:: The Fred Willard Fan Site ::


:: Friday, October 31, 2003 ::

Life Imitates Scrappleface

Scott Ott, today:
(2003-10-31) -- The latest figures on decreased jobless claims and a huge increase in third-quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) signal a continuation of the Clinton-Gore economic boom, according to an expert.

"After a brief two year 'hiccup' the wisdom of Clinton-Gore still shines through," said one unnamed itinerant professor who has taught at the University of California Los Angeles, Columbia University, Fisk University and Middle Tennessee State University. "Any time economic indicators are this good, you can take it as an article of faith that it's the legacy of the two best men ever elected President -- Bill Clinton and Al Gore."

Hesiod, also today:
It appears that the Democratic recovery is underway.

What? You thought the middle class tax rebates that jumpstarted consumer spending wrere Bush's idea?

Taking self-parody to new levels.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:43 PM [+] ::

My Vote's Still Up for Grabs

Zell Miller has endorsed Bush for president in 2004. So have Roger Simon, Cara Remal, both lifelong Democrats.

Michael Totten seems bummed, but on the brighter side, Hesiod and his fan club are in Torquemada mode, whining about who's a "real Liberal" and who isn't.

A small part of me wants to follow Zell's example, just to spite the self-anointed "Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party," and watch the fun that ensues when these idiots suddenly discover they don't even make up a full wing. But there has to be a better way to make that point that doesn't involve letting the Left's version of the John Birch Society drive an institution I hold dear into the ground. Plus, they didn't learn from McGovern or Mondale, so how will a Dean nomination be any different?

And on a deeper level, I refuse to cede a single square inch to anyone who thinks the Bush=Hitler crowd has any ownership of Liberalism. I'm still very much in favor of progressive domestic policies, and still believe there's a role for government to temper the excesses of the free market. And I'm really not a big fan of Bush's foreign policy -- no, really -- except where it matters most.

And I guess that's the problem, isn't it? Like most of those pesky interlopers into Howard Dean's personal political party -- which happen to make up majority of the party -- I was, am, and will continue to be in favor of Bush's decision to invade Iraq. But I also have suspicions about whether neocons and neo-Realists like Condi Rice will be all that effective in nation-building when they swore the whole thing was folly a little over two years ago.

So I'm giving you one last chance, Democrats. You can still win my support next year, with only a few minor overtures. I will vote for the candidate who does the following:

1) Develop and articulate a foreign policy that a) the entirety of which doesn't fit on a bumper sticker, and b) does not contain the words "Bush lied." Bonus points to anyone who can fashion a brand of multilateralism that can strike a balance between following the lowest common denominator and simply disengaging from the process when things don't go our way. I believe it's called "leadership," but no more hints.

2) Stop pandering to Al Sharpton, and demonstrates the courage to announce in one of the upcoming debates that there is no room on a Democratic stage for someone who has incited at least two race riots, one of which was over a fucking traffic accident. If you've got the balls to have your Sister Souljah moment

3) Read your Peter Beinart. Religiously.

4) Publicly bitch-slap Dennis Kucinich. Just once, that's all.

That's all I can think of right now, and I really don't think it's too much to ask.

UPDATE: Yeah, biotch ... and the foul!
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:50 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, October 30, 2003 ::

Late Comers

CNN has finally devoted some coverage to the propaganda coming from the Palestinian Authority, featuring a video that incites children to become "martyrs," and interviewing Palestinian Media Watch director Itamar Marcus.

Paula Zahn also had Insane Rubbish on for balance, and she actually grilled him, after he dismissed the footage as not being the "whole story" of Palestinian media.

Welcome to planet earth, CNN producers. Stick around a while. You might learn something.

UPDATE: Here's the transcript.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:49 PM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, October 29, 2003 ::

The Bill O'Reilly of Bloggers?

I'm no fan of Atrios, but this is sheer nonsense. And further proof that Don Luskin is a dick.

UPDATE: After perusing the comments to the Atrios post in question, I'm convinced that this is the one that Luskin's lawyers are referring to. Admittedly, it's tasteless, inappropriate, and should be removed. But Luskin's lawyers apparently can't be bothered to give Atrios specifics like that, so I'm inclined to believe Luskin's claim that this is just a thinly-veiled attempt to intimidate him by "outing" him with a subpoena.

And not for nothing, but this whole thing was started by a cheap smear of Krugman by Luskin, who asserted that Krugman had called the president "a recovering alcoholic falling off the wagon." That was the comment cited by radio host Mike Gallagher -- which Krugman correctly pointed out was false -- that led to the "stalker" allegation.

