Bob's Links and Rants -- Fair and Balanced

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Be sure to check out my Post 9/11 website for links to lots of stuff I care about. I have put all of my 2002 rants into a single file.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

U.S. Military Torturing Prisoners in Afghanistan. To paraphrase Representative Barbara Lee: We have become the enemy we deplore.

Court Petition to Block War: I have no idea what chance this has, but anything is worth a try now. Six US representatives and nine other citizens have filed an injunction in court against Bush and Rumsfeld attacking Iraq, since war has not been declared. You can file an "amicus brief" stating your support for the injunction by going here.

Well, what are you waiting for?

Not Good News: UN Withdraws Civilian Staff from Iraq-Kuwait Border.

Bush, the Bible, and Iraq: Business Week, of all places.How W's fundamentalist Christian rhetoric has turned most of the world against him while stiffening (without broadening) his support in the US.

Friday, March 07, 2003

Senators Clinton and Feinstein given "pink slips" by women protesters!

Another online poll, and this one seems to have an even bigger response than the two I've run on this blog! Wolf Blitzer asks "Should President Bush give U.N. inspectors more days, weeks or months to disarm Iraq?" Go vote!

I haven't checked FoxNews, but the good guys (that's us) seem to be winning pretty much all of these online polls lately. It doesn't necessarily mean that the majority of the public now opposes Bush and his war, but I think it does mean that we've got an effective network of e-mail lists and blogs which is quickly spreading the word. Let's make sure we keep this network going as we take our country back in the 2004 election!

They have no shame. If the war starts, it seems almost certain that either the Iraqis or the US military is going to set many oil wells on fire. Guess who has the contract to put them out.

Not going anywhere for a while? This will keep you amused.

Pelosi implies it's too late now.
According to CNN, this was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's first speech on foreign policy since becoming the Democrats' leader in the House. And this is what she had to say:

"If the Democrats had spoken out more clearly in a unified vote five months ago in opposition to the resolution, if the people had gone on to the streets five months ago in these numbers in our country and throughout the world, I think we might have been in a different place today," Pelosi said in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations.

"But the fact that we didn't and because we were very split at that time on it, I think the president is too far down the road and I don't think he's turning back," the California Democrat said.

Here are some of the things Pelosi said back in a Meet the Press interview in November:

  • Suffice to say, we stand should-to-shoulder with the president in the fight against terrorism.
  • My concern was what going into Iraq, what the impact of that would be on the war on terrorism, which is a clear and present danger.
  • I donít question a decision of the president of the United States on his timing or the priority he gives a threat.
  • MR. RUSSERT: But if the president decides to go unilaterally or with the British and the Turks without U.N. approval, you would support the president? REP. PELOSI: Yes, I would support the president.
  • Iím very excited to follow in the footsteps of Dick Gephardt, who has been a tremendous leader for our party, and I know his contribution to our country has much more to come yet.

(Sorry, the Meet the Press transcript is no longer available on NBC's web site. I copied those quotes from my own blog; but I got them originally from the NBC transcript.)

I hate to attack these Democrats now that they are finally putting a wimpy toe forward to slightly hint that they might sort of object to Bush's war, but jeez! What an absolutely miserable excuse for a "leader!" For Ms. Pelosi's information, I and hundreds of thousands of other Americans were out protesting five months ago. Democrats like Senator Byrd and representatives Lee, McKinney and Kucinich were speaking out forcefully against the war resolution; much more spirited and convincing arguments than the mumbled lies of the presidential wannabes like Edwards and Kerry. And even if election fears paralyzed the dems, they at least could have started expressing their reservations more forcefully after the election. Instead, Pelosi was spewing the rubbish I quoted above. How dare she blame this situation on other Democrats, or the peace movement not being big enough? This situation has been going on for her entire tenure as minority leader, and she gives her first speech on foreign policy today. Pelosi may accomplish the seemingly impossible: making Dick Gephardt seem dynamic by comparison.

Still a way out? This article describes something called "Uniting for Peace," a procedure by which the UN General Assembly can act to stop a war even when veto-holding members of the Security Council are starting it. President Eisenhower used it in 1956 to stop war against Egypt by Israel and veto-holding Great Britain and France. France, Russia, China and Germany, in conjunction with the 200 or so countries in the General Assembly could use this to apply a legal brake on US-British action even though no Security Council resolution can be used to stop them because of their vetoes.

Time to use their lies against them: If, as news reports suggest, Osama bin Laden may be captured soon, and supposed terrorist mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammad was captured last week, then who is Saddam Hussein going to sell his alleged weapons of mass destruction to? If al Qaeda has been destroyed, then surely more time can be allowed for inspections in Iraq.

