Saturday, May 22, 2004

Department of 'Coal Mines and Canaries' Dept.:

Camilo Mejia, the nine-year Army vet who deserted after a stint in Iraq and claimed conscientious objector status, worked in a prisoner holding facility last May.

His lawyers say he witnessed Geneva Convention violations.
So I flipped on CNN this morning, just for a laugh, and watch Brigadier General Kimmitt say something to the effect of, "We hit a valid target and not a wedding. There were no musical instruments found, no gifts for the couple, no family elders among the dead."

Huh. Really? Aside from the fact that Kimmitt already claimed that no children were killed in the attack -- a claim he's had to quietly back off of -- there are indications that even those few 'facts' are BS.

- AP is reporting "fragments of musical instruments" spotted in their video footage of the site.

- the military is writing off the presence of jewelry among the remains as evidence of "smugglers". What were they expecting, blenders? No confirmation on the couple's registry at Saks of Baghdad.

- no ages have been given for all the victims, so Kimmitt might well have gotten lucky on the third claim. His track record so far isn't encouraging.

- and of course, there's the fact that both the owner of Ramadi's biggest photography studio and a wedding singer from Baghdad are among the dead.

The story emerging is pretty damning though. First, look at the numbers in that Tribune story. The army doesn't dispute that at least 40 people were killed. Unless it was the single most efficient strike in military history, the figures given for the wounded taken to nearby hospitals (42, supposedly including 14 children) sounds about right. Once you include unwounded survivors we're up to around 100 people present at Mogr el-Deeb.

Pretty good attendance for a secret meeting of insurgents.

Next, take a look at this piece from Friday's WaPo:

Revelers at the wedding party began worrying when they heard aircraft overhead at about 9 p.m. With jets still overhead two hours later, they told the band to stop playing and everyone went to bed. "We began to expect some kind of catastrophe," said Madhi Nawaf, who lives in the area near Mogr el-Deeb on the Syrian border.

Strip out the wedding references as unproven assertions if you like. People in the area knew more than two hours before the attack that something was coming down because of the fly-overs. So even if it was a gathering of baddies, they had plenty of time, in the dead of night, to slip off into the hills.

So here's what left: either we screwed up and bombed a wedding; or we screwed up and let the bad guys get away before we bombed the folks they left behind and handed them yet another PR victory on a silver platter.

Iraq in microcosm -- a lose-lose situation.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Looks like Chalabi has just about used up the last of his nine lives.

Following the raid on his compound this morning comes word that Chalabi passes crucial intel to the Iranians -- this after the accusation that a Chalabi lieutenant has already stolen $22 million from the Iraqi treasury, even before there was anyone to steal it from:

At the center of the inquiry is Nouri, whom Chalabi picked as the top anti-corruption official in the new Iraqi Finance Ministry. Chalabi heads the Governing Council's finance committee, and has major influence in its staffing and operation.

When auditors early this year began counting the old Iraqi dinars brought in and the new Iraqi dinars given out in return, they discovered a shortfall of more than $22 million. Nouri, a German national, was arrested in April and faces 17 charges including extortion, fraud, embezzlement, theft of government property and abuse of authority. He is being held in a maximum security facility, according to three sources close to the investigation.

That ain't bad, really -- Chalabi only took us for $33 million over three and a half years.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Insane. The entire neo-con movement is sliding inevitably towards madness, and this is simply exhibit #70523.

I mean, the Unitarians? What did they ever do to anyone???

And not that it shouldn't be bleedin' obvious, but Comptroller Strayhorn is of course an Honorary Co-Chairperson of the Bush/Cheney '04 Texas campaign team. Way to court that religious vote, Carole!

UPDATE: According to an email exchange with Charlie at Off the Kuff, Strayhorn isn't, in fact, a drinker of the Bush Kool-Aid, just someone with a rep for being a loose cannon.

I guess we'll chalk this up to anecdotal evidence that whatever is floating around the White House these days is catching.
Is the pattern clear enough yet? Jonathan Alter exemplifies it; Tucker Carlson and Elizabeth Bumiller come right out and say it.

The press, as a class, are cowards. They have money, status and privilege, and are not willing to do anything -- especially their jobs -- if it means rocking the boat or jeopardizing their position.

Of course there are exceptions, Sy Hersh being a prominent one right now. A few journalists still take pride in their craft. But for the most part, 'hack' is too good a word for them. 'Sheeple' is closer to the truth.

These people do not deliver the news, they obstruct it. They do not inform the public discourse, they deform it.

And they have to go.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Good Lord. I know the Bush administration is completely unable to tell the truth about anything, but some lies are more appalling than others:

So what happened? Tinsley's report charges, in the crucial days after 9/11, the White House changed EPA press releases to "add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones."

*Sept. 13: The EPA draft release -- never released to the public -- said: EPA "testing terrorized sites for environmental hazards." The White House changed that to EPA "reassures public about environmental hazards."

*Sept. 16: The EPA draft said: "Recent samples of dust ... on Water Street show higher levels of asbestos."

The White House version: "New samples confirm ... ambient air quality meets OSHA [government] standards" ... and "is not a cause for public concern."

And the White House left out entirely the warning "that air samples raise concerns for cleanup workers and office workers near Water St."

The end result is tens of thousands of ill New Yorkers, a rash of low birth weight babies, and a future epidemic of cancer cases. All for... what? A PR boost? A misplaced desire not to let the terrorists 'win'?

Of all the villanies the Bush administration has perpetrated, both grandiose and petty, this one is perhaps the stupidest and most baffling.
Scottie Mac, from Monday:

I want to read out one statement from the President. This is a statement by the President: The sacred institution of marriage should not be redefined by a few activist judges. All Americans have a right to be heard in this debate. I called on the Congress to pass and to send to the states for ratification an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of a man and a woman as husband and wife. The need for that amendment is still urgent, and I repeat that call today.

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Earl Warren, from 1967, opining on the subjects of law and marriage:

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the... classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious... discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person... resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

Of course I'm sure you can guess what word/phrase those ellipses represent, but for the record, the Fourteenth Amendment does not contain the word 'race' anywhere within it.

Hmmm, George W. Bush or Earl Warren. Wonder who's right on this little matter of constitutionality?

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