:: The Fred Willard Fan Site ::

(UNDER CONSTRUCTION)

:: Monday, March 31, 2003 ::

Ready to Quit His Day Job

I thought it would be a while before Treacher could come up with a worthy follow-up to lowering Janine Garofalo into a plastic shredder but he has some classic posts up today.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:19 PM [+] ::
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The Guardian Copies Antonia Zerbisias

John Sutherland criticizes the vitriol that some bloggers have directed toward Rachel Corrie, the terror apologist who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer as she rather foolishly tried to protect its target.

As I've said before, the comments suggesting that this young woman got what was coming to her were wrong, regardless of her twisted worldview and misplaced sympathies. I should add, however, that most of the comments I found inappropriate were not from bloggers, but from reader comments (Sutherland himself had to resort to quoting those comments to find reprehensible remarks).

That said, these same bloggers have performed a public service by pointing out the flaws in reporting of this tragic incident. Corrie was by no humanistic calculus an "antiwar activist," but could be correctly characterized, no matter how rude some might find it, as a terrorist sympathizer.

Sutherland takes issue with all this, and even goes so far as to make the following outrageous statement:
Two days later a contrary photograph of Rachel appeared, first in the Seattle Times (the article accompanying it has since been removed). It depicts her snarling, shawled and in a Palestinian street demonstration, tearing up a paper US flag. The provenance given for the photograph (a mysterious snapper called "Khalil Hamra") led nowhere. Where, then, had it come from? Paranoia suggested the Israeli secret service, which monitors such events. This picture also looked, to some expert eyes, doctored.

None the less, the damage was done. Americans are hypersensitive about desecration of the Stars and Stripes.

I did a Lexis-Nexis search for Khalil Hamra's byline on photo captions and found 21 entries, all from the occupied territories, dating back to April 2002. Most of the captions were for pictures of "slain militants" and their funerals. Many were from the Rafah refugee camp. Not sure how "mysterious" this is supposed to be.

Sutherland's statement about the photo being "doctored" is also peculiar. He doesn't cite these "experts" by name, and the photographers who work for me sure would not concur with that judgement (though they acknowledge that with photoshop, it's impossible to tell for sure unless it's done sloppily).

Both these lines of reasoning used by Sutherland are familiar to me: I saw exact same arguments ("no one knows who this Khalil Hamra is" and "the photo appears to have been manipulated) in a post at Indymedia, attributed to the National Vanguard Network. I haven't seen the same argument made by anoyone else until now (though, like most neonazi propaganda, it may very well have been picked up by various Arab media).

I've e-mailed Sutherland to ask for the sources of his ridiculous claims, as I do suspect that this is yet another example of a mainstream commentator granting legitimacy to anti-Semitic propaganda. I doubt I'll hear back from him.

UPDATE AND CORRECTION: I initially referred to the Vanguard News Network as the intellectual origin for Sutherland's doctored-photo argument. It was actually the National Vanguard Network, another repository for creamy Turner Diary goodness.

Zach Cohen [permalinks no workie] has a great post, covering the rest of Sutherland's paranoid rantings, and Stefan Sharkansky responds to his hysterical suggestions that blogs like Shark's are more frightening than WMD. Not to hyperbolize or anything.

May 11 UPDATE: Sutherland apparently never received my e-mail, but has read this post. Read about his response here.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:10 PM [+] ::
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Semantics

So what do we have here? On Ghaleb's testimony, he was impressed into military service against his will. He was not used as a "human shield," if we take that to mean "civilians placed between Iraqi fighters and coalition troops to restrain coalition troops from firing on the fighters." By putting Ghaleb in uniform they make him look less like a civilian. Coalition troops encountering Ghaleb and his unfortunate comrades believed they were encountering uniformed belligerents and acted accordingly, as they had every right to - that's how Ghaleb got shot in the leg. To use Ghaleb as a human shield, you would keep him in civvies and stand behind him.

Fine, so they just used the guy as a human decoy rather than a human shield. Though, as a former line officer I would tend to count decoys (chaff, NIXIE, etc.) as having a shielding effect. The point of this is what, exactly?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:20 AM [+] ::
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:: Sunday, March 30, 2003 ::

Yeah, CNN Is Really Sorry They Let This Guy Go

Moments ago, Fox News showed a clip of disgraced journalist Peter Arnett doing an interview on Iraqi TV. He took credit for increasing opposition to the war by pointing out its flaws, calling the American battle plan a "failure," and taking credit for the fact that we now have to start over.

Just four days ago, Reuters was running puff pieces on the guy, lauding his "comeback" and saying that he had "avenged" his firing from CNN.

In true Reuters form, they also reported:
The 68-year-old New Zealand-born broadcast journalist has more company in Baghdad this time -- competition from scores of other journalists, many of them from the Arab media. And, unlike 12 years ago, he is reporting free of the censorship that led some critics to brand him as a propaganda tool.

Indeed, one could make the argument that Arnett and other Western reporters in Baghdad enjoy greater freedom to tell their stories without prior restraint than their colleagues "embedded" with U.S. troops.

The real irony here is that this same story includes mention of the fact that CNN had been expelled from Baghdad nearly a week ago.

Of course, it shold have been expected that Arnett would shamelessly such up to the Iraqi government, ostensibly to land an interview with Saddam Husein himself. Here's what he said about the upcoming war last December:
I love people who think that war should be fought out in the open and there?s a chivalry about war and how we do it. The U.S. uses B52?s that bomb from 60,000 feet, ok? They?re pretty hard to hit from the ground. So the fact that Saddam puts his tanks among the population, what?s the difference? The U.S. uses cruise missiles that are fired from warships 500 miles away, so you can?t fire back at them. So to suggest that somehow there are rules in war and you shouldn?t fight wars near civilians, c?mon! Baghdad was hit with all kinds of bombs, a civilian air raid shelter killed 380 people, civilians died. If you?re going to have rules let both sides observe them. If Saddam happens to want to fight in the cities, this is a standard aspect of warfare.


:: COINTELPRO Tool 6:21 PM [+] ::
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Looks Like We Did It

Tim Blair's readers have corroborated the evidence provided by none other than Robert Fisk on the Baghdad market bombing that killed 17 people. It appears to have been a High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM). I certainly bought the Pentagon line that this was more likely a surface-to-air missile fired ballistically by the Iraqis, due to the damage (or lack thereof) caused (did you see the crater? We got potholes in DC bigger than that), and I still maintain that the Iraqi line that it was a TLAM is total horseshit.

