:: The Fred Willard Fan Site ::


:: Tuesday, August 13, 2002 ::

Life Imitating a Monty Python Sketch

No, they don't contain lark's vomit. But Bertie Bott's Harry Potter Jelly Beans do come in vomit, dirt, earwax, and booger flavors.

Someone actually brought these to my office this morning.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:19 PM [+] ::

Cynthia McKinney Campaign Dispatch

I just received this opinion piece via e-mail, from the Office of Cynthia McKinney (cymck@mail.house.gov). More conspiracy drivel, originally published back in June, and contains no information that I haven't already dealt with over at the Conspiracy Blog. (Advantage: Me!)

Methinks she's getting desperate!

UPDATE: Discussing today's WaPo story on McKinney's unsavory campaign contributors (which is a rehash of the ten-day old Atlanta Journal-Constitution story, which was a rehash of the Indepundit's reporting) on CNN's Crossfire, Paul Begala has, mere moments ago, predicted a Majette victory.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:52 PM [+] ::

Beware Claims of Bias From The Daily Wanker

Here's one for the Pot & Kettle Files: Brian Whitaker has a problem with the apparent slant in the translations of Arab Media by MEMRI. He even goes so far as to accuse MEMRI of ... wait for it ... intentionally trying to portray the Arab world in a negative light.

Well, duh! I've never doubted for a second that MEMRI's primary agenda is to expose the ugliness that passes for news in the Middle East. And it doesn't surprise me that several pro-Israel hawks sit on MEMRI's board. But this following passage underscores why this is really not a problem:
Nobody, so far as I know, disputes the general accuracy of Memri's translations but there are other reasons to be concerned about its output.

Well, there you have it. Frankly, I don't expect a "balanced" view of the Arab media from MEMRI any more than I expect Morris Dees' SPLC to produce positive stories about white people. I am quite capable of reading MEMRI's translations without drawing the conclusion that all Arabs share the virulent bigotry of some of their imams.

Secondly, Whitaker might want to compare MEMRI's work with the English translations done by some of the Arab media themselves. Does MEMRI really paint a more negative picture of the Arab media than, say, Arab News? I certainly don't think so. Come to think of it, if Mr. John R. Bradley expended a mere fraction of the venom he reserves for James Taranto and other "White Trash bigots" on the same objects of MEMRI's wrath (and still gets to keep his job), my view of the Arab world would greatly improve.

Finally, one has to ask whether it is even possible for MEMRI to provide a more balanced view of Arab media, unless it resorted to censoring itself. Read this latest dispatch and tell me what could possibly be offered as a countervailing weight, to make the Arab world appear more cosmopolitan.

UPDATE: Taranto offers this cut on Whitaker's technicolor hypocrisy:
Now, everyone makes mistakes, even Whitaker and his colleagues. But we feel confident in saying that at the Guardian, most of the errors are not of the same magnitude as Memri's.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:56 PM [+] ::

Idgit Rabbit!

It takes something like this to avert my attention from the McKinney race:
A video clip circulating Monday shows a protester dressed as Yosemite Sam in a crowd listening to Barr speak in Canton Saturday. The costumed man, John Harris, 35, of Marietta was making light of a recent Barr mishap -- a gun that accidentally fired at a supporter's home. Harris wore an oversized foam cowboy hat and a button with the words, "Bob Barr's Official Gun Safety Trainer."

Harris is approached by man in a light blue shirt identified by the online newsletter politicalvine.com as a Barr staffer. He appears to shove Harris, sending the rootin', tootin' protester reeling backwards.

It could have been far worse. The Barr campaign could have rigged a large castle drawbridge to flatten Harris.

The video is available here.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:50 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, August 12, 2002 ::

The Trick To Reading Fisk

I've discovered a way to read a piece of Robert Fisk's reporting without taking away the sensation that you've just experienced the most heinous bullshit imaginable.

You just have to completely forget everything else you've ever read by him. While you're at it, it wouldn't hurt to just forget everything you've ever read period.

That's pretty much what Fisk is banking on anyway, or else he couldn't possibly have penned his latest dollup of nonsense. Remember, it was barely a week ago that he wrote of U.S. Special Forces raids as if they were against Cervantine windmills, and its victims were all innocent goat farmers. It was simply inconceivable that there were Taliban or al-Qaeda in these villages.

