Saturday, April 30, 2005

CNN Should Take The First "N" Out 


Cable Network is more like it.

"News"? Sure like the latest Ms Lipstick anchor who tells us that this is just in: A Delta Flight attendant has told one of our correspondents that the bride to be who ran away and then really was killed just dead is still going to marry Mr. Suspect.

Thank God for the miracle ofmodern communications.

And thank God that CNN has embedded Flight Attendants all over this fascinating case.


How Hard Could This Be? 


TIERNEY ON BUSH....Look, I know that conservatives are going to try and describe George Bush's Social Security plan as favorably as they can, but this is just a lie:

Democrats like to portray Mr. Bush as King George or Marie Antoinette. But on Thursday night, when he promised to improve benefits for the poor while limiting them for everyone else, he sounded more like Robin Hood....

Bush didn't promise to improve benefits for the poor, he promised to keep them exactly the same as they are under current law while reducing them for everyone else. Cut the crap, John.


- I mean you have to wonder how hard could it be to write a few columns a week in the New York Times if this is the level of the competition.

I would see my mother to the Arabs to get a paycheck like that just to beat this kind of crap.

Jesus Christ on a Cracker.


Nonsense on Stilts 


wow, I am actually quoting the Cato Institute

Second, government policies that restrict drilling on attractive public lands in Alaska and off America's coasts aren't primarily responsible for our heavy reliance on imported oil. This is: It costs between $5.00 — $7.50 to produce a barrel of domestic oil versus about $1.50 to produce a barrel of Saudi crude. As long as the Persian Gulf nations have a lot of $1.50 a barrel oil laying around — and they do — they're going to dominate the world market whether we allow drilling in environmentally sensitive areas or not.

You Won’t Find This On CNN

Her name is Amina Ali Abduladif. She is 21 years old, and has a 2 year old son and a young daughter (another daugher she had was killed in an accident). And she about to be shot to death in Yemen.

In 1998, Amina's husband was murdered. She was only 14 at the time. Amina was convicted of her killing her husband, and was sentenced to death on May 24, 1999.

This despite an Yemen law that prohibits the death penalty for those under the age of 18.

Amina was reportedly tortured to force her to confess to the crime (a child at 14, under pressure, this seems quite possible). She has since maintained her innocence. This tragedy is compounded by the fact that another man, Muhammad Ali Said Qaba'il, has been sentenced to death for the murder.

Amina's nightmare continued when the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court, and the President of Yemen upheld her death sentence, even though it was outside of the law.

Around 2002, Amina was placed before a firing squad. At 19 years old, she was about to be shot to death for a crime she did not commit.

The executioners armed themselves, raised their weapons, and were about to shoot....until they saw she was pregnant.

While in prison awaiting her death sentence, Amina had been raped by one of the guards.

Thus, Amina was kept alive. She gave birth to her child, and the baby has been living with her, in prison, for the last two years. But the law says that since the child is now two years old, it is time for Amina to die.

On Monday, Amina will again face the firing squad for her husband's murder. And, despite desparate appeals to the President of Yemen, she will be killed.

I searched CNN, MSNBC, FOX, and the rest of the media outlets for Amina's story. It is nowhere to be found.


Why is the NYT Giving Bush Head? 


The NYT's Tierney is now attacking Social Security as a failure and Bush as a Robin Hood.

Tierney will never need SS and has no idea what a safety net is.

So he attacks what remains of the last bit of threading in the net.

NYT Time Sleeps With Satan

Democrats like to portray Mr. Bush as King George or Marie Antoinette. But on Thursday night, when he promised to improve benefits for the poor while limiting them for everyone else, he sounded more like Robin Hood, especially when he rhapsodized about poor people getting a chance to build up assets that they could pass along to their children.

Of course, he is talking about reducing the benefits to most everyone in the United States.

What a nimrod.

Buish is trying to dismantle Social Security.Plain and simple.

And no Teirney, it isn't a ton of money to a rich fuck like you. But to millions of Americans, it's all they have.


Friday, April 29, 2005

Venezuela Calls Us Oppressed 


"I have not returned, nor do I think about returning again, until the people of the United States liberate that nation," said Chavez, saying that Americans are "oppressed" by their government and U.S. media.


From Kos 


Lewis Black trades in the president for a plant...

[George W. Bush] would have made a terrific Elk's Club president, and I am sure he would have done well if he were in charge of the Rotary. Hell, let's just put him in a rotary and let him go around and around and around until he's as dizzy as the rest of us are. That seems to be the only thing most of our presidents are qualified for, anyway.

Where do I begin, and will this ever end? He has uttered banality after banality, in these most serious of times, with a self-confidence that borders on the delusional. Apparently he feels self-confidence is a substitute for intelligence. If you listen to him tell it---and I know that's a chore---he has never made a mistake. For God's sake, what more can we ask of him?

He stumbled with a purpose into a war in Iraq and had absolutely no plan for what to do afterward. And no one even called him on until it was too late. He photo-opted himself onto an aircraft carrier just weeks after the war, appearing in front of a huge banner that read MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. The irony of it all just kills me.

In my lifetime I have gone from John F. Kennedy to John F. Kerry, and from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush. If that's the evolution of leadership in this country, in just a few more years we'll all be voting for plants. Which might not be so bad. After all, thanks to their ecological purpose in this world, at least plants try to clean up the air. And that would certainly be an improvement over what we've got now.


Thursday, April 28, 2005

It'll all be over soon 


Source of bogus anti gay statistic is crackpot anti gay activist.

Oooh. Ouch. White House Forced To Tell The Truth: We’re Not Doing That Well On War on Terrorism.

Don’t ask don’t tell should be don’t continue with this fucked policy.

Bush is blowing smoke on Energy policy.


Bush, and Oil and James Wolcott 


I know it's not right to post someone's whole article. But james Wolcott here is so brilliant. He is as good as Frank Rich at this very moment with this piece, his best work. He points out not just how completely out of touch Bush is with the needs of Americans, but how transparent his efforts are to cover for a failed energy policy.

This last speech will go down the same way his hydrogen fuel speech did.

Here is my prediction: I think Bush is fast slipping into lame duckism. I still think his "team" will continue to harm America with this extremist version of hyper capitalism. But as we move forward, I think he has lost all his credibility. The only real hope we have is that the moderates - rare as they are- will begin to push back. The other hope is that this reign of oil and plutocracy will come apart in 2008.

Forgive me Mr. Wolcott. And thank you.

Green Fades to Brown, Brown Fades to Black
Posted by James Wolcott

Here was an opportunity for President Bush to "think green" for a change. Or at least think unplutocratically, just for the kicky novelty of it. He could have proposed that a few of the military bases facing closure be converted into nature preserves or bird sanctuaries. But that would have been enlightened, ungreedy, and civic-minded. Instead, true to form, dedicated to the destruction of a livable environment for future generations, Bush is trying to boost his sagging poll numbers and beautify the landscape by jamming oil refineries and nuclear plants where the barracks and PXs used to be. He seems determined to ensure that his presidential legacy consists of little more than lies, lost opportunities, and ravagement.

Whether the tide has finally turned against Bush, there's no question the tone of the reporting on him has. Elisabeth Bumiller can get all American Idolly about Bush's iPod playlist, but reporters less kitten-smitten are starting to zing his majesty. I was quite struck this morning by the opening sentence of Kenneth Bazinet's article in the NY Daily News on the Dylanesque neverending Bamboozlepalooza Tour (tm Josh Marshall): "President Bush tried to revive his comatose campaign to privatize Social Security yesterday...."

Comatose! A few months ago, that opening sentence would have been carefully phrased, "President Bush, in an uphill battle to..." or "President Bush, facing a challenge over his Social Security..." But now the campaign is recognized as political roadkill and the reporter even dares use the word "privatize" instead of the recent Rovian formulation "modernize."

Bush's privatization scheme is dead and too dumb to fall over, to borrow a line from Rita Mae Brown. Today in the NY Times, Congressman Charlie Rangel recounts a conversation with Bush over private accounts. Listen closely and you can hear the steel in Bush's spine stiffening as he postures for posterity. Rangel urges Bush to take private accounts off the table, and Bush replies:

"Congressman, I am the president. [As if Rangel needed reminding which office Bush held.] And private accounts are ot coming off the table even if it's the last day I spend in the presidency."

Oooh, so last man at the Alamo. You know that sort of no-retreat, no-capitulation might play well with Americans when Bush is pretending to stand up to terrorists, but most voters recognize that horse-trading and compromise are part of the game in passing legislation, and taking a defiant stand on something most of them oppose (Soc Sec privatization) isn't going to win the gallery applause Bush always expects. He's losing his political touch to his strutting pride--a pride that increasingly takes on the shape of a pathological growth.

Tom DeLay joined Bush on his recent Soc Sec swing, which Bullmoose cites as proof the Bugman Thugman has outplayed Karl Rove:

"Tom DeLay has out-maneuvered the Boy Genius, Karl Rove. DeLay, perhaps more than Rove, comprehends the adage, "Live by the base, die by the base." By attaching himself to the right wing true believers, the Bug Man has made himself bullet-proof to establishment attempts to undermine his rule.

"While observers may deem DeLay's attacks on the judiciary over the top, there is a method to this madness. Delay has successfully tied the right's fate to his.

"So much so that the most powerful man in the world is forced to succumb to DeLay's plan. With his popularity faltering, W cannot antagonize his most faithful believers - even if it may come at a political cost."