But a HARM would certainly do that amount of damage, and Blair's expert readers seem to have the goods. That he would post their findings so promptly attests to his intellectual honesty and integrity. Contrast that with Fisk's, who as one of Blair's readers notes:
will capitalize on this by accusing Americans of committing a war crime, while the Saddamites pitilessly kill thousands of Iraqi innocents, use them as shields, commit unspeakable war crimes on my comrades-in-arms, prepare to use chemical weapons, and resort to terrorist tactics without a single word from him. What an asshole.

I have no idea if the Pentagon has assessed, or is even aware of, the serial number produced by Fisk. They have certainly left open the possibility that we did this, and I'm convinced that when facing this information, they will fess up.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:38 AM [+] ::
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:: Friday, March 28, 2003 ::

More Boneheaded Analysis from Jim Henley

Here's a textbook case of strawman argument:
The Lunatic Atmosphere of War - The mask is starting to slip, just a little, when it comes to Iraqi civilians. This article from the Ayn Rand Institute is representative of the first stirrings I'm seeing among the more firebreathing hawkish bloggers. From there it should spread to NRO and, in due course, the Pentagon ...

Of course. Ayn Rand Institute flunkies speak for all of us bloodthirsty hawks. I'll give Henley plenty of time to provide some substantiation for this broad generalization, but I won't hold my breath.

I have to wonder, has he ever been inside the Pentagon? His assessment of the Pentagon mindset is as far off the mark as any blog I've read.

UPDATE: Raimondo Lite responds:
Let me clarify: First, as I believe the original item makes perfectly clear, I was making a prediction. Arthur Silber already found another example. I'm saying there will be more as the war goes on. The test of my thesis takes place over time. Second, when I say "the Pentagon," I mean the Secretary of Defense and his merry band of civilian geniuses, not the uniformed military services, in that building or elsewhere. As I've made pretty clear over the last several months, I give great credeence to the argument that there is a serious rift between the two groups. Third, it's certainly possible that what I mean by "the Pentagon" may never need to make even sanitized, off-the-record versions of the arguments from the Ayn Rand Institute and Silent Running pieces - they may rely on their freelance apologists. In that case, I'll be partially wrong. In any case, watch the evolving policy to find out what they're thinking.

Like most critics of this war, he includes the obligatory I-meant-no-offense-to-our-brave-men-and-women-in-uniform-whom-I-support-fully suck up, which is really meaningless. As for this "serious rift" between the uniforms and the suits, Henley's facile analysis proves further what I said about his familiarity with all things military. Like his buddy Justin, he seems to be mistaking tactical and strategic differences with values and principles.

"The generals are against this war," they like to say. Wrong. "The generals" were against using the so-called Afghan Model to unseat Saddam, and heatedly argued for a larger invasion force (they are also pissed that Rumsfeld's QDR didn't allow for a larger force structure that could have better supported this endeavor, essentially abandoning the Two MTW doctrine). Although the force we ended up with (which continues to grow) could have been larger, the uniforms essentially won that debate. If anything, the uniforms would have preferred being true to the Shock and Awe motif than the civilian leadership, which would have inevitably led to more noncombatant casualties than we've seen thus far.

As for his "watch the policy" argument, tons of humanitarian supplies are now being moved into Iraq to feed these civilians whose lives we don't value, both from Kuwait and the channel we cleared of mines -- which I might add put our EOD divers and other mine counter measures assets in harm's way.

As Henley's past accusations and snarky comments demonstrate, his facile analysis can't get past the don't-believe-anything-defense-officials-say phase. Surely he can contribute something more substantive.

Yes, I realize Henley was making a prediction. His prediction was idiotic and will prove to be dead wrong -- that's my prediction. Henley doesn't mention that the second example he cited for "blaming the civilians we kill" has been roundly denounced. And while a few have professed to understand where the author "is coming from," no one has endorsed his argument. Nice try, though.


:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:01 AM [+] ::
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Light Posting

School and work have and will continue to limit my posting. To be honest, I've never had an interest in providing up-to-the-minute warblog linkage.

As far as I'm concerned, unless you're doing it on the prolific scale of the Command Post, there's no point in trying. It's important to keep in mind that every news report coming from the theater right now is, in addition to being subject to revisions and retractions, completely without context. So I'll prefer to remain in snake-in-the-grass mode right now, before trying to make generalized assessments on how the war is going based on individual dispatches.

That said, here's a non-OIF related story that should be getting a lot more play, war or no war:
BEIJING - For three straight days in recent weeks, something remarkable happened to the oil pipeline running through northeast China to North Korea - the oil stopped flowing, according to diplomatic sources, temporarily cutting off a vital lifeline for North Korea.
The pipeline shutdown, officially ascribed to a technical problem, followed an unusually blunt message delivered by China to its longtime ally in a high-level meeting in Beijing last month, the sources said. Stop your provocations about the possible development of nuclear weapons, China warned its neighbor, or face Chinese support for economic sanctions against the regime.

Such tough tactics show an unexpected resolve in Beijing's policy toward Pyongyang, and hint at the nervousness of Chinese leaders about North Korea's nuclear ambitions and North Korea's tensions with the United States.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:24 AM [+] ::
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:: Wednesday, March 26, 2003 ::

"No, I Mean It -- You Really Like Me!"

As a psychoanalyst might say, I believe you believe what you're saying:
But, no, look I was very appreciative of, you know, the standing ovation there and the booing that started was way up in the balcony, and then the people supporting what I was saying started booing them, and then it just turned into a (unintelligible) of people fighting with each other in the audience.

Hey, at least the fat bastard didn't say something like, "No, no, no, they weren't booing. They were chanting 'Moooooore.'"
[Via Tim Blair]
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:54 PM [+] ::
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More on the WMD We Sold to Iraq

A very interesting letter to the editor in today's Wall Street Journal [no link]:
Those Iraqi Weapons Are Not U.S.-Made


In regard to Robert L. Bartley's Thinking Things Over column and the editorial-page commentary by Gary Milhollin and Kelly Motz, both published March 24, referencing U.S. exports to Iraq that were approved by the Commerce Department during the 1980s:

Before readers assume there was some hidden agenda at Commerce to promote commercial sales to Iraq at the expense of U.S. security, the following additional points not mentioned in either article ought to be considered:

*It was the explicit policy of the U.S. government from the mid-1980s until the Iraq trade embargo in August 1990 that any Commerce Department approval of a commercial export to Iraq occur only with the prior consent of the Defense Department to ensure there would be no military benefit from the sale; certain commercial sales, but no weapon sales, were approved;

*Some of the items referenced as "approved by Commerce" in the Milhollin/Motz article were in fact not approved by Commerce because they required no approval for export to Iraq or any other country for that matter -- they were not on the control list at the time. Those agencies responsible in the U.S. government for defining the technologies that have weapons uses didn't include many biotech and chemical items in their assessments until 1989. Items on the control list that were "approvable" at the time were a matter of public record;

