:: The Fred Willard Fan Site ::


:: Tuesday, December 31, 2002 ::

An Axis After All

From the beginning, the Bush administration has been derided by the urbane Left, not only for the use of such unrefined terms as evil, but for oversimplifying world affairs by describing alliances that do not exist. Iran and Iraq, they remind us, were at war with each other for nearly a decade, they remind us, and North Korea shares nothing in common with either of them.

But as Ben Stein notes, these countries -- each of which is a sworn enemy, regardless of whether they have anything else in common -- do, in fact, act in concert:
Let's start with the obvious. Just as American plans to invade Iraq were hitting high gear, scraping together armed forces, active and reserves, to make a powerful fighting force to take Baghdad, what should happen? North Korea springs into action against the United States and the United Nations. Pyongyang defies U.N. agreements about restricting nuclear technology, brings forbidden weapons into the DMZ, threatens nuclear attack against the U.S. and our allies in the region.

This has to affect U.S. war plans. If there is even a slightly good chance that the Communist North will attack South Korea or use nuclear weapons even in a test, the U.S. will have to split up our already too-thin forces between Iraq and faraway Korea. This drastically complicates our ability to concentrate forces against Saddam.

Stein oversimplifies this scenario by portraying it as overt collusion between North Korea, which I think is highly unlikely. But whether it's overt, quid pro quo, or simply keeping one's ear to the ground, the notion that both the bad hair life-afflicted tyrant and the professional grenade fisherman are calculating their own actions based on what the other does -- and how the U.S. reacts to it -- is not simply a "possibility." It's a certainty.

Though our enemies may not be conspiring with each other in mountain retreats and signing their own Sykes-Picot agreements, their actions have to be viewed in a single context. They are undoubtedly a de facto alliance. The Left has no problem believing that evil capitalists would readily enter into allegiances with anyone to further their own interests, quickly quoting Cardinal Richilieu's dictum that states "have no principles, only interests." But the likes of Kim Jong Il and Saddam Hussein, enlightened humanists that they are, should be considered above all that. This is what it is to be sophisssssticated.

And despite Stein's tired rhetoric about the Neglected Clinton Military™ (the same one that made light work of Afghanistan without leaving any other major theaters underprotected), his basic argument for increased vigilance is right.

The Liberal arguments about prioritizing threats -- al qaeda vs. Iraq, Iraq vs. North Korea, etc. -- is, as Sandy Berger and Robert Galluci argue, alarmingly shortsighted. And, dare I say, simplistic.

[Via Cracker Barrel Philosopher]
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:42 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, December 30, 2002 ::

No Holiday Stand-down for These Kids

One of the two aircraft carrier battle groups (CVBGs) recently ordered on stand-by to deploy to the Persian Gulf at a moment's notice is USS George Washington (CVN 73), which close followers of Navy news will recall just returned from deployment on Dec. 20.

I doubt many GW sailors got any time off at all.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 2:24 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, December 29, 2002 ::


Egypt is pushing Hamas and Fatah into a ceasefire agreement with the Israelis. Like the proposal pushed by the EU earlier, this ceasefire would only prohibit attacks against Israelis within Israel proper. Isreali settlers in the Occupied Territories would, of course, remain fair game and, because the IDF would be withdrawn completely from West Bank and Gaza, attacks against them would undoubtedly become all the more frequent.

Meryl has this plotline figured out from the start. The Israelis, of course, would have to have no regard whatsoever for the lives of its citizens (as Egypt -- and the EU -- apparently do) to agree to such terms.So get ready for the boilerplate condemnations accusing Israel of saying no to peace.

Er, that's if the Egyptians can even get the Palestinians to agree to this limited menu of Jewish blood.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:41 PM [+] ::

A WaPost story with Factual Errors? Say It Ain't So!

I was immediately skeptical about Dana Priest's story on CIA interrogation techniques primarily because of her previous difficulties reconciling her narrative with reality. As it turns out, my apprehension was well founded:
Major Stephen Clutter, deputy spokesman at Bagram, said the article was ''false on several points, the first being that there is no CIA detention facility on Bagram.''

''There is a facility run by the US Army; however, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that persons under control of the US Army have been mistreated,'' he said in a statement.

CIA, Army ... whatever. We've already established that Ms. Priest has little patience for such pesky little details.

But even if the rest of Priest's story is accurate, none of it even comes close to "torture,: despite her ignorant characterization. Apparenlty Priest presumes anything that might knock terror suspects out of their comfort zones is somehow inhumane. Any story that includes the use of female interrogators ("a psychologically jarring experience for men reared in a conservative Muslim culture where women are never in control") as an example of such "stress and duress" is surely reaching.

But because of her sloppy reporting, the legend of CIA torturing of al-Qaeda suspects is already growing, as evidenced by particularly hysterical account in Britain's tabloid press (which is all tabloid, as far as I can tell):
The letter contained only hints of what Moazzam Begg's interrogators may have done to him. He wrote of hunger and being kept awake by bright lights. 'I still don't know what will happen with me,' he lamented to his wife back home in Birmingham.

Not too hungry to write his family, apparently. I suppose he has a Michael Moore-like threshold for hunger.

This passage also contains an obvious typo: "The letter contained only hints of what Moazzam Begg's interrogators may have done to him" should have read "in the complete absence of any evidence of mistreatment whatsoever, we can only offer this sensational drivel." Speaking of sensational drivel:
So far the US has admitted that two men held at Bagram have died in custody - one from a heart attack and the other from a pulmonary embolism, or blood clot on the lung. A criminal investigation is now under way, but no reason has been given of what caused the men's injuries.

I don't know -- a war, maybe?

