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Saturday, June 19, 2004

Al Qaeda and the House of Saud 

Kos quotes Steve Gilliard, and then comments:

Our problematic relationship with the House of Saud has come under increasing fire from all sides of the ideological divide. This isn't a partisan issue. It's a common sensical one.
Exactly. Read Gilliard's post. While he doesn't say anything particularly new, he does say things that people should keep in mind more than they probably do.

If only there were no oil... then Middle East issues would be so much simpler.
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Friday, June 18, 2004

Darfur 

While the press spends all its time patting itself on the back and contradicting something that nobody ever said (Iraq was involved in 9/11), something far more serious is going on below most people's radar. The story of ethnic cleansing (genocide?) in the Sudanese region of Darfur deserves a lot more attention, both from the press and from the government. I would love to hear a high-ranking official such as Colin Powell make a statement highlighting the administration's concern about the fate of the millions of people at risk of starvation, displacement, or murder in Darfur.

It's time for that to happen. And it's time for the international community to step up and do something. Darfur is not yet Rwanda, and that's why we should act. We don't want it to become the next Rwanda.

For more, see Gary Farber's compilation of stories at Winds of Change.
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Shameless partisanship 

The New York Times just keeps piling on the bullshit. This time it's not even on the opinion pages... it's presented as straight up news. Absolutely disgusting.

Far from a bolt from the blue, the commission has demonstrated over the last 19 months that the Sept. 11 attacks were foreseen, at least in general terms, and might well have been prevented, had it not been for misjudgments, mistakes and glitches, some within the White House.

In the face of those findings, Mr. Bush stood firm, disputing the particular finding in a staff report that there was no "collaborative relationship" between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist organization. "There was a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda," Mr. Bush declared.
That quote from Bush, by the way, is an unblemished fact. Representatives of the Iraqi government and Al Qaeda met with some regularity over a period of years. It might not have resulted in a strong relationship or much in the way of cooperation, but surely regular contact constitues a relationship of some kind. The media's insistence that there was no relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda is about as serious as Bill Clinton's finger-waving assertion that he "did not have sexual relations with that woman."

Tell me, how many meetings, over the course of a decade, does it take to constitute a "relationship" between Iraq and Al Qaeda?

I guess that, just like Clinton, the NYT and others believe that something never happened unless it met certain requirements of degree or frequency.

Using the NYT's logic, I have to conclude that I don't have any "relationship" with my college buddies because I only keep in touch with them with the occasional email or phone call. Even visiting once in a while wouldn't count.

I wonder what does count?
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Thursday, June 17, 2004

Parallel universes 

The 9/11 commission's report and the treatment it is receiving from the media and others has made something clear to me. I don't know why I didn't realize it before, but today I do.

The left and the right aren't just arguing from strongly opposing positions. They don't read some information and debate what it means. No, judging from what I'm seeing today, they aren't even on the same planet.

TIN FOIL....Did Oswald act alone? Is the income tax legal? Is the Trilateral Commission just another international talking shop?

We all know better, don't we? Just like we know that Saddam really was the mastermind behind 9/11, despite the "report" of the pathetic Saddam dupes on the 9/11 commission.
For crying out loud... for the last time... who on God's green earth EVER said Saddam was behind 9/11? That's right, nobody! But people like Kevin Drum (who I used to consider rational and moderate) have totally lost it and are inventing shit in their hatred of Bush. It's disgusting, and frankly it's frightening that people of a similar mind have influence and (heaven help us) hold elected office. I realize that all parties try to make the other guy look bad, but good God... At least stick to something resembling a fact.

But no, they hate Bush and crave power so much that they will LIE and FABRICATE things that nobody of consequence EVER said--such as the complete bullshit they spew about Bush, or Cheney, or Wolfowitz, or whoever blaming 9/11 on Saddam. NOBODY DID ANY SUCH THING. The only place where that happened was in Kevin Drum's parallel universe where everyone on the left just knows that the Prez said "Saddam and Osama cooperated on 9/11." Facts be damned.
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Muddying the waters 

Today's New York Times editorial page pretends to speak the Plain Truth:

It's hard to imagine how the commission investigating the 2001 terrorist attacks could have put it more clearly yesterday: there was never any evidence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, between Saddam Hussein and Sept. 11.

