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(UNDER CONSTRUCTION)

:: Sunday, March 28, 2004 ::

Daily Mislead

The dissemblers of MoveOn.org are at it again. Here is their latest:
A previously forgotten report from April 2001 (four months before 9/11) shows that the Bush Administration officially declared it "a mistake" to focus "so much energy on Osama bin Laden." The report directly contradicts the White House's continued assertion that fighting terrorism was its "top priority" before the 9/11 attacks1.

Specifically, on April 30, 2001, CNN reported that the Bush Administration's release of the government's annual terrorism report contained a serious change: "there was no extensive mention of alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden" as there had been in previous years. When asked why the Administration had reduced the focus, "a senior Bush State Department official told CNN the U.S. government made a mistake in focusing so much energy on bin Laden."2.[Emphasis mine]

There are two distortions here. First, they distort Scott McClellan's comments in his Mar. 22 press briefing. He claimed that "going after al qaeda" was a top priority for the administration, not it's top priority, which would make it number one.

More importantly, they blatantly distort the comment from the "senior Bush State Department official" to CNN. The quote comes from an already short bulletin on CNN's Inside Politics -- a recap of the day's top stories by Judy Woodruff right after a commercial break -- which aired April 30, 2001. And the Daily Mislead cut it down even further, and took it out of context. Here it is in full:
The State Department officially released its annual terrorism report just a little more than an hour ago, but unlike last year, there's no extensive mention of alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. A senior State Department official tells CNN the U.S. government made a mistake in focusing so much energy on bin Laden and "personalizing terrorism."

still, Secretary of State Colin Powell says efforts to fight global terrorism will remain consistent.[Emphasis mine]

The Daily Mislead clearly distorted this comment, changing the meaning of the "focus" from the context of one man in comparison to terrorist networks to one which compares him to issues in general.

Here is a more complete version of the story, from the network's State Dept. correspondent, Andrea Koppel:
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His name has become synonymous with terrorism, and after years of contributing to that trend, the State Department wants it to end. And so, unlike before, in its new report on global terrorism in the year 2000, you won't find bin Laden's photograph or a long description devoted to him and his Al-Qaida terrorist network.

A senior State Department official told CNN, the U.S. government made a mistake, compounded by news reports by "personalizing terrorism, describing parts of the elephant and not the whole beast."

As an example of its new approach, the State Department report cites: broad international support for a U.S.-sponsored United Nations resolution, approved in December 2000, that targets sanctions against the Taleban in Afghanistan. The goal: stop the Taleban from providing a safe haven to Islamic extremist organizations and their terrorist training camps, not just bin Laden's.[Via Lexis-Nexis, not the CNN Web site]

Here is the web version of Koppel's story, headlined "U.S. report: South Asia is terrorism 'focal point.'"

And if you read the State Dept.'s Patterns of Global Terrorism report itself, you will find that it certainly remained focused on al qaeda as the most prominent terror threat facing the U.S. Compare it to the previous year's report and you'll find that the only real difference is, indeed, the lack of an inset devoted to bin Laden individually.

They don't call it the Daily Mislead for nothing.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 7:34 PM [+] ::
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:: Saturday, March 27, 2004 ::

I Got Mail. Yay!

Is Hesiod the Greek word for "hysterical?" Just asking.

It seems the hack took exception to my taking exception of this post (and I wasn't the only one). I invited him to post everything we've said to each other on this issue at his blog, but he didn't wanna. But he was nice enough to give his blessing to my posting the exchange here.

His first e-mail:
I know you have an agenda, but I hope you will allow me to clarify my post on Lt. Ratliff.
 
I was not accusing Bush of being responsible for his death because of the war in Iraq. Ratliff served in Afghanistan, not Iraq. An important distiction, because I supported the former war, not the latter.
 
My anger at President Bush was due to the lack of services Lt. Ratfliff received when he returned from Iraq.
 
The City of Columbus surely deserves blame for their cavalier and arrogant attitude toward his promised promotion.
 