Now, he's changed his tune once again, elevating the al-Qaeda foreigners to the status of demigods in the country from which they had to flee for their lives.
A second, older man had travelled from Uruzgan with his mother. "My mother had leg and back pains and I brought her to Kandahar so she could see the doctors. But when I heard the stories about these martyrs' graves – and that they might cure her – I also brought my mother here. She is happier here than going to the doctor's." I watched his elderly mother on her knees, scraping dust from the mud tombs, praying and crying.

The two soldiers at the graveyard appear to have succumbed to the same visionary trance as the worshippers. "I've seen for myself people who get healed here," a young, unbearded man with a Kalashnikov rifle on his shoulder told me with a smile. "It's true. People get well after visiting the graves. I've seen deaf men who could hear again and I've seen the dumb speak. They were cured."

This is not the time – and definitely not the place – to contradict such conviction. The sand blasts over this graveyard with a ruthlessness worthy of Osama bin Laden. The city cemetery is much larger – there are square miles of tribal graveyards within the perimeter. But it is the al-Qa'ida dead who attract most mourners. Attracted by what, the foreigner wonders? By the rumours and legend of healing? By the idea that these men resisted the foreigners to the end, preferred to die rather than surrender, that the non-Afghan "martyrs" had fought like Afghans?

Perhaps it's as well the American special forces boys don't drop by for a visit. They might see something that would – and should – worry them.

But don't you dare go into their villages with stun grenades, uh, flashing and, er, handcuffing these poor people.

There you have it: two diametrically-opposed, contradictory views of the Afghan political terrain, with the same byline, and within the space of a week. Somewhere between these two hyperbolized fantasies, you'll find reality.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:03 PM [+] ::

Hey, I Resemble That Remark!

Good thing I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon revamping the color scheme for this blog. You can imagine the lump I felt in my throat after I read this bit at Tapped:
WHO IS A BLOG? Demosthenes has an excellent (but long) post on the difference between pseudonymity and anonymity as it relates to bloggers. But staring at Demosthenes' difficult-to-read white-letters-on-dark-background site for several minutes has almost blinded us. Be warned!

That template looks vaguely familiar. Where have I seen it before?

:: COINTELPRO Tool 5:50 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, August 11, 2002 ::

He Wuz Robbed

The line-up card from Friday night's Giants-Pirates game, in which Barry Bonds hit his 600th home run, has been reported stolen.

Fortunately for Ruben Rivera, he has a pretty tight alibi.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:03 AM [+] ::
:: Saturday, August 10, 2002 ::

In addition to the professor, I'm getting a cubic Butt Ton (avoirdupois, not metric, of course) of links from Charles Johnson.

I'm not worthy!
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:01 AM [+] ::
:: Friday, August 09, 2002 ::
After three days and just four bylines, Robert Fisk’s triumphant return to Afghanistan has come to an end. After thoroughly disabusing us all from the thought that conditions may have improved in any way under the U.S.-imposed reign of terror – good show, mate! – Fisk has now made his triumphant return to … Pakistan.

He now turns his attention to "the disappeared." Leftist dissidents in Chile? Not exactly …
They came for Hussain Abdul Qadir on 25 May. According to his wife, there were three American agents from the FBI and 25 men from the local Pakistani CID. The Palestinian family had lived in the Pakistani city of Peshawar for years and had even applied for naturalisation.

But this was not a friendly visit to their home in Hayatabad Street. "They broke our main gate and came into the house without any respect," Mrs Abdul Qadir was to report later to the director of human rights at Pakistan's Ministry of Law and Justice in Islamabad.

"They blindfolded my husband and tied his hands behind his back. They searched everything in the house – they took our computer, mobile phone and even our land-line phone. They took video and audio cassettes. They took all our important documents – our passports and other certificates – and they took our money too," she said.

Abdul Qadir was "kidnapped – there appears to be no other word for it." Except maybe, I don’t know, "arrested?" Pakistani authorities, after all, participated in his apprehension, consented to turning him over to the Big Bad Americans, who, after spiriting him away to their lair at Bagram, allowed him to be interviewed by ICRC officials – as kidnappers are wont to do.

He offers other stories of such horror, involving a Syrian and an Algerian, and the notion that they were in Peshawar for ill purposes is not to be considered. These men wanted nothing more than to help build a brave new world in the Western frontier of Pakistan.
"I have the right to ask where my husband is and to know where they have taken him," [Fatima Youssef] has written to the Pakistani authorities. "I have the right to ask for an appeal to release him now, after an interrogation, I have the right to ask for the return of the things which they took from my house."

Spoken like a true native of (wait for it) Syria.