*Although not widely publicized, Commerce withheld export approval of many items destined to Iraq even though Defense had okayed the sales and there was scant legal basis at the time to deny the transactions. The combination of technology and end users didn't pass the "I want to sleep tonight" test. In some cases, Commerce officials telephoned U.S. executives to dissuade them from shipping and encouraged them to withdraw their export applications -- which worked more often than not, even though the reasons were often classified and couldn't be revealed to the exporter;

*Commerce was (and still is) an advocate in Washington for establishing U.S. and multilateral controls by key exporting nations on sensitive chemicals, biotech products and commercial products with nuclear weapons or missile applications. U.S.-led efforts were largely successful in the late 1980s and 1990s in getting other countries to agree to common restricted lists of these items. (Cooperation on implementation has not always been uniform, however.);

*Finally, in coordination with other agencies, Commerce issued regulations in early 1991 creating the legal authority to deny any U.S. export, even pencils and paper clips, if the destination was related to weapons of mass destruction, not just in the Persian Gulf region, but also in a number of areas around the world. Moreover, this authority has been used in real time by Commerce Department officials to interdict shipments that were already in progress but had not reached their final destination.

The weapons of the Iraqi military shown now on television are not U.S.-made, and any "blame America" suggestions don't have a basis in fact.

With 20-20 hindsight, we can all wish there had been a multilateral commercial trade embargo against Iraq long before 1990, so as to remove any doubt that a U.S.-made product might even tangentially contribute to keeping Saddam in power one second longer.

We can wish that U.S. intelligence assets were targeted to a greater extent on the Persian Gulf region in addition to the Soviet Union during the 1980s, so that the U.S. and other countries might have known more and acted sooner against the Iraqi regime.

But these issues were hashed out during the first Gulf War and are largely old news.

We can also wish the lessons from pre-1990 trade with Iraq would be learned and applied by the U.S. government to other countries with dubious leadership. In fact they were, more than 10 years ago, in export regulations issued by the Department of Commerce. Somehow, this is still news.

James M. LeMunyon, Oak Hill, Va.
(Mr. LeMunyon was the deputy assistant secretary for export administration at the Commerce Department from 1989-1993.)

It amazes me how the appeasers focus more on these transgressions committed nearly twenty years ago (when everyone thought Hussein's Ba'ath regime was progressive) than they do on attempts by France and Russia to dismantle the sanctions against Iraq and allow Saddam to rebuild his arsenal well after we knew what a threat he was.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:58 AM [+] ::
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A Sign of Desperation?

You may have heard by now about a rumor that Elizabeth Cheney, the vice president's daughter, is on her way to Baghdad to be a human shield. The story has already been debunked, but you can bet it won't die a quiet death. I just heard an Asian reporter refer to it in a question (actually, it was more of a rant, really) to BGEN Brooks at the CENTCOM news briefing in Qatar less than an hour ago.

Like the now-infamous "ten year old footage" claim that actual footage of Palestinians celebrating the Sept. 11 attacks had been shot back in 1990, this howler had little basis to begin with (it started, near as I can tell with a Moscow Echo radio report, which was entirely unsourced), but quickly spread to the point at which the white house was forced to issue a denial.

As depressing as it is that such cybercascades can have such an impact on mainstream journalism -- in the age of dead tree media, I can't imagine Western media having run stories simply pointing out that certain things reported in Russian and Arab media weren't true -- this story, like the celebrating Palestinians myth, should be interpreted as a cry for help by the anti-Americans. When they grasp at straws like this, wanting so much for them to be true, it's a sure sign that they're desperately trying to find new ways to reconcile their value systems with reality... because the old methods are failing.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:35 AM [+] ::
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:: Monday, March 24, 2003 ::

Quagmire Watch

As I recall, it took about three weeks in the Afghanistan before reporters began to broach the Q word. It appears they're about to break that record by two weeks and two days:
Iraqi troops and militias used ruses, ambushes and other guerrilla tactics yesterday that exploited the risks inherent in the fast-moving Pentagon war strategy, inflicting more than a score of American casualties and raising questions about how effective the U.S. approach has been in convincing Iraqi troops and civilians that President Saddam Hussein's removal is inevitable.

Yeah, the successful capture of 11 soldiers in a maintenance division by flagrantly violating the rules of war is certainly cause for reflection, isn't it?

In other news, Iraqis are getting bolder about expressing their feelings about Saddam:
"I was shocked," said Zainab Al-Suwaij, executive director of the American Islamic Congress, a nonprofit group in Cambridge, Mass., that promotes interfaith and interethnic understanding. "It's very dangerous. All the phones are tapped. But they are so excited."

Samira Alattar, a housewife in Annandale, Va., has a similar story. A friend in northern Virginia was talking to relatives in Baghdad when one of them started badmouthing Hussein. "My friend tried to shush her, but the lady in Baghdad said, 'Let us talk, enough is enough,' " Alattar said. "They have the feeling that they are going to get rid of him; that's why they are talking."


:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:40 PM [+] ::
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:: Sunday, March 23, 2003 ::

"Misinformation" Scorecard

Robert Fisk, on 16 March:
Then the US will have to find the "weapons of mass destruction" that supposedly provoked this bloody war. In the journalistic hunt for these weapons, any old rocket will do for the moment.

Bunkers allegedly containing chemical weapons will be cordoned off ? too dangerous for any journalist to approach, of course. Perhaps they actually do contain VX or anthrax. But for the moment, the all-important thing for Washington and London is to convince the world that the casus belli was true ? and reporters, in or out of military costume, will be on hand to say just that.

Meanwhile, back on earth:
The huge 100-acre complex, which is surrounded by a electrical fence, is perhaps the first illegal chemical plant to be uncovered by US troops in their current mission in Iraq. The surrounding barracks resemble an abandoned slum.

It wasn't immediately clear exactly which chemicals were being produced here, but clearly the Iraqis tried to camouflage the facility so it could not be photographed aerially, by swathing it in sand-cast walls to make it look like the surrounding desert.

Within minutes of our entry into the camp on Sunday afternoon, at least 30 Iraqi soldiers and their commanding officer of the rank of General, obeyed the instructions of US soldiers who called out from our jeep in loudspeakers for them to lie down on the ground, and put their hands above their heads to surrender.

This also brings to mind another useless meme, which has now proven to be moot at best:
Until now, Gen. Hussein Kamel, who was killed shortly after returning to Iraq in 1996, was best known for his role in exposing Iraq's deceptions about how far its pre-Gulf War biological weapons programs had advanced. But Newsweek's John Barry-- who has covered Iraqi weapons inspections for more than a decade-- obtained the transcript of Kamel's 1995 debriefing by officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the U.N. inspections team known as UNSCOM.