But, nobody KILLS themselves for failing to get a $4000 promotion. That was the straw, as it were, that broke the camel's back.
 
As we NOW see, the DOD was doing a piss poor job of providing needed psychological and others support services to service men and women who needed them...to stem an increase in suicides.
 
http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/nation/8280974.htm
 
So, Bush failed his men...yet again. He's the commander in chief. He's ultimately responsible for not providing what they need.
 
But, as I well know, Bush supporters never blame him for anything, or let him take responsibility for anything bad that takes place on his watch. It's always somebody else's fault. Bill Clinton. Paul O'Neill. Richard Clarke.
 
Anybody but Bush.
 
I don't want to get into an argument with you. But, I hope you will provide some context to my post. Most people who read it understood my point. Maybe you did too, but chose to distort it and make an ad hominem attack on me based on a strawman.
 
You did the same thing with my Afghanistan post. I was commenting, there, on the dishonesty of the way the Bush administration reported the deaths of our soldiers.
 
For some reason, more died in "accidents" than in combat operations. Even when they were CONDUCTING a combat operation at the time.
 
I wasn't belittling the deaths. I was attacking the Bush administration for trying to sugarcoat reality.
 
Another point that obviously went way over your head.
 
I don't mind it when people attack me for what I actually said based upon a correct interpretation of what I said. That's part of the process.
 
But when people mischaracterize my point, or don't understand what I wrote...and then attack me: that irks me.
 
So, consider this my attempt to clear up your misconceptions. I realize you still disagree with my actual points, and fully expect you to criticize me on those as well. But that's fine. That's an argument on the merits, not on strawmen, B.S. and made up arguments.
 
If, however, you continue to attack me along the same lines as before, I will have 100% proof that you are nothing more than a lying hack.
 
Your choice.
 
--Hesiod Theogeny.

To which I responded ...
Hesiod:

I'm going to put this the nicest way I know how --
your commentary on all things military is among the
most ill-informed and just plain idiotic that one can
find on the internet. There's a reason I don't write
much about labor laws or nanotechnology. I simply
don't know that much about these issues and prefer not
to make an ass of myself.

On Lt. Ratliff, I understood your post entirely, and
regardless of how many straws were already on the
camel's back, you simply don't know what the hell your
talking about.

Mental health care is a problem, especially, but not
exclusively, for military service members. We're
mostly men, which makes it all the more difficult to
diagnose, much less treat, problems that need to be
addressed. One could make the case that the Army
leadership (not DoD -- these matters have been the
domain of the services, and not just under Bush) had
been slow to react to this problem, but to use a term
like "piss poor" makes it sound like it was a routine
matter that was simply neglected. I know that isn't
the case. You're making a politica issue out of
something that isn't, and should never be. Most of the
defense budget increases passed by Bush and decried by
the loony Left have gone to medical and other
personnel benefits. So to blame the problem on a lack
of resource support from the political leadership is
simply nonsense. And to go even further by suggesting
that Ratliffe's suicide was the result of negligence
by the political appointees is as baseless as it is
offensive.

And despite any past failures, I think the Army is
addressing the problem appropriately now.

I'd say the same for your thoughtless post on the fast
rope mishap by the Ft. Bragg soldier last fall. These
kinds of operations are inherently dangerous,
regardless of which political party directs them. Yes,
the percentage of casualties due to accidents rather
than enemy fire is high. It always has been, and
probably always will be. Combat operations CAUSE such
accidents, by their very nature.

Tell me why this is Rumsfeld or Wolfowitz' fault? Did
Sgt. 1st Class Mitch Lane fall into that enemy cave
because Bush cut the funding for Ft. Bragg's special
forces training schools? Or was it because the Army
had to by cheaper and less reliable equipment, because
all the money is going to missile defense these days?

You're an ignorant ass, Hesiod. And by the way you've
slithered this response into my inbox, rather than
serving it as red meat to your dipshit readers, I
think you know that.