I’m not saying that these three should be considered guilty until proven innocent. But the ridicule with which Fisk treats the possibility that they are terrorists is truly contemptible, especially given the most recent spate of terrorist acts.

They could be tried in secret U.S. military tribunals, and still be afforded far more in the way of civil liberties and due process than they would ever receive in Pakistan or their home countries.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:11 PM [+] ::
Watch his remarks in this ABA forum before you answer.

Oh yeah, and Charles Krauthammer was also a participant.

He’s good, too.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:38 PM [+] ::
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on efforts to get registered Republicans in McKinney's district to vote Democratic in the Aug. 20 primary.
Mark Davis, a Gwinnett County Republican voter and one of the effort's leaders, said the organization has raised about $15,000 through www.goodbyecynthia.com.

It plans to set up a phone bank that will put out calls to about 15,000 Republican primary and other voters encouraging them to vote for Majette in the Democratic primary. The group also plans to send out 30,000 to 40,000 flyers in the district next week.

The numbers may make their task difficult. In the 2000 primary, just 8,689 votes were cast for the two Republicans running in the 4th District, though the DeKalb-centered district has been reconfigured a bit. McKinney, running unopposed, drew 40,629 votes in the Democratic primary that year.

Actually, 8,000 votes - or even half that, could well make the difference, as Denise Majette holds a two-point lead in the latest poll (with 20 percent still undecided).

But Majette will have to abandon her low-key style and take off the gloves, or I fear she'll lose ground during this final week of the campaign. She has an opportunity to do just that tonight, in a televised debate for which McKinney may not even show up. McKinney has already resorted to vicious attacks, and I expect more next week. Majette has to do something memorable tonight, or she could find herself trailing the final weekend, after an 11th Hour dirty trick.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:21 PM [+] ::
Marc Herold, having been bludgeoned in the blogosphere for his farcical accounting of Afghan civilian casualties, has finally surfaced to defend himself, appropriately enough in the Daily Wanker. His answer to his critics begins with the following exposition:
The public was assured that American and British military planners would go to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties. The combination of newer, precision-guided munitions and the fact that bombing would take place in remote areas would mean that, in this war, only the "bad guys" would get killed. Subsequent events have proved these claims wrong.

Well, glad we cleared that up. With a strawman table-setting like this, one would think Herold would have no trouble proving his case. But unfortunately, this stacking of the deck wasn’t good enough, and he actually expends very little space to defending his own funny numbers, preferring instead to engage in spurious ad hominem attacks against the multitude of casualty estimates that are far lower than his own.

Herold does admit to double-counting in his original estimates, and revises his total down to 2,650-2,970 accordingly. But he completely ignores the more important criticism of his work – that he accepted shaky press accounts by pro-Taliban press services in the interest of multiculturalism. He makes no mention at all of the Feb. 12 AP report that confirmed that “Taliban officials systematically doctored reports of civilian deaths,” and he even has the audacity to repeat his faith in those reports, by criticizing a Project for Defense Alternatives study for relying “exclusively on western sources.” The PDA study, it should be noted, placed emphasis on non-U.S. media (such as Reuters, AFP, BBC, etc.) specifically because those “sources seemed more attuned to the issue of civilian casualties than were US newspapers, while also being disinclined to accept on face value official Taliban reports or accounts from the Pakistani press.”

According to an assessment of Herold’s work by STATS, his blanket acceptance of Taliban propaganda renders only 650 of his tally as reliable.

After blithely dismissing the first hand reports of various news services as “incomplete,” Herold attacks Human Rights Watch as a stooge of the Pentagon, claiming its envoy, Bill Arkin is “a supporter of the war” (a statement as baseless as it is irrelevant), and accused it of “severe undercounting in the 1999 NATO campaign in Yugoslavia.” He then resorts to more sophistry in attacking the Associated Press accounting:
Its astonishingly low figure of 500-600 was reached "by examining hospital records, visiting bomb sites and interviewing eyewitnesses and officials." The report was beset by methodological problems. Most Afghan deaths are not recorded in hospital records because people are buried immediately; no details were given of interview methods or which bombing incidents were included; many bomb attacks were not reported; and Afghan officials have been shown often to seriously underestimate civilian casualties.[Emphasis mine]

Apart from the technicolor idiocy of the last statement, it is indeed hypocritical for Herold, whose own accounting eschewed first-hand methodology, to attack AP’s ability to assess facts on the ground.