Best explanation I can come up with: I think that George W. Bush has the definitions of war and peace confused. It's pretty understandable considering the family he grew up in. When he says "War is the last resort" when it has clearly been his first choice all along; when he says "I pray for peace" while rejecting the advice of the Pope and his own church, and when he calls Ariel Sharon a "man of peace:" Clearly, he has the definitions reversed.

The news sounds promising out of the UN
It sounds like the UN inspectors have repudiated Bush's lies from last night. Blix was mixed, but said that progress was being made and disarmament could be completed within months. ElBaradei, the chief nuclear inspector, was very positive about the progress being made in the inspections. While obviously this will fall on deaf ears in the White House, it should provide all the support that the Security Council members need to reject Bush's call for immediate war.

I'm wondering, with a lot of hope and fear, what if any steps Russia, China, France and Germany might take to stop the "coalition of the willing" from proceeding with war anyway. Obviously, they can't force a UN SC resolution forbidding it, since the US and Britain have vetoes. Let me know if you find anything about what options the "axis of sanity" might be planning to pursue.

Daschle, Pelosi finally speak out.

Mr. Daschle, of South Dakota, said he would back military confrontation when it remained the last option.

"I strongly believe we have not yet reached that point," he said. "I think it is critical that we work more effectively through the diplomatic channels and in the international community to bring about a peaceful result rather than a military result to this issue."

He conceded that a wide range of opinion existed among Congressional Democrats about the administration's policy. But he said Democrats had found common ground on one aspect of the administration's handling of Iraq.

"There is virtual unanimity," Mr. Daschle said, "in our express concern about the approach the administration has used. In our view, they have failed diplomatically. In our view, they are rushing to war without adequate concern for the ramifications of doing so unilaterally or with a very small coalition of nations."
from the NY Times.

From Steve Sack.

Boycott the War!

This web site suggests a boycott targeted at major corporations that have supported the Republicans who are now threatening to destroy the world. The hit list includes Kraft (Philip-Morris), Exxon-Mobil, Pepsi (ouch!), UPS, and Wal-Mart. There are plenty of other good reasons to boycott these terrible corporations; the immediate one is to make an impact on the war. Apparently the Pope didn't make any sizeable contribution to Bush's campaign fund, so the Pope gets ignored. These companies, along with many others, bought the 2000 and 2002 elections. Let's cut them off!

Capitol Hill Blue wants your opinion on W's press conference last night.

Bush suggests public resentment against Mexicans if Mexico votes against his war. In an interview with the Copley News Service quoted by Paul Krugman, W suggested that there might be anti-Mexican sentiment in the US similar to the ongoing French bashing. I haven't been able to find the interview from Copley--most of their stuff appears to require a paid subscription, but you can read Krugman's column for more nasty details.

Coverup Exposed!
The US Media is covering up the story released days ago in the Observer about US spying and dirty tricks on UN Security Council delegations in New York. -- Norman Solomon.

Powell, Bush oppose occupying Baghdad:
As one savvy official observed, occupying Baghdad comes at an "unpardonable expense in terms of money, lives lost and ruined regional relationships." Another expert put it this way: "We should not march into Baghdad. . . . To occupy Iraq would instantly shatter our coalition, turning the whole Arab world against us, and make a broken tyrant into a latter-day Arab hero . . . assigning young soldiers to a fruitless hunt for a securely entrenched dictator and condemning them to fight in what would be an unwinnable urban guerrilla war. It could only plunge that part of the world into even greater instability."

Those comments may overemphasize the risks, but they are from top-notch analysts whose judgments I respect. The first comment was made by Colin Powell in a Foreign Affairs essay in 1992; the second is in "A World Transformed," a 1998 book by the first President Bush.
-- From Nicholas Kristoff's latest column .

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Out of dozens of choices, my vote for most ridiculous statement that W made in his press conference is: "It is hard to imagine an attack worse than September 11." (I'm paraphrasing--I haven't found a transcript online yet.)

At least three things wrong with this:

  1. One of those 9/11 planes crashing into a nuclear power plant would have been far worse. If W is not aware of this possibility, he and his so-called Homeland Security chief are completely incompetent. (Well, okay, they are anyway.)
  2. Elsewhere in the press conference he describes the possibility of a nuclear bomb going off in America. He doesn't imagine that that would be worse?
  3. Hasn't he been listening to Rummy and the generals about their "shock and awe" plans for Iraq? Never read about Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Hamburg, Dresden, Coventry, Guernica, Hanoi?

Other than that, he mostly just repeated the same old lies that Ari spouts every day.

The runner up was when he said that North Korea might sell nu-cu-lar weapons to dangerous dictators who might be willing to use them. Now why would Bush buy nukes from North Korea when he's already got so many?