Inspectors were told "that after the Gulf War, Iraq destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons stocks and the missiles to deliver them," Barry wrote. All that remained ere "hidden blueprints, computer disks, microfiches" and production molds. The weapons were destroyed secretly, in order to hide their existence from inspectors, in the hopes of someday resuming production after inspections had finished. The CIA and MI6 were told the same story, Barry reported, and "a military aide who defected with Kamel... backed Kamel's assertions about the destruction of WMD stocks."

Yep, nothing left of the Iraqi WMD program but a few computer disks and microfishes ... give or take a whole production plant here and there. Watch for allegations that the production facility was somehow smuggled in by the Mossad.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:49 PM [+] ::
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:: Saturday, March 22, 2003 ::

On the Kuwait Grenade Attack

I expected a sickening response from the Indymedia degenerates to the Camp Pennsylvania attack. As usual, they did not disappoint.

UPDATE: Now they're upset about Western media "censorship" -- i.e., that they won't broadcast al-Jazeera's images of executed American POWs. Fifth column indeed.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:04 PM [+] ::
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Press Freedom in OIF Thus Far

I wonder if Reporters sans frontières will complain about this:
Twenty-four journalists traveling in a convoy reported coming under fire in the southern Iraqi port of Umm Qasr and had to be rescued by U.S. forces who escorted them to safety in the Kuwait-Iraq border area.

Two vehicles carrying media also came under fire in the same area later in the day. There were reports of journalists being detained by Iraqis and possibly wounded. There was an additional report of journalists under fire near Nassiriya.

RSF still hasn't uttered a peep over the expulsion of CNN's Baghdad bureau for their accurate depiction of the war. I guess they're too busy chasing down this kind of nonsense, to keep reporters safe from the U.S. forces who rescued them today. We're coming up on the 4th day of the campaign, and no satellite uplinks have been targeted (hey Ms. Adie: fuck you).

I also noticed this whinge on the RSF site, complaining on the constraints placed on reporters who are embedded with U.S. military units:
Reporters Without Borders is also concerned about rule 6, that permits unit commanders to "embargo" news that may damage "operational security." The range of such news is also poorly defined and the duration of the embargo not stated. Both aspects again depend on the decision of the unit commander.

No shit? they actually left it up to military commanders to decide what's necessary to maintain operational security? How arbitrary.
Rules 40, 41 and 43, which ban pictures of the faces of prisoners of war and soldiers killed in the fighting, undermine the right to inform the public, the organisation said. It was up to journalists, not the US army, to decide what could or could not be shown, according to the journalistic code of conduct.

It's also a war crime under the 3rd Geneval Convention, moron. But that's of little concern to journalists, because they aren't the ones who could be prosecuted, even though they're the ones filming.
The organisation said the public had a right to see pictures such as those of the emaciated faces of prisoners in Serbian concentration camps in Bosnia, during the war in Yugoslavia.

Yeah, that's a fair analogy. Fuck you.

UPDATE: Here is a firsthand account by a Newsweek reporter rescued by U.S. forces after having been shot at by Iraqis -- just a drop in a very large bucket of Iraqi war crimes thus far.

The pentagon had warned these "unilateral" reporters that if they ventured into Iraq on their own, they were indeed on their own. But as Amitai Etzioni notes, the Americans would not keep their word:
George Connell, a Marine Corps Colonel, responded: "I feel utter contempt. Two days later they're both walking off my hilltop, they're two hundred yards away and they get ambushed. And they're lying there wounded. And they're going to expect I'm going to send Marines up there to get them. They're just journalists, they're not Americans." The discussion concluded as Connell said: "But I'll do it. And that's what makes me so contemptuous of them. And Marines will die, going to get a couple of journalists."


:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:21 PM [+] ::
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"Dude, Do You Hyphenate the Word 'Ass Clown?'"



:: COINTELPRO Tool 6:43 PM [+] ::
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Our Other Stalwart Ally

Blair has gotten a lot of much deserved appreciation for the political courage he's displayed by supporting us, as has Australian PM Howard. But people tend to forget our man in Tokyo, who, despite overwhelming opposition in his own country, has the temerity to say this:
The U.S. is the only ally providing Tokyo with deterrent power against any foreign country that could threaten regional security, such as North Korea, and the Japanese people should never forget it.

Koizumi has also committed Japan to helping the U.S. rebuild Iraq. Ah, the wages of going it alone.
[Via Sully]
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:02 AM [+] ::
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The Costs of Appeasement

Mike Moynihan notes that San Francisco has spent nearly half a million dollars quelling the decidedly uncivil disobedience of the pro-Saddam crowd. And that's just in two days.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:50 AM [+] ::
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:: Friday, March 21, 2003 ::

"Wrong, This War Is"


:: COINTELPRO Tool 2:36 PM [+] ::
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Iraqi soldiers, waving white flag and raising their arms, attempt to surrender to passing journalists, outside the demilitarized zone in southern Iraq, Friday, March 21, 2003. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours)
:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:16 PM [+] ::
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USS Iwo Jima's Superstructure


:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:02 PM [+] ::
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:: Thursday, March 20, 2003 ::


Go here for the awesome video.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 6:24 PM [+] ::
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Trying to Reason with the Anti-War Crowd

This is pretty much OBE by now, but Evan Coyle Maloney put out this video with interviews with the appeasement movement's rank (and I do mean rank) and file, from their Feb. 15 protests.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 6:18 PM [+] ::
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:: Wednesday, March 19, 2003 ::

Bullshit Posturing over People

Earlier today, Oxfam International, along with Amnesty International, lectured the U.S. and Britain on the conduct of the upcoming war:
LONDON - The United States and Britain must put the well-being of Iraqi civilians at the center of their planning for war, and should promise not to use cluster bombs or land mines and avoid attacks on key civilian facilities like power plants, Amnesty International and Oxfam urged Tuesday.

In nearly the same breath, Oxfam announced that humanitarian assistance from any country supporting this war is not welcome:
International aid agency Oxfam will refuse money directly from belligerent governments for humanitarian work in Iraq during any war in that country.

Oxfam affiliates in 12 countries around the world will rely instead on money from reserves, public donations, joint appeals with other agencies, the EU and the UN to pay for relief work.

Oxfam must protect its impartiality in the event of military action in Iraq, said Oxfam International Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs. “We will not take funds that might allow a government to use a humanitarian operation as an instrument of foreign policy, thereby increasing the chances of war or prolonging it once it starts,” Mr Hobbs said.

