:: The Fred Willard Fan Site ::
:: Wednesday, July 31, 2002 ::
The Newest Addition to the List of People Who Can Bite My Ass. Hamas flack Yuval Rubinstein has some trouble with the truth.
Jeff Goldstein delivered a well-deserved fisking of Rubinstein's insistence that yesterday's massacre was the fault of Sharon, for murdering a defenseless militant last week. Rubinstein's retort hits rock bottom in arrogance and hypocrisy, breaks through, and explores new depths none of us have ever seen before ...
Hey Jeff, did I mention that I was born and raised in Israel? Do you honestly believe that I don't give a flying fuck about my fellow citizens? Wow...
Of course not. That would be unheard of.
My main point is this: last week, Hamas, Tanzim and their ilk offerred Israel a cease-fire. Now, it's easy to dismiss such a move as sheer posturing. However, given that a) Hamas is opposed to Israel's existence and b) this is the first timethroughout the whole intifada that such an offer has been made, this move should not have been dismissed out of hand, which is exactly what the Sharon government did. As I argued a few days ago, no matter how much we despise the murderous thugs who constitute Hamas, when they propose a cease-fire, you take it, for the sake of Israeli civilians. Whether or not you believe that Yassin was being sincere, there is no question that the Sheheda assassination gave Hamas the excuse to resume their attacks against the Israeli population.
First things first: he's lying.
If Zinni is to make any progress during his four-day stay, Israeli and Palestinian analysts said, he will have to persuade Sharon that the much-reduced level of violence warrants Israeli military and diplomatic gestures to the Palestinians while urging Arafat to keep militants in check in areas under his control.
Arafat has been sending emissaries lately to Hamas leaders, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in Gaza, urging them to stick to what Palestinians describe as a unilateral cease-fire.
Hamas, the group behind suicide bombings that have killed scores of Israelis, says it is honoring the truce for now to give Arafat a chance to conduct diplomacy.[Boston Globe, Jan. 3, 2002, via Lexis-Nexis]
Of course, even if Rubinstein were not so glaringly wrong about this, the suggestion that Israel should have honored a cease-fire simply because it had been offered by Hamas would be, well, about as suicidal as Hamas' tactics themselves.
The terror attacks committed by Hamas - and Tanzim, and Al-Aqsa Martyrs - while Israel was abiding by a fucking cease-fire, are too numerous to count. They do include, of course, the Netanya massacre.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:25 PM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, July 30, 2002 ::
Young supporters of Hamas celebrate in Gaza Strip Wednesday night July 31, 2002, after a bomb was detonated in a crowded cafeteria at the Frank Sinatra International Student Center in Jerusalem during lunchtime, killing at least seven people and wounding more than 80. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Probably more of that 10-year-old footage CNN has lying around.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:03 PM [+] ::
Rumble in Georgia's 4th. Cynthia McKinney has, not surprisingly, launched a smear campaign against her opponent, Denise Majette:
McKinney, who represents the 4th Congressional District, launched a radio ad campaign this week that compares the former DeKalb State Court judge to an "angry, out-of-control police officer beating up a prisoner."
It says Majette, who is challenging McKinney in the Aug. 20 Democratic primary, "lied and hid the existence of trial transcripts to cover up mistakes she made that deprived innocent people of their rights."
It concludes that Majette "can't be trusted with our rights or our votes."
Majette denies the accusations, which are based on the 1998 trial of Linda Hamilton. Hamilton, charged with driving 17 mph over the speed limit, demanded a jury trial and was found guilty.
In handing down her punishment, Majette sternly chastised Hamilton for insisting on a costly, time-consuming trial and sentenced her to two days in jail plus community service and ordered her to pay a fine of $1,000.
Hamilton, seeking to challenge her sentence, sought a transcript of the court proceedings, but ultimately had to ask the Georgia Court of Appeals to order Majette to release it.
The appeals court eventually reversed the conviction and said Majette had not properly advised Hamilton of her right to be represented by an attorney.
Hamilton paid a $92 fine and served no jail time.
Wow, that's quite the miscarriage of justice. The attempt to turn Hamilton into a Rodney King would be comical if it weren't so disgusting. Anyone who truly cares for the real victims of police brutality and similar injustices should be irate over McKinney's cheapening of their cause.
But here's the punchline - McKinney's excuse for such a negative attack:
McKinney's campaign manager, Bill Banks, said the campaign will soon focus on the congresswoman's accomplishments for the district. But first, he said, McKinney wants to draw attention to what she considers Majette's failings.
Majette's campaign had better realize quickly that they're up against the Democratic answer to Jesse Helms, and act accordingly. Despite the opportunity offered by the poll numbers, their only chance at winning is to dish it out as hard as McKinney does, or else their candidate will be remembered as just another honorable politician who lost. Like that Harvey Gantt fella you never hear about anymore.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:30 PM [+] ::
Can You Spot the IRRELEVANT LEECH in This Photo?
Take your time ...
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:25 PM [+] ::
As If The MRC's Quibbling Over Condit and Traficant Wasn't Bad Enough. In a bit that was surely designed more to annoy than provoke thought, Joe Conason writes that serial killer Ted Bundy was an active Republican. Damian Penny took the bait, pointing to John Wayne Gacy, Jr.'s ties to the Democratic Party.
In all fairness, Damian, Gacy was from Chicago. What choice did he have?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 6:02 PM [+] ::
News Coverage Not Conforming to Your Twisted View of the World? Well, getting your news from the ironically-named Jihad Unspun may be the cure for what ails you (if pulling your head from your ass isn't even an option, that is).
Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef Tortured To Death In Guantanamo?
Jul 30, 2002
Source: Balochistan [Gesundheit!] Post
Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, former ambassador of Afghanistan in Islamabad has been killed in a detention facility at Guantanamo, Cuba, family sources alleged. According to a report Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef was tortured excessively at the detention center. The torture was so excessive that he breathed his last at the camp, his relatives said. However, neither the Afghan government nor the US sources have confirmed his death.
Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef was arrested by the Pakistan’s security forces loyal to the United States ignoring his diplomatic status and his application for political asylum in Pakistan to escape the wrath of Americans in Afghanistan. He was the senior most official of the Taliban government who could be arrested by the US forces that too with the help of Musharraf regime.
Pakistani authorities later handed him over to their masters and they bundled him to Guantanamo prison facility in Cuba along with hundreds of other Afghan, Pakistan and Arab prisoners.
I'm surprised this hasn't been picked up by Indymedia already.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 2:23 PM [+] ::
Whoah! Finally, here's a Daryl Cagle cartoon that's sort of funny.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:07 PM [+] ::
Gosh, I thought it was only half a million.
If these idiots believed their own hystrical rhetoric, they'd be the first to approve of an invasion, just to end the suffering.
Unless, of course, they really cared more about the sanctity of Saddam Hussein's regime than they do about Iraqi children.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:27 AM [+] ::
UN Report on Oruzgan due. AFP is reporting that the finalized UN report on the Oruzgan air strikes will be released today in Kabul. Even prior to this rollout, UN officials appear to be distancing themselves from the draft version leaked two days ago.
:: Monday, July 29, 2002 ::
"When Mr. Brahimi saw this first report he found that there were facts in it who where not, for his satisfaction, adequately substantiated. So he ask them to produce a more detailed report which they have done," Eckhard said at UN headquarters in New York.
"Brahimi is not disavowing what the initial report reported. He just asked them 'are you sure on your facts, give me a more substantiated report,'" said Eckhard.
It's becoming clearer now why that draft version was leaked. I'm predicting that the final version will not support the assertions in the Times'story, which certainly would provide a motive for those who authored the draft - and strongly believe the allegations therein - to get their story out.
And the Times allowed itself to be spun.
UPDATE: Still no report on the final report, but the International Herlad Tribune has this slightly more indepth story, that suggests the civilian casualties at Oruzgan may be as high as 80 killed and over 200 injured.
Actually, even the figure that is generally accepted as fact (48) has yet to be confirmed by anyone. But to IHT's credit, their story at least includes the denials by U.S. military officials:
On Monday, the U.S. military denied covering up evidence. Lieutenant Colonel Roger King, a U.S. military spokesman at Bagram air base, north of Kabul, said that U.S. forces had collected shrapnel, bullets and blood samples not to eliminate evidence but to gather it for the still-ongoing U.S. investigation.
U.S. investigators arrived in Uruzgan on July 17, King was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse. "We reported that they picked up shell casings and shrapnel. No cover-up at all."
The UN fact-finders also reportedly found that women at the bomb site had had their hands tied by U.S. special forces who allegedly reached the site within several hours of the bombing. King denied this.
