Saturday, May 08, 2004

Tell Me, Mr. Anderson, What Good Is A Phone Call When You Are Unable To Speak?

Over in the bowels of Conservative High, the Glenn Reynolds program (aka A. Reynolds) has left to recover from some kind of virus; but not before providing loyal readers with this link to Donald Sensing.

Among other musings, Mr. Sensing offers this concerning the Rumsfeld/Abu Ghraib controversy.

A more purely partisan, crass, politically-motivated campaign I have ever seen. And yes, I include the Ken Starr investigation.

things fall apart is far from perfect, so perhaps I missed the part where Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) joined the Democratic Party.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: Mr. Secretary, have you seen the video?

SEC. DONALD RUMSFELD: I have not. The disk that I saw that had photos on it did not have the videos on it. I checked with General Smith and he indicates he does have a disk with the videos on it. I don't know if that means there's two disks with all these photographs or if the photographs are the same and one just doesn't have the video.

GRAHAM: The only reason I mention that, I want to prepare the public. Apparently, the worst is yet to come, potentially, in terms of disturbing events. We don't need to leave here thinking that we've seen the worst. There's more to come, is that correct?

RUMSFELD: I indicated in my remarks that there are a lot more pictures and many investigations under way.

GRAHAM: And my colleagues rightly want it done quickly, but my concern is to do it right, and I don't want to rush to judgment here and let some people go that deserve to be prosecuted, and I would be very disappointed if the only people prosecuted are sergeants and privates.

GRAHAM: That would be very, very bad and sad. So I want it done right and the sooner the better, but I'll pick right over sooner.

I'm confused. General Smith, when did you first learn of these photos and see them yourself?

SMITH: Sir, we knew that there were photos on June 14th because that's how the investigation started -- I mean January 14th. When the soldier...

GRAHAM: When did you see the photos?

SMITH: I saw the photos toward the end of March.

GRAHAM: Who did you tell about the photos when you saw them?

SMITH: Sir, that was part of the investigation. And that went forward. I told my boss.

GRAHAM: Did it dawn on you that when you saw these photos, "We're in a world of hurt. This is going to look bad"?

SMITH: Certainly, sir, if those were released we certainly...

GRAHAM: General Myers, when you called CBS, had you seen the photos?

MYERS: No, I hadn't.

GRAHAM: What had you been told about what CBS was about to air and by who?

MYERS: They were going to air the photos. We didn't talk about that with CBS.

I, previously in our discussions back in January when they said there photos, they described them to me and the secretary up through the chain of command to the secretary. And I was happen to be there. And it was discussed several times. And the general nature of the photos, about nudity, some mock sexual acts and other abuse, was described.

GRAHAM: When you were informed that these photos, even though you hadn't seen them, were going to come out, who did you tell about that and when?

MYERS: There are a lot of people that knew inside our building.

MYERS: The people that have been working with the media knew that there were photos out there, and the media was trying to get their hands on them from January. So they've been working that for three months.

GRAHAM: At that time, is it fair to say you knew there was a story about to come out that was going to create a real problem for us?

MYERS: At that time, what my concern was was the impact it could have on our forces in Iraq. That was my focus at the time, was, "OK, if these photos are revealed right now, given the intensity of operations, what could be that impact on our troops?"

And my conclusion was this would be the worst of all possible times for these to come forward, realizing that eventually they're going to come forward; I understand that.

GRAHAM: Did you feel the need to inform the Congress or the president or the secretary of defense about the potential damage this could do?

MYERS: We had discussed the potential damage back in January, and in February and in March. And as we marched through those events on that chart, a lot of those events were based on our concern with where this might lead. In other words, is there a...

WARNER: We just need to -- could you use the microphone, General, we're missing some of your...


GRAHAM: Long story short, I do trust the people in uniform to get it right. And I want to take the time necessary to make sure the people responsible are brought to justice and anybody innocently accused has their day in court.

You're right, Secretary Rumsfeld.

Here's the problem: It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the explosive nature of these photos apart from court-martial, apart from legal proceedings. And most of us here found out about it on television. And if we knew enough to say, "Don't air a show that's going to be bad," why did we not call the president, call senior members of Congress to prepare us for what we were eventually going to see? That's the essence of my concern about all this.

MYERS: Senator Graham, in my opinion we could have done a better job of informing Congress of this -- of these pictures and this situation. And...

GRAHAM: And that is an honest and fair answer.

And, Secretary Rumsfeld, people are calling for your resignation. Somebody is drafting an article of impeachment against you right now. I've got my own view about people who want to call for your resignation before you speak, but I'll leave that to myself.

Do you have the ability, in your opinion, to come to Capitol Hill and carry the message and carry the water for the Department of Defense? Do you believe, based on all things that have happened and that will happen, that you're able to carry out your duties in a bipartisan manner? And what do you say to those people who are calling for your resignation?