And one more thing the Observer wants you to know: Moazzam Begg is completely innocent. He fled his "school" in Kabul when the handwriting on the wall became impossible to ignore, and was brought back from Pakistan for reasons that are a complete "mystery."

I'll bet lots of things are a mystery to these two authors.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 2:18 PM [+] ::

Mark Russell an LGF Fan?

From last night's Capitol Gang:
O'BEIRNE: Mark Russell, your outrage of the year.

RUSSELL: OK, this is not made up. Earlier this year, some women in Saudi Arabia came running out of a burning building only to be sent back inside by the police to get their proper headwear.

About the same time, Saudi Arabia, in an attempt to continue to get on our good side, actually proposed to make a gift to us of the Saudi-owned racehorse War Emblem, and, I'm not kidding, and I read this in the paper, and it was verified, they wanted to have this ceremony conducted -- are you ready for this? -- at ground zero in New York City, which makes us wonder, maybe we're getting ready to bomb the wrong country.

O'BEIRNE: Thank you, Mark Russell. We're so grateful for your annual gig with THE GANG. Thank you very much.

It should also be noted that this gift was only being considered after the horse's owner, Prince Ahmed bin Salman, died in July.

The Saudis seem to have a habit of trying to fend off criticism with bribery. In 1996, for example, the Saudis offered bin Laden $400 million to stop saying their regime was apostate to Islam. That's the depth of the "special relationship" between the U.S. and the Saudi entity Adel al-Jubeir keeps prattling about.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:33 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, December 23, 2002 ::

News from the Shame Gene-Deficient

Via Laurence Simon comes this howler from Arab News:
Israel also has nuclear bombs which are designed for use from airplanes. They can be used in battle without fears of side effects. Israel also has spy satellites which can identify targets on the ground very easily. In cooperation with the former racist government in South Africa, Israel conducted nuclear tests in 1979 in the South Pacific. Further information about Israeli weapons is not available though it is known that some were used for the attempted assassination in Jordan of Khalid Meshaal, the Hamas member.[Another one of those muscle spasms. I should have that looked at]

Israeli used nukes in Jordan.

Against a Hamas member.

And they didn't get him.


That's it for me for a while -- should have started my holiday hiatus from blogging last week. See y'all next year.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:06 AM [+] ::
:: Sunday, December 22, 2002 ::

I'm Sure Amnesty Int'l Is All Over This

Remember this the next time you hear allegations about the IDF impeding ambulances and medical personnel worthy of ICRC sanction in the West Bank and Gaza:
Kronis, 24, described her experiences helping patients, and assisting medical staff aboard the ambulances. She also noted the changes that have taken place since the latest intifidah began in September 2000.
For example, ambulance staff are now clad in bullet-proof vests and a staff member always stays behind to guard the ambulance at the scene of an incident. Over the past two years, almost 100 of the 550 Magen David Adom ambulances have been destroyed, stolen or repainted as Red Crescent ambulances (which may be used to carry terrorists and explosives).
"They're at a point where they really need ambulances," said Kronis. During her discussion, she noted that her friend's ambulance had been set on fire.

[Via Sari Stein]

:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:53 PM [+] ::

Meryl Is Involved in This Somehow

I don't see how a near riot under the guise of a peas demonstration could happen in Richmond without her involvement, no matter how tangiential. I'm just not buying it ...
Seven anti-war protesters were arrested in Carytown yesterday evening when marchers took the streets, shouting and blocking traffic.

Some of them threw trash cans and other items into the roadway, according to police reports. One of them reportedly tossed a chair in front of a police cruiser.

Now, here's the Oscar clip, right here:
Some of the protesters were handing out fliers titled "Anarchists March For More Than An End To War - freedom not militarism!" distributed by The Better Days Collective of Richmond. But it was unclear last night if any of those arrested were members of the collective. Calls to that organization went unanswered late last night. [Emphasis added due to involuntary muscle spasms as fingers ran across "b" and "<>" keys]

Remember that the next time you hear one of these mental dwarves complaining about the corporate media ignoring their grassroots cause.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:36 PM [+] ::

Sherron Watkins a Whistleblower?

I actually think Time magazine's choices for Person of the Year are actually good ones, at least in principle (incidently, I would also give Margaret Carlson a rare commendation for her Outrage of the Week on this week's Capitol Gang). But I'm not so sure I'd characterize Sherron Watkins, the Enron VP who only gave internal warnings -- at first anonymously -- of the company's scandalous accounting practices, as a whistleblower. Here is how Watkins' "courageous act" was discovered:
Committee investigators found Watkins's seven-page letter Sunday while going through 40 boxes of records turned over by Enron, a spokesman said. Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-La.), the committee chairman, and Rep. James C. Greenwood (R-Pa.), chairman of an investigative subcommittee, didn't release the letter.

Moreover, her memo appeared more as a practical warning to superiors, containing no threats of going public (as Rowley's memo to FBI director Robert Mueller did), which Ken Lay took to heart by almost immediately dumping his shares in his own company's stock, and which Arthur Anderson accountants also took to heart, by shredding documents. Even after the recipients of her warning took those actions, Watkins still did not "go public," or even anonymously warn government regulators. Watkins even sent a follow-up memo to Lay urging him to "say he wrongly trusted other executives and got bad advice from Andersen and Vinson & Elkins."

It seems to me that Watkins was only included because she fit the script simply by being female. Contrast the media darling status given to Watkins, who never imperiled herself, to the relative obscurity of Global Crossing VP Roy Olofson who was fired for bringing similar warnings to his firm, and has since been publicly smeared. Or Barron Stone, who tipped off state regulators of Duke Energy's improper accounting, someone who didn't wait until the firm had gone bankrupt to go public.