A spokesman for the Afghan Foreign Ministry, quoted by the BBC, said that it was too soon to say whether there had been a cover-up; the Afghan government was continuing to investigate.
You will recall that the Times reported that their exhaustive reporting was unable to get a comment from the U.S. military.
UPDATE II: BBC reports that the final UN report has been handed over to the U.S. and Afghan governments, and will not be released to the public.
That's just great. Let the incomplete leaked version stand as the official record, without any follow up on its damning assertions. No need to tie an lose ends or anything.
Here's a challenge to any journalist who claims to serve the public interest: get your hands on that report. You appear to be really good at getting hold of confidential war plans from the Pentagon. Let's see if you can get a copy of a report that is now circulating within three entirely independent organizations, two of which are highly susceptible to bribes. It's your duty.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:31 AM [+] ::
What is your demographic. Cracker Barrel Philosopher links to a marketing firm's site that gives you demographic data for your ZIP code, and what your area's ACORN classification is.
For Mr. Herbert's neighborhood ...
3B (Enterprising Young Singles)
These ambitious people with a head start and the promise of success are especially active, dine out frequently, and spend money on furniture, small appliances, and apparel. Over half are under the age of 35. With high labor force participation rates, they tend to rent videos and use PCs at work and at home. Media preferences include Entertainment Weekly and the Wall Street Journal.
Damn straight. I am on the go, and I don't care who knows it. I'm hip, I'm now, and I am not going to pay a lot for this muffler.
What are you looking at?
UPDATE: This is where I used to live:
1E (Prosperous Baby Boomers)
This type sets the trend for working wives, especially families with working mothers. They participate in sports, but do not invest or save in proportion to their income. These are baby boomers with young, preschool children. Very mobile, they have a high median household income as a result of two salaries and rank among the highest to dine at family restaurants and to order take-out pizza.
Yikes! I almost bought there!
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:21 PM [+] ::
The Ivy Scare II. On Friday, James Taranto posted on this Black Commentator interview with defeated Alabama Congressman Earl Hilliard, who alleged an Ivy conspiracy to replace the legitimate leaders of African-American communities with Right-wingers.
It gets worse.
In an e-mailed press release previewing its August 8 issue (yes, I try to get on as many of these e-mail lists as possible; makes me feel loved), Black Commentator has unveiled its research, which contends that the rightful spokespersons for their communities are being subverted by “covert Conservative Republicans” disguised as Democrats (“Republican ‘Stealth Candidacies’ Threaten Traditional Black Leadership: National Urban League report warns of "divide and conquer" strategy; cites research of BlackCommentator.com”).
There are no quantitative methods cited in the release, but the study’s author, Harvard (ahem) political science professor Martin Kilson, offers the candidacy of Cory Booker, who unsuccessfully tried to unseat Newark mayor Sharpe James earlier this year:
Dr. Kilson described the Booker campaign as part of "an emergent conservative and Republican Party strategy of using black conservative activists in 'stealth' fashion to corral the votes of a large segment of the African-American electorate."
Dr. Kilson credited the online publication BlackCommentator.com with tracing "the strong ties between Booker and, via conservative black Republicans, such Republican-linked rightwing foundations as the Bradley Foundation and the Walton Foundation.[links added]
Gosh, the guy sounds pretty icky. Just how Right-wing is he?
Booker, who gave up his seat on the Newark City Council to wage an upstart campaign against Mayor Sharpe James, resumes life as a private citizen today. But ever since the May 14 election, he has been giving speeches and sketching plans for a new foundation to address the causes he is passionate about: improving access to affordable housing and quality education for inner-city residents.
Booker will also organize a political action committee to back candidates who vow to support Newark's rebirth by improving the city's schools, lowering crime, and building more housing. "I'm going to put a lot of energy into running a non-profit," Booker said in the Brick Towers public housing apartment he has called home for more than four years. "I think we can do a lot of good."[ Bergen County Register, July 1, 2002]
Booker’s unenlightened candidacy was endorsed by (wait for it) the New York Times.
Booker doesn't sound like a Republican to me, but if the McKinney apologists at Black Commentator have their way, he soon will be.
UPDATE: You may recall the e-mailed statement from Cynthia McKinney's office on the independent investigation of the 9/11 intelligence failures I posted a while back. Since then, a small debate has ensued among the recipients of the e-mail, with some expressing their desire to see McKinney sent home "crying to daddy." That riled up one staunch McKinney supporter, who (mere minutes ago) retorted:
CYNTHIA IS EXACTLY THE WOMAN WHO MUST BE THERE - WE DO NOT NEED ANYMORE JEWISH CRAP IN THE CONGRESS. IT's TIME TO WAKE UP AND SAVE AMERICA. She is the ONER and ONLY who is not affraid to ask for TRUTH.
And to think that the Black Commentator feels threatened by "Right-wingers" like Cory Booker.
UPDATE II: People are starting to ask to be dropped from McKinney's e-mail list. No word yet from her office on how the above dickhead in no way represents her sentiments.
I just knew subscribing to this list would be entertaining. But I had no idea!
:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:51 PM [+] ::
All Good Things Must Come to an End. Arab News editor John R. Bradley has finally had enough abuse from the good folks at LGF:
littlegreenfootballs reflects the mainstream American media in the way it completely shuts out one side of the debate out while allowing, indeed encouraging, the other to spew forth just about anything without reason or restraint.
And all out of sheer ignorance!
Is this the wonderful democracy I'm supposed to feel nostalgic for?
While I'm not in the habit of hanging out with white trash, this experience has been welcome in as much as it reminded me of the kind of blind intolerance, complete lack of ethics and general stupidity that now largely defines political discussion in the United States.
I hope this doesn't mean he won't give us updates on how his fiance is adjusting to life in the more tolerant Arabian peninsula. I really want to see how this love story ends!
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:04 PM [+] ::
More Times UK stupidity. In its coverage of Afghan civilian casualties, London's Times does not place a priority on getting both sides of the story - or even a complete version of events. But in its recent story on a new documentary about the trauma experienced by IDF reservists who participated in the raid on Jenin, "fairness" is taken to an absurd extreme ...
:: Sunday, July 28, 2002 ::
What it lacks, crucially, is footage of the ambush itself and anything outside the Israeli military perspective. Jenin is glimpsed only occasionally as the company moves hastily through the shattered streets, or from from windows through which Israeli soldiers spray gunfire, and no Palestinian appears in the entire film.
The scene is from Jenin Diary: The Inside Story — a documentary shot by an Israeli reservist from the company that lost 13 soldiers in a Palestinian ambush in Jenin refugee camp on April 9.
Its maker, Gil Mezuman, 30, shot 40 hours of film on a hand-held camera, cut to 65 minutes for its premiere before a capacity audience at the Jerusalem Film Festival.
One of the final scenes shows his disorientated unit wandering aimlessly around its camp, still traumatised after the deaths a few days earlier.
Some of those filmed openly question the tactics used, and even the Army’s right to be in Jenin. Others can no longer fight a campaign in which they no longer believe.
And yet they didn't get the perspective of the terrorists who killed their comrades?!? Does FAIR know about this?!?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:47 AM [+] ::
Did you see what I just saw?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:51 PM [+] ::
Oruzgan Update. The Times of London is reporting on a draft UN report alleging serious human rights violations, including an effort to destory evidence, in its July 1 raid that killed dozens of noncombatants, including a wedding party:
A preliminary UN investigation has found no corroboration of American claims that its aircraft were fired on from the ground, and says there were discrepancies in US accounts of what happened.
If the findings are upheld by a second, more detailed, UN investigation, they will cause huge embarrassment to the Pentagon.
UN sources said that the findings pointed to an American cover-up, and suggested that American investigators were dragging their feet hoping that the issue would pass.
The draft report alleges that ground forces removed “shrapnel, bullets and traces of blood” from the area, and tied up women in the area. This should come as no surprise, as locals gave very similar accounts to AFP reporters, who also accepted it without question. And as I've said before, the possibility that this is due to the strong support of the Taliban in the area (as was accepted as common knowledge last fall) should at the very least be entertained and examined.
It has not. The Times story repeats the standard line that any hostility experienced by U.S. forces in the area was "fuelled" by their own actions.
But as skeptical as I am of these Zaeefesquereports, they should be investigated fully - fully being the operative word here.
In a prepared statement last night a UN spokesman in Afghanistan said that the report contained judgments that were not sufficiently substantiated, and that a comprehensive report was being finalised that would provide a more detailed and accurate picture.
