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(UNDER CONSTRUCTION)

:: Monday, September 29, 2003 ::

If It Had Been Krugman ...

... he'd be phoning in his columns from Copenhagen by now.

On the Plame affair, I'm not ready to call for anyone's head, and I think talk about "frog marching" Karl Rove (or any other individual) is irresponsible. That said, the grasping at straws by the Right in an attempt to downplay the significance of these charges is stupefyingly hypocritical. My hat is off, however, to those who have maintained some moral and intellectual consistency on the issue.

Specification I: Novak's own denial that there was anything untoward about what his sources told him. First, he throws up the defense that Plame's identity was mentioned only in passing, and that his source didn't call him to give him the information which, as Instapundit notes, differs significantly from what he's said in the past. As far as defenses for disclosing the identities of CIA operatives go, this is pretty pathetic.

Novak also claims that Plame was just someone who reads newspapers at Langley, rather than an actual operative, and that the CIA's referral of the leak to DoJ was a routine matter. OK, but if her business with the CIA was all above board, how does this constitute a "leak" at all? Novak goes on to point out that there the CIA makes 50 DoJ referrals on leaks of classified information a year, and that we're making a big deal about this one only because it involves the White House. Ya don't say!

Novak also claims that although the CIA asked him not to use Plame's name, no one indicated that doing so might endanger her or anyone else. This is probably true, but entirely irrelevant. The laws governing this are not intended merely to protect the physical safety of such operatives, but their viability as operatives, which was clearly destroyed in Plame's case. Years ago, a Naval Intelligence analyst was convicted for giving classified satellite photos to Jane's Defence Weekly. No individual was endangered by that action, but the photos were of such detail as to make it easy to determine the position of the satellite, rendering it useless as an intelligence gathering sensor. For Novak to claim that revealing Plame's identity is no big deal because she wasn't running around with the Northern Alliance or anything is truly outrageous, especially for a pundit with a record of criticizing Liberals for being weak on national security issues.

Specification II: James Taranto, who can often be counted on to put principle above partisanship, gives a shameful performance in the latter. First, there's coyness:
e've been keeping an eye on this story since July, when it first surfaced in the left-wing press. But we haven't commented on it, because we haven't been sure what to make of it.

As we all know, Taranto applies this same standard of solicitousness to most issues. He then goes on to note that it has yet to be officially confirmed that Plame was an undercover operative, as if it ever would be.

He also links to Don Luskin's audacious claim that the "CIA itself" leaked the information, by not simply saying "Valerie who" when Novak called for confirmation. Immediately before this, Taranto alternately alleges that the CIA is at fault for not being forceful enough in trying to convince Novak not to print her name -- these two arguments seem to negate each other in my book.

Luskin, whose analysis of the Plame affair has been dizzyingly ignorant, can be excuse for such an asinine statement, for he has demonstrated that he knows as much about journalism as I know about cuneiform. But Taranto, as an actual reporter, is surely aware that press officers don't simply say "no comment" when they really want to kill a story. Refusing to confirm or deny something almost ensures its publication, and a smart flack would definitely try to talk to Novak off the record, owning up to what Novak has already learned in an attempt to keep him from printing it.

Making claims about how high in the administration this scandal goes, or even that there was malicious intent, would be purely speculative at this point. But the backflips some people are doing to downplay the significance of the story are profiles in intellectual and moral dishonesty. For shame.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:27 PM [+] ::
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:: Sunday, September 28, 2003 ::

Brain Farts and Incomplete Victories

Retired Gen. Anthony Zinni's address to the US Naval Institute and Marine Corps Association has its fair share of pot shots at the Bush administration's policy in Iraq, which he summarizes as a "brain fart":
These are now culture wars that we're involved in. We don't understand that culture. I've spent the last 15 years of my life in this part of the world. And I'll tell you, every time I hear somebody talk about this, or one of the dilettantes back here speak about this region of the world—they don't have a clue. They don't understand what makes them tick. They don't understand where they are in their own history. They don't understand what our role is in moving this away from a disaster for the entire world, and for us and our interests.

I tend to take such pronouncements from someone intimately wed to the decade-long brain fart that was the our pre-9/11 policy toward the Middle East with a grain of salt. If the general is suggesting that we continue to work within the region's existing political framework (he was, as I recall, the last US emissary to try to work with Yasir Arafat), then his expertise needs to be kept as far from policy making as humanly possible.

That said, Zinni levels some very legitimate criticisms against the administration's national security strategy -- most prominently, our refusal to face the reality of our responsibilities in the world, in much the same way as the dreaded PNAC prophesied (incidently, the four missions Zinni cites as the role of the U.S. military in the future mirror those layed out in the PNAC "blueprint for world domination" quite closely -- stick that in your pipe and smoke it):
What is the role of the military beyond that point? Right now the military in Iraq has been stuck with this baby. In Somalia it was stuck with that baby. In Vietnam it was stuck with that baby. And it's going to continue to be that way. And what we have to ask ourselves now is, is there something that the military needs to change into that involves its movement into this area of the political, the economic, the information management? If the others, those wearing suits, can't come in and solve the problem—can't bring the resources, the expertise, and the organization—and we're going to continue to get stuck with it, you have one or two choices. Either they get the capability and it's demanded of them, and we learn how to partner to get it done, or the military finally decides to change into something else beyond the breaking and the killing.


What could this mean? It could mean civil affairs changes from just being a tactical organization doing basic humanitarian care and interaction with the civilian population, to actually being capable of reconstructing nations. That we will have people in uniform that are educated in the disciplines of economics, political structure, and we're actually going to go in and do that. We're actually going to be the governors. The CINCs that are the proconsuls will truly be proconsuls and given that authority to do it; that you will set regional policy. This is scary stuff. I know in the five-sided building if this echoes over there—they hate me anyway, but they probably would be shaking in their boots to think this. But either get the people on the scene that can do it, get them there when they need to be there, give them the resources and the training, create the interoperability that's necessary—or validate the military mission to do it. In my mind, that's the most important question we have now.

I think we've all come to realize the oversimplified absurdity of Condi Rice's statement that we shouldn't have the 82nd Airborne escorting kids to school (except for the Lew Rockwell fuckwits, but who's counting them?), and it's good to see a general who doesn't shy away from the role our military has to play in nation building -- that's one thing I do admire about Wesley Clark.

Even the Bush administration seems to realize this, and yet we continue to do things like shutting down our sole training ground for performing the peacekeeping mission, and continuing to push for a streamlined force structure that is heavy on lethality but short on presence. We really are in danger of having a military whose capabilities are even more out of whack with the role we expect it to play in the world than it was under Clinton.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:32 AM [+] ::
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Can There Be a Decent Left, Part Whatever

David Aaronovitch:
There are echoes of this moral cockeyedness in the recent accolades accorded to that darling of the anti-globalisation movement, Antonio Negri, co-author of the deeply fashionable and completely impenetrable book Empire. A former leader of an illegal group called Potere Operaio, Negri repeatedly endorsed violence as a political means, while his group stockpiled weapons and firebombed the offices of rival parties. In 1978 Negri wrote: 'Every action of destruction and sabotage seems to me a manifestation of class solidarity... Nor does the pain of my adversary affect me: proletarian justice has the productive force of self-affirmation and the faculty of logical conviction.'

