Newer, more passive AMC stalking.

Purely for archival purposes.

Transcript of wonkette.com chat on WaPo

Dept. of Gee Whiz, No Kidding?

Reuters: Analysts say US threat warning is back-covering.

Effort addresses two key points.
Stung by accusations that the Bush administration ignored key intelligence in the run-up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, officials may now be issuing warnings to prove to Americans they are on the ball this time, say terrorism analysts on both sides of the political fence.
One prominent terrorism expert, who would only speak on condition of anonymity, said Bush may also be trying to staunch increasing criticism of the Iraq campaign by underlining the link in the public's mind between Iraq and security at home.

"The president is running as a war president, so the timing is interesting," he said, pointing to a speech by Bush on Monday that made frequent references to terrorist threats.

"I wonder if there's not a connection to the president's speech when he mentioned terrorism 18 times in the context of Iraq. Isn't this a very convenient way of linking back to the United States that Iraq is part of the broader war on terrorism?" he said.



More from my new NYT focus.

Mr. Rumsfeld cautioned that his mission to Iraq should not be viewed as a solo journey that could heal the wounds to America's image from the detainee abuse.

"We're not on an inspection tour," he said. "If anyone thinks I'm there to throw water on the fire, they're wrong."

Yeah, I think it's pretty obvious that this is either a Photo-Op or just a Publicity Stunt. No reasonable person would think it was an "inspection tour."


New Spin

Jonah Goldberg:
The Abu Ghraib images are so shocking, so offensive and so sensational they will in all likelihood make America's job in Iraq and the Middle East immeasurably harder for a long time to come. That means more American deaths - such as Berg's - more Iraqi deaths and a diminished future for that country and that region.

And by 'images,' perhaps you had really meant to say 'abuses'?
I'm already really tired of this argument that it's the images that are the problem, not the behavior.


Luc Sante

Hate to get all NYT-centric, but Luc Sante's piece on the Abu Ghraib photos is a must-read.
From his concluding grafs:

Of course the violence at Abu Ghraib was primarily psychological — hey, only a few people were killed — and the trophies were pictorial, like the results of a photo safari. Some commentators have made a point of noting this very relative nonviolence, contrasting it with the lynching of the four American military contractors in Falluja last month. This line of argument is notable for what it leaves out: there is a difference between the rage of a people who feel themselves invaded and the contempt of a victorious nation for a civilian population whom it has ostensibly liberated.

That prison guards would pose captives — primarily noncombatants, low-level riffraff — in re-enactments of cable TV smut for the benefit of their friends back home emerges from the mode of thinking that has prevented an accounting of civilian deaths in Iraq since the beginning of the war. If civilian deaths are not recorded, let alone published, it must be because they do not matter, and if they do not matter it must be because the Iraqis are beneath notice. And that must mean that anything done to them is permissible, as long as it does not create publicity that would embarrass the Bush administration. The possible consequences of the Abu Ghraib archive are numerous, many of them horrifying. Perhaps, though, the digital camera will haunt the future career of George W. Bush the way the tape recorder sealed the fate of Richard Nixon.

(On a related note, I don't believe that the brutal, disgusting murder of Nick Berg is directly related to Abu Ghraib. It's more akin to the contractors killed in Fallujah or Daniel Pearl, but the timing reflects a terrible opportunism on the behalf of people who would have killed him anyway.)

Start (And Then Quickly Stop) Making Sense

Brooks today has a couple astonisingly clear-eyed grafs:

The predictions people on my side made about the postwar world have not yet come true. The warnings others made about the fractious state of post-Saddam society have.

Many paragraphs later:
We went into Iraq with what, in retrospect, seems like a childish fantasy. We were going to topple Saddam, establish democracy and hand the country back to grateful Iraqis. We expected to be universally admired when it was all over.

...but there, towards the end, he goes haywire. 'Victory' in Iraq would be a country whose future was determined by Iraqis, yes? Why does someone need to 'lose' in order for this to happen?

We didn't understand the tragic irony that our power is also our weakness. As long as we seemed so mighty, others, even those we were aiming to assist, were bound to revolt. They would do so for their own self-respect. In taking out Saddam, we robbed the Iraqis of the honor of liberating themselves. The fact that they had no means to do so is beside the point.

Now, looking ahead, we face another irony. To earn their own freedom, the Iraqis need a victory. And since it is too late for the Iraqis to have a victory over Saddam, it is imperative that they have a victory over us. If the future textbooks of a free Iraq get written, the toppling of Saddam will be vaguely mentioned in one clause in one sentence. But the heroic Iraqi resistance against the American occupation will be lavishly described, page after page. For us to succeed in Iraq, we have to lose.


We Watch Fox News So You Don't Have To: on Ted Rall

I haven't always thought Ted Rall's stuff was funny, but I haven't ever been that ticked off about it. At the worst, I'd sometimes think it was reductive or stupid. He doesn't have the deft-but-barbed touch of Tom Tomorrow or Garry Trudeau. But I was happily surprised to see Colmes pull out the attack-dog touch on Hannity & Colmes late last week. Hannity's segment was typically idiotic, but Colmes got out of the gate early and made the best possible point immediately. Transcript here.

COLMES: "I think this kind of stuff gives liberals a bad name. You call him basically an idiot and a sap for going to fight a war that you don't believe in.

I'm not for the war in Iraq either, but to call someone these kinds of -- or to imply these things for doing what they think is right for their country, I think is -- I think it's shameful."

Read this bizarre account of his funeral service when you have a moment.
Tillman shouldn't be lionized above any other solider killed in our efforts in Iraq or Afghanistan (and he has been), but he shouldn't be derided in the way Rall's cartoon does.


'Chalabi' is the new 'Benedict Arnold'

Which would be worse: Chalabi as US puppet or Chalabi as relentlessly self-interested? Looks like we get 'em both, the former cloaking the latter.

Salon's piece on neocon suprise.

Zell, a Jerusalem attorney, continues to be a partner in the firm that Feith left in 2001 to take the Pentagon job. He also helped Ahmed Chalabi's nephew Salem set up a new law office in Baghdad in late 2003. Chalabi met with Zell and other neoconservatives many times from the mid-1990s on in London, Turkey, and the U.S. Zell outlines what Chalabi was promising the neocons before the Iraq war: "He said he would end Iraq's boycott of trade with Israel, and would allow Israeli companies to do business there. He said [the new Iraqi government] would agree to rebuild the pipeline from Mosul [in the northern Iraqi oil fields] to Haifa [the Israeli port, and the location of a major refinery]." But Chalabi, Zell says, has delivered on none of them. The bitter ex-Chalabi backer believes his former friend's moves were a deliberate bait and switch designed to win support for his designs to return to Iraq and run the country.

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