This qualifying information, of course, was not deemed important enough to be mentioned in the lede.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:42 PM [+] ::
In other news ... Part III of my dissection of Mike Ruppert's Conspiracy Timeline is up, on Ye Olde Conspiracy Blog.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 4:26 PM [+] ::
In a Class by Himself.
:: Saturday, July 27, 2002 ::
Today, the best shortstop who ever lived will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, not on the strengths of his bat, but for consistently making the laws of physics his bitch ...
The second play, on Aug. 4, 1986, in Busch Stadium, was, if anything, even more acrobatic. With runners on first and second and the score tied 2-2 in the top of the ninth inning, Philadelphia's Von Hayes lofted a blooper to short leftfield that looked as if it would drop between Smith and leftfielder Curt Ford for a run-scoring hit. The two Cardinals converged, and each, unaware of the proximity of the other, dived for the ball. A disastrous midair, head-on collision seemed imminent.
Cardinal manager Whitey Herzog had a terrible vision of his All-Star shortstop lying inert on the carpet as the ball rolled unimpeded to the fence while two runs scored. But no. In midflight Smith somehow redirected himself away from the hurtling Ford and, stretched prone with his feet toward the infield, reached out and caught the ball. "That was one of the best, if not the best play, I've ever seen," Phillies manager John Felske said afterward. For good measure, Smith scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth on Terry Pendleton's squeeze bunt.
I consider myself blessed for having been in attendance at Busch stadium that day. And I have to say that play alone warranted his induction, even if other baseball fans will remember him more for this:
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:35 PM [+] ::
Dude, you don't know what IRONY means! Damian Penny excavated this google cache of an old piece by Arab News editor (and Daily Wankerreject) John Bradley:
How ironic it is that if English is one’s native language, the only way to keep oneself decently informed about what’s going on in the world today is to read the best English-language newspapers that appear outside the English-speaking world. A regular reader of Dawn in Pakistan, Arab News in Saudi Arabia, Al-Ahram Weekly in Egypt and the Times of India would merely giggle derisively if they stumbled upon a Friedman column, whatever that reader’s politics may be. This is because he will have been exposed to a variety of dissenting, principled and objective perspectives, and will probably have experienced first-hand the complex, intense reality so painfully absent in the columns of writers who have gotten blind drunk on the idea of being the defenders of “freedom of expression”.
I've read something like that before, but can't remember where. Hmm ... where was it?
"I have avoided granting greater reliability to U.S. or British sources -- the ethnocentric bias."
I'm speechless. Absolutely speechless.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:10 PM [+] ::
Frivolous Lawsuit Watch
:: Friday, July 26, 2002 ::
"Humiliation Alleged in Delta Suit"
CLEARWATER, Fla. –– A woman who says she was pulled off an airplane and asked to take a sex toy out of her luggage after it started vibrating is suing Delta Air Lines, saying she was publicly humiliated.
Renee Koutsouradis, 36, said she was with her husband awaiting takeoff from Dallas in February when her name was called over the loudspeaker.
She said she was met by a Delta security agent who told her something was vibrating in one of her bags. She said she explained it was an adult toy that she and her husband had just bought on a trip to Las Vegas.
I don't see a problem, as long as the agents referred to it as "a dildo," and not ... "your dildo."
:: COINTELPRO Tool 7:59 PM [+] ::
Media Research Center Stupidity Watch MRC is in a tizzy because NBC Nightly News ran a two-minute story last week on convicted felon (and formerDemocrat) James Traficant without " even once listing the Democratic Party affiliation of Traficant."
Even more egregiously, CNN’s Aaron Brown had the audacity to call Traficant an "independent."
The reason the Liberal Biased media would do such a thing is:
A) Traficant had long been disowned by the Democratic party and was stripped of all his committee assignments by the Democrats after voting for Hastert as Speaker …
B) He filed for reelection in this Ohio district as an Independent on May 7.
C) It was part of a conscious and concerted effort to disassociate the label "Democrat" from an embarrassing figure, to ensure they retake the House this November.
Get a friggin’ life, already!
(Via TV's Henry)
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:36 PM [+] ::
And Brendan O'Neill Takes the Gold!!!
"UK MAKES 'MOANING' ITS NATIONAL SPORT"
Mr Cabourn went on to introduce his squad of world class whiners, which included columnists from the tabloid papers, the board of Consumer Association and the presenters from the major radio and television lifestyle programmes. However, following the introduction, Radio 4's "You and yours" presenter Peter White condemned the training facilities offered by the Government and claimed that the prices from the vending machine in the changing room were an example of "rip-off Britain" and should be subject to regulation. Richard Littlejohn agreed adding that the "tight and revealing ladies costumes" were a "national scandal" and that those responsible for their design should be strung-up, although cautioning that "hanging was too good for 'em." "You see?" said a delighted Mr Cabourn. "With a squad of this talent we can't lose."
Robert Fisk will not be selected for Britain's Olympic squad, as they will restrict it to amateurs only. (Via Cracker Barrel Philosopher - yeah, I stayed a while)
:: COINTELPRO Tool 7:16 PM [+] ::
Corrections, Retractions, and Shameless Back-pedaling. In a previous post, COINTELPRO Tool jeered at reports that perpetual fact-checking victim Ted Rall has had sexual relations with over 70 women. This was, in retrospect, unfair, not to mention cruel. The possibility that Ted Rall could have found so many women who were not repulsed by his touch should not have been rejected out of hand, considering that he could have been referring to 70 of these luscious coquettes:
COINTELPRO Tool regrets the error, as well as the poor choice of comedic devices. (Hot mama via Cracker Barrel Philosopher)
:: COINTELPRO Tool 6:50 PM [+] ::
Welcome back, Eric! The CounterRevolutionary is back from his hiatus, with a fist full o' Chomsky fiskin's.
:: Thursday, July 25, 2002 ::
:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:23 PM [+] ::
Sailors are Marine Mammals, too. Michelle Malkin has an decent piece on the difficulties faced by the U.S. Navy in ensuring its units get training that is reasonable, when some of the environmental laws that govern the training are anything but. Her rhetoric about environmental activists being allies of Usama bin Laden is over the top, but she nonetheless exposes the inaccuracy of the oft-repeated claim that the military is looking for blanket "exemptions" from laws such as the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Earlier this year, the Navy and Defense Department asked Congress to amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The federal law was passed in 1972 to protect ocean life. But its poor wording and ridiculously broad standards undermine our armed forces and endanger national security. The law bars any and all "harassment" of marine mammals -- including "any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance" which might have "the potential to injure" or "the potential to disturb" a marine mammal or marine mammal stock.
This murky language means that the Navy can't make a single splash without worrying whether some eco-extremist group will sue them for flipping out Flipper or stressing out the seaweed. Taken literally, one Navy official points out, the law could classify the wake from a naval vessel as a harassing force if it simply caused a seal sleeping on a buoy to dive into the water.
Even the former Clinton administration saw the litigious havoc the law could wreak on military operations, and along with several government agencies and the independent National Research Council, supported a statutory change requiring that the injury or disturbance to marine mammals be deemed "significant." But Congress, pressured by environmental and ocean advocacy groups, refuses to amend the language. The House is set to reauthorize the Marine Mammal Protection Act this week without the military's requested change.
Malkin also mentions the hysterical opposition by environmentalists to the Navy's Low Frequency Active (LFA) sonar system, designed as an early-warning detection system against today's quieter diesel submarines. I could have covered this issue much better myself, and I think I will ...
Given the volume and pitch of the opposition to the sonar, one would think that they have the scientific community and the preponderance of available research on their side. They do not. The Navy invited the very best experts in the field of bioacoustics to participate in its Scientific Research Program (SRP), which supported the recommendations of the Navy's EIS for the program. Scientists like Peter Tyack, of MIT's Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Cornell University's Christopher Clark, and Kurt Fristrup, also of Cornell, all participated in the Navy's research to arrive at a reasonable estimate of the effects the system would have on baleen whales (which hear and communicate in the same frequency range), research that environmentalists attempted to stop through lawsuits.
Why would they oppose even thestudy of the effects of LFA? Could it be that their opposition is rooted in Luddite ignorance, and they intensely feared what the research might demonstrate?
Their fears were well-founded, as the research has not supported their predictions of mass whale slaughter at all. Nevertheless, some opponents shamelessly went on to declare that the research, which they had tried to stop from being conducted, was "insufficient."