The worst part of Herold’s diatribe is that he goes far beyond intellectual disagreement with these other independent observers, and actually accuses them of being part of the U.S. government’s nefarious plot to “hide the number of Afghan civilians killed.” He of course, offers absolutely nothing to support the notion that groups such as HRW, Reuters, and even Global Exchange would actively participate in this “affront to justice,” nor any evidence that the U.S. government had a hand in controlling the information to which they had access.

Not only are the assessments of these nine independent organizations inferior to his own facile research, they are tools of American “military and political elites” attempting to cover up violations of the rules of war. Their inaccuracies are not described as mistakes so much as intentional disinformation “for political reasons.”

Given Herold’s own obvious political agenda, expecting him to truly own up to his egregious errors would have been unrealistic. But had he any shame whatsoever, he would have simply gone away, hoping his peers would just forget his definitive research. His latest empirical abortion proves that he has none.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:49 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, August 08, 2002 ::

You have to take the good with the bad.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:33 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, August 07, 2002 ::
The “Blackhawk Down” blame game has been resurrected first by WSJ, then by Kaus. To his credit, Kaus corrects the Journal for attributing the minute tactical decisions on the ground to “the Clinton administration,” but challenges the editorial’s central argument that we should have stayed to “finish the job.”

There has been a remarkable realignment on the issue of Somalia. Back in 1993, Conservatives were crying louder than anyone else to get our troops out of Somalia. Now, they routinely criticize Clinton’s decisoin to do just that as weak-kneed. But Kaus at least remains consistent, saying that Clinton morphed the mission from a humanitarian one into an exercise in nation-building. For good measure, Josh Marshall weighs in, arguing that once Bush I dedicated our forces, we were pretty much stuck there.

The premise of this argument could not be more wrong. Kaus buys into the notion that there were two distinct “phases” of the Somalia operation. But this is the same kind of delusion that lead to that other, more protracted “quagmire” in Vietnam. The truth about Somalia, as in so many other African tribal lands, is that hunger is a weapon. So once we sent troops there to ensure that everyone was fed, we were hip-deep in the internal politics of the country, whether we liked it or not.

Our “disastrous manhunt” for Mohammed Farah Aidid wasn’t something we, or even the UN, decided to do on a whim. Aidid made it necessary. The idea that we could have stayed there, in the face of his brutality, saying “don’t mind us, we’re just here to give out food” is ridiculous.

Secondly, and more importantly, pursuing Aidid hardly constituted nation-building. We were upsetting the existing social order, but we offered absolutely nothing to replace it. What institutions did we make an attempt at building to replace warlords? None. So, while some continue to see Somalia as proof that nation-building is folly, the real lesson it provides is how not to do nation-building.

For the record, I think Marshall is wrong about the Clinton administration being somehow obligated to stay once Bush made the commitment (even though his assessment that "forcing a degree of peace" was inherent to the operation from the outset hits the bullseye). He could have withdrawn our forces at any time – which is pretty much what he did.

Or he could have stuck around and tried to do things the right way, as I hope we’ll continue to do in Afghanistan.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:43 PM [+] ::
Pistol fires accidentally at reception for Georgia's Rep. Bob Barr; no one injured

Georgia lobbyist Bruce Widener said Tuesday that he had removed the magazine from his 1908 Colt but did not clear the chamber before handing the weapon to Barr, a board member of the National Rifle Association.

Widener said "one of us hit the trigger" just as he gave Barr the gun during Friday's reception at Widener's home.

"Nobody was in any danger. We were handling it safely, except that it was loaded," said Widener, an independent lobbyist. "I am thankful Bob was careful to always keep the weapon pointed in a safe direction."

I'm not saying we need more laws to prevent this sort of thing. It's just a call to keep firearms out of the hands of people like Bob Barr.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:18 AM [+] ::
Tapped provides still more proof that Fox News is an experiment in self-parody.

I've noticed that their cloying "Fair and Balanced" drumbeat keeps picking up extra qualifiers, as if repeating it at the beginning and end of each segment didn't drive the point home. First, I noticed that it morphed into "Fair, Balanced, and Unafraid" (Brit Hume seems to be praticularly fond of this iteration).

Now, they've added "real news" to the front end. I'm predicting that before long, it will look something like this:

"Fox News: Real News, Fair & Balanced ... What? You Don't Believe Us? Stop That Snickering! I Said Knock It Off!"
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:04 AM [+] ::
I meant to devote a post on this earlier, but for those of you who didn't catch the latest CNN Presents documentary on the Mazar-i-Sharif uprising ("House of War"), you definitely want to catch it when it runs again.