Now President Bush should apologize to the American people, who were led to believe something different.
First, the President did not lead the American people to believe that Saddam was linked to 9/11. No serious person believes such a link existed, and the administration never said such a link existed. Demanding an apology for something that never happened is just a cheap and shameful partisan dig on the part of the Times editorial board. Unfortunately, such behavior from the "newspaper of record" is expected these days by a large portion of the public.

More astounding is the Times' assertion that "there was never any evidence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda."

I assume the people who make this claim base it upon the widely discredited report of a meeting between lead 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence agent in the Czech Republic.

If that were the only alleged meeting between Iraqi officials and Al Qaeda terrorists, that would be the end of the story, and the Times would be justified in claiming that no link existed.

It's not the only meeting, though. Several meetings are believed to have taken place between Iraqi officials and Al Qaeda leaders while Osama bin Laden was in Sudan, and to have continued thereafter.

Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet told Senator Bob Graham in October, 2002,

"We have solid reporting of senior level contact between Iraq and al Qaeda going back a decade. Credible information exists that Iraq and al Qaeda have discussed safe haven and reciprocal nonaggression. . . . We have credible reporting that al Qaeda leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire WMD capabilities."
Those senior level contacts began in March 1998.

Whatever these meetings were about, and whatever came of them, it's pretty irresponsible to conclude that they don't represent a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Does the Times think the two sides met for coffee and idle chit-chat?

UPDATE: The NY Post has more, including some inconvenient excerpts from the actual 9/11 commission report.

Indeed, it says, "a senior Iraqi intelligence office reportedly made three visits to Sudan, finally meeting bin Laden in 1994." Further, it says, "contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after bin Laden returned to Afghanistan."
Hmm... "[T]here was never any evidence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda" according to the Times. The 9/11 commission has worked for months and it never uncovered the information that the Times apparently has. Why didn't the Times share this important knowledge with the commission?
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Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Cheney's bunker revealed, White House furious 

Drudge has a news flash up right now: "WHITE HOUSE ANGER AFTER TIME MAGAZINE DETAILS LOCATION OF CHENEY'S 'SECRET BUNKER'..."

This is not news, which I will get to. First, here's the full text of the Drudge item:

WHITE HOUSE ANGER AFTER TIME MAGAZINE DETAILS LOCATION OF CHENEY'S 'SECRET BUNKER'
Tue Jun 15 2004 11:11:34 ET

Top White House officials expressed anger after TIME magazine detailed the location of Vice President Dick Cheney's secret bunker, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

In new editions, TIME revealed "Site R," an underground bunker on the Maryland-Pennsylvania border where the Vice President spent much of his time in 2001.

TIME wrote: "Deep under Raven Rock Mountain, Site R is a secret world of five buildings, each three stories tall, computer filled caverns and a subterranean water reservoir. It is just 7 miles from Camp David."

Raven Rock Mountain is easily found using basic geographical maps.

One White House officials fumed Monday night: "TIME magazine would have revealed secret the location of Anne Frank, if they knew it."

Developing...
Okay. So as I said, this is not really news. The White House might be angry that "TIME magazine detailed the location of...Cheney's secret bunker," but if so, they're angry at the wrong people.

Time simply reprinted, word for word, a segment from James Bamford's new book "A Pretext For War," which was recently released. The book has an Amazon sales rank of 42 as of today, so it's not like TIME is revealing information that nobody would read otherwise.

But in short, Bamford revealed the "secret" location, not TIME.

I put "secret" in quotes because the location of Site R at Raven Rock Mountain has been open knowledge for some time. So has Cheney's presence there during and after 9/11.

A little basic research goes a long way, folks. Note to "White House officials" and Drudge: Don't fly off the handle (or report said flying as breaking news) unless you've done your homework. And if you still want to get angry, get angry at the right people, at least.
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