Here is what Krugman actually wrote in his Jan. 17, 2003 column:
Picture a recovering alcoholic falling off the wagon. First he says he can handle a few drinks. Then, when his inebriation can't be denied, he insists it's only a temporary lapse. But eventually he turns mean. "What's so great about being sober?" he growls, reaching for another bottle.

As a drunk is to alcohol, the Bush administration is to budget deficits.
During the 2000 campaign George W. Bush often pledged to maintain fiscal responsibility. Right up to the passage of the 2001 tax cut his people said they could cut taxes, pay for new programs like prescription drug coverage, and still pay off most of the federal government's debt.

Yep. The similarities to O'Reilly are striking: constantly smearing your opponents with the lowest bullshit arguments you can throw at them, then cry like a two year old when someone slings it back at you. What an ass.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:55 PM [+] ::

Pucker Up

Even if George Galloway gets caught with a dead girl or a live boy, he'll still have al Jazeera to shamelessly fawn over him:
Rebel MP George Galloway has announced the launch of a new political movement which could change the face of British politics for ever.

The British antiwar movement will turn into a political force to take on Tony Blair’s New Labour in the European elections in June 2004.

Wow. I'll bet the lead on the press release wasn't that enthusiastic. The "independent" Arab news network has even given Galloway a platform to whine about being kicked by Alistair Campbell during a football match.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:09 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, October 27, 2003 ::

Better Than a Rumsfeld Memo

Let the idiots try to spin Rumsfeld's "long hard slog" comments any way they want. I'll take frontline dispatches over snowflakes any day:
Poirier said commanders now believe they are "starting to see more of the organizers getting involved in offensive operations," which they take as a sign that the resistance is running out of shooters and starting to lose a war of attrition.

Col. Hickey, the 1st Brigade commander, said they are "going into their bloodline to take us on now," relying on prominent members of families that once made up Hussein's security forces.

When will the resistance end? Hickey shrugged. Nobody knows.

"Right now, I feel confident we're turning the corner," he said. "I can show you the trends. You can say I'm not using the right metrics. But I'm here to tell you, the enemy is just not having a good day."

A note for those who are completely ignorant of what we "Iraq War enthusiasts" really stand for: we're not claiming things are great in Iraq now, and we have never said this would be easy. But make no mistake: we are winning.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:10 AM [+] ::
:: Sunday, October 26, 2003 ::

It's 'Atrophy,' Not 'Entropy,' Dumbass

There was a time when Quentin Tarantino movies were known for their engaging dialogue. They also managed to be ultra-cool without trying so goddamned hard.

Apart from providing still more proof (as if I needed it) that Uma Thurman has the most perfect ass in the known universe, Kill Bill sucked. Period.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:51 PM [+] ::

Out of Touch

Josh Marshall:
Something I came across ...
“[His] principal issue was the war. The issue of the war was not like other issues. To a significant part of the electorate, the war was a passion, and opposing it had become something like a way of life. It had defined the politics of a generation. And now the war had been going on so long that to passion was added memory. To [this] generation, it was not only a candidate’s current position on the war that counted but his position on the war at every moment in the war’s long history. To them, a man’s record on the war was an index to his character, and [his] opposition had been strong and consistent from an early date.”

page 214
Jonathan Schell
The Time of Illusion
Published 1975

Just food for thought.

And David Broder:
Since Dean has emphasized his early opposition to the war in Iraq as his calling card in the race, it is easy to assume that his antiwar stand and his criticism of Lieberman, Gephardt, Kerry and Edwards for supporting the resolution authorizing the use of force must account for his strong showing -- especially in New Hampshire.

Wrong. When the Democracy Corps team asked whether voters in those three states wanted a Democratic nominee "who opposed the Iraq war from the beginning" or one "who supported military action against Saddam Hussein but was critical of Bush for failing to win international support for the war," voters in all three states chose the second alternative. Dean's position was preferred by only 35 percent of the likely voters in the New Hampshire Democratic primary -- fewer than supported it in Iowa or South Carolina -- while 58 percent chose the alternative.


:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:03 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, October 22, 2003 ::

Secret Slaughter Update

Robert Fisk, 14 Sept.:
But if you count the Najaf dead as typical of just two or three other major cities, and if you add on the daily Baghdad death toll and multiply by seven, almost 1,000 Iraqi civilians are being killed every week - and that may well be a conservative figure. Somewhere in the cavernous marble halls of proconsul Paul Bremer's palace on the Tigris, someone must be calculating these awful statistics. But of course, the Americans are not telling us.

