Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Friday, July 18, 2003
While the television news channels seem consumed with the police blotter and pop cultural trivia today, another young American soldier, from the famously angry 3rd ID, was killed this morning in Fallujah.
Army bomb expert defuses
"improvised explosive device"
along the infamous
Baghdad Airport highway
I guess, because so few Americans have served, most people do not fully understand the military. This misunderstanding of just what soldiers are and do has been further confused by their use as propagandistic Presidential backdrops during the buildup to the Iraq II war. Through the rose-colored glasses of the media, the military has been perceived in lump form. A blob of youthful faces “who love the President” and do unquestioningly whatever he tells them to do.
Recent reports, in the midst of the crisis over falsified WMD documents, of angry frontline soldiers provides a glimpse of military reality that, unsurprisingly, remains unappreciated or possibly downplayed by the American press.
A clue as to why the American people have been manipulated into their dreamy romance with sanitized war resides on today’s Washington Post Op-ed page in an article allegedly written by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Don, in a full display of heartless goal-oriented bushian bluster, pushes the very same privatization that was supposed to be on glorious display in the Iraq II war:
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, more than 80 percent of civilians deployed in the theater of operations were contractors. Why? Because a complex web of regulations prevents the Department of Defense from moving civilians to new tasks quickly…these burdensome regulations are not acceptable…We must be permitted to be as agile, flexible and adaptable as the forces we field in battle around the world.
Burdensome regulations can be so burdensome, can’t they?
As I have carefully posted, once the battlefield situation became obvious to me during the first week of Iraq II through the reported events leading to the field dismissal of Marine Combat 1 Commander Colonel Joe Dowdy and the rescue of PFC Jessica Lynch, the true ferocity of the Iraqi battlefield and our readiness for it have been as carefully hidden from the American people as the reasons for war in the first place.
To sell the lucrative privatization scheme in the anticipated massaged glow of victory, the Iraq II plan for swift awesome conquest had to be maintained at all costs and it was.
Go to any Internet search engine and search for any combination of “Marine Colonel Joe Dowdy”. This gentleman, the commander of the elite tip of the Marine spear, with a reputation for preserving his troops, was not only historically removed from battlefield command but also has vanished from the public record. Why? Was PFC Jessica Lynch a hero or a victim? Why?
Now, as other war-related untruths clutter the national conscience, brave men have taken desperate measures to make their voices heard.
As Army General and new Central Command Commander John P. Abizaid contradicted the Secretary of Defense with a description of a classical guerrilla-type campaign in Iraq , so to have lower ranked troops offered the American people a less Rumsfeldian view of the Neo-con dream of empire.
Despite Abizaid’s statement that “none of us that wear this uniform are free to say anything disparaging about the secretary of defense or the president of the United States” soldiers are as obligated to express their concerns up the chain of command as command is obligated to ensure the chain functions to hear their voices.
No one is surprised to hear nameless PFC’s griping. But an identified Sergeant griping on national television is, to me, evidence of a broken chain between Iraq and Washington. 3rd ID soldiers, tired, bone weary, anxious for their own lives and tied by satellite phone to news, wives and families are using the only means left at their disposal to inform their eventual saviors, the American people, of another set of Iraq II falsehoods. Another of these soldier’s brothers was killed this morning possibly providing military cover to another of Secretary Rumsfeld’s valued contractors. Only extreme matters of life and death would prompt career soldiers or their wives to speak so frankly to a member of the media.
Somebody's gettin' pissed...
The Bushies show their hand when the smell of money is evident and Secretary Rumsfeld’s Op-ed article on military privatization shows that this game of very high stakes poker is still well under way.
Can third and fourth shoes fall?
According to reports in this morning’s London Guardian and on the BBC web site, a lifeless body, matching the description of Dr. David Kelly, a British Ministry of Defense official, former Iraq weapons inspector and possible source for the BBC’s original claim that WMD intelligence had been “sexed up”, was found this morning lying face down in a wooded area within 5 miles of Dr. Kelly’s home in Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom.
