May 2004

2004 05 31
Abolish Tenure at the New York Times (Safire is lying again edition)


Here is a choice passage from William Safire’s latest:

Present and former C.I.A. types, fresh from exacting their vengeance on their hated critic, Ahmad Chalabi, are telling media outlets that Alawi has always been their asset. This boasting by our leakiest intelligence agents is harmful to the presumptive prime minister because Alawi cannot let himself appear to be any outsider’s puppet. But apparently some of our spooks feel that settling scores and falsely claiming credit takes precedence over U.S. and Iraqi interests.

Those rascally devils at the CIA! On Safire’s telling, in a fit of pique they’ve just let on – falsely – that Allawi is their man, which no one would have known had they just kept hush-hush about it.

Is this true? No. No, it is not true. It is demonstrably false. Let us proceed to the demonstration. Let us confirm that Allawi’s association with the CIA was common knowledge long before his appointment as head of the interim government. Let us turn to lexis-nexis:
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A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2004 05 31
The Religious Policeman . . .


. . . tells us about censorship in Saudi Arabia.

How a country like that functions at all, I have no idea.


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2004 05 31
Christopher Allbritton profiles . . .


. . . a bit of the Baghdad art scene. Very cool.


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2004 05 30
Baker and Iraq


It funny question just occurred to me out of the blue: What the hell is going on with Jim Baker and the Iraqi debt negotiations? Baker was appointed by Bush back in December 2003 to try to work out some sort of agreement with Iraq’s creditors. Iraq has a massive debt and few friends, so the job was an extremely delicate one. Because Baker is allied with the Kissinger/Realist/Bush I Republicans, the appointment was interpreted at the time as a setback for the neo-cons. All eyes were momentarily riveted on Baker.

But I don’t think I’ve heard a bloody thing about the effort since, and it’s not as if I don’t spend several hours a day reading about the subject. What gives? Is it that Iraq needs sovereignty before negotiations can begin in earnest? (But then what use is Baker?) Or is it that Baker is freezing out the press? (Baker knows better than that.) Is it that the subject is thought so boring that no one is covering it? Or have I just missed all the front page stories on Baker’s exciting debt-negotiating adventures? I’ve got a comments section. You know what to do.


Howls of outrage (3)

2004 05 30
Raiding Mr. Chalabi


I’m last guy to shed a tear for Ahmad Chalabi, but I did raise an eyebrow at the manner in which his house was searched. It seemed a bit much. Now we learn this:

When Iraqi police raided the Baghdad home and offices of politician Ahmad Chalabi on May 20, U.S. officials hurried to distance themselves, saying that the operation was an Iraqi affair and that no U.S. government employees were involved.

But eight armed American contractors paid by a U.S. State Department program went on the raid, directing and encouraging the Iraqi police officers who eyewitnesses say ripped out computers, turned over furniture and smashed photographs.

Some of the Americans helped themselves to baklava, apples and diet soda from Chalabi’s refrigerator, and enjoyed their looted snacks in a garden outside, according to members of Chalabi’s staff who were there.

The contractors work for DynCorp, a subsidiary of California-based Computer Sciences Corp. and the company in charge of training and advising Iraqi police through a State Department contract.

A State Department official confirmed the DynCorp workers’ presence during the raid. A DynCorp spokesman declined to comment.

The participation of gun-toting American contractors paid by U.S. taxpayers in a raid that the U.S. government has insisted it did not order is only the latest instance of problems posed by the estimated 20,000 contract security workers serving with more than 60 companies in Iraq.

(Via The Agonist)


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2004 05 30
Tim Dunlop on the Allawi Appointment


Ouch.

That’s gotta sting.


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2004 05 30
Everything peachy-keen in Guantanamo


On the subway this afternoon, I was astonished to read this, in a New York Times piece:

“To date, there have been no accusations of serious prisoner abuse in connection with interrogations at Guantanamo. Most of the criticisms have generally focused on the lack of legal rights and due process and the indefinite nature of the detentions.”

I understand that reporters have to pound these stories out very quickly, and that editors are working under punishing deadlines, etc. etc. etc. But this kind of crap is just inexcusable. (Watch as it takes Robert Waldmann about 3 minutes to demolish the claim.)


A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2004 05 29
Google and Me


We’re getting a lot of traffic from google searches for “Al Gore NYU”. In fact, as of this typing, that search rates our humble site 3rd in list of links. Neato!

The thought occurs to me: I’ll bet Al Gore googles himself. If he has, he has surely read my account of his speech. Read, and perhaps because it was a mixed review, both trembled with regret at my criticisms and wept with relief at my praise.

What frightening power I have attained.


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2004 05 29
Noooooooooo


Contra Atrios, this is not a clever bit of rhetorical judo. (I should say that Atrios doesn’t actually endorse the content of Kerry’s message or think that Kerry necessarily does.) If the reporter interviewing Kerry is representing him properly, then it’s a disgrace:

Sen. John F. Kerry indicated that as president he would play down the promotion of democracy as a leading goal in dealing with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China and Russia, instead focusing on other objectives that he said are more central to the United States’ security.
. . .
In many ways, Kerry laid out a foreign-policy agenda that appeared less idealistic about U.S. aims than President Bush or even fellow Democrat former president Bill Clinton. While Kerry said it was important to sell democracy and “market it” around the world, he demurred when questioned about a number of important countries that suppress human rights and freedoms. He said securing all nuclear materials in Russia, integrating China in the world economy, achieving greater controls over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons or winning greater cooperation on terrorist financing in Saudi Arabia trumped human rights concerns in those nations.

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Howls of outrage (2)

2004 05 28
Eric Idle says “Fuck you very much, FCC”


Posted by in: Music

Heh. (MP3)


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2004 05 28
Parodies


If right-wing blogs torment you, you’ll love this series of parodies of right-wing favourites. Damn, it’s brilliant.

(Via Brian Leiter)


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2004 05 28
But how do we know the torture has stopped?


Posted by in: Political issues, Torture

Helena Cobban wants to know.


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2004 05 28
Reaching across the divide


Some day all the children of the world will hold hands and sing in perfect harmony. And on that day, Rubber Hose won’t be banned from posting perfectly reasonable comments to a right wing website.


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2004 05 28
The Montagnards of Vietnam


Human Rights Watch reports that the Montagnards are having a rough time of it at the hands of Vietnames security forces . . . again.


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2004 05 28
Linux in Iraq


This piece in Wired News nicely combines two of my interests: Open Source Software and Iraq. Read on:
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