Human Rights Watch, yesterday:
The 56-page report, Hearts and Minds: Post-war Civilian Deaths in Baghdad Caused by U.S. Forces, confirms 20 deaths in the Iraqi capital alone between May 1 and September 30. In total, Human Rights Watch collected credible reports of 94 civilian deaths in baghdad, involving questionable legal circumstances that warrant investigation.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:04 PM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, October 21, 2003 ::

Well ... Yeah

I should have dedicated my life to science:
(AP) -- Women who perform the act of fellatio and swallow semen on a regular basis, one to two times a week, may reduce their risk of breast cancer by up to 40 percent, a North Carolina State University study found.

Doctors had never suspected a link between the act of fellatio and breast cancer, but new research being performed at North Carolina State University is starting to suggest that there could be an important link between the two.

UPDATE: Oops, should have checked the URL -- and the references to "BJ Sooner" and "Inserta Shafteer" further down the story. This story is a slickly-produced spoof, right down to the CNN banner. Fooled me, but then, I wanted to believe it so bad.
[Via Bargarz]
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:16 PM [+] ::

PIPA Study Update

A while ago, I had echoed Jim Taranto's sentiments (also shared by Andrew Sullivan) about the one-sidedness of a recent PIPA study that suggested Fox viewers were more likely to have misperceptions about issues surrounding our Iraq policy than those with other media preferences. In reality, the study merely confirmed that those who were more likely to believe Conservative misperceptions -- let's call these people Conservatives -- are more likely to be Fox viewers. This has not stopped the usual suspects from citing the study as proof that "watching Fox News makes you dumber."

I had also e-mailed the study's lead researcher, Stephen Kull, to ask him how such a slanted collection of data could be used to draw such a conclusion. He responded by forwarding the following "clarification" that had apparently been sent out to journalists reporting on the study (though I cannot find it on the PIPA Web site):
Some have asked why we did not present a whole variety of other perception questions that Fox viewers might be less likely to answer incorrectly, and why the media measurement questions were not more comprehensive. The purpose of this study was not to determine whether, overall, those who get their news from various media sources are more likely to have misperceptions. As our name states, we study policy attitudes and we were trying to determine the relationship between a certain policy attitude and a small and specific set of perceptions directly related to the rationale and legitimating basis for the policy. (We also limited our core analysis to perceptions for which the actual reality is relatively noncontroversial in the expert community.)[emphasis mine]

Fair enough. But the press release announcing the study clearly suggested otherwise:
College Park, MD -- A new study based on a series of seven nationwide polls conducted from January through September of this year reveals that before and after the war, a majority of Americans have had significant misperceptions and these are highly related to support for the war with Iraq.

The polling, conducted by the Program on International Policy (PIPA) at the University of Maryland and Knowledge Networks, also reveals that the frequency of these misperceptions varies significantly according to individuals' primary source of news. Those who primarily watch Fox News are significantly more likely to have misperceptions, while those who primarily listen to NPR or watch PBS are significantly less likely.[emphasis added]

Where I come from, we call this kind of "clarification" a "correction."
:: COINTELPRO Tool 1:13 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, October 20, 2003 ::

Joshua Micah Marshall Meltdown Watch

I thought Josh was just having a bad morning when he wrote this asinine passage:
What's surreal about the White House's new claims that the press is keeping all the good news from Iraq (reopening schools and so forth) hidden -- faithfully parroted by the usual suspects -- is that it's really hard to find anyone who's been in the country recently or for any significant period of time who thinks that's true.[emphasis mine]


Now, also on the subject of Iraqi reconstruction, he's simply trying to have it both ways. In his latest post on The Great Push-back, he first quotes a Newsweek story that suggests much of the progress claimed by the CPA in the area of schools and hospitals is bogus, as there was little if any destruction of them during the war to begin with.

Then, seemingly without realizing he's contradicting the passage he quotes, he writes:
If you go back to last fall, or even the early months of this year, there was plenty of talk about reconstruction in Iraq. But if you look closely most of the talk was about social and political reconstruction: building a free press, purging the army of Baathists, creating the building blocks of a rule-of-law society, and so forth.

There was precious little talk about rebuilding their stuff, i.e., the physical infrastructure of the country -- bridges, schools, telephones, electrical grids, all up to western standards.

Certainly, there was a recognition that we'd need to rebuild stuff that we broke in the course of prosecuting the war. But the entire focus of reconstruction underwent a wholesale transformation in the months after the war.