Words fail me. Have fun running your squalid refugee camps in Jordan, asswipe. We'll rebuild Iraq without you.


:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:46 PM [+] ::
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:: Tuesday, March 18, 2003 ::

A War Reporter Bails

Hampton Sides tells of his brief stint as a journalist embedded with the 1st Marine Recon in Kuwait. It's one of the most lucid pieces I've read about the pentagon's media relations policy for the imminent war, and not just because he writes this:
With this embed program, the Department of Defense was embarking on a public-relations experiment of unprecedented size and scope. It remained to be seen how much latitude would be afforded the media once the bullets began flying, but by the look of things the Pentagon truly wanted us to be right there on the battlefield, free and unfettered, reporting precisely what we saw.

To facile commentators like Zerbisias and Fisk, the embed policy is a sham, the motives of which are to simply get good coverage (duh!), rather than ensure that the war is accurately chronicled. Their intellectual blinders prevent them from even considering that DoD's motives could be both.

As I've written before, the military is damned if they do, damned if they don't: when they keep reporters at arms length, they are presumed to have something nefarious to hide. And when they welcome reporters with open arms, they are accused of Bernaysian ulterior motives.

In any event, what I really like about Sides' piece is the candid account of his chickening out:
For the most part, the embeds worked by luck of the draw. My embed slot was one of the sexy ones -- quite possibly the sexiest. I was to be with the Reconnaissance Battalion of the 1st Marine Division. First Recon was basically the front line. Wherever its men were was likely to be the most dangerous spot in the Marine "battle space." As I milled among the other journalists --many of them hardened war correspondents and military geeks -- I was repeatedly congratulated on my good fortune. They said things like "First Recon, aye, the able-bodied killers," "Lots of action," and "You're gonna get some real good stuff out there." One guy just raised his eyebrows and said, "You got a death wish?"

The last straw, for me, was a little session the Marines held the day before the embed buses were scheduled to take us away. The seminar was run by a blunt, amicable jarhead, a Sergeant Parks, who launched right into a description of what might happen if we were "slimed" by a "snowstorm," the operative term for a toxic cloud in the new military parlance. Parks related how a victim of a chemical attack would lapse into intense, twitching convulsions, which he likened to "doing the funky chicken." The nerve agents could be hurled at us in any number of ways, he said: drone aircraft, short-range surface-to-surface missiles, Scuds, mortar shells, artillery rounds, even chemical mines. As a matter of policy, the armed forces were proceeding on the prudent assumption that every incoming round contained chemical agents until proved otherwise; consequently, we could expect to wear our chemsuits -- which were cumbersome, clammy, and inordinately hot -- most of the way to Baghdad. Parks then gave us color commentary on the effects of the various blistering agents that Saddam might use. "If you ingest mustard gas," he said, "it will cause horrible sores that will eat right through your esophagus." He said he'd seen photographs of skin blisters "as big as my hand." Then he amended the description: "Not just blisters, but blisters on top of blisters. Thing is, if you try to lance them they just keep on growing." Some blistering agents, he said, cause the skin to blow up in hideous cauliflowers of deformity. "This one victim's hand looked just like Jiffy Pop," Parks said.

That was quite enough for me. I stopped taking serious notes at this point, and simply wrote, in large, definitive letters, "We're fucked." I knew then and there that I couldn't go through with this. Although I had nothing but respect for the United States Marines, I had not signed a contract and was, I'd almost forgotten, free to leave. This seemed like a good time. I told Captain Joe Plenzler, the marine in charge, "No offense, but I can't do this." And, as I did so, I was struck by an almost desperate desire to go back -- not only back home to my wife and three children but back in time, back to the days of bull markets and meaningful alliances and guiltless French wine. I turned in my chemsuit, my atropine injectors, and my mask. I was immensely relieved to learn that it wasn't too late. I wished Captain Plenzler Godspeed and good luck. An hour later, I saw the embed buses pull out of the Hilton's parking lot and chuff north, toward the Iraqi border.

I have to admire this guy. Every man has his limits, but Sides is honest enough -- and courageous enough -- to admit his.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:31 AM [+] ::
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:: Monday, March 17, 2003 ::

Our Life Expectancy -- in Perspective

A friend of mine sent me this HHS release on rising life expectancy statistics in the U.S., noting that the following passage should be on the front page of every newspaper in America:
It includes a new sub-category for homicide -- deaths from terrorism -- that was added as a result of the September 11 attacks. Although the overall U.S. homicide rate increased nearly 17 percent between 2000 and 2001, the increase is attributable entirely to the murders resulting from the September 11 attacks on America. In fact, non-terrorism homicide rates actually declined slightly between 2000 and 2001.[Emphasis added]

I'm sorry. Were we supposed to get over it already?


:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:51 AM [+] ::
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:: Sunday, March 16, 2003 ::

"Oozing With Hate"

This isn't directed at anyone specifically, but there has been way too much sarcasm, bordering on unbridled glee, at the tragic death of this girl.

Yes, I'm sure her political beliefs were loony, if not morally blind. But relax, people. No one's going to accuse you of sympathy to her idiotic causes if you show a little compassion. The "Darwin award" jokes aren't really doing anything besides give this idiot a case.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:51 PM [+] ::
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And They're Off!

The self-appointed body counters have already begun counting dead civilians in the Iraq war. Of course, Marc Herold is involved, and as in his thoroughly discredited venture in Afghanistan (from his comfy office in New Hampshire), first-hand verification will play no role. And those who do try to count dead Iraqis by actually going to Iraq will be exposed as the government disinformation operatives that they are!

I've checked the sources for their count thus far (14) -- mostly Western media, like Rueters, the Guardian, Washington Post, AP, AFP, and ABC News (perish the thought!). but what they don't tell you is that none of those sources verified the incidents personally, and all such casualties were attributed to the Iraqi government. So essentially, they have only one source for all of their reports, and at the risk of revealing my ethnocentric biases, I'd have to say it's not a very reliable one.
[Via Roger Bournival]
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:26 PM [+] ::
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Shhh! Don't Tell Rall about This ...

Afghan pipeline, blah, blah, blah, secret meetings between US diplomats using the Pakistanis as intermediaries, blah, blah, blah. The Afghan war was planned back in 1997 ...
WHEN PRESIDENT BUSH asked Donald Rumsfeld to come up with a plan to invade Afghanistan and kick al Qaeda out of its hiding places, Rumsfeld and General Hugh Shelton, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he'd have to wait a while. Though the CIA had been pursuing al Qaeda leads in the region for much of the 1990s and had contingency plans to topple their protectors, the Taliban, the Pentagon had no contingencies for the type of operation the president wanted.