And the icing on the cake is his thoughtful, well-reasoned retort:
I'm going to respond to your post, because you took
the time to do so. But you still deliberately misstate
my point about the "accident" in Afghanistan.

I didn't blame the DEATH on anyone. I simply stated
that it was dishonest to classify it as an "accident"
when it happened DURING a combat operation.

Soldiers who's parachutes failed to open on D-Day (and
of course died) were not classified as "accidental"
deaths. They died in Combat.

That's my fucking point, asshole.

Second, I know more about mental HEALTH issues than
you do, prick. And I can guarantee you that this young
man wasn't getting the services and help he needed.

As I pointed out, the Arny is now ADMITTING that they
fell short.

And, yes, it's fucking Bush's fault. It's HIS damn
responsibility have the resources and help available
to deal with these problems before deployment.

Or, you don't send men off to these extended, shithole
deployments for over a year without a damn good
reason, and constantly extend their tours.

Now, Lt. ratliff was deployed to Afghanistan. So the
"damn good reason" part of my complaint doesn't apply.
BUT, he should have had better counseling and
adjustment assistance when he got back. Period.

If you want to suck George W. Bush's dick, that's your
choice. but I certainly don't have to. I want this
country run well.

And, as I predicted, NOTHING is ever Bush's
responsibility, is it? If you don;t hold your
President accountable for his actions, he's not a
President, he's a fucking dictator.

As far as I'm converned, we still live in a Republic.
Anmd, I'll be very happy when that asshole Bush is
frogmnarched off to federal prison during the Kerry
administration.

--Hesiod

On the issue of the "accident" in Afghanistan, Hesiod is flagrantly lying about his original post. Here it is again, in it's entirety:
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.

He's lying on both counts, of course. DoD was never "dishonest" about the how that particular soldier died, and I most certainly didn't misrepresent Hesiod's post on the subject.



:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:24 PM [+] ::
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A Friend Remembers Lt. Ratliff

In resonse to this post, a friend who served with Lt. Brandon Ratliff in AMEDD, sends this e-mail:
I've been dealing with this moron, Hesiod, for a few days now. I was a close friend of Brandon Ratliff. I went to Officer Basic Course at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio with him from Jan through Apr of 2002. He was supposed to be at my wedding next weekend. He spent Thanksgiving helping the homeless, even though I invited him to Raleigh to spend it with my family since he was not very close with his parents. Even after serving in Afghanistan, voluntarily with a reserve unit that was not even his own,he wanted to go to Iraq. As a devout Catholic, he felt very strongly about supporting Israel and felt that taking out Saddam was the greatest blow to global anti-Semitism since Hitler's downfall. He was an avid Republican and supporter of the Bush Administration's War on Terrorism.

I LOVE your statement about Bush having nothing to do with the local
Democratic party in Columbus and the City's Health Department. Isn't
it ironic that the woman who the Health Department chose as their liason to the press is the SAME woman that took his job? What a conflict of interest and completely inappropriate and insensitive. Bush is no more responsible for the rulings of the 9th Circuit Court Judges in California than he is for this. As a Captain in the US Army, I feel that we have no stronger supporter of us than the Bush Administration.

As a Jew, I find Hesiod's (also a Jew) stance on Iraq to be self-hating
and appeasing. Winston Churchill once said that appeasement was like
hand feeding chickens to a crocodile hoping it eats you last. I am one of
those Dems for Bush because I believe he is right. Thank you for also
being a voice of reason here. It's disgusting that Hesiod chose to use
the fall of my friend to fly his banner.

I can't add much to that. But I will say that guys like Brandon Ratliff and Sgt. 1st Class Mitch Lane (just to name a couple) are heroes. It's unfortunate that people like Hesiod would try to rob them of that by making them into martyrs.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:40 AM [+] ::
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:: Sunday, March 21, 2004 ::

Downright Disgusting

Hesiod (yes, I know I should stop reading his tripe) links to this heart-rending story about Lt. Brandon Ratliffe, an Army Reservist who, after serving with distinction on active duty in Afghanistan, was declined a promotion he had been previously promised at his civilian employer, the Columbus, Oh., Department of Health:
Lt. Brandon Ratliff was upset that he could not afford to pay for an attorney to fight the city to get the job, according to an e-mail sent from Ratliff's account to The Columbus Dispatch on Thursday.