Update: Senate Majority Leader Frist's online poll is now solidly against war, 58 to 42 percent. Go cast your vote if you haven't already!

While I know these things aren't scientific, I do think they are some indication of both the size and level of organization of the respective camps. That peaceniks can outpoll warmongers on a Republican senator's web site indicates that our network of e-mail lists and web sites (including blogs) is large and effective. Hopefully we can carry this through to the 2004 election, ensuring that an anti-war candidate wins the Democratic nomination for president, and that he or she wins! Along, of course, with anti-war majorities in the Senate and House!

Senator Debbie Stabenow addresses the tough issues: Her web site lists something called "Radio Actualities:" sound bites that can be used in news reports. Given all of the debate surrounding Iraq, North Korea, and the United Nations, it should come as no surprise that her latest radio actuality topic is (drumroll, please): "Senator Stabenow talks about the Red Wings Stanley Cup Championship on the floor of the Senate" (June 18, 2002).

Bush to hold 8 PM EST press conference tonight. Ari the Liar says that Bush won't announce war, but then Ari IS a liar. Let's hope Helen Thomas, Russell Mokhiber and other reporters have their questioning axes sharpened and are ready to make it obvious to the world that this idiot emperor wouldn't know how to put his clothes on even if he had any. Be on the lookout for Helen and Russell to be locked out and for all questions to come from FoxNews, New York Post, and Washington Times reporters. They're probably all rehearsing with W right now.

It's official: The NY Times web site's lead article reports that China has joined Russia, Germany and France in opposition to the US-UK resolution authorizing force against Iraq.

Leave no child alive: Some of the targets of "shock and awe:"

Is Rush Limbaugh still attacking Hillary? I'd have to agree with him at this point.

"Sen. [Hillary Rodham Clinton] fully supports the steps the president has taken to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction," said Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines. -- NY Post.

Hillary is also about 150% behind Israel in its continued attacks on Palestinians. From her web site:

Senator Clinton supports the right of the government of Israel to defend its citizens against the continuing terrorist attacks. Just as Israel has fully supported the United States in our fight against terrorism, the United States must stand with Israel as it roots out the terrorist infrastructure that threatens the safety of her people and the security of her borders. As the September 11 attacks against the United States demonstrate, suicide bombing is a threat that in not just limited to Israel; it is a threat to all nations and to the principles of democracy and freedom.

She has a press release expressing sympathy after every suicide bombing; not a word about the ongoing attacks in the West Bank or Gaza.

I also noted that Hillary sat with Joe Lieberman right behind the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the State of the Union address, well separated from most of their senate colleagues. From what I saw on TV, they couldn't find a single thing in Bush's speech that they didn't agree with completely. That these two Republicans are considered leading candidates for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004 or 2008 is very scary.

Blair willing to defy UN votes to continue pursuing the "enforcement" of UN resolutions. The first corollary of Murphy's Law ("If anything can go wrong, it will.") is "Murphy was an optimist." It now appears that Orwell was an optimist, too.

On the brighter side, the same article mentions, briefly, that China supports Russian, French and German opposition to US-British war plans.

Coleen Rowley is Back!

The FBI agent who called attention to failures on the part of the bureau to pursue leads that might have helped to prevent the 9/11 attacks has just warned FBI Director Robert Mueller that the FBI is not equipped to stop terrorism caused by war in Iraq:

"The bottom line is this," Ms. Rowley wrote in her Feb. 26 letter to Mr. Mueller. "We should be deluding neither ourselves nor the American people that there is any way the F.B.I., despite the various improvements you are implementing, will be able to stem the flood of terrorism that will likely head our way in the wake of an attack on Iraq. What troubles me most is that I have no assurance that you have made that clear to the president." -- NY Times.

New York Mall drops charges against man wearing anti-war T-shirt. About 100 protesters wearing similar shirts went to the same mall yesterday to protest. Several peace folks here in Ann Arbor are thinking about doing the same at our local den of iniquity, the Briarwood Mall. We'd actually just all wear our shirts and shop (or pretend to). I doubt if we'd get much flak, this being Ann Arbor and all, but it could be an effective silent protest nonetheless.

Endless Love: The ballad of George and Tony (MPG video/audio file).

Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist has an online poll asking whether we support invading Iraq. When Tom Tomorrow linked to it yesterday, the vote was 66% in favor of war. Now it's 51% against. Let's all chip in, shall we?

Obviously, the poll isn't scientific, and we shouldn't exult (too much) if the forces of good defeat the forces of darkness (although let's make sure that happens, just in case). But the fact that Frist is asking it is a very good sign--I think it supports the Capitol Hill Blue reports that the Republicans are looking for an "exit strategy."