I realize these two don't fit the Maureen Dowd ethos of what a whistleblower looks like, but they at least deserve an honorable mention.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:33 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, December 20, 2002 ::

As Brazen As They Get

The Associated Press has graciously given the Captain of the North Korean -- er, I mean, Cambodian (yeah, that's the ticket) -- Scud vessel the opportunity to tell his side of the story:
Kang Chol Ryong, the captain of the Singapore-registered Pan Hope, denied that he had hidden the Yemeni-bound missiles under sacks of cement, and said he had rebuffed the Spanish Navy's order to stop because it was "dishonorable."
"I never tried to hide the missiles," he added. "They were regularly stored under cover plates. It is not good to place them in the open."

The best part of the story:
Spanish sharpshooters then fired at the Pan Hope's cables, breaking them so that a helicopter could hover over the ship and allow Marines to rappel down to its deck.


:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:47 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, December 19, 2002 ::

AC-130 Video

This is pretty cool, and highly instructive about our Rules of Engagement in Afghanistan (maybe a little too instructive).
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:16 AM [+] ::

I Need Serious Help

I get every one of these, and even find them funny.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:01 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, December 18, 2002 ::

Ding-ding, Ding-ding

B.M.F.'s, arriving ...
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:54 PM [+] ::

No Shit?

"Intel Official: Iraqi Military not Eager to Engage U.S. Troops"
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:47 PM [+] ::

A Man After My Own Heart

I had the pleasure of attending a discussion of A. Jay Cristol's new book on the attack on USS Liberty, at the Middle East Institute today.

I haven't read much of Cristol's book yet, but I have to say I was greatly impressed with the arguments he presented during his lecture, as well as his graciousness. He debunked a lot of common myths surrounding the incident, such as the oft-repeated lie that President Johnson had personally awarded 12 Medals of Honor in the White House on the same day that Liberty CO, Cmdr. William McGonagle, was presented his at the Washington Navy Yard.

He continues to post supporting documents to his Web site, including correspondence from CPO (now Dr.) Marvin Nowicki, an NSA linguist who monitored radio traffic from a Navy EC-121 during the attack, and whose comments on the incident have been grossly misrepresented by one of the more prominent Liberty conspiracy theorists, James Bamford.

He was also critical of the U.S. military, whose refusal to declassify a great deal of evidence from the attack (including the actual transmissions recorded by the EC-121) he argues has contributed to the growth of the conspiracy theories (having run out of appeals in the FOIA process, he is now filing a lawsuit to force their declassification).

What impressed me most about Cristol is patient responses to the criticisms of his work by Liberty survivors. At least one crew member, Joe Meadors, was in attendance. Cristol, before answering a question from Meadors, acknowledged him as a hero. Cristol expressed doubts that he would ever be able to convince many of the survivors that the Israelis attacked their ship knowing that it was an American warship, but stated rather bluntly that this wasn't really his mission. He voiced dismay that they have been duped and manipulated by craven political extremists who don't give a rat's ass about their well-being (I'm paraphrasing, of course), but that his goal is not to win over all the critics, but merely to set the record straight.

It's a shame there is only one A. Jay Cristol, while James Bamfords are a dime a dozen.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:41 PM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, December 17, 2002 ::

So Many Lies, So Little Time

It seems that the market for intelligence-insulting propaganda is growing ever smaller, as John Pilger's latest has yet to be published in a serious publication. While most of his mental defective audience has had to resort to linking to his own Web site, Pilger's amalgamation of conspiracy theory and gross distortions did manage to get picked up by [wait for it ... ] Pakistan's Daily Times.

Tim Blair liked to use the phrase "a lie on every page" to describe Pilger's latest book, but it seems he is now going for economy.

Lie #1:
The threat posed by US terrorism to the security of nations and individuals was outlined in prophetic detail in a document written more than two years ago and disclosed only recently.

The document in question -- the Project for the New American Century's report "Rebuilding America's Defenses" -- was written and published more than two years ago -- September 2000 to be exact. The fact that it took the tinfoil hat crowd over two years to discover this "smoking gun" document only proves that they're as resourceful as they are literate.

Lie #2:
What was needed for America to dominate much of humanity and the world's resources, it said, was "some catastrophic and catalysing event - like a new Pearl Harbor".

For one thing, the PNAC document is about military transformation, not foreign policy or geopolitical strategy. What it actually stated was that "the process of transformation is likely to be a long one absent some catastrophic and catalysing event - like a new Pearl Harbor."

This is certainly not the first time a member of the Hebephrenic Left has flagrantly misrepresented a quote about Pearl Harbor, and this distortion is about as original as Gore Vidal's (whose argument was lifted wholesale from internet conspiracy charlatan Mike Ruppert) claim that Zbigniew Brzezinski was yearning for such a "cataclysmic" event to justify imperial aggression.

In both cases, it was merely an indisputable statement of fact -- and a twinge of regret -- that historically it has indeed taken such an event to overcome isolationist tendencies.

For more on the what the 2000 PNAC report really stood for, go here.

Lie #3:
On the morning of 12 September 2001, without any evidence of who the hijackers were, Rumsfeld demanded that the US attack Iraq. According to Woodward, Rumsfeld told a cabinet meeting that Iraq should be "a principal target of the first round in the war against terrorism". Iraq was temporarily spared only because Colin Powell, the secretary of state, persuaded Bush that "public opinion has to be prepared before a move against Iraq is possible". Afghanistan was chosen as the softer option.

Another gruesome perversion of another journalist's work. As Woodward's piece makes clear, the hawks wanted to hit Iraq first because it was the "softer target" ...
Wolfowitz seized the opportunity. He was worried about 100,000 US troops getting bogged down in Afghanistan. In contrast, Iraq was a brittle, oppressive regime that might break easily. It was doable.[The Weekend Australian, 30 Nov. 2002]

Lie #4:
The Unocal oil company is to build a pipeline across Afghanistan.

