Sunday, March 13, 2005

Never rains but it pours

Continuing on my weapons of mass posting tour, consistent J-Source Today's Papers has these tidbits:
"The New York Times leads with a senior Iraqi official's disclosure that after the fall of Baghdad in 2003, loads of machinery and equipment were looted from dozens of major weapons sites across Iraq, including "equipment that could be used to make missile parts, chemical weapons or centrifuges essential for enriching uranium for atom bombs." Most of the stolen items appear to have left the country, likely headed into the possession of foreign governments (Syria and Iran are mentioned), or onto the black market...
Both U.S. and U.N. officials have long known about the looting in Iraq—just a week ago the U.N. reported that 90 sites had been plundered—but yesterday's information highlighted the sweeping extent of the thefts, and the precision with which they were carried out. According to witnesses, teams of men in pickup trucks moved deliberately from site to site, carting off the most sophisticated machinery first. U.S. military officials couldn't be reached for comment, but, notes the NYT, in the past the military has claimed it simply didn't have enough troops to guard the sites."

I guess you go to war with the army you have, and not the army you need to complete your objectives. (Not that, of course, I believe our objectives are to bring democracy or find weapons we knew were probably not there rather than, frankly, global hegemony. But considering the rather massive and formally uncounted civilian casualties (at least uncounted by US & UK who say they "have no legal responsibility [to count civilian casualties]), I'd say that this exercise has been bad on just about all moral counts.) (Bonus moral strikes: Remember women's rights? Yeah, under the US occupation, not so much. Iraq needs proper recognition of International Women's Day too.)

For any out there who may think me a nattering nabob of negativity, yes democracy would be a great thing in Iraq. But I think, you know, they should decide on it without having US agents (achem, Allawi) running things for a while. I'll tell you when I'll stop being negative: when there's substantive equality in Iraq and democracy. It may be a high standard, but hey, don't piss on me and tell me it's raining.

Anyway, more news bits that fit in that just-mentioned category of "simulated weather" by our government (also from TP on Slate):

Apparently, under Bush "at least 20 federal agencies have released hundreds of phony news segments, many of which are broadcast without acknowledging their governmental origin." AAAAHHHHHH. (TP here, TP's source, the NYT story here.) To harken back to my infamous "Bush as Kim Jong-Il Meme: Know it, love, use it" from the Slate article by Jack Shafer on Bush's propaganda machine, some astute observers questioned this meme and its accuracy (and Shafer's journalistic ability), with one of the most pertinent questions being, "How does this compare to Clinton's propaganda, for example?" (from, of all sources, the National Review Online, arbiter of highbrow fair-handed coverage. (ed. --Snarky, snarky. --Sorry.) But Ladies & Germs, we have the answer: "The Bush administration spent $254 million in its first term on public relations contracts, nearly double what the last Clinton administration spent." (from TP again). (ed. --Isn't this type of stuff by Bush being investigated as illegal? --Yes. --Bubba C was investigated for a whole lot of things; was propaganda like this one of them? --Not that I can tell. Though who would've remembered that with all of the other Clinton-gates? --True. Different question: why are you using this pretentious fictional editor blogging device that one of your least favorite bloggers, Mickey Kaus, also pretentiously uses? --Don't know. Kind of useful though, don't you think? --Shut up. --OK.)

Last TP bit:
"European law enforcement officials are investigating several instances in which the CIA may have illegally detained terror suspects on European soil and then flown them to other countries for interrogation. This WP front documents cases in Italy, Germany, and Sweden, where Arab men appear to have been seized by CIA agents, then "rendered" to secret locations and brutally interrogated (read: tortured). Parts of the claims appear to be corroborated by available evidence."

There's been a whole lot of extraordinarily evil rendition going on recently ("extraordinary rendition" being the practice of sending our prisoners to other countries to be tortured; it was formally started, and used a lot, under Clinton, but by all reports it's only increased under GWB -- which doesn't make it any more legal or moral, September 11th or no.) The J Continuum hopes to come back and address this more later. (At least it's not napalm.)

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