Dr. Kelly arriving to testify before
a committee of the House of Commons
The British government has announced that if the body is formally identified as Dr. Kelly an independent judicial inquiry will be held to examine the circumstance surrounding the death.
According to the Guardian:
The 59-year-old went missing from his home in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, at 3pm yesterday afternoon after telling his wife he was going for a walk, according to a Thames Valley police spokesman. The body was discovered lying face down at 9.20am by a police search team at Harrowdown Hill, about five miles from Dr Kelly's home in Abingdon. No note has been found either at the scene or at Dr Kelly's house. Responding to questions about whether the dead man had died of gunshot wounds, the spokesman said that Dr Kelly was not a licensed firearms holder.
Dr Kelly, who volunteered to give evidence to the foreign affairs select committee (FAC), admitted to MPs last week he had met the BBC defense correspondent, Andrew Gilligan, on three occasions since September 2002…But Dr Kelly said he did not believe he could be the primary source of the report at the center of a bitter row between the BBC and No 10. "I believe I am not the main source. From the conversation I had with him I don't see how he could make the authoritative statements he was making from the comments that I made," Dr Kelly said. Committee members were critical of the government's handling of Dr Kelly, saying he had been the "fall guy" and had been "poorly treated" by the defense minister. Sir Richard Ottaway, a Tory member of the FAC, told Sky News that if the body was Dr Kelly, it "threw into stark relief the actions of the spin doctors within Downing Street and the Labor government". He added, "An innocent scientist used in this way demands an inquiry at the highest level".
The BBC, whose sourced investigation discovered that the documentary evidence detailing Iraq WMD had been “sexed up” and resulted in major political scandals on both sides of the Atlantic has been a bit more circumspect but essentially parallels the Guardian’s reporting.
Has the other shoe fallen?
Thursday, July 17, 2003
Stop the presses!
CNN has just reported, “British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George Bush bonded when they discovered [sic] they used the same brand of toothpaste.”
Dear God, is this the level of banter exchanged at these rarified governmental heights? Toothpaste! Did this frank exchange occur as Tony burned through conversational gambits desperately searching for something, anything to spark sustained conversation with the deeply uninformed American leader?
Or, after serious discussions of terrorists and war did one leader lean back in his red leather leader chair, commandingly stroke his photogenic chin and say, “Man, Tony, your teeth just gleam in the reflected light off these forged document paper clips.
And, you know, as we closely huddled over nuke-u-ler isshas, I couldn’t help but notice, in an honest and manly way, your minty fresh breath.”
“Well Mr. President,” Tony might reply, “I use a fantastic American product called Colgate.”
“You are shittin’ me!” the President of the Free World might exclaim, “I use that stuff too! Damn, are we Churchill and Roosevelt all over again or what?”
The president has within his ranks on staff some person who was willing to spin and hype and exaggerate and cut corners on the most important speech the president delivers in any given year.
--Senator Richard Durbin (D), Illinois
Photos: Reuters, Colgate.com
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
The last few hours of my 48th year have ebbed away in the ominous torrents of rain and thunderous lightening that have plagued this unusual summer and mimicked the growing national mood.
I hope my birthday escapes being saddled with the historic event I feel looming but a check of the AP’s trusty Today in History indicates my hope is likely misplaced.
Things tend to happen on the 16th day of Julius Caesar’s month.
For our country as well as for many individual citizens this has been another difficult year in what is becoming a succession of difficult years. A concise and thankfully gateless editorial in the July 15 New York Times echoed my black comedic mood with the phrase would be laughable if the matter were not so serious regarding our gun shy uniform-wearing President’s inability to, if ‘ya catch my drift, lock and load with the American people on the uranium matter.