After that, he just gets silly, suggesting that we've realized that our attempts at social and political reconstruction have been an abject failure, so now we've shifted the entire rationale for being there to stuff-building. He provides exactly no empirical evidence of this, but then again, that didn't stop him from spinning his grand Astroturf conspiracy theory either.

I'm beginning to see why he's so fond of Sy Hersh.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:26 PM [+] ::

Syntactically Correct Gibberish

I reread the following sentence from Ruth Rosen's latest column before getting a screaming headache:
The sister of a Navy weapons officer explained why, after nine years in the service, her brother resigned his commission after his application for conscientious objection was denied.

Grammatically, it's a correct sentence, but it makes absolutely no sense. Of course, that is what one must resort to when trying to convince one's public that there's some kind of groundswell of "resistance" among the troops serving in Iraq. That, and admonishing them not to avenge the deaths of their fellow soldiers by killing innocent civilians.

And isn't it always the snotty people who would never deign to talk to a man or woman in uniform (unless they've been out of uniform for at least a generation, and are appropriately ashamed of the experience) who seem to see these things coming?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:23 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, October 16, 2003 ::


From the Philly Inquirer:
Bush told his senior aides Tuesday that he "didn't want to see any stories" quoting unnamed administration officials in the media anymore, and that if he did, there would be consequences, said a senior administration official who asked that his name not be used.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 6:35 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, October 13, 2003 ::

Colossal Stupidity

One sure sign that the Bush administration/Pentagon "PR campaign" for getting more balanced coverage on Iraqi reconstruction is failing is that the campaign itself is becoming the story. Definitely not a good start, and now, we have Edward Bernays wannabes in the Army sending form letters to newspaper editors, signed by various soldiers.

Instapundit had originally deemed the letters "bogus," but later retracted that characterization. Now, the two extremes on the issue can best be summed up as follows:

On one side we have Michael Ubaldi, who would probably follow Karl Rove over a cliff, and who thinks this is no big deal, and that the Olympian story is just an anti-war hatchet job (it is, but that's not really the point).

At the other extreme, we have Josh Marshall, who actually offers two possible scenarios. The first is that this is is just an "innocent, but over-eager effort of a single Army public affairs officer somewhere in northern Iraq." His alternative scenario takes Occam's Razor, wraps it in electrical tape, puts it into a burlap sack, ties the burlap sack to a cinder block, and tossed the whole thing over the Woodrow Wilson bridge:
There are a number of firms in Washington whose business it is to orchestrate phony letter writing campaigns on behalf of pricey clients.

Usually, the gig works something like this. Say you’re the hot dog makers lobby and congress is fixing to hit you with some new regs about hot dog making. Let’s say it’s something truly outlandish like requiring you to include some meat in the product.

If you go up to the hill with your gripes as the National Hot Dog Makers Association you might not do so well. And your ideological compatriots in the media might not be able to get up much of a head of steam banging the table for a bunch of hot dog magnates. So you call up one of the phony letter writing firms --- let’s call one hypothetical outfit The Former Republican Communications Staffers and Speechwriters Group of Washington.

Josh, of course, doesn't have a shred of evidence to support this theory (apart from the fact that other people in Washington do this all the time), but claims that his baseless, conspiratorial speculation "deserves a serious look."

I'm somewhere in the middle, and think Marshall had it right the first time. Even he thinks it's worth noting that most of the soldiers whose name appeared on the letter agreed wholeheartedly with its sentiments (though one has allegedly claimed that he was ordered to do so). I don't think there was anything really deceptive about this, but I do think it was incredibly stupid.

Simply put, the use of a form letter to do what this anonymous Army PAO (or, more likely, Army staff weenie who thinks he's a PAO) wanted to do did nothing more than give fodder for the administration critics who were looking for a reason to discredit this push-back effort. Even a mediocre reporter can easily sniff these things out, and will gladly make that the story.

That is not to say that form letters don't have their place. They are quite effective at intimidating a business, congressman, or other organization simply by demonstrating the ability to mobilize hordes of people who are wiling to do your bidding, and apply what ever pressure on your target is necessary. They are not, however, effective at convincing the target audience of the truth of your arguments, or even their sincerity.

In fact, any effort to persuade people that things are going better in Iraq than is being reported will fail if it at all gives the appearance of being controlled, directed, or even coordinated from above. What really irritates me about this is that I think a lot of headway was being made simply by allowing soldiers to tell their own stories. Now, of course, the tinfoil hat crowd will claim that even missives like this one were ghost written in an office somewhere in Rosslyn.

