:: The Fred Willard Fan Site ::


:: Friday, February 28, 2003 ::

Elie Wiesel on the Iraq Crisis

From Ha'aretz:
WASHINGTON - Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel said Thursday that while he abhors war, he believes the world community must confront Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Wiesel, who survived the Nazi death camps and won the Nobel in 1986, urged Europe to put pressure on Saddam.

"I believe it is the moral duty to intervene when evil has power and uses it," Wiesel said. "If Europe were to apply as much pressure on Saddam Hussein as [it] does on the United States and Britain, I think we could prevent war."

He said the Holocaust could have been avoided if the world had intervened in 1939, a time he compared to the current crisis with Iraq.

"He cannot have weapons, I think he has these weapons, because he would use them," Wiesel said, stopping short of comparing Saddam to Hitler.

I wonder how long it will be before some worm with the Nobel Committee tries to take back his prize.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:49 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, February 26, 2003 ::

Pomposity Disguised as Erudition

Because actually listening to it would have been unbearable, here is the transcript of yesterday's exchange between Tucker Carlson and gore Vidal on CNN's Crossfire:
CARLSON: Now, Mr. Vidal, you make a pretty serious charge. A number of them in this book, but here's one from page 17. I want to read it to you. You write, "The unlovely Osama was chosen on aesthetic grounds to be the frightening logo for our long contemplated invasion and conquest of Afghanistan, planning for which had been `contingency' some years before 9/11."

The implication is that Osama bin Laden was some sort of patsy, a Richard Jewell figure, sort of chosen. Do you believe that?

GORE VIDAL, AUTHOR: Well, that's not what I'm saying.

CARLSON: What are you saying?

VIDAL: I don't propose a remedial reading course for you, but the sentence is quite the contrary.

CARLSON: Look, you seem to be saying that...

VIDAL: Osama bin Laden did what he did.

CARLSON: What did he do?

VIDAL: Well, what did Bush do? There had been a contingency plan of the Clinton administration and Sandy Berger who was the national security adviser actually handed to Condoleezza Rice who took his place in the new administration of George W. Bush, their plans for an October strike at Afghanistan.

There was an opportunity for us to prepare. It wasn't taken. Osama bin Laden was then used to excite everybody, I'm quite sure -- I'm not quite sure, but I agree with everybody else that he was certainly responsible for 9/11.

But talking about lying and, by the way, "The New York Times," the newspaper I cannot stand had today a wonderful column by a guy called Crudman (ph) listing some 40 lies that Bush has told us recently.

CARLSON: Wait, wait, Mr. Vidal, before you go on...

VIDAL: Let me complete my thought.

CARLSON: Can just you answer my question, though?

VIDAL: You don't have a question...

CARLSON: Here it is. Was Osama bin Laden responsible for attacking the World trade Center and the Pentagon? You imply...

VIDAL: Yes, of course, he was, but he was then used, first of all to excite the American people. We were going to go after them. We were going to go after Afghanistan. We were going to kill off the Taliban. We were going to kill off al Qaeda.

Then suddenly in the middle of it comes the biggest lie of all, we're after Iraq. And we pretend that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11, which he did not. That is the point to this discourse, not that he is used as a logo. That is irony. Sometimes I think it should be printed in blue.
Now that's at play. It's all about oil. It's all about money. It's about energy. So one thing, if I may make a suggestion to Tucker -- is that your name?

CARLSON: Yes, Gore, yes. Mr. Vidal, that's right.

VIDAL: Yes, I like Mr. Vidal better, anyway. I like your tie.

CARLSON: Thank you.

VIDAL: You're welcome. Don't personalize everything. One of the reasons that television is so dreadful and unwatchable by anybody with an I.Q. slightly above room temperature except as a sport like this in which you get a lot of people shouting, everything is personalities. Oh, Hillary Clinton...

CARLSON: Wait, wait, wait. One of the requirements of television is that you answer the question. I asked you a simple one.
CARLSON: Oh, I am. I simply want to read you a quote from your book. Here it is, the government on page 186, you say, "plays off Americans' relative innocence, or ignorance to be more precise. This is probably why geography has not really been taught since World War II -- to keep people in the dark as to where we are blowing things up. Because Enron wants to blow them up. Or Unocal, the great pipeline company, wants a war going some place."

Now, that's what you wrote, you're implying there's a conspiracy that extends even to the classroom where children are not taught geography. That's what you say. That seems to me ludicrous.

VIDAL: Well, it would, but I think you've got to take into account that the people who do the educating are also the people who steal money from us like Enron. Like this administration. They don't want an informed people. If we had...

CARLSON: How does Enron control the schools?

VIDAL: How does Enron control the schools? It siphons up so much money for itself as does the war machine that it's in collusion with.

There is no money -- I go back to 1950, to Harry Truman and the origins of the Cold War, when the country was militarized and we never got it back. We've been at war -- I wrote a little book called "Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace." We had been at war for 50 years and we had no proper enemy anywhere unless it was the Soviet Union and we never went to war with them. But one month it's Panama and Noriega. The next month it's Gadhafi. It's the Enemy of the Month Club.

Had enough? Vidal, sweating profusely and smoking cigarette with the longest ash in history, declared, "I'm not being defensive. You're the one who's being defensive. This is boring stuff you're doing."
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:23 PM [+] ::

And If That Doesn't Suffice, He's Really Going to Kick Ass

At this hour, I am surely the last blogger to weigh in on this outrage. The thing that bothers me most about the Main public school system's treatment of National Guard dependents is that it has the appearance of something far greater than a few doctrinaire teachers who deserve to be publicly flogged. Given that, one would expect a better response than this:
Commissioner of Education J. Duke Albanese said Monday he plans to send e-mails to schools reminding them to be "sensitive" to children whose parents may be involved in the war on Iraq.Albanese said Maj. Gen. Joseph Tinkham, state adjutant general, told him Monday that the Army National Guard had received complaints from parents across the state who felt "people weren't as sensitive as they should be."

Wow, that's leadership. Don't fuck with Duke Albanese. It gets better ...
When he first heard about the complaints last week, he had been under the impression that parents were upset about teachers making anti-war statements in the classroom, Albanese said.

In fact, according to "anecdotal stories" told to him by Tinkham, the commissioner said only one complaint had to do with a classroom activity in which a child became upset after a teaching assistant "took up the anti-war" side.

Which, of course, is perfectly fine for elementary school teachers to do.

I hope this isn't forgotten before the next BRAC round.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:59 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, February 24, 2003 ::

Mid-March Can't Come Soon Enough

"Saddam Says Bush Lacks Manhood and Chivalry "

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said Sunday President Bush had behaved without manhood and chivalry toward Baghdad, and that Washington would fail to humiliate Iraq.
"The Iraqi (citizen) is not easy when he is angry. The Iraqis are angered by the behavior of their enemy that has not kept within the minimum of manhood and chivalry," Saddam told a Lebanese delegation.

Yeah, those unwashed scapegraces probably don't even have civilians -- and foreign nationals, at that -- guarding their military installations.
Saddam later met Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. attorney general who has been an opponent of a U.S.-led war against Iraq.

No irony here. Move along.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:32 AM [+] ::
:: Saturday, February 22, 2003 ::


Christopher Walken is on SNL for the 50 billionth time!
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:33 PM [+] ::

The Afghan Jenin Myth that Won't Die

Last week, (my) American University hosted a screening of Jamie Doran's documentary Massacre at Mazar [AU's paper did a brief and moronic story on it, to which I will link as soon as the paper's webmaster pulls his head from his ass).

Doran's documentary, which alleges that some 3-4,000 Talibs who had surrendered at Kunduz, were killed in a convoy of closed containers on the way to Sherbergan prison in Mazar-i-sharif. The allegations, despite being debunked as baseless propaganda, continue to linger. But this is to be expected among the Indymidiots and their allies at the World Socialist Web Site. What I really troubling is that the allegations are gaining a foothold among the mainstream.

Particularly, Newsweek reporter Roy Gutman (who won a Pulitzer for his coverage of Serbian war crimes in Bosnia) sat on the panel discussing Doran's documentary at AU, and has also lended credence to the story at another panel discussion at Brookings.

One thing I've always wondered about this story is why no one seems to care what the one journalist who was at the scene when these war crimes were allegedly committed -- Robert Young Pelton, who broke the story on John Walker Lindh and the murder of Mike Spann -- has to say about it. Gutman cowrote the Newsweek story on the subject, and actually quoted Pelton on the Spann murder, but did not include a comment from him on the convoy massacre charge.