They also attempted to refute the findings with their own concurrent "observations" (I use the scare quotes becacause they used no scientific methodology at all) of whale behavior during some the Navy's tests, and claimed the "sonar tests disrupted the mother-calf bond, decreased vocalization rates, caused changes in migration routes, and strandings," and that all this "was ignored in the Navy's draft Environmental Impact Statement." This is also a lie, as their accusations were directly addressed in the EIS by Fristrup, who noted that the behavioral changes observed by the activists had actually occured on days that the sonar was not being transmitted (to ensure the integrity of the study, the Navy did not tell the researchers when the sonar was being transmitted until after their observations were recorded).
An interesting example of the abuse of scientific priniciples employed by these same opponents was their observation of increased whale calf breachings during the testing. As Fristrup also noted, these observations failed to take any control group into account, and that his own observations, which actually followed the basic rules of empirical research, showed that such breachings were more frequent in their "control observations" (i.e., without the sonar transmissions) than on the days the activist researchers claimed to have observed these "spikes." [Tab F of Appendix C (pp. 660-663) of the EIS]
The bottom line is that the most respected authorities in the field are solidly supportive of the Navy's position, while the opponents can only claim the support of doctrinaire extremists who have no standing in the scientific community.
Much has been made of the March 2000 mass stranding of Cuvier beaked whales in the Providence Channel in the Bahamas. The argument has been put forth that becaseu that incident involved sonars that were far less powreful than LFA, and resulted in the injury, disorientation, and stranding of several beaked whales, the SURTASS LFA would surely do far greater damage. This has been largely bought by the media, who have been alarmingly ignorant in their reporting.
First, the tactical sonars involved in the Bahamas stranding were nothing new. They've been used by the Navy since World War I, and coincidental marine mammal strandings have been extremely rare. Also, the comparison of these sonars to LFA is like comparing apples to oranges. First, LFA's frequency range (100-50 Hz) is roughly one-tenth of the standard tactical sonars (3-7 KHz), and by all accounts, well out of the auditory range of beaked whales, which are the most succeptible to such strandings. The geography of that incident must also be taken into account. The Providence Channel exercise involved heavy sonar saturation (it was a "chokepoint" exercise, designed to test the ships' ability to handle submarines that can pop up on you at close range around land formations) in littoral waters. Incidently, it also involved Navy use of unfamiliar surroundings, caused ironically enough by the civil unrest in Vieques, which completely deprived the Navy of its training ranges there.
SURTASS LFA is intended as an early warning system, used in the open ocean, and the EIS expressedly restricts its use close to coastlines, where marine mammals might not be able to avoid the source. The Navy is has taken separate steps to avoid future incidents with its tactical sonars, and none of the legislative relief the Pentagon requested would have changed that. Moreover, the Navy should be given a great deal of credit for enhancing mankind's knowledge about underwater sound propagation and bioacoustics, for without the research it has funded, we wouldn't even be having this discussion.
Laura Crane, asks, "Can't they find a way to locate secret submarines without hurting these funny creatures?" No, they can't.
Opponents have tried to argue that passive sonar technology (i.e., just listening, without sending out pulses and listenig for their echoes) is sufficient to locate even the quietest subs. This is complete nonsense. Passive sonar is certainly valuable and, in certain tactical situations, is preferable to sending out any emissions that might betray your own location. But passive sonar really only effective when the target object is actively emitting sounds itself. When they don't, there's simply no other option than to bounce sound waves off its hull. Period.
Because LFA operates at a far lower frequency than traditional sonars, it's detection range increases exponentially. This is vital to protecting our Sailors, as engaging a submarine is one of the most difficult Naval tactics imaginable, and detecting a hostile sub at 50 miles instead of 5000 yards can be the difference between life and death. The idea that we would take this technology completely off the table, without even trying to use it in an environmentally responsible manner, is unconscionable.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 5:43 PM [+] ::
War's dirty little secret. A parting shot on the Heavy Human Toll taken by the Afghan air campaign ...
:: Wednesday, July 24, 2002 ::
It seems to me that what really bothers people like Marla Ruzicka and Marc Herold is not the raw numbers of civilians killed in the war, but how many there were in comparison to American service members killed. Their rhetoric suggests that it’s somehow unsportsmanlike to resort to air power, putting civilians at greater risk than your own troops. I would even wager that they would have been happier if more Afghan civilians had been killed, so long as there were more Americans coming home in body bags as well.
As I’ve said before the presumption that ground forces can perform military operations in a more antiseptic manner than bombers is false – even in the short term, and especially in the long term.
But even the premise of the argument is false. I do agree that we should do everything in our power to limit civilian casualties, and we’ve done exactly that. But the notion that we should go so far as to put our troops at a greater risk of being shot, to avoid harming the innocents used by our enemies as cover is nonsense. Even Eric Alterman knows that.
This does not mean, as certain pinheads might suggest, that we should arrogantly place a higher value on an American soldier’s life than on an Afghan mother-of-seven’s. But message to Garcia: combatant casualties have a far greater impact on the outcome of individual battles and, by extension, the war itself, than do civilian losses. That’s the dirty little secret about war. It sucks, but that’s the way it is.
War is not a fucking sport. It’s killing people. It should only be done when necessary, but when it has to be done, the goal of winning as quickly as possible should receive primacy. Everything else falls under the "ought implies can" jurisdiction. Fairness and silly bushido codes are counterproductive, to put it diplomatically. You don’t count ten paces , and you shoot your enemy in the back if he tries to run away. No white flag, no cease fire.
As callous as this sounds, it’s the best thing you can do for civilian populations, barring not going to war at all. Sure, we could have deployed Mogadishu-style (or maybe IDF’s siege of Jenin would be a better example) snatch teams in lieu of JDAM’s and Spectre gunships, and the Afghan civilian/American GI casualty ratio would have been much more to Global Exchange’s liking.
But the war would have dragged on much longer, and in the end, far more Afghan noncombatants would have been killed. I have no doubts about that.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:37 PM [+] ::
How about chaotically successful? Time for some dueling headlines ...
"Report Calls Response At Pentagon Successful"
Firefighters had trouble communicating and too many rescue workers flooded the Pentagon with no supervision, but Arlington fire officials led a successful operation after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, according to an independent federal report released yesterday.
County fire officials took control of the chaotic situation less than four minutes after American Airlines Flight 77 plowed into the west side of the building at 9:38 a.m., and many of their actions during their 10 days at the helm should be a model for the nation, the report said.
And in this corner, wearing piss-stained trunks ...
"Study Calls Rescue At Pentagon Chaotic"NYT
The rescue response to the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon was plagued by communication lapses and poor organization among local rescue workers, a study has concluded.
The study, commissioned by Arlington County, Va., where the Pentagon is, and paid for by the Justice Department, found that unsolicited help only made the situation more complicated and dangerous for dispatched rescuers.
There were numerous communications problems, too, because phone signals were jammed, and as a result, patients were transported to hospitals in an unorganized manner.
There was also a lack of supplies to deal with such a large attack, the report found, and not enough emergency medical equipment like batteries and breathing apparatus.
Arlington County, which is also home to Reagan National Airport, has had an emergency attack plan since 1995, but Sept. 11 was the first time it was put to the test.
"This is what we were prepared for and these are challenges we could have overcome," said Dana Williams, an Arlington County spokeswoman. "If something like this was to happen again, we would be better prepared."
For once, advantage goes to the Washington Post. But hey, they did have a homecourt advantage ...
NYT's story was unattributed - can't say I blame them. I wouldn't put my name on it, either.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 5:35 PM [+] ::
Oceania, in reverse. Do not be alarmed, Bruce, this does not refer to a shift in your plate tectonic, but rather to the Memory Hole subtext of the shoddy reporting of recent events in Afghanistan.
In addition to the peculiar calculus reporters have used in judging the war’s "heavy toll" on noncombatants, there has also been the insinuation that we are making enemies of friends, as this Times of London story, headlined "US Faces Backlash Over Wedding Attack," suggests:
THE slow progress of the US investigation into the bombing of an Afghan village that killed more than 40 guests at a wedding party is provoking a dangerous backlash against American forces in that country.
One senior Afghan commander whose men witnessed that disaster told The Times that the US forces sent into the region were "brutal and cowardly" and his men would no longer co-operate in joint operations.
An American soldier was shot in the southern city of Kandahar while on patrol only days after the air attack and now the few troops who venture into the streets are insulted by passers-by.
The Americans still refuse to admit their mistake. Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, has inflamed tensions by describing how he watched a night-time video of anti-aircraft guns firing at US Air Force gunships at the time of the July 1 attack on the village of Kakarak.[24 July, registration req’d]
The statement that we "still refuse to admit" our mistake, of course, begs the question. Rumsfeld reiterated that we may have been mistaken in our targeting of Taliban and/or al-Qaeda AAA batteries in the area, bu that if there was an error, it was the fault of the troops on the ground, and not due to "bad intelligence," as has been repeatedly assumed:
But with respect to the second part of your question on information, I believe, in terms of the speculation in the press that information from some Afghan sources might be inaccurate -- consciously inaccurate is, I think, the implication of your question. Is that right?
