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May 22, 2004

Further excruciating embarrassment
Posted by Teresa at 02:12 AM *

Stop—right now, and forevermore to come—pretending that George W. Bush and his advisers have a shred of competence. This war, the mad quest for WMDs, their backing of dubious old creeps like Ahmed Chalabi, has come to this:

Agency: Chalabi group was front for Iran

WASHINGTON—The Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that a U.S.-funded arm of Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress has been used for years by Iranian intelligence to pass disinformation to the United States and to collect highly sensitive American secrets, according to intelligence sources.

“Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the United States through Chalabi by furnishing through his Information Collection Program information to provoke the United States into getting rid of Saddam Hussein,” said an intelligence source Friday who was briefed on the Defense Intelligence Agency’s conclusions, which were based on a review of thousands of internal documents.

The Information Collection Program also “kept the Iranians informed about what we were doing” by passing classified U.S. documents and other sensitive information, he said. The program has received millions of dollars from the U.S. government over several years.

An administration official confirmed that “highly classified information had been provided [to the Iranians] through that channel.”

The Defense Department this week halted payment of $340,000 a month to Chalabi’s program. Chalabi had long been the favorite of the Pentagon’s civilian leadership. Intelligence sources say Chalabi himself has passed on sensitive U.S. intelligence to the Iranians.

Patrick Lang, former director of the intelligence agency’s Middle East branch, said he had been told by colleagues in the intelligence community that Chalabi’s U.S.-funded program to provide information about weapons of mass destruction and insurgents was effectively an Iranian intelligence operation. “They [the Iranians] knew exactly what we were up to,” he said.
Remember the reports about how, in the early days of the administration, George & Co. imprudently devised a special “pipeline” setup in the national intelligence agencies, so that reports about Iraq, Saddam Hussein, WMDs, etc., would get sent to them faster? This is what they were so anxious to get their hands on that they bypassed the usual oversight, fact checking, and analysis functions our intelligence agencies are set up to provide.

Initial reports have been playing up how triffically intelligent and sophisticated this Iranian operation was; but if I were you, I’d take that with a grain of salt. Long before the war, before the 2000 elections, George & Co. were known to have a major letch for war with Saddam Hussein. Like Dubya’s courtiers, all the Iranians had to do was listen to find out what it was he wanted to hear. It wasn’t hard. After that, it was just a matter of handing him the straw and letting him suck it up.

This has been an awfully expensive way for George to find out why intelligence operations do all that dreary ol’ fact-checking and analysis. He could have phoned any one of dozens of experts, his father among them, and asked about that. I’ll bet they’d have told him for free.

Comments on Further excruciating embarrassment:
#1 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 02:45 AM:

Also the leader of covert intelligence gathering information for the Bush White House was Todd James Pierce, whose tip for what to do when you don't have any information at hand was "lie".

#2 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 03:19 AM:

I wonder if it's too soon to start flinging the "He lost Iraq" card around.

#3 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 04:11 AM:

Linkmeister - I think the only response I can give to that question is to query, in response, how he could possibly have lost it when it's becoming so clear that he never had any idea where it was in the first place.

Ye gods in pink feathers, we have been had. We, a world power which while notably young still ought to be old enough to know better, have been conned into steamrollering a country.

I think I am beginning to admire Kerry's intestinal fortitude in attempting to take on this job. There may have been worse times to be president than the term he's running for, but I doubt they were as thankless as trying to atone for this and clean up after it will be.

#4 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 04:47 AM:

Well, I was trying to formulate an answer to Dave Klecha and Terry's demands as to how anything intel wise could have been done better since '98 or earlier with the limited resources we had and so forth, and patiently making up the list of all the people in the US and the UK who were interviewed before, during and after, patriotic 2nd generation Iraqi-Americans or exiles not connected with Chalabi or people inside Iraq who stayed as dissidents, all of whom made and continued to make, predictions which have turned out to be more correct than anything in the administration.

Stuff like the organized crime problem (the Cats of the Occupation, the "Wolves of the Night"), the unwelcome of people who haven't been home in 20+ years, the resentment of carpetbaggers, the cultural variations within Iraq, all of which might have been gleaned if they hadn't put all their eggs in the Chalabi basket, so to speak. Something better surely could have been done to form liasons here and in Iraq with that $350 grand per month/total of 3 million - whoops, no it was 6 million, uh, wait, are they saying 27 million--?!?

And then the farce of history overtook me again, (the price of research) and took it at a step from John LeCarre and Graham Greene territory into firm Duck Soup domain.

The only question in my mind now is (since I don't really think Stickyfingers is being framed with these Iranian connections) are there things incriminating Halliburton et al for the "Oil for Food" scandal that the freepers are going on so furiously about? Is that why they needed the papers back so desperately? Did someone remember a bit of double-dealing way back when? (Though given the KBR audit scandals, and this latest about the convoys of empty trucks via atrios, saying "fiscal misdealing" of the UN is going to be a P:K::B thing...)

I'm not even going to get into the beating-people-to-make-them-abjure-their-faith (wounded or otherwise) which is so far down the media's interest list, below sexual misbehavior and titlliation. But what else do you expect from the culture that brought you the Boob From Outer Space? (Really, what could the fuss have been about if it wasn't a man-eating alien?) Not that machinegunning people for being of a suspicious age doesn't sound like the kind of thing the resisting of which got Edith Cavell shot - but the Prussians weren't by WWI AFAIK torturing people in the name of religion.

In retrospect, we were very wrong to let them make the General William my-god-is-bigger-than-your-god Boykin faux pas just fade away.

#5 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 04:51 AM:

I think that there's going to be a fascinating calculus happening in the Senate as GOP members of all stripes decide whether they can each afford to keep their neck on the line for W. Since they're elected at large, the costs of extreme partisanship are higher.

The next several months will be very interesting.

I wonder what Nancy Pelosi will have to say next week. She, of course, has the safest of safe seats.

#6 ::: cyclopatra ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 06:03 AM:

Intelligent & sophisticated? Only if you were, like the Bush admin, desperate to believe in Chalabi. I remember reading months ago at either Healing Iraq or Baghdad Burning that it was common knowledge among Iraqis that Chalabi was in Iran's pocket.