Army PA has a history of these hamfisted efforts. I remember a story from last year mocking the little Q&A cards the Army issued soldiers in Afghanistan for talking to reporters (I think it was a BBC story, but can't find the link). CENTCOM public affairs was reportedly unaware of the form letter campaign (which I believe is accurate), so this looks to me to be a mid- to low-level stunt. And a very, very dumb stunt.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 5:54 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, October 10, 2003 ::

The Worst Commentary Yet on Plame

I can't imagine why Instapundit would link approvingly to Mark Steyn's shameless flackery, which is a far more egregious example of blaiming the victim than all of the Wilson bashing that the scandal has precipitated. Glenn's favorite graf:
If sending Joseph C. Wilson IV to Niger for a week is the best the world’s only hyperpower can do, that’s a serious problem. If the Company knew it was a joke all along, that’s a worse problem. It means Mr Bush is in the same position with the CIA as General Musharraf is with Pakistan’s ISI: when he makes a routine request, he has to figure out whether they’re going to use it to try and set him up. This is no way to win a terror war.

It's one thing to take completely irrelevant potshots at Wilson, who has sort of invited that kind of thing. But the argument being made here seems to be that the CIA had it coming for sending this boy to do a man's work. Congressman Peter King makes a similar argument, actually calling the CIA a "rogue agency" for its allegiance to something a bit higher than loyalty to the president.

First, let's deal with the essence of this Steyn passage. Kevin Drum has dealt with the "Why Wilson?" nonsense quite handily, but I think the best refutation of this crap comes from Wilson himself, from his appearance on Meet The Press last week:
MR. RUSSERT: But George Tenet is suggesting that he did not approve of your mission or was not aware of your mission and that your findings were inconclusive.

MR. WILSON: He would not have approved of it. This is the sort of thing that would have gone from a briefer down to the operational level. The decision would have been taken to the operational level. The results would have been reported back. My opinion piece made the point that if they didn't agree, then that's fine. But I said I would like to know, be curious as to know why. Mine was one of only several reports on that particular subject. It never promised to be the definitive report, and if there was other intelligence, then, indeed, there may have been something of which I was unaware. The White House, however, the next day, came out and said, "Guess what? Those 16 words should not have been in the State of the Union address."[Emphasis added]

Far from being the stooge for some nefarious administration official's scheme, Bob Novak, Steyn argues, was onto the real story. It's the rest of us who are too short sighted to see it. The insinuation here (which Peter King states more explicitly) was that the CIA was trying to embarrass the administration by sending someone like Wilson on this mission. What nonsense. If the CIA really wanted to embarrass the administration, they wouldn't have bothered to apply such tough scrutiny to the intelligence the administration was citing in its case for the war -- intelligence that has ultimately compromised American credibility, whether my fellow hawks want to realize it or not.

So, was the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research also trying to "embarrass" the administration when they tried to warn them of the suspect nature of the now-infamous Niger forgeries? Would the loyal thing to do have been to simply stand there whistling and staring at the ceiling after the IAEA pointed that out to us?

The CIA never tried to publicize its contrarian findings on the Iraqi WMD intelligence. In fact, even after questions arose about how the "16 words" made it into the president's SOTU, the CIA smothered the grenade, while Condi Rice claimed that the CIA had never raised any doubts about that intelligence. Tenet kept his mouth shut, and we only learned the truth after Rice's deputy Stephen Hadley admitted that the White House had indeed been warned.

How's that for loyalty?

The rest of Steyn's column is nothing more than a rehash of the stale and unbelievably lame spitwads tossed up by the Pffft! crowd: They said she had been an operative for three decades, but she's only 40! Her husband is a media whore! And of course, the Chewbacca defense. Again and again we hear, how does outing Wilson's wife "discredit" him? This discounts the possibility that whoever did so felt they couldn't discredit him, and settled for the next best thing.

Then there's the utterly tasteless mocking of the seriousness of the offense:
The Independent summed up the angle most of the press seems to be interested in: ‘Disclosed CIA Officer Fears For Her Life’ — i.e., Ms Plame’s name was leaked in order to put her in danger. The implication seems to be that she’s on some top-secret mission but, like 007, travelling under her own name, perhaps as an innocuous businesswoman: ‘The name’s Plame. Valerie Plame. Universal Export.’
‘Very interesting, Ms Plame,’ replies Blofeld, stroking his cat, in whose litter tray lies the front page of that day’s Washington Post. ‘Any relation to the CIA agent of the same name?’

What an asshole.