Just more government disinformation. Move along.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:47 PM [+] ::
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:: Saturday, March 15, 2003 ::

Ayatollah Vidal

I did a...one of my little pamphlets was 'A Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace' --how that worked. I mean, we've gone everywhere --we have the Enemy of the Month Club. One month, it's Noriega --king of drugs. Another one, it's Gaddafi. We hated his eyeliner or something and killed his daughter.

Eyeliner, scores of murdered Americans ... it's all semantics when you're Gore Vidal. This is just one of the howlers in Vidal's latest target-rich environment. Speaking to SBS TV Australia, Vidal continues to rationalize his self-imposed (albeit universally welcomed) exile, noting that there is no free discussion of ideas in America, self-censorship of the press, blah, blah, blah ...
I mean, I spend part of the year in Italy and really, basically, what I find out I find out from European journalists who actually will go to Iraq, which our people cannot do or will not do, and are certainly not admired for doing so. We are in a kind of bubble of ignorance about what is really going on.

Even if this statement weren't so laughably false, it's interesting that he would refer to news organizations that do not voluntarily follow the strict dictates of the Iraqi government (dutifully reporting the staged demonstrations in a country whose citizens say "don't believe anything anyone says here") as being "self-censored." Besides, Vidal has only been on CNN once in the last two months, and prattling idiots like Amy Goodman and Janine Garafalo are only on four or five times a week. So, Vidal has to resort to pamphlets:
MARK DAVIS: Well, is the pamphlet the only viable option for voices of dissent at the moment?

GORE VIDAL: Well, it's a weapon. I suppose one could --Khomeini had a wonderful idea, which made him the lord of all Iran. When the Shah was on his way out, Khomeini flooded Iran with audio recordings of his voice, very cheaply made in Paris, and they were listened to by everybody in Iran --it's too late for that sort of thing for us. There are ways of getting around official media and there are ways of getting around a government which is given to lying about everything, and the people eventually pick up on it, but things are moving so swiftly now.

Oh, but if we could only get recordings of Vidal's voice to accompany the pamphlets!

This actually speaks volumes about the man and his views of American poliical life: when you fancy yourself a savior of the unwashed masses, to be ridiculed -- or even worse, to be ignored -- is to be oppressed.



:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:33 PM [+] ::
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Rall: "Don't Support Our Troops"

This is a new low, even for Rall:
We find ourselves facing the paradox of the "good German" of the '30s. We're ruled by an evil, non-elected warlord who ignores both domestic opposition and international condemnation. We don't want the soldiers fighting his unjustified wars of expansion to win--but we don't want them to lose either.

I honestly don't know where to even begin with this piece of tripe. But here goes:
The thing is, we don't really have to win. Losing the Vietnam War sucked, but not fighting it in the first place would have been smarter. Losing to Third Worlders in PJs led Americans to decades of relative humility, self-examination and taking the moral high ground in conflicts such as Haiti and Kosovo.

Huh? Haiti and Kosovo were the result of humility? I'm confused here: I thought humility and self-examination were anathema to taking the moral high ground. That's what sophisticates like Rall have been telling us since Bush made reference to the axis of evil.

Whatever. It's good to know that Rall at least admits that Haiti and Kosovo were high-minded endeavors.
Iraq has never attacked, nor threatened to attack, the United States. As his 1990 invasion of Kuwait proved, Saddam is a menace to his neighbors--Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel--but he's their problem, not ours. Saddam's longest-range missiles only travel 400 miles.

And what sort of threat did Raoul Cedras pose to the U.S.? And what kind of range did Milosevic's missiles have? By this standard, Serbia was most certainly Europe's "problem," but we can all be thankful we didn't wait for Europe to address it. Neither Cedras nor Milosevic were really a menace to their respective neighbors, except in the sense that they were an affront to humanity itself. I could add that Saddam Hussein's ethnic cleansing has been on an even grander scale, but is that even necessary?
Is the U.S. in the liberation business? Will Bush spread democracy to Myamnar, Congo, Turkmenistan, Cambodia, Nigeria, Cuba, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan or Laos, just to name a few places where people can't vote, speak freely or eat much?

Again, this logic, faulty as it is, should also have been aplied in the mid-90s, when we intervened in Haiti, Bosnia, and later, Kosovo. Were these other countries in such better straits back then that we could were allowed to arbitrarily select our targets for humanitarian intervention backed up by military force?

Is this ass-clown even trying to be intellectually consistent?



:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:20 AM [+] ::
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:: Friday, March 14, 2003 ::

Our Amps Go Up to Eleven!

This is comforting:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. government officials are discussing the current five-color terror threat alert system to determine whether a higher level of risk should be added before a possible war with Iraq, government sources tell CNN.

It should be quickly noted that the reason for these discussions is not that the feds feel we'll need an even higher level than the current (red) ceiling -- they simply want a tweener so the markets don't crash when we go above Orange.

I'm not sure what could be between "high" and "severe," so clearly red will have to become the second tier, below purple, which would coincide with the term "BOHICA."


:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:37 PM [+] ::
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:: Thursday, March 13, 2003 ::

Why I Don't Have Comments on My Blog

So my mother won't be able to fact-check my ass!
:: COINTELPRO Tool 7:30 PM [+] ::
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:: Tuesday, March 11, 2003 ::

You Knew This Was Coming

I guess it's a good thing that certain factions of the anti-war movement are trying to distance themselves from the shameless display of anti-Americanism by protestors in La Habra this weekend. But let's call this piece by one of Justin Raimondo's interns taking it a bit far:
This whole thing smacks of COINTELPRO-type tactics. It seems to me that someone really wanted to smear the antiwar movement...how do we know that this wasn't a horde of pro-war thugs with "Peace" buttons on their shirts and some time to kill?

Another curious side of this already-odd story, is the fact that this was done in plain view of La Habra police officers. And they weren't stopped or warned ? they were protected. La Habra Police Capt. John Rees said the vandals were "exercising the same freedom of speech that the people who put up the flags were." The problem is that destroying private property isn't free speech, and the memorial's builders and caretakers had the permission of the site's owner.

No comment as of right now from the La Habra Police Dept., but I am waiting for a callback.

He goes on to say "We [he and Justin both? Wow! -- ed.] condemn this action no matter who is responsible, but the bottom line is, we have no evidence that these are actually antiwar protesters. It simply doesn't make sense.

Of course not. No sense at all.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:16 PM [+] ::
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Oh, Enough Already!

Although I've engaged in some wholesome French-bashing myself, I have to say I'm with Iglesias (and Ezra Klein) on this:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The cafeteria menus in the three House office buildings changed the name of "french fries" to "freedom fries," in a culinary rebuke of France stemming from anger over the country's refusal to support the U.S. position on Iraq.