Q: Yes, well, that's the implication of the article.
Rumsfeld: Right. And the idea being that some local faction in Afghanistan would tell either other Afghan forces or U.S. forces or coalition forces that an al Qaeda or Taliban were located someplace, and in fact, it wasn't, it was the enemy of those local Afghan forces that was located there, not necessarily Taliban or al Qaeda. I know of no instance where that's happened. I have seen the speculation in the press. The most recent instance, where it was widely circulated in the press that that had happened, I have every reason to believe it had not happened, and that was in the most recent incident where we had people on the ground for a prolonged period that were there with eyes on targets and saw anti-aircraft and targeted those, and it was not some rival warlord turning U.S. forces against one of their rival warlord enemies. So if a mistake was made, a mistake was made, but it was made with our people on the ground with eyes on the target.
Also from that briefing…
Q: And just a brief follow up. You still believe this is an extremely accurate air campaign from the very beginning?
Rumsfeld: I think there's probably no question but that the air campaign has had greater precision and less collateral damage probably than any air campaign in history.
Myers: If I could add something to that. The BBC report, I guess there was one yesterday, where they were quoting a spokesman for Afghan President Karzai, and the lead was, "Afghanistan has rejected criticism that the American military strategy and poor intelligence have led to heavy civilian casualties in country," and went on to say that the Afghans and Americans are fighting the same war against terrorism. And so, I think the government there has it exactly right.
Rumsfeld: I don't want to have anything I said in any way leave the implication that the loss of a single civilian life is not a tragic thing. It is. And it is something that everybody involved is working to try to avoid, and given a realistic view of history, I guess it's not really avoid, but try to reduce and minimize.
Good enough for me.
The presumption in the Times’ article is that our mistake seems to have been thinking that there were al-Qaeda or Taliban militias in the area at all – that this was bad intel fed to us by others with an ulterior motive, but that is nonsense.
Late last year, Oruzgan was described many times as a "Taliban stronghold." Now that the Taliban have been scattered to the wind, Oruzgan has been officially rehabilitated – it was never a hotbed of Taliban sympathy. Claims by locals that there are no Taliban here are accepted without question, and any hostility our troops may encounter has to be the result of our own blunders.
Certainly, ridiculous reports from the ground such as this one, no matter how much they may mimic the Taliban propaganda from last fall, are also the result of our own actions, and should not be taken as an indication that we may have been on a legitimate pursuit, or that there were legitimate military targets operating among the civilians killed on July 1.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:17 PM [+] ::
McKinney Watch Update. Here is an e-mailed dispatch from the Gentlelady from Georgia's 4th, of her dissent on the War on Terrorism Supplemental (DERF), offered in its entirety, and without comment:
Dissent of Rep. Cynthia McKinney
To House Armed Services Committee Consideration of H.R. 4547
The Costs of War Against Terrorism Act
July 22, 2002
The attacks of September 11th, 2001 caused significant changes throughout our society. For our military services, this included increased force protection, greater security, and of course the deployment to and prosecution of the War on Terrorism in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Sadly, one of the first acts of our President was to waive the high deployment overtime pay of our servicemen and women who are serving on the front lines of our new War. The Navy estimates that the first year costs of this pay would equal about 40 cruise missiles. The total cost of this overtime pay may only equal about 300 cruise missiles, yet this Administration said it would cost too much to pay our young men and women what the Congress and the previous Administration had promised them.
In another ironic twist, the War on Terrorism has the potential to bring the US military into American life as never before. A Northern Command has been created to manage the military's activity within the continental United States. Operation Noble Eagle saw combat aircraft patrolling the air above major metropolitan areas, and our airports are only now being relieved of National Guard security forces. Moreover, there is a growing concern that the military will be used domestically, within our borders, with intelligence and law enforcement mandates as some now call for a review of the Posse Comitatus Act prohibitions on military activity within our country.
In the 1960s, the lines between illegal intelligence, law enforcement and military practices became blurred as Americans wanting to make America a better place for all were targeted and attacked for political beliefs and political behavior. Under the cloak of the Cold War, military intelligence was used for domestic purposes to conduct surveillance on civil rights, social equity, antiwar, and other activists. In the case of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Operation Lantern Spike involved military intelligence covertly operating a surveillance operation of the civil rights leader up to the time of his assassination. In a period of two months, recently declassified documents on Operation Lantern Spike indicate that 240 military personnel were assigned in the two months of March and April to conduct surveillance on Dr. King. The documents further reveal that 16,900 man-hours were spent on this assignment. Dr. King had done nothing more than call for black suffrage, an end to black poverty, and an end to the Vietnam War. Dr. King was the lantern of justice for America: spreading light on issues the Administration should have been addressing. On April 4, 1968, Dr. King's valuable point of light was snuffed out. The documents I have submitted for the record outline the illegal activities of the FBI and its CoIntelPro program. A 1967 memo from J. Edgar Hoover to 22 FBI field offices outlined the COINTELPRO program well: "The purpose of this new counterintelligence endeavor is to expose, disrupt, misdirect, or otherwise neutralize" black activist leaders and organizations.
As a result of the Church Committee hearings, we later learned that the FBI and other government authorities were conducting black bag operations that included illegally breaking and entering private homes to collect information on individuals. FBI activities included "bad jacketing," or falsely accusing individuals of collaboration with the authorities. It included the use of paid informants to set up on false charges targeted individuals. And it resulted in the murder of some individuals. Geronimo Pratt Ji Jaga spent 27 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. And in COINTELPRO documents subsequently released, we learn that Fred Hampton was murdered in his bed while his pregnant wife slept next to him after a paid informant slipped drugs in his drink.
Needless to say, such operations were well outside the bounds of what normal citizens would believe to be the role of the military, and the Senate investigations conducted by Senator Frank Church found that to be true. Though the United States was fighting the spread of communism in the face of the Cold War, the domestic use of intelligence and military assets against its own civilians was unfortunately reminiscent of the police state built up by the Communists we were fighting.
We must be certain that the War on Terrorism does not threaten our liberties again. Amendments to H.R. 4547, the Costs of War Against Terrorism Act, that would increase the role of drug interdiction task forces to include counter intelligence, and that would increase the military intelligence's ability to conduct electronic and financial investigations, can be the first steps towards a return to the abuses of constitutional rights during the Cold War. Further, this bill includes nearly $2 billion in additional funds for intelligence accounts. When taken into account with the extra-judicial incarceration of thousands of immigration violators, the transfer of prisoners from law enforcement custody to military custody, and the consideration of a 'volunteer' terrorism tip program, America must stand up and protect itself from the threat not only of terrorism, but of a police state of its own.
There does exist a need to increase personnel pay accounts, replenish operations and maintenance accounts and replace lost equipment. The military has an appropriate role in protecting the United States from foreign threats, and should remain dedicated to preparing for those threats. Domestic uses of the military have long been prohibited for good reason, and the same should continue to apply to all military functions, especially any and all military intelligence and surveillance. Congress and the Administration must be increasingly vigilant towards the protection of and adherence to our constitutional rights and privileges. For, if we win the war on terrorism, but create a police state in the process, what have we won?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:48 PM [+] ::
Say hello to my little friend!
:: Tuesday, July 23, 2002 ::
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:34 AM [+] ::
Indymedia Funny Money Now this is just priceless!!
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:49 PM [+] ::
Two words: PROJECTILE VOMIT.
Yeah, the doughy-faced losers at my alma mater got all the chicks, too. But in the grand scheme of things, this is about as believable as anything else he's ever said.
Uh, Jim, what were you doing reading Marie Claire?
P.S FREE DIRTY DANNY!
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:00 PM [+] ::
OK, so when is this asshole going to die?
White supremacist William Pierce is dead. Pretty cool, huh?
I first heard the news from Damian Penny.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:48 PM [+] ::
My name is Ted. And one day, I'll be dead, yo yo ...
I was lucky enough to score tickets to this evening's taping of CNN's Crossfire, so I go to see the tape in a live studio audience, with Paul & Tucker - and just as an aside, I have to admit to being completely shocked at discovering that Tucker Carlson is not the least bit pudgy in person.
He just has a really huge head.
And although I didn't get to see the tape any earlier than the rest of you, I did get to see Begala and Carlson's reactions, as they previewed Sharpton's impersonation of John Delorean minutes before it aired live (they watched it through a teleprompter, so none of us in the audience could see it).