I e-mailed Pelton, and, as it turns out, he has commented on this story, and the conspiracy-mongering Left isn't going to like what he has to say. He wrote me back saying quitelflatly that these war crimes never happened, and added "I was there. Doran wasn't." He also pointed me to a more public rebuttal he made, at one of the most unlikeliest of places:
"My problem with Doran," says Pelton, "is that he's accusing people [American soldiers] of murder without any evidence. If he wants to present real evidence, like a photograph of a U.S. soldier committing a war crime, then I will personally identify that soldier myself."

Pelton had been in Afghanistan about a month before Qala-i-Jhangi, hanging out with Dostum and his men while on assignment for CNN and National Geographic Adventure. He says Dostum went out of his way, even defying the U.S., to ensure the safety of the roughly 10,000 Talibs who surrendered in and around Kunduz. "We [the U.S. and Northern Alliance] could have wiped out every Talib on earth and no one would have cared," Pelton says. "There is no cover-up because nothing happened."

Pelton watched along with Special Forces troops at the entrance of the prison as containers which had been fastened shut with chains with just a small gap for ventilation, were opened at Sheberghan: "I counted bodies. I stopped at about 20." The atmosphere at the prison wasn't tense, according to Pelton. "I have photos of American [Special Forces] medics working on these guys. Prisoners were walking around, talking to people. There wasn't any tension, any fear."

Pelton agrees with Dostum's assessment that a total of about 250 Talibs suffocated in the containers. But he points out that the confinement was necessitated by the fact that many of the men were still armed--in accordance with Afghan custom--and thus couldn't be trusted to ride in open-air pick-up trucks through areas where their comrades were still fighting.

What about the remaining 3,300 men?

"There are not that many bodies at Dasht-i-Leili," Pelton says. Most of the 3,300 fighters were Pakistani nationals who either made their way back across the border or returned to Afghan villages where they had relatives. Only the 250 or so suffocated Talibs, "filthy, wounded and sick, many with cholera" before they entered the containers, are buried there. Any additional bodies are likely to be those of the estimated 10,000 Hazaras killed under Taliban rule and/or 2,000 Talibs allegedly shot by commander Abdul Malik in 1997.

Indeed, the Vermont-based Physicians for Human Rights has tried to unearth evidence of Doran's allegations in Mazar, but haven't haven't found any. They have, however, managed to find some of the Hazaras massacred by the Taliban over four years ago.

Pelton's account largely corroborates what the U.S. Special Forces soldiers who worked with Rashid Dostum's Northern Alliance forces have said:
What I'd like to bring up is, after [the fall of] Kunduz, we went to the Sherberghan prison. At the Sherberghan prison Dostum was caring for a large number of Taliban and Al Qaeda prisoners. Dostum and his soldiers was doing the best job that they could to take care of those personnel. You would have these UN aid workers, or from some other organization show up and say, they don't have enough blankets, they don't have enough to eat, where's the fresh water. Well, I could go out to the guy in the guard shack and he didn't have a blanket. He was getting barely one little bowl of rice a day, and he was drinking water out of the same place the prisoners were. The prisoners were being treated the exact same way as Dostum's forces were. I didn't see any atrocities, but I easily could have. Some prisoners may have died because they were sick or ill, and Dostum's forces just couldn't give them any care because they didn't have it.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:02 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, February 20, 2003 ::

Today, I am a Jew

I wonder if Robert Fisk has figured out who this guy is by now?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:43 PM [+] ::


During this period, Chirac and Hussein formed what Chirac called a close personal relationship. As the New York Times put it in a 1986 report about Chirac's attempt to return to the premiership, the French official "has said many times that he is a personal friend of Saddam Hussein of Iraq." In 1987, the Manchester
Guardian Weekly quoted Chirac as saying that he was "truly fascinated by Saddam Hussein since 1974." Whatever personal chemistry there might have been between the two leaders obviously remained in place a decade later, and clearly was not simply linked to the deals of 1974-75. Politicians and businessmen move on; they don't linger the way Chirac did.

Partly because of the breadth of the relationship Chirac and Hussein had created in a relatively short period of time and the obvious warmth of their personal ties, there was intense speculation about the less visible aspects of the relationship. For example, one unsubstantiated rumor that still can be heard in places like Beirut was that Hussein helped to finance Chirac's run for mayor of Paris in 1977, after he lost the French premiership. Another, equally unsubstantiated rumor was that Hussein had skimmed funds from the huge amounts of money that were being moved around, and that he did so with Chirac's full knowledge. There are endless rumors, all unproven and perhaps all
scurrilous, about the relationship. Some of these might have been moved by malice, but they also are powered by the unfathomability of the relationship and by Chirac's willingness to publicly affirm it. It reached the point that Iranians referred to Chirac as "Shah-Iraq" and Israelis spoke of the Osirak reactor as "O-Chirac."
By 1986, Chirac clearly had decided to change his image. In preparation for the 1988 presidential elections, Chirac let it be known that he never had anything to do with the sale of the Osirak reactor. In an interview with an Israeli newspaper, he said, "It wasn't me who negotiated the construction of Osirak with Baghdad. The negotiation was led by my minister of industry in very close collaboration with Giscard d'Estaing." He went on to say, "I never took part in these negotiations. I never discussed the subject with Saddam Hussein. The fact is that I did not find out about the affair until very late."

Obviously, Chirac was contradicting what he had said publicly in 1975. More to the point, he also was not making a great deal of sense in claiming that his minister of industry -- who at that time was Michel d'Ornano -- had negotiated a deal as large as this one. That is true even if one assumes the absurd, which was that the nuclear deal was a stand-alone and not linked to the arms and oil deals or to a broader strategic relationship. In fact, d'Ornano claimed that he didn't even make the trip to Iraq with Chirac in 1974, let alone act as the prime negotiator. Everything he did was in conjunction with Chirac.

In 1981, the Israelis destroyed the Iraqi reactor in an air attack. There were rumors -- which were denied -- that the French government was offering to rebuild the reactor. In August 1987, French satirical and muckraking magazine, "Le Canard Enchaine" published excerpts of a letter from Chirac to Hussein -- dated June 24, 1987, and hand-delivered by Trade Minister Michel Noir -- which the magazine claimed indicated that he was negotiating to rebuild the Iraqi reactor. The letter says nothing about nuclear
reactors, but it does say that Chirac hopes for an agreement "on the negotiation which you know about," and it speaks of the "cooperation launched more than 12 years ago under our personal joint initiative, in this capital district for the sovereignty, independence and security of your country." In the letter, Chirac also, once again, referred to Hussein as "my dear friend."

Chirac and the government confirmed that the letter was genuine. They denied that it referred to rebuilding a nuclear reactor. The letter speaks merely of the agreements relating to "an essential chapter in Franco-Iraqi relations, both in the present circumstances and in the future." Chirac claimed that any attempt to link the letter to the reconstruction of the nuclear facility was a "ridiculous invention." Assuming Chirac's sincerity, this leaves open the question of what the "essential chapter" refers to and why, instead of specifying the subject, Chirac resorted to a circumlocution like "negotiation which you know about."

It is unfair to tag Chirac with the rumors that have trailed him in his relations with Hussein. It is fair to say, however, that Chirac has created a circumstance for breeding rumors. The issues raised here were all well known at one time and place. When they are laid end-to-end, a mystery arises. What affair was being discussed in the letter delivered by Michel Noir? If not nuclear reactors, then what was referenced but never mentioned specifically in Chirac's letter to his "dear friend" Hussein?

I wonder if those who have constantly thrown a fit over Rumsfeld's one-time visit to Saddam back in 1983 will say anything about this.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:34 PM [+] ::

A couple of Interesting Letters to Editors

Not really on the same topic, though. The first deals with a pet peeve of mine: reporters taking the word of ineffectual middle management suck-ups rather than sources who are willing to be accountable for their leaks:
Thursday's Page One article, "Officers fault air strategy for Iraq war as 'timid,' " based on the musings of a single anonymous source about classified contingency planning for Iraq, brings to mind one of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's Rules: "Those who know, don't talk; those who talk, don't know."
I am deeply involved in developing military options for President Bush, should he call upon the armed forces to act against Iraq. This process is — at its very core — collegial, collaborative and joint. Moreover, Gen. Tommy Franks' leadership of Central Command during the global war on terrorism is ample proof of his appreciation of the strengths each service brings to the fight and how we will win, together. Every service has been fully represented in current planning, and all have had the opportunity to vet any concerns freely and openly. The result is one all the services support, and one that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines will execute brilliantly, together.
Never before in my 37-year military career has the United States enjoyed an environment of such joint cooperation and interservice communication. The very best minds of each service are working to maximize the combined effects of all our forces in pursuit of victory. On that point — and unlike the shadow critic who violates his or her oath even while presuming to represent other airmen — I am willing to put my name and reputation on record.