I'm not fluent enough in Machiavelli to know who's hoodwinking whom here, but I do think it's a mistake for Rove to be as front and present as he's been recently, giving interviews and laying out the official Bush line. The power of Rove's mystique derived from being in the wings, invisibly manipulating and cooking up mischief. To have him out there doing an Andy Card deprives Bush of sinister backup reserve, which he sorely needs these days as his facade crumbles and he becomes a handholding joke.

Unrelated: At Antiwar.com, Justin Raimondo has a rousing attack on the vilification of Maria Ruzicka by neocon werewolves. Joshua Frank, ditto. I wonder how long it'll be before Rick Kaplan gives grave-dancing columnist Debbie Schulssel her own MSNBC show. Any network that would give Bo Dietl an hour of airtime to spew is capable of anything. But more on Bo and the unfortunate Lisa Daniels later.


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Jesus Christ On A Cracker 


LBJ was no better than Bush. LBJ, was a terrible anti Communism anti insurgency wartime president.

Faust and Bolton

The other possible explanation is much harder. The argument runs like this. It is clear with the collapse of the arguments of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, a link to al-Qaida, more oil for the United States and a new Iraq as a beacon of democracy in the Middle East, that the real reason for the Iraq war was that President George W. Bush needed to be a war president to get the second term his father didn't get. Thus, the war.

The trouble was that, with more than 1,500 Americans and thousands of Iraqis now dead and the war nowhere near over, that has turned out to be a pact that Bush and his supporters made with the devil. Examples of that sort of bargain are found in "Faust" and in "The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant," made into the musical "Damn Yankees."

The problem is manifesting itself in the fact that Bush's second term is not turning out to be a "New Jerusalem." It is becoming, instead, a nightmare of a hard-to-end war abroad and economic disaster at home, featuring high casualties and financial costs, no job creation and inflation.

To pursue the image, the devil is now presenting his bill and he wants your soul. This concept may seem fanciful, but if one is a firm, sincere believer in hell as well as in heaven, solid born-again beliefs, and the policies one has pursued have had as even an unintentional result the death of 1,500 of one's own people and thousands more, reflection on what one has done and prayer could cause one to lose one's place on the page.

Time with thoughtful people in Washington, hours on the turnpike and the words of country music songs can produce singular conclusions. What is clear in any case is that the Bush administration is now showing serious signs of being politically tone-deaf, for whatever reason. This will require more careful listening.

For those Republicans who say that a loss on Mr. Bolton would be the first indication that Mr. Bush is a lame duck, the lobbyist said, "The next three years are going to be about rebuilding relationships with Europe, not a temporary label of lame duck."

An administration official said that there was no "Bolton war room" at the White House to set strategy on securing the nomination, but that Mr. Bolton's prospects were discussed daily in the West Wing. The officials said the focus on Mr. Bolton would intensify as a scheduled May 12 vote by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the nomination drew closer, and that Mr. Bush might summon to the Oval Office for arm twisting some of the 4 of 10 Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee who have expressed concerns about Mr. Bolton. One Republican vote against Mr. Bolton on the committee could keep the nomination from reaching the Senate floor.

The Enlightenment Pisses Off Christians

I never thought I'd live to see a time when the Enlightenment -- the Enlightenment! -- was politically controversial. Democracy, like science, depends on debate, tolerance, and evidence. And in a democracy, nothing is scarier than a political force convinced it is getting irrefutable truth directly from God.

Insurgency’s Back Apparently Not Broken, So Says Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff

WASHINGTON, April 26 (Reuters) - Iraq's insurgency remains undiminished in its capabilities in the past year despite U.S.-led efforts to crush the rebels, the top American general said on Tuesday.

"I think their capacity stays about the same," Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said of Iraq's insurgents during a Pentagon briefing. "And where they are right now is where they were almost a year ago."

Asked during the briefing "are we winning" the war, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld did not directly respond.

"The United States and the coalition forces, in my personal view, will not be the thing that will defeat the insurgency," Rumsfeld said.

"So, therefore, winning or losing is not the issue for 'we,' in my view, in the traditional, conventional context of using the word 'winning' and 'losing' in a war. The people that are going to defeat that insurgency are going to be the Iraqis."

Fallujah: Our Own Guernica

Other glimpses of life in Falluja come from Dr Hafid al-Dulaimi, head of the city's compensation commission, who reports that 36,000 homes were destroyed in the US onslaught, along with 8,400 shops. Sixty nurseries and schools were ruined, along with 65 mosques and religious sanctuaries.

Daud Salman, an Iraqi journalist with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, on a visit to Falluja two weeks ago, found that only a quarter of the city's residents had gone back. Thousands remain in tents on the outskirts. The Iraqi Red Crescent finds it hard to go in to help the sick because of the US cordon around the city.

Burhan Fasa'a, a cameraman for the Lebanese Broadcasting Company, reported during the siege that dead family members were buried in their gardens because people could not leave their homes. Refugees told one of us that civilians carrying white flags were gunned down by American soldiers. Corpses were tied to US tanks and paraded around like trophies.

Justin Alexander, a volunteer for Christian Peacemaker Teams, recently found hundreds living in tents in the grounds of their homes, or in a single patched-up room. A strict system of identity cards blocks access to anyone whose papers give a birthplace outside Falluja, so long-term residents born elsewhere cannot go home. "Fallujans feel the remnants of their city have been turned into a giant prison," he reports.

Many complain that soldiers of the Iraqi national guard, the fledgling new army, loot shops during the night-time curfew and detain people in order to take a bribe for their release. They are suspected of being members of the Badr Brigade, a Shia militia that wants revenge against Sunnis.

One thing is certain: the attack on Falluja has done nothing to still the insurgency against the US-British occupation nor produced the death of al-Zarqawi - any more than the invasion of Afghanistan achieved the capture or death of Osama bin Laden. Thousands of bereaved and homeless Falluja families have a new reason to hate the US and its allies.

Bolton Is A Neanderthal
Look, this is not simply about people disliking the guy. He's the absolute worst choice to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, especially as that body is set to undertake a comprehensive and needed set of reforms. Bush and Cheney are wrong: There is nothing partisan or nitpicky about the opposition that has formed to Bolton's nomination. Bush should withdraw it; if he doesn't, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should kill it.

Bill Frist kissy kissy with Tony Perkins, Tony Perkins kissy kissy with KKK.

Abu Gharaib Tip Of The Iceberg

No accountability at Abu Gharaib


Who Elected This Fuck? 


Rove spins, falsely, on nuclear compromise

Fresh from his successes leading the fight to privatize Social Security -- after three months of concerted White House efforts, the president's approval rating on the issue has dropped to 31 percent -- Karl Rove is injecting himself into the Senate's deliberations over George W. Bush's judicial nominees. In an interview with USAToday, Rove says he's opposed to any compromise on the "nuclear option" that would involve anything less than up-or-down floor votes on every one of the president's judicial nominees.

Rove's point: The president has already compromised. "Rove said Bush tried to end the stalemate when he renominated just seven of the 10 nominees who had been blocked last year," USAToday reports. Those obstructionist Democrats didn't reciprocate. "I saw no change in tone," Rove said. "The flamethrowers ... came out within moments."

It's a nice story Rove tells about the president's attempt to make peace with the Democrats; it's just not exactly true. When the White House announced in December that Bush would re-nominate the seven judges, White House officials told the New York Times that Bush had offered all of the stalled judges the chance to be re-nominated. Two of them, Carolyn Kuhl and Claude Allen, declined. A third, Charles Pickering, who Bush had placed on the Fifth Circuit through a recess appointment, chose to retire rather than seek Senate confirmation again.


Who Elected This Fuck? 


Rove spins, falsely, on nuclear compromise

Fresh from his successes leading the fight to privatize Social Security -- after three months of concerted White House efforts, the president's approval rating on the issue has dropped to 31 percent -- Karl Rove is injecting himself into the Senate's deliberations over George W. Bush's judicial nominees. In an interview with USAToday, Rove says he's opposed to any compromise on the "nuclear option" that would involve anything less than up-or-down floor votes on every one of the president's judicial nominees.

Rove's point: The president has already compromised. "Rove said Bush tried to end the stalemate when he renominated just seven of the 10 nominees who had been blocked last year," USAToday reports. Those obstructionist Democrats didn't reciprocate. "I saw no change in tone," Rove said. "The flamethrowers ... came out within moments."

It's a nice story Rove tells about the president's attempt to make peace with the Democrats; it's just not exactly true. When the White House announced in December that Bush would re-nominate the seven judges, White House officials told the New York Times that Bush had offered all of the stalled judges the chance to be re-nominated. Two of them, Carolyn Kuhl and Claude Allen, declined. A third, Charles Pickering, who Bush had placed on the Fifth Circuit through a recess appointment, chose to retire rather than seek Senate confirmation again.


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Ooh. Ouch. 

Juan Cole To MSM: Fuck. You. 


Mainstream Media and Bloggers

Matthew Haughey says he won't read our blogs if we use the term "mainstream media" (a.k.a. MSM).

A news flash for Matt: We don't care.

We don't care if you read our web logs.

The difference, Matt, is that we are independent actors, not part of a small set of multi-billion dollar corporations. The difference is that we are not under the constraints of making a 15% profit. The difference is that we are a distributed information system, whereas MSM is like a set of stand-alone mainframes. The difference is that we can say what we damn well please.

If we were the mainstream media (perhaps better thought of as corporate media), we would care if you threatened to stop reading us. Because although we might be professional news people, we would have the misfortune to be working for corporations that are mainly be about making money.