[Update] Scary aside: Senator Frist's web site is the first I've seen that gives Homeland Security's color alert levels a prominent position.

[Scary update number two] Frist's "no war" answer is worded like this: "An invasion of Iraq is not warranted at this time. The United States should proceed cautiously and work with the United Nations with the goal of the reintroduction of weapons inspectors into Iraq." Is he counting on people to be so stupid that they don't know that weapons inspectors were reintroduced into Iraq months ago? (Who is that Blix guy that Bush keeps complaining about then?)

A stupid war is being used as an excuse to attack everything good about America. Public schools, for instance (see below). And now, Rumsfeld's Department of Destruction is seeking broad exemptions from environmental laws, including those protecting endangered species (like humans).

School's Out Forever?
It's an insane society that can contemplate devastating and then rebuilding Iraq, but can't bring itself to provide schooling for all of its young people here at home. -- Bob Herbert, NY Times

Compromise Resolution Likely: The Guardian says that Britain is working behind the scenes to develop a UN resolution that will be passed by the Security Council, since the opposition of Russia, France and Germany to the last one appears firm. At the very least, it should postpone the war another two weeks.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

To think that we actually had some hope for the guy: Powell is just as insane as Bush!

If the fate of the world weren't at stake, the pathetic whining and lying by the Bushies would be funny.

Bush: Triumphalism, not Christianity?
Reverend Fritz Ritsch of Bethesda Presbyterian Church wrote an excellent opinion piece for the Washington Post last week. His conclusion:

The dominance of the religious right in political affairs makes it appear that a Christian worldview dominates American politics. But if, as I believe, this worldview is really American triumphalism, Christianity has taken a backseat to joyous secularism. Within Christianity and Judaism in this country there are denominations and branches with the philosophical and institutional power and authority to challenge that triumphalism, but bold stands such as the NCC's are still the exception.

With the political emergence of joyous secularism, the churches are challenged to preach an alternative message: grace, hope and redemption -- the truth of Biblical faith. This is both our pastoral and our political responsibility. In a nuclear age, American triumphalism is not only spiritually bereft, it is, quite possibly, apocalyptic in its implications.

Helen Thomas for President! Here's her question to Ari the Liar at today's White House press briefing:

Ari, since there is an atmosphere of the imminence of war in this White House, and since we have no direct access to the President, will you state for the record, for the historical record, why he wants to bomb Iraqi people?

You can read the briefing yourself if you want to know Ari's "answer." I won't pollute my blog with it. It is definitely a positive sign that Helen is no longer the only White House press correspondent asking tough questions.

Honor the resurrection of the "Prince of Peace" by buying an Easter basket complete with military action figure: What a sick country this is.

Nothing wrong with Wellstone's plane -- AP. To me, everything about that crash screams foul play. A friend points out that planes don't crash very often, and for two Democratic senatorial candidates to die in crashes just before elections it looked like they were going to win (Carnahan over Ashcroft in 2000, Wellstone over Coleman in 2002) should be extremely suspicious, that is if we had an alert media that wasn't under strict orders from the Republican powers that be. (My brother suggests we add the JFK Jr. crash to the mix--certainly if the bumbling stupid twit with the same name as a bad former president can get "elected," a handsome, intelligent guy with the same name as a good former president was a potential threat to the Republican agenda.)

After many weeks of daily Israeli raids in the West Bank and Gaza, which have killed many dozens of Palestinians, raids which have gotten at most small headlines on back pages, a bus blows up in Haifa, killing 15 Israelis, and it's front page news.

France, Germany and Russia vow to "not allow" UN vote authorizing force against Iraq.

I don't know how much to believe Capitol Hill Blue, which calls itself "The oldest news site on the Internet." I just hope I can believe them. This article says the Bush's advisors, including Colin Powell, are telling him that he faces a humiliating defeat in the UN Security Council, with possibly only four countries voting for war (presumably the US, UK, Spain and Bulgaria, aka the axis of evil). According to CHB:
As a result, some White House advisors are now urging the President to back off his tough stance on war with Iraq and give UN weapons inspectors more time.

"We have no other choice," admits one Bush advisor. "We don't have the votes. We don't have the support."

Let's hope CHB is right, and that W at least listens to somebody.

Incredible: Lawyer Arrested for Wearing a "Give Peace a Chance" T-Shirt in a Mall

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

This would have been enough to convict at Nuremburg:
"If your template is Desert Storm, you have to imagine something much, much, much different," General Myers said, issuing a warning to journalists who plan to cover any war from Baghdad. "I would just be very, very careful about how you do your business." In 1991, allied aircraft conducted a 38-day bombing campaign before ground troops moved into Kuwait. Commanders this time plan a nearly simultaneous attack by land, air and sea.

