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September 8, 2003

Convergence. Wild-eyed left-wing foreigner Ken MacLeod, blogging before the speech:
It looks like a line change, and possibly an Inner Party purge, are underway or imminent. Down the memory hole goes the increasingly risible WMD snipe hunt. The sinister visages of the neocons vanish from the telescreens. A better rationale for the long-planned endless war is in the pipeline.
Nice reasonable moderate American Joshua Micah Marshall, blogging after it:
The president has turned 9/11 into a sort of foreign policy perpetual motion machine in which the problems ginned up by policy failures become the rationale for intensifying those policies. The consequences of screw-ups become examples of the power of “the terrorists.”
[10:00 AM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Convergence.:

Jon Stopa ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2003, 12:21 PM:

Did you see Bush's speach last night?

He looked so strange.

He looked exhausted, scared, and up on some drug that was keeping him awake and coherent. He looked like he wanted to hide somewhere, a blanket over his head, but he had to be strong and say the words that will start what will be called the George W Bush War...one hundred years from now.

He looked like he knows that he is being tested, by God, or whatever, and cannot fail. He has to be strong.

He also looked like a promoter who was afraid that he hadn't made the sale. Probably because the product didn't look as tasty as it once did. But he still hoped, and had to go through with it.

Starting a war that could go on for many years, and kill thousands of Americans, has got to be momentous, even to him!

He could be in the beginning stages of some major body system failure. A stroke, or a something with the heart. Being tested, and all that.

President Cheney? Arrrg!

Hey, I want to live in an alternate universe--even if it is one by Phil Dick. At least in Dick's universes you usually didn't have things like a bodybuilder known as The Terminator running for governor of California.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2003, 01:33 PM:

You make me wish I'd caught the speech on TV, Jon; I could have used some entertainment last night.

robert west ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2003, 02:10 PM:

Josh Marshall's observation is a good one, but the political tactic (of using the failures of a policy to justify intensifying that policy) is nothing new; it's been used by the proponents of the war on drugs for decades, and has appeared in various places throughout history whenever governments have been run by people who know they are right and disbelieve any evidence that shows them to be wrong.

Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2003, 02:13 PM:

Things I didn't know from the Michael Meacher MP's Guardian article that Ken quoted there:

1) "Two senior Mossad experts were sent to Washington in August 2001 to alert the CIA and FBI to a cell of 200 terrorists said to be preparing a big operation. The list the provided included the names of four of the 9/11 hijackers, none of whom was arrested." Daily Telegraph, September 16th 2001.

2) "Five of the hijackers received training at secure US military installations in the 1990s" Newsweek, September 15 2001.

Have these things been disproved? Or have I been seriously not paying attention? Or how have they somehow fallen out of the picture?

Stephanie Zvan ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2003, 08:58 PM:

Jon, in a twisted way, you do almost have to feel sorry for the man. He did sign up to be our first forty-hour-a-week president, after all. It wasn't until well after the ink was dry on the contract that someone pointed out the "other duties as assigned" clause.

Of course, if he'd been the manager he claimed to be, he could have kept the underlings from running away with the company and making more work for him.

Or maybe that corporate analogy is slightly flawed. Anyone want to ask and see how he feels about it now?

Jeff Crook ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2003, 11:28 AM:


No, those have been floating around the conspiracy circles since the dates cited. I recall reading them some time ago. I don't know if they have been disproved, but I kinda doubt it, seeing as how the MP cites them in his piece. I'm sure he wouldn't want to be easily discredited and fully researched all his claims. At least, if I were in his position, that's what I would do.

Also, after the whole bin Laden family/Snopes.com fiasco last week, you've got to distrust the debunkers nearly as much as the conspriracy theorists. I don't think Snopes has a political agenda, but even honest neutral debunkers can be suckered by experts with political agendas.

I think this is a momentous piece, because it is the first time anyone in such a high political position has made such damaging statements to this administration. The American media will likely never repeat his statements unless someone gets brave and reports on the article itself.

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2003, 11:35 AM:

The interesting thing is, Michael Meacher published his article in the Guardian. The Guardian has a stringent policy that if it publishes something claimed as fact that later turns out provably not to be so, it will print a retraction. The retraction appears in the printed newspaper in a regularly-published column, and in the online version at the foot of the article. It's possible that Michael Meacher's allegations aren't provable either way - but if the Bush administration, or indeed the Sharon administration, can prove that it simply isn't so - no Mossad involvement, no FBI training - then the Guardian will publish a retraction. It's done so in the past. However, the US embassy's response when invited to consider the Meacher article more resembled a fit of the sulks than any thoughtful factual analysis.

Jeff Crook ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2003, 03:10 PM:

The timeline is the one that bothers me the most. I can't help wondering about the gaping hole in the air defenses over DC that day. It is marginally within the bounds of credibility that a slow response prevented the protection of New York, but given the time elapsed and the nearness of the DC air defenses... well, if I were reading that story, I'd have to say that's a gaping plot hole that destroys the reader's suspension of disbelief. What do you mean, they don't react? They have to react. They can't sit on their hands that long. It's not believable. You are scrambling planes from 300 miles away because you, the writer, know that they cannot arrive in time, thus making your implausible scenario possible. I don't buy it.

Carol Wolf ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2003, 02:51 AM:

In a retrospective last year my local paper (the Fresno Bee) reported that on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, our local Air National Guard pilots (the ones on ready alert, as two supposedly are at every base 24-hrs per day) were already in the cockpits of their planes, ready to fly, before the second plane hit the World Trade Center. And I have wondered, if our Fresno Air National Guard pilots were ready, why weren't those who guard NY? Or Washington? And if they were not, if they were AWOL, why haven't heads rolled? Because regarding 9/11, that keeps being referred to as the greatest failure in security in our history, no heads have rolled. I remember President Bush going down to the CIA to put his arm around Tenet and thank him for a job well done. It's all cockeyed. Unless Michael Meacher is right.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2003, 10:27 AM:

The timeline you want is not for the interceptors so much as it is for command authorization; the regional commander isn't going to order the shoot down of an airliner on his own hook.

It also does take considerable time to generate an intercept; you have to figure out what you want to intercept in very busy airspace. (Since everyone hadn't been grounded/diverted yet.)

So the problem isn't really one of transit times for the interceptors or the question of launch orders; the question is why, with known hijackings, there wasn't a response from that national command authority that included an awareness of the 'plane as missile' scenario.

Really, why there weren't standing orders to handle that case, which had been seriously discussed as a risk for at least a decade.

That is, to my mind, the really appalling hole.

Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2003, 08:14 AM:

Jo: re the two claims, they are not as wild as they may seem, because in the 90s the US did airlift thousands of mujahedin from Afghanistan to Bosnia and Kosovo.

Details here.