First, it shouldn't matter to someone who wears his national security seriousness on his sleave (i.e., as far from his heart as possible) whether Plame has been put in any personal danger. At the very least, an intelligence pipeline has been filled with cement -- and one that dealt with what the Bush administration itself claims is the greatest threat confronting the U.S. today.

Apart from that, the above passage shows Steyn to be as ignorant of these things as Pat Schroeder. It may be news to the fair-weather hawks like Steyn, but a CIA operative doesn't have to be running around in Peshawar to be in real danger. Men like Richard Welch and William Buckley worked behind desks, but were murdered after their covers had been blown. And yes, they used their own names.

You know what ... fuck Mark Steyn.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 2:45 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, October 09, 2003 ::

Media Preferences and Ignorance

I've been pretty harsh on James Taranto lately, but his critique of the much-ballyhooed PIPA study which claims to demonstrate that Fox News viewers are more ignorant than others is pretty spot on:
The "untrue positions" the survey measured are these:

"Saddam Hussein has been directly linked with the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks."

"Weapons of mass destruction have already been found in Iraq."

"World opinion favored the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq."
Here are some demonstrable untruths the survey didn't ask its subjects about:

President Bush said Iraq posed an "imminent" threat.

Bush claimed Iraq had bought uranium from Niger.

America's intervention in Iraq was unilateral.
Would not a fair survey have included examples of the misperceptions on both sides?

Point well taken. The survey could also have asked about 500,000 dead Iraqi babies, or that the U.S. was the principal arms provider to Iraq in the 1980s, but they didn't. Nor does this lame study demonstrate any real causality between these misperceptions and media choices. It merely shows that those who falsely believe that Saddam was behind 9/11 are more likely to be Fox viewers than NPR listeners. Duh!

:: COINTELPRO Tool 7:21 AM [+] ::

Yglesias on Linking Saddam and 9/11

After quoting Condi Rice's denial that there is any evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the September 11 attacks, Matthew Yglesias writes at TAPPED:
This is the strategy the administration used up until a few weeks ago, and it's worked very well for them: Never actually say that Iraq was involved in 9-11 -- if you do that the media will call you on it -- just constantly mention the two issues in the same sentence so as to imply that they're connected and you'll get a free pass.

Interesting twist on the old "your lips may say no, but your eyes say yes" argument. Condi makes an "implicit" argument that Saddam was involved in the attacks somehow by saying explicitly that there's no evidence of this. And it doesn't matter how consistently (Dick Cheney's irresponsible remarks notwithstanding) they say no. They really mean yes.

And how exactly does Yglesias know that this is the intent of the Bushies, and that their stated argument is less than sincere? He doesn't, of course. He's merely taking it for granted that no one would really make the argument that they appear to be making. Only a moron would believe that.

I, of course, am one such moron, and I happen to find it to be a valid argument. But I've never claimed to be as sophisticated as Yglesias -- hell, I even buy the argument that Bush never claimed that Iraq was an 'imminent" threat, but that in a post-9/11 world, we shouldn't wait for threats to become imminent before engaging them.

But it does appear to this simpleton that critics like Yglesias are afraid to deal with these arguments on their merits.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 6:33 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, October 08, 2003 ::

Why He Lost

Poor bastard never stood a chance.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 4:50 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, October 05, 2003 ::

The Agee Precedent

Dan Drezner is rightly outraged that the LA Times would give a platform to someone like Philip Agee to offer "context" to the Plame affair. It's doubly outrageous that the Times allowed him to state such brazen lies on their pages:
To justify the law's restriction of 1st Amendment rights, Bush the elder and other CIA officials repeated the same lie many times over: That by publicly identifying Richard Welch, the CIA chief in Athens who was assassinated by terrorists in December 1975, I was responsible for his death.

Bush repeated that lie long after Congress passed the law, during his term as president and even afterward. His wife, Barbara, also repeated it in her 1994 autobiography — and I sued her for libel. As part of the legal settlement, she sent me a letter of apology containing the admission that I had not identified Welch.

In fact, I'd never met Welch, didn't know he was in Athens and had never published his name or given it to anyone.

He is so incredibly full of shit.

Agee is correct that Barbara Bush corrected later editions of her book, as she had originally wrote that Welch had been murdered after his cover had been blown by his "traitorous tell-all book" Inside the Company. This was indeed inaccurate, (and the term "traitorous" could be construed as liber per se, considering Agee has never been charged with treason). The case was dismissed, but later editions corrected that passage to note that Welch was named in Counterspy -- which was published by Agee -- not his book.