Chief of Staff
Air Force

The second [LA Times -- requires registration] is a response from the field to the shameless claim by appeasement-mongers that they have the best interests of our soldiers in mind.
I'm writing in response to the antiwar protests by celebrities such as Martin Sheen, Rob Reiner and others (Feb. 16). It is their right to hold such protests, and I support that right. You see, I am a soldier; it is my job to support and protect the Constitution. The issue that rubs me wrong is celebrities stating that they are supporting the men and women of the U.S. military by participating in antiwar protests.

Do not use us to justify or support your opinions. The vast majority in the military do not agree with you, and when you state that you are "supporting the troops" by protesting the war, it makes us cringe. I am currently deployed to Kosovo in support of the NATO peacekeeping mission, and when we see you on CNN using us as justification for your opinions, we wish you would stop. This is our job; this is what we train to do 365 days a year, often in poor conditions and separated from our families. We do this with great pride, for we love our country, and we are prepared to defend it. In what way have you ever served your country? What is your level of knowledge or expertise that has determined your opinion?

There is nothing wrong with protesting a possible war; that is your right and you should exercise it, that is what millions of men and women have given their lives for. I ask only that you do not insult us by including us in your protests. We do not want war, but we will follow the president's orders and do our jobs as we have trained to do. I hope that the country will support us, regardless of whether you support the administration's policy.

Staff Sgt. William Hight, U.S. Army, Camp Magrath, Kosovo

Yep, one thing that doesn't go over well with military service members is condescension.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:15 AM [+] ::

You Sound Surprised ...

This is nothing new. Saddam's cyclical obstruction, followed by offering the appearance of cooperation -- just enough to save his ass, now, and nothing more -- followed by reneging on those concessions once the heat appears to dissipate (rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat) has been going on for twelve years now.

Of course, the French continue to assure us that "containment" can go on for at least another five years -- a pledge they can make with a high degree of confidence, considering they haven't been a part of containment for years.

To quote an old commercial, read the book.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:51 AM [+] ::

I Wonder If This Story Will Grow Legs?

From the Hill:
Threats by Republicans to cut the General Accounting Office (GAO) budget influenced its decision to abandon a lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney, The Hill has learned.

Sources familiar with high-level discussions at the GAO said Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chairman of the Appropriations Committee, met with GAO Comptroller General David Walker earlier this year and ?unambiguously? pressured him to drop the suit or face cuts in his $440 million budget.

Walker yesterday acknowledged meeting Stevens, but denied the senator threatened to cut funding for the investigative agency. However, he confirmed that such threats were made, although he said they came from a lawmaker not ?in a position to deliver? on them [Trent Lott? Ooh, I know! Jim Jeffords! - Ed.] and did not occur recently.

Miguel who?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:27 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 ::

If There Were No Robert Fisk, Us Wannabe Pundits Would Have to Invent Him

There are many developments that you can point to as harbingers of an imminent war -- reports of increased air strikes, SOF running around Kurdistan, and Iraqi defense ministers under house arrest -- but to me, nothing carries the predictive weight of the behavior of Robert Fisk, whose journalistic cries for help grow more frequent -- and even more hysterical -- by the day. This week, we've already been punished with two of his tear-and-phlegm-stained dispatches, and it's only Tuesday.

In the first, Fisk manages to avert a repeat of his Peshawar performance, despite wandering into the realm of savage "rednecks" in Austin.
Don Darling, the TV host, had just turned to thank me for my long and flu-laden contribution. Then it happened. Cameraman number two came striding towards us through the studio lights. "I want to thank you, sir, for reminding us that the British had a lot to do with the chaos in the Middle East, " he said. "But I have something else to say."

His voice rose 10 decibels, his bare arms bouncing up and down at his sides, his shaven head struck forward pugnaciously. "Yeah, I wanna tell you that the cause of this problem is the fucking medieval Arabs and their wish to enslave us all ? and I tell you that it is because we want to save the Jews from the fucking savage Arabs who want to throw them into the sea that we are about to fuck Saddam." There was a pause as Don Darling looked at the man, aghast. "And that," cameraman number two concluded, "is the fucking truth."

Darling called to the studio manager. "Where does this man come from?" he demanded to know. The lady from the University of Texas ? organiser of this gentle little pow-wow ? advanced on to the studio floor in horror: "Who is this person?" I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. All of a sudden, our nice anti-war chat had been brought to a halt by a spot of redneck reality. There really were right-wingers out there in the darkness who really did want George Bush to zap the Arabs. I asked the guy his name: "Gregg Aykins," he said. "And the FBI can do nothing to me if you give them my name."

Wanting to save Jews from being driven into the sea by their Arab neighbors -- absolutely horrifying. Of course, this rather freakish delineation of "redneck reality" and tolerance is nothing new for Fisk (more on that theme later). And having lived in Texas, I have my doubts about how many f-words Mr. Aykins (if he even exists at all) actually used to address this guest of his employer.

Fisk goes on to diagnose the real problem with America:
It was a telling moment, a symbol of the vast gulf of reason between the pro- and anti-war movement in America. They don't talk to each other. And if they do, neither comprehends the other. Like the endless chat programmes on Pacifica Radio and all the smaller liberal talk shows [You mean there are stations that are even smaller than Pacifica? Holy shit! - Ed.] from Boston to LA that serve up inedible dollops of anti-Bush, anti-Republican rant, there is simply no contact between the intellectual "elite" of the left and the less privileged Americans who work with their hands and join the military to gain a free education and end up fighting America's foreign wars.

Wow. Have you ever in your life seen so much irony in such a confined space? Note to the vast majority of the American public who neither count themselves as part of this intellectual elite nor have served in the military under any circumstances: you do not exist. And some of us completed our education before even considering military service (I had one master's degree under my belt when I showed up at OCS in Pensacola), but that's another matter entirely. Fisk's condescending attitude toward the masses he claims to represent is quite common among Leftist intellectuals, but should not -- I repeat, not -- be construed as a contributing factor in this great divide. It's those bloodthirsty savages who want to save Jews! Fuckers!

Fisk rather foolishly repeats the laughable Chomskyite claim that the "truck drivers and bellhops" would be sympathetic to the tired Weight Watchers-style sloganeering that passes for thoughtful arguments among the Left -- and at a time when their own brain trust looks something like East Berlin just before they put up that wall. But Fisk does contribute this valuable nugget to the conversation:
Sometimes I rather suspect that the anti-war left in America likes being in a permanent minority. I mean no disrespect to the Noam Chomskys and Daniel Ellsbergs and Dennis Bernsteins; they fight, amid abuse and threats, to make their voices heard. Yet I have an uneasy feeling that many on the intellectual left are fearful that America will lose its next war amid massive casualties ? but are even more fearful that America may win with minimal casualties.


Nothing new here. Erika Munk the naive freelance journalist sent by Ramsey Clark to Baghdad in 1991 -- to document "atrocities" for his book -- reported pretty much the same in The Nation. "Friendly fascism has already engendered the even worse prospect of Friendly militarism," Munk wrote after being amazed at the lack of civilian bomb casualties, and the more-or-less fully-functioning state of the city's infrastructure. How on earth are opponents of American imperialism going to be able to stop these adventures when they are now conducted so cleanly?

Something to think about the next time you hear an anti-war Leftist bristle at being accused of pro-Saddam sympathies. Apart from accepting uncritically the propaganda of the world's most ruthless regimes (and accusing the rest of us of "ethnocentric bias" for having skepticism), it is clear that the Left really does fear wars with minimal casualties more than they do their own routine predictions of bloodbaths. But they do so only for the people of Iraq, not to keep their tyrant in power.

Speaking of the people, our second helping of Fisk droppings has some less than kind words for those Arabs:
What on earth is it with the Arabs? Of all people, they ? and they alone ? are likely to suffer in this American invasion of their homeland. They ? and they alone ? have the will and the ability to understand that this US military adventure is intended ? as Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, frankly declared last week ? to change the map of the Middle East.

Yet, faced with catastrophe, the Arabs are like mice. Their leaders may agree with their people ? but they will not let their people say so.

Fisk doesn't even have the stomach to go after the real Arab traitors who actually want this military adventure, and think it can't happen soon enough. But when has Fisk ever been concerned with the views of Middle Easterners who don't appreciate a good Syrian-backed dictatorship when one is offered. He wishes there were more Arabs with backbone, like these guys:
Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the Lebanese Hizbollah guerrilla army, castigated the Arabs for their "silence" and urged them to "re-evaluate" their attitude towards Europe following the protests against war ? this, remember, from the man who leads an organisation whose satellite groups once held dozens of Westerners hostage in Lebanon during the 1980s.