No, they are not.

Lie #5:
Under cover of propaganda about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, the Bush regime is developing new weapons of mass destruction that undermine international treaties on biological and chemical warfare.

Simply nonsense. There are indeed questions about whether some of the new weapons we are developing would undemine those treaties, but ironically, it's the nonlethal technologies that are creating these issues.

This is reminiscent of Operation Northwoods, the plan put to President Kennedy by his military chiefs for a phoney terrorist campaign ...

Actually, Operation Northwoods never made it past McNamara, who correctly rejected them out of hand.

complete with bombings, hijackings, plane crashes and dead Americans - as justification for an invasion of Cuba.

Perhaps the most flagrant of his piece. Virtually every rabid anti-American nutcase has pointed to Operation Northwoods -- a 40-year-old plan of mass deception conjured up by a few unstable Generals that never came close to implementation -- as proof that terrorist attacks of today -- real terrorist attacks -- must have been orchestrated by the CIA.

What is amazing is how obvious it is that none of them -- certainly not Pilger -- have ever bothered to read the actual declassified report itself. That document makes it clear that the worst aspect of the proposed operation was that it would be entirely fake -- blowing up "drone (unmanned) vessels" and "funerals for mock-victims." Though some of the proposals would have recklessly endangered Cuban refugees, the idea that Northwoods actually called for actual terrorist attacks and "dead Americans" is outrageous.

Kennedy rejected it. He was assassinated a few months later.

Again, it was rejected by McNamara, who was allowed to live a long and fruitful life(for him, anyway -- don't know about the rest of us) by the insidious military industrial complex.

Lie #9:
Now Rumsfeld has resurrected Northwoods ...

The "resurrected" Northwoods is actually the Proactive Pre-emptive Operations Group (P2OG), a recommended task force whose mission would be to provoke terrorists -- again, real terrorists -- "that is, for instance, prodding terrorist cells into action and exposing themselves to "quick-response" attacks by U.S. forces." There is little room for anything but sheer dishonesty in this comparison.

You can read Pilger's next column in the Balochistan [gesundheit] Post
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:09 PM [+] ::

Five Million Miles and Running

:: COINTELPRO Tool 7:38 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, December 16, 2002 ::

Buchanan Tries to Rewrite History ... Again

The neocon punching bag has proven to be one of Trent Lott's most obnoxious supporters:
MR. BUCHANAN: I think Trent Lott has probably, with this, fully expiated a sin he did not commit, John. There was no hatred and malice in what he said. There was no hatred or malice behind it. It was a gracious gesture to an old man, 100 years old.

The hatred is directed at Mr. Lott, in the most vicious attack I've seen in this city in my life, for absolutely nothing at all.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, if you think that Trent Lott got up there and said, "Let's -- I'm going to say the old segregationist was right," that is preposterous! You are imputing a thought to Trent Lott he did not have. The president of the United States was wrong; he behaved as a country club Republican. He not only cut Trent loose by name -- it's right to pull himself away, but he should have said, "Segregation was wrong. Senator Lott agrees with that. They misinterpreted his remark; he's a good man, we all know it." But I think, John, that Ronald Reagan would not have done what George Bush did to Trent Lott, and I think it was wrong.
MR. BUCHANAN: His sin is not being aware of how vicious and hateful this town can be, and you've got to watch every single word, because they will jump on you and kill you in a second if you are a Southern Christian conservative.

Of course, no transcription could possibly do justice to the hydrophobic tone with which he made these remarks.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:35 PM [+] ::

Headline and a Photo

Arafat: Bin Laden Exploits Palestinians

:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:14 AM [+] ::
:: Saturday, December 14, 2002 ::

Which Euroweenie Are You?

Hey, could be worse. A lot worse.
[Via Cracker Barrel Philosopher]
:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:42 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, December 13, 2002 ::

:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:00 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, December 11, 2002 ::

Sorry, Not Buying It

Here is Trent Lott's latest excuse for his remarks in favor of a Thurmond victory in 1948:
"The words were terrible and I regret that," Mr. Lott told the conservative radio and television commentator Sean Hannity in an interview broadcast simultaneously on Mr. Hannity's radio program and the Fox cable-television news channel. "It was certainly not intended to endorse his segregationist policies that he might have been advocating, or was advocating, 54 years ago."

Rather, Mr. Lott said, he meant to hail Mr. Thurmond's record on issues like national defense, balancing the budget and economic development rather than the views on race Mr. Thurmond held when he ran for president on a Dixiecrat platform opposing "social intermingling of the races."

This might be believable if Thurmond had actually run on those issues -- or any other issues besides "segregation forever," for that matter. But I suppose it's not as cynical and dishonest as his initial response.

What I find particularly galling about his statement is that the Dixiecrats were hardly conservative about anything but race. They were Big Government Liberals who happened to also be racist, in the William Jennings Bryan tradition. Thus, someone who calls himself a Conservative should find the Strom Thurmond of 1948 far more abhorrent than other racists, and certainly less palatable than other Democrats of the time.

I don't believe Trent Lott is a racist. Being a racist would be proof that he had any strong convictions at all. What does the man stand for? Fiscal Conservatism? Whatever. No really, I believe you. No, I'm not being sarcastic at all. Lott's record shows that he has no principles at all, other than the Aggrandizement of Trent Lott.

The Thurmond remark was no gaffe. It was merely Lott shamelessly pandering to the audience of the moment.

Speaking of pandering, does our president have anything to say on this issue, or is this another one of those state's rights issues he isn't supposed to interfere in?