RUMSFELD: Well, it's a fair question. Certainly since this firestorm has been raging, it's a question that I've given a lot of thought to.

The key question for me is the one you pose, and that is whether or not I can be effective. We've got tough tasks ahead. The people in the department, military and civilian, are doing enormously important work here, in countries all over the world and the issue is: Can I be effective in assisting them in their important tasks?

Needless to say, if I felt I could not be effective, I'd resign in a minute. I would not resign simply because people try to make a political issue out of it.

For it's part, the Reynolds program made it's feelings clear on the Abu Ghraib situation with this post on Thursday.

It's my sense that they're [the Democrats] overplaying their hand here.

It's my sense that this is an automated response from the Reynolds program, which "instantly" appears anytime the Democrats take some sort of stand.

For example, were this to show up in tomorrow's headlines:

House Democrats Demand Cafeteria Offers More Dessert Options; Choice Of Only Chocolate Or Vanilla Pudding Said To Lack Variety

This would automatically appear on Instapundit:

It's my sense that they're overplaying their hand here.

Beneath a quote from Jonah Goldberg deriding the Dems for supporting "quota-based" dessert menus, of course.


Friday, May 07, 2004

You Say Hypothetical, I Say Nonsensical

This is the most inane piece of hypothetical history ever written (yes, I'm including this.)

Gregg Easterbrook, of The New Republic, imagines that President Bush follows the advice of Richard Clarke, among others, and invades Afghanistan shortly after taking office. However, when no evidence of an impending threat from al Qaeda is discovered, Democrats and Republicans alike turn on the President; naturally, impeachment procedures follow.

Aside from being an exercise in finger-wagging self-indulgence, the problem with this piece of fiction is that it jumps (in this case, perhaps "bounds" would be a better term) to several illogical conclusions. The first is that Mr. Easterbrook's pretend American public becomes "overwhelmingly opposed" to his pretend war following the deaths of "dozens of U.S. soldiers." Meanwhile in the real world, the American public has yet to be shown proof of the immediate threat posed by Iraq, 768 US soldiers have been lost and public opinion of the war remains divided.

Reaching even further, Mr. Easterbrook alleges that if the US had invaded Afghanistan in August of 2001, no evidence of the al Qaeda intent to strike America would have been discovered. The following is a sampling of what US forces discovered upon invading Afghanistan in November of 2001. It seems safe assume that most, if not all of it, did not materialize in the months between August and November.

1) Special Report: In the house of anthrax; Intelligence failures. The Economist. London: Nov 24, 2001. Vol. 361, Iss. 8249; pg. 1

They might start, for example, in a nondescript house in the wealthiest district of Kabul, where a Pakistani NGO called Ummah Tameer-e-Nau (UTN) once had its offices. UTN's president is Bashiruddin Mahmood, one of Pakistan's leading nuclear scientists and a specialist in plutonium technology. Last month Mr Mahmood was arrested by the Pakistani authorities and interrogated on his links to the Taliban, with whom he has had frequent contact for, he insists, humanitarian reasons. Mr Mahmood was released again soon afterwards. The Taliban has denied any "abnormal" links between Mr Mahmood and Mr bin Laden, and he himself says he has never met the man.

In public, UTN helped Afghans with flourmills, school textbooks and road-upgrading schemes. But its offices suggest that this may have been a cover for something far more sinister. According to their neighbours, the Pakistanis who lived and worked there fled Kabul along with the Taliban, but the evidence they left behind suggests that they were working on a plan to build an anthrax bomb.

An upstairs room of the house had been used as a workshop. What appeared to be a Russian rocket had been disassembled, and a canister labelled "helium" had been left on the worktop. On the floor were multiple copies of documents about anthrax downloaded from the Internet, and details about the American army's vaccination plans for its troops. The number of copies suggests that seminars were also taking place there.

One of the downloaded documents featured a small picture of the former American defence secretary, William Cohen, holding a five- pound bag of sugar. It noted that he was doing this "to show the amount of the biological weapon anthrax that could destroy half the population of Washington, DC."

On the floor was a small bag of white powder, which this correspondent decided not to inspect. It may have contained nothing more deadly than icing sugar, but that could be useful for experiments in how to scatter powder containing anthrax spores from a great height over a city, or to show students how to do this. The living room contained two boxes of gas masks and filters.

On a desk was a cassette box labelled "Jihad", with the name of Osama bin Laden hand-written along the spine. Most chilling of all, however, were the mass of calculations and drawings in felt pen that filled up a white board of the sort used in classrooms. There were several designs for a long thin balloon, something like a weather balloon, with lines and arrows indicating a suggested height of 10km (33,000 feet). There was also a sketch of a jet fighter flying towards the balloon alongside the words: "Your days are limited! Bang." This, like the documents, was written in English.