Sayed Nasrallah also deplored the fact that "the greatest Muslim demonstration in history" ? the gathering of two million Muslim pilgrims at Mecca for the Haj ? had not used the slogan "Death to America" or "No to War". Nasrallah also accused "certain" Arab regimes of "supporting the war or approving of it in secret". And, of course, we all know who they are.[Emphasis added]

You know, I really shouldn't be shocked by this kind of language. When someone makes a name for himself by being to political discourse what Jerry Springer is to the institution of marriage, he has no choice but to constantly up the ante of outrageousness, lest his idiocy become stagnant and boring. And, as usual, Fisk does not disappoint.

UPDATE: Another example of the anti-war Left trying to hold Iraqi civilians hostage in their clamor to save Saddam is in this piece, also from the Independent:
The US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, revealed earlier this month that American forces are planning to use "non-lethal" biochemical weapons such as anti-riot gases and crowd control agents if they invade Iraq. Mr Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee they were preparing to ask President George Bush for permission to use these weapons, known in military circles as "calmatives", on Iraqi civilians, in cave systems or to take prisoners.

But two of Britain's leading authorities on chemical weapons, Professor Alistair Hay and Professor Julian Perry-Robinson, who are collaborating on an expert guide for the World Health Organisation, said such weapons are illegal under the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention and the 1928 Geneva Protocol, which ban the use of chemical agents against people in wartime.

"It would be absolutely outrageous if they did this," said Prof Hay, an epidemiologist at Leeds University. "Surely this war against Iraq is to stop the use of those weapons, not about also using them."

Daisy cutters, however, aren't a problem. Further proof that if we move against Saddam, these hollow moralists want it to be as bloody as possible.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:27 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, February 17, 2003 ::

A Point of Clarification

I'm getting a bit sick of the use of the term "human shield." So, for future reference, please use the following distinction as a guide:

This is a human shield ...

And this is a fatuous twit desperately in search of relevance ...

Please do not confuse the two. And in case you need further elucidation ...

This is a fatuous twit desperately in search of relevance with a really fruity tattoo (not that there's anything wrong with that) ...

Although, I suppose if Nichols plans to spend the rest of his life playing "Pagliacci" at various community theaters, it's not quite so fruity.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:17 PM [+] ::

Can a Brutha Get an Identity?

A lot of the rhetoric about the self-absorbed Human Shield, Ben Granby has been just a touch overblown. Charles Johnson, after a reader found that Granby was once involved in a band that called itself "Quisling," proclaimed Granby to be an "out and out nazi." Den Beste also weighed in, focusing on his use of the word "sarin" as an e-mail address.

I think this is all a bit silly. I seriously doubt this kid harbors any fascist leanings, and as for e-mail handles, I'm probably the last person to pass judgement.

Dipnut offers the best psychoanalysis of Granby:
Here's my best guess. Ben's not really a Nazi. He's not even a traitor, though he's ambivalent at best about America. He's just an extremely serious, fanatically dedicated poser. That shot of him with the rifle is spot-on for Jane Fonda manning the anti-aircraft battery in North Vietnam. He may not know how to use that thing, but he sure looks cool. Appearances and feelings, not actions and consequences, constitute his moral world.

I would only add that he is undoubtedly stuck in one hell of a rut of adolescent pretentiousness, as evidenced by his response to all those who accused him of being a nazi:
Hilarious stuff. Really. The fact that people have been puzzled by some of my fake websites is the most amusing. The failure to comprehend sarcasm and self-referential humor is usually a clear sign of narrow-mindedness. I have no need to justify that an old band I was in was named after the Norweigan Nazi-puppet. Anyone who doesn't get the joke probably isn't worth my time.

Got that, blogosphere? You silly mortals just don't get me.

I certainly got him. Adorning oneself with Nazi iconography as a means of irony has been done to death. I thought it was cool when Joy Division did nearly 25 years ago, and like a lot of late 80's posers, I bought my clothes at Army surplus stores, and was convinced that The Wall was about me.

I also adorned the walls of my freshman dorm room with Andy Warhol prints, and when my friends would remark, "it's just a fucking soup can," I would launch into a tirade about how they just didn't get it, and failed to see the different levels of social criticism about about the shallowness of pop culture. Turns out it really was just a fucking soup can.

In my defense, I must profess to being nearly ten years younger than Granby when I went through my confusing-unsubtle-haughtiness-for-sophistication phase.

And I didn't go off to express solidarity -- wittingly or otherwise -- with brutal dictators whose sole virtue is their defiance toward the Amerikkan Empire, either (though my opposition to U.S. aggression in Central America -- which I do not regret one bit -- dangerously approached sympathy for thugs like Daniel Ortega).

I don't mean to defend this pompous, infantile little man. He is, despite the enormous amount of evidence that suggests otherwise, a grown man. I would like nothing better than to be there when he and his comrades find themselves chained to hard targets when they thought they would be protecting baby milk factories.

Or, if he does survive the coming air war, I hope someone gets some photos of him begging his Western liberators for some water and an MRE. Or maybe trying to explain himself to the people he was supposedly defending.

On second thought, maybe it's best that he simply be forgotten, having contributed nothing at all to the Iraqi people, much less his own country. And taking him seriously does nothing but convince him that people take him seriously, which is even more pointless than Granby's bullshit posturing.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 7:01 PM [+] ::

But Only We Can Speak for the Iraqis -- They're Not Supposed to Speak for Themselves ...

... it says so in our brochure, dammit.

The professor linked to this message to anti-war demonstrators from Iraqi dissident Rania Kashi. Kashi has gotten considerable press coverage since eing quoted in Tony Blair's masterful speech.
Is it me, or has hardly a day gone by that another prominent Leftist hasn't announcd his or her support for using violence to remove Saddam? It certainly stands to reason when their supposed constituents support it so strongly. As for the rest, *sniff sniff*, they'll always have Feb. 15.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:13 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, February 16, 2003 ::

You'da Man

Too bad the Vatican didn't display this level of moral courage:
Mayor Walter Veltroni, who was due to meet Aziz Sunday morning before the Iraqi left Italy to return to Baghdad, delivered the news in a stern letter.

"I'm writing to inform you that I find myself obliged to cancel our meeting," Veltroni wrote, according to a copy of the letter sent to Reuters.

"The reason is because of your refusal to answer a question posed to you by an Israeli journalist at a news conference held at the Foreign Press Association (on Friday)," it continued.

[Via Charles Johnson]
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:22 PM [+] ::

Et Tu, Evening Standard?

Damian Penny and Stephen Pollard have already weighed in on the Standard's apology for and removal of, this drivel by "British Intellectual" AN Wilson (though it has been removed from the Standard's site, you can still find it at the always-reliable Balochistan [gesundheit] Post).

As the Jewish Chronicle notes, Wilson apologized for -- and only for -- recommending the work of a virulently anti-Semitic holocaust denier for "further reading" on the subject of Isreal's affronts to civilization. He stands behind the "substance" of his arguments, which are not even his own -- rather they are nothing more than a truncated version of this anti-Semitic drivel anti-Israel Q&A by retired BGEN James David.

JC notes that the intellectual Wilson "did regret his 'innocence' in 'not having heard' of Hoffman. He told the JC he had been sent the book by 'a very respectable character. I am sure he read it in good faith.'" Sound familiar?

There are other serious problems with Wilson's intellectually lazy propaganda apart from Wilson's professed "innocence." Gen. David, like the holocaust denier whose work Wilson naively recommended, has also been associated with unseemly organizations. David has also repeated the boilerplate Israel-controls-the-U.S.-media propaganda -- in fact, one of the items in his complete list of Q's & A's (from the also ever-reliable Rense.com) is the debunked "We control America" claim. He also includes the obligatory reference to the USS Liberty incident.

It is evident that Wilson removed the more laughable (if they weren't so disgusting) of David's claims, but what is not clear is whether he bothered to apply any scrutiny at all to those he reprinted. He dutifully repeats David's reference to Israel employing "a weapon of mass destruction, a one-ton smart bomb," which killed 15 civilians in addition to one Hamas leader.

In other instances, Wilson does David a favor by sanitizing his ugly invective before repeating it. David's question, "What country in the Middle East was cited by Amnesty International for demolishing more than 4000 innocent Palestinian homes as a means of ethnic cleansing," becomes "Which country has dispossessed 4,000 Palestinians by demolishing their homes."

You'll have to forgive me if I refuse to buy Wilson's claim of "innocence."

But as Pollard notes, the Standard's apology does little to mitigate it's piss-poor judgement, and its removal of the offending article actually aggravates it:
There's no place for such pieces in a respectable newspaper. But this attempt by the Standard to exculpate itself by simply ditching all traces of Wilson is pretty gutless, and a betrayal of the idea of accountability. Wilson cannot be allowed to escape condemnation by removal of the evidence against him.