I like most of those features, primarily because they commit the sacrilege of devoting a whole hour to one story. But this one was particularly well done, and not just for its "massacre" debunking value.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:50 AM [+] ::
"Like the British who came later, like the Russians who were to arrive more than a century afterwards, General William Elphinstone's campaign was surrounded with rhetoric and high principles and ended in disaster. George Bush Junior and Nato, please note. Indeed, if there is one country - calling it a nation would be a misnomer - that the West should avoid militarily, it is the tribal land in which Osama Bin Laden maintains his obscure sanctuary. Just over two decades ago, I found out what it was like to be on an invasion army in that breathlessly beautiful, wild, proud plateau. Arrested by the Russian Parachute Regiment near the Salang Tunnel, I was sent with a Soviet convoy back to Kabul. We were ambushed, and out of the snowdrifts came the Afghans, carrying knives. An air strike and the arrival of Soviet Tadjik troops saved us. But the mighty Red Army had been humbled before men who could not write their own names and whose politics were so remote that a mujahid fighter would later insist to me that London was occupied by Russian troops."

Robert Fisk, "The Lesson Of History: Afghanistan Always Beats Its Invaders," The Independent, September 14, 2001

Last fall, Robert Fisk undoubtedly believed these words, as evidenced by the fact that he spent the remainder of 2001 "covering" the U.S. war from a such a safe distance.

Not counting the 17 commentary pieces he filed after October 7 (which contained no datelines and no first-hand reporting), Fisk wrote 12 pieces from Pakistan, where he confidently reported on the wholesale "slaughter" of civilians by American bombs. It was only in mid-November that he actually ventured into Afghanistan itself, but even then remained well within Taliban-controlled areas in Kandahar province.

From there, he filed four stories, but none of them reported on the same carnage from the air campaign that he described so eloquently from the other side of the Pakistan border. They all dealt with the "atrocities" being committed by the Northern Alliance forces in the north, such as the "massacre" at Mazar-i-Sharif (which by now has been thoroughly debunked) as well as the following grim passage (from Nov. 14):
IT WASN'T meant to be like this. The nice, friendly Northern Alliance, our very own foot-soldiers in Afghanistan, is in Kabul. It promised - didn't it? - not to enter the Afghan capital. It was supposed to capture, at most, Mazar-i -Sharif and perhaps Herat, to demonstrate the weakness of the Taliban, to show the West that its war aims - the destruction of the Taliban and thus of Osama bin Laden's al -Qa'ida movement - were inevitable.

Oh, the horror!

After the Northern Alliance made it to Kandahar, Fisk quickly returned to the Pakistan border towns, where he continued to report on the war in Afghanistan, and received his now-infamous thrashing.

Now, Fisk has finally returned to Afghanistan (now that things have finally cooled down enough for him), and has begun to chronicle the unspeakable atrocities committed by the American forces against the Afghan people, who – far from the description he gave them back in September of last year – have been transformed into peaceful goat herders, and any reports of Taliban or al-Qaeda presence or sympathy are to be rejected out of hand.

His report from yesterday focuses on a May 22 raid on a village in Southwest Afghanistan, and he mocks U.S. allegations that their forces "had ‘come under fire’" in the peaceful hamlet. He also scoffed at other claims made by American forces:
A US military spokesman claimed that American forces had found "items of intelligence value", weapons and a large amount of cash in the village. What the "items" were was never clarified. The guns were almost certainly for personal protection against robbers.

"Almost certainly?" The sheer arrogance of such a statement, based on absolutely nothing, is only intensified by the fact that he makes it nearly two and a half months after the incident.

While he refuses to entertain the possibility that anything the Americans said about the incident could be true, he accepts the accounts of the villagers without question, even when they make such outlandish statements as …
They asked: 'Were the Taliban good or bad?' I replied that the Taliban never came to our village so I had no information about them.

Even if all these accounts were true, and the raid was indeed a complete mistake, the facts hardly merit the seething rhetoric he uses to describe it.
"The Americans were throwing stun grenades at us and smoke grenades," Mohamedin recalls. "They were throwing dozens of them at us and they were shouting and screaming all the time. We didn't understand their language, but there were Afghan gunmen with them, too, Afghans with blackened faces. Several began to tie up our women – our own women – and the Americans were lifting their burqas, their covering, to look at their faces.