Since UTN was run by one of Pakistan's top scientists, a man with close links to the Taliban and, it is said, close ideological affinities with Mr bin Laden, the circumstantial evidence points to only one conclusion. Whoever fled this house when the Taliban fell was working on a plan to build a helium-powered balloon bomb carrying anthrax. Whether it was detonated with a timer or shot down by a fighter, the result would have been the same: the showering of deadly airborne anthrax spores over an area as wide as half of New York city or Washington, DC.

2) Alliance Says It Found School Run By a Titan of Terrorism
C. J. Chivers. New York Times. (Late Edition (East Coast)). New York, N.Y.: Dec 1, 2001. pg. B.1

The authorities here said today that Mr. [Namangani]'s home in Kunduz, a blue-walled compound a few blocks from the city's center, served as an academy for preparing soldiers and terrorists to export the international Islamic jihad. It emphasized incursions into Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, where terrorists have vowed to establish fundamentalist rule, and into Chechnya, where Muslims battled Russian troops in the 1990's and have carried out sporadic terrorist acts since.

Uzbek and American officials have said that as Mr. Namangani became a more successful terrorist and military commander, he was rewarded with money from Mr. bin Laden, whom three Northern Alliance generals said had visited the compound here on several occasions and helped underwrite Mr. Namangani's organization.

3) Al Qaeda Papers Show Efforts to Acquire Weapons --- U.S. Battlefield Gains Offer Access to Documents, Some of Them Alarming. Neil King Jr. and Alan Cullison. Wall Street Journal (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: Nov 19, 2001. pg. A.12

The opening of key Taliban-held areas in and around Kabul has given U.S. officials unprecedented access to offices and training sites once run by al Qaeda. Intelligence operatives on the ground have found documents related to the group's interest in weapons of mass destruction, its organizational structure and plans for possible future terrorist attacks, said one U.S. intelligence official, who added that the last few days had opened up "a document-rich environment."

This all serves to make Mr. Easterbrook's larger point, (just because we didn't find evidence of an impending threat in Iraq doesn't mean there was no threat) look rather foolish. He compares Iraq, where plans to attack or invade America have yet to be discovered, to Afghanistan, where "plans for possible future terrorist attacks" were found quickly upon invasion. In other words, there was evidence of an immediate threat in Afghanistan, because there was an immediate threat in Afghanistan.

Perhaps Mr. Easterbrook's problem is that he's trying to write contemporary hypothetical history. Maybe something older would be more appropriate. Something like the Confederacy winning the Civil War...


Thursday, May 06, 2004

Being Prez Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry (For A Guy Being Dragged On A Leash)

If you tell everyone that you apologized for something, is that same as actually apologizing for it?

Over at Conservative High, Glenn Reynolds isn't sure. Mr. Reynolds thinks maybe Bush should have used his whole ass to apologize for the Abu Ghraib incident, instead of just half like he did earlier today. But there's no use crying over spilt milk, lest Mr. Bush begin to resemble the Nosferatu himself.

I don't know whether Bush's apology was enough, and I certainly don't think he should do, a la Bill Clinton, do it over and over again.

I'm beginning to think this is the basic reasoning behind Mr. Bush's reluctance to apologize for or even admit to a single mistake. Secretary of Genius Rove is worried that any acknowledgement of guilt will give our fickle press cause to ponder even the most outlandish anti-Bush allegations. Kind of like they did with Clinton.

The Foster and Davis fiascoes gave the [Wall Street] Journal editors no pause, however. Soon (07.19.1994) they were back elbow-deep in Whitewater scandal-mongering, promoting a bizarre videotape called The Clinton Chronicles. Hawked by the Rev. Jerry Falwell on the Christian Broadcasting Network, the "documentary" repeated all the discredited conspiracy theories, including the stories about Foster's death and the Davis "mugging." The videotape even tossed in a thoroughly unsupported allegation that President Clinton was somehow behind the gangland murder of an Arkansas private investigator. (www.fair.org)


Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Animal House 2: Abu Ghraib University

According to Rush Limbaugh, the incidents at Abu Ghraib prison were no worse than Otter and the Delta guys wrecking Flounder's car. Via Wonkette:

RUSH: Exactly. Exactly my point! This is no different than what happens at the skull and bones initiation and we're going to ruin people's lives over it and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You of heard of need to blow some steam off?

Now contrast that with retired General Wayne Downing on last night's Hardball.

DOWNING: Chris, I'm absolutely appalled. And it's totally unacceptable. I think it signifies a break down in the chain of command from the top to the bottom. And I think the thing that really worries me is this gives a great psychological boost to Osama bin Laden in this global war on terrorism.

MATTHEWS: Yes, we'll probably be hearing from him...

DOWNING: We're off the moral high ground with this incident.