A quick Google search confirms that Gen. David's "pop quiz" had already appeared on dozens of propaganda Web sites -- including more than a few jihadist and White Supremacist sites -- long before Wilson's lame attempt to turn it into a legitimate op-ed. I can certainly see how a publication that includes the word Standard in its brand name would want to cover its own tracks, in addition to Wilson's.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:15 PM [+] ::
:: Saturday, February 15, 2003 ::

Whopper of the Year

As told by Dominique de Villepin, France's foreign minister, to the UNSC yesterday:
This message comes to you today from an old country, France, from a continent (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Europe that has known war, occupation, barbarity. It is an old country that does not forget and is very aware of all it owes to freedom fighters who came from America and elsewhere.

And yet France has always stood upright in the face of history before mankind. Faithful to its values, it wants resolutely to act together with all members of the international community. France believes in our ability to build together a better world.[Emphasis added]

And then the applause started.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 4:46 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, February 14, 2003 ::

Must Fight ... Urge to Kill ...

A Sarajevan with a sign accusing the U.S. of waging war against Islam. Charming.

I have to stop wading through these photos. Well, maybe just one more ...

:: COINTELPRO Tool 5:59 PM [+] ::

In Other Budgetary News ...

Buried toward the end of this piece on U.S.-Israeli cooperation on the next generation of JSF is this interesting nugget:
The fiscal 2003 omnibus appropriations bill also includes contains language codifying the conditions President George W. Bush laid out in his June 24 speech for Palestinian statehood and a provision requiring that the Government Accounting Office examine UNRWA's activities in the Palestinian Authority areas.

Nice. I'm sure they'll be more meticulous than, say, the EU, but if the GAO puts even a fraction of the effort the put into audits on the military's use of color printer toner, I'd say the UNRWA is in for some bad press. Very bad press.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:17 PM [+] ::

The New Darmans

Josh Marshall notes what is perhaps the most cynical aspect of the president's FY2004 budget submission: nary a cent for Afghan reconstruction.
The chairman of the committee that distributes foreign aid, Jim Kolbe, says that when he asked administration officials why they had not requested any funds, he was given no satisfactory explanation, but did get a pledge that it would not happen again.

'Too early'

A spokesman for the US Agency for International Development, which distributes the money, says the reason they did not make a request was that when budgetary discussions began in 2002, it was too early to say how much money they would need.

Excuse me? When the #&%*! has that ever been a reason not to submit a request, no matter how unrealistic? What nonsense.

BBC is already spinning this as the expected abandonment of our promise not to turn our backs on that country yet again. I doubt this is true, and certainly hope I'm right. Like the lack of funds earmarked for the coming Iraq war (I certainly wouldn't interpret a lack of a budget line as evidence we're going to renege on that commitment!), I think this is one of a huge number of budgetary shell games designed to conceal the largest proposed deficit in history, even after OMB gives it the GQ treatment.

Meanwhile, CalPundit rips apart this incredibly foolish attempt at spinning the Bush deficits, which includes a chart that actually attributes the FY1993 to president Clinton, who took office a few weeks after that year's second quarter started. Brilliant. Especially when one considers how much the right was trying to attribute so much of Clinton's economic success (and the fiscal health that came with it) on Bush -- and even Reagan -- policies.

UPDATE: Alex Knapp corrects the record on the Afghan aid. Turns out that this is more BBC nonsense. I even buy the cover alex gives the seemingly boneheaded "we didn't know how much we'd need" statement by the USAID spokesman, by showing that these funds are broken down primarily by function rather than the country that receives them.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:15 PM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, February 12, 2003 ::

French Reversal?

I don't want to make a standard practice of recycling e-mail gags here, but this one is irresistable, for those of you who haven't seen it yet:
French to Send Surrender Advisors to Iraq 02/04/2003 - William Grim; Paris - In a stunning reversal of policy, French President Jacques Chirac announced
today that the French government will be supporting the War on Terror after all. Five hundred soldiers from the elite L'Abandonnement du Field d'Honneur Battalion (French Surrender Battalion) of the Legion Etrangere (Foreign Legion) are in the process of shipping out to Iraq where they will assist the elite Iraqi Republican Guards in their inevitable surrender to the overwhelming might of the American Armed Forces.

"Eet ees important to be haughty and insufferable when surrendering," said General Philippe de Peepee, the Commanding Officer of the Surrender Battalion, who has personally surrendered in over 200 battles going back to Dien Bien Phu in 1954. "We French are ze world masters at surrendering, n'est ce pas, not like you arrogant Americans who never surrender. Ha, I spit on your filthy American victories." President Chirac also announced that his government will be sending 3000 advisors from the elite Force du Collaborateur Francaise (French Collaboration Force) to assist the Iraqis in collaborating with the Americans while pretending to be part of a non-existent resistance movement.

[Disclaimer for Ha'aretz editors: yes, this is a joke.]

UPDATE: On a more serious note, Reynolds links to this piece on the real motives behind France and Germany's abhorrent behavior. Let's be clear: there is absolutely nothing wrong with a country wishing to keep from becoming irrelevant to world affairs. But most people would confront that dilemma by, you know, being relevant. But Old Europe has decided to confront the problem by resigning themselves to a future of (continued) irrelevance, coupled with dogged, crablike efforts to make sure that no one else achieves what they cannot.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:14 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, February 10, 2003 ::

Blow Me, Crack Whore

Forgive my childish (and a bit misogynistic) outburst, but frankly, this ignorant piece of tripe deserves no more sophisticated response than that:
If anyone had told me, in the autumn of 2001, that we were less than 18 months away from what might become the world's first nuclear war, I would have thought they were insane. In the half century since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, no one has been that reckless or indeed that stupid ? even, or so I thought, the Bush White House. Then came the twin towers and everything changed overnight, to the point where we find ourselves apparently on the threshold of a terrifying conflict in the Middle East. So the question I am going to ask, at the risk of causing great offence, is this: when is the US going to get over the events of 11 September?

Nice. Someone who would bring up the spectre of nuclear war when talking about Iraq has the audacity to question the emotional health of Americans. George Bush is a madman hellbent on annihilating the entire world. And we're the ones who need to get a grip.
What I am challenging is a mindset that sees al-Qa'ida or Saddam behind every tragedy, from the Oklahoma bombing to the murder of a detective in Manchester and the loss of the space shuttle last weekend.

What's that? Those paranoid gringos are blaming the murder of that detective in Manchester on al-qaeda? What sort of frame will they try next? Pinning the Bali bombing on Muslim extremists? As for the Columbia disaster, I don't remember anyone seriously considering the possibility of terrorism. A rather restrained response, considering all the Muslim extremists who were claiming it as a victory for Allah.
It is not that I don't take the threat of terrorism seriously. I am quite prepared to believe there are al-Qa'ida cells in European and American cities, but it is important to keep things in proportion.

Ohhhh, proportion. You mean like, uh, raising the spectre of nuclear war when talking about Iraq. Well why didn't you just say so!

The rest of this drivel isn't even worth addressing. Come to think of it, none of it was.

Right then. Carry on.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:27 PM [+] ::

:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:56 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, February 09, 2003 ::

That Went Well

UPDATE: Is it still necessary to refer to them as "suspected militants" well after they've blown up their own car?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:14 PM [+] ::

Their Lies and Ours

Bill Arkin has a great piece on the uncertainty of even the best intelligence. I offer it as a rebuttal to the to the simplistic view of our past mistakes -- or "lies," to borrow Jim Henley's characterization:
Because they lie. Routinely and often and deliberately. They said there were 100,000 people in mass graves in Kosovo. That was a lie. They said Iraqi soldiers were tossing babies out of incubators. That was a lie. They said Iraqi troops in 1991 were massing on the Saudi border. That was a lie. They said Saddam's attack on Kuwait was a total surprise. That was a lie. They said US troops had no combat role in Central America in the 1980s. That was a lie.

I'm certainly not one to defend the disinformation that made up much of Reagan's foreign policy in Latin America, but I'm not exactly ready to accept it as a reason to question Powell's evidence. Denying the direct involvement of U.S. combat forces in a foreign conflict, and fabricating the kind of evidence Powell presented last week are entirely different things.

Nor am I ready to associate Colin Powell -- or anyone else in the current administration -- with an disinformation campaign cooked up by the Kuwaiti royal family and Hill & Knowlton. But it would be unfair to allow Henley to claim the rest of his list as examples of "deliberate" lies.

On Kosovo: if Henley wants to believe the propaganda of Latter-Day Holocaust Deniers like Ron Paul, that's his prerogative, but the truth is a bit more complicated. Yes, NATO's initial estimates on the scope of Serbian violence against Kosovar civilians were a bit high, to say the least. But they were quickly revised to only 5,000 when more reliable intelligence became available. Milosevic apologists will interpret these revisions as those of someone caught in a lie, but having worked with those involved in the pentagon propaganda machine, I have no doubt that the initial estimates were believed by those who reported them.