UPDATE: The president has spoken.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:18 PM [+] ::

Give the Man Some Credit

The venom circulating in the blogosphere over Jimmy Carter's Nobel Peace Prize is a bit unseemly, not to mention unwarranted. It's as if recognizing the good things the man has done -- and there are many -- would somehow negate all criticism of his performance as president (which has itself been greatly overwrought.

This morning, C-SPAN offered Carter's remarks in his acceptance speech -- "War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good" -- as fodder for their Washington Journal call-in show. Seems to be a pretty innocuous statement to me, but nonetheless, the bile deluged in from both sides.

Carter may fail to realize that our current situation is one of those "sometimes," but I don't see how anyone could disagree, much less rail against, the above statement.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:52 AM [+] ::
:: Sunday, December 08, 2002 ::

I Do Say, Those al-Qaeda Chaps Are a Slippery Lot

Calpundit points out some serious oddities in the language used by an aonymous [ahem] CIA source in Fisk's latest. I've wondered myself what kind of CIA officer would be talking to Fisk at all, even though I think the points in Fisk's column are, for once, valid.

Of course al-qaeda are using more primitive means of communication to evade ELINT interceptions. But this isn't new -- they've used "addidas suits and runners" for years. In fact, since the 1998 TLAM strikes, bin Laden himself has refused to use cellular or satellite phones, preferring more direct, point -to-point radio communications. But since his old stomping grounds are now crawling with SOF and regular army personnel, all within HF radio range, it stands to reason that al-qaeda would stick to couriers.

But notice how Fisk's latest serves as a textbook case of Herbert's Rule for reading Fisk in action (because it's all about me). Recall that Fisk was thoroughly convinced of the validity of the latest bin Laden tape, and ...
When he was recorded, bin Laden was not talking into a tape-recorder. He was talking into a telephone. The man on the other end of the line -- quite possibly in Pakistan -- held the recorder. Bin Laden may not have been in the same city as the man with the recorder. He may well not have been in the same country.


:: COINTELPRO Tool 7:12 PM [+] ::
:: Saturday, December 07, 2002 ::

Why They Hate Us, Part 18,973

As this point suggests, Middle Eastern radicals have opposed the United States not because it has not worked hard enough to bring about a just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, but for the opposite reason: because the radicals want to ensure that Washington fails to do so. This is why terrorism has always increased whenever it seemed that the diplomatic pursuit of peace might succeed. Hence Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon, urged by the United States, was greeted in the region not as a step toward ending occupation or achieving peace, but as a sign of weakness and a signal that Israel's enemies should escalate violence against it. The September 11 attacks, meanwhile, were planned at a time when the peace process seemed closest to success. It is no accident that Middle Eastern anti-Americanism peaked at the very moment when the United States was proposing to support the creation of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem.

There are no new earth-shattering revelations in Barry Rubin's latest in Foreign Affairs, but it certainly does a comprehensive job of debunking the myth of America's "one-sided (in favor of Israel) policy in the Middle East." He also demolishes the tired nonsense about U.S. "dominion" over the region (that nationalized property of the American oil barons and initiated an embargo against us, to which we responded with Camp David I), and shows the real reasons for anti-Americanism and Muslim extremism:
The basic reason for the prevalence of Arab anti-Americanism, then, is that it has been such a useful tool for radical rulers, revolutionary movements, and even moderate regimes to build domestic support and pursue regional goals with no significant costs. Indeed, as a strategy, anti-Americanism seems to offer something for everyone. For radical Islamists, anti-Americanism has been a way to muster popular favor despite the fact that all attempts (other than in Iran) to stage a theocratic revolution have been rejected by the masses and hence failed. The Islamists have turned instead to fostering xenophobia, transforming their battle from one among Muslims into a struggle between Muslims as a whole and heathens who purportedly hate Islam and seek to destroy Muslims.

As mentioned before, anti-Americanism is equally useful to oppressive Arab regimes, since it allows them to deflect attention from their own many failings. Instead of responding to demands for democracy, human rights, higher living standards, less corruption and incompetence, or new leadership, rulers blame America for their own societies' ills and refocus popular anger against it. Regimes can demand national unity and shut up reformers in the face of the supposed American "threat." And by seizing the anti-Americanism card, Arab governments make sure their opponents will not use it against them.

Again, nothing here you probably didn't already know, but in the face of the constant drum of lies by Left, it certainly bears repeating: rather than being the results of "desperation," Islamic fascism is nothing more than the Middle Eastern version of the ignorant, lazy redneck who blames affirmative action for his woes.

We coddle them at our peril.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:36 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, December 05, 2002 ::

U.S. Unable to Rebuild Afghanistan in 11 Months -- Operation Declared a Total Failure

Stephen Chapman notes that efforts to urb opium production in Afghanistan have as yet been a complete failure. They certainly have, but Chapman leaps from that fact to conclude:
So what exactly did happen with all that "we won't walk away from Afghanistan" talk we were hearing a year ago? If you ever hear George Bush saying: "We won't walk away from Iraq," I suggest having his exact words graven into marble and embedded into the asphalt of Pennsylvania Avenue right outside the White House.

This, of course, is complete nonsense. While it's true that the U.S. hasn't exactly replicated the Marshall Plan for the wartorn country (and the aid we have promised has been delayed by a partisan budgetary impasse), America is still very much in Afghanistan. Though the media has only recently decided to cover the boring civil affairs projects conducted by the U.S. military in Afghanistan -- and Ahmed Rashid has portrayed this as a "shift in focus," while pointing out over 225 small projects already completed by the U.S. military -- these projects have been going on all year, and the effort is growing. All of this despite the fact that the NGO's in Afghanistan would rather we did turn our backs on the country. You don't suppose there's a tinge of jealousy -- or maybe simple fear at the prospect of gun-toting thugs being able to do their job better than they can, do you? Nah!