We would be ordered to try to avoid saying anything too controversial (and I don't mean "Crossfire" controversial), because we would be calculating what would bring in 15% profits per annum on our operating capital. Would hours and hours of television "reportage" and discussion of Michael Jackson or of Terri Schiavo or Scott Peterson (remember?) bring in viewers and advertising dollars? Then that is what we would be giving the public. Bread and circuses.

Would giving airtime to Iraq, where we Americans have 138,000 troops and are spending $300 billion that we don't have, be too depressing to bring in the audience and advertising and the 15% profit? Then we would dump it in favor of bread and circuses. We'd dump Afghanistan as a story even faster, since there are "only" 17,000 US troops in that country, and it is only a place where Ben Laden may be hiding out and from which the US was struck on 9/11, leaving 3,000 dead and the Pentagon and World Trade Center smouldering.

If we were the mainstream media as Ashleigh Banfield was, our careers would be over if we mentioned a little thing like the replacement of journalism with patriotism in the coverage of the Iraq War. Or if we said things like Ashley did of March-April 2003,
"You didn't see where those bullets landed. You didn't see what happened when the mortar landed. A puff of smoke is not what a mortar looks like when it explodes, believe me. There are horrors that were completely left out of this war. So was this journalism or was this coverage-? There is a grand difference between journalism and coverage, and getting access does not mean you're getting the story, it just means you're getting one more arm or leg of the story . . . I can't tell you how bad the civilian casualties were. I saw a couple of pictures. I saw French television pictures, I saw a few things here and there, but to truly understand what war is all about you've got to be on both sides. You've got to be a unilateral, someone who's able to cover from outside of both front lines, which, by the way, is the most dangerous way to cover a war, which is the way most of us covered Afghanistan. There were no front lines, they were all over the place. They were caves, they were mountains, they were cobbled, they were everything. But we really don't know from this latest adventure from the American military what this thing looked like and why perhaps we should never do it again. The other thing is that so many voices were silent in this war. We all know what happened to Susan Sarandon for speaking out, and her husband, and we all know that this is not the way Americans truly want to be. Free speech is a wonderful thing, it's what we fight for, but the minute it's unpalatable we fight against it for some reason."

If we were mainstream media we would be wholly owned subsidiaries of General Electric, the Disney Corporation, Time Warner, Rupert Murdoch, Viacom and so on and so forth. Ninety percent of cable channels are owned by the same companies that own the big television networks.

It isn't a matter of journalism being a business. How good journalism is when practiced in the service of a business depends on the owner's philosophy and economic goals. Ted Turner writes,

"When CNN reported to me, if we needed more money for Kosovo or Baghdad, we'd find it. If we had to bust the budget, we busted the budget. We put journalism first, and that's how we built CNN into something the world wanted to watch. I had the power to make these budget decisions because they were my companies. I was an independent entrepreneur who controlled the majority of the votes and could run my company for the long term. Top managers in these huge media conglomerates run their companies for the short term. After we sold Turner Broadcasting to Time Warner, we came under such earnings pressure that we had to cut our promotion budget every year at CNN to make our numbers. Media mega-mergers inevitably lead to an overemphasis on short-term earnings."

If we were the mainstream media, we would be accountable to CEOs and editors and advertisers, all of whom have motives for suppressing some pieces of news and highlighting others. You might think to yourself that this is a diverse enough group that the story would still get through. But with media consolidation, fewer and fewer persons make the decisions.

Turner adds:

"These big companies are not antagonistic; they do billions of dollars in business with each other. They don't compete; they cooperate to inhibit competition. You and I have both felt the impact. I felt it in 1981, when CBS, NBC, and ABC all came together to try to keep CNN from covering the White House. You've felt the impact over the past two years, as you saw little news from ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, Fox, or CNN on the FCC's actions. In early 2003, the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of Americans had heard "nothing at all" about the proposed FCC rule changes. Why? One never knows for sure, but it must have been clear to news directors that the more they covered this issue, the harder it would be for their corporate bosses to get the policy result they wanted. A few media conglomerates now exercise a near-monopoly over television news. There is always a risk that news organizations can emphasize or ignore stories to serve their corporate purpose. But the risk is far greater when there are no independent competitors to air the side of the story the corporation wants to ignore. More consolidation has often meant more news-sharing. But closing bureaus and downsizing staff have more than economic consequences. A smaller press is less capable of holding our leaders accountable. When Viacom merged two news stations it owned in Los Angeles, reports The American Journalism Review, "field reporters began carrying microphones labeled KCBS on one side and KCAL on the other." This was no accident. As the Viacom executive in charge told The Los Angeles Business Journal: "In this duopoly, we should be able to control the news in the marketplace." This ability to control the news is especially worrisome when a large media organization is itself the subject of a news story. Disney's boss, after buying ABC in 1995, was quoted in LA Weekly as saying, "I would prefer ABC not cover Disney." A few days later, ABC killed a "20/20" story critical of the parent company."

Matt thinks it matters that he and other bloggers have been on television, or that mainstream media now maintains blogs. Neither thing matters. Blogs operate in a different political economy than does mainstream media. Bloggers' "editors" are the readers and the Daily Kos and Eschaton commentators who use collective intelligence to improve them. Their motive is not the profit motive for the most part. Most bloggers are hobbyists.

So, yes, Matt. There is a difference between these little dog and pony shows we post from our homes, with no editor, no CEO, no boss, and no resources beyond our personal experiences, talent and acumen. If Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo was published by mainstream media, would he still be allowed to say everything he now says? Would Tom Engelhardt be allowed to discuss the ways in which the Iraq quagmire suggests the limits of superpowerdom if he were working for the Big Six? If Bill Montgomery worked for The Weather Channel, would he be allowed to criticize Senator Rick Sanatarium for trying to keep Federal forecasters from "competing" with private weather forecasting companies? Would Riverbend be allowed to be so incisive if she worked for a big Iraqi computer firm? Remember the famous question, "Can blogging get you fired?"

And this difference, my friends, accounts for why bloggers get vilified. Journalists can be switched to another story, or fired, or their stories can be buried on page 36. We can't be fired. So if Martin Peretz doesn't like what we have to say, he will publish a hatchet job on us in The New Republic, seeking to make us taboo. If you can't shut people up, and you really don't want their voices heard, then all you can do is try to persuade others not to listen to them or give them a platform. The easiest way to do this is to falsely accuse them of racism or Communism some other character flaw unacceptable to polite society. Because of the distributed character of blogging "computing," however, such tactics are probably doomed to fail.

We are not the mainstream media, and we are here. Get used to it.

posted by Juan @ 4/26/2005 06:10:00 AM




“Calling a Social security Private Account a sweetener is like trying to convince your kid to eat spinach by offering him a turnip for desert.”

-Peter Orszag of Brookings and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities




Toughest Commute in Iraq.

Many Soldiers In Theater Undertrained.

Supreme Court Denies POWs Claim

Turns Out Businesses Pay For Politicians' Business Travel All The Time

Said Waxman: ''It is indefensible to conceal the terrorism numbers from Congress and the public."

Hammered by criticism after Johnson's allegations, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher last week denied that the decision to stop tabulating attacks was political. Boucher said the new National Counterterrorism Center would handle any public dissemination of statistics, though he was unable to say when it would provide the official 2004 numbers.

In another recent case, Human Rights Watch earlier this month found an unclassified draft of a new policy on a Defense Department website. The document proposed holding suspected Iraqi insurgents without trial in the same way that accused Taliban members have been imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.


Oil Play In One Act 


Bush: Er...Prince Abdulla.....could you pump any more oil before the midterm elections. I mean high gas prices might hurt support of the uh...march of freedom...

Prince:. No.

Bush: Alrighty then.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Congress Isn’t All Bad 



April 25, 2005

Scott McClellan
Assistant to the President and Press Secretary
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. McClellan,

We write to ask you to identify who in your office, or in the White House generally, gave Mr. James Guckert a.k.a. "Jeff Gannon" virtually unfettered access to the White House. In reviewing the response to our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the Department of Homeland Security several of our specific concerns were validated. While your office and the White House have claimed Gannon was treated as just another reporter, the records we have obtained affirm that Gannon was granted access to the White House which appears to be unusual for any reporter. Out of concern for not only security, but also avoiding White House dissemination of propaganda, we request an explanation to the following:

1 The Department of Homeland Security's records indicate that Mr. "Gannon" entered the White House Complex 196 times in the past two years. He attended 155 of the 196 press conferences held at the White House in the two year period. This is disconcerting considering that your office and "Mr. Gannon" have maintained that his access was sporadic. At what point is a "hard pass" required?

2 The records show that Mr. "Gannon" was allowed access to the White House 38 times when no public press events occurred. He also spent hours in the White House both before and after press events took place. With whom did he meet on those occasions and what was the subject matter of those meetings?

3 On 13 occasions there is a record where he checked in with security, but is never registered as leaving the White House complex. How do you explain this?

4 Your Media Assistant, Lois Cassano, requested a total of 48 day passes for Mr. "Gannon" which helped facilitate his access for nearly 200 times over the last two years. It is nearly impossible that she would have made Gannon such a priority without direction from a supervisor. Would you like to revise your claim that, "I don't involve myself in that process, it's handled at a staff level."[1]

These records appear to confirm our concern that Gannon was treated in a manner that deviated from standard Wnhite House procedure for determining who receives press credentials, and to what degree members of the press and public are granted access to the White House complex. In fact, these entry and exit records only raise more questions, as your office has issued conflicting statements about his activities and apparently abused the press pass policy to avoid a full-fledged background investigation and allow Republican propaganda to be disseminated through a counterfeit media operation and a fake reporter.