Even more bizarrely, Pentagon cozies like Richard Perle and Michael Rubin are all over the place singing paeans to Chalabi's innocence, and suggesting that it's all some sort of CIA operation. Meanwhile the State Dept., CIA and DIA all confirm his guilt, and Bush himself supposedly ordered or approved the raid (but Scott McClellan claims the US had nothing to do with it at all, that it was an "Iraqi-led investigation, and an Iraqi-led raid", despite the fact that all articles covering said raid have clearly said it was done by US soldiers and the fact that the IGC has condemned the raid). What are we supposed to believe?

Here are the two scenarios as I see them: Honest and well-meaning but gullible, the Bush administration was duped by an Iranian agent - who became friends with high administration officials up to and including the Vice President of the United States - into financing his lifestyle and vendettas and, indeed, into invading, conquering and occupying a sovereign nation.

Or, dishonest and ill-meaning, the Bush administration cynically used said Iranian agent to fuel their drive to invade, conquer and occupy a sovereign nation under false pretenses, and are now turning on him in an attempt to defuse the inevitable scandal when his Iranian connections were discovered.

There's yet a third scenario I've heard floated where this entire series of events is a charade to get street cred for Chalabi as an Iraqi leader, but I discount that rather steeply, because I can't see being revealed as an Iranian spy as a good way to win the trust and respect of Iraqis.

Either of the first two scenarios frightens the bejesus out of me, and at this point I don't know which I believe more - I suspect the truth is somewhere in between. But I've been frightened almost since the day Bush was inagurated, so that's nothing new. And the question that no one seems to want to ask or answer: where was Chalabi getting the classified information, and why?

#7 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 07:38 AM:

In my opinion, one of the stranger anecdotes related to Chalabi is the odd saga of Marc Zell, former law partner of Doug Feith (yes, that Doug Feith), and his opinion of Chalabi. In the Salon article "How Ahmed Chalabi conned the neocons" Zell is quoted at length disparaging Chalabi, including:

"Ahmed Chalabi is a treacherous, spineless turncoat. He had one set of friends before he was in power, and now he's got another ... He said he would end Iraq's boycott of trade with Israel, and would allow Israeli companies to do business there. He said [the new Iraqi government] would agree to rebuild the pipeline from Mosul [in the northern Iraqi oil fields] to Haifa [the Israeli port, and the location of a major refinery]."
However, the following day, he turns around and denies all:
"I have never met with Mr. Ahmed Chalabi nor have I ever held any discussions with him. I have no personal knowledge of his past or present dealings, other than what I myself read in the international and national press."


#8 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 08:00 AM:


If even a fraction of this is true, then the Iranian Intelligence Ministry has pulled off the espionage/disinformation coup of the century.

Think about it. They manipulated the leadership of their second-worst enemy into invading and occupying their worst enemy (remember the Iran-Iraq War of 1982-88, the millions dead, the middle east's own equivalent of the First World War?), saddling said second-worst enemy with a crippling hostile occupation that would render them incapable of turning on Iran.

That is so elegantly evil it's almost unbelievable. If you put it in a technothriller your average reader would throw it across the room when they got to the bit about Chalibi also receiving classified US intelligence reports and funneling them to Iran. (I think I can feel a space opera coming on.)

Shame about the windrows of dead, tens of thousands more injured or homeless, the $200Bn bill, and the country spiraling towards civil war and religious autocracy ...

And that's before I start talking about Iraq.

#9 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 08:29 AM:

"...they'd have told him for free." Yeah, but would we have had a war, smarty-pants? What about the war? You one of them "war haters"?

I guess it all goes back to Rappin' Ronnie and his "I love you / a bushel and a peck / a bible and a cake I'll send" nonsense.

I must stop typing now. Save my strength to deal with the remarkable silence this will generate.

#10 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 08:38 AM:

Is there any strong reason to think that the DIA has gotten it right? Ghu knows what else might be going on, but I'm feeling kind of dubious that I'm getting the complete story about much of anything.

I'm reminded of the bit in _From Beirut to Jerusalem_ about Arabs being better at navigating complicated politics than Americans are, though maybe it's just Bush and crew.

On the sfnal side, are there any stories about aliens with superior tech meddling in earth politics as distinct from just taking over? It seems like the sort of thing Poul Anderson might have written about, but I can't think of anything in particular.

#11 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 08:53 AM:

I ran across this quotation while reading a book that has nothing to do with all of this, and yet the quotation itself is so painfully apposite that I banged myself over the head with the book and yowled.

From Orphans Preferred: The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony Express (I told you the book had nothing to do with Bush, Iraq, Chalabi, &c.) by Christopher Corbett, page 79:

'Tennessee's dispatches in the San Francisco Herald argue forcefully that the events leading up to the Pyramid Lake War had little or nothing to do with Indians. It was really the work of grogshop rascals and the hysteria of mob rule. "How humiliating to look back over the work of the past five days, and see what disaster to business, what disgrace to our national character, what widespread prejudice to our interests and honor, if not danger to our citizens, are sure to ensue when timid, untruthful, and inexperienced men get control of, and give direction to public affairs!"'

(Painfully appropriate quotation in added boldface, for the sake of any confused freepers out there--f.)

You may feel that "timid", given Bush's willingness to rush in where angels would fear to tread, is not a fitting term for Bush & Co., but I'd disagree. It takes courage to change your mind, or to say in front of a lot of people "I was wrong," or "That was a mistake," or even "I'm sorry. That shouldn't have happened, and the blame is mine." The brave and strong can do these things; the timid, afraid of seeming weak, dare not.

Given the extremely murky incidents which started the Pyramid Lake War, maybe the context isn't entirely irrelevant to our current situation after all. Please, may I have a government I only have to be embarrassed by occasionally?

#12 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 09:28 AM:

Call someone on the phone? He could have called me. Working purely from open sources, I publicly stated before this war that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

But who the hell am I? Just some little ex-military-intelligence-analyst who hasn't had a classified briefing in the best part of twenty years....

#13 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 10:02 AM:

But, but, you miss the whole point. BushCo didn't need, didn't want, or didn't care about a rational to invade Iraq. Iraq had oil, and SH took a shot at Shrub's dad. That's why we went. Period.

The whole point of the "fast pipeline of intel" was to find propoganda points to sell the war on the street. They knew they were going in somewhere around 20 Jan 2000. They just needed an excuse.

As to why Chalabi got dumped? Simple. He committed the cardinal sin. He critizied Bremer, which means he publically critizied Bush. We all know what happens to those who do that. The fact that he can be a little red meat to the "you failed in Iraq" crowd is just a bonus.