General Myers said that throughout the campaign, the American military would go to "extraordinary lengths" to avoid civilian casualties.

"But we can't forget that war is inherently violent," he said. "People are going to die. As hard as we try to limit civilian casualties, it will occur. We need to condition people that that is war. People get the idea this is going to be antiseptic. Well, it's not going to be."
-- NY Times.

Actually, General, you have already gone to extraordinary lengths to cause civilian casualties.

What has been happening in Pakistan would make a good case study of how not to wage a war on terrorism.
If there is anything that is clear about the Khalid Shaikh Mohammed story, it is that nothing is clear. The Asia Times ran an article in October which indicated that Khalid was probably killed on September 11, 2002, as I brought up yesterday. After numerous inquiries from readers, they posted an explanation that the information was based on one source that was almost impossible to corroborate. Since then, they have posted a longer article describing lots of strange happenings in Pakistan, including a suggestion that Khalid was arrested a year ago. The headline to this post is the conclusion to that article. Whatever did or did not happen in Pakistan last week, I'm pretty convinced that most of what the administration and US media is feeding us about it is pure bu**sh**. We need to recall that whatever bad things can be said about Saddam Hussein apply about 50 times over for Musharraf: Weapons of Mass Destruction? Nuclear weapons, tested, and the means to deliver them. Attacked neighbors? Yes--ongoing support for groups attacking various governments in Afghanistan and the Indian-controlled parts of Jammu and Kashmir. Supports terrorism? Pakistan has been a key base for al Qaeda, and was where the Taliban got its start. But while the Bush administration continues to threaten to once again destroy Iraq for failing to meet largely impossible demands, they continue to support Pakistan and congratulate them for their support in the "war on terrorism."

Briefly Off Topic (Sports)
For better or worse, I've been a sports fan since I was three years old and went to high school football and basketball games in Virginia with my parents and siblings. I can tell you the names of players and teams in leagues that no longer exist in baseball, football, hockey, basketball and soccer. I've always been interested in ideas related to making sports more interesting and fair. One long-time ongoing debate in sports deals with "blowouts," where teams of vastly differing talent and/or size levels play each other (okay, maybe it's not that off topic). I've seen many UM football games where Navy or Duke or Northwestern came in with a team that had basically zero chance of beating Michigan, which if it wasn't obvious before the game clearly was five minutes in. Rules and tradition require that the two teams stay on the field for the full 60 minutes; etiquette requires that Michigan's coach replace his starters with second, third and fourth stringers in the second half, if not sooner. Fans paying $40 or so for a ticket are expected to sit there and watch Michigan's scrubs play against a still inferior opponent for another 30 minutes. Injuries to these players on both sides, almost none of whom have any chance at making the NFL (UM's starters do, but they're on the bench now), are frequent. There are many other problems, as well, but I'm already off topic.

A NY Times article describes this problem taken to its extreme in girls' high school basketball. Scores like 115-2 and 89-7 occur fairly frequently as schools with long traditions and girls who have been playing all their lives face new programs with girls just learning the game. Coaches in Michigan are pushing a remedy which calls for switching the clock to "running time" once a game gets out of hand--the clock no longer stops for fouls, turnovers, or timeouts, so the game ends sooner. Personally, I think that playing to a certain point total (winning by a certain margin) rather than using a clock would be a better solution--let good games last longer than bad games. But the real problem is that teams so far apart in talent are playing each other at all.

The solution to this is so simple in this day of the Internet that I wonder that no one seems to have picked up on it, at least not in this country. The key to the problem is that coaches or athletic directors now have to arrange schedules before the season starts; frequently this is done just by calling other schools and arranging a game or two. A much better solution would be to schedule home dates without particular opponents mentioned; every week, teams with road games scheduled play at teams with home games that have similar records. Good teams would play better and better opposition every week; weak teams would eventually meet their match and win a game or two. Powerhouse schools could have multiple junior-varsity teams that competed in the same overall league (although leagues as such would be mostly eliminated in this scheme; rather the whole schedule would eventually lead to a state champion). Fans could go expecting to see a competitive game on most nights, regardless of the ability of the home team. Also, the frustration that Big Ten fans feel just about every year when Ohio State wins a share of the football title without playing its co-champion (Iowa last year) at all would disappear. As both teams continued undefeated, they would eventually have to meet each other.

Back when communication was by letter and travel by train, it may have been necessary to have a complete schedule made out before the season starts. The Internet and other computer tools make this unnecessary. Simply scheduling home dates without specified opponents would work fine as long as there were an equal number of home and away dates scheduled among the teams in the league. As the article points out, the running clock and other game-shortening schemes deprive players of playing time. Redesigning the scheduling system to eliminate mismatches before they happen would avoid this and many other problems.