They used stun grenades, arrested over 50 suspected Taliban, and killed two in the melee.
"They made us lie down and put cuffs on our wrists, sort of plastic cuffs. The more we pulled on them, the tighter they got and the more they hurt. Then they blindfolded us. Then they started pushing us towards the planes, punching us as we tried to walk."

Appalling. Fisk also makes a complete assessment of the Afghan forces who aided the Americans in the raid, describing them as "brutish and ill-disciplined," also baseless, and implies their depravity with the completely meaningless reference to their being based "from Kabul’s former Khad secret police headquarters."

They actually used the same building as the tyrants from whom they were supposed to liberate the country. The bastards!

Given the feeble substantiation he provides for his latest diatribe, his even more hysterical accusations and predictions made last fall are worth reading again. Our invasion of Afghanistan was supposed to have been a "trap" that would bring untold mayhem to the Islamic world and give bin Laden exactly what he wanted.

Having been proven a complete fraud, Fisk is now reduced to trying to spin what has clearly been caution and restraint on the part of the allied forces there into unbridled violence. This is rendered all the more pathetic given what he claimed would happen last year.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:25 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, August 06, 2002 ::

The catcher who carried St. Louis to its last championship in 1982 died of a heart attack today, at age 50. Kicking a drug habit before the 1982 season, his drive and inexplicable humility made him a rare role model for kids everywhere.

Especially those who were stuck wearing big, goofy glasses like his.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 2:38 PM [+] ::
Atlanta Braves Cleveland Indians Texas Rangers pitcher has had another unfortunate failed attempt at finally coming out of the closet episode of intolerance against gays, this time in a trendy Dallas restaurant:
Rocker said he was with his girlfriend eating at Breadwinners Cafe & Bakery when some customers at other tables began badgering and pestering him.

"It seemed as if they were trying to bait me with suggestive comments," Rocker said in the statement. Breadwinners, a breakfast, lunch and brunch spot, is located in a predominantly gay Dallas neighborhood.

Richard Garcia, who waited on Rocker and his girlfriend, said the ballplayer was not provoked by other patrons. Garcia said Rocker called a male couple sitting at a nearby table "fruitcakes" as he got up and left.

"That's nothing someone should hear from somebody who's supposed to be a role model," Garcia said in a story in The Dallas Morning News' Tuesday edition. "Just because you're a superstar, that still does not license you to say that."

Rocker said after he finished his meal and got up to leave, the unidentified patrons followed him out of the restaurant and made an obscene gesture.

"At that point, I admit I was angry and said some things I probably should not have said, but I wanted to make it clear their attentions were unwelcome," he said.

Ah well, at least one could view this excursion, which I'm sure was inadvertant, as progress.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:56 PM [+] ::
Meryl Yourish takes down yet another moral equividiot on Middle East violence, which is, as the professor observes is becoming quite like barrel-fishing.

She certainly doesn't need any help from me. But in the spirit of the season -- Turkey season, that is! -- I would be remiss if I didn't respond to the goofy charge that malnutrition among Palestinian children has any bearing whatsoever on their ability to revel until all hours of the night whenever Jews are murdered. It all seems a bit counter-intuitive to me, if you know what I mean.

As I've said before, it is indeed tragic that no one has come up with a decent Semtex recipe. I suppose you could granulate it and put it in tabouleh, but if you try that, don't skimp on the parsley!
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:02 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, August 05, 2002 ::
Seattle recently wrapped up its annual Seafair celebration, with U.S. Navy ships and planes playing a major part. By most accounts, the arrival of the Navy warships was a very welcome and much-anticipated event (hey Seattle, got any spare training ranges?), with the only visible complaints being about the heightened security around the ships. And even those were muted:
Bristow said the new security measures were implemented with success in New York during a visit by a fleet of more than 20 ships over the Memorial Day weekend.

Given the Navy's heightened responsibilities after Sept. 11, Seafair organizers said they are simply glad the fleet could come at all.

But just two years ago, prior to the 2000 Seafair, a very loud minority tried to ban a Navy Trident SSBN from participating, and the Seattle City Council evaded the issue by tabling a resolution that would have done just that:
A 12-foot, yellow-and-green vinyl banner hung in the back of the room. A gag papier-mache missile pierced one man's head. And a group of senior citizens, known as the Raging Grannies, sang "We don't want no Trident Submarine" to the Beatles' song "Yellow Submarine."

City Council members said it's too late to block the submarine from taking part in this year's festivities. They won't vote on the resolution, which will apply to future Seafair celebrations, for a while.