This administration *knew*, solid, that there were no WMD in Iraq. They knew, solid, that there was no Al-Queda connections. But they knew, solid, that they could sell this war by stating such. So, they manufactured the intel to do so.

They didn't fact check, because fact checking got in the way of thier goal -- invading Iraq.

#14 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 10:08 AM:

If you put the people who have survived forty years of one-mistake-and-you're-horribly-dead politics up against the children of privilege, the children of privilege lose.

This has been true for so long that the memory of man runneth not to the contrary. I can't imagine why anyone is surprised -- look what happened to the CIA's coup attempt in Iraq based on Chalabi's intel -- about this, though Charlie's comments on elegance are very well taken.

Dubya and crew are all from a society and belief system where faith trumps evidence; no amount of actual evidence means anything, or is grounds to change your opinions.

Grab that from the other end, and their faith compells them to lie, to themselves and each other, about how the world is actually put together, what the consequences of their own actions are, and the meaning and intent of the statements made by others.

They've got what's left of the US Army's combat power, lots of nukes, and an excellent propaganda machine to burn through yet before they have to put their faith in crisis by accepting a fact as significant when it conflicts with their established habits of belief.

#15 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 10:24 AM:

Josh Marshall's take seems the most savvy: this isn't so much new information as it is various factions finally getting a chance to publicly put pieces together that have always been out on the table, and then point out what those pieces must mean.

Also, his request is worth a gander. Anyone in New York willing to help him out? (Anyone willing to take on the libretto?)

But I woke up this morning to a most poisonous comment at me own digs, which I'll share in full. Don't have your coffee anywhere near the computer for this one, folks:

By the way would it make you feel better to learn that Chalabi became most prominent in Washington due to all the people in the Clinton administration who liked him?
No, I suppose not.
People have unrealistic expectations of intelligence services. But this war has showed us that in more than one way, hasn't it?
#16 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 10:57 AM:

After reading T's post, I checked the NYTimes site for info on the Chalabi-Iran connection. Nothing. This could simply reflect my inability to conduct a simple internet search, or it could be they haven't published anything. Which would be peculiar. How well established is this Iran connection? Sometimes (to their credit) the Times won't print info that they don't feel is well substantiated. Perhaps this is an example?

#17 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 11:23 AM:
Iraq had oil, and SH took a shot at Shrub's dad.

Erik, I'm probably just rumour-mongering, but didn't I read some speculation somewhere a few months ago that the assassination attempt against Bush Sr might actually have been an Iranian op? Whether a serious attempt or just to destabilize Saddam, I forget.

Damn, I don't know about Evil, but Iran sure seems to be a member of the Axis of Intelligence -- the one that America seems not to be a member of.

#18 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 11:48 AM:

Kip W., my response to that wasn't silence, but I can't phonetically reproduce the sound.

Kip M., that's a poisonous falsehood indeed. If the comment had been posted here, it wouldn't have survived. I'd put your quoted version in ROT-13, except that fewer and fewer people seem to know about that.

Andy, check out the stories about the raid on Chalabi's compound. Near as I can tell, that was our guys cleaning out the files there.

#19 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 12:06 PM:

If you should like to encode the Clintonista dig, I'd have no problems myself: there's a link to the text, after all, and I, at least, have learned something new. (Praise Google!)

It's just—stumbling over that statement—and not just that statement, but that statement in the context of a discussion of the dolchstosslegende—has left me in a rather advanced state of sputtering shock. And outrage shared is—well, no, it isn't outrage lessened, and I'm not sure what net effect that has on entropy. Hmm.

It's going to be a long, long time until November. And January will be beyond imagining.

#20 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 01:17 PM:

Teresa, I know it was our guys cleaning out the files. It's just that there doesn't seem to be much mention of the Iran investigation-- NYT implies the focus is on corruption. They devote exactly one line to the Iran investigation in this article:

and one line in this one:

#21 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 01:24 PM:

Sorry, Teresa, I didn't mean the silence my remark would generate here, but the much louder silence the news I was responding to would generate out there in the SCLM.

But the news that I caused you to utter disemvoweled sounds makes it all, including this explanation, worthwhile.

#22 ::: Phill ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 01:31 PM:

We will have to start calling them the neo-conned.

Seriously folks it was common knowledge that Chalabai was a complete crook ever since he was convicted of embezzlement in Jordan. It was obvious to anyone not blinded by wishfull thinking that no Arab leader is going to ever going to support Israeli occupation of Palestine.

This whole episode reminds me of Stalin's shock and horror when he discovered Hitler had double-crossed him. The neo-conned believe that merely sounding tough is enough, Stalin was a mass murderer on the same scale as Hitler and Mao and he was still duped.

The Iranian connection was always suspected, but if Chalabai was actually an Iranian front from start to finish it shows an astonishing level of confidence on the part of Iran. Far from being intimidated by the neo-conned they must have been utterly contemptuous of Bush.

#23 ::: Donny ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 01:39 PM:

Yes, Dubya certainly should have talked to his father, since his "Father" was no help at all in this matter.

#24 ::: eric scoles ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 01:54 PM:

Andy Perrin -- This may not have been in the NYT (yet), but it's not as though it came out ny the NYPost. Newsday is a major newspaper, on par at least with, say, the Detroit Free Press. Just because most of its readers live on Long Island, doesn't mean it shouldn't be taken seriously.

(Disclaimer: I have not ever lived on Long Island, nor do I ever plan to.)

As for the risk of the Iranian intelligence services being mistaken for sooper geniuses, I'll offer this: What they seem to have pulled off looks to me much more like a classic "big con" than an intelligence coup. They identified what the mark (i.e., the Neocon Bushites) was looking for, and they gave it to them -- knowing that, as good ideologues, they'd see what they wanted to see, and delete anything inconvenient.

If it all blew up in the mark's face, so much the better -- especially since that would leave a destabilised, weakened, predominantly Shi'ite Iraq.

#25 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 02:07 PM:

Brooks M, I was suggesting the phrase as a rhetorical tool, not as a statement of fact. I don't think we ever had China, either, but it didn't stop the Republican party from using a similar phrase back in the late 40s-early 50s.

#26 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 02:26 PM:

This Chalabi-Iran fisco is an example of why Professor Philip Vos Fellman and I have been writing papers for 3 years (constituting most of a book) on what we've denoted Disinformation Theory. We reference classic Information Theory (invented by Claude Shannon (whom I knew personally yada yada) and many works of military strategy, including only recently declassified studies. We also believe that there is an optimal amount of disinformation for a corporation to put in their Annual Report.