If that exultation in the apocalypse reminds one of anything, it is the words of the occasional tapes 'released' by al-Qaeda to Al Jazeera and others. Yet Empire, too, may be found with 'staff picks' affixed to it, in a good bookshop near you.

As, eventually, will the memoirs of Kathy Boudin, if she ever writes them. Last month Boudin was paroled from prison in America, after serving 21 years for her part in a robbery in which three men, including two policemen, were killed. What made Boudin special was that she was the left-wing daughter of a wealthy family, a former student radical, and that her crime was politically motivated.

I have no argument with her parole. She is, by all accounts, genuinely remorseful, and she has suffered a prolonged separation from her son. But the US Marxist Monthly Review was somewhat less contrite. 'Kathy Boudin, a good friend of ours,' an editorial said, had been sent to prison despite being 'unarmed, and hurt(ing) no one herself'. That was done by 'her comrades, the black revolutionaries', and Kathy had 'expressed her sincere regret for the suffering that came of that day's gunplay'.

That day's gunplay? Nine fatherless kids? One of Boudin's former colleagues in the Weathermen put it this way on television recently: 'When you feel you have right on your side, you can do some pretty horrific things.'

Or tolerate them.

Ouch. Jackie D. has a devastating screed of her own on the moral bankruptcy of anti-war crowd. Actually, given the anemic attendance of yesterday's demonstration, "crowd" might be a bit of an overstatement. Why, their numbers are almost small enough to qualify them as a ... cabal.

[Via Harry]

:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:18 AM [+] ::
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:: Saturday, September 27, 2003 ::

Are You Ready for the Truth?

Reynolds points to a Catholic News story as proof that criticism of media pessimism on Iraq is "officially a trend now." Not so.

Now it's a trend:
The voice of Iraqis who supported war over continued tyranny has been hushed from the very beginning. Organizers of the great anti-war demonstrations in Britain confiscated banners saying “Freedom for Iraq” and seized photographs of the victims of Halabja, the Kurdish town where Saddam’s army gassed 5,000 civilians. No space was given to people like Freshta Raper, who lost 21 relatives in Halabja and wanted to ask: “How many protestors have asked an Iraqi mother how she felt when she was forced to watch her son being executed? How many know that these mothers had to applaud as their sons died -- or be executed themselves? What is more moral? Freeing an oppressed, brutalized people from a vicious tyrant or allowing millions to continue suffering indefinitely?”

In mid-summer, I spent over a month in Iraq. What I found there did not correspond to what was being reported -- most crucially, that the liberators were widely perceived as occupiers. That simply wasn’t true. In Baghdad, where US forces had permitted widespread looting (although not as much as reported) and where security and services were virtually nonexistent, attitudes toward the Americans were mixed. But even in Baghdad, even with Saddam and his sons still lurking in the shadows, the sense of relief at the toppling of the regime was palpable.

Read the whole thing.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:52 AM [+] ::
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Al Mahawil, Iraq (May 7, 2003) -- Remains found at mass gravesites near a farm on the outskirts of Al Mahawil...
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:43 AM [+] ::
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:: Friday, September 26, 2003 ::

Harry's Virtual Counter-Demonstration

As promised, I will, like Harry of Harry's Place, be devoting all posts today to remind everyone just what kind of regime we removed from Iraq, in response to these jackasses who want to end our brutal occupation of that country. I will intersperse these posts with concrete examples of how brutal our occupation really is.

First up, a set of before and after photos, courtesy of GWU's National Security Archive, of a Kurdish neighborhood in Kirkuk.

The first one, from September 1997:


And the second, taken in July 1998, after Saddam's ethnic cleansing:

:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:19 PM [+] ::
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Best Two Paragraphs I've Read All Week

Peter Beinert:
Biden got his answer on September 7. In his speech that night, President Bush did what Democrats had been demanding: He abandoned the fiction that Iraq could be rebuilt on the cheap. His $87 billion request even included new money for Afghanistan, where Democrats had hammered his insufficient commitment to nation-building. 

You'd think Democrats would have applauded the president's conversion, perhaps even claimed credit for it. Instead, leading Democrats responded to Bush's U-turn with one of their own. With the polls showing that a majority of Americans, and a huge majority of Democrats, don't want to spend more money on Iraq, prominent Democrats decided Bush was too committed to nation-building. Almost overnight, it was Democrats who wanted to reconstruct Iraq on the cheap.

This truth certainly does hurt. The demogoguery some Democrats have resorted to on the $87B -- especially the "we have mney to fix Baghdad's power grid but we don't have money to fix our own" variety -- is beneath the party that invented nation building, and has invested so much political capital championing the concept in the past.

I hear Tom Delay is planning an appropriation lawsuit. Several of them, in fact.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:39 PM [+] ::
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Flacking for Drug Companies

The myth-making of the rugged individualism of the pharmaceutical industry continues:
An interesting post on a great blog on the latest anti-HIV drug, T-20. If you think new drugs are expensive because of drug companies' greed, read this. And if you think HIV research won't be clobbered by the proposed policies of candidates like Howard Dean, read it twice.

But if you want to know how much your tax dollars contributed to this groundbreaking discovery, don't bother reading the Corante post at all -- it doesn't bother to mention the $3.5 million the NIH doled out in grants and its own research, or any other public/nonprofit funding that was instrumental in its development.

Most of the public funding in such ventures in on the front end, when risks are highest. Hence, while the industry can claim its own large investment (which it does, despite refusing to open its books to prove it), its money would have been spent less on the R and more on the D, after the breakthroughs have been made and the likelihood that it can make a profitable drug became more apparent.

In short, Sullivan's reasoning is like saying that defense industry innovations will be squelched if the pentagon takes action to curb cost growth in its contracts. It is simply absurd.

For the record, I do not think of the drug companies as "evil," but I frankly see no reason why they should be able to turn a profit on T20 in just three years (the average for newly-developed drugs is 16 years) for something created in no small part through public investment.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:19 AM [+] ::
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Where's the "Mandate from the American People" for the Amount of Pork This Guy Brings Home?

Henry Hanks tears Fatuous Byrd a new one over his demogogic grilling of Don Rumsfeld the other day. I'd throw in a reference to eating Crooow, but that would be too easy.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:40 AM [+] ::
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:: Thursday, September 25, 2003 ::

Boo Friggin' Hoo

This whiny op-ed is all the rage on the anti-war sites, and even TAPPED has linked to it.

I'm starting to see a pattern here. First, we have the mysterious Tim Predmore, a 36-year-old E-4 (which means he's most likely a recalled Reservist -- not too many people enlist at 31 years) claiming the Iraq war has robbed him of his (alleged) dedication to the oath he took to his country.

Now, we have Sgt. Leanne Duffy, a Guardsman with a Personnel Services Detachment whining about being yanked from school for a year to push paper in Kuwait. Kuwait! More on her plight:
This isn't a simple board game of Axis and Allies, this is a game people are playing with real people - people with families, not robots. You have college students out here (like me) missing over a year of college to sit and get yanked around without explanation. It has been told to the officers I have spoken to that 3rd PERSCOM refers to moving soldiers as "drug deals." You do this for me and I'll make sure your soldiers go home, etc.