Mr. McClellan, we have yet to receive any direct communication from your office in response to our repeated requests for information. The American people deserve to know what is happening in the White House Briefing room. It is unacceptable that you continue to deny them this information.



Rep. Louise Slaughter
House Rules Committee
Ranking Member

Rep. John Conyers, Jr.
House Judiciary Committee
Ranking Member


Ha ha ha. 


That's how they'd operated all along: Two-thirds media stunt, one-third border control.

As for their whole idea of a band of armed volunteers fanning out across the southern Arizona desert to keep illegals out? The evidence is now quite clear: A difficult situation along the border was made just a little bit worse.

Tripping the U.S. Border Patrol's electronic sensors.

Leaving footprints on dirt paths the agents had carefully swept clear.

Creating a constant rush of false alarms.

"They have made things more difficult for us," said U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Andres Adame.

Gee, thanks, Minutemen!


More Shit 


The Dreamland The Pres and the Press Live in

The point is that people sense, correctly, that Mr. Bush doesn't understand their concerns. He was sold on privatization by people who have made their careers in the self-referential, corporate-sponsored world of conservative think tanks. And he himself has no personal experience with the risks that working families face. He's probably never imagined what it would be like to be destitute in his old age, with no guaranteed income.

Iraqis Troops Are Going AWOL

Iraqi army and police units are deserting their posts after the recent escalation in insurgent attacks, according to reports from around the country yesterday.

1.4 million Americans in the military, 2.1 Americans in jail.

Had It

"I'm checking out," Corporal Winn said. "When I started, I wanted to make it my career. I've had enough."

Medicaid Bill Limits Appeals


Sunday, April 24, 2005

What I Heard About Iraq by Eliot Weinberger 


I heard... a year after the first Gulf war, I heard Dick Cheney, then Secretary of Defense, say that the US had been wise not to invade Baghdad, since it would have meant getting "bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq." I heard him say: "The question in my mind is: How many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is: Not very damned many."

In February 2001, I heard Colin Powell say that Saddam Hussein "has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."

That same month, I heard that a CIA report stated: "We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has used the period since Desert Fox to reconstitute its weapons of mass destruction programs."

Two months later, I heard Condoleezza Rice say: "We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."

On September 11, 2001, six hours after the attacks, I heard that Donald Rumsfeld said that it might be an opportunity to "hit" Iraq. I heard that he said: "Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

I heard that Condoleezza Rice asked: "How do you capitalize on these opportunities?"

I heard that on September 17 the President signed a document marked "TOP SECRET" that directed the Pentagon to begin planning for the invasion and that, some months later, he secretly and illegally diverted $700 million approved by Congress for operations in Afghanistan into preparing for the new battle front.

In February 2002, I heard that an unnamed "senior military commander" said: "We are moving military and intelligence personnel and resources out of Afghanistan to get ready for a future war in Iraq."

I heard the President say that Iraq is "a threat of unique urgency," and that there is "no doubt the Iraqi regime continues to possess the most lethal weapons ever devised."

I heard the Vice President say: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."

I heard the President tell Congress, "The danger to our country is grave. The danger to our country is growing. The regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material, could build one within a year."

And that same day, I heard him say: "The dangers we face will only worsen from month to month and from year to year. To ignore these threats is to encourage them. And when they have fully materialized it may be too late to protect ourselves and our friends and our allies. By then the Iraqi dictator would have the means to terrorize and dominate the region. Each passing day could be the one on which the Iraqi regime gives anthrax or VX-nerve gas-or some day a nuclear weapon to a terrorist ally."

I heard the President, in the State of the Union Address, say that Iraq was hiding 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, and 500 tons of sarin, mustard, and nerve gas. I heard the President say that Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium-later specified as "yellowcake" uranium oxide from Niger-and thousands of aluminum tubes "suitable for nuclear weapons production."

I heard the Vice President say: "We know that he's been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." I heard the President say: "Imagine those nineteen hijackers with other weapons and other plans-this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known."

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent. I would not be so certain."

I heard the President say: "America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof-the smoking gun-that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

I heard Condoleezza Rice say: "We don't want the 'smoking gun' to be a mushroom cloud."

I heard the American Ambassador to the European Union tell the Europeans: "You had Hitler in Europe and no one really did anything about him. The same type of person is in Baghdad."

I heard Colin Powell at the United Nations say: "They can produce enough dry biological agent in a single month to kill thousands upon thousands of people. Saddam Hussein has never accounted for vast amounts of chemical weaponry: 550 artillery shells with mustard gas, 30,000 empty munitions, and enough precursors to increase his stockpile to as much as 500 tons of chemical agents. Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical-weapons agent. Even the low end of 100 tons of agent would enable Saddam Hussein to cause mass casualties across more than 100 square miles of territory, an area nearly five times the size of Manhattan."

I heard him say: "Every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence."

I heard the President say that "Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas." I heard him say that Iraq "could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as forty-five minutes after the order is given." I heard Tony Blair say: "We are asked to accept Saddam decided to destroy those weapons. I say that such a claim is palpably absurd."

I heard the President say: "We know that Iraq and al-Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. We've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bombmaking and poisons and deadly gases. Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraq regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints."

I heard the Vice President say: "There's overwhelming evidence there was a connection between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi government. I am very confident there was an established relationship there."

I heard Colin Powell say: "Iraqi officials deny accusations of ties with al-Qaeda. These denials are simply not credible."

I heard Condoleezza Rice say: "There clearly are contacts between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein that can be documented." I heard the President say: "You can't distinguish between al- Qaeda and Saddam."

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "Imagine a September eleventh with weapons of mass destruction. It's not three thousand- it's tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children."

I heard Colin Powell tell the Senate that "a moment of truth is coming": "This is not just an academic exercise or the United States being in a fit of pique. We're talking about real weapons. We're talking about anthrax. We're talking about botulinum toxin. We're talking about nuclear weapons programs."

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people."

I heard the President, "bristling with irritation," say: "This business about time, how much time do we need to see clearly that he's not disarming? He is delaying. He is deceiving. He is asking for time. He's playing hide-and-seek with inspectors. One thing for sure is, he's not disarming. Surely our friends have learned lessons from the past. This looks like a rerun of a bad movie and I'm not interested in watching it."

I heard that, a few days before authorizing the invasion of Iraq, the Senate was told, in a classified briefing by the Pentagon, that Iraq could launch anthrax and other biological and chemical weapons against the Eastern seaboard of the United States using unmanned aerial "drones."

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say he would present no specific evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction because it might jeopardize the military mission by revealing to Baghdad what the United States knows.

I heard the Pentagon spokesman call the military plan "ADay," or "Shock and Awe." Three or four hundred Cruise Missiles launched every day, until "there will not be a safe place in Baghdad," until "you have this simultaneous effect, rather like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, not taking days or weeks but in minutes." I heard the spokesman say: "You're sitting in Baghdad and all of a sudden you're the general and thirty of your division headquarters have been wiped out. You also take the city down. By that I mean you get rid of their power, water. In two, three, four, five days they are physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted." I heard him say: "The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never contemplated."

I heard Major General Charles Swannack promise that his troops were going to "use a sledgehammer to smash a walnut."

I heard the Pentagon spokesman say: "This is not going to be your father's Persian Gulf war."

I heard that Saddam's strategy against the American invasion would be to blow up dams, bridges, and the oil fields; and to cut off food supplies to the south, so that the Americans would suddenly have to feed millions of desperate civilians. I heard that Baghdad would be encircled by two rings of the elite Republican Guard, in fighting positions already stocked with weapons and supplies, and equipped with chemical protective gear against the poison gas or germ weapons they would be using against the American troops.

I heard Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby tell Congress that Saddam would "employ a 'scorched earth' strategy, destroying food, transportation, energy and other infrastructures, attempting to create a humanitarian disaster," and that he would blame it all on the Americans.

I heard that Iraq would fire its long-range Scud missiles, equipped with chemical or biological warheads, at Israel, to "portray the war as a battle with an American-Israeli coalition and build support in the Arab world."

I heard that Saddam had elaborate and labyrinthine underground bunkers for his protection, and that it might be necessary to employ B-61 Mod 11 nuclear "bunker-buster" bombs to destroy them.

I heard the Vice President say that the war would be over in "weeks rather than months."

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say there was "no question" that American troops would be "welcomed": "Go back to Afghanistan, the people were in the streets playing music, cheering, flying kites, and doing all the things that the Taliban and the al-Qaeda would not let them do."

I heard the Vice President say: "The Middle East expert Professor Fouad Ajami predicts that after liberation the streets in Basra and Baghdad are 'sure to erupt in joy.' Extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of jihad. Moderates throughout the region would take heart. And our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced."

I heard the Vice President say: "I really do believe we will be greeted as liberators."

I heard Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi foreign minister say: "American soldiers will not be received by flowers. They will be received by bullets."

I heard that the President told the television evangelist Pat Robertson: "Oh, we're not going to have any casualties."

I heard the President say that he had not consulted with his father about the coming war: "You know he is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There is a higher father I appeal to."

I heard the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands express surprise that his was one of the nations enlisted in the Coalition of the Willing: "I was completely unaware of it."

I heard the President tell the Iraqi people, on the night before the invasion began: "If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you. As our Coalition takes away their power we will deliver the food and medicine you need. We will tear down the apparatus of terror. And we will help you build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free. In a free Iraq there will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbors, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms. The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near."