But, to compare Bush et al. with the collapse of Periclean Athens:

Sailing the Wine Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Mattered

author Thomas Cahill
pages 304
publisher Doubleday
rating Excellent, 5 stars
reviewer Ursus Maximus
ISBN 0385495536
summary This book explores the Greek contribution to Western Civilization

"... the western way of total warfare has dominated the planet ever since; and it appears that Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Chaney are well versed in Mr. Hanson's theories, not to mention Greek hubris."

"The lessons for the USA in its war on terrorism alone are compelling, if not down right chilling. Central to the cultural echoes provided is a speech from Pericles, ruler of Athens at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War, a mighty struggle that lasted for 30 years, beginning with Athens at the height of its imperial, cultural and financial powers, and ending with Athens defeated and subjected to domination by Sparta and her allies, never again to regain the zenith of her glory and might."

"At an annual ceremony honoring and burying the bones of her young war dead after the first year of the 30 years war, Pericles orated about the Greek forefathers, and he sounds a lot like a contemporary American politician:

" '...generation after generation in unchanging and unbroken succession, they have, by their hard work and courage, handed down to us a free country...' "

"This comes from what is by far the longest of the many quotes Cahill intersperses in his book, and it sounds ever so much like George W. Bush..."

#27 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 02:38 PM:

Hortensia Patel comments (on the blog comments to the above):

"Certainly the parallels with today's "War on Terror" hysteria are striking:"

" 'They altered the accepted usage of words in relation to deeds as they thought fit. Reckless audacity was termed courageous loyalty to party; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation, a cover for spinelessness; and an ability to understand all sides, total inertia. Fanatical enthusiasm was rated a man's part; and cautious deliberation, a euphemism for desertion.' "
(From Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War [] III 82, written in the 5th century BC. Sound familiar?)

#28 ::: Donny ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 03:11 PM:

Yes, Dubya certainly should have talked to his father, since his "Father" was no help at all in this matter.

#29 ::: Andrew Case ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 03:15 PM:

I've been thinking about the Peloponnesian War analogy for some time now. The rise of Athens as an imperial power was a direct result of the alliance forged to meet the threat of Persia. I suspect that most USAmericans don't grasp the extent to which US hegemony is a direct result of the Cold War, which forced the interests of other nations into alignment with US interests. Now that the threat is gone there's a realignment. If the US tries to retain hegemony by coercion the realignment will not be to our advantage. The US can remain preeminent, but only by understanding the interests of other nations and working in concert with them. The alternative is the fate of Athens.

#30 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 04:00 PM:

It occurred to me that this might be an effort by the Bush administration to help Chalabi, by publicly distancing themselves from him, and leaving him free to act on his own. The Brahimi process was going to leave Chalabi without power. Since all the evidence is that Bush, Cheney and the neo-cons actually like Chalabi, and he was their kind of guy (he embezzled with the best of them), there is no reason to think that they are happy with Brahimi. They have been forced to work with the UN by the need for any sort of legitimate Iraqi government, and by the strict timetable of American elections.

The Americans have turned on Chalabi before, by claiming that he was on the CIA payroll. This, of course, damaged the CIA as much as it did Chalabi, but it has been enough, with all the other factors, to keep Chalabi from becoming president of Iraq. Now, in a bold move, what was negative has become positive. Chalabi can legitimately claim he was playing the Americans for patsies, even with outraged statements from Washington to prove it. And if he was playing a double game with the Americans, surely he could have been doing so with Tehran too. This is his best chance to attempt a coup. If he succeeds, he can claim that he genuinely represents Iraqi independence, free from the meddling of the US and the UN. (Keep in mind that Iraqis also have many reasons to resent the UN.) He could also claim that, having stolen millions from the US, Iran, and from investors around the world, and having gotten away with it, he is the best qualified to represent Iraq in the difficult negotiations that are certain to lie ahead. He could even be right.

From the standpoint of the Bush administration, the action makes sense on several levels. If things get even worse, they have someone to blame besides themselves. Even if they have to take blame for being fooled, they can claim they were honorable and just trying to help, which is much better than the truth. And if Chalabi's coup succeeds, they get the man they wanted all along, and can look forward to being proven right in everything.

This is all speculation, of course. All that science fiction reading has loosened my grip on reality. But it's entertaining, if you can somehow pretend it's just a story happening to someone else, somewhere very far away.

"What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords if he wants". -- Ahmed Chalabi

#31 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 04:44 PM:

I've seen two mentions in this thread about no WMDs in Iraq. But didn't you hear? They found a warhead with deadly gas in it. Gas developed during WWII. It could've killed a whole 7 people if they didn't get the cure in time. If that's not a WMD, what is?

What, you want plural weapons? Hmph. Talk about moving the goalpost.

Sorry. Been reading too many commentaries by the extreme right. I was under this silly delusion that maybe they were working under logical principles, somehow.

But while I've been reading this thread, it occurs to me that this will be all too easy for Shrub & Co. to turn into a non-situation. Someone upthread (my apologies for not knowing who) mentioned that Shrub was looking for ANY justification he could find to start the war. I think even conservatives know that. They'll argue that, just because one source was unreliable doesn't make the whole thing unjustifiable.

Also, they'll argue Bush wasn't the one who put Chalabi into his position of power and information.

Lastly, this won't be front-page news. That has nothing to do with any sort of media conspiracy, and everything to do with the situation being convoluted and confusing. Journalists don't like writing about convoluted. They'll simplify it - Bush & Co found out this guy was bad, and cut off his funds - and the average American will be perfectly satisfied with that. If you raise a fuss about this history behind it, you'll be written off as a bleeding heart liberal.

Call me a pessimist, but I don't think even this can hurt Bush that badly, now. I think most of his supporters are dug in so deep now that to change their minds would involve admitting they were wrong and they just can't have that.

#32 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 04:46 PM:

Iraq had oil, and SH took a shot at Shrub's dad. That's why we went. Period.

Erik, if you're going to take the administration to task for this, you need to get their reasons straight. All our Middle East policies eventually boil down to either oil or Israel, but the specific reasoning behind the Iraq War was made clear years ago by the neocons. Pick a nation that is centrally located, weak, and has a leader no one will miss; overwhelm it militarily as a show of power; install a US-friendly government that will allow the US military to set up camp there; and convince the now-awed neighboring states to reconsider their support for terrorism. Iraq was a perfect match for the plan and had the bonus of being easily justifiable to the public; "WMD! WMD!" All they needed was a "lucky event" to set everything in motion. Enter 9/11.