Yes, without a doubt my duty is to serve my country despite her faults. I have learned I will not be able to get education and training services while I am here and I am accepting that. I am here to serve out of obligation and duty. What I'm wondering is if there are any checks and balances for those who are making decisions here?

I haven't seen too many of these missives from actual combat troops, who are doing the patrols, or manning a checkpoint in 110 degree heat. Just from support personnel like Duffy and Predmore. Most of those soldiers for whom Ms. Duffy processes paperwork forego their college coursework for much more than a year, doing what she continues to be a major inconvenience for the bulk of their youth.

You'll forgive me if I'd rather hear what they think about their experiences in Iraq than read about Duffy's complaints.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 2:39 PM [+] ::
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:: Tuesday, September 23, 2003 ::

Here Come De Judge



U.S. Navy Capt. Timothy McGee, left, representing the Coalition Provisional Authority, and an Iraqi Investigating Judge from Al Basrah, are transported to detained vessels in Iraqi territorial waters in a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) from the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Newcastle (FFG 06) ...
:: COINTELPRO Tool 6:01 PM [+] ::
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:: Monday, September 22, 2003 ::

... And Some Shameless Flacking for Clark

Josh Marshall thinks that the claims that Wesley Clark has been waffling on Iraq are unfair:
Frankly, I don't think I've ever heard anything quite so stupid.

The idea seems to be that there are really only two positions on the war, the Dean position and the Bush position.

Either you were against the war from the beginning, against even threatening force under any and all circumstances, soup-to-nuts, or you were for it, more or less under the same range of conceivable circumstances. If you have a position that falls between these two monochromatic options, you're indecisive, a waffler or a trimmer.

Well, except that Clark's squishy response was not to a request for his deontological position on the use of force in principle. It was in response to a question about how he would have voted on a specific measure -- namely, the October resolution granting the president warmaking authority aqainst Iraq.

And Marshall has taken leave of his senses if he thinks that Clark "came off quite well" in this exchange:
"At the time, I probably would have voted for it, but I think that's too simple a question," General Clark said.

A moment later, he said: "I don't know if I would have or not. I've said it both ways because when you get into this, what happens is you have to put yourself in a position — on balance, I probably would have voted for it."

[...]

The general's remarks in a free-rolling 90-minute airborne interview suggested the extent of the adjustment he faces in becoming a presidential candidate.

"Mary, help!" he called to his press secretary, Mary Jacoby, at the front of the plane, as he faced questions about Iraq. "Come back and listen to this."

At one point, Ms. Jacoby interrupted the interview, which included four reporters who were traveling on the general's jet, to make certain that General Clark's views on the original Iraq resolution were clear.

"I want to clarify — we're moving quickly here," Ms. Jacoby said. "You said you would have voted for the resolution as leverage for a U.N.-based solution."

"Right," General Clark responded. "Exactly."

I dunno. I'm not sure I'd characterize any engagement with the press during which one has to scream for his spin doctor to come bail him out as a success.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:56 AM [+] ::
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A Cheap Shot Against Clark

To be honest, I haven't really made up my mind about the Wesley Clark candidacy. There are things about him I like, and things I don't like. But this criticism from Andrew Sullivan is below the belt, to say nothing of misinformed:
His first instinct after the deadliest act of war against the American heartland in history was to help the United Nations set up an International Criminal Tribunal on International Terrorism. I'm not even making that up. Maybe Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia could head up the committee. If I were to imagine a parody of what a Rhodes Scholar would come up with in such a moment, I'd be hard pressed to come up with something more perfect. His insistence throughout the piece is on process, process, process. Everything is seen through the prism of NATO's Kosovo campaign, his one claim to military glory. Can you imagine having to get every special ops target in Afghanistan approved by 19 different countries, including those who opposed any action against the Taliban?

First of all, to suggest that because Clark thinks we should have utilized international institutions in Afghanistan that he would have allowed countries like Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia to "head up the committee" is ridiculous.

But just as silly -- and hypocritical -- is his argument that NATO involvement would have led to "every spec ops target in Afghanistan" having to be approved by all NATO participants. As I recall, Clark managed to get NATO approval for the target sets -- or categories of strike targets -- during his "one claim to glory." But there were problems in getting political approval for the individual targets themselves -- from the Clinton White House, which forced the JCS to carry them across the Potomac almost on a daily basis during the campaign.

Nonetheless, there are legitimate concerns over allowing NATO participation in an operation like Afghanistan, and those concerns are actually deeper than Sullivan's petty sniping. Throughout the 1990's NATO demonstrated a penchant for the use of military force as a tool of diplomacy, rather than defeating an enemy in any traditional sense of the word. Hence, it is not unfair to ask whether they would have bought off on overthrowing the Taliban at all, preferring instead to use an air campaign to pressure them into handing over bin Laden and shutting down the al qaeda camps in their country. Would they also have insisted on "bombing pauses" every few days, to give the Taliban an opportunity to reassess their recalcitrance?

Clearly, it was better to act multilaterally in Kosovo, even though we gave up some freedom of action (but again, one should remember that most of the foot-dragging came from our own White House and, inexplicably, the Pentagon, and not the likes of Chirac and Schroeder). But any NATO involvement in Afghanistan should have been preconditioned on the unconditional acceptance of U.S. goals for the operation.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:27 AM [+] ::
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:: Thursday, September 18, 2003 ::

Der Spiegel on Conspiracy Theories

I finally got around to reading this piece, which was criticized for giving attention -- thus credence" to charlatans like Thierry Meyssan and Matthias Bruckers.

As I commented on this at Jarvis' blog, I think this criticism is unwarranted, by virtue of the fact that there was already an alarming level of "credence" in this delusional propaganda without Der Speigel's attempt to debunk them.

Conspiracy theorists have long offered the fact that they are largely ignored in mainstream media as further proof that they're on to something big. If the theories are so absurd, they argue, why don't they debunk them? What are they hiding from? This obviously puts reasonable people in a quandary. No one likes to give undue attention to this kind of nonsense, but what else are they supposed to do? Ignoring them obviously hasn't worked out for them, but when they attempt to unload on them, they're accused of giving them "credence." Last year's aborted attempt by NASA to publish a book debunking the moon landing conspiracy theories is instructive on this point.

Apart from the editorial judgement of running such a story at all, I also have to say that the Der Spiegel cover story is an excellent piece of journalism, not only because it slams a lot of the internet disinformation so definitively. It also offers a great deal of insight into how these ideas gain traction:
Charles Ward, a former assistant of the leading Kennedy murder conspiracy theorist, Jim Garrison, described the way this method works as follows: "Garrison drew a conclusion and then organized the facts. And when the facts didn't fit, he liked to say that they'd been changed by the CIA."

This method of finding conspiracies where there are none has also been helpful to the September 11th conspiracy theorists. Otherwise, one could simply include that the reason many a controversial report never resurfaced is that it was resolved, as the story of the "living assassins" demonstrates. It is no secret, but rather an important lesson about a highly competitive news market, one in which journalists copied from one another so as not to miss a single story, and were ultimately all wrong and had all dispensed with any principles.

At this point, the story only seems to live on where Br?ckers, Bülow and the like seem to prefer looking for their information: in the "global memory of the internet, which, in its archives, registers, collects and provides access to all these discarded crumbs" (Br?ckers/Hau?).