It's also clear that the Brit's have also remained engaged. Even the Wanker piece Chapman cites confirm this, as the opium debacle only proves we haven't yet figured out how to break the warlords' influence.

It's also wrong to blame the current government -- or a lack of Western support for it -- for the resurgence of the opium harvesting. The UN doesn't even do that:
These figures are not the manifestation of a failure of Afghan authorities or of the international drug control efforts. They can only be interpreted in the context of that country's realities of the past year: the cultivation took place during the total collapse of law and order in the fall 2001, long before the new government of Dr. Hamid Karzai was in place, and before the UN-coordinated effort to rebuild the country devastated by the two decades of conflict had even begun.

So how about waiting just a little longer before writing the obituary of the Failed Karzai Presidency™?

:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:56 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, December 04, 2002 ::

Molehills to Mountains Watch

As CNN's Martin Savidge notes, there has been a lot of noise about the provision in the Leave No Child Behind Act that requires secondary schools to provide military recruiters with the same student data that they provide universities and other "solicitors."
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: The military is heading back to high school, and stirring up some controversy along the way. A new law says that high schools must cooperate with the Pentagon and hand over information about its juniors and seniors or risk losing federal funding. The information is supposed to help military recruitments. David Driscoll is the Massachusetts education commissioner. He joins us live from Boston with his input.

What sort of reaction have you been getting from parents on this issue?

So far, so good ...
DAVID DRISCOLL, MASSACHUSETTS EDUCATION COMMISSIONER: Well, surprisingly, not much. There has been a couple of issues about the concern about disclosure in this day and age where there are some messy divorces and concerns about abduction, but generally speaking, this is been a provision that's been pretty much accepted by parents and is going forth.

What?!? This guy's supposed to be the education commissioner for the state of Massachusetts, for fuck's sake.
SAVIDGE: Do school systems there feel like they're being threatened by the U.S. government, either give us the information or lose your money?

DRISCOLL: Well, I mean, that's the provision. I don't think threaten is the right word. I think people in schools recognize that this is part of the law, and they are willing to accept it, have to accept it, it's the law, and it they are complying.

Come on, Driscoll. Work with me here. Who booked this guy? Didn't we have him checked out?
SAVIDGE: From what I've read about this, Mr. Driscoll, this is the same sort of access that is allowed, say, to colleges or those that want to push higher education or maybe even the private sector. Is that right?

DRISCOLL: Well, it is for higher education, institutions of higher education, and it can be used for scholarship purposes, et cetera. So I think the thing that makes it less controversial, at least in Massachusetts, is the fact that there's an opt-out provision.

SAVIDGE: And what is that, how does that work?

DRISCOLL: Well, parents and/or students can give written notification that they don't want their name, address, and telephone number given to recruiters. So to that extent, there is this opt-out.

SAVIDGE: Well, I always thought the military program was something to be proud of, a prestigious possible job for the future. Some seem to say that by having access to these students, it's almost like infiltrating the house.

DRISCOLL: Well, I think that issue has been raised, but I think it's frankly very minor. At workshops, principals, sometimes parents will raise that issue, but quite frankly on the ground, the recruiters are asking for the information, they are getting it, and parents aren't opting out.

That can't be. Come on, throw me a bone. [Al Pacino voice]I'm dyin' here![/Al Pacino voice]

:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:40 PM [+] ::

That's Just For Tenderizing the Turducken!

Here's the Thanksgiving weekend contraband take from U.S. airports:
Despite pervasive publicity on the restrictions since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, thousands of people apparently just got that news.

Seized at airports during the Thanksgiving crush: 15,982 pocket knives, 98 boxcutters, six guns and a brick.[Emphasis added]

Who brought the brick? I didn't know Richard Reid had a brother.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:06 PM [+] ::

Ah, San Francisco. Tolerant San Francisco

Kevin at Links I Like notes the latest front in the anti-Israel divestment campaign, this one in Bay Area grocery stores.

How about a boycott against the Rainbow (no irony in that name!) Grocery coop? It's owned by the employees, who vote on such measures as banning Jew products, so you wouldn't have to worry about the boycott harming innocent workers who have no say in company policy. You'll be able to rest assured that all those harmed by this "direct action" f'ing deserve it!

Say, I kind of like this employee ownership concept.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:51 PM [+] ::

Question Time for Adel al-Jubeir

Stephen Schwartz poses ten questions to challenge the Saudi foreign minister's spin doctor. Most of his points are valid ones, but two of his questions (which are allegations, really) suggest something that isn't quite accurate:
6. Where has bin Laden ever denounced, by name, the Saudi regime or anybody in it?

7. Where has bin Laden ever called directly for the overthrow of the Saudi state?

Let me help you with that one, Stevie:
BIN LADEN As regards the contacts with the Saudi government, I would like to state that the Saudi government initiated contacts during the last period in the Sudan. They sent several delegations to enter into negotiations aimed at convincing me to keep silent on the unjust American occupation of the land of the two mosques. (Saudi Arabia is home to mosques considered the holiest in the Islamic religion.)

By the grace of God, Praise and Glory be to him, we were able to reject these attempts. As for Prince Turki bin Faisal, director of the Saudi Intelligence Service, he came to Kandahar several times and met with the Commander of the Believers, Mullah Muhammed Omar. He asked him to surrender us to him or to expel us from Afghanistan.
This was met be great surprise on the part of the Taliban state (Afghanistan). They had expected that the American government would be the one to come back to them after the failure of the last visit by (U.S. envoy) Mr. Richardson, who was rebuffed by the Taliban, may God give them the rewards they deserve. Price Turki also returned empty handed. It was as if he came as an envoy of the American government.