The newspaper said Ratliff was found dead in his home with a bullet wound to the head about three hours after the e-mail was sent. Police spokeswoman Sherry Mercurio said Ratliff's death was ruled a suicide.

Ratliff said he was promised a promotion and a raise in September 2002 before he left to serve in a medical unit in Afghanistan. When he returned, the higher-level job had been filled and he was forced to resume his old job, which pays $4,000 less per year.

Hesiod's comment: "God DAMN you Bush."

Yes, it's Bush's fault that the Democratic administration in Columbus was so callous in its treatment of a citizen soldier. Hesiod also has the audacity to feign outrage and sorrow over the incident, despite his history of making cheap jokes about the deaths of our soldiers in Afghanistan.

What a pig.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:12 PM [+] ::
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:: Monday, March 08, 2004 ::

They're Not Laughing at Us, They're Laughing with Us

Via Kevin Drum, the Guardian notes that it's bogus "secret Pentagon report" on global warming has received almost ten times the internet traffic as the paper's next most popular story last week:
The page loaded 456,671 times was a story, originally published by the Observer, about a secret Pentagon report which warned the Bush administration that global warming could destroy the American way of life as they knew it.

It also predicted that Britain would become the new Siberia, but that probably wasn't the reason the story, reporting the contents of the Pentagon's work, became so popular. It became popular because in a week when the president pushed himself further to the right with his plans to amend the US constitution to outlaw gay marriage, an article that showed his conservative instincts on the environment to have been badly misjudged played very well with liberals.

You could tell this because every liberal with a weblog linked to the story, and when a story is trawled by the blogs traffic goes up; exponentially. Jane Perrone, Guardian Unlimited's weblog editor explains. "The key to a story's popularity amongst bloggers is if it's picked up by one of the dozen or so big hitters.

But, as Kevin Drum notes, none of the three bloggers listed by the Guardian actually linked to the the story. And, while I'd never claim to be most people, I certainly didn't learn about it from one of those liberal blogs.

I suppose it's possible that the Guardian's version of how the story became so "popular" is correct, but considering that the paper is still lying about the subject of the story itself, you'll forgive me for being skeptical.

In any event, it would be quite depressing if they were telling the truth (this time), as it would mean that the paper's most popular piece is the one that got virtually every aspect of the story dead wrong.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:06 AM [+] ::
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:: Saturday, March 06, 2004 ::

The Hypocritical Condescension of the Anti-War Movement, In a Nutshell

Or, mind-numbingly platitudinous Left-wing intellectuals in Cadillac, Mich., know what's good for your impoverished and oppressed Third World country more than you do!
:: COINTELPRO Tool 6:55 PM [+] ::
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:: Friday, March 05, 2004 ::

"Mislead" Indeed

Andrew Northrup has the best take I've seen on all the whining about Bush using September 11 imagery in his campaign ads:
You were expecting, what, exactly? Commercials featuring the smoldering remains of the Clinton budget surplus? So fine, have a little cry about it, but please let's have more of a response than "hey, no fair!" You knew this was coming.

But the very worst has to be the Daily Mislead post, which, apart from claiming that Bush shouldn't be allowed to even mention the defining moment of his presidency, has the audacity to claim that he promised he'd never do such a thing:
Less than 19 weeks after the tragic attacks of September 11th, President Bush reassured America that he had "no ambition whatsoever to use [the war on terror or 9/11] as a political issue."1 Today, however, "President Bush's re-election team unveiled his first campaign advertisements [which] in part use the events of Sept. 11, 2001...Two ads refer to the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001...One ad, entitled 'Tested,' shows, among other images, a damaged building from the World Trade Center ruins behind an American flag."2

They were even brazen enough to provide a link to the source of their claim, which definitively proves them to be liars by the fourth paragraph:
US President George W Bush has announced plans for a $48bn increase in defence spending to fight the war on terror.

