Topic: Couldn't be so...
Sunday Funnies in Six Panels: Now Don't Get All Excited
The Sunday past, December 4th, was supposed to be a day off. Just Above Sunset had been put to bed, as they say in the news business when all the edits are complete, the pages composed and the presses are running. In this web world that means the Earthlink host servers in Atlanta got the new pages, had done all the compiling and re-indexed all thirteen hundred pages - there are almost three years of archived words and images - and linked the domain name to the new issue. So it didn't seem fair that lots of news stories broke Sunday. The Steelers were on television. But they lost to Cincinnati, the team with those odd helmets.
What's this with big news on Sunday?
A friend in upstate New York sent this, an item discussing a new General Accounting Office (GAO) report on the voting irregularities in the 2004 presidential election, particularly in Ohio.
Yes, the new electronic voting machines leave no paper trail so they cannot be audited, they're easily hacked, lots of votes went missing, the results matched no survey data and seemed anomalous, and the machines were developed and operated by corporations owned by friends of the president, and some programmers testified to some shady stuff - but the headline "GAO Confirms - 2004 Election Was Stolen!" was not quite right.
No crime has been alleged, and no one has been charged with anything. There was only means, method, opportunity and motive. Specific "acts" have not been alleged. That something is probable doesn't establish a crime has been committed. More is needed, and it's not yet there.
And what are you going to do? Toss Bush out? It's a little late for that. You go to war with the president you have, not the president you want.
That's not to say nothing should be done. You can fix the voting stuff, somehow. But reversing the election? Remember, liberals (are they "progressives" now?) are the ones who like gun control. The other side is well armed. You don't want trouble.
And email the say day brought a copy of a November 25th letter to the editor of the Fairbanks Daily-Miner (no link available, but we're talking Alaska here). The letter was written by Douglas Yates, a reader who has been discussed in the pages previously, here (June 2004) and here (January 2005) - a Marine Corps veteran and a writer, and photographer, living in Ester, Alaska.
Yates always sends interesting things, and this letter is about military recruiting. The letter is relevant here, as is the title - "Treasonous War"
So Murtha is not the only ex-Marine who sees a problem here. (Correction - there are no former Marines - "Once a Marine, Always A Marine.") Honor and honesty, and doing the right thing, means something to these guys.
Treason? Hard words. But you don't mess with the Marines. Bush's vague service in the Texas Air National Guard in Vietnam War years has mightily impressed the folks at Fox News and the National Review - and Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin - as Kerry was seen as an effete coward for his combat tours on the rivers in Vietnam (remember the flowered band-aids worn by folks at the Republican convention, mocking Kerry's Purple Heart and all that). Some of the guys in uniform, or now with uniforms in the closet, aren't as impressed. Paul Hackett still stands by his calling Bush and his crew chickenhawks, and remember Murtha's outburst at Cheney - "I like guys who got five deferments and (have) never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."
It's funny you don't hear the obvious reply from the president and vice president - "Yeah, you may think you know a lot about war because you fought ion one - but we STARTED one."
Don't expect a military coup to keep Bush in power after 2008 - there are too many honorable men who know something smells here.
But that was just the email. The regular news was full of odd, smelly stuff.
Dana Priest in the Washington Post had another one of those Sunday scoops she does so well. Two or three weeks ago she broke the story of our chain of secret prisons, those "black sites" around the world where we use "enhanced interrogation techniques" on people we have snatched without authority all over the world and have "disappeared" - those non-persons who are not charged and have no rights to challenge anything about this or will ever speak to anyone on the outside ever again. Well, this week Dana Priest has a follow up to that story of how our government is keeping us safe by refusing to play by any babyish rules. She reveals we're doing this badly.
That would be here -
Wrongful Imprisonment: Anatomy of a CIA Mistake
German Citizen Released After Months in 'Rendition'
Dana Priest - Sunday, December 4, 2005 - Page A01
The long and short of it is we grabbed a German citizen in Macedonia, we imprisoned him and beat him up and all that, held him for five months of that sort of thing, and realized he was a nobody. We decided to release him - what was the point of keeping him? But we told the German government no matter what the guy said, they should keep quiet and not reveal we goofed on this one. We didn't need any legal crap, so they needed to lie and maintain our cover. We don't do such things - no kidnapping, no secret prisons, no harsh treatment. Not us. We asked them to back us on this. Deny everything.
The opening is this -
Okay, there may be three thousand folks we've grabbed and disappeared. It seems two or three dozen may have been goofs - like the guy who turned out to be a college professor who gave a bad grade to someone who later joined al Qaeda.
No, that's in there -
Ad they say, close enough for government work.
This isn't going to make Condoleezza Rice's upcoming European trip with its exercise in Dominatrix Diplomacy any easier. If she's going to tell European leaders they'd better back us on this, and get their press and public and uppity legislatures and commissions to back off, it would be nice to be able to say at least we do this stuff well.
The odd thing here is, of course, how Dana Priest got these two scoops. Someone at the CIA doesn't much care for what we're doing - some stuffy traditionalist, no doubt - and is trying to stop it. Shades of Deep Throat meeting the young Bob Woodward in the parking structure late at night, to put an end to the Nixon crew's nastiness. Seems like old times.
Someone wants their country back, the one with values, and the country that was the good guy in the story? Too late - September 11 changed everything.
Hey, they've been telling us all! Like we weren't told?
So much for the Washington Post.
Kevin Drum points out here that the New York Times tells us that security at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan is so bad that genuinely dangerous al-Qaeda members held there can pick the locks on their cells and sneak out through the fence. That's here, but it's more depressing than intriguing.
We grab the wrong people while the actual bad guys pull a Houdini?
Who's running the shop? There's a management problem here.
Like most management problems, someone needs to be promoted to a position where they cannot screw up. But that might not be wise here.
The local paper, the Los Angeles Times, that arrives with a thud on the doorstep Sunday morning - USC dismantles UCLA, Texas wins big, and they will meet over the hills in Pasadena for the national championship - no one can figure out which schools will totally collapse in the next big quake (the study done was incompetent) - and this -
As Drum comments, this confirms last week's Telegraph story that private contractors are shooting "scores" of Iraqis just for the hell of it and pretty much doing it with impunity.
Well, that was discussed in these pages here, with lots of links to the sources. It's not our problem. The Aegis folks are a UK outfit, so we say it's the UK's job to deal with it. As noted previously, the UK folks are saying Aegis was under contract to us, so its OUR problem. The Iraqis have no say. We set it up so the contractors are immune from their fledgling, work-in-progress legal system.
There's not much more to say.
But there is this from Digby over at Hullabaloo -
Hadn't thought of that. Yipes!
That professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan, the one who knows all the players and knows all the languages, Juan Cole, explains on the same day how Bush has created a theocracy in Iraq.
The item is long and detailed with lots of odd names and odd players, but ends with this -
And then there's Nir Rosen in The Atlantic with this -
Okay then, we went there to disarm Saddam. Nothing there. We really went there because he had ties to al Qaeda. Nothing there. We really went there to fight them there so we wouldn't have to fight them here. Madrid, Casablanca, Bali, London - but yes, not here. We really, really went there do build a secular, free-market, tolerant and pluralistic democracy that would transform the region as all nations in area would see what a fine thing that was and all change into secular, free-market, tolerant and pluralistic democracies. It seems we'll have to settle for a theocracy, allied with a nuclear armed Iran, that Saudi Arabia and Jordan, our long-time allies, will see as a real threat they will have to deal with.
Who says Sunday is a slow news day?