I heard him tell the Iraqi people: "We will not relent until your country is free."

I heard the Vice President say: "By any standard of even the most dazzling charges in military history, the Germans in the Ardennes in the spring of 1940 or Patton's romp in July of 1944, the present race to Baghdad is unprecedented in its speed and daring and in the lightness of casualties."

I heard Colonel David Hackworth say: "Hey diddle diddle, it's straight up the middle!"

I heard the Pentagon spokesman say that ninety-five percent of the Iraqi casualties were "military-age males."

I heard an official from the Red Crescent say: "On one stretch of highway alone, there were more than fifty civilian cars, each with four or five people incinerated inside, that sat in the sun for ten or fifteen days before they were buried nearby by volunteers. That is what there will be for their relatives to come and find. War is bad, but its remnants are worse."

I heard the director of a hospital in Baghdad say: "The whole hospital is an emergency room. The nature of the injuries is so severe-one body without a head, someone else with their abdomen ripped open." I heard him say: "Human beings are so frail in the face of these weapons of war."

I heard an American soldier say: "There's a picture of the World Trade Center hanging up by my bed and I keep one in my Kevlar [flak jacket]. Every time I feel sorry for these people I look at that. I think, 'They hit us at home and now it's our turn.'"

I heard about Hashim, a fat, "painfully shy" fifteen-year-old, who liked to sit for hours by the river with his birdcage, and who was shot by the Fourth Infantry Division in a raid on his village. Asked about the details of the boy's death, the Division Commander said: "That person was probably in the wrong place at the wrong time."

I heard an American soldier say: "We get rocks thrown at us by kids. You wanna turn around and shoot one of the little fuckers, but you know you can' t do that."

I heard the Pentagon spokesman say that the US did not count civilian casualties: "Our efforts focus on destroying the enemy's capabilities, so we never target civilians and have no reason to try to count such unintended deaths." I heard him say that, in any event, it would be impossible, because the Iraqi paramilitaries were fighting in civilian clothes, the military was using civilian human shields, and many of the civilian deaths were the result of Iraqi "unaimed anti-aircraft fire falling back to earth."

I heard an American soldier say: "The worst thing is to shoot one of them, then go help him," as regulations require. "Shit, I didn't help any of them. I wouldn't help the fuckers. There were some you let die. And there were some you doubletapped. Once you'd reached the objective, and once you'd shot them and you're moving through, anything there, you shoot again. You didn't want any prisoners of war."

I heard Anmar Uday, the doctor who had cared for Private Jessica Lynch, say; "We heard the helicopters. We were surprised. Why do this? There was no military. There were no soldiers in the hospitals. It was like a Hollywood film. They cried 'Go, go, go,' with guns and flares and the sound of explosions. They made a show-an action movie like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan, with jumping and shouting, breaking down doors. All the time with cameras rolling."

I heard Private Jessica Lynch say: "They used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no truth about." I heard her say, about the stories that she had bravely fought off her captors, and suffered bullet and stab wounds: "I'm not about to take credit for something I didn't do." I heard her say, about her dramatic "rescue": "I don't think it happened quite like that."

I heard the Red Cross say that casualties in Baghdad were so high, the hospitals had stopped counting.

I heard an old man say, after eleven members of his family- children and grandchildren-were killed when a tank blew up their minivan: "Our home is an empty place. We who are left are like wild animals. All we can do is cry out."

As the riots and looting broke out, I heard a man in the Baghdad market say: "Saddam Hussein's greatest crime is that he brought the American army to Iraq."

As the riots and looting broke out, I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "It's untidy, and freedom's untidy."

I heard him say: "I picked up a newspaper today and I couldn't believe it. I read eight headlines that talked about chaos, violence, unrest. And it just was Henny Penny-'The sky is falling'. I've never seen anything like it! And here is a country that's being liberated, here are people who are going from being repressed and held under the thumb of a vicious dictator, and they're free. And all this newspaper could do, with eight or ten headlines, they showed a man bleeding, a civilian, who they claimed we had shot-one thing after another. It's just unbelievable."

And when the National Museum was emptied and the National Library burned down, I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "The images you are seeing on television you are seeing over, and over, and over, and it's the same picture of some person walking out of some building with a vase, and you see it twenty times, and you think, 'My goodness, were there that many vases? Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country?'"

I heard that 10,000 Iraqi civilians were dead.

I heard Colin Powell say: "I'm absolutely sure that there are weapons of mass destruction there and the evidence will be forthcoming. We're just getting it just now."

I heard the President say: "We'll find them. It'll be a matter of time to do so."

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad, and east, west, south, and north, somewhat."

I heard the US was building fourteen "enduring bases," capable of housing 110,000 soldiers, and I heard Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt call them "a blueprint for how we could operate in the Middle East." I heard that the US was building its largest embassy in the world.

I heard that it would be a matter of months until Starbuck's and McDonald's opened branches in Baghdad. I heard that the HSBC bank would have cash machines all over the country.

I heard about the trade fairs run by New Bridges Strategies, a consulting firm that promised access to the Iraqi market. I heard one of its partners say: "Getting the rights to distribute Proctor & Gamble can be a goldmine. One well-stocked 7-Eleven could knock out thirty Iraqi stores. A Wal-Mart could take over the country."

On May 1, 2003, I heard the President, dressed up as a pilot, under a banner that read "Mission Accomplished," declaring that combat operations were over: "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the eleventh, 2001." I heard him say: "The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We've removed an ally of al-Qaeda, and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more. In these nineteen months that changed the world, our actions have been focused and deliberate and proportionate to the offense. We have not forgotten the victims of September the eleventh-the last phone calls, the cold murder of children, the searches in the rubble. With those attacks, the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States. And war is what they got."

On May 1, 2003, I heard that 140 American soldiers had died in combat in Iraq.

I heard Richard Perle tell Americans to "relax and celebrate victory." I heard him say: "The predictions of those who opposed this war can be discarded like spent cartridges."

I heard Lieutenant General Jay Garner say: "We ought to look in a mirror and get proud and stick out our chests and suck in our bellies and say: 'Damn, we're Americans.'"

And later I heard that I could buy a twelve-inch "Elite Force Aviator: George W. Bush" action figure: "Exacting in detail and fully equipped with authentic gear, this limited-edition action figure is a meticulous 1:6 scale recreation of the Commander-in-Chief's appearance during his historic Aircraft Carrier landing. This fully poseable figure features a realistic head sculpt, fully detailed cloth flight suit, helmet with oxygen mask, survival vest, g-pants, parachute harness and much more."

In February 2003, a month before the invasion, I heard General Eric Shinseki tell Congress that "several hundred thousand troops" would be needed to occupy Iraq. I heard him ridiculed by Paul Wolfowitz as "wildly off the mark." I heard that the Secretary of the Army, Thomas White, a former general, was fired for agreeing with Shinseki. In May 2003, I heard that Pentagon planners had predicted that US troop levels would fall to 30,000 by the end of the summer.

I heard that Paul Bremer's first act as director of the Coalition Provisional Authority was to fire all members of the Baath Party, including 100,000 civil servants, policemen, teachers, and doctors, and to dismiss all 400,000 soldiers of the Iraqi Army without pay or pensions. Two million people were dependent on that income. Since America supports private gun ownership, the soldiers were allowed to keep their weapons. I heard that hundreds were being kidnapped and raped in Baghdad alone; that schools, hospitals, shops, and factories were being looted; that it was impossible to restore the electricity because all the copper wire had been stolen from the power plants.

I heard Paul Bremer say: "Most of the country is, in fact, orderly," and that all the problems were coming from "several hundred hard-core terrorists" from al- Qaeda and affiliated groups.

As attacks on American troops increased, I heard the generals disagree about who was fighting: Islamic fundamentalists or remnants of the Baath Party or Iraqi mercenaries or foreign mercenaries or ordinary citizens taking revenge for the loss of loved ones. I heard the President and the Vice President and the politicians and the television reporters simply call them "terrorists." I heard the President say: "There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is: Bring them on! We have the force necessary to deal with the situation."

I heard that 25,000 Iraqi civilians were dead.

I heard Arnold Schwarzenegger, then campaigning for governor, in Baghdad for a special showing to the troops of Terminator 3 say: "It is really wild driving round here, I mean the poverty, and you see there is no money, it is disastrous financially and there is the leadership vacuum, pretty much like California." I heard that the Army was wrapping entire villages in barbed wire, with signs that read: "This fence is here for your protection. Do not approach or try to cross, or you will be shot." In one of those villages, I heard a man named Tariq say: "I see no difference between us and the Palestinians."

I heard Captain Todd Brown say: "You have to understand the Arab mind. The only thing they understand is force-force, pride, and saving face."

I heard that the US, in "a gift from the American people to the Iraqi people," had committed $18.4 billion to the reconstruction of basic infrastructure, but that future Iraqi governments would have no say in how the money was spent. I heard that the economy was opened to foreign ownership, and that this could not be changed. I heard that the Iraqi army would be under the command of the US, and that this could not be changed. I heard, however, that "full authority" for health and hospitals had been turned over to the Iraqis, and that senior American health advisers had been withdrawn. I heard Tommy Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services, say that Iraq's hospitals would be fine if the Iraqis "just washed their hands and cleaned the crap off the walls."

I heard Colonel Nathan Sassaman say: "With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them."

I heard Richard Perle say: "Next year at about this time, I expect there will be a really thriving trade in the region, and we will see rapid economic development. And a year from now, I'll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad named after President Bush."