I would also like to add that our work targets world infidels in the first place. Our enemy is the crusader alliance led by America, Britain and Israel. It is a crusader-Jewish alliance. However, some regimes in the Arab and Muslim worlds have joined that alliance, preventing us Muslims from defending the holy Ka'Aba. Our hostility is in the first place, and to the greatest extent, leveled against these world infidels, and by necessity the regimes which have turned themselves into tools for this occupation of the greatest House in the Universe and the first House of Worship appointed for men.

BIN LADEN Praise be to God. An attempt on my life took place when the Saudi regime sent a number of people, who, though were born in the land of the two mosques (Saudi Arabia), were deprived of citizenship.The Saudi regime exploited this weakness and offered them large sums of money in return for trying to assassinate me.

By the Grace of God, Praise and Glory be to him, the Taliban were able to arrest one of them. His name is Saddik Ahwad. He confessed that Prince Salman bin-Abdel Aziz, the brother of the current king of the land of the two mosques, has promised to give him citizenship and a million rials if he was able, together with two other colleagues of his, to assassinate Osama bin-laden. We were not hurt. For us God suffices and as I said life-time is pre-ordained.

Peter Bergen writes in Holy War, Inc. that "Bin Laden made no secret of the fact that he was interested in fomenting a revolution in Saudi Arabia, and that his new regime would rule in accordance with the seventh-century precepts of theProphet Mohammed."

This is not to suggest that there was anything truthful in Jubeir's rant. But Schwartz overstates the case against the Saudis to such an extreme as to damage the credibility of those who demand the regime change its ways. The allegation that the al-qaeda does not consider the Saudi royals as an enemy, and that the Saudis knowingly support their efforts is nonsense.

The Saudis are guilty of fomenting terrorism, but their guilt is one of denial. They just don't get it, even today. They continue to believe that there is no nexus between the brand of intolerance and hatred that they have exported under the guise of a religion and the acts of terror committed in its name -- much like our own religious conservatives believe they can preach that homosexuals are depraved, and even "inhuman," but that cannot be linked to violence committed against them.

(No, I'm not saying our fundamentalists are as bad as Islamo-fascists. It's an analogy, and one on a different scale).

:: COINTELPRO Tool 5:01 PM [+] ::

Media Lies About the Pentagon

A common theme of U.S. media coverage of Operation Enduring Freedom has been that the military has used an unprecedented level of restrictions against journalist access to the real action, prefering to shape coverage through pentagon brieings and DoD b-roll. This has been universally accepted as a fact, even though it is a gross distortion of reality.

The latest example is this thumbsucker in the LA Times:
The Pentagon, in a departure from recent policy, is planning to deploy hundreds of print reporters, photographers and television journalists with front-line U.S. units if there is a war with Iraq.

Faced with the churn of 24/7 news and the prospect that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will mount an effective media campaign of his own, Pentagon officials have concluded that reporters "embedded" with units will be more credible witnesses to history than military briefers.

This meme has been repeated in the media to the point of being hackneyed, even though there is little basis for the assumption that this approach is in any way a "new strategy." In fact, it's total horseshit.

Repeat after me: the pentagon embedded media within front line units in the war in Afghanistan. Reporters were on our aircraft carriers when the bombing sorties started on Oct. 7 of last year. They also accompanied the Marines when they landed in Afghanistan -- the New York Times headline read, "Marines Land in Afghanistan With Panache, Semper Fi and Press Tagging Along," which prompted a strong rebuke from the Marines, who objected to the suggestion that they were engaging in "slick PR moves." In an NYT letter, Lt. Col Betsy Judge wrote:
It would be foolish to say that we do not relish good coverage, but there is a higher calling. We work for the American people. More important, they allow us to recruit their sons and daughters and, when necessary, send them into harm's way. They deserve to know what is going on in the military, particularly in times like these. That is not showmanship; it is the right thing to do. American service members give their lives protecting the liberties we cherish, not the least of which is a free press. We are thankful that our operations thus far in Afghanistan have met with success, and the press has been there to report it. Had things not gone so well, the press would have been there to cover that as well.

Kind of funny how the press the military for both granting access to operations and restricting it, almost in the same breath.

The press even got to go on special forces operations in Shah-i-Kot and, of course, they had free reign within Afghanistan to investigate bomb damage, allegations of massacres, and what not. The only "access" they were denied throughout the entire war was to accompany special forces in their initial raids within Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

But that, of course, is the real sticking point -- the press defined those specific operations as the "front lines," which, in this unconventional form of warfare, they were. But the idea that reporters could ever accompany military units operating deep within enemy controlled territory -- where they have to complete their tasks quickly and discreetly, and then get the fuck out ASAP -- is incredibly ignorant. The press has never been afforded this absurd level of accommodation, and they never will. Nor should they.

I'm happy to see the "journalist bootcamp" initiatives that have been both celebrated and mocked in the press, but not because I believe that it will satisfy the press' desire to get close to the fighting (it won't). I applaud the efforts because they just might enable reporters to understand what they're covering. Then, perhaps, they'll be able to understand why they can't tag along on SEAL missions.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 2:37 PM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, December 03, 2002 ::

Liars and Lucky Ducks

Matthew Hoy accuses Paul Krugman of lying when he claimed that a Wall Street Journal editorial advocated raising taxes on the poor. Hoy is correct that the WSJ didn't explicitly say the words "raise taxes on those 'lucky ducks' who are avoiding paying income taxes my suppressing their annual income at the $12,000 level," but I have to say I agree with Andrew Edwards, who notes in Hoy's comments:
Let's see. The Journal says that the extremely poor "lucky duckies" who make $12 000 a year pay little or no tax.