And it is only there, where the old and the new, the incorrect and the correct are placed on equivalent footing, that these kinds of reports still appear to possess the currentness from which these authors fashion their suspicions and accusations.

The authors explain in great detail the anatomy of one of the more popular internet memes associated with 9/11 -- that many of the hijackers are still alive:
Take the BBC, for example, which did in fact report, on September 23, 2001, that some of the alleged terrorists were alive and healthy and had protested their being named as assassins.

But there is one wrinkle. The BBC journalist responsible for the story only recalls this supposed sensation after having been told the date on which the story aired. "No, we did not have any videotape or photographs of the individuals in question at that time," he says, and tells us that the report was based on articles in Arab newspapers, such as the Arab News, an English-language Saudi newspaper.

The operator at the call center has the number for the Arab News on speed dial. We make a call to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. A few seconds later, Managing Editor John Bradley is on the line. When we tell Bradley our story, he snorts and says: "That's ridiculous! People here stopped talking about that a long time ago."

Bradley tells us that at the time his reporters did not speak directly with the so-called "survivors," but instead combined reports from other Arab papers. These reports, says Bradley, appeared at a time when the only public information about the attackers was a list of names that had been published by the FBI on September 14th. The FBI did not release photographs until four days after the cited reports, on September 27th.

The photographs quickly resolved the nonsense about surviving terrorists. According to Bradley, "all of this is attributable to the chaos that prevailed during the first few days following the attack. What we're dealing with are coincidentally identical names." In Saudi Arabia, says Bradley, the names of two of the allegedly surviving attackers, Said al-Ghamdi and Walid al-Shari, are "as common as John Smith in the United States or Great Britain."

The final explanation is provided by the newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, one of the sources of Arab News, which in turn serves as a source to the BBC. Mohammed Samman is the name of the reporter who interviewed a man named Said al-Ghamdi in Tunis, only to find that al-Ghamdi was quite horrified to discover his name on the FBI list of assassins.

Samman remembers his big story well. "That was a wonderful story," he says. And that's all it was. It had nothing to do with the version made up of Br?ckers' and Bülow's combined fantasies.

"The problem," says Samman, "was that after the first FBI list had been published, CNN released a photo of the pilot Said al-Ghamdi that had been obtained from the files of those Saudi pilots who had at some point received official flight training in the United States."

After Samman's story was reported by the news agencies, he was contacted by CNN. "I gave them Ghamdi's telephone number. The CNN people talked to the pilot and apologized profusely. The whole thing was quite obviously a mix-up. The Ghamdi family is one of the largest families in Saudi Arabia, and there are thousands of men named Said al-Ghamdi."

When we ask Samman to take another look at the FBI's list of photographs, he is more than happy to oblige, and tells us: "The Ghamdi on the photo is not the pilot with whom I spoke."

The investigative journalists should have been able to figure out just how obvious the solution to this puzzle was. They all write that a man named Abd al-Asis al-Umari had been named as a perpetrator by the FBI, and that there are apparently many individuals with this name. Br?ckers and Hau? even noticed that the FBI had initially released an incorrect first name to the press. All of this certainly suggests that there was a mix-up, but it's also something that the conspiracy theorists apparently did not consider plausible.

In the case of the supposedly surviving terrorist Walid al-Shari, the truth is even more obvious. At least Bülow had the opportunity to avoid making this mistake. In his book, he writes that the alleged assassin Shari "lives in Casablanca and works as a pilot, according to information provided by the airline Royal Air Maroc."

If Bülow had inquired with the airline, he would have discovered that the name of the pilot who lives in Casablanca is Walid al-Shri and not, like that of the assassin, Walid al-Shari. This minor detail makes a big difference, namely the difference between a dead terrorist and a living innocent man. But to conspiracy theorists, discovering the truth is like solving a crossword puzzle for children: What's a four-letter word for a domesticated animal? Hrse.

While doing research for my conspiracy page last year, I had e-mailed several different desks at the BBC to inform them that their story was being used all over the internet as grist for these conspiracy theories, and asked if they had ever followed up on their apparent bombshell story. How, I asked, could they just do one story on such an accusation, and never make an attempt at closure one way or the other.

I never got an answer. I'm afraid that's all too common in journalism today. Headlines like "Initial Reports Proven Untrue" just don't sell newspapers, and I guess there just isn't a commensurate sense of accountability among reporters and their editors to clear up speculative nonsense for which they were responsible in the first place.

Later, the Philly Daily News ran an "unanswered questions" piece that included the same "hijackers still living" canard. I e-mailed the columnist, Will Bunch, primarily to inform him that one of those still-living hijackers was recently featured on an al-qaeda recruiting video -- reading his will, no less. I also asked him why he didn't try to solve any of these mysteries himself, rather than whining, "So why did this story line vanish into thin air?" A rather odd question for a reporter to be asking his readers, I thought.

Bunch's response: "I'm a good reporter, but if I tried to solve all 20 questions myself I'd be 96 years old by the time I was done!" With this level of laziness among professional journalists, it's no wonder the conspiracy loons are able to point to so many "inconsistencies" and "unanswered questions."
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:40 AM [+] ::
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Karmic Correction

Steve Vogel makes this correction in his latest Military Matters column:
Attention to Details

In an article last month, this column described the commissioning of the submarine USS Virginia. Citing a report in the Daily Press of Newport News, the article said that during the ceremony, Acting Secretary of the Navy Hansford T. Johnson asked the sub's commander, Capt. David J. Kern, to let the sailors stand at parade rest, even though the sailors were already at parade rest.

This report was inaccurate, according to the Navy and two witnesses.

Johnson actually asked the commander to put the sailors at ease. Kern responded by directing the sailors to go from parade rest to attention, and then ordered them at ease, since all commands must be made from the attention position.

"Secretary Johnson made a nice gesture and did it correctly," said Capt. Kevin Wensing, a spokesman for the secretary. "The crew and the crowd appreciated his thoughtful gesture."

Of course, none of this explains why Vogel thought it was necessary to slam Johnson over something like this from the beginning. Get a life already.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:55 AM [+] ::
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The No-Shame Zone

It's certainly no easy feat to argue against and organization like Moveon.org and still manage to look like an ignorant jackass while doing it, but somehow Bill O'Reilly managed to pull it off flawlessly. Here's how:
Joining us now from Washington is Carol Darr, the director of the Institute for Politics and Democracy and the Internet at George Washington University and Byron York, the White House correspondent for "The National Review," a conservative publication.

Now the moveon.org people wanted to come on here, but I can't have them on because, you know, they're going to attack Bush, I got to defend Bush. I don't want to do that. That's not my job to defend the president, all right, at this point.

You'll note that this is the same guy who routinely sneers at people like Hillary Clinton for not having the "courage" to appear on his show. This is sad really. O'Reilly may have been too much of a coward to face the organization directly, but I don't think Byron York would have had any problem with it. It could have been, you know, like a meaningful exchange of ideas.

But, true to form, O'Reilly not only shuts out MoveOn in a discussion about MoveOn, he evades the substance of MoveOn's positions on various issues entirely, preferring to go after their status as a "tax exempt" organization:
BYRON YORK, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, it is raising a lot of money. But you have to remember that moveon.org is, at heart, an old-fashioned PAC, a political action committee. It raised $2.4 million in the 2000 election and spent every penny of it on Democrats. It began as a pro-Clinton organization during the impeachment and has morphed, as you said, into an anti-Bush organization, all of which would be fine, except that it bills itself as a "issue oriented, non-partisan non-profit organization."