Navy and Seafair representatives did not participate in last night's forum.

At one point, about 10 VFW members, angered at the proposal, stormed out of the council meeting.

"I felt like we fought World War II for nothing," said Tom Asaif, a 75-year-old Army veteran.

"It's a kangaroo court in there," said Terry Lund, a 68-year-old Korean War veteran. "They don't want our opinion."

Residents and council members alike said that Navy personnel are welcome at Seafair. But they should take the ferry - not a nuclear submarine to get here.

To my knowledge, the council never resurrected the resolution, but the Navy did not send any SSBN's to the last two Seafairs. Nor has this year's coverage even mentioned the embarrassing spectacles that marred past events.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:49 PM [+] ::
George Will, on the FBI investigation into leaks on Capitol Hill, from yesterday's This Week:
WILL: The machine melts, I suppose. A leak, the last time I checked, is not a crime except in rare cases when it's called espionage, I suppose. But whatever we're investigating here is not a crime. It's bad citizenship. But to bring in the full apparatus of investigating criminal affairs seems to me misplaced.

Kramer was right about him.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 4:09 PM [+] ::
Bill Arkin's piece in the LA Times is further proof that no matter what kind of strides the military achieves in making it's weapons and tactics more surgical and noncombatant-friendly, they will never meet the expectations placed on them.
Employing all of this technology, of course, is the super-soldier himself. These soldiers, SOCOM stresses, need to operate covertly in austere and extreme environments and even in the presence of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. The report urges industry to examine "all physiological, physical, mental, psychological and intellectual means to identify and counter the degradation of the [special forces troops] caused by the demands of sustained operations and extreme environments." This is where the future vision is most ambitious, mentioning food, drugs, implants, vaccines and genetic engineering as areas of research. "The ultimate goal for [special forces] is to be able to operate in an environment [contaminated by nuclear, biological or chemical weapons] without any special equipment/clothing," the document concludes.

What is missing from this vision of future combat is any acknowledgment that the weapons must also be in accordance with a 1995 American commitment not to develop blinding lasers and with other U.S. obligations under international law to ensure that our weapons do not indiscriminately affect civilians or cause "unnecessary suffering."

As the U.S. continues its campaign against Al Qaeda and prepares for full-scale war with Iraq, special forces and CIA paramilitary capabilities will be an active covert counterpart to the highly visible conventional air, ground and naval forces. We know these forces are capable, but we also need to consider how they accomplish their goals.

In the end, a country must answer for its tactics--even if it wins militarily. Secret operations conducted outside the law can come with a high political cost. Composing a wish list for future weaponry certainly has its place, but the ultimate goal of military planning has to be victory both on the battlefield and in the political arena. We have to hope someone is doing equally meticulous planning on the political end. Otherwise, our omnipotent fighting force might just provoke terrorists to find new and exotic ways to harm Americans--both on and off the battlefield.

It is inexplicable that we should have such a debate on stealth technologies and nonlethal weapons, rather than, say, JDAMs. The notion that these tactics could bring about more unintended harm to civilians is silly. What they do bring is an unfair advantage on the battlefield, which is really what upsets these critics the most.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:00 AM [+] ::
:: Saturday, August 03, 2002 ::
Frivolous Lawsuit Watch

The president of the World Boxing Council has filed a $56m lawsuit against Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis for injuries he says he received in a pre-fight brawl.

You'd think such an unsavory business would have insurance for this sort of thing.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:46 AM [+] ::
:: Friday, August 02, 2002 ::
A Very Positive development.

A judge has decided that Russell weston, Jr., the deranged man who killed two Capitol Police officers over four years ago, must continue to take anti-psychotic medication (against his "will") so that he may one day be mentally competent to stand trial. His lawyers - the poster boys for legal malpractice - have been arguing for Weston's right to refuse such medication, so that their resumes contain one less convicted client.

How would Reston benefit from not having to take the drugs that could one day land him in prison? He wouldn't. In all probability, he will never be a free man again, regardless of whether he ever stands trial. The choice has been whether his confinement includes the treatment he obviously needs, or spends the rest of his life tormented by unabated delusions - in addition to being locked up physically.