The invasion really was about terrorism, just not in any way Bush ever told us about. One of many ironies is that, initially at least, it was fairly effective in changing the behavior of neighboring nations, but the administration had to present that as a bonus and not a primary goal achieved. Thanks, however, to the neocons insistence that all would be roses and light once we got in there, chaos has reigned, which rather dampens our show of power.

When all is said and done, let us hope that the neocons are forever disgraced in the eyes of conservatives and never again put in positions of power. Even though I know to wait for significantly more information, I must confess that when I saw the report on the Chalabi raid, I chuckled. A lot. And chuckles still slip out in unguarded moments. Like now, it seems.

#33 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 05:48 PM:

See article in today (Sat's) Times for an interesting counter view by a Turkish journalist, who argues that Chalabi is essentially a good guy walking a fine line, and that the Bush admin. is trying to phase him out and pin the spy thing on him because he's not doing things their way, particularly Bremer's.

#34 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 05:57 PM:

Here's a link for that story (free, but registration required):

#35 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 05:59 PM:

Mr. J. Zenger (jzenger) is already registered and is happy to share his NYT access.

#36 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 06:16 PM:

It's interesting how many people have gained credibility, fame and fortune by breaking from the Bush administration. Maybe this current row is happening because word leaked out that Chalabi is planning to write a book.

#37 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 06:19 PM:

"See article in today (Sat's) Times for an interesting counter view by a Turkish journalist, who argues that Chalabi is essentially a good guy walking a fine line, and that the Bush admin. is trying to phase him out and pin the spy thing on him because he's not doing things their way, particularly Bremer's."

Note that this is an op/ed, not a news article.

#38 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 06:40 PM:

Liars and Crooks!
Liars and Crooks!
John Kerry nailed it!
Liars and Crooks!


#39 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 07:06 PM:

Alice, the WashPost's story on it is on page A20, signifying that they consider it as World News rather than National News or Local News:

But speaking of excruciating embarassment, the WashPost website just broke a story that will be in the paper version tomorrow -- that high-level officers knew what was happening in Abu Ghraib:

" A military lawyer for a soldier charged in the Abu Ghraib abuse case testified that a captain at the Baghdad prison said the highest-ranking U.S. military officer in Iraq was present during some "interrogations and/or allegations of the prisoner abuse," according to a recording of a military hearing obtained by The Washington Post.

The lawyer said he was told that Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez and other senior military officers were aware of what was taking place on Tier 1A of Abu Ghraib."

#40 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 08:22 PM:

Thanks for the prominent placement of this story, "buried" on page 10 of my local paper.

Also in the paper, a letter from a surly reader complaining that no one was playing up the discovery of a gallon of sarin in Iraq. "Oh, now just because it wasn't *stockpiles* of WMD..." As if that was our word, all along.

#41 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 09:36 PM:

gallon of sarin in Iraq

Actually, residue of one of the precursor chemicals, but hey, who's counting?

#42 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 10:50 PM:

There is also a chance that Chalabi is providing one more reason for the US to invade Iran. We're already making a case concerning their nuclear industry and support for terrorism.

#43 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2004, 11:25 PM:

Teresa, re: Kip M's comment, don't you know that all our problems in Iraq are Clinton's fault?


Sadly, a large portion of the electorate probably believes that.


#44 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 12:38 AM:

On the sfnal side, are there any stories about aliens with superior tech meddling in earth politics as distinct from just taking over? It seems like the sort of thing Poul Anderson might have written about, but I can't think of anything in particular.

No Truce with Kings is the Poul Anderson, all the tech imaginable (human Esper's use alien technology to keep the Campbell market happy) but a light speed barrier and good intentions - here to help by imposing collectivist values.

Lots of alien space bat stories of one kind or another; I like the game of minimal changes in which one letter of a man's name averts nuclear war - ending in a reset and another game.

Does this mean W is part of a gang that can't shoot straight and won't steal much but money?

#45 ::: mitch ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 12:47 AM:

Greetings, MakingLight bloggers. I come from that parallel universe where Iraq was behind Al Qaeda and the anthrax. Here's the big picture as I presently understand it:

After Gulf War I, Iraq sponsored Al Qaeda's war against America. The ultimate threat was always the use of biological weapons to kill hundreds of thousands of people. After 9/11, the threat was made explicit. As a result, the war with Iraq was preceded by a war on Al Qaeda's command-and-control structure - the anthrax delivery mechanism - culminating in the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Both before and after 9/11, the war against Iraq and Al Qaeda was pursued under cover of a great many deceptions, all of which no doubt had their rationale. In the end, they worked, and Saddam is out of power. And now I'm wondering if the allegations against Chalabi are part of the clean-up operation. We didn't go to war with Saddam because he was threatening to arm Al Qaeda with anthrax - the Iranians just made us think that! Oh, and the actual anthrax that showed up? That was just a rogue biowarrior, trying to warn the nation. We'll catch him eventually.

It doesn't have to make perfect sense, just enough sense to blunt or misdirect further inquiry. The right can think it was all about "flypaper" and spreading democracy, the left that it was "Iran-Contra II", and the conspiracy theorists can be counted on to get the details wrong. "Case closed" indeed!

We now return you to your regular programming.

#46 ::: Calimac ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 12:59 AM:

Fascinated by the references to people who still believe the WMD are out there if we just look hard enough.

I think it's clear that the administration really did believe in the WMD, and whether they were conned or not weren't doing the conning on this.

Evidence in Hersh's articles in the New Yorker on the Iraqi prison scandal, where he states that Rumsfeld originally authorized torturing Iraqi prisoners because he was frustrated that more conventional intelligence efforts weren't turning up info on the WMD.

That certainly wasn't done as a publicity stunt.

#47 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 01:06 AM:
<bollocksquote>Teresa, re: Kip M's comment, don't you know that all our problems in Iraq are Clinton's fault?</bollocksquote>

They know it's Clinton's fault, but they can't figure out how, which makes it even more infuriating.