The look upon our naked emperor’s face these last few days can be described as one shared with many other ordinary Americans during these last few months and years. It’s a word that might as well endlessly repeat on photographically positioned screens and echo through our compliant media. According to a former and greater President, the word is the only thing we Americans have to fear.
Who among us, in endless war and endless chatter, has not had to comfort a friend, relative or a child terrified by dirty bombers, almost invisible toxins and the deaths of young American soldiers?
Ironically, considering the lead player, health care providers have noticed and family members have suffered the War on Terra’s cruel effects on fragile people in various forms of recovery. One assumes a mortality rate from this battlefield as governmentally untallied as native Iraq II civilian casualties and the sins of the 2nd Bush Presidency.
Many Americans, oddly considering that they are indeed Americans, gave up on words, no matter their number or connotation, long ago. It is pictures that matter in the rebus of modern daily media life. The fear-inducing picture we all witnessed of George W. Bush in Uganda last Friday was not a first. Many of us viscerally recognized a man we saw once before in scattered images from Barksdale Air Force Base late on a sunny September afternoon. I can honestly say that all of us never wanted to see that face again. Unfortunately, we have seen it in shockingly different circumstances.
As I grow one year older and incrementally wiser I know that America will be stronger and wiser for this present crisis but she will first have to weather it. With God’s help, let the people and the few responsible leaders among them set their hands to this task.
Note: Difficulties with word processing software prevented my posting on July 15. Until a mind-draining, unproductive and, naturally, lengthy technical support call with representatives of the computer company that rhymes with Hell destroyed formative thoughts, I had something to post.
Photo: Dave Crowley stormguy.com
Monday, July 14, 2003
What we do is that we put together a lot of documentation from all kinds of sources and give that to the speech writers as grist to write from...What was given to the speech writers was, in effect, data from various sources about the nuclear activities of Saddam Hussein. The National Intelligence Estimate had references to uranium acquisition, not only to the specific source, the specific case. And that was, I understand, given to the speech writers; they wrote it.
--Condoleezza Rice on Fox News Sunday
The sharp eye of the Media Horse links to a facinating slide show available on WhiteHouse.gov of the President working on the State of the Union with speechwriters Matthew Scully, Mike Gerson and John McConnell on January 23, 2003.
Every word seems to have been closely examined by the President and his advisors.
From the BBC's Paul Reynolds, the nine main conclusions in the British government document "Iraq's weapons of mass destruction" and the broad evidence which has emerged about them:
1. "Iraq has a useable chemical and biological weapons capability which has included recent production of chemical and biological agents."
No evidence of Iraq's useable capability has been found in terms of manufacturing plants, bombs, rockets or actual chemical or biological agents, nor any sign of recent production.
A mysterious truck has been found which the CIA says is a mobile biological facility but this has not been accepted by all experts.
2. "Saddam continues to attach great importance to the possession of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles... He is determined to retain these capabilities."
He may well have attached great importance to the possession of such weapons but none has been found. The meaning of the word "capability" is now key to this.
If the US and UK governments can show that Iraq maintained an active expertise, amounting to a "programme", they will claim their case has been made that Iraq violated UN resolutions.
3. "Iraq can deliver chemical and biological agents using an extensive range of shells, bombs, sprayers and missiles."
Nothing major has been found so far. There was one aircraft adapted with a sprayer but its capability was small.
4. "Iraq continues to work on developing nuclear weapons... Uranium has been sought from Africa."
The UN watchdog the IAEA said there was no evidence for this up to the start of the war and none has been found since. It is possible, though, that a case could be made from a shopping list of items needed for such a programme.
These include vacuum pumps, magnets, winding and balancing machines - all listed in the British dossier. No details about these purchasing attempts have been provided.
A claim that aluminium tubes were sought for this process was not wholly accepted by the British assessment though it was by the American and has subsequently not been proved.
The uranium claim is currently under question, though the British Government stands by its allegation.
5. "Iraq possesses extended-range versions of the Scud ballistic missile."