Ditto for "french toast," which will be known as "freedom toast."

Folks, this is the kind of retarded nonsense that our grandchildren will be mocking when they study U.S. history circa 2003. Like the goofy bastard who shot his dachsund when we entered WWI, or the midwestern governor who outlawed the speaking of German. Trust me on this one.

And to the two lawmakers who spearheaded this exercise in petty grandstanding, thanks a lot, assholes, for pissing away our moral legitimacy.

That reminds me of another thing that's been getting on my nerves lately: stop with the Normandy references. No, the French don't "owe" us support on Iraq because we saved their sorry asses from Hitler. And even if they did, how about we save that IOU for when we're actually in the wrong? Because that's how this kind of emotional blackmail makes us look anyway.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:18 PM [+] ::
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Yes, But Is It News?

Schadenfreude is the only word that can describe how I feel about this:
Let me as clear as possible about this: The letter you are all clamoring over, parsing, deriding and fantasizing about was a personal note. It is a private letter that someone among my friends thoughtlessly, yet I am sure without any malice, forwarded to a couple of people who are strangers to me. And they, in turn, passed it on to more strangers, and so on. Now, to my deep embarrassment, and acute sense of invaded privacy, all of you -- thousands of strangers -- are dissecting my personal letter. I would never have written for public consumption in such a sloppy, candid, opinionated flip tone. This was never intended for your eyes.

I want you, please, to imagine something. It's 1979. I penned, in longhand, a letter to a friend describing my rather individual, admittedly biased take on attending the SALT II talks between Carter and Brezhnev. I placed that letter in an enveloped, sealed it, stamped it and posted it to my pal. (So far, I am recounting an event that actually occurred when, in my post-adolescence, I covered the Vienna Summit.)

Now, imagine my recipient found the letter amusing or insightful and photocopied my handwritten note, posting it to ten friends. And so on. Snail mail hell? Doubtful. In those seemingly ancient days we all respected privacy, and the time and money required to photocopy and post missives prompted all of us to pause and question whether we had a right to forward a personal letter without the author's permission.

But in 2003 few of us pen letters anymore, and the number of seconds it takes to forward an e-mail to a dozen people is too few for ethical reflection. We have erased privacy. And, remarkably, we have all come to believe that it is our right -- our privilege -- to read and analyze the personal musings of complete strangers. We don't want the government reading our mail, but we se no problem with reading other citizens' letters.

Jeez, enough with the Soilent Green rhetoric already! Somehow I doubt the notion that our social fabric cannot withstand a few reporters being publicly humiliated after their personal missives fell into the wrong hands. Even whenthat reporter is the great Laurie Garrett.

That Garrett would describe her plight as a right to privacy issue is as absurd as it is hypocritical. She is not an ordinary citizen -- she is a reporter. And I have no doubt that, as a reporter, she has on occasion printed the private musings of other public figures in her stories. Indeed, in her world, private musings carry much more weight than public ones. Press releases, talking points, and other documents intended for public dissemination are generally considered spin -- not necessarily dishonest, but certainly not the whole truth. It is incumbent upon the reporter to break through all that -- to get his or her hands on internal memos, e-mails, and other "thinking out loud" documents -- to tell the reader what's really going on.

So you'll forgive me a few snickers over Ms. Garrett's sense of "outrage ... outrage!" I'm not suggesting that any private conversation by a reporter is fair game for the pages of Salon (or even metafilter). Garrett does have a legitimate gripe against the friend who betrayed her trust, but not against those of us outside that circle who have joined in the feeding frenzy. Certainly it's appropriate to apply the same measure of scrutiny to journalists as they apply to other public figures. Like the blogosphere itself, this is a check against shitty journalism.

The fundamental question is this: was Garrett's e-mail newsworthy? Well, it certainly had to do with newsworthy issues and events. I'm not too familiar with Garrett's work, but I think it's fair to keep her letter on file as a comparison to what she writes for public consumption. Perhaps that's what she is really upset about -- that she has been preempted from writing what she wanted to, as it wouldn't have corresponded very well with her private musings (just a theory).

I have to wonder how Garrett, or any other reporter for that matter, would react if she happened upon a letter by, say, a high level WEF official expressing the same feelings. Would she balk at using the letter in her story because it wasn't intended for public consumption? In a word, doubtful.
[Via Tim Blair]

:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:56 AM [+] ::
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:: Monday, March 10, 2003 ::

Sounds Like My Kind of Place

This line from a Sullivan reader had me in stiches:
New York in those days resembled The Simpsons' Springfield - angry mobs always at the ready and requiring little incitement.

But was New York a Dillon's Rule or Home Rule state back then?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 4:17 PM [+] ::
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:: Sunday, March 09, 2003 ::

Trifecta!

My Khalid Shaikh Mohammed post has now been linked by Damian Penny, Aussie Tim Mate, and Glenn Reynolds. And on a school night!

Be sure to also check out Combustible Boy's post on the same subject, and Diane E. links to an FBI indictment on KSM from 1996. That should just about do it. Another silly meme goes tits up!
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:53 PM [+] ::
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Validation!

In its news segment, SNL made a Fred the Donut guy (just remember where you heard it first) reference to KSM (after an obligatory Ron Jeremy reference). Horatio Saenz also said he looked like "one of the Mario brothers had sex with a Brillo pad."
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:35 AM [+] ::
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:: Friday, March 07, 2003 ::

Sour Grapes?

The latest annoying meme that's beginning to grow is that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has only recently -- and "mysteriously" been elevated to the status of the inner circle of al qaeda, and allegedly only after having been caught. Antiwar.com posted this story claiming that KSM was only a little fish:
A month after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush released a list of the world's most-wanted terrorists. There were 22 names on it. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was No. 22.

And the list wasn't alphabetical.

But, sometime between then and early Saturday morning, when Mohammed was captured in Pakistan, the U.S. government identified Mohammed as the mastermind behind the al-Qaida plot.

Actually, KSM was 18th on the list of 22 back in October 2001, according to this BBC report to which Bruce Rolston linked this morning. But soon thereafter, Robert Fisk, Justin Raimondo, and conspiracy theory groupie Antonia Zerbisias had all picked up on this pathetic attempt to downplay the significance of capturing Mohammed. If that isn't a quorum of world idiocy, it's pretty close, but nonetheless, here is a cursory review of just how "sudden" and "mysterious" Fred the Donut Man's (or, if you prefer the obvious satirical reference, Hedgehog) rise to the number three man in al qaeda.