Ken Pollack, who was a junior CIA analyst at the time, addresses the reports of Iraqi troop movements along the Saudi border. Although he admits the initial estimates were exaggerated, he makes it clear that those estimates were believed by policymakers at the time. For his part (as the author of the CIA report warning of "an imminent Iraqi attack on Saudi Arabia"), Pollack now admits that an otright invasion of Saudi Arabia was not likely, but still refers to the (smaller) troop movements as fact.

It should also be noted that the now-infamous Soviet satellite photos Jean Heller used to debunk the government's warning were taken nearly a month after the August warnings, well after U.S. troops had already been deployed in Operation Desert Shield. The CSM story Henley links claims the pentagon estimates were made in mid-September -- a rather silly error considering that King Fahd had already agreed to allow 250,000 U.S. troops into his country on August 6. In fact, Jean Heller's original story on the issue (Jan. 6, 1991) noted that the photos her newspaper purchased showed the American presence near Dahran: "While Iraqi troops cannot be seen, it is easy to spot the extensive American military presence at the Dhahran Airport in Saudi Arabia." Think they might have moved?

Inexplicably, Henley also includes the April Glaspie debacle as an example of perfidy, rather than incompetence. The now-declassified cable she sent back to Washington after her July meeting with Saddam -- which was intended for the ears of her superiors, not public consumption -- was entitled "Saddam's Message of Peace."

The U.S. committed many intelligence SNAFU's during Desert Storm. We claimed to have "decimated" Saddam's forces in Kuwait, but the reality was that our famed Left Hook wasn't landed nearly high enough, and the vast majority of Saddam's troops were able to escape back into Iraq. We also thought we had destroyed over 90 percent of Saddam's WMD facilities, and set a timetable of removing the rest of them of only 180 days. It was not until 1995, when a high-level defection forced Saddam to turn over mountains of evidence to Rolf Ekeus' UNSCOM inspectors, that we realized how wrong we were.

As Arkin notes, intelligence gathering and analysis are not exact sciences. It's very easy for the Jim Henleys of the world -- who have never even read an intelligence report, much less had to evaluate its value, to thoughtlessly refer to these imperfections as deliberate disinformation, but some of us know better ...

Back to Powell's presentation, Arkin writes:
I've had too much experience with U.S. intelligence to believe that Powell's photo was fabricated or doctored. Neither was the secretary deliberately misrepresenting evidence. His own integrity is a sufficient safeguard against that.

Is it possible that the photos of the Khurmal camp and Al Moatassem were examples of more faulty intelligence? You bet. And could the intelligence sources cited as evidence of Iraqi support for Ansar al-Islam be entirely unreliable? Absolutely.

But those two telephone intercepts leave very little room for interpretation -- they are either smoking guns, or they were doctored to alter their meaning. If Henley and his little buddy Raimondo want to believe that the latter is the case, they're welcome to. But I certainly don't.

UPDATE: I removed the link to the site Henley linked to in support of his reference to U.S. troops in El Salvador, after realizing it was Carol Valentine's anti-Semitic conspiracy theory site. The actual source for his information was the Washington Post, so his point is still taken ... and I'm sure he was unaware he was linking to one of the most despicable human beings in America.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 5:40 PM [+] ::

The Case For Going It Alone

The recurring theme I've seen in arguments advanced by reasonable opponents of acting unilaterally is that the U.S. simply cannot afford to rebuild Iraq on its own. No one seriously questions the ability of the U.S. to remove Saddam Hussein from power quickly. The hard part, they say, is what comes afterward.

They're right, of course. The U.S. can claim that it's actions are "multilateral enough" with its redundantly-named coalition of the willing. From a moral perspective, I'll take the Vilnius Ten over our so-called allies who would attempt to block defensive support to a NATO member (or secretly negotiate with countries like Syria, etc.) any day. The fact that the only predominantly-Muslim countries in Europe are siding with Bush over Schroeder and Chirac isn't lost on me. But Macedonia and Poland simply cannot provide the kind of support we'll need in the aftermath.

But who really believes that the UN -- or France, Germany, and Russia, specifically -- will wash its hands of the post-Saddam Iraq simply because they didn't approve of the way the change was made?


Bob Wright admits that the president has been able to leverage quite a bit of multilateralism from "unilateralist belligerence," and there's no reason to believe there isn't more where that came from. Bush could borrow a page from Teddy Roosevelt, who, irate over Congress' refusal to fund his Great White Fleet tour around the world, sent his ships halfway around the world anyway, and then dared Congress to not give him money to bring them back.

In a sense, Bush has already done this, by boldly proclaiming his intentions last October, and essentially inviting the UN along for the ride. And if the U.S. invades Iraq and removes Saddam from power without UN support, France and Germany will already have preserved their reputations as the independent contrarians who refused to be blindly led by the American cowboy. After that, they would have absolutely nothing to gain by insisting that the U.S. clean up its own mess, and everything to lose.

Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe France, Russia, and Germany really are willing to forget about the debts they are all owed by Iraq by letting the U.S. unilaterally control the country's reconstruction. And maybe the UN really won't mind sliding into complete irrelevance -- so soon after the organization seemed to have regained its Wilsonian clout after 1441, no less -- by letting the U.S. go it alone.

But these are risks I'm willing to take.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:41 PM [+] ::
:: Saturday, February 08, 2003 ::

Israel-Is-Using-This-War-As-Cover-For-Killing-Palestinians Watch

Just like last time. Actually, this time he's not even waiting for the inevitable, Fatah-demoralizing victory to make yet another overture:
ass, head of the Dov Weisglass, head of the Prime Minister's Office, said that according to the proposal, security cooperation between Israel and the PA would resume gradually in various locations. The PA would take responsibility for security in areas from where the Israel Defense Forces would withdraw and would take action to end terror attacks.

In talks held Wednesday with Palestinian Legislative Council speaker Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala), Prime Minister Ariel Sharon proposed a gradual cease-fire plan,, according to Palestinian sources.

Dov Weisglass, head of the Prime Minister's Office, said that according to the proposal, security cooperation between Israel and the PA would resume gradually in various locations. The PA would take responsibility for security in areas from where the Israel Defense Forces would withdraw and would take action to end terror attacks.

Huh. He's doing this, despite the failure of Palestinian factions to agree to limiting their "resistance" to just killing settlers. That cruel, heartless bastard!

:: COINTELPRO Tool 7:19 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, February 07, 2003 ::

The Most Irreplaceable Man in Washington

Let's see if I have this right ...

Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill: resigned December 7 , vacated position December 9, replacement confirmed today.

Assistant Secretary of Health Eve Slater: resigned yesterday, vacated position immediately.
SEC chairman Harvey Pitt: resigned on November 6, still acting in his official capacity today. And gutting the much-heralded accounting reform legislation like there's no tomorrow (when clearly, there is a tomorrow).

I guess those securities commissioners are impossible to replace.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:21 PM [+] ::

Fisk Wanted to Get his Facts Right ...

Don't miss Tony Adragna's drubbing of Fisk's reaction to the Powell speech. It is flawless, except for one minor detail:
And when General Powell started blathering on about "decades'' of contact between Saddam and al-Qa'ida, things went wrong for the Secretary of State. Al-Qa'ida only came into existence five years ago, since Bin Laden – "decades" ago – was working against the Russians for the CIA, whose present day director was sitting grave-faced behind General Powell.

Fisk may be correct on the "'decades' of contact between Saddam and al-Qa'ida". But the next line is completely wrong. Bin Laden established al Qaeda in 1988 — that's fifteen years ago, not five.

Tony, Tony, Tony. You shouldn't have taken the bait on that point. Both lines are completely wrong. Here are the references to the word "decades" in Powell's speech:
Iraq and terrorism go back decades. Baghdad trains Palestine Liberation Front members in small arms and explosives. Saddam uses the Arab Liberation Front to funnel money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers in order to prolong the Intifada. And it's no secret that Saddam's own intelligence service was involved in dozens of attacks or attempted assassinations in the 1990s.
We are not surprised that Iraq is harboring Zarqawi and his subordinates. This understanding builds on decades long experience with respect to ties between Iraq and Al Qaida. Going back to the early and mid-1990s, when bin Laden was based in Sudan, an Al Qaida source tells us that Saddam and bin Laden reached an understanding that Al Qaida would no longer support activities against Baghdad. Early Al Qaida ties were forged by secret, high-level intelligence service contacts with Al Qaida, secret Iraqi intelligence high-level contacts with Al Qaida.
As I said at the outset, none of this should come as a surprise to any of us. Terrorism has been a tool used by Saddam for decades. Saddam was a supporter of terrorism long before these terrorist networks had a name. And this support continues. The nexus of poisons and terror is new. The nexus of Iraq and terror is old. The combination is lethal.