#48 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 01:09 AM:

Jon--Yes, the piece about chalabi is an op-ed piece, and I don't endorse it as being the truth. I really don't know enough about Chalabi to say. i thought it was intersting not only because of its contrasting view, but because the writer claims to be personally acquainted with Chalabi, is from a Moslem country, and presents a whole different theory that, while not necessarily at all true, is certainly plausible. I certainly suspect that Chalabi is at least a bit more complex than a simple rogue. Like a lot of men in similar positions, I suspect he is a mixture of noble aims, megalomania, greed, and just ordinary competence in a power vacuum. Just what percentage of each he embodies is the real question.

#49 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 01:25 AM:

Teresa, I just went to the Newsday site so I could send the URL to a friend. The article you quote has moved. It's here now:


#50 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 02:24 AM:

If there's one thing we know for sure about the right wing in America, first and foremost is that they're mad. This makes them dangerous. They are highly motivated to gain power to get back at their perceived enemies. But it also means they are often too angry to think straight.

This embarrassment with Chalabi is just the latest, and it won't be the last. Whenever anything goes wrong, the right looks for someone they can blame and beat up on. They are not going to let go of their anger. But their lashing out is stupid, and it leads to further failures and frustrations, and more anger and more mistakes. The right wing has fallen into a death spiral of anger and stupidity, and is taking us with them.

That, to me, is the embarrassment. I hope we can pull out of it.

#51 ::: parris ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 02:51 AM:

ummm, I'm not up on all that hip lingo the young folks are using these days, so can someone tell me

Have Rummie, Wolfie et al just been played, or have they been punked?

old fogie,


#52 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 03:45 AM:

I don't think we'll ever know for sure just what happened with Chalabi and Iran. I think anyone trying to kick out Saddam would have to have some contact with Iranian intelligence, if only to avoid active hostility.

And "classified information" could mean damn near anything.

But if there is substantial truth in the story, Iranian intelligence has blackmail material on a lot of the "good guys" in Iraq, who the US thought they could trust. Who can the US trust now?

#53 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 04:41 AM:

The Los Angeles Times has a new article "Suspicion of Chalabi Deception Intensifies" that not only provides more details, but also contains a good background summary on the alegations.

#54 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 05:58 AM:

Clark, thanks for suggestions for sf. I've thought of another, though it isn't respectable--one of Doris Lessing's Shikasta novels has an advanced empire meddling in earth politics.

Back to the main topic--perhaps, even as the Bush admistration thought they could get by without having an exit strategy, Chalabi thought he didn't need an entrance strategy.

#55 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 06:44 AM:

check out the WaPo story for today, about how they picked the occupation, that is to say, reconstruction staff, based on their long experience, expertise in Mid-East affairs and culture, relevant areas of specialization and objectivity...

Oh, and we got that extension on our immunity from the International Criminal Court we were asking for. Nobody's getting prosecuted for what they did/do in country for the next year...

#56 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 07:28 AM:

The whole Iraq thing is reeking more and more
of Watergate every day. The main difference is that
Dubya is the stupidest president of modern times. But I think most of his actions have been very deliberate (or at least very deliberate by Cheney, Rice and/or Wolfowitz).

I look forward to the administration's upcoming disinformation campaign the Zinni & Clancy book on the Iraq War.

#57 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 11:55 AM:

Just to cheer everybody up...

I think it's true that most everyday voters don't care about tiny details. What that meant at the start of the war and what it means now are changing.

I had an interesting talk with a coworker the other day. I live in a classic swing state, and she's a classic swing voter. She approved of the Patriot Act, for example, because she thought it would make us safer. She initially approved the war on Iraq for the same reason.

Thursday, out of the blue, she asked me if I knew of any other president who had gotten us into two wars. I said I didn't think so.

She shook her head and told me that while she didn't think Clinton was a very nice *person*, he wasn't a bad president. And she didn't approve of a president who got us into two wars.

I found that simplicity rather refreshing. Her words (got us into) were very telling and completely different from her previous stance. She clearly believed that the president went to war by choice, twice. And that this is a bad thing.

I'm sure she's never heard of Chalabi. But she thinks W is incompetent all the same. For those of you upthread who worry that this isn't hitting the front page, or that enough people aren't paying attention, I thought it might cheer you up to know that from where I sit, I see his base of moderate voters decamping with speed.

Hurry up November!

#58 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 12:22 PM:

Newsday also reported the outing of Valerie Plame well before the NY Times; it's my regular daily paper for a lot of reasons. That the story isn't in the Times doesn't make me doubt the story, it makes me doubt the Times (again).

Tom B.: I doubt that "he's an Iranian double agent" will be a political help to Chalabi: that makes him an employee of both countries that Iraq has recently fought bloody wars with.

#59 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 12:38 PM:

It isn't much of a surprise, but this morning Chalabi denied passing U.S. secrets to Iran. He called the accusations a smear, saying that he is being unfairly targeted by the CIA and George Tenet. He also said the responsibility for accurately gauging the reliability of the defectors lied with the U.S., not him.

#60 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 01:10 PM:

Hi Vicky. It hinges on whether Chalabi has dealt with Iran, or sold out to them. Both he and Iran are denying that he revealed secrets, so the up front story is that he's a dealer, not a sneak. The Iran-Iraq war was started by Saddam, so an Iraqi leader having close relations with Iran should be seen as progress, not a problem. That leaves the issue of Chalabi's character, whether he can be trusted. Personally, I don't know. The guy is an embezzler, with a jail cell waiting for him in Jordan. But politically, what matters is not my opinion but that of the people of Iraq. And it may be that the biggest boost an Iraqi politician can hope for is condemnation from the Bush administration.

#61 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 03:51 PM:


The neo-cons are being used. Ditto the fundamentalists.

Not by Iran. By Cheney, Sciafe, and so forth. They don't care about either the great American Empire, or by the Second Coming of the Lord. All they want is, well, America. They want power and riches, and controlling a nation with as much money and power as America fits the bill.

All of thier actions -- from attacking Clinton throughout his term, to the 2000 election, to today, make far more sense if you posit a small group who's willing to throw bones to whatever and whomever, so long as they gain more power and money out of the deal.

And, you know, it's working *great*. Yeah, Iraq's a complete mess. So what? They don't care about Iraq! They've funneled billions of dollars into thier coffers, and they've convinced lots of people that they had to do it -- and that, of course, anyone who points that out is an enemy of the state.