Asia Times was the paper which had the article in October which reported that Khalid Shaikh Mohammad had been killed in a raid last September in Karachi. Since Khalid has been headline news for the past few days because he was supposedly arrested as part of the "war on terrorism," the Asia Times apparently has received a lot of inquiries over the past few days. Since I reported on their article yesterday, I present their response today:

ATol responds to readers' queries

Asia Times Online cannot independently confirm whether Khalid Shaikh Mohammad is dead, alive, free, or in captivity. Confusion, conspiracy theories and rumors abound.

Our article of October 30, 2002, A chilling inheritance of terror, quoted an unnamed Pakistani official who was present at the shootout in Karachi on September 11, 2002, as saying that Khalid had died in that raid.

Clearly, statements by official or unofficial sources on all sides in this "war against terrorism" should not be taken as fact. Nevertheless, they sometimes need to be reported, though with suitable qualification.

The problem with covering this "war on terrorism" is to discern the facts amid the fog of disinformation and lies. Asia Times Online will continue striving to do just this, while admitting that we are bound to get it wrong occasionally.

Bob's addendum: The problem with covering this "war on terrorism" is to discern whether there are any facts at all amid the fog of disinformation and lies. Bob's Links and Rants will continue striving to do just this, while admitting that we are bound to get it wrong occasionally. And, the following remains in doubt:

  • whether or not someone named Khalid Shaikh Mohammad was killed last September in Karachi;
  • whether someone named Khalid Shaikh Mohammad was in fact arrested recently in Karachi, or maybe it was months ago, or perhaps they arrested someone else and claimed it was Khalid Shaikh Mohammad;
  • whether Khalid Shaikh Mohammad was actually a leading figure in al Qaeda and the mastermind of numerous terrorist attacks;
  • whether the person arrested has any information in his brain, or had any in his apartment, that relates to terrorist attacks past or future;
  • whether that person would tell his interrogators the truth about these attacks;
  • whether his interrogators would tell their governments the truth;
  • whether the governments would tell the press the truth;
  • whether the press would tell us the truth.

Given the desperation on the part of the Bush administration to link al Qaeda with Saddam Hussein and their willingness to lie about it, any supposed evidence gained from his capture needs to be viewed in light of all of the weak links in the chain listed above.

[Update:] Robert Fisk highlights my naivete by adding several more points to my list.

Monday, March 03, 2003

There are big lies, and then there are Ari lies:
(From today's White House press briefing)
Q Ari, the destruction of these Al Samoud missiles now represents about 10 percent or more of their entire medium-range missile capability. That's a piece of real substantive disarmament under international supervision, but it's not total disarmament. But you aren't denying that that's real disarmament?

MR. FLEISCHER: We are -- it is not real disarmament. There's only one standard of disarmament: full, complete and immediate. The United Nations resolutions did not call for a little piece of disarmament. It didn't say, 10 percent disarmament four months after we call on you to do it immediately. None of that was in 1441. And the only reason this is even happening today in the small degree that it has indeed happened is because he is under great pressure from President Bush, the United States and the coalition of the willing.

Q But it is substantive. It's not just process, this is substance. This is real destruction of weapons.

MR. FLEISCHER: It is insufficient. It is not complete. It is not total.

Q So it's the administration's view that making war in Iraq now is preferable to any further piecemeal substantive disarmament?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the President has not made a decision about whether or not this ultimately will be done through the use of force. If he makes that decision I think you can infer from that action, and the President would agree with your premise in that case. But until he does, of course, and if he does, the process remains underway, and it's a process by which Iraq is defying the United Nations. They pretended to comply in small and limited ways. But nothing less than full, complete and immediate is called for, because that's what the United Nations has sought.

I have highlighted those two portions because they are total lies. The fact that Bush administration officials repeat them daily doesn't make them less so. As I pointed out yesterday, UN Security Council resolution 1441 calls for inpectors to lead the disarmament process; it has only one deadline, which was the production of documentation of Iraq's weapons and programs, a deadline which was met with a day to spare; it calls for Iraq to give inspectors unimpeded access and to assist them as requested.

But, of course, Ari is just getting warmed up.

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, here's the Catch-22 that Saddam Hussein has put himself in: he denied he had these weapons, and then he destroys things he says he never had. If he lies about never having them, how can you trust him when he says he has destroyed them? How do you know he's not lying, he doesn't have tons more buried under the sand somewhere else? How do you know this is not the mother of all distractions, diversions, so the world looks in one place while he buries them in another?

You know, Ari, what you do is have inspectors look for the stuff, just like UN 1441 called for.