They both sat there, jaws agape, until Carlson finally said, "Oh, he's done."
I don't know. I thought it was pretty funny.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:11 PM [+] ::
Corrections, Retractions, Ass-coverings. In a recent post, COINTELPRO Tool analyzed the coverage of Global Exchange's study of noncombatant victims of the U.S. air campaign in Afghanistan. That analysis accepted the presumption that Global Exchange, and its spokesperson, Marla Ruzicka , were impartial relief agency observers as fact, and treated their statements accordingly. COINTELPRO Tool regrets the error.
:: Monday, July 22, 2002 ::
In another recent post, COINTELPRO Tool inaccurately identified blogger Andrew Northrup as the "former Wu-Tang Clan front man." Northrup is actually a graduate student at the University of Texas, Boston native and Red Sox fan, with no known association with the rap group. COINTELPRO Tool regrets the error.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:58 AM [+] ::
Fox News Hypocrisy Watch. What else can you call it when Tony Snow derides the other news networks (the ones that haven't figured out that objectivity in reporting consists solely of putting a Fair and Balanced label at the beginning of each story) for misplacing adjectives in their description of Right-wing legal watchdog Larry Klayman's Judicial Watch, when his own network refuses to even give him the time of day:
:: Sunday, July 21, 2002 ::
But Klayman has a bone to pick: "Fox hasn't given us much coverage the last year and a half. They're playing to the conservative audience. I have in effect been boycotted off the network. . . . For Fox to be playing this game is, in my view, hypocritical for a network that claims to be fair and balanced."
Brit Hume, Fox News's Washington managing editor, says that "we don't have a flat-out policy against him. But he has not been regarded as a major news figure for a very long time. . . . We've treated everything Larry Klayman has done on a case-by-case basis."
Klayman was miffed when Hume began an on-air discussion of the lawsuit against Cheney by saying that the activist "never got much coverage when he was going after Bill Clinton." Mara Liasson of National Public Radio added that "he's a true gadfly, as in 'pest.' . . . I think he should be denounced, in bipartisan fashion." Days later, "Fox News Sunday" host Tony Snow said Klayman had gone "from hack to watchdog" in the media's eyes.
As I've said before, the insinuation that the Conservative label that has been put on Judicial Watch was meant as an insult is, at the very least, paranoid. It also ignores the obvious fact that Judicial Watch is, in fact, a Conservative organization.
This is not to say that Klayman's organization was not dismissed as an annoyance during the Clinton years. It was, and deservedly so. But this probably had just a little bit more to do with the conspiracy theorizing and downright looniness that marked their frivolous lawsuits against the former president, which included (but were not limited to) keeping the Vince Foster murder rumors alive, and alleging that they willfully conspired against a Navy Intel officer on behalf of Russian spies.
I'm waiting for someone to say with a straight face that those suits merited more serious attention from the mainstream news media than his suit regarding accounting practices at Halyburton. But I won't hold my breath.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:23 PM [+] ::
TV worth staying up all night for. Former Wu-Tang Clan front man Andrew Northrup has posted tomorrow's Cinemax listings:
6AM -- Supreme Vengeance II: Revenge of the Heart (1989, 107 min.)
When neo-Nazi drug dealers take his wife and daughter hostage in the jungles of Peru, Dr. Jack Vengeance (Gary Busey) will stop at nothing to save them. But will a mysterious bounty hunter (Xuxa) lead him to his family ... or into dangerous temptation? With William Hurt as Peruvian President Augustus Hart.
Who needs sleep anyway?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 5:14 PM [+] ::
Several Oceanian bloggers, including Bruce Hill and the approprately-named Whacking Day (as in, "any day that ends with the letter Y"), are agog over this video by the Russian teen pop duo t.a.T.u. Girls, that has just about everything a guy could want: Lesbian kissing, rain-soaked schoolgirl uniforms ... everything but decent music, that is.
Now t.A.T.u's tempestuous teens are readying to conquer America. Just don't expect very close friends and flirtatious Julia and Lena to tone down their bold, fearless sense of freedom.
"Our songs are not silly," says Lena. "t.A.T.u is more sincere, more honest about ourselves and others. We don't shape ourselves for the audience. In Russia, life is not polite. If we don't like something, we say we don't like it. If we don't agree, we say 'fuck you.'"
What's that you say? A mere marketing gimick? The English version of their hit song "All the Things She Said" was produced by none other than Trevor Horn, so you know they're all about the artistic integrity.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 4:25 PM [+] ::
Why relief workers make lousy war strategists. Both the New York Times and BBC have picked up on the Global Exchange assessment originally reported by UPI's Pam Hess. They both interpret the report, which estimates civilian casualties to be lower than anyone could ever have expected, as some kind of damning expose of a failed military campaign. Quoting the poster child for the inflated numbers, BBC's story almost parodies itself:
Professor Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire said his research of news agencies, major newspapers and first hand accounts had yielded a death toll of almost 4,000 people.
Even in January, he described the estimated as "very, very conservative".
Why wouldn't he? Ted Rall even said so. BBC's story, headlined "US Condemned for Afghan Blunders," quotes Afghan officials as regarding the civilian casualties to be quite low, considering the scope of the military campaign. Their perspective is perhaps been warped by unmitigated slaughter they have experienced during the last two decades, but the Global Exchange activists are able to give a more lucid perspective. They even offer some pointers to the military planners on how bombing campaigns are supposed to be conducted:
Marla Ruzicka, a Global Exchange field worker in Afghanistan, said the most common factor in the civilian deaths had been an American reliance on incomplete information to decide on targets.
"Smart bombs are only as smart as people on the ground," Ms. Ruzicka said. "Before you bomb, you should be 100 percent certain of who you are bombing."
All but forgotten is the exhaustive evidence of the Taliban using civilian populations as shields. Even as U.S. forces were attacked numerous times in Oruzgan after the July 1 incident, these attacks were cited as proof of the bad blood sowed by our bombing errors. The possibility that the attacks just might prove that the Pentagon was right - that there were al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the area all along, and that they had, yet again, took pot-shots against U.S. forces from behind human shields - has not even been considered.
Had we followed the Global Exchange playbook in the Afghan War, we might still be bombing those civilian populations today, having allowed the Taliban to regroup during the respite we gave them during Ramadan, and to prevent the unprecedented humanitarian crisis that would have ensued if we continued bombing until winter, halting aid shipments to desperate refugees.
The quick, decisive routing of the Taliban forces from their urban strongholds surely had nothing to do with the susbsequent shift of the military campaign to places like Tora Bora and Shah-i-Kot after November, away from places like Kandahar, Konduz, and Kabul.
A good example of what happens when you try to fight a battle humanely is what happened in Mogadishu in 1993. We could have used the same AC-130 Fire & Brimstone machines that caused the tragic deaths in Oruzgan three weeks ago, but decided to stick with ground forces and relatively light air support - what ICRC would recommend, had they been in charge of the operation.
The result was well over 1,000 dead Somali noncombatants, in the space of about 16 hours. I try to remember that whenever I hear accusations about "overkill" and an "over-reliance on air power," when ground forces would result in fewer civilian deaths.
We acted quickly and decisively in Afghanistan, for once. And from a humanitarian perspective, that was the best thing we could have done for the Afghan people.
UPDATE: Stuart Buck has a great take on the Glogal Exchange study:
The New York Times' prominent treatment of an article on civilian casualties in Afghanistan makes me want to ask: Has there ever been another war in history where civilian casualties were so few that journalists could track down virtually all of them individually? Civilian casualties are a tragedy, to be sure, but all wars have them, and most wars have them to a much greater extent.
Doubtful. But had there been such a war in history, NYT would surely have written about it with words like "military blunders" and "flawed tactics." Stuart also makes an interesting argument on the "availability heuristic" - the phenomenon by which certain events are considered to be more prevalent or likely when concrete examples are provided, regardless of statistics.
UPDATE II: BBC has updated its story, to emphasize the Afghan government's rejection of the assertion that air campaign took a "large civilian toll."
:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:02 PM [+] ::
The hell you say!
:: Saturday, July 20, 2002 ::
What Was Your PastLife?
Okay, that does it, I am so done with these moronic and highly inaccurate online personality profile thingies.
Court Jester. Yer momma.
(via Hot Buttered Death)
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:56 AM [+] ::
"Insane Rubbish." Michael Moynihan recently reposted his expose on our planet's 2nd moon, Hussein Ibish, for those of us who missed it the first time. Moynihan had long suffered his intensely anti-American rantings when they both attended UMASS, which makes him uncomonly qualified to deliver the dirt.