O'REILLY: Yes, and it's tax exempt! It's tax exempt!

YORK: Well, it's what's called a 501C-4, I believe, which is a nonprofit, but they make clear that contributions to moveon.org are not tax deductible.

O'REILLY: Right. But the organization itself doesn't have to pay any tax. The people who work for it are basically under this umbrella that Jesse Jackson has set up. And I don't understand why they get a tax-exempt status, Mr. York, if their sole purpose is to destroy the Republican party. And that is their sole purpose.

Despite York's claim about MoveOn claiming to be "non-partisan" (which I think is just a weasel word for not having a formal tie to a political party, rather than a claim to being non-ideological or balanced -- hence a fair description of Move On), their FAQ page makes no such claim. It does, however, claim to have "bipartisan" origins when it started out as an anti-impeachment group. But their site in no way hides the fact that they are about advocating a particular point of view on a variety of issues.

More on the "tax exempt" nonsense:
O'REILLY: Ms. Darr, do you have any problem with this being a tax- exempt organization when its whole purpose is to destroy one political party?

CAROL DARR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIV.: Not one single bit. Every political organization in the country is tax exempt. Republican National Committee is tax exempt. The DNC is tax exempt. All presidential campaigns are tax exempt. And moveon.org is tax exempt.

O'REILLY: Yes, but all of those others...

DARR: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) are tax exempt.

O'REILLY: ...that you mentioned are identifiable as a political organization. This isn't.

DARR: So are they. I mean, they have a PAC. It's registered with the Federal Election Commission. But they're far more than a PAC. They now have 1.6 million members. They're the most innovative and fastest growing advocacy group in the United States. They're more like kind of an online common cause, which is also tax exempt.

O'REILLY: Well...

Heh. At least he didn't tell her to shut up. Then he digs even further ...
O'REILLY: Do you want to give me an example of a group that calls itself non-partisan, and all it does is try to tear down the Democratic party? Can you give me one?

DARR: I have some notes here. And there are a couple. There's one - - the National Conservative Campaign Fund, which called Tom Daschle more dangerous to American -- than the American Taliban...

O'REILLY: All right, but it's a National Conservative Campaign Fund. Come on. Ms. Darr, you know what I'm talking about. These people are masquerading. But I don't even care about that. I don't.

And the punchline ...
DARR: But that's not your issue with them. Your issue with them is what they're saying about Bush, what they're saying...

O'REILLY: No, my issue they can say whatever they want.

DARR: ...part of legitimate, political discourse.

O'REILLY: Just -- they should rename themselves wehateRepublicans.org and then everybody would know. Now is this kind of propaganda...

DARR: Would you be happy then?

You know, he may be on to something. Maybe MoveOn should be forced to change its name. And while we're at it, we should force O'Reilly to change the name of his show to The Whiny Innumerate Megalomaniacal Gasbag Hour.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to take a shower after having defended MoveOn.

[From the Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2003 broadcast of O'Reilly's show, via Lexis-Nexis]
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:51 AM [+] ::
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:: Tuesday, September 16, 2003 ::

Just a Footnote

Listening to Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman's speech to the UN Security Council yesterday, this passage caught me off guard:
And yet, Mr. President, when is the Security Council galvanized into action? Was it galvanized to act after the horrific suicide bombings which killed twenty-two and injured 135 on a crowded bus in downtown Jerusalem filled with orthodox Jewish families and children returning from prayers at the Western Wall? Was it galvanized to act this past Tuesday when two suicide bombings, at a cafe in Jerusalem and a bus stop in Central Israel, killed a total of fifteen and injured more than seventy Israelis, just hours apart.

The Council may have already heard that these latest attacks were perpetrated by terrorists recently released by Israel as part of a goodwill gesture towards the Palestinian leadership. They are further evidence that every gesture made by Israel, and every risk taken for the sake of peace has been answered with criminal action and inaction on the part of the Palestinian leadership, under Mr. Arafat's control.[emphasis mine]

I hadn't heard that before -- that the perpetrators of these attacks were part of the 300 or so prisoners released by the Israelis, which the Palestinians whined was insufficient to meet Israel's obligations to the Roadmap (even though the Roadmap said nothing about releasing these "political prisoners").

Of course, even now, I can find no mention of it in the Western coverage of those attacks.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:24 AM [+] ::
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"Logical Lapses"

Newsday's Bob Keeler:
Was Vitter upset because he remembers fondly his own military service? Well, no. Like many Republicans eager to send someone else's kids off to war, he did not serve in the military. He was miffed because schools shut out the military, but not colleges or businesses. He wanted a level playing field.

In his patriotic zeal, Vitter suffered some logical lapses: One, how can the military, which has a $400 billion budget and very big guns, be disadvantaged? Two, unlike the military, colleges and businesses aren't asking kids to join an organization whose primary products are killing and dying.

No, they just want to make money, a far more noble calling than serving one's country.

Dick.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:48 AM [+] ::
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Word

This piece by NYT correspondent John Burns left me speechless.

Primadonnas like Peter Arnett and Christianne Amanpour like to think they're the embodiment of the fearless journalist, staring down ruthless government thugs in their quest for the truth. But they're nothing but whiny propagandists. Burns, however, is the real deal.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:43 AM [+] ::
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:: Monday, September 15, 2003 ::

My Own Private Hell

General asshats
Circle I Limbo

Scientologists
Circle II Whirling in a Dark & Stormy Wind

The New York Yankees
Circle III Mud, Rain, Cold, Hail & Snow

Militant Vegans, Greens, PETA Members
Circle IV Rolling Weights

Creationists
Circle V Stuck in Mud, Mangled

River Styx

NAMBLA Members
Circle VI Buried for Eternity

River Phlegyas

Qusay Hussein, Uday Hussein, Saddam Hussein
Circle VII Burning Sands

Osama bin Laden
Circle IIX Immersed in Excrement

Robert Novak
Circle IX Frozen in Ice

Design your own hell



[Via Damian Penny]
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:11 PM [+] ::
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"The Soldiers Are Looking for Gunmen and Do Not Bother Ordinary Citizens"

Via Jeff Jarvis, here's a report from NPR (click on "Armed Gangs Battle for Control of Nablus") -- yes, NPR! -- about Palestinians welcoming the return of IDF soldiers to Nablus, which had been suffering from a bit too much autonomy.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:54 AM [+] ::
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:: Saturday, September 13, 2003 ::

Are You a Neocon?

Are you?!?

This quiz from the Christian Science Monitor is actually pretty interesting, though the available responses are simplistic - on a number of the questions I had to choose the one I disagreed with the least. But at least the quiz doesn't involve calipers around your nose or anything.

It also pegged me as a Realist, which I guess isn't too far off the mark (I consider myself, judging by the definitions CSM provides, to be a Liberal with Realist tendencies).

True neocons will undoubtedly take issue with the "Empire Builders" logo for the CSM's tutorial on them.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 2:58 PM [+] ::
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:: Wednesday, September 10, 2003 ::

Here We Go Again

Much has been made of Don Rumsfeld's remarks Monday to the effect that criticism of U.S. efforts in the war on terrorism "emboldens" the terrorists. The Washington Post's headline refers simply to "criticism of Bush," while the LA Times puts it in more stark terms with "Rumsfeld Says Bush Opponents Aid Enemies." The NY Daily News actually uses the phrase "cheers terrorists," while the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel goes even further: "Rumsfeld Warns against criticism of war" (via Lexis-Nexis -- not available on line).