Ari was also asked about the report that the US government is spying on diplomats from UN Security Council members. Any government with a shred of integrity would deny it, but check out what Ari says--or doesn't:

Q May I also ask you about a report in The Observer newspaper in London, of a memo purported to be from the NSA -- an email message from a man who actually works at the NSA they established -- in which he describes a surge in surveillance of U.N. Security Council members to see what these nations are thinking about an Iraq vote. What's your response?

MR. FLEISCHER: Terry, as a matter of long-standing policy, the administration never comments on anything involving any people involved in intelligence. For example, if somebody were to say to me, is Libya an object of American intelligence -- I would never answer that question yes or no. The administration does not answer questions of that nature. We don't answer who does or does not work in the intelligence community. Once you start that, you start getting into process of elimination and we do not do that about any question, about any report, as a blanket matter of policy.

Q But, then, if you're a Cameroonian diplomat or a French diplomat at the United Nations, because of what you just said, you're going to have to operate on the assumption that the United States is bugging you.

MR. FLEISCHER: No, it's a blanket matter of policy that we do not answer questions of that nature, whether it's true or not true, and I'm not indicating to you whether it is true or not true. It's a blanket matter of approach and policy that predates this administration.

That is, it is the policy of the US government to violate international law by spying on UN diplomats.

And "the administration never comments on anything involving any people involved in intelligence?" I guess that's why Ari talks about the president so much.

Turkey's Decision Sets War Plans Back!

Turkey's refusal to let U.S. troops use its bases for any invasion of Iraq could delay a war until late March or early April, U.S. officials and defense experts said on Monday. -- from Reuters.

So maybe we've got another month to increase the pressure on the Bushian warmongers through protests and Congress. Please do everything you can to convince Congress, especially, to put a stop to the madness and bring the troops home safe and alive.

Lots of good ranting about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and all sorts of other things too numerous to mention are at this blog I just discovered through MouseMusings. Just in case I haven't been keeping you busy enough!

Some things are just too hard to sell, even for a pro. Veteran PR whiz Charlotte Beers has resigned as undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs in the State Department. Her task was to devise a multimillion-dollar public diplomacy campaign, complete with academic exchange programs and slick public service advertisements, to soften anti-American feelings. Although she is supposedly resigning for "health reasons," she told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week that "The gap between who we are and how we wish to be seen and how we are in fact seen is frighteningly wide," according to the article.

You don't have to sell me on that, Charlotte!

According to Newsweek, Senator Bob Graham (D-FL) decided to run for president after witnessing massive cover-ups and deceptions on the part of the FBI and CIA regarding events leading up to September 11. I'm not sure if I trust anyone who won an election in Florida, even Al Gore, but it might be worth electing this guy just to finally find out the truth about something (don't worry, Dennis, I'm still with you!).

O'Reilly apologizes--sort of. People who protest after the war starts are no longer "un-American," they're "bad Americans," according to FoxNews' Bill O'Reilly. He does defend our right to protest and his right to complain about it; I guess I can live with that. He doesn't mention his "enemies of the state" comment in his apology, but at least it sounds like he's no longer encouraging his viewers to burn down our houses.

I think I'll still take my Discover Card (an O'Reilly sponsor) out of my wallet for a while; after all Trent Lott didn't get off completely scott-free after his apologies, either.

Did the supposed al Qaeda muckety-muck now being "questioned" actually die last September? It appears so. Thanks to Politics in the Zeros and the Memory Hole for tracking that one down.

[Update]What do you bet that this dead man tells lots of tales about al Qaeda's connections to Iraq?

Fallen Golden Arches
"When I was a teenager, it was much more acceptable within my peer level to eat here," said Mr. Ibrahim, a 26-year-old architectural draftsman, as he sat in a McDonald's near the Mission District in San Francisco. "But now, it comes off as uncultured, unclassy and uncool. Nobody brags about going to McDonald's, that's for sure."

He added: "If you want to be chic, you eat sushi. Indian food is even more cutting edge. McDonald's is like white bread."
-- NY Times.

You deserve a break today, so get up and stay away from McDonald's. They've contributed to the destruction of the labor movement, the destruction of rain forests, the monopolization of American agriculture, the obesity and reduced health of millions of Americans, and of course the uglification of the American landscape. Check out the books listed in the vegetarian sections of my books page for details on all of this.

Divine Shield?
A woman on has started a campaign asking Pope John Paul II to go to Baghdad as a way to prevent war. I just joined in; I encourage you to do so as well. The Pope can be e-mailed at

White House aides argue that the president cannot talk about casualties without scaring Americans. -- from the NY Times. Frankly, I'm scared everytime he speaks. And after all of the scaremongering that has come out of the White House in the past year and a half, this comment is so completely and utterly absurd that ____________________________. (Blog Libs: Fill in the blank with the most ridiculous thing you can think of.)