I heard about Operation Ivy Cyclone, dropping 500-pound bombs from F-16 jets. I heard about Operation Vigilant Resolve. I heard about Operation Plymouth Rock. I heard about Operation Iron Hammer, its name taken from Eisenhammer, the Nazi plan to destroy Soviet generating plants. I heard that Air Force regulations require that any air strike likely to result in the deaths of more than thirty civilians must be personally approved by the Secretary of Defense, and I heard that Donald Rumsfeld approved every proposal. I heard the Marine colonel say: "We napalmed those bridges. Unfortunately, there were people there. It's no great way to die." I heard the Pentagon deny they were using napalm, saying their incendiary bombs were made of something called Mark 77, and I heard the experts say that Mark 77 was just another name for napalm.

I heard a Marine describe "dead-checking": "They teach us to do dead-checking when we're clearing rooms. You put two bullets into the guy's chest and one in the brain. But when you enter a room where guys are wounded, you might not know if they're alive or dead. So they teach us to dead-check them by pressing them in the eye with your boot, because generally a person, even if he's faking being dead, will flinch if you poke him there. If he moves, you put a bullet in the brain. You do this to keep the momentum going when you're flowing through a building. You don't want a guy popping up behind you and shooting you."

I heard the President say: "We're rolling back the terrorist threat, not on the fringes of its influence but at the heart of its power." When the death toll of American soldiers reached 500, I heard Brigadier General Kimmitt say: "I don't think the soldiers are looking at arbitrary figures such as casualty counts as the barometer of their morale. They know they have a nation that stands behind them."

I heard an American soldier standing next to his Humvee say: "We liberated Iraq. Now the people here don't want us here, and guess what? We don't want to be here either. So why are we still here? Why don't they bring us home?" I heard Colin Powell say: "We did not expect it would be quite this intense this long."

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "We're facing a test of will."

I heard the President say: "We found biological laboratories. They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them."

I heard Tony Blair say: "The remains of 400,000 human beings have been found in mass graves." And I saw his words repeated in a US government pamphlet, Iraq's Legacy of Terror: Mass Graves, and on a US government website, which said this represents "a crime against humanity surpassed only by the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Pol Pot's Cambodian killing fields in the 1970s, and the Nazi Holocaust of World War II."

I heard the President say: "Today, on bended knee, I thank the good Lord for protecting those of our troops overseas, and our coalition troops and innocent Iraqis who suffer at the hands of some of these senseless killings by people who are trying to shake our will."

I heard that this was the first American President in wartime who had never attended a funeral for a dead soldier. I heard that photographs of the flag-draped coffins returning home were banned. I heard that the Pentagon had renamed "body bags" as "transfer tubes."

I heard a tearful George Bush Sr., speaking at the annual convention of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, say that it was "deeply offensive and contemptible" the way "elites and intellectuals" were dismissing "the sowing of the seeds of basic freedom in that troubled part of the world." I heard him say: "It hurts an awful lot more when it's your son that is being criticized."

I heard the President's mother say: "Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths? Why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

I heard that seven percent of all American military deaths in Iraq were suicides, that ten percent of the soldiers evacuated to the Army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, had been sent for "psychiatric or behavioral health issues," and that twenty percent of the military was expected to suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder.

I heard Brigadier General Kimmitt deny that civilians were being killed: "We run extremely precise operations."

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say that the fighting was just the work of "thugs, gangs, and terrorists." I heard General Richard Myers say: "It's not a Shi' ite uprising. Moktada al-Sadr has a very small following." I heard that an unnamed "intelligence official" said: "Hatred of the American occupation has spread rapidly among Shi'is, and is now so large that Mr. Sadr and his forces represent just one element. Destroying his Mahdi Army might be possible only by destroying Sadr City." Sadr City is the most populated part of Baghdad. I heard that, among the Sunnis, former Baath party leaders and Saddam loyalists had been joined by Sunni tribal chiefs.

I heard that there were now thirty separate militias in the country. I heard the television news reporters routinely refer to them as "anti-Iraqi forces."

I heard that Paul Bremer closed down a popular newspaper, Al Hawza, because of "inaccurate reporting."

As Shi'is in Sadr City lined up to donate blood for Sunnis in Fallujah, I heard a man say: "We should thank Paul Bremer. He has finally united Iraq-against him."

I heard the President say: "I wouldn't be happy if I were occupied either."

I heard Tony Blair say: "Before people crow about the absence of weapons of mass destruction, I suggest they wait a bit."

I heard General Myers say: "Given time, given the number of prisoners now that we're interrogating, I'm confident that we're going to find weapons of mass destruction."

I heard the President say: "Prisoners are being taken, and intelligence is being gathered. Our decisive actions will continue until these enemies of democracy are dealt with."

I heard a soldier describe what they called "bitch in a box": "That was the normal procedure for them when they wanted to soften up a prisoner: stuff them in the trunk for a while and drive them around. The hoods I can understand, and to have them cuffed with the plastic things-that I could see. But the trunk episode-I thought it was kind of unusual. It was like a sweatbox, let's face it. In Iraq, in August, it's hitting 120 degrees, and you can imagine what it was like in a trunk of a black Mercedes." I heard a National Guardsman from Florida say: "We had a sledgehammer that we would bang against the wall, and that would create an echo that sounds like an explosion that scared the hell out of them. If that didn't work we would load a 9mm pistol, and pretend to be charging it near their head, and make them think we were going to shoot them. Once you did that, they did whatever you wanted them to do basically. The way we treated these men was hard even for the soldiers, especially after realizing that many of these 'combatants' were no more than shepherds."

I heard a Marine at Camp Whitehorse say: "The 50/10 technique was used to break down EPWs and make it easier for the HET member to get information from them." The 50/10 technique was to make prisoners stand for fifty minutes of the hour for ten hours with a hood over their heads in the heat. EPWs were "enemy prisoners of war." HETs were "human exploitation teams."

I heard Captain Donald Reese, a prison warden, say: "It was not uncommon to see people without clothing. I was told the 'whole nudity thing' was an interrogation procedure used by military intelligence, and never thought much about it."

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "I have not seen anything thus far that says that the people abused were abused in the process of interrogating them or for interrogation purposes."

I heard Private Lynndie England, who was photographed in Abu Ghraib holding a prisoner on a leash, and photographed smiling, pointing to the genitals of another, naked and hooded, say: "I was instructed by persons in higher rank to stand there, hold this leash, look at the camera, and they took pictures for PsyOps [Psychological Operations]. I didn't really, I mean, want to be in any pictures. I thought it was kind of weird."

Detainees 27, 30, and 31 were stripped of their clothing, handcuffed together nude, placed on the ground, and forced to lie on each other and simulate sex while photographs were taken. Detainee 8 had his food thrown in the toilet and was then ordered to eat it. Detainee 7 was ordered to bark like a dog while MP's spat and urinated on him; he was sodomized with a police stick as two female MP's watched. Detainee 3 was sodomized with a broom by a female soldier. Detainee 15 was photographed standing on a box with a hood on his head and simulated electrical wires attached to his hands and penis. Detainees 1, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, and 26 were placed in a pile and forced to masturbate while photographs were taken. An unidentified detainee was photographed covered in feces with a banana inserted in his anus. Detainee 5 watched Civilian 1 rape an unidentified fifteen-year-old male detainee while a female soldier took photographs. Detainees 5 and 7 were stripped of their clothing and forced to wear women's underwear on their heads. Detainee 28, handcuffed with his hands behind his back in a shower stall, was declared dead when an MP removed the sandbag from his head and checked his pulse.

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "If you are in Washington, DC, you can't know what's going on in the midnight shift in one of those many prisons around the world."

I heard that the Red Cross had to close its offices because it was too dangerous. I heard that General Electric and the Siemens Corporation had to close their offices. I heard that Doctors Without Borders had to leave, and that journalists rarely left their hotels. I heard that, after their headquarters was bombed, most of the United Nations staff had gone. I heard that life insurance policies for the few remaining Western businessmen was $10,000 a week.

I heard Tom Foley, Director of Iraq Private-Sector Development, say: "The security risks are not as bad as they appear on TV. Western civilians are not the targets themselves. These are acceptable risks."

I heard the spokesman for Paul Bremer say: "We have isolated pockets where we are encountering problems." I heard that, no longer able to rely on the military for help, private security firms had banded together to form the largest private army in the world, with its own rescue teams and intelligence. I heard that there were some 20,000 mercenary soldiers, now called "private contractors," in Iraq, earning as much as $2,000 a day, and not subject to US military or Iraqi law.

I heard that 50,000 Iraqi civilians were dead.

I heard that, on a day when a car bomb killed three Americans, Paul Bremer's last act as director of the Coalition Provisional Authority was to issue laws making it illegal to drive with only one hand on the steering wheel or to honk a horn when there is no emergency. I heard that the unemployment rate was now eighty percent, that less than one percent of the workforce was engaged in reconstruction, and that the US had spent only two percent of the $18.4 billion approved by Congress for reconstruction. I heard that an official audit could not account for $8.8 billion of Iraqi oil money given to Iraqi ministries by the Coalition Provisional Authority.

I heard the President say: "Our coalition is standing with responsible Iraqi leaders as they establish growing authority in their country."

I heard that, a few days before he became Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi visited a Baghdad police station where six suspected insurgents, blindfolded and handcuffed, were lined up against a wall. I heard that, as four Americans and a dozen Iraqi policemen watched, Allawi pulled out a pistol and shot each prisoner in the head. I heard that he said that this is how we must deal with insurgents. I heard that this story was and not true, and then I heard that even if it weren't true, it was believable.