Lest anyone be fooled by the suggestion that Rumsfeld was saying that critics of Bush's judicial nominees are giving aid and comfort to the enemy, here is the question he was answering:
Mr. Secretary last year you had at least 9 Democrats on the news every night criticizing the decision.

Rumsfeld: I got it I think some will drop out.

[Laughter]

[Unknown media speaker]: For short Bill Clinton too.

Q: Criticizing the positions you and the President made on Iraq, criticizing the job that you're doing and I'm watching all of that. How does that complicate your effort to get this (inaudible) you're trying to get out on Iraq and Afghanistan and the war on terrorism.

And his entire answer:
Rumsfeld: It makes it complicated it makes it more difficult but I guess that's life. I don't know what one could do about it. It doesn't make it enjoyable but what we have to do is think through to the best we can what it is we believe is in the best interest of the country, explain it to the extent we can to the American people and there's no question that, that - take the force level. There's a (inaudible) building up, more forces, more forces, more U.S. forces in Iraq and so you take a month of (inaudible), another month of (inaudible) planning and work with people and you explain what you're trying to do and you explain why it's important to go from to 55,000 Iraqis and why it's much better to have Iraqis take responsibility for their security and finally it gets through. Eventually if it doesn't - if the long argument doesn't sell, people stop using it because it doesn't resonate and it'll stop. Now in the process you take a lot (inaudible) over a period of time but when it's over if the critics are right then you learn more yourself (inaudible) what it is you're doing. And if the critics are wrong ultimately the people in the media will stop repeating what they have suddenly discovered - not suddenly but eventually discovered to be arguments that lack merit because they've heard the way and the reasons that lacks merit and if they don't stop repeating that stuff then the American people will turn them off and (inaudible) serve people in the Navy to have people turn it off.

And ...
Rumsfeld: Sure to the extent that there's no doubt but that terrorist - we know for a fact that people studied Somalia, terrorist studied Somalia and they studied instances when the United States was dealt a blow and tucked in. And persuaded themselves that they could in fact cause us to act (inaudible) in whatever it is they wanted to do. The United States is not going to do that, President Bush isn't going to do that.



Now to the extent that the terrorist are given reason to believe he might or that if he is not going to that the opponents might prevail in some way and they take heart in that and that leads to more money going into these activities or that leads to more recruits or that leads to more encouragement or leads to more staying power, obviously it makes our task more difficult. That does not mean there should not be a debate on these things (inaudible), there should be a debate in discussion on these things, we can live with that. We can live with a healthy debate as long as it is as elevated as possible and as civil as possible.

Only the Daily News and the Journal Sentinel bothered to mention the latter part, and the latter inaccurately couched his statements about "healthy debate":
Rumsfeld said he welcomed a "lively debate" <>on the Bush administration proposal for $87 billion in new funding for Iraq ..."[emphasis added]

As for his statement of the obvious, is there really anyone who doesn't believe that al qaeda is emboldened by a perceived lack of resolve on our part?

UPDATE: Rumsfeld whipped it out on the Jim Lehrer News Hour yesterday after Lehrer suggested that he had "grown testy and defensive about criticism."

No, his transcript, silly.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:23 PM [+] ::
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Salam Pax on the "Human Shields"

Salam's online chat with Radio 4's Today program has lots of gems, including this one:
Name: Jon Drane
Question: I wondered if the human shields really did any good protecting civilian areas during the bombing? The media here went very quiet about them... did you see any? Were they used as stooges of the regime?

Answer: They had a great time I think. I do not really understand their motivation. They were obviously being used by the regime and they knew it. They stayed on and then there was an article in the Guardian I think which was them complaining that the regime was going to put them in dangerous places which might be bombed. It was totally surreal. If you go somewhere as a human shield, you're going to be put somewhere that is a target: that's the whole point. When the government stopped pampering them and put them in dangerous spots, they pulled out and left the country. After the war, I met a couple of the people who were human shields. They're good people idealistic: which Saddam used against them. They weren't in civilian areas which were attacked. They were in their hotels.

There are other pleas for validation by the antiwar crowd -- cleverly disguised as "questions" -- and Salam's responses are definitely worth reading.

[Via Harry's Place]




:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:17 PM [+] ::
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Color Me On Board

Harry reports of a demonstration planned for Sept. 27, with the characteristically tired and morally blind theme: "End the Occupation of Iraq/Freedom for Palestine."

And he has some interesting plans for that day himself:
Every Stop the War demonstration has angered me. I've marched with many of those same people against apartheid, against the poll tax etc and it riles me to see them now on the side of reaction.

So on September 27 this blog will make a modest, token objection to the demonstration.

While Stop the War are insulting the victims of Saddam's regime and those who died in the struggle for freedom this website will simply post links to the stories of the true horror of Ba'athist rule in Iraq.

Instead of photos of the marching middle classes we will post reminders of the mass graves. Instead of the rants of Harold Pinter, we will post the stories of the Kurds he once supported. Instead of the lies of Andrew Murray we will have the words of the comrades in Iraq who he betrayed.

I think he could use some company.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:52 PM [+] ::
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More Garbage from al-Jazeera

This is pretty tasteless, not to mention trite. Funny how tired Nazimedia drivel passes for mainstream in some places.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:26 PM [+] ::
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Another Day, Another Lie

Someone should tell Bill O'Reilly to just stop digging:
We asked O’Reilly if he had seen the article, secretly hoping he’d tell us to shut up. “I don’t read Slate!” he snapped. “Why would I read that?” Some people, we pointed out, consider it a legitimate news venue. “I read ten newspapers a day!” he barked. O’Reilly also informed us that Harvard’s Kennedy School is “considering taking action” against Al Franken for using Shorenstein Center stationery to send a satirical letter to John Ashcroft soliciting a story about abstinence. This was news to Shorenstein Center director Alex Jones. “What does he mean by ‘taking action’?” snorted Jones. “It was a very foolish mistake, but Franken apologized, and that should be the end of it.”

About the same movie premiere after-party, dong resin comments on Elizabeth Spiers' post:
I have a mental image of a very nervous waiter, gripped vice-like by the forearm as Bill indignantly hoovers up his try of cocktail weiners by the fistful, complaining in between mouthfuls that "dere's nuthn' to eat in this fuckn' place", while spraying you with pink, cocktail weiner-laden spittle as he shouts answers to his questions.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:11 PM [+] ::
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9/11 Conspiracy Theories and Anti-Semitism

The ADL has released an exhaustive report on the various Jews-Were-Behind-9/11 theories, tracking their origins and prevalence in both the Western "conspiracy theory industry" and mainstream Arab media.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:30 AM [+] ::
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Oh. My. God.

There have been a lot of shameless attempts to misappropriate the grief and indignation over the Sept. 11 attacks for craven political motives, but this takes the cake:
Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo has dropped plans for commemorating "victims of illegal immigration and open borders" on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

The original event was to include relatives of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, as well as people who lost their jobs to illegal immigrants, and people injured by illegal immigrant drunken drivers and criminals.