Interesting. Our treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib gives bin Laden a "great boost." And in making excuses for that treatment, Limbaugh is playing right into bin Laden's hands. By conservative logic, doesn't that make Rush a traitor? Isn't it treason? Isn't Tim Graham, who eats his lunch at the cool kids table, a traitor for defending Rush?

And one more thing. Shouldn't both be tried on an additional treason charge because, by downplaying the importance of this story, they have increased the danger for our troops in harm's way?

DOWNING: Chris, the other thing you haven't talked about is the impact on our prisoners. How are our prisoners, both civilian and military, going to be treated with this kind of thing.

MATTHEWS: Quid pro quo.

DOWNING: I don't like that. I don't like at that at all.


Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Summer Kampf 2

Update on Tucker "Democrats are Nazis" Carlson.

This is George Will in today's Washington Post.

WILL: But if any Americans want to be governed by politicians who short-circuit complex discussions by recklessly imputing racism to those who differ with them, such Americans do not usually turn to the Republican choice in our two-party system.

But increasingly they do, Mr. Will. In fact, Republicans have been crying reverse racism since the late eighties. Entire careers (see: Dinesh D'Souza) have been built on the idea that the white male is this most discriminated against faction in today's society.

Only now, perhaps emboldened by Secretary of Genius Karl Rove's "hit 'em where they're strong" strategy, conservatives are throwing terms like "Nazi" at liberals with the kind of carefree-abandon commonly seen only in puppies and small children.


Monday, May 03, 2004

Summer Kampf

This is Tucker Carlson back in early January proclaiming that two ads comparing George Bush with Hitler, submitted in a MoveOn.org contest which netted over 1,500 entries, represent a "seething hatred" at the heart of the Democratic party.

CARLSON: I want to talk about pure, seething hatred that exists at the core of your[party]. And I'm going to give you the example. And those are the ads posted by MoveOn.org, the left-wing Web site. You're fully aware of them.

This is the same Tucker Carlson comparing Democrats to Nazis on today's episode of Crossfire.

CARLSON: Now, Tad, as you know, part of what it means to be Democrat is to count people by race, much like the Nazis did.

You can contact CNN here.

And Crossfire here.


Sunday, May 02, 2004

But You Wouldn't Want To Live There...

John Negroponte is like a political version of the oft-repeated Field of Dreams line, "If you build it, they will come." One week after Negroponte being named the US Ambassador to Iraq, the Marines in Fallujah are turning over control of the city to a militia of ex-Saddam loyalists. I've said this before, the situation is a death squad waiting to happen.

This was a statement in Thursday's Washington Post:

Some American officials familiar with efforts to pacify Fallujah said they were concerned about the background of the participants and questioned whether they would be screened for past human-rights abuses and other crimes.

Essentially, the US is handing control of Fallujah back over to Saddam's military. The same military that committed such atrocities on it's fellow countrymen that, now according to this administration, US forces had to be called into action to eliminate it. This is how the Post described Jassim Mohammed Saleh, the US choice to command the militia.

Earlier in his military career, Saleh served in the Republican Guard, an elite branch of the army used at times to suppress internal dissent by former president Saddam Hussein.

Question. How long before Saleh proclaims himself defacto Mayor of Fallujah and starts rounding up dissenters?


A Nice Place To Visit...

Today's Post is reporting that the Marines in Fallujah have completed transferring responsibility for the city to a group of militiamen loyal to Jassim Mohammed Saleh, a former general in Saddam's army. Apparently, the top Marine commander in Iraq, James T. Conway, is treating it like a success.

He told reporters that the new Iraqi force, which he authorized in an effort to quell insurgent activity, "marked the formation of a military partnership that has the potential to bring a lasting, durable climate of peace and stability."

I may be wrong, but this couldn't be what Conway had in mind when he said "military partnership."

"We won," said one of the militiamen, a former soldier who gave his name only as Abu Abdullah, meaning the father of Abdullah. "We didn't want the Americans to enter the city and we succeeded."

Put aside the fact that the militia considers the pullout a victory over America, and this still has disaster written all over it. Despite this claim from Conway, "They understand our view that these people must be killed or captured," there is no sign that the militia intends to confront the various elements who have spent the better part of April trying to kill US forces. They may understand our view, but they do not plan to follow it.

Inside Fallujah, however, members of the new force -- who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they said they were under orders not to talk to reporters -- expressed more desire to negotiate with the foreign fighters than to battle them.

In fact, a colonel in the new militia told the Post he expects many of the foreign fighters to leave Fallujah and "conduct operations" in other parts of Iraq. Therefore, essentially, all that the US has accomplished in Fallujah is to break the problem into smaller pieces and disperse it throughout the country.

The article would be funny if it wasn't so disturbing. It reads like a "he said/she said," with Conway claiming one thing, only to have someone from the militia completely contradict it.