On June 28, 2004, with the establishment of an interim government, I heard the Vice President say: "After decades of rule by a brutal dictator, Iraq has been returned to its rightful owners, the people of Iraq."

This was the military summary for an ordinary day, July 22, 2004, a day that produced no headlines: "Two roadside bombs exploded next to a van and a Mercedes in separate areas of Baghdad, killing four civilians. A gunman in a Toyota opened fire on a police checkpoint and escaped. Police wounded three gunmen at a checkpoint and arrested four men suspected of attempted murder. Seven more roadside bombs exploded in Baghdad and gunmen twice attacked US troops. Police dismantled a car bomb in Mosul and gunmen attacked the Western driver of a gravel truck at Tell Afar. There were three roadside bombings and a rocket attack on US troops in Mosul and another gun attack on US forces near Tell Afar. At Taji, a civilian vehicle collided with a US military vehicle, killing six civilians and injuring seven others. At Bayji, a US vehicle hit a landmine. Gunmen murdered a dentist at the Ad Dwar hospital. There were 17 roadside bomb explosions against US forces in Taji, Baquba, Baqua, Jalula, Tikrit, Paliwoda, Balad, Samarra and Duluiyeh, with attacks by gunmen on US troops in Tikrit and Balad. A headless body in an orange jump-suit was found in the Tigris; believed to be Bulgarian hostage, Ivalyo Kepov. Kirkuk air base attacked. Five roadside bombs on US forces in Rutbah, Kalso and Ramadi. Gunmen attacked Americans in Fallujah and Ramadi. The police chief of Najaf was abducted. Two civilian contractors were attacked by gunmen at Haswah. A roadside bomb exploded near Kerbala and Hillah. International forces were attacked by gunmen at Al Qurnah."

I heard the President say: "You can embolden an enemy by sending a mixed message. You can dispirit the Iraqi people by sending mixed messages. That's why I will continue to lead with clarity and in a resolute way."

I heard the President say: "Today, because the world acted with courage and moral clarity, Iraqi athletes are competing in the Olympic Games." Iraq had sent teams to the previous Olympics. And when the President ran a campaign advertisement with the flags of Iraq and Afghanistan and the words "At this Olympics there will be two more free nations-and two fewer terrorist regimes," I heard the Iraqi coach say: "Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign. He can find another way to advertise himself." I heard their star midfielder say that if he weren't playing soccer he'd be fighting for the resistance in Fallujah: "Bush has committed so many crimes. How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women?"

I heard an unnamed "senior British Army officer" invoke the Nazis to describe what he saw: "My view and the view of the British chain of command is that the Americans' use of violence is not proportionate and is over-responsive to the threat they are facing. They don't see the Iraqi people the way we see them. They view them as untermenschen [subhumans]. They are not concerned about the Iraqi loss of life. As far as they are concerned Iraq is bandit country and everybody is out to kill them. It is trite, but American troops do shoot first and ask questions later."

I heard Makki al-Nazzal, who was managing a clinic in Fallujah, say, in unaccented English: "I have been a fool for forty-seven years. I used to believe in European and American civilization."

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "We never believed that we'd just tumble over weapons of mass destruction."

I heard Condoleezza Rice say: "We never expected we were going to open garages and find them."

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "They may have had time to destroy them, and I don't know the answer."

I heard Richard Perle say: "We don't know where to look for them and we never did know where to look for them. I hope this will take less than 200 years."

I heard the President say: "I know what I'm doing when it comes to winning this war."

I heard the President say: "I'm a war president."

I heard that 1,000 American soldiers were dead and 7,000 wounded in combat. I heard that there were now an average of eighty-seven attacks a day on US troops.

I heard Condoleezza Rice say: "Not everything has gone as we would have liked it to."

I heard Colin Powell say: "We did miscalculate the difficulty."

I heard an unnamed "senior US diplomat in Baghdad" say: "We're dealing with a population that hovers between bare tolerance and outright hostility. This idea of a functioning democracy is crazy. We thought there would be a reprieve after sovereignty, but all hell is breaking loose."

I heard Major Thomas Neemeyer say: "The only way to stomp out the insurgency of the mind would be to kill the entire population."

I heard the CNN reporter near the tomb of Ali in Najaf, a city that once had 500,000 people, say: "Everything outside of the mosque seems to be totaled."

I heard Khudeir Salman, who sold ice from a donkey cart in Najaf, say he was giving up after Marine snipers killed his friend, another ice-seller: "I found him this morning. The sniper shot his donkey too. And even the ambulance drivers are too scared to get the body."

I heard the Vice President say: "Such an enemy cannot be deterred, cannot be contained, cannot be appeased, or negotiated with. It can only be destroyed. And that is the business at hand."

I heard an unnamed "senior American commander" say: "We need to make a decision on when the cancer of Fallujah will be cut out."

I heard Major General John Batiste, outside of Samarra, say: "It'll be a quick fight and the enemy is going to die fast. The message for the people of Samarra is: Peacefully or not, this is going to be solved."

I heard Brigadier General Kimmitt say: "Our patience is not eternal."

I heard the President say: "America will never be run out of Iraq by a bunch of thugs and killers."

I heard about the wedding party that was attacked by American planes, killing forty-five people, and the wedding photographer who videotaped the festivities until he himself was killed. And though the tape was shown on television, I heard Brigadier General Kimmitt say: "There was no evidence of a wedding. There may have been some kind of celebration. Bad people have celebrations, too." I heard an Iraqi man say: "I swear I saw dogs eating the body of a woman."

I heard an Iraqi man say: "We have at least 700 dead. So many of them are children and women. The stench from the dead bodies in parts of the city is unbearable."

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war."

On the occasion of Ayad Allawi's visit to the United States, I heard the President say: "What's important for the American people to hear is reality. And the reality is right here in the form of the Prime Minister."

Asked about ethnic tensions, I heard Ayad Allawi say: "There are no problems between Shia and Sunnis and Kurds and Arabs and Turkmen. Usually we have no problems of ethnic or religious nature in Iraq."

I heard him say: "There is nothing, no problem, except on a small pocket in Fallujah."

I heard Colonel Jerry Durant say, after a meeting with Ramadi tribal shaykhs: "A lot of these guys have read history, and they said to me the government in Baghdad is like the Vichy government in France during World War II."

I heard a journalist say: "I am house-bound. I leave when I have a very good reason to and a scheduled interview. I avoid going to people's homes and never walk in the streets. I can't go grocery shopping any more, can't eat in restaurants, can't strike up a conversation with strangers, can't look for stories, can't drive in anything but a full armored car, can't go to scenes of breaking news stories, can't be stuck in traffic, can't speak English outside, can't take a road trip, can't say I'm an American, can't linger at checkpoints, can't be curious about what people are saying, doing, feeling."

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "It's a tough part of the world. We had something like 200 or 300 or 400 people killed in many of the major cities of America last year. What's the difference? We just didn't see each homicide in every major city in the United States on television every night."

I heard that 80,000 Iraqi civilians were dead. I heard that the war had already cost $225 billion and was continuing at the rate of $40 billion a month. I heard there was now an average of 130 attacks a day on US troops.

I heard Captain John Mountford say: "I just wonder what would have happened if we had worked a little more with the locals."

I heard that, in the last year alone, the US had fired 127 tons of Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions in Iraq, the atomicity equivalent of approximately 10,000 Nagasaki bombs. I heard that the widespread use of DU in Gulf War I was believed to be the primary cause of the health problems suffered among its 580,400 veterans. Four hundred sixty-seven were wounded in the war. Ten years later, 11,000 were dead, and 325,000 on medical disability. DU carried in semen led to high rates of endometriosis, leading to hysterectomies, in their wives and girlfriends. Of soldiers who had healthy babies before the war, sixty-seven percent of their babies post-war were born with severe defects, including missing legs, arms, organs, or eyes.

I heard that 380 tons of HMX (high melting point explosive) and RDX (rapid detonation explosive) were missing from al- Qaqaa, one of Iraq's "most sensitive military installations," which had never been guarded after the invasion. I heard that one pound of these explosives was enough to blow up a 747 jet, and that this cache could be used to make a million roadside bombs, which were the cause of half the casualties among US troops.

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say, when asked why the troops were being kept in the war much longer than their normal tours of duty: "Oh, come on. People are fungible. You can have them here or there." "Fungible" means "interchangeable."

I heard Colonel Gary Brandl say: "The enemy has got a face. He's called Satan. He's in Fallujah and we're going to destroy him."

I heard a Marine commander tell his men: "You will be held accountable for the facts not as they are in hindsight but as they appeared to you at the time. If, in your mind, you fire to protect yourself or your men, you are doing the right thing. It doesn't matter if later on we find out you wiped out a family of unarmed civilians."

I heard Lieutenant Colonel Mark Smith say: "We're going out where the bad guys live, and we're going to slay them in their ZIP code."

I heard that 15,000 US troops invaded Fallujah, as planes dropped 500-pound bombs on "insurgent targets." I heard they destroyed the Nazzal Emergency Hospital in the center of the city, killing twenty doctors. I heard they occupied Fallujah General Hospital, which the military had called a "center of propaganda" for reporting civilian casualties. I heard that they confiscated all mobile phones and refused to allow doctors and ambulances to go out and help the wounded. I heard they bombed the power plant to black out the city, and that the water was shut off. I heard that every house and shop had a large red X spray-painted on the door to indicate that it had been searched.

