of SAC in after them, otherwise we will be totally destroyed by red retaliation. My boys will give you the best kind of start, fourteen hundred megatons worth, and you sure as hell won't stop them now. So let's get going. There's no other choice. God willing, we will prevail in peace and freedom from fear and in true health through the purity and essence of our natural fluids. God bless you all." Then he hung up. We're still trying to figure out the meaning of that last phrase, sir.
Saddam Had WMDs Wow. Where to start? This guy hits all the standard defense lines and thinks up a few more.
But the New York Times report on Iraq's pillaged nuclear facility reminds us that Saddam did in fact possess weapons of mass destruction — nuclear materials that could easily have supplied terrorists with "an inestimable quantity of so-called dirty bombs." And that very real danger was only the promise of a full-fledged nuclear bomb a few years down the road. We are all in debt to President Bush for acting, while there was still time, to prevent that disastrous outcome.
Anyone with even a passing knowledge of nuclear physics and access to the CIA's world fact books knows how trivial a case this gentleman from the Hoover institution is making. Again, my theory is that they certainly believed they would find at least some WMDs, which they could spin into justification for the imminent threat. With even a flask of old, degraded and no longer useful VX, they could have spun it into imminent death for every soccer mom in America and everyone would have believed them. But to find absolutely nothing... Well, all I got to say is that the ploy backfired and they're now trapped in their web of lies. The only way this could have been done is if there were absolutely, positively no WMD. And lord knows nobody predicted that. Who says the Universe doesn't have a sense of humor?
Blow to Blair over 'mobile labs' The news just keeps getting better and better.
Questions over the claimed purpose of trailer for making biological weapons include: · The lack of any trace of pathogens found in the fermentation tanks. According to experts, when weapons inspectors checked tanks in the mid-Nineties that had been scoured to disguise their real use, traces of pathogens were still detectable. · The use of canvas sides on vehicles where technicians would be working with dangerous germ cultures. · A shortage of pumps required to create vacuum conditions required for working with germ cultures and other processes usually associated with making biological weapons. · The lack of an autoclave for steam sterilisation, normally a prerequisite for any kind of biological production. Its lack of availability between production runs would threaten to let in germ contaminants, resulting in failed weapons. · The lack of any easy way for technicians to remove germ fluids from the processing tank.
No doubt the defense will be "Blair and Bush aren't that stupid". And quite frankly, the absolute worst thing about this is that Bush has managed to create a far greater loss of face and American credibility than we would if we would have backed down on the war. I just love it when my government starts looking like a bunch of lying punks. Makes everything so much cheerier. Not.
Another nugget from the recent past, this time from the Washington Times - hardly a bastian of liberalism.
On the eve of Mr. Bush's ultimatum, it came to light that a key piece of evidence used by the Bush administration to link Iraq to a nuclear weapons program is a forgery. Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has asked the FBI to investigate the origin of the forged documents that the Bush administration used to make its case that Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. Secretary of State Colin Powell denies that the Bush administration created the phony documents. "It came from other sources," Mr. Powell told Congress, but he could not identify the source. As George Santayana said, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it." The administration's use of forged evidence opens Mr. Bush to unflattering comparisons that his enemies will not hesitate to make. They will point out that it was Adolf Hitler's strategy to fabricate evidence in order to justify his invasion of a helpless country. He used S.S. troops dressed in Polish uniforms to fake an attack on the German radio station at Gleiwitz on Aug. 31, 1939. Following the faked attack, Hitler announced: "This night for the first time Polish regular soldiers fired on our own territory." As German troops poured into Poland, Hitler declared: "The Polish state has refused the peaceful settlement of relations which I desired, and has appealed to arms." The German High Command called the German invasion of Poland a "counterattack." Thanks to his neoconservative cadre, outside the U.S. Mr. Bush is now a disliked and distrusted politician. Mr. Bush's enemies will exploit parallels to "naked aggression." After many decades of U.S. leadership in building an "international order," Mr. Bush's enemies will hold him accountable for his defiance of this order.
update: Apparently the link is a dead one. I'll have to track it down and see if they have it in their archives. Considering the prescient nature of the editorial with respect to WMDs, I'm not surprised to see it gone.
My expectations for the War circa March 18, 2003
First, on March 17, 2004 - a year from now - our Terror Threat Level better be on fucking serene white. If a year from now we're still on piss yellow or scared shitless orange Terror Threat Level, then I'd say the Administration sold us a bill of goods. Quite simply, this war of choice - a preemptive war - hasn't made us any safer. If the Terror Threat Level isn't on Economy is Booming pink on March 17, 2005 - two years from now - I'm thinking we're in the toilet and the Administration put us there. Second, one year from now, if Iraq is essentially the same security state as Palestine is under Israel today we have a 10 year occupation on our hands. If we still have troops fighting, suicide bombers and all the trappings of modern day Palestine, the critics of this war with Iraq are right. The administration has sold us a bill of goods that we were going to paying for decades from now - occupation of chaos is costly both in dollar terms and lives lost. Third, if we haven't found any credible evidence of WMD, nefarious connections with Al Qaeda, rape rooms and baby killing factories a year from now, we've been sold a bill of goods. By credible, I mean independently verified. I think the US should take it upon themselves to bring in UN investigators and monitors to ensure that all revelations and facts are verified. We've seen the finest US intelligence agencies and US state department fooled by amateur forgeries, RC model "WMD delivery vehicles" made out of duct tape and weed whackers, as well as Aluminum tubes not as suspicious as we were told. So anything we won't let Hans Blix verify the validity of, I claim is too suspect for evidence in satisfaction of this criteria - either way.
Gee.
Captives Deny Qaeda Worked With Baghdad
Two of the highest-ranking leaders of Al Qaeda in American custody have told the C.I.A. in separate interrogations that the terrorist organization did not work jointly with the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein, according to several intelligence officials. Abu Zubaydah, a Qaeda planner and recruiter until his capture in March 2002, told his questioners last year that the idea of working with Mr. Hussein's government had been discussed among Qaeda leaders, but that Osama bin Laden had rejected such proposals, according to an official who has read the Central Intelligence Agency's classified report on the interrogation. In his debriefing, Mr. Zubaydah said Mr. bin Laden had vetoed the idea because he did not want to be beholden to Mr. Hussein, the official said.
No WMDs. No Al Qaeda nor 9/11 connection. Again, what was said in the past which hasn't been shown to be a lie? And the ENTIRE Fourth Estate just missed all of this? What a bunch of aqua maroons.