The second reference appears as "decades long," but I'm quite sure it should actually read "decade's long." The very next sentence puts the beginning of alleged ties to al-qaeda in the "early and mid-1990s," so if he did mean to use the plural, he immediately contradicted himself. Powell did say that Iraq has supported terrorism for decades -- a fact that is simply undeniable.

Predictably, Fisk completely evaded the substance of Powell's claim of Iraqi support for al-qaeda. He didn't even bring up the pathetic secular-fascists-would-never-support-religious-extremists argument that has been the mainstay of the Left's critique, and then he went on to invent still more imaginary Powell arguments:
The worst moment came when General Powell started talking about anthrax and the 2001 anthrax attacks in Washington and New York, pathetically holding up a teaspoon of the imaginary spores and – while not precisely saying so – fraudulently suggesting a connection between Saddam Hussein and the 2001 anthrax scare.

He did no such thing. The reference to the bioterror attacks in the U.S. was clearly to highlight the lethality of such a small amount, compared to the vast amounts we know Saddam has but has never accounted for:
Iraq declared 8,500 liters of anthrax, but UNSCOM estimates that Saddam Hussein could have produced 25,000 liters. If concentrated into this dry form, this amount would be enough to fill tens upon tens upon tens of thousands of teaspoons. And Saddam Hussein has not verifiably accounted for even one teaspoon-full of this deadly material.

The only fraudulent suggestions are, as usual, in Fisk's head.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:59 PM [+] ::

French Capitulation Watch

No one would ever accuse Chirac of seeing the light, but there are signs he may have felt the heat, or at least noticed the writing on the wall:
PARIS - With a swerve in language that acknowledges the possibility of the use force in Iraq and emphasizes Feb. 14 as a due-date for Iraqi compliance with disarmament requirements, France seems to be recalibrating its position on steps that could lead to a war.

Much of the French official comment opposing a conflict remained the same after Secretary of State Colin Powell?s statement Wednesday before the UN Security Council that the United States believed it had all the proof it needed to justify a strike against Iraq. The French foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, even called Powell?s appearance a demonstration of ??suspicions?? rather than one of evidence.

But after weeks of seeking to project France and Germany as being on what President Jacques Chirac called an ??identical?? anti-war wavelength, de Villepin returned late Wednesday and again Thursday to a kind of language France had abandoned. After disappearing for weeks, France was again saying war was an alternative.

De Villepin told a radio interviewer, ??Force can only be a last resort, but we don?t exclude any possibility, including, of course, resorting to force, but that?s at the last extreme.??

I think this change in attitude may ironically be attributed to the same craven self-interest that has been behind their obstinance. Now that the liberation of Iraq is looking more fait accompli-ish, they certainly don't want to be cut out of it.

UPDATE: Then there's this.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:48 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, February 03, 2003 ::

Anti-war Left Fooled by Yet Another E-Mail Hoax

Yeah, yeah, I know, so what else is new?

You may have received an e-mail calling on you to mail a small bag of rice to the White House, with a note attached that says "If your enemies are hungry, feed them. -- Romans 12:20." Included in this grass roots solicitation is the following historical background:
There is a positive history of this protest! In the 1950s, Fellowship of
Reconciliation began a similar protest, which is credited with influencing
President Eisenhower against attacking China. Read on:

"In the mid-1950s, the pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation, learning of
famine in the Chinese mainland, launched a 'Feed Thine Enemy' campaign. Members and friends mailed thousands of little bags of rice to the White House with a tag quoting the Bible, "If thine enemy hunger, feed him."

As far as anyone knew for more than ten years, the campaign was an abject failure. The President did not acknowledge receipt of the bags publicly; certainly, no rice was ever sent to China.

"What nonviolent activists only learned a decade later was that the campaign played a significant, perhaps even determining role in preventing nuclear war.
Twice while the campaign was on, President Eisenhower met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to consider U.S. options in the conflict with China over two islands, Quemoy and Matsu. The generals twice recommended the use of nuclear weapons. President Eisenhower each time turned to his aide and asked how many little bags of rice had come in. When told they numbered in the tens of thousands, Eisenhower told the generals that as long as so many Americans were expressing active interest in having the U.S. feed the Chinese, he certainly wasn't going to consider using nuclear weapons against them."

From: People Power: Applying Nonviolence Theory by
David H. Albert,p. 43, New Society, 19.

When in doubt, consult Snopes. The story is, of course, bullshit. Yes, there was a grassroots campaign to feed starving Chinese, but the move had nothing to do with any military confrontation. They didn't even get the right grain, for fek's sake!

But the most sickening part of this revisionist history is the portrayal of the Quemoy-Matsu crises as an example of U.S. military aggression. The facts show quite the opposite. The fighting between the PRC and Taiwanese Nationalists was indeed mutual, but the real threat was to the Taiwanese government's very existence. China also violated the Geneva Conventions by giving prison sentences to American POW's.

Though Eisenhower smartly held the hawks at bay, his public pronouncements belie the notion that he was dovish on the issue. Despite the international uproar over statements like "A-bombs can be used...as you would use a bullet," this was clearly an early example of achieving peace through the threat of lethal force. And what a peace it has been.

But the notion that Eisenhower would have nuked China save the efforts of these brave "Rice for Peace" activists is the type of nonsense I've grown to expect from the Common Dreams crowd. I think I might start my own rendition of this grassroots movement, by mailing a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon to the White House, with a note attached that says, "Please Don't Nuke Andorra."

And if, after a while, the U.S. still doesn't bomb Andorra, I'll nominate myself for a Nobel Peace Prize.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:16 AM [+] ::

:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:26 AM [+] ::
:: Sunday, February 02, 2003 ::


A Saudi columnist for the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat has endorsed Joseph Lieberman for U.S. president, for the following reasons:
Reason One: The Jews Will be Blamed for Everything

Reason Two: He Must Prove His Americanism over His Jewishness

Reason Three: Good for Ambitions of Non-Christian Minorities in the U.S.

And, finally:
Reason Four: Could Ignite Antisemitic Trends in the U.S.

"The fourth reason is the possibility that the American voter would refuse to surrender his affairs to a non-Christian president. Such a refusal could ignite antisemitic trends which would force the Zionist organizations in America to launch a confrontation with the Protestant, Anglo-Saxon 'establishment' in America. Any 'side' struggle involving the Zionist organizations inside the United States would, in the long run, reduce the Zionist influence in Washington."

:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:15 PM [+] ::

Are These People Serious?

The Observer has the latest attempt to debunk evidence of an al-qaeda/Saddam connection before Colin Powell has even presented it. The authors focus on both Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the alleged al-qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Iraq after being denied refuge in Iran, and Mullah Krekar, the leader of the Ansar al-Islam jihadists who are fighting against the anti-Saddam Kurds (Krekar swears he is also opposed to Saddam's secular regime).

The evidence of al-Zarqawi's ties to bin Laden are unsubstantiated, they claim, and that "despite fighting in the CIA-backed war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, he does not adhere to the ideology of al-Qaeda":
'He's just an ordinary man,' said a former Arab mujahid who fought in the Afghan war against the Russians. 'He arrived in Afghanistan in 1990 and fought against Russia in Khosht in 1991.' He said that when the Taliban stormed to power, he chose to stay and in 1999 formed a close-knit group of Jordanians linked to the traditional Islamic-resistance group, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Muslim Brotherhood is, as any serious student of Islamist terror knows, the precursor to al-qaeda, and much of its leadership -- including, of course, Ayman al-Zawahari, went on to form bin Laden's inner circle.
US federal investigators are currently examining a possible link between Hijazi [the Jordanian terrorist behind a series of foiled plots in December 1999] and two of the suspected hijackers who boarded planes in Boston on 11 September and hijacked them for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Investigations say Hijazi is linked to suspects Ahmed Alghamdi and Satam al-Suqami. If proven, it would be a concrete link between the attacks against the United States and Bin Laden.

Jordanian court officials say Hijazi's cell contacted bin Laden's group Al-Qaeda ('The Base') in 1998, asking for help in explosives training. Through a key Al-Qaeda operative known as Abu Zubayida, Bin Laden's group arranged for four people, including Hijazi, to travel through Turkey to a training camp in Afghanistan. Hijazi, prosecutors say, learned to use explosives and remote-controlled triggering devices there.

Nice try.