In addition to accusing the U.S. of a "quiet genocide" in Iraq (in a piece nauseatingly entitled "Crises in Iraq, part two: When never again is right now"), he often scoffed at "he preposterous claims that Iraq has a serious chemical and biological weapons program."
The U.N. Inspection team, led by the uncouth Australian Richard Butler, have listed the most basic Iraqi industries as "dual use" facilities, meaning that under certain conditions they could be used to make something suspect. So much for vaccine labs and fertilizer factories, so much for 20th century technology in Iraq, so much for rebuilding.
The western media have swallowed the ludicrous "Iraqi weapons of mass destruction story" hook, line and sinker. After all, the Gulf War was the source of one of the most cynical and effective propaganda campaigns of all time. Fabricated tales of Iraqi brutality in Kuwait, most notoriously the legendary "babies thrown out of incubators" fairytales defined the debate, even in the U.S. Senate.
The New York Times has become so overwhelmed with hysteria that it described Saddam
Hussein in terms of "the threat that he represents to the biosphere, the envelope of air and water that he proposes to infest with pestilences that respect no political boundaries." As evidence the Times warns that Iraq could have access to anthrax. Perhaps we should inform Richard Butler and Madeline Albright that UMass Professor Curtis Thorne has been conducting anthrax research for the Pentagon over in Morrill Hall for years.
The rest of the world knows far better than to be fooled by this transparent propaganda. Even in nations which participated in the Gulf War and have little love for Saddam Hussein, both the horror of the sanctions genocide and the absurdity of the recent weapons allegations are increasing the sense that the U.S. has gone too far this time.
For example, Egypt's semi–official Al–Ahram newspaper scoffed at the ridiculous weapons allegations and pointed out that Butler and the American inspectors have been systematically "contriving disputes over extremely trivial details so as to prevent the U.N. inspection team from declaring its mission accomplished. The aim is to continue starving and besieging the Iraqi people in order to exclude them from the power equation in the Arab world, without the slightest regard for their human rights and under the banner of the United Nations."
If the United States decides to attack Iraq under these circumstances, it will only be shooting itself in the foot.
Why would anyone want this guy as their spokesman? Especially when their stated aim is to combat the negative portrayal of Muslim and Arab-Americans?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:34 PM [+] ::
I guess they haven't been "distracted."
:: Friday, July 19, 2002 ::
Josh Marshall provides the best argument for Army Secretary Thomas White not resigning:
If you're wondering if Tom White helped himself in his Senate testimony yesterday, the Army brass that works under him apparently isn't. White got a standing ovation from the hundred-odd officers present at this morning's staff briefing at the Army operations center. And it's little surprise.
Marshall, as well as his guest poster, Josh Green of Washington Monthly, go on to chalk this up to tactical mistakes, i.e., that the Democrats who grilled him failed to do their homework (Green even warned against using the California price-fixing accusation before the hearings, saying it was the one crime he didn't commit). But as I've said time and again, these blunders are far more strategic in nature.
The argument for White's stepping down has never had anything to do with his guilt or innocence, but that his Enron ties have become a "distraction," taking away from his ability to lead the department effectively, inspire confidence, and all that.
But it appears that despite the best efforts of Democrats and scandal-hungry editorial boards, it has not. This may have something to do with White being the first Army Secretary in a long time who actually fills his suit.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:13 AM [+] ::
Meryl Yourish, droppin' some dope rhymes.
My fiance (unless Bruce Hill wants to rochambeau me for her) penned a great limerick that pretty much sums up the angst of all of us blogger-squirrels (just tryin' to get a nut!), to the tune of "Frère Jacques."
Andrew Sullivan, Andrew Sullivan
Link to me! Link to me!
I'm not gay or right-wing
We don't have a damn thing
I tried to come up with one to the tune of "Allouette" myself, but quickly discovered that I have no rhyming skills to speak of.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:57 PM [+] ::
Ann Coulter, Unplugged.
Bryan Keefer's is the definitive dissection of Coulter's new book. But he followed up, perhaps in an attempt to appear "balanced" (me, I'd rather be right), by accusing her detractors of "descending to her level."
I guess he wouldn't appreciate the photo I posted above.
First, Keefer criticizes James Carville's sniping at her:
Notably, on CNN’s "Crossfire" on June 27, liberal co-host James Carville spent much of his time smearing Coulter with comments like "conservatives ramble and you’re rambling right now" and off-the-cuff dismissals such as "Well, I don’t care about your book." Carville also repeatedly asked insubstantial questions like "Is [National Review writer] Ramesh Ponnuru - is he a girly-boy or not?" and "[Pat] Robertson, is he a pathetic moderate?" Much to his credit, Carville’s conservative co-host Tucker Carlson tried to get Coulter to admit the asymmetry of her argument – to no avail.
I don't see what the problem is. It certainly doesn't surprise me that Carville wouldn't care about her book, and to say his line of questioning on Ponnuru and Robertson was "insubstantial" is both unfair and inaccurate.
Coulter's stock in trade is to create strawmen: caricatures of Liberals that are beyond belief, and slanderous in their own right. Jon Stewart, who handled her as deftly as anyone I've seen, even asked, "who are these people? Are they Canadians?" She has consistently failed to produce an individual who fits her own descriptions, and on Stewart's show, even played to his audience with a present-company-excluded wink (proving she's as spineless as she is full of shit).
Carville shrewdly layed a trap, trying to pin her down to ascribing the "girly-boy" and "pathetic moderate" labels - her own friggin' words - to real people. A fair point in my book.
Keefer also takes on Charles Taylor's review of Slander in Salon, for attempting to psychoanalyze Coulter, and using some vivid imagery, such as Coulter getting "her thong in a bunch."
First, Taylor's review, in addition to the colorful language, contains as much in the way of substantive arguments as Keefer's own critique, and he even concedes a few points to Coulter, namely the condescension in liberal rhetoric.
But even without that consideration, to equate Taylor's epithets with Coulter's viciousness is unfair. I can live with references to Coulter's thong (believe me!), just as I can live with Coulter's references to "pizza boxes, women's panties, and other detritus of the Caligula administration." Some of my favorite writers indulge in the same kind of insults, and though I try to eschew those tactics myself ...
Coulter's invective is not what makes her so despicable. It's her cavalier approach to facts, and her bigot's logic, as Keefer's critique exposed so well.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:34 PM [+] ::
Your World Frightens and Confuses Me.
Are you expecting me to spend eight hour or ten hour a day in front of a computer screen, having the room full of computer disk, where I should be provided with some kind of server where I can -- even today, if I were just to try to load the thing on the computer, it will take me until trial date to just load the different disk. You have provide me with the most aging computer. This is a farcical. This is a farce of justice.
Sorry, but this passage from Moussaoui's trial transcript reminded me of Phil Hartman's Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer for some reason.
(Via Tim Blair)
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:46 AM [+] ::
McKinney/MLK Jr. Conspiracy Update. The transcript of yesterday's DERF mark-up is up. McKinney's remarks appear far less damning than originally reported. She did not directly allege government foreknowledge of the assassination of Dr. King, but did say that there was intelligence "on that fateful day":
:: Thursday, July 18, 2002 ::
MCKINNEY: I have a memorandum that was recently declassified that talks about the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And in a two-month period, through Operation Lantern Spike, military intelligence devoted 240 personnel and 16,900 man-hours to surveillance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And I would certainly hope that nothing that we do in -- of course the operation was over when Dr. King was murdered.
I would certainly hope that there is nothing that we are doing in this committee that would allow us to revisit those days, those days of the counter-intelligence program. And I think what we're talking about is counter-intelligence programs. The victimization of American citizens who are innocent, all they wanted was to fight for a better America, is something that we must be vigilant against recurring and something that we should not allow to happen under our watch.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
STUMP: Mr. Reyes?
REYES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And I certainly share the concerns of my colleague, but I also want to assure her that nothing in this amendment allows for -- and I'm not familiar with whatever information she has on surveillance or counter-surveillance or anything associated with Dr. Martin Luther King. But nothing here in this amendment is intended to give military intelligence any kind of authority that would be in violation of Posse Comitatus.
MCKINNEY: I accept that and am happy to hear that. However the sad fact is that there are too many Americans who are unaware of the activities of our military intelligence with respect to surveillance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the presence of military intelligence on that fateful day.
STUMP: Mr. Skelton?
SKELTON: On a lighter note, and a question for Mr. Reyes, will this amendment help with the border problem between Missouri and Kansas?
REYES: Mr. Chairman, this was specifically designed to solve that problem.