Zerbisias writes, "almost nobody seems to be questioning how it was only last September, when the U.S. netted Ramzi bin al-Shibh, that President George W. Bush was crowing how they had nabbed "one of the chief planners and organizers'' of 9/11. Now Mohammed is top gun?" Once again, the Toronto Star's media corresdondent is blaming the media for her own inability to read it. From the beginning, Ramzi bin al-Shibh was described as a major plotter of the Sept. 11 attacks specifically, while KSM was described as having control over a broad array of operations. From the NY Daily News, Nov. 22, 2002 ("U.S. Hooks Planner Of Cole Blast"):
The Saudi-born weapons expert [bin al-Shibh] is being interrogated by the CIA, which views him as one of two Al Qaeda leaders who have been essentially running things - along with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed - with Bin Laden in hiding. Mohammed allegedly helped organize the Sept. 11 attacks.

From the Melbourne Herald Sun, October 22, 2002 ("Al-Qaeda boss prime suspect"):
TOP al-Qaeda terrorist Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has emerged as the suspected mastermind of the Bali bombing.

Terror experts said only Mohammed, al-Qaeda's top operative in Asia, would have the resources and authority to execute the massive atrocity.

Neil Fergus, an Australian expert on terrorism, said Mohammed would have approved the plan.

The International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism told the Herald Sun yesterday that Mohammed must be considered the No. 1 suspect for directing and co-ordinating the attack.

And from the Montreal Gazette (AP to be precise), September 16, 2002 ("U.S. clamouring for 9/11 suspect: Officials working with Pakistan to gain custody of 'pretty big fish' captured in Karachi raid"):
There had been speculation that the suspect was Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, one of Osama bin Laden's chief lieutenants. Pakistani Interior Minister Moinuddun Haider told the Associated Press on yesterday that Mohammed is not the man.

From the New York Times, June 11, 2002 ("TRACES OF TERROR: THE INTELLIGENCE REPORTS; Germany Disputes Visit of Qaeda Figure"):
Intelligence officials in Washington have not responded to requests for information about a visit to Germany by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, an operative for Al Qaeda who has emerged as a central figure in the Sept. 11 attacks, German officials said today. They added that their own checks had turned up no trace of Mr. Mohammed's ever visiting or living here.
[...]
Mr. Mohammed has been described by some American officials as the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, which were carried out by a group that included Mohamed Atta, Ziad al-Jarrah and Marwan al-Shehhi, who had lived in Hamburg.

And finally, the Ottawa Citizen, June 5, 2002 ("U.S. identifies Sept. 11 mastermind"):
Investigators believe they have identified a Kuwaiti lieutenant of Osama bin Laden as the likely mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official said yesterday.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, designated one of the FBI's most-wanted terrorists, is at large in Afghanistan or nearby, the official said.

U.S. investigators believe Mr. Mohammed planned many aspects of the Sept. 11 attacks, turning Mr. bin Laden's calls for dead Americans into reality.

Nice try, Zerbisias.

UPDATE: A reader referred me to this column from today's Toronto Star by ombudsman -- a full-time position at the Star thanks to Zerbisias -- Don Sellar, smacking the paper's barely-audible answer to Howard Kurtz yet again, calling her latest "compelling testimony that columnists shouldn't suck and blow at the same time."

*Chortle*
:: COINTELPRO Tool 4:27 PM [+] ::
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The Latest Iraqi Outrage

From the Telegraph:
Shortly after three o'clock on a hot afternoon 37-year-old Nazif Mamik Tofik, an Iraqi Kurd, approached the border post carrying two five-gallon canisters of fuel.

She hoped to cross to the Kurdish-controlled side and sell them for a pound or two, which would help feed her eight hungry children.

As she stepped up to the Iraqi checkpoint, a military policeman suddenly pulled a knife, slashed open the flimsy plastic containers and splashed petrol all over her.

Then the head of the Iraqi border guard casually walked up to her, pulled a lighter from his pocket and set her ablaze. Soaked in fuel, she began to burn like a torch. That was on Monday afternoon. Yesterday Nazif lay in Sulaimania emergency hospital, on the Iraqi side, whimpering with pain. She had third degree burns and doctors said she was lucky to be alive.

A packet of blood hung on a metal stand above her ravaged body. The drip was inserted into her neck as her lower arms were too badly burnt to put it into her wrist. To ease the pain bedclothes would have caused, an aluminium cage had been placed over her body and covered by a blanket.

In a faltering voice, she said: "They said absolutely nothing, just looked at me with hatred. Then they set me alight. My whole body was in flames. I can't describe the pain.

No "human shields" for her. But some will be coming shortly ... the kind that wear desert comouflage.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:51 AM [+] ::
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:: Tuesday, March 04, 2003 ::

Every Spin Doctor's Dream

Damn, I need to go work for the DC Mayor's office. They have what might be described -- if remarkable understatement is your thing -- as liberal rules of engagement when rebutting criticisms from talking heads in national media:
Yesterday Williams's communications director, Tony Bullock, told us he thinks he knows why McLaughlin slammed the mayor: Immediately after the blizzard, city officials didn't grant the TV host preferential treatment when minions for "Dr. McLaughlin," as they refer to their boss, repeatedly phoned and demanded that a snowplow be deployed to McLaughlin's residential street in the pricey Massachusetts Avenue Heights neighborhood.

"Is Dr. McLaughlin a medical doctor? If so, we might have dug him out for a medical emergency," Bullock said sarcastically. He added that "One on One" producer Matthew Faraci -- whom he derided as "McLaughlin's chief twit" -- kept phoning city officials "to dig out the good doctor's driveway." Faraci told us he phoned once or twice. But Bullock continued: "Dr. McLaughlin jumped up and down to have special accommodations for him at a time when we were transporting the police officers and medical personnel for people who needed emergency attention. This was an astonishing fit of petulance and personal pique."

Preach on, Brother Bullock!

If this were in NYT, we might expect a correction in the next few days that goes something like this:
Our story on the Mayor Williams-John McLaughlin feud erroneously attributed comments made by unnamed sources in the mayors office to Mr. Tony Bullock, the mayor's communications director. We regret any inconvenience caused by this error.

[Via Instapundit]


:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:44 AM [+] ::
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:: Monday, March 03, 2003 ::

Whoa!

Jon Stewart just used the KSM arrest to take a smack at Chomsky.
UPDATE: Video is posted (under the "arrested dishevelment" headline).
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:07 PM [+] ::
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Time to Make the Donuts ...



I was going to throw a Ron Jeremy reference in that headline, but fortunately good taste prevailed! (Plus it's been done to death!)
:: COINTELPRO Tool 7:33 PM [+] ::
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