Then it says that, in your words, "everyone should pay some income taxes", and presents it as a problem that "fewer and fewer people are responsible for paying more and more of all taxes"
How do we take the extremely poor from little or no income tax to some significant proportion of the total income tax base without raising their taxes?

As the professor would say, indeed.

But lie or no lie, the WSJ editorial itself is rife with intellectual dishonesty. In addition to the "lucky ducks" nonsense, it carries on the time honored conservative tradition of omitting all other taxes besides the income tax in painting a picture of the tax burden on the rich. WSJ also whines about a 2000 study showing "that the top 5% coughed up more than half of total tax revenue," with no mention of the disproportionate amount of wealth held by the same group -- not that there's anything wrong with having disproportionate wealth, but to bitch about the higher tax burden that goes along with it is a bit hard to stomach. And the whole point of an income tax is to tax income, not people, so the statistic is as meaningless as it is deceiving.

The editorial also ignores the glaring failure of these horrendous "disincentives" to have any impact on the income growth among the richest Americans -- which proves the very premise of the editorial wrong.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:39 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, December 02, 2002 ::

Screw Duty and Country -- Just Give Me My Pension

The Sacramento Bee has a glowing profile of Denise-Christine (I guess that's her jull name; don't ask about the hyphen), a California Air National Guardsmen whose conscience can no longer let her serve as a merchant of death:
As her old dog and ailing cat look on, she begins to unload the way many people unload these days, by typing out a long, detailed e-mail intended to explain her inner struggle, her strange place in these troubled times.

The clock on the wall is ticking, but it cannot tick fast enough for her.

"I spent this past weekend with my California Air National Guard unit," she begins writing that night in early October, "taking part in what I sincerely hope will be my very last field exercise EVER!" The e-mail will be sent to dozens of friends and colleagues in her computer address book.

Gosh, I've never witnessed such esprit de corps! Torn between duty and the thought of not getting a pension for her troubleconscience, she slavers on. Hell, she's got less than a year until she can retire. Won't catch her trying to weasel her way out of her commitment, no siree.
While most Americans worry about war or look forward to getting on with it, Denise's reluctance links her to her past in a profound and all but inescapable way. Will she have to be true to her country by going off to war? Or can she get out of the Guard in time to be true to herself?

"The only reason I am still in the military is because I signed a piece of paper and I honor my commitments," she said during a recent interview. "Otherwise, I would have been out three years ago."

This is an outrage. Do the officers in this woman's chain of command have no compassion whatsoever?

Please, if there are any CANG brass within a few mouseclicks of this blog, I beseech you: let this poor woman go. Now. I know there's little chance we'll be visiting wanton violence upon the Hussein regime before he 20 is up, but we simply cannot take that chance.

Release her from her "commitment" immediately. Have a heart for once.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 5:31 PM [+] ::

Separated at Birth?

Dawn Martinez-Byrne e-mails to note the "startling resemblance" the NY Observer's flattering treatment of Gore to another American cultural idol. She also points out that Gore was no where to be found during Beavis & Butthead's visit to the White House in Beavis & Butthead Do America. I hadn't noticed it before, but the resemblance is uncanny.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:18 AM [+] ::
:: Sunday, December 01, 2002 ::


This photo just had to have been taken in the DC area. And don't get me started on how much of a berth these idiots need to merge onto a freeway.

Okay, so it's Oregon. But I can relate!
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:31 PM [+] ::

:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:43 PM [+] ::

Fisk on Bin Laden

Given Robert Fisk's repeated claims of "knowing" Osama bin Laden, and hence being uniquely qualified to comment on his motives, it is worth looking at his first interview with the terrorist, a December 1993 piece which ran under the headline, "Anti-Soviet warrior puts his army on the road to peace; The Saudi businessman who recruited mujahedin now uses them for large-scale building projects in Sudan."
With his high cheekbones, narrow eyes and long brown robe, Mr Bin Laden looks every inch the mountain warrior of mujahedin legend. Chadored children danced in front of him, preachers acknowledged his wisdom. ''We have been waiting for this road through all the revolutions in Sudan,'' a sheikh said. ''We waited until we had given up on everybody - and then Osama Bin Laden came along.'' Outside Sudan, Mr Bin Laden is not regarded with quite such high esteem. The Egyptian press claims he brought hundreds of former Arab fighters back to Sudan from Afghanistan, while the Western embassy circuit in Khartoum has suggested that some of the ''Afghans'' whom this Saudi entrepreneur flew to Sudan are now busy training for further jihad wars in Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt. Mr Bin Laden is well aware of this. ''The rubbish of the media and the embassies,'' he calls it. ''I am a construction engineer and an agriculturalist. If I had training camps here in Sudan, I couldn't possibly do this job.''
Thus did Mr Bin Laden reflect upon jihad while his former fellow combatants looked on. Was it not a little bit anti-climactic for them, I asked, to fight the Russians and end up road-building in Sudan? ''They like this work and so do I. This is a great plan which we are achieving for the people here, it helps the Muslims and improves their lives.''

His Bin Laden company - not to be confused with the larger construction business run by his cousins - is paid in Sudanese currency which is then used to purchase sesame and other products for export; profits are clearly not Mr Bin Laden's top priority.

How did he feel about Algeria, I asked? But a man in a green suit calling himself Mohamed Moussa - he claimed to be Nigerian although he was a Sudanese security officer - tapped me on the arm. ''You have asked more than enough questions,'' he said. At which Mr Bin Laden went off to inspect his new road.

Read the whole thing. It defies explanation, much less any editorial comment.
But it does confirm Herbert's Rule for reading Fisk properly.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:35 AM [+] ::

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