In terms of how much money and power BushCo has accumlated over this, the invasion of Iraq has to be considered a stellar success. This is why they intend to stay the course. There's more money to be made. Yeah, a few solders and a bunch of Iraqi's die -- but, hell, they can get another 50-60 billion easy out of this. Never mind Iraq's oil -- if it ever flows again, it'll flow through thier pipelines and thier refineries, and they'll make even more money.

Meanwhile, they've pissed off the military. Funny, though, they've pissed off the military -- and they're wearing them out and scattering them overseas. Hard for a unit in Iraq to overthrow the goverment in Washington -- or oppose the government in Washington.

Futhermore, they've gutted your civil rights. Newest tidbit. You'll be required to have ID to ride the Subway in Boston. If you don't have it, and they ask for it, you could be arrested. Lovely, isn't it? A populace that can't move around freely is easier to control, after all. Naturally, if you name is "Ima Terrorist", I'd advise you to get a fake ID.

Look at every headline, and ask yourself. 'Does this headling make Cheney and his cohort better off or worse off." Suddenly, things make much more sense.

Of course, this posits Bush being a figurehead.

#62 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 06:44 PM:

Nancy, another SF example is "Brother Termite" by Patricia Anthony. Giant termite-like aliens take over the government.

#63 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 07:51 PM:

Erik, I've been saying that Bush is the Manchurian Cndidate for a long time now, only the Soviet Union forgot to close the program down when they went under.

What we have is not the Evil Empire but the Idiot Empire, with the Praetorian Guard having pulled out the most likely-looking fool to wear the purple, while they loot the PQR with the help of the S.

That's why they won't let him out in public w'o a minder, thats why he can't answer questions, that's why they keep him down on the ranch out of sight so much.

The problem is, they don't realize that wishthink doesn't make reality go away...still haven't, while the rough beast slouches ever nearer...

#64 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 07:52 PM:

Bellatrys: Don't paint me with wondering how anything better could've been done: I have said, from before the beginning, that this whole adventure was based on knowing falsehoods, shoddy intel and stupid assumptions on the aftermath.

This just makes me think of Maturin commenting on the naivte of the intelligence efforts of the nascent United States... it seems we are still capable of foolish blunders, where a ring is slipped into our nose. The only difference this time around being that we seem to have done the piercing ourslelves.

#65 ::: cyclopatra ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 07:59 PM:

Nancy: (sort of) another example is Weber's trilogy that starts with Mutineer's Moon. Only we are the high-tech aliens in those books - or rather, their descendants, with some of the original aliens still around and messing with our politics/goverments.

#66 ::: MannyJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2004, 10:38 PM:

From the peanut gallery

I concluded a long time ago that Bush and most of his underlings really thought there were WMDs, for one simple reason: they hadn't found any.

Had they been lying about there being WMDs, they would have backed up the lie with fake evidence. Instead, they kept looking.

Mind you, that doesn't mean they thought WMDs were a reason to go to war. It seems to me that there was a "perfect storm" confluence of reasons: the Boy King hated the Man Who Tried To Kill Daddy, the neocons wanted to Transform The Middle East, Iran wanted to drive its two foes to war, Congress wanted to Look Tough, Rumsfeld wanted to prove he was a Military Genius, and Cheney wanted Haliburton contracts. Of them all, only the neocons were even remotely in the public interest, and Lord are they dumb.

#67 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 01:38 AM:

So I'm waiting for the bit where Bush produces an amulet, stops time for six minutes, and tries to explain what's really going on.

Wait, I didn't buy it when Joss tried it on Angel, either.

#68 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 01:38 AM:

the Boy King hated the Man Who Tried To Kill Daddy...

No, I think that's a fib too: "He tried to kill my father" is yet another false reason, picked because some folks would buy it as a reasonable motivation (if, for example, they belonged to La Coas Nostra).

The real reason had something to do with his father, but not revenge for an attack; it was that he wanted to show up his father, by going On To Baghdad (which George I hadn't done back in the first Gulf War).

This war is (among other things), W trying to prove that his dick is bigger than his dad's.

#69 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 02:41 AM:

it seems we are still capable of foolish blunders, where a ring is slipped into our nose.

One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them? ;)

#70 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 03:06 AM:

Angel's amulet didn't stop time, it just masked what they were doing, allowing them to talk freely and frankly for six minutes while fooling onlookers (such as Hamilton, who was shown spying on them) into thinking that they were still fighting each other.

#71 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 03:20 AM:

Point taken David.

What I'm trying to get at with the flip pop culture reference is that even if there was some sort of deus ex machina explanation for all this, some glamour to hide us from the bad guys while all this bad craziness is explained as part of a plan, I'd not buy it.

Even if I were green and Bush was charismatic.

Oh ghu, I just flashed on Condi Rice as Cordy. Now my head hurts.

Ow, ow, ow...

#72 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 07:38 AM:

Stop it, Bill. You're hurting my head, too.

Because now I'm having visions of Condi toddling about the White House, getting increasingly pregnant and evil (remember that slip she made - "As I was telling my husb—"?)


#73 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 07:17 PM:

James - that was my theory, too. That this whole thing is based off a great, big Oedipal farce of W trying to show Daddy he can succeed where Daddy failed.

Too bad for him he's klutzier than Dad. Dad only puked on the Japanese Prime Minister. And Shrub?

That must make it so much more frustrating. I'd almost feel sorry for him, if he hadn't dragged all of us into his tantrum, too.

#74 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 08:53 PM:

I'd take tumbling a bicycle over puking on a PM any day.

#75 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2004, 11:56 PM:

Don't forget the tumble off a Segway.

Those things were MADE for people to not fall off.

Or the near-choking on a pretzel.

I think combined, those 3 win the embarrassment prize.

#76 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 09:12 AM:

Nancy, Arkady & Boris Strugatsky - Roadside Picnic, where the aliens have screwed up the world without either noticing or caring, because they just came by, did their thing and went away again. What it might feel like to be an Iraqi in a few years time.

#77 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 10:52 AM:

I'm thinking back to the novel True Grit (read the book, but never got aroun to seeing the movie). "He killed my Daddy" and off went the young girl on a quest to exterminate her faher's killer. She wasn't an over 50 year old man....

#80 ::: Leslie ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 12:50 PM:

I second Kip M.'s endorsement of Josh Marshall. Good sources, good analysis.

James McDonald: Personally, I don't think the two motives--avenging Daddy and showing Daddy up--are at all incompatible in Bush's psyche. I think he wants to do both.