It gets even better. Krekar, the Observer reporters would have us believe, would never ally himself with Saddam Hussein. Why? Because he says so, that's why:
'I told the FBI, "I can come to America and prove it's not true in your court",' said Krekar, who studied Islamic theology with a founder of al-Qaeda and has praised bin Laden. 'I am not an enemy of America.' [Emphasis added]

Hey, don't look at me. They wrote it.

Whatever evidence Powell presents against him, Krekar claims, he has "documents" that will refute it. How documents could establish the absence of a link between Krekar's terrorist army and the Iraqi government is anyone's guess, but we shouldn't question the logic of such a lucid man.

For those of you who demand more evidence of Krekar's innocence than his vehement denials, the authors offer this: he is a free man:
His group certainly is nasty, but what baffles many is that, despite the allegations about his group, he remains at large, living unmolested by the authorities in Norway.

A country like Britain might allow a terrorist svengali like Abu Hamza to roam free for nearly two years after two of his disciples have been caught, but not an anti-Islamist police state like Norway!

I have no way of knowing whether the evidence Powell will present is compelling, but one has to wonder about the motives of journalists who would make such a clamorous attempt at disproving the charges, and with such shoddy logic.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 7:51 PM [+] ::

The Liberty Incident

A while back, I mentioned receiving an advance copy of A. Jay Cristol's book on the 1967 attack on the U.S. intelligence-gathering platform by Israeli forces. I also got the chance to hear Cristol speak at the Middle East Institute, and want to reiterate how impressed I was with his deference to the Liberty crew members who have argued that the attack was intentional, even while presenting a damning refutation of their specific claims (for example, James Ennes, the most vocal proponent of Liberty conspiracy theories, has made claims in his memoir that simply cannot be reconciled with his testimony to the Navy's Court of Inquiry on the incident).

I finally got around to reading the book a few weeks ago, and have been meaning to post some sort of review here. But the book is so rich in compelling evidence and reasoning (I was green with envy as I read it) that I can't think of a way to summarize it without transcribing the entire book here (Charles Johnson links to this piece by Michael Oren, which is a covers many of Cristol's arguments, and quotes his previous work).

So, in the interest of conserving space (and fending off a possible lawsuit), I'll simply post the book's epilogue, written by Ernest Castle, who was the naval attache at the U.S. embassy in Israel at the time of the attack:
On June 8, 1992, a plane departed Sde Dov Airport just north of Tel Aviv, twenty-five years to the day, to the hour, almost to the minute of my take-off in the Super Frelon helicopter provided me by Israel in my capacity as naval attache at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. In 1967 my mission was to try to assist the USS Liberty.

The 1992 flight was in memory of the 1967 event. Airborne, Judge Jay Cristol, the author of this book, set a course to the point where the Super Frelon had overflown the Liberty on the late afternoon of that fate-blemished day. Also in the small aircraft was my wife, Dr. Jeanie Castle; Major Danny Grossman, an Israel Air Force flyer (and former U.S. Air Force flyer); and Groosman's young son, Akiva. Cristol flew the aircraft, with the aid of the global positioning system to the precise point where I had observed the Liberty twenty-five years before. As the plane circled the point, Judge Cristol dropped thirty-four pink carnations into the sea, one in the name of each American who lost his life. The aircraft's flight path and the laws of gravity caused the flowers to fall in an approximate circle around the ship's position twenty-five years earlier.

I askd a blessing upon the souls of the dead and their surviving loved ones. The U.S. Navy hymn was recited. Major Grossman intoned the Kaddish, the Jewish Prayer for the dead. The event was sufficiently moving to bring tears.

In silence the little plane broke away from the site and returned to Tel Aviv. It was a small tribute to the gallant sailors who had died in the tragedy -- tragedy for them, their loved ones, their country, and Israel. The sorrow-filed event is now over three decades behind us. I have waited all that time for the emergence of this book. It is, for the first time, the complete, accurate, and evenhanded report of the Liberty incident. It is now time to turn this final page and close the book.

My own view is shaded by my constant exposure to C-SPAN's Washington Journal, on which the incident is brought up by hydrophibic anti-Semites critics of Israel almost on a daily basis, and even when the topic du jour is Social Security reform. As Cristol noted in his talk at MEI, he doesn't expect to sway many of these people, and frankly, he doesn't care to.

But I, for one, greatly appreciate his contribution to the factual record, and highly recommend his book.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 4:27 PM [+] ::

:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:20 AM [+] ::
:: Saturday, February 01, 2003 ::

Warbloggers, Man Your Battlestations

Writing in the internet's bastion of nativist, paleocon drivel, Stuart Reid takes aim at the "anti-European" (read: anti-French and anti-German) rhetoric of neocons. He even takes a potshot at Victor Davis Hanson, calling his work "the Marvel Comics interpretation, with added Thucydides."

A sample graf:
This is spiteful and paranoid rhetoric unworthy even of the Marvel Comics school. Two points should be made. The first is that only the Nazis and their accomplices were guilty of killing Jews. "Europe" was not. Europe suffered hideously in World War II, losing many more men in the struggle to defeat Hitler -- and thus to save Jewish lives -- than the Americans. France lost 110,000 dead by May 1940; worldwide, between 1939 and 1945, some 60 million died, most of them civilians.

Is this guy serious? Europeans taking up the struggle against Hitler "to save Jews?" And all this time I thought they were fighting for their own survival. The whole point is that if they had taken the threat of fascism seriously, they may have averted much of that bloodshed. But this argument is sound as a pound compared to his next sentence:
The second point is that, webwise, the United States is almost certainly the most anti-Semitic -- and for that matter anti-American -- nation on earth. It is not just loony websites, either. On the American street, anti-Semitism is selling like crack cocaine: according to the Anti-Defamation League 17 percent of Americans -- some 35 million adults -- are now "hardcore" anti-Semites, an increase of 5 percent since 1998.

Webwise??? How about burning-synagogues-to-the-groundwise, asshole? Or any other measure of physical violence?

Against my better judgement, I'll give Reid the benefit of the doubt on his claim that internet anti-Semitism is much more prevalent in the U.S. He cites no statistics on that point, but assuming he ran that charge by Amconmag's editor-in-chief, well, who would know better? But something tells me this may have something to do with that.

Another recent ADL survey found that hardcore anti-Semitism within five selected Western European countries was over 20% -- and that survey didn't include France or Germany. Reid goes on to admit that anti-Semitism has risen since Sept. 11, but claims that "there is even more anti-Muslim feeling." I'm not sure how this is possible in Europe, and in the U.S. it is simply a lie, with anti-Jewish hate crimes remaining more than twice those commited against Muslims.

But all this is neither here nor there, as Reid obsesses only with European attitudes, when the real criticism of Europe by the likes of Ledeen, Hanson, and Rumsfeld have to do with policy. Europeans have the audacity to sneer at the U.S.'s "imbalanced" foreign policy toward the Middle East, while demonstrating their understanding of balance my giving greater legitimacy to Hamas than they do to "that shitty little country." They criticize U.S. "unilateralism," while attempting to undercut U.S. attempts at coalition building by sidling up to the likes of Bashir Assad.

Reid writes that Europeans aren't so much anti-American as they are opposed to Americanism. But the same can be said of perceived anti-European attitudes here in the U.S. And if Europeanism means having to be pressured by the Clinton administration before finally moving against the slaughter of Muslims in the Balkans, while feigning sympathy for the plight of the Muslims who sit on massive oil reserves, I certainly have no affinity for it.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:25 PM [+] ::

Get This Judge over to the 9th Circuit! Stat!

This is the primary reason I think TV cameras should have been allowed to cover the Richard Reid trial:
This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and a just sentence. It is a righteous sentence. Let me explain this to you.

We are not afraid of any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is all too much war talk here. And I say that to everyone with the utmost respect.

Here in this court where we deal with individuals as individuals, and care for individuals as individuals, as human beings we reach out for justice.

You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far too much stature. Whether it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or that happens to be your view, you are a terrorist.

And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not treat with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists.

We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.

So war talk is way out of line in this court. You're a big fellow. But you're not that big. You're no warrior. I know warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders.

In a very real sense Trooper Santiago had it right when first you were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were and you said you're no big deal. You're no big deal.

What your counsel, what your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today? I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing.

And I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you. But as I search this entire record it comes as close to understanding as I know.

It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose.

Here, in this society, the very winds carry freedom. They carry it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely.

It is for freedom's seek that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed appeals, will go on in their, their representation of you before other judges. We care about it. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties.

Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms.

Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. Day after tomorrow it will be forgotten. But this, however, will long endure. Here, in this courtroom, and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done.

The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged, and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.

See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag still stands for freedom. You know it always will. Custody, Mr. Officer. Stand him down.

Yeah, biotch! And the foul!
[Via Sully]

:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:19 PM [+] ::

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?