When I first heard about this on C-SPAN's Washington Journal this morning (relayed by Hotline's Vaughn Ververs, I thought I was going to vomit.

Tancredo has backed down from an event linking 9/11 with disenfranchised sugar beet farm workers, but still plans to hold his nativist hate fest at a future date.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:17 AM [+] ::
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:: Monday, September 08, 2003 ::

What the Hell?

The Guardian continues to outdo itself:
The President will make a dramatic U-turn on Iraq in a TV broadcast tonight to try to salvage his hopes of re-election amid Americans' growing hostility to the casualties and chaos.

George Bush will attempt tonight to convince the American people that he has a workable 'exit strategy' to free his forces from the rapidly souring conflict in Iraq, as Britain prepares to send in thousands more troops to reinforce the faltering coalition effort.

That's not sexed up or anything.
[Via Tim Blair]
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:: Sunday, September 07, 2003 ::

Another Annoying Myth

This one's a bit older, and from the right:
Instead of poor people with hope and possibility, we now have a permanent underclass of aspiring criminals knifing one another between having illegitimate children and collecting welfare checks. It is an ironclad law of economics that if you want more of something, subsidize it; if you want less of something, tax it. But liberals were shocked and bewildered to discover that when they subsidized illegitimacy, they got more of it.

The War on Poverty took a crisis-level illegitimacy rate among blacks in the mid-1960s (22 percent) and tripled it to 69 percent. It transformed a negligible illegitimacy rate among whites (2 percent) to emergency proportions (22.5 percent) – higher than the black illegitimacy rate when Daniel Patrick Moynihan heralded the War on Poverty with his alarmist report on black families, "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action." (Demonstrating the sort of on-the job-training that has so impressed Hollywood elites, the state with the second highest rate of white illegitimacy is Howard Dean's Vermont.) Overall, the illegitimacy rate has skyrocketed from about 8 percent to 33.8 percent.

These statistics have been repeated in the media so often, they have to be true, right?

Wrong. While they are not a complete fabrication, they demostrate a profound innumeracy among the pundits who repeat them, and they are quite misleading. The figures Ann Coulter cites above actually refer to the illegitimacy ratio, not the illegitimacy rate. For an explanation of the difference, let's turn to Charles Murray, of all people:
A birth rate refers to the number of children born per 1,000 women in the group in question, while a ratio refers to the proportion of children born in a given condition to the group in question. It may not be intuitively apparent, but the two measures are arithmetically independent. If the number of illegitimate babies is represented by a, the number of women ages 14–44 is represented by b, and the total number of babies (both legitimate and illegitimate) is c, then the illegitimacy rate is computed as a/b while the ratio is computed by a/c.

Hence, when one accounts for the fact that the number of births to married couples has declined significantly over the period cited by Coulter, you get a different picture. This is not to say that overall illegitimacy rates have declined -- they have increased, though not nearly as markedly as the ratios -- but it's worth pointing out that among African-Americans, the rates have actually declined. Murray cites some of these statistics himself, particularly the illegitimacy rates among black teenagers: 173 births in 1957 and 96 in 1983.

I'm not suggesting that illegitimacy is not a huge problem in this country (and continues to be so, as the illegitimacy rates have continued to rise after the 1996 welfare reform), and Murray is correct that the ratio is a better figure for evaluating the "prevalence" of the phenomenon, and all the social ills that come with it. But if one is trying to blame the problem on LBJ's social programs -- as most conservatives have, at one time or another -- the statistics simply don't support that argument.

The argument put forth by Coulter and many others has been about the behavior among unmarried poor women. To determine whether a relationship -- much less causality -- exists between welfare policy and the propensity of women to have children out of wedlock, clearly the focus must be on the rate and not the ratio.

Unless, of course, Coulter is suggesting that LBJ is to blame for married women having fewer children today than they did in 1957.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 6:47 PM [+] ::
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:: Saturday, September 06, 2003 ::

Another Salingeresque Meltdown

What causes mildly annoying "intellectuals" and statesmen to become barking moonbats, infatuated with the first jerk-off theory or meme they see on the internet? Is it simply a function their having run out of ideas? If that's the case, then I guess we should welcome ex-environment minister Michael Meacher's screed in the Guardian as a step toward catharsis.

Everyone and their dog have already given Meacher's grab bag of conspiracy theories the what-for, so my two cents might be overkill. In fact, I've already addressed just about every inane assertion the man makes, and some well over a year ago -- that by itself should give you some indication of just how intellectually lazy and unoriginal his arguments are.

Nonetheless, and because I think there's no such thing as overkill when dealing with this garbage, here's a brief recap of what I've written on the subject:
"We now know that a blueprint for the creation of a global Pax Americana was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice-president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy), Jeb Bush (George Bush's younger brother) and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). The document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defences, was written in September 2000 by the neoconservative think tank, Project for the New American Century (PNAC)."

"It also hints that the US may consider developing biological weapons 'that can target specific genotypes [and] may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.'"

"It had been known as early as 1996 that there were plans to hit Washington targets with aeroplanes. Then in 1999 a US national intelligence council report noted that 'al-Qaida suicide bombers could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White House.'"

"The first hijacking was suspected at not later than 8.20am, and the last hijacked aircraft crashed in Pennsylvania at 10.06am. Not a single fighter plane was scrambled to investigate from the US Andrews airforce base, just 10 miles from Washington DC, until after the third plane had hit the Pentagon at 9.38 am. Why not?" [See also Bruce Rolston's post on who was in command of NORAD that day. Hint: it wasn't an American.]

"The BBC reported (September 18 2001) that Niaz Niak, a former Pakistan foreign secretary, was told by senior American officials at a meeting in Berlin in mid-July 2001 that 'military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October.' Until July 2001 the US government saw the Taliban regime as a source of stability in Central Asia that would enable the construction of hydrocarbon pipelines from the oil and gas fields in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Indian Ocean. But, confronted with the Taliban's refusal to accept US conditions, the US representatives told them 'either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs' (Inter Press Service, November 15 2001)."

"To diversify supply routes from the Caspian, one pipeline would run westward via Azerbaijan and Georgia to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Another would extend eastwards through Afghanistan and Pakistan and terminate near the Indian border. This would rescue Enron's beleaguered power plant at Dabhol on India's west coast, in which Enron had sunk $3bn investment and whose economic survival was dependent on access to cheap gas."

And here's a howler I hadn't addressed before ...
"The US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Myers, went so far as to say that "the goal has never been to get Bin Laden" (AP, April 5 2002)."

... but will now. Here is a bit of context to GEN Myers' quote:
Hunt: The Big Question for General Myers: One embarrassment for the U.S. has been that, in almost seven months after 9/11, we still haven't captured Osama bin Laden. With the apprehension this week of one of his top lieutenants, have we gotten enough information to be any closer to maybe finally getting bin Laden?

Myers: Well, if you remember, if we go back to the beginning of this segment, the goal has never been to get bin Laden. Obviously, that's desirable.

Interesting, I just read a piece by some analysts that said you may not want to go after the top people in these organizations. You may have more effect by going after the middlemen, because they're harder to replace. I don't know if that's true, or not, and clearly we would like to eventually get bin Laden.