Of course, Agee has always denied any responsibility for Welch's death, but his rationale has shifted over the years. Here is what he wrote about the matter in his 1987 book, On The Run (pp. 130-31):
"Did you know this man?" Angela asked.

"No, but I know the name. Richard Welch worked in Latin America. He was on the Counterspy list as Chief of Station in Lima. Seems odd that someone with his background would be assigned to Athens."

All the way to Rome we talked about Welch and the CIA in Greece. I remembered those weeks I was temporarily assigned to the Greek desk in Headquarters, back in 1959 before I went into the training program. I didn't understand very much, but it seemed the Agency's hands were into everything in that country. And apparently it hadn't changed much, because a recent mission directory showed an enormous CIA contingent for a nation the size of Greece.

Angela thought Welch's killing had to be viewed in historical context, and she was right. The Left had been the principle resistance movement during the Nazi occupation. After the war first the British, then the Americans, intervened to install and sustain corrupt, conservative regimes. Through savage political repression, just as in Chile, they tried to exterminate the Left. The CIA was the main instrument, working through the police and security services. they set up the Greek CIA, the KYP, trained its people and gave it money and equipment. Then in 1967, when it looked like a moderately reformist government might come to power through elections, the "colonels" staged a coup using a sham "communist plot" as pretext. Echoes of Latin America.

For the next seven years Greece lived under a fascist military regime, led almost to the end by the colonel who had been the KYP's chief liaison officer with the CIA. Thousands of Greeks went through that regime's prisons and torture chambers, and thousands were forced to live in exile. If Turkey hadn't invaded Cyprus, the regime would probably still be in power. But the junta collapsed, and millions of Greeks hit the streets to show their joy. Now, little more than a year later, some group takes reprisal against the junta's main supporters, the CIA. Who should be surprised?

"You and I know that, I said to Angela, "but in Washington they're going to blame Welch's killing on me and Counterspy. They'll use it to attack the whole exposure campaign."

"You have to put it in context," she answered. "t was a political act. The group didn't even know Welch. They picked him as a symbol of the CIA's role in political repression. That's different from bombing a crowded place where innocent people get hurt. Welch was anything but an innocent bystander."

"Yes, but what to do now? What's going to happen with the Rome, Madrid, and Paris exposures? I don't think we should try to call them off, do you, Angela?"

"No, no. That would be a mistake. It's what the CIA wants. Besides, it's out of your hands now."

I agreed. We shouldn't be intimidated if the Agency blamed Welch on us
.[emphasis added]

Of course, this whole "political act" drivel is no longer viewed by many people as a mitigating factor in murder, so Agee's position has evolved somewhat. But no one should expect integrity from an avowed Leftist who also happens to be one of the few people allowed to turn a profit in Castro's Cuba.

UPDATE: Looks like there are still a few people who think like Agee, or at least don't think exposing CIA operatives should be a crime. Unbelievable.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 5:36 PM [+] ::

No Evidence a Crime Has Been Committed, Week 2

I just heard Novak on Meet The Press assert that, while he was told by the CIA that Valerie Plame worked "undercover," he did not understand that to be the same as being a covert operative.

Meanwhile, more details are emerging on the nature of Plame's duties within the CIA:
But within the C.I.A., the exposure of Ms. Plame is now considered an even greater instance of treachery. Ms. Plame, a specialist in nonconventional weapons who worked overseas, had "nonofficial cover," and was what in C.I.A. parlance is called a Noc, the most difficult kind of false identity for the agency to create. While most undercover agency officers disguise their real profession by pretending to be American embassy diplomats or other United States government employees, Ms. Plame passed herself off as a private energy expert. Intelligence experts said that Nocs have especially dangerous jobs.

"Nocs are the holiest of holies," said Kenneth M. Pollack, a former agency officer who is now director of research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. "This is real James Bond stuff. You're going overseas posing as a businessman, and if the other government finds out about you, they're probably going to shoot you. The United States has basically no way to protect you."

In related news, Joel Mowbray is making the absurd stretch that punishing those responsible for this kind of leak could have a chilling effect on all leaks, including the one that led to his story on the State Department's Visa Express program, even though he admits that information wasn't even classified. Of course, Mowbray has a history of making these huge quantum leaps.

One final note: there's been a lot of accusations about center-left bloggers keeping their heads in the sand on this issue. Anyone who says that anyone else is obligated to blog about this or any other issue is simply wrong. That said, it is certainly legitimate to criticize someone for claiming that the Plame affair doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, or that it is a minor distraction from the reconstruction of Iraq. As Gabriel Gonzalez comments at Roger Simon's blog, there are a lot of us who supported the war (and still do) but view this as deadly serious.