The fact that MLK Jr. was a victim of Hoover's domestic spying is not news. And McKinney's remarks, though suggestive, did not directly allege foreknowledge. I would still like to view the contents of the memo she has entered into the record, to see the methods and substance of the intelligence gathered "on that fateful day."
I will remove the original post later today (after most of you get a chance to compare it with this follow-up information), as it unfairly overstates McKinney's assertions. My apologies for piquing interest prematurely.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:41 AM [+] ::
For a Free (Lunch) Press. John Pilger continues his shameless self-promotion and presumption that he is beyond any reproach in the pages of The New Statesman:
:: Wednesday, July 17, 2002 ::
On 4 July, the front page of the Daily Mirror was as powerful as any I have known, a tabloid at its best. George W Bush was flanked by a row of Stars and Stripes, chin up, eyes misted. "Mourn on the Fourth of July," said the banner headline. Above him were the words: "George W Bush's policy of bomb first and find out later has killed double the number of civilians who died on 11 September. The USA is now the world's leading rogue state."
The next day, Tom Shrager, a fund manager with the American investment company, Tweedy Browne, phoned Philip Graf, the chief executive of Trinity Mirror, to complain about the front page and the accompanying article, which I wrote. He reportedly "did not threaten" to sell his company's 4 per cent share of Trinity Mirror and "began by stating that he respected the concept of freedom of the press".
To Pilger, Freedom of the Press means freedom from criticism and censure. Shareholders - and readers - are not to complain about the product, even when it contains flagrant lies.
Don't like outrageous and insulting lies about the U.S. killing "double the number of civilians who died on September 11?" Tough. Pay up, bitch.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:45 PM [+] ::
I forgot to do something today ... what was it? Oh yeah, it was taking a whack at the French! Luckily, Bruce Hill provides some readily-available ordnance:
Paris - Inspired by the commercial success of the United States Army’s "Boot Camp" video game, the General Staff of the French Army has announced plans to market "Ultimate Surrender," a video game based upon the proud military traditions of the Gauls.
In the game we follow the exploits of Lucky Pierre, an apprentice garlic salesman from Marseilles, as he joins the French Army and begins a rigorous course of combat training. The First Level of the game is called "Survival School," and the players have to help Lucky Pierre survive 24 hours without red wine or crème brulé. The Second Level is "Capitulation," and the goal here is to see which player can have Lucky Pierre surrender the fastest without firing a shot or getting his uniform dirty. Level Three is "Collaboration." Here the players battle to see who can collect the largest numbers of pairs of nylon stockings and packages of chocolates by having Lucky Pierre perform sexual favors for members of the occupying forces. Level Four is "Be Ungrateful to America for Rescuing Your Sorry French Ass Once Again." In this extremely challenging part of the game contestants vie with one another to see who can make Lucky Pierre behave in the surliest manner when the United States inevitably comes to the rescue of the defeated French. The Final Level is "Pretending to Have Been in the Resistance." Here contestants compete in a battle of tall tales and whoppers as they try to protect Lucky Pierre from treason charges.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 4:34 PM [+] ::
Right back at ya, little man.
"Italian gets 10 years' jail for sex with street boys - Alain Filippo Berruti, 30, an Italian from Milan, gestures to the press as he waits for his court case to begin in Phnom Penh on July 16. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea"
Wonder if he'll still have that same twinkle in his eye after a few months in a Cambodian prison?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 2:00 PM [+] ::
Huh? Kaus has a point about the awkwardness of two op-ed pieces bashing the president over the Texas Rangers' stadium deal on the same day. But he does not have a point about the two columns cancelling each other out:
And it was useful that Paul Krugman and Nicholas Kristof both wrote the same column yesterday about Bush's 1990s Texas Ranger land deal, because the charges made by one columnist in part cancel out charges made by the other. Thus, if Bush "did a great job leading the owners' group" as it "bullied and misled the city into raising taxes to build a $200 million stadium," as Kristof alleges, then the extra money he got from his partners wasn't really an unjustifid "$12 million gift" (read "bribe") as Krugman implies. It was money his partners probably felt he'd earned. ...
He's being sarcastic here, right? Please tell me this was supposed to be sarcastic.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:24 PM [+] ::
Pure, unbridled stupidity. A recent Hoover Institution "Uncommon Knowledge" panel discussion pitted Dinesh D'Souza against the intellectually scleroted Gore Vidal, on the question of Why They
Want to BeHate Us. After D'Souza noted the intense desire to immigrate to the U.S., Vidal put his vintage 1970's erudition to work:
Gore Vidal: I certainly meant it and I'd love to know about all these people who want to come--who immigrate here. It's been a long time since a Norwegian has asked for a green card. People don't leave Europe for the United States. We get a lot of people from south of the border, particularly countries that we have destroyed as a rogue state--Guatemala, Nicaragua, Chile, we've had our heavy hands in their affairs, so we get a lot of refugees from south of the border. Also from Southeast Asia where we ran amok for some thirteen or fourteen years. Yes they try to come here and that's perhaps their revenge in a way. And but the first world countries do not regard us with anything except some irritability and at times fear.
He apparently remained oblivious throughout the discussion that this actually served to prove D'Souza'a point - that it is the Third World, who have borne the brunt of our "roguish" behavior, who aspire to be Americans the most, and not our fellow White Devils. But since he brought it up, there were 462 Norwegian immigrants to this country in 2000. In fact, Europe accounted for over 130,000 of the 850,000 legal immigrants from that year, compared to 44,731 from Africa, and 56,074 from South America.
And when D'Souza pointed out the hypocrisy of his arguments, Vidal actually turned nativist on him...
Peter Robinson: Now let me quote Dinesh to you: "The Islamic fundamentalists don't object to the excesses of American liberty alone, they object to liberty itself." We are an affront to their way of life.
Gore Vidal: I find generalities of this nature totally irrelevant to any discourse. You cannot generalize about Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, very--this is not a monolithic culture, Islam.
Dinesh D'Souza: You generalized about America.
Gore Vidal: Yes, because I'm an American and my family has been here a long time and helped invent the country.
Peter Robinson: All right. But you do have a phenomenon...
Gore Vidal: We invented Oklahoma. You can't be more American than that. A great musical came out…
Dinesh D'Souza: You just said you can't generalize about Indonesia. Why can you generalize about America?
Gore Vidal: I'm not going to generalize; you are generalizing about this humiliated culture.
And Vidal's upside-down moral absolutism didn't end there:
Dinesh D'Souza: Well was it a mistake to remake Germany after World War II?
Gore Vidal: The way we did it was a mistake. Wherever we went…
Peter Robinson: After the Second World War, Japan, Germany…
Gore Vidal: They are the two most politically corrupt countries, aside from the United States, in the world. Japan and Germany. Helmut Kohl has been caught taking money for his party and God knows what else he was doing. The Japanese system is totally bogged down in corruption, all due to constitutions that we gave them and ourselves as model. Henry James made a very good remark when we overwhelmed the Philippines and replaced Spanish rule with our rule and not allowed them to have their own country because we decided we'd keep the Philippines. He said, "I cannot see them benefiting from government by Tammany Hall."
Yes, the "humiliated cultures" of the world are so much better off with Hama than Tammany Hall.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:04 AM [+] ::
Oh, get over yourself! Australian nuke kook Helen Caldicott is personally taking credit for the end of the Cold War:
:: Sunday, July 14, 2002 ::
I think it's possible to end the nuclear age in five years. That might sound simplistic and maybe naive, but it's not. In the '80s we mobilised 80 percent of the Americans who opposed the nuclear arms race. It was really the second American revolution, I believe, because it led to the end of the Cold War.
Well, isn't that how we all remember it? (Via Tim Blair)
:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:01 AM [+] ::
Mona Baker Suicide Watch. The anti-Semitic U. of Manchester prof. who dismissed two subordinates for being Israeli is now fearing for her own job:
The decision prompted a wave of international condemnation and Prof Baker told The Telegraph yesterday: "I will almost certainly get the sack from UMIST now." Her action has been denounced both by Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, and Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist at Oxford University.
And that's not all. Her husband is beside himself with grief:
Ken Baker is sitting, head in hands, behind his desk at St Jerome Publishing, a small office tacked on to the side of his detached house in a leafy suburb in Manchester.
"It's not fair, we are just ordinary people," he says, the strain showing. "Neither of us has any real political allegiances, we have no religion, no creed, nothing at all. We just wanted to do something to highlight the atrocities in Palestine. Instead, my wife will probably lose her job and the media is vilifying us."
You can go ahead and put my picture in the dictionary under schadenfreude.
(Via Tim Blair)
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:52 AM [+] ::