Erik: Bush as figurehead--absolutely. I hadn't known until recently that the person in charge of Bush's Veep search during his campaign was, in fact, Dick Cheney. After exhausting all possibilities, he was reluctantly forced to conclude that he was really the best person for the job. What an amazing qwinkydink.

A couple of wrinkles that haven't been mentioned here yet: There's one report that when the King of Jordan was here a few days ago, he brought with him hard evidence that Chalabi was an Iranian agent; that's what resulted in Chalabi's $340,000 monthly allowance finally being shut off. There is, of course, no love lost between Chalabi and the Jordanians.

And re: the midnight raid, there have been hints that after it was announced Chalabi would not be part of the new Iraqi government, he began planning to overthrow whoever was given nominal control on June 30. The papers being sought either relate to those plans, and/or contain damaging information about the administration that they need to get their hands on before they cut Chalabi loose for good.

My cousin keeps asking why Chalabi wasn't arrested in the raid if they know he's a double agent, and I keep telling her it's because he has the goods on them. His Iranian connections have been suspected for years--another bit of inconvenient information the administration chose to overlook. He was almost certainly a double agent who was given classified information, and there are relatively few people in the administration who could have provided it to him.

Josh Marshall reports that the FBI has opened an investigation into identifying the sources; the top candidates--amost the only candidates--are Rumsfeld, Cheney, and their immediate underlings. If proof is found, they're going to wish they were back in the good old days of the Plame scandal.

#81 ::: abby ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 02:31 PM:

Leslie, Cheney heading the VP search, and choosing himself, sounds like Disney's Aladdin, when the evil advisor offers to solve the problem of the princess not wanting to marry any of her suitors. He comes back to the sultan with the following proposal: "If the princess has not chosen a husband by the appointed time, she shall be wed to - oh my, how very interesting. To the royal vizier. Why, that's me!"

#82 ::: Tim Lieder ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 02:49 PM:

I'm more inclined to believe that the administration was fooled by Chalabi because conspiracy theories tend to give this group way too much credit for intelligence.

On the other hand there was recently an editorial by David Broder (I think that's the name - one of the few conservative columnists that I can read without puking) about how the U.S. should "lose" in Iraq - since no one likes to be rescued. Getting bombed out of Iraq wouldn't be feasible but getting voted out of Iraq would prove that America really does have an interest in a democratic Iraq. If every member of the Iraqi parliament is U.S.-backed and approved then it will be viewed as a farce whether or not it's genuine.

Of course I also tend to shy away from the glib cynical approaches to Iraq - not that cynicism isn't appropriate but too much cynicism sounds even more naive than no cynicism whatsoever. The whole "Bush wants to invade because of oil and the neo-con greed" one. There is a very real advantage to having a stable (mostly)pro-Western Arab democracy in the Middle East. Here's where I can bring in all of Machiavelli's arguments for democracy vs. monarchy (the best being that you have to kill a prince that goes mad, while persuasian works against the crazy crowd) in terms of stability. The situation in the Mideast has a handful of countries ruled either by dictators, kings, or corrupt pseudo-democracies, using anti-Israel, anti-West sentiment to distract the populace from whose really screwing them, causing a whole lot of resentment that's been allowed to fester on the basis of false unity.

Ever since the Shah was overthrown by religious fanatics in Iran, Washington has been worried about the Middle East. When people are poor, desperate and angry they tend to take extreme positions. Saudi Arabia is a powder keg waiting to blow up (and now that Al Qaeda is performing suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia the clerics are condemning suicide bombings - chickens coming home to roost) among other nations. Osama Bin Laden is better as a rogue terrorist than a leader of a nation. With the kind of stability inherant in collapsing governments, there's a very real chance he could take advantage and set up a theocracy that would make Afghanistan and Iran seem secular in comparison.

Last thing - no one is debating that Israel is the country that America has the closest ties with (although many of us bristle at the charges that Israel controls the U.S. state dept.) but it's not the Master/Slave relationship that teh U.S. has routinely pulled on smaller countries since the beginning of the Cold War. Sharon seems to be almost cheerful when he tells the U.S. to go f itself. This is not something that other U.S. "allies" would dare do - at least not the ones with U.S.-backed dictatorships.

#83 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 04:49 PM:

"Osama Bin Laden is better as a rogue terrorist than a leader of a nation."

For some reason, that triggered the contrarian in me. Maybe we'd be better off if Bin Laden were tied down in one place, with his power base all in the same location where we could keep an eye on him. The trouble now is that he can slip from one remote politicallly-troubled hiding place to another, never worrying about what the US does to the people living around his last hiding place. If he were ruler of a country, he'd have a lot more concern about the consequences of his actions. He might still covertly slip money to terrorists, but he'd be a lot less likely to get directly involved.

Not that I'm advocating giving him a country, just pointing out that his statelessness gives him a unique and troubling flexibility.

#84 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 06:33 PM:

I'm more inclined to believe that the administration was fooled by Chalabi because conspiracy theories tend to give this group way too much credit for intelligence.

It would fit in with the pipedream mentality of the neocons: if it fits into our plan, then it must be true.

The situation in the Mideast has a handful of countries ruled either by dictators, kings, or corrupt pseudo-democracies, using anti-Israel, anti-West sentiment to distract the populace from whose really screwing them, causing a whole lot of resentment that's been allowed to fester on the basis of false unity.

Any alternative histories written in which there is no coup to overthrow Mossadeq? We'll never know if he would have fallen into that trap or stuck to his ideals. If the latter, there are some interesting possibilities to consider.

#85 ::: Temperance ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2004, 09:33 PM:

Bellatrys: You're giving Dubya too much credit , although I appreciate your classical reference to the Praetorians. Personally I think he qualifies as this century's response to Incitatus -- Caligula's horse, whom Caligula made a Senator.

James D. McDonald: Thanks!

#86 ::: Lance Boyle ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 04:50 AM:

After the cathartic fun of ridiculing Bush subsides we'll be left with the fantastic notion that a moron ruled by madmen rigged an election in the most powerful country the world's ever known, and then went blindly into a useless war for reasons that quickly proved to have no substance. Then, after prosecuting that war to victory, a victory which he declared seemingly arbitrarily, as intense fighting continues still, the President suddenly begins to disintegrate in full view of the entire world.
There would seem to be no winners here. There would seem to be no purpose to any of it. Unless it was a re-enactment of the Crusades. Or it was to enrich the corporations who supplied the armaments used, and the reconstruction, which mostly hasn't taken place, though