No, I haven't forgotten:

  • The violence in Palestine continues;
  • Violence continues in Venezuela;
  • Brutality, oppression, fear and poverty are increasing everywhere (too many links);
  • and, of course, while some Americans are still growing surplus cotton in the desert and building golf courses in Arizona, the world is running out of drinkable water.

Anti-war resolutions
I was excited last month to hear that Hawaii had passed an anti-war resolution and was about to excitedly rant about it, until I read it. I'll paraphrase it for you here:

"WHEREAS the State of Hawaii has supported every imperial act undertaken by the US government starting with the Gulf War, including the bombing of Afghanistan and the ongoing never-ending 'war on terrorism,' the relentless bribery and coercion of supposedly sovereign nations which led to the passage of UN Resolution 1441, and the immense military buildup, threats, and actual ongoing attacks on Iraq despite the fact that Iraq has never attacked the US, nor attacked anyone else in over twelve years, the State of Hawaii is nevertheless slightly concerned that actually going ahead with a full-scale war against Iraq right now might possibly not be the best idea ever. But we still love our president."

Check it out for yourself: That's basically what it says. And several others have been along these lines. So I have trouble getting excited about these resolutions when I basically disagree with everything they say except for one line. Ann Arbor's resolution is much clearer and to the point. That's what an anti-war resolution should look like.

In these desperate times, all of us anti-war activists are looking for any port in a storm. We're excited when a Norman Schwarzkopf or Wesley Clark speaks out against the war. But Bush has made it clear that he has many more wars on his horizon, even if somehow we are successful in averting this one. We must be careful not to give indirect support for further extensions to the non-sensical "war on terrorism" by jumping too solidly behind some of these statements.

That said, today's NY Times lead editorial falls somewhat in this category. Still, it is an improvement over one from last week. So I applaud their recognition of clear evidence of disarmament and their reduced militancy, while still disagreeing with many of their assumptions.

In conclusion to this rambling rant, let me say that going to an ANSWER-sponsored peace rally doesn't make you a communist; and neither does agreeing with Hawaii or Norman Schwarzkopf that a second Gulf War is a bad idea mean that you agree with them that the first Gulf War was a good one.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

From Bruce Beattie of the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Our government is engaged in a "Dirty Tricks" campaign against UN Security Council members

-- from the Observer (UK).

Details of the aggressive surveillance operation, which involves interception of the home and office telephones and the emails of UN delegates in New York, are revealed in a document leaked to The Observer.

The disclosures were made in a memorandum written by a top official at the National Security Agency - the US body which intercepts communications around the world - and circulated to both senior agents in his organisation and to a friendly foreign intelligence agency asking for its input.

The memo describes orders to staff at the agency, whose work is clouded in secrecy, to step up its surveillance operations 'particularly directed at... UN Security Council Members (minus US and GBR, of course)' to provide up-to-the-minute intelligence for Bush officials on the voting intentions of UN members regarding the issue of Iraq.

Thanks to Mary in Fort Worth for the link! This should, of course, be front-page news in every US paper, news web site, and TV news network, but it isn't. They're all making a big deal out of arresting some supposed al Qaeda muckety-muck in Pakistan, claiming he was the mastermind behind every terrorist attack since the Titanic went down. Funny, I've been paying pretty close attention, and I was under the impression that that Osama guy was to blame. But hey, the Bushies have accomplished their goal of distracting your news sources, even me, from the real news of the day. So, I'm going to repeat it:

Our government is engaged in a "Dirty Tricks" campaign against UN Security Council members.

I didn't think I'd ever say this again, but good Thomas Friedman column today. Excerpts:

Don't believe the polls. I've been to nearly 20 states recently, and I've found that 95 percent of the country wants to see Iraq dealt with without a war. But President Bush is a man on a mission. He has been convinced by a tiny group of advisers that throwing "The Long Bomb" ó attempting to transform the most dangerous Arab state ó is a geopolitical game-changer.
He and his team are the only people who would ever have conceived this project, but they may be the worst people to implement it. The only place they've been bold is in their military preparations (which have at least gotten Saddam to begin disarming).

What do I mean? I mean that if taking out Saddam and rebuilding Iraq had been my goal from the minute I took office (as it was for the Bush team), I would not have angered all of Europe by trashing the Kyoto global warming treaty without offering an alternative. I would not have alienated the entire Russian national security elite by telling the Russians that we were ripping up the ABM treaty and that they would just have to get used to it. (You're now seeing their revenge.) I would not have proposed one radical tax cut on top of another on the eve of a huge, costly nation-building marathon abroad.