No Scuds have been found. The British said Iraq might have up to 20, the CIA said up to 12.
6. "Iraq's current military planning specifically envisages the use of chemical and biological weapons."
That may have been the case but direct evidence from serving Iraqi officers will be needed to prove it.
7. "The Iraqi military are able to deploy these weapons (chemical and biological) within 45 minutes of a decision to do so."
The 45 minute claim is currently under question. It is said to come from "a single source" probably a defector or Iraqi officer. It has not been proven.
8. "Iraq... is already taking steps to conceal and disperse sensitive equipment."
This is a focus of the current American and British investigation being carried out in Iraq by the Iraq Survey Group. One Iraqi scientist has come forward to say that he hid blueprints of centrifuges under his roses but that was in 1991.
If a pattern of concealment can be established, it would add to the credibility of the allegations that Iraq wanted to defy the UN.
9. "Iraq's chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic missile programme are well funded."
Evidence will be needed from serving Iraqi officials backed up by documents. Again, if a pattern of funding can be established, a case against Iraq could be made but if the actual programmes did not exist, was the funding of much use and in any case, how much was it?
President tells First Dog, Spot, that he gave a speech cleared by the intelligence services.
Bush Lands on Aircraft Carrier Abraham Lincoln Again
Declares major news coverage of his lying in State of the Union address over.
Photos: Eric Draper, Reuter's
Sunday, July 13, 2003
A highly interesting morning on the Sunday talking head programs proved beyond doubt that a huge political scandal is beginning to engulf Washington, DC.
The press, seemingly overnight, is beginning to realize it. Certainly, Don Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, various high-powered politicals, including a certain Vice President, and elements of the intelligence services know it as well.
A power-shifting scandal of historic importance and, from the silver lining department, the first in 30 years that cannot be easily headlined with the suffix gate.
It must have been the President's whey faced non-reaction during a Q & A in Entebbe, Uganda Friday that convinced fence sitters to hop down on to the scandal side. With eyes like pinpoints and a slack mouth, an emotionless leader of the Western world denied responsibility for only 16 words that capped months of nuclear whispers and a fear-mongering litany of dirty bombers, robot airplanes and "known" Iraqi radiological sites.
The President did not appear angry. He seemed confused. His hair was mussed and the televised image didn't possess the Mike Deaverish panache usually associated with Mr. Bush's controlled, image-polished appearances. He looked as he did on those scattered September 11, 2001 broadcasts from his flight to safety. He looked scared and it appears that he has reason to be.
Sunday, the reptilian Defense Secretary's aggressive avuncularity quickly dissipated under Russert and Stephanopolis' somewhat muscular morning questioning and, with a wardrobe of dismissive hand gestures, Mr. Rumsfeld denied any personal responsibility for the yellowcake matter. Doctor Rice was an altogether different kettle of fish. On FOX, though I missed most of the interview, she was clearly uncomfortable before Tony Snow let her off the hook. However, before a surprisingly relentless Bob Schieffer on CBS' Face the Nation, Condaleezza Rice gave a disgraceful performance that evaded questions and often devolved into inchoate babble.
America's word and her honor are at stake here along with the lives of thousands of our servicemen and our national security due to information manufactured to smooth a political agenda.
It is of major importance to identify the Executive branch individual or group of individuals responsible for advancing the yellowcake forgery. As many in both political parties have said yesterday and today, let the chips fall where they may.
Jul14 suffix Update: When I hinted in my unexpressed hope that no one here in America would needlessly strap the suffix "gate" to any Dodgy Dossier-related subject, I knew in my heart that some blogging bernsteins would give the time-worn buckles a new workout. Surfing liberal blogspace today, I found two unharmonious examples: Weaponsgate, I have to admit, confused me when I encountered it. No zip. The feel of a predigital scandal. And, Uraniumgate which should prove unpronouncible to more than just Tom Brokaw. I'm counting the hours until Yellowcakegate!