And if you think the issue is too difficult to follow, or that the issues involved aren't clear, then, well, that says a lot more about you than this story.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:42 PM [+] ::
:: Saturday, October 04, 2003 ::

Profiles in Bad Taste

Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) has fired his communications director over an offensive blog he started:
The site was named "N8354N" after the number on the tail of the plane that crashed in 2000 killing Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan, a Democrat, along with Carnahan's son, Randy, and aide Chris Sifford.


In addition to the site - www.n8354n.blogspot.com - Blazar may have been responsible for another Web site that undermined Democrats while appearing to be sponsored by a Democrat. That site, "What Would Truman Do?" (http://wwtd.blogspot.com/) said: "The Democratic Party of Missouri needs help. Our statewide leaders are forming a circular firing squad for the 2004 election."

This wasn't some weenie intern or staffer right out of college. It was the guy Bond paid to keep him from getting bad press.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:17 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, October 02, 2003 ::

Mystery Solved?

I don't know how I missed this story from the Sun's Tom Bowman this Sunday (requires registration, but it's worth the hassle) -- on an unsung hero from the 507th Maintenance Company:
"He's one of my heroes," said Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson, who was wounded and leaning against her truck as [PFC Parick] Miller dashed past her up a dusty road toward the Iraqi mortar pit. "His actions may have saved my life."

Miller was the sole member of the unit to receive the Silver Star, one of the military's highest awards for valor. Nearly 130,000 Army troops served in the Iraq war and its aftermath, but only 86 Silver Stars had been awarded through mid-September, according to the Army Personnel Command. Lynch and other members of the 507th received Bronze Stars, a notch below the Silver Star.

"Shoshana yelled at him, 'Get down, Miller! Get down! You're going to get hit!'" said another soldier, Spc. Edgar Hernandez, describing how Miller charged toward the Iraqis. Hernandez recalled hearing automatic fire from Iraqi AK-47s and the single shots of Miller's M-16 rifle.

The story also puts one of the remaining questions about the Jessica Lynch dust-up to rest:
Two soldiers in a 5-ton tractor-trailer, Pvt. Brandon U. Sloan and Sgt. Donald R. Walters, were stuck in the soft sand. Miller screamed for Sloan, a 19-year-old logistics specialist from Cleveland, to get into the wrecker. When Miller looked around for Walters, he was nowhere in sight.

The Army report later said, "There is some information to suggest that a U.S. soldier that could have been Walters fought his way south of Highway 16 toward a canal and was killed in action." The report also said, "The circumstances of his death cannot be conclusively determined," although his body was found in a shallow grave with bullet and stab wounds. Walters' family in Oregon believes that the blond, wiry soldier may have been mistaken for Jessica Lynch in the intercepted Iraqi radio transmission that referred to a blond American woman heroically battling attackers.

It appears that the intelligence that was leaked to Vernon Loeb wasn't too far off the mark after all -- it simply attributed the account to the wrong soldier.

So much for the BBC/Scheer (and I could add Kevin Drum to the mix) conspiracy theories about how the story of Lynch's capture was completely fabricated to hoodwink the American public into believing that the war was going well for our side -- or even more ridiculously, that it was fabricated to further the feminist agenda of allowing women in combat roles.

Do read all of Bowman's story. It is certainly the most detailed -- and gripping -- account of the 507th I've read to date.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:08 PM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, October 01, 2003 ::

So Much for "PFFFT"

The Plame scandal does not appear to be going any where soon, much to the disappointment of a few people whom I had wrongly believed were principled conservatives.

Taranto continues to cling to the "it hasn't been officially confirmed that she was an operative" line of attack, but between Larry Johnson's appearance on Newshour and Dana Priest's comments on Diane Rehm yesterday, it looks pretty evident that Plame was not just an analyst. Taranto's logic gymnastics make Josh Marshall's "frenzy" looks far less hysterical by comparison.

Something else I've been mulling: Novak still claims that outing Plame wasn't a "planned leak." But to be blunt, I'm not so sure I'd accept Novak's judgement on what the intent of his contact was, especially if it's true that several other reporters were given this information, and Novak was the only one dumb enough to run with it. I have a hard time believing this man would even know if he was being spun, especially by the right.

I suppose it's still possible that whoever disclosed this information only knew of Plame's official duties at CIA and honestly didn't mean to expose one of it's operatives, but it's looking less likely.

Andrew Northrup has much more on this story.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:03 PM [+] ::

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