6/08/2003

Wow. Glenn squeezes out a stinky one.
THE CONGO IS ANOTHER HUMAN DISASTER, on a par with Cambodia. The U.N. has been nominally in charge of dealing with things there for several years (there may be a connection here. . . .). But Joe Katzman does an excellent job (in connection with Bruce Rolston -- follow the links to multiple posts) of explaining why the U.N. can't do anything constructive. It also explains why the political costs to the United States of trying to do anything constructive would be excessive -- in fact, paralyzingly high, and much worse than Iraq. The U.N. and the mindset that goes with it, built to prevent genocide, seems in fact to promote genocide and make it hard for anyone to do anything about it.
Who knew? Man, it's just like the libertarians to say that any selfless international organization is just making it too hard for selfish nations to do selfless international actions. And I just love Glenn using the Anti-War arguments against a war he doesn't want to go into. Guess 2 orders of magnitude more deaths don't overweigh the economic benefits of Iraq. Go Glenn, Go!
Well, I lost the $50! Both Rice and Powell fiercely defended that the basis of the war was imminent threat of WMD. Argument used was "Well, everyone believed they had WMDs, we know he had WMDs in the past, and while we didn't know where the WMDs are, we're absolutely positive they are there. Just give us time". Before the war:
"We know where (the WMD) are," declared Rumsfeld in a television interview Mar. 30, well into the first week of the war. "They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghad and east, west, south and north somewhat."
After the war
He has since retreated from that certainty, suggesting last week that the Iraqis "may have had time to destroy them, and I don't know the answer."
Well, I'm sure there was a lot of people taken in by the arguments, but there's no doubt as to what happened before the war. And another thing that is really stupid. Saying that "it wasn't just the opinion of US intelligence, it was the opinion of the world's intelligence" is really stupid on its face. Britain, for example, get's 70% of their intelligence from the US. I'll bet Germany and France do as well. Russia, well they intercept our intelligence analysis and it probably composes the bulk of their own intelligence. So saying that everyone else was fooled when they got the vast bulk of intelligence from the same source is a laughable defense. I repeat. Laughable.