The increase - of nearly 15% - will be the largest rise in US military spending in 20 years, he said in a speech to military reserve officers.

He said that his proposals were non-partisan, stating that there were no differences between the White House and Congress on the issue.

"I have no ambition whatsoever to use this as a political issue. There is no daylight between the executive and the legislative branches," he said.

"I have a responsibility to prepare the nation for all that lies ahead," he said.

So, we have a quote that clearly referred to playing partisan politics with the defense budget right after the attacks being taken waaay out of context, interpreted as a promise not to mention it at all in his reelection campaign. Did they really think no one was going to click that link?

My take on the ethics and taste of this: George Bush has every right to make his leadership in the wake of such a horrible event to market himself for a second term. It's absolutely preposterous that the same people who have criticized him for said leadership (e.g., he "diverted" our attention from the real threats to wage an "unnecessary war" against Saddam Hussein) would deny him the right to engage on the very same issue.

If Kristen Breitweiser and others want to make the argument that 9/11 should be a net loss for the president -- because his administration "did nothing" to defend the country against them, and that he has stonewalled the investigative commission -- they also have that right.

Let's have a uniform standard, and let the voter's decide who's right.

UPDATE: the Daily Mislead's out-of-context quote is all over the place, unfortunately. This UN Observer story includes the original source of the quote -- which actually contained a bracketed reference to "9/11 or national security" (!), as well as getting the date wrong by two years.

It's a press release from September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows -- a group not itself above using 9/11 as a political issue. Amazing how many mainstream news sources took the quote straight from the press release without even bothering to check the actual context.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:41 PM [+] ::
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:: Thursday, March 04, 2004 ::

Oceania Has Always Been at War with Eurasia

Robert Fisk, March 2, 2004:
Odd, isn't it? There never has been a civil war in Iraq. I have never heard a single word of animosity between Sunnis and Shias in Iraq.

Al-Qa'ida has never uttered a threat against Shias - even though al-Qa'ida is a Sunni-only organisation. Yet for weeks, the American occupation authorities have been warning us about civil war, have even produced a letter said to have been written by an al-Qa'ida operative, advocating a Sunni-Shia conflict. Normally sane journalists have enthusiastically taken up this theme. Civil war.

Somehow I don't believe it.

Robert Fisk, August 30, 2003:
General Ricardo Sanchez, the US commander in Iraq, said only 24 hours earlier that he needed no more troops. Clearly, he does if he wishes to stop the appalling violence. For what is happening, in the Sunni heartland around Baghdad and now in the burgeoning Shia nation to the south, is not just the back-draft of an invasion or even a growing guerrilla war against occupation. It is the start of a civil war in Iraq that will consume the entire nation if its new rulers do not abandon their neo-conservative fantasies and implore the world to share the future of the country with them.

Robert Fisk, April 13, 2003:
And so the gun-fighting that broke out yesterday between property owners and looters was, in effect, a conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims. By failing to end this violence ­ by stoking ethnic hatred through their inactivity ­ the Americans are now provoking a civil war in Baghdad.

Robert Fisk, March 19, 2003:
The nightmare is not so much the cruel bombardment of Iraq, whose inevitability is now assured, as the growing conviction that the Anglo-American invasion will provoke a civil war, of Shia against Sunnis, of Sunnis against Kurds, of Kurds and Turkomans. Driving through the streets of the great Shia slums of Saddam City – the millions here originally came from the Amara region of southern Iraq – it is possible to comprehend the fears of the Sunni minority, that the poor will descend in their tens of thousands to pillage Baghdad City the moment central authority crumbles.

Further proof of the Herbert Rule for reading Fisk.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 7:31 AM [+] ::
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