The position of his own lawyers has been one of unimaginable cruelty. Their loss is a victory for Reston.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:07 PM [+] ::
You Heard The Man. No more Good-Natured Ribbing. Why is this even news? "Capture or kill" ... is there a third option I hadn't considered?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:11 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, August 01, 2002 ::
Nothing Suggestive In This Headline! AFP's (that's "Abject Factual Poverty" to you and me, Rusty) story on the UN report on Jenin has the following headline:
"Israelis relieved at UN Jenin report, Palestinians dismiss it"

Relieved, eh? Kind of conjures an image of O.J.'s reaction to his own Not Guilty verdict, doesn't it? Which is, I think, precisely the point. Nonetheless, AFP's offering does have its unintentionally-informative portions ...
But Palestinian officials still insisted Israel committed a massacre in the camp, with chief negotiator Saeb Erakat accusing the Jewish state of "war crimes".

"The UN should have used the word 'massacre' or 'war crime,' especially because the Jenin camp is managed by the UN," Erakat said.

Yeah, Kofi! You're supposed to be on our side! What the fuck?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:51 PM [+] ::
I Can Quit Anytime I Want ...

18.75 %

My weblog owns 18.75 % of me.
Does your weblog own you?

:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:51 PM [+] ::
Fred Thompson Good Riddance Watch. Only a former lobbyist and actor could pull off this bit of shameless arrogance, responding to the FBI investigation into leaks of classified information by Intelligence Committee members and staffers:
Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), another member of Intelligence panel, was one of several Senators unhappy with the idea of an FBIinvestigation of sitting lawmakers.

"The whole process concerns me,"said Thompson, who is retiring this year. "At a time when were investigating the FBIthey're investigating us?It really bothers me."

Don't let the door hit you in ass, Fred. But the once and future Die Hard extra is not alone in his insistence that, despite what you may have heard, Justice department scrutiny into Congressional behavior is entirely unwarranted ...
Charles Tiefer, a former House deputy general counsel and University of Baltimore law professor, said that "calling in the Justice Department is absurd because Congress itself would mete out any punishment, and this just undermines the intelligence committees' vital independence from those who are supposed to be under its scrutiny.

"The power to investigate leak allegations is the power to control," Tiefer added. "You seriously undermine the Intelligence committees' ability, at a critical historic moment, to look independently and critically at the intelligence agencies."

Leaks to the New York Times, however, do not undermine the executive branch's ability to fulfill its own Constitutional responsibilities.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:30 PM [+] ::
This Is Really Getting Old. Another day, another accusation of an attack against civilians by the U.S. military in Afghanistan:
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Afghan officials Thursday said a U.S. helicopter attacked a village 75 miles south of Kabul, killing one civilian and wounding two others. The U.S. military denied the report.

The Afghans said there were no Taliban or al-Qaida targets in the area that was hit by the Americans late Wednesday. They also said the U.S. military had promised to check with local authorities before launching such attacks, but failed to do so in this case.

No Taliban or al-Qaeda here, no sir! Are there ever? Apparently, the Taliban were able to subjugate most of the country for five years, and al-Qaeda were able to plan and launch terrorist attacks from Afghan bases despite being nothing more than apparitions.

Yeah, I can see us entering into such an agreement, to notify these locals before conducting any military operations.
The victim was an unidentified man, said Faiz Mohammad, the secretary to Raz Mohammad Dalili, Paktia governor. Husainkhil said the two wounded were not seriously hurt and were recovering at home.

Mohammad, said the attack was prompted by "a wrong report to the Americans." He suggested that someone involved in a local feud had falsely reported Taliban or al-Qaida in the targeted location to draw American fire.

He said the provincial council, or shura, had previously been told by Americans — whom he did not identify — that they would check with local authorities before any bombing in the area. "I don't know why they didn't say anything to the Shura or governor before doing this," said Faiz Mohammad.

Paktia was the site of the 1998 Tomahawk strikes against al-Qaeda camps, as well as the Operation Snipe cave demolitions earlier this year.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:38 AM [+] ::
:: 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.

Nice try.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:25 PM [+] ::

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 [+] ::
:: Tuesday, July 30, 2002 ::
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.
"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 [+] ::
:: Monday, July 29, 2002 ::
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:

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 ...
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.

Uhh ...
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 [+] ::
:: Sunday, July 28, 2002 ::

Did you see what I just saw?
(On ESPN.)
:: 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.

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 [+] ::
:: Saturday, July 27, 2002 ::
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
"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 [+] ::
:: Friday, July 26, 2002 ::
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!!!

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.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:23 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, July 25, 2002 ::
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 ...

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 [+] ::
:: Wednesday, July 24, 2002 ::
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 [+] ::

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