6/07/2003

Glenn Reynolds gets desperate Using both the "only a conspiracy theorist would believe such tripe" and "If we lied, then you're all idiots" arguments in the same post. Go Glenn, Go! $50 on "it was a strategic war, and everyone knew that was the real reason" will be the winning entry on tomorrow's talk shows.
Saddam ran chemical labs, but they made no weapons, report states Enough justification?
Saddam Hussein's intelligence agencies ran a network of secret cells that carried out chemical and biological research but produced no weapons, The Sunday Times reported, quoting a top Iraqi security official. The British newspaper said a general who procured supplies for the program through an international network of front companies had told it that laboratories were hidden in basements in houses around Baghdad. "But it was all just theory. The aim was to keep us up to date and ready so that if (United Nations) sanctions were lifted or we needed to produce chemical or biological weapons again, we could start up immediately," the unnamed general said. The Sunday Times report came amid ongoing allegations that British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George Bush exaggerated the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify going to war. The general insisted that search teams would find no weapons. "I challenge anyone in Iraq, from north to south, to find anything," he told The Sunday Times.
Why Democrats Should Kill the Filibuster Kind of a bizarre argument. Don't agree with it. But it's a good read anyway. Me? I believe that the founding fathers (and mothers) were a heck of a lot wiser than we give them credit. Filibusters prevent the tyranny of the minority. And no matter who they are, the minority always needs to have a say - more importantly, a means of fighting back. Taking away this right of the minority would cripple our democracy and the stability we enjoy in it. Yea, the filibuster has been used to do some nasty things - depending on your point of view. But I don't want to see democrats with unchecked power any more than I want to see republicans with unchecked power. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Guess that's my conservative side speaking.
Some on the right are starting to see the problem that Bush has. The "war for strategic merits" defense is now in the lead. This will still mean scapegoats have to be found in the administration, but there's a lot of them to go around (apparently). The problem with this, from my irrelevant point of view, is that a lot of what people admire about the Bush administration is the "Commander in Chief" image. The image that Bush has of "being the man in charge". The CEO. Captain of industry. A man alone between God and history. So, regardless of the strategic merits of the war, the Commander In Chief was in charge of prosecuting this war. And regardless of the consequences, the Commander In Chief is responsible for it. Not the lackeys who may or may not have screwed up. Like all Corporations, the Administration's direction flows down from the top. Loyalty to the president and absolute obedience - regardless of the consequences, apparently - is prized far above being an "intellectual". To dissent is to be excommunicated. Meaning, this was George W Bush's decision to prosecute the war the way he did. The responsibility is his alone. He stated this in SOTU speeches, speeches before the UN and the rest of the world. I want to know what he knew, when he knew it and why they did what they did. The last question - the why - is something I already get. Yea, Iraq is a huge strategic edge in the middle east. But quite frankly, the whole WMD thing is going to pretty much negate a lot of that strategic value. It's going to stoke a lot of resentment and rebellion. At the least it's going to take a lot longer, involve far more troops and personnel, cost far more, and require the sacrifice of more American lives than we were led to believe (and was part of the strategic assessment). At worst, we could have just inherited our own Palestine, complete with radical Islamic terrorists. And we just pissed off everyone else in the world, so we're pretty much on our own. Think Britain is going to be our bestest bud if it turns out MI6 was duped by Rumsfeld? I mean, really. We're not going to be very popular. And this is regardless of whatever strategic reasons justified the war. It won't make that much of a difference. So, maybe, you know. Like next time when you're whipping us all up to go to war, do you think you could STOP WITH THE NAME CALLING, DERIDING, AND GENERAL SUPPRESSION OF DISSENT? Just because someone doesn't agree with you doesn't mean they were wrong. Maybe next time, you know, we could, like, have a real debate?