But I think the fact that we've been able to disrupt operations, get a lot of the people just under him and maybe just a little bit further down, has had some impact on their operations. We know have disrupted, you know, four, five, six, seven active operations that they had planned and probably more that we don't know about.

So we're going to keep the hunt on. Finding one person, as we've talked about before, is a very difficult prospect, but we will keep trying.

Fact checking is not that difficult. These twits should try it some time.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:13 PM [+] ::
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More on the Stunning Display of News Management™ Meme

Al-Jazeera propagandizes reports on a recent media/military relations conference at the U.S. Army War College:
Media embeds helped US army

The US military has admitted it used journalists embedded with its forces during the invasion of Iraq to further its war aims, compromising their role as independent observers.

As US troops approached Baghdad last spring, their commanders sought to win the surrender of enemy forces by orchestrating media coverage of staged events, military officers said this week.

Staged events? Oh please.

Here's what was actually said:
At a three-day military-hosted conference on the media's role in Operation Iraqi Freedom, officers said the Army arranged for an embedded US television crew to film airborne troops embarking in the desert in the hope that Iraqi commanders would realise how far north US forces had advanced.

And when false Iraqi government claims that American troops were pinned down hundreds of miles from Baghdad appeared to stiffen Iraqi resistance, an Army tank commander rounded up journalists for a televised "thunder run" through the city to prove that the US force - and not Saddam Hussein - was in charge.

"I just wanted them to report what happened. If having the media report accurately is using them, then they were used," said Col. David Perkins, who as commander of the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade had organised the tank foray into Baghdad specifically to garner publicity for the US advance.

"The main intent ... was to get the story out," he added. "I don't know why anyone would want anything other than that."

Me neither, brother. But then, I don't work for al-Jazeera. To them, it is inconceivable that complete and accurate media coverage of what was happening on the ground was what served the interests of the Pentagon Propaganda Machine™.

And, of course, no anti-American smear campaign masquerading as journalism would be complete without mentioning the infamous toppling of the statue of Father Saddam in Baghdad:
Some media critics have said the scene gave the misleading impression that US soldiers were removing the statue at the behest of crowds of cheering Iraqis.

"Some critics." Not us, mind you. We're just sayin', is all.

And I certainly hope that the irony of a news organization that airs unedited al-qaeda (and now Ba'athist) propaganda videos would make charges about Western media "compromising" their integrity isn't lost on too many people.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:31 PM [+] ::
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:: Tuesday, September 02, 2003 ::

Rall Award Nominee

DoD has posted an update to a U.S. Army casualty in Afghanistan:
The Department of Defense announced today that Sgt. 1st Class Mitchell A. Lane, 34, of Lompoc, Calif., died on Aug. 29 in Afghanistan. Lane fell approximately 25 feet when he was conducting a fast rope infiltration into a known enemy cave complex. Lane died of his injuries.

Lane was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Here is what Hesiod wrote on the same incident Saturday:
STUFF HAPPENS: Why do our soldiers keep slipping on banana peels, or in the bathtub?

A special operations soldiers died from a "fall" in Afghanistan...during a "night assault."

Yes. Military operations directed by George Roy Hill.

Ass.


:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:59 PM [+] ::
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:: Monday, September 01, 2003 ::

al-Jazeera's "Exclusive Interview" with George Galloway

Chris Suellentrop once wrote that al-Jazeera was every bit as fair and balanced as CNN. He obviously hasn't looked at their english Web site, where he would be treated to the most outrageous of canards:
Nearly 40,000 of America's frontline soldiers are not US citizens.

Many of the troops on duty in Iraq do not count English as their first language and would prefer to take orders in their native tongue ... usually Spanish.

The revelation has prompted British MP George Galloway, one of the fiercest critics of the invasion of Iraq, to accuse the US of using its "green card" troops as cannon fodder.

Galloway went on to attack the US policy of putting its poor minorities and non-citizens in the frontline of its foreign wars.

Yes, American media does have an American bias, but at least our journalists check their facts from time to time. And I doubt they would use George Galloway as the sole source of information on the demographics of the U.S. military.

Not only does this story repeated the long-debunked fallacy about minorities bearing a disproportionate burden of "front line" duty; it also attempts to extend the myth to non-citizens.

The "nearly 40,000" figure (37,000, to be a bit more precise) is actually the total number of foreign nationals serving in all four branches of the military. This is roughly three percent of the total active duty armed forces. Legal immigrants account for roughly seven percent of the U.S. population (based on 32.5 million foreign born residents as of 2002, 20.5 million of which are naturalized citizens), which means they are underrepresented in the military.

But of those 37,000 noncitizen soldiers, are they more or less likely to serve in "front line" positions. Less. Significantly less. Last year (when the total was around 31,000) the U.S. Navy accounted for over 15,000 of them, "with significantly lesser numbers spread out in the Marine Corps, Army and Air Force."

But that doesn't stop al-Jazeera from making a modern day Vietnam myth out of the figures, along with the obligatory accusations of cover-up:
The statistics, buried by White House spin doctors, reveal that a significant minority of troops fighting under the US banner are not in fact US citizens but residents hoping to speed up their citizenship.

Galloway said that this was typical of a government used to having the marginalised fight its battles.

"Nothing has changed since that last failed attempt to invade and determine the future of another country, Vietnam," he told Aljazeera.net from his extradition-proof bunker holiday villa in Portugal.[Sorry, couldn't resist]

Interesting that a news organization that couldn't be bothered to ask a U.S. government official for U.S. government statistics would accuse them of "burying" these embarrassing facts.

And, Mr. Suellentrop, I'd like to see what the reaction would be if CNN reported the following:
This explains why a disproportionate number of the so-called US casualties in the invasion and occupation of Iraq have borne Latino names.

Good God.





:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:41 PM [+] ::
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"Neobeebs." Heh.

Instapundit discovers another instance of ideologues tailoring their "intelligence" to suit their policy aims:
BBC governors decided to turn the tussle with the government over the Iraq dossier story into a make-or-break trial of strength despite harbouring doubts over the original Today report.

Emails released by the Hutton inquiry show that a number of governors, including chairman Gavyn Davies, were determined not to buckle in the face of government pressure even though they thought the story might not stand up to scrutiny.

Can you use the term "cabal" to describe a bunch of English media guys? Maybe "coven" or "murder" would be more appropriate?

Another bit of information that isn't getting the coverage it deserves comes from the e-mail from Gilligan to Liberal Democrat press officer Greg Simpson. The Guardian had reported that Gilligan had denied that Dr. Kelly was the source for his story, even as he prompted the opposition party to question him on the subject of Iraqi WMDs. But the actual e-mail is even worse:
Is Kelly our source?
We are not ruling anyone in or out as the source. I had many conversations with people inside and outside the intelligence community about the issue of Iraqi WMD and the dossier. We suspect the MoD of playing games to try to eliminate names.

However: if, as the MoD has said, Kelly's involvement inthe dossier was only tangential, he cannot be our source. Two of my source's claims which have proved to be true - that the 45-minute point derived from a single informant, and that it came in late - have been shown to be true. Such facts could only have been known to someone closely involved in compiling the dossier until a late stage.[Emphasis added]

I try to apply the Costanza standard before calling anyone a liar, but this demonstrates quite conclusively that Gilligan couldn't possibly have believed his own copy.


:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:09 PM [+] ::
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