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "Innocent civilians in that city have all the guidance they need as to how they can avoid getting into trouble. There aren't going to be large numbers of civilians killed and certainly not by US forces."

I heard that, in a city of 150 mosques, there were no longer any calls to prayer.

I heard Muhammad Aboud tell how, unable to leave his house to go to a hospital, he had watched his nine-yearold son bleed to death, and how, unable to leave his house to go to a cemetery, he had buried his son in the garden.

I heard Sami al-Jumali, a doctor, say: "There is not a single surgeon in Fallujah. A thirteen-year-old child just died in my hands."

I heard an American soldier say: "We will win the hearts and minds of Fallujah by ridding the city of insurgents. We're doing that by patrolling the streets and killing the enemy."

I heard an American soldier, a Bradley gunner, say: "I was basically looking for any clean walls, you know, without any holes in them. And then we were putting holes in them."

I heard Farhan Saleh say: "My kids are hysterical with fear. They are traumatized by the sound but there is nowhere to take them."

I heard that the US troops allowed women and children to leave the city, but that all "military age males," men from fifteen to sixty, were required to stay. I heard that no food or medicine was allowed into the city.

I heard the Red Cross say that at least 800 civilians had died. I heard Ayad Allawi say there were no civilian casualties in Fallujah.

I heard a man named Hammad say: "They used these weird bombs that put up smoke like a mushroom cloud. Then small pieces fall from the air with long tails of smoke behind them." I heard him say that pieces of these bombs exploded into large fires that burnt the skin even when water was thrown on it. I heard him say: "People suffered so much from these."

I heard Kassem Muhammad Ahmed say: "I watched them roll over wounded people in the streets with tanks. This happened so many times."

I heard a man named Khalil say: "They shot women and old men in the streets. Then they shot anyone who tried to get their bodies."

I heard Nihida Kadhim, a housewife, say that when she was finally allowed to return to her home, she found a message written with lipstick on her living-room mirror: "FUCK IRAQ AND EVERY IRAQI IN IT."

I heard General John Sattler say that the destruction of Fallujah had "broken the back of the insurgency." I heard that three-fourths of Fallujah had been shelled into rubble. I heard an American soldier say: "It's kind of bad we destroyed everything, but at least we gave them a chance for a new start."

I heard that only five roads into Fallujah would remain open. The rest would be sealed with "sand berms," mountains of earth. At the entry points, everyone would be photographed, fingerprinted, and have iris scans taken before being issued identification cards. All citizens would be required to wear identification cards in plain sight at all times. No private automobiles-the vehicle of suicide bombings-would be allowed in the city. All males would be organized into "work brigades" rebuilding the city. They would be paid, but participation would be compulsory.

I heard Muhammad Kubaissy, a shopkeeper, say: "I am still searching for what they have been calling democracy."

I heard a soldier say that he had talked to his priest about killing Iraqis, and that his priest had told him it was all right to kill for his government as long as he did not enjoy it. After he had killed at least four men, I heard the soldier say that he had begun to have doubts: "Where the fuck did Jesus say it's OK to kill people for your government?"

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "I don't believe anyone that I know in the administration ever said that Iraq had nuclear weapons."

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "The coalition did not act in Iraq because we had discovered dramatic new evidence of Iraq's pursuit of weapons of mass murder. We acted because we saw the evidence in a dramatic new light, through the prism of our experience on 9/11."

I heard a reporter ask Donald Rumsfeld, "Before the war in Iraq, you stated the case very eloquently and you said they would welcome us with open arms." And I heard Rumsfeld interrupt him: "Never said that. Never did. You may remember it well, but you're thinking of somebody else. You can't find, anywhere, me saying anything like those things you just said I said."

I heard Ahmad Chalabi, who had supplied most of the information about the weapons of mass destruction, shrug and say: "We are heroes in error. What was said before is not important."

I heard Paul Wolfowitz say: "For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, as justification for invading Iraq, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on."

I heard Condoleezza Rice continue to insist: "It's not as if anybody believes that Saddam Hussein was without weapons of mass destruction."

I heard that the Niger "yellowcake" uranium was a hoax, that the aluminum tubes could not be used for nuclear weapons, that the mobile biological laboratories produced helium for weather balloons, that the fleet of unmanned aerial "drones" was a single broken-down oversized model airplane, that Saddam had no elaborate underground bunkers, that Colin Powell's primary source, his "solid information," for the evidence he presented at the United Nations was a paper, written ten years before, by a graduate student. I heard that, of the 400,000 bodies buried in mass graves, only 5,000 had been found.

I heard Lieutenant General James Conway say: "It was a surprise to me then, and it remains a surprise to me now, that we have not uncovered weapons. It' s not from lack of trying."

I heard a reporter ask Donald Rumsfeld, "If Iraq did not have WMDs, why did they pose an immediate threat to this country?" I heard Rumsfeld answer: "You and a few other critics are the only people I've heard use the phrase 'immediate threat.' It's become a kind of folklore that that's what happened. If you have any citations, I'd like to see them."

And I heard the reporter read: "No terrorist threat poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people." Rumsfeld replied: "It-my view of-of the situation was that he-he had-we-we believe, the best intelligence that we had and other countries had and that-that we believed and we still do not know-we will know."

I heard Sa'adoon al-Zubaydi, an interpreter who lived in the presidential palace, say: "For at least three years Saddam Hussein had been tired of the day-to-day management of his regime. He could not stand it any more: meetings, commissions, dispatches, telephone calls. So he withdrew.... Alone, isolated, out of it. He preferred shutting himself up in his office, writing novels."

I heard the President say that Iraq is a "catastrophic success."

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "They haven't won a single battle the entire time since the end of major combat operations."

I heard that hundreds of schools had been completely destroyed and thousands looted, and that most people thought it too dangerous to send their children to school. I heard there was no system of banks. I heard that, in the cities, there were only ten hours of electricity a day and only sixty percent of the people had drinkable water. I heard that the malnutrition of children was now far worse than in Uganda or Haiti. I heard that none of the 300,000 babies born after the start of the war had received immunizations.

I heard General John Abizaid say: "I don't think Iraq will have perfect elections. But, if I recall, looking back at our own election four years ago, it wasn't perfect either."

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "Let's say you tried to have an election and you could have it in three-quarters or fourfifths of the country. But in some places you couldn't because the violence was too great. Well, so be it. Nothing's perfect in life."

I heard an Iraqi engineer say: "Go and vote and risk being blown to pieces or followed by insurgents and murdered for cooperating with the Americans? For what? To practice democracy? Are you joking?"

I heard General Muhammad Abdullah Shahwani, the chief of Iraqi intelligence, say that there were now 200,000 active fighters in the insurgency.

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "I don't believe it's our job to reconstruct that country. The Iraqi people are going to have to reconstruct that country over a period of time." I heard him say that, in any event, "the infrastructure of that country was not terribly damaged by the war at all."

I heard that the American Ambassador, John Negroponte, had requested that $3.37 billion intended for water, sewage, and electricity projects be transferred to security and oil output.

I heard that the reporters from the al-Jazeera network were permanently banned. I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: "What al- Jazeera is doing is vicious, inaccurate, and inexcusable."

I heard that Spain left the Coalition of the Willing. Hungary left; the Dominican Republic left; Nicaragua left; Honduras left. I heard that the Philippines left early, after a Filipino truck driver was kidnapped and executed. Norway left. Poland and the Netherlands said they were leaving. Thailand said it was leaving. Bulgaria was reducing its few hundred troops. Moldova cut its force from forty-two to twelve.

I heard that the President had once said: "Two years from now, only the Brits may be with us. At some point, we may be the only ones left. That's OK with me. We are America."

I heard a reporter ask Lieutenant General Jay Garner how long the troops would remain in Iraq, and I heard him reply: "I hope they're there for a long time."

I heard General Tommy Franks say: "One has to think about the numbers. I think we will be engaged with our military in Iraq for perhaps three, five, perhaps ten years."

I heard that the Pentagon was now exploring what it called the "Salvador option," modeled on the death squads in El Salvador in the 1980s, when John Negroponte was Ambassador to Honduras and when Elliot Abrams, now White House Adviser on the Middle East, called the massacre at El Mazote "nothing but Communist propaganda." Under the plan, the US would advise, train, and support paramilitaries in assassination and kidnapping, including secret raids across the Syrian border. In the Vice Presidential debate, I heard the Vice President say: "Twenty years we had a similar situation in El Salvador. We had a guerrilla insurgency that controlled roughly a third of the country. And today El Salvador is a whale of a lot better."

I heard that 100,000 Iraqi civilians were dead. I heard that there was now an average of 150 attacks a day on US troops. I heard that, in Baghdad, 700 people were being killed every month in "non-war-related" criminal activities. I heard that 1,400 American soldiers had been killed and the true casualty figure was approximately 25,000.

I heard that Donald Rumsfeld had a machine sign his letters of condolence to the families of soldiers who had been killed. When this caused a small scandal, I heard him say: "I have directed that in the future I sign each letter."

I heard the President say: "The credibility of the United States is based upon our strong desire to make the world more peaceful, and the world is now more peaceful."

I heard the President say: "I want to be the peace president. The next four years will be peaceful years."

I heard Attorney General John Ashcroft say, on the day of his resignation: "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved."

I heard the President say: "For a while we were marching to war. Now we're marching to peace."

I heard that the US military had purchased 1,500,000,000 bullets for use in the coming year. That is fifty-eight bullets for every Iraqi adult and child.


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