This will have them shaking in their boots I'm sure the last thing these guys want is to have future historians say that this was another gulf of Tonkin. Legacy, after all, appears to be their chief concern.
Shiite, Kurdish Leaders Decide to 'Play Hardball' Yep, a big picinic in the park.
"We want to send the message that we, as Iraqi leaders, have a lot of weight and untapped resources," said Zabari, the Barzani advisor. While Barzani and Hakim are keen to avoid a direct confrontation with the occupation authorities, they discussed what sort of opposition could be launched if they fail to convince Bremer to make concessions. "At this stage we're discussing to see how far we can cooperate," Barzani said at a news conference. "Our next move will depend on how much understanding we can get."
Ex-Official: Evidence Distorted for War Well then. This is getting more interesting. Actual accusations and real allegations of wrong doing.
The Bush administration distorted intelligence and presented conjecture as evidence to justify a U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a retired intelligence official who served during the months before the war. "What disturbs me deeply is what I think are the disingenuous statements made from the very top about what the intelligence did say," said Greg Thielmann, who retired last September. "The area of distortion was greatest in the nuclear field." Thielmann was director of the strategic, proliferation and military issues office in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. His office was privy to classified intelligence gathered by the CIA and other agencies about Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear programs. In Thielmann's view, Iraq could have presented an immediate threat to U.S. security in two areas: Either it was about to make a nuclear weapon, or it was forming close operational ties with al-Qaida terrorists. Evidence was lacking for both, despite claims by President Bush and others, Thielmann said in an interview this week. Suspicions were presented as fact, contrary arguments ignored, he said.
Found this via Tom Tomorrow. Technorati shows that it isn't too spread around the blogs yet, so give it a read. John Dean from Find Law eloquently describes the conundrum facing the Administration, the American people, and their elected representatives. Being thoroughly cynical, I just don't think it will get to impeachment. He deserves it. But what I fear is that he'll just sail by with a slim majority that leads to another contested election which will be settled by the supreme court. And that's my best case scenario. I think they are capable of far worse behavior, given that they basically lied to everyone about WMDs with the sole purpose of getting a strategic war on. I mean, that's why you impeach them: to run them out of town on a rail so they can't do any more damage. Anyways, read the article. It's lucid (unlike me) and a great read.
To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be "a high crime" under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony "to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose."
Which is the rub. This is the most secretive Administration in the history of the US. Just look at how much stuff they have refused to even admit, much less allow investigation - i.e. ZERO. So proving this could be extremely hard, especially given that basically everyone who voted for the war is in the same leaky boat looking like a fool for believing them. Does anyone else see the bizarro world being trotted out in front of us? A reporter who helped break the Watergate scandal writes a propagandistic book which helps sell the fake war which ends up being a bigger scandal than Watergate ever was. I mean, how big of a tool do you have to become to get that job?
Found this floating about the web. Seems the jury is still out regarding the mobile bio weapons labs. All I can say is that it would fit the pattern. Won't it be great to not even have a patina of evidence to hide behind? Won't the rest of the other countries in the world think we're so cool standing out in the cold with a hell of a lot of "shrinkage"?

6/06/2003

Is it just me, or is the piranha like self congratulatory blog orgy over Howell Raines just downright creepy? Now that the Guardian and the BBC are thoroughly discredited (just read Andy, he'll tell ya), I guess the victory is complete. It's weird to celebrate diversity by completely crushing all dissent until your's is the only voice. You guys rock.

"Is it safe?"

Sorry. Just been the theme lately.
You know, something that consistently bothers me. Why do we think the democrats are leaderless and have no ideas? The media. Amazing.
What the Fxck?
Iraq also handed over videotapes of mobile biological weapons laboratories to inspectors. Iraq says the videos show that the laboratories do not violate UN resolutions.
Found this via Tom Tommorrow. So, what was on the video tape, and are the mobile labs referred to the ones that the US is now claiming there is no other purpose for the labs other than manufacturing WMD? Inquiring minds want to know. Unfortunately, none of those inquiring minds work for our Fourth Estate.
I think this defense is currently the front runner.
Rumsfeld on Friday compared the search for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to the hunt for Saddam Hussein. Rumsfeld says he believes the intelligence about Saddam's weapons will turn out to be accurate -- even though the U.S. military still has found no proof of that. He notes that the U.S. military hasn't found Saddam either. But Rumsfeld adds no one questions whether Saddam existed.
Yi. I'm just going to give up. If the press isn't willing to kick him in the teeth over crap like this, and the American populace just doesn't care anyway, what's the point?
"If we're lying, then you're idiots" defense. Just listened to Dana Milbank explain precisely what the problem is. Because everyone believed there was weapons of mass destruction, and just about everyone ceded power to the President to do what he wanted, then everyone is an idiot for believing him and therefore no one will hold him responsible for lying. No one wants to be a fool. Far better to let them get away with lying.
The conspiracy theory defense. This is closely related to the "Blair and Bush aren't that stupid" defense. Here's the story being pushed by the common narrative.
"Senator Graham sounds increasingly more like a conspiracy theorist than a presidential candidate," Schmitt said. "Whether it's national security or the strength of the economy, the Democrats' best hope seems to be to hope for the worst."
So, take heed. We can't actually think there was a "conspiracy" to mislead the US populace because that would be a conspiracy theory. And we all know that anyone who promulgates a conspiracy theory is a crackpot. Worse, what they are doing is hoping for the worst so that they can get back into power. Well, okay then.
Bush Orders Airwaves Review Another land grab begins.
Bush's war doctrine questioned Combined with that story from my last post, doesn't this make a sweet bookend on history? Reactive. Slovenly. Pointy headed.
A failure by the Bush administration to prove its prewar allegations could undermine the pre-emption doctrine. The next time the president comes to Capitol Hill warning of an emerging threat, one that requires military action to pre-empt and defeat, some lawmakers of both parties say they will be skeptical.
Uh, weren't you "skeptical" last time? What on EARTH makes anyone think that they are actually going to be "skeptical". All this means is that they're going to have to use something else to pull the wool over their eyes. My prediction will be a reverse "boy who cried wolf" argument. The argument will be "yes, we haven't been right in the past, but now we can't let that blind us to the necessity of the action before us". Regardless of what has happened in the past, each and every crisis will be used as an excuse in the next battle in the war on terror because we don't want to be wrong about the bogeyman. After about the fifth or sixth time that we're completely wrong, they'll just stop justifying it. Because no one will care at that point. In any event, the veil has been pierced, and it's pretty clear there's not going to be any punishment - other than a few scapegoats being fired - for pushing the preemptive war based on hyped up lies and self delusions. Teflon. Nothing sticks to these guys, and there's always enough of a slim, slim majority that they can use to ram everything through. After all, they're just changing the Senate's filibuster rules to completely eliminate any chance of opposition. I tell ya. How stupid do you have to be to have them actually come right out and tell you what they're going to do, then act like they wouldn't really do that, then have it happen, and then wring your hands while you whine about the next cycle just repeat itself. Morons.
US to eliminate WMD in all rogue states, by force if necessary Gee. Why doesn't this surprise me. Now that we've done our war for strategic reasons, all illusions are cast off.
"We aim ultimately not just to prevent the spread of WMD, but also to eliminate or 'roll back' such weapons from rogue states and terrorist groups that already possess them or are close to doing so," Bolton told the House Committee on International Relations. He noted that while the administration of President George W. Bush (news - web sites) favored peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the proliferation threat, it ruled out no options, including "preemptive military force where required."
Again. We're just going to see war after war after war. And all you people who helped... Well, I just want to say thanks. Your cold logic and assinine insistence on trotting out the boogeyman have made this world a much safer place. All the deaths. All the pain. All the loss. Well, I just hope you're happy. Muchas Gracias

6/05/2003

Blix slams allies over Iraq weapons At this point, I don't think it was the "greatest hoax in the world". Well, at least not in the way the common narrative means. Everyone is running around like a chicken with their head cut off claiming "we all couldn't have been fooled". Lot's of surprised looks as WMDs continue to be MIA. However, I remember a sh*tload of reports that should have had anyone nervous about what was going to be found. Yea, no body knew for sure, and everyone was hedging their bets, but geez. One or two incidents like Blix experienced, and you'd have the fear of "Bob" put into you regarding what was going on.
Hans Blix told the BBC that his teams followed up US and British leads at suspected sites across Iraq, but found nothing when they got there. The BBC's Greg Barrow at the UN says the comments will add to the growing controversy over the quality of intelligence used in the run-up to the Iraq war. However US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has insisted that the information had been good. In a BBC interview on Thursday, Mr Blix said he had been disappointed with the tip-offs provided by British and US intelligence. "Only in three of those cases did we find anything at all, and in none of these cases were there any weapons of mass destruction, and that shook me a bit, I must say." He said UN inspectors had been promised the best information available. "I thought - my God, if this is the best intelligence they have and we find nothing, what about the rest?"
And this is the point that should be made crystal clear. It wasn't just an intelligence problem - if that turns out to be the cause (ha!). Nope. What is truly amazing is that everyone bought it. There were clear warning signs that should have been jumped on by a truly independent, investigatory Fourth Estate. But absolutely no such thing happened. Rather, the exact opposite happened, with story after story whipping up fear until everyone was ready to nuke Iraq. And that is a failure the Press will have to explain. And "we just believed them, why would they lie?" is a lousy excuse. It's your job to expose the truth, not just simply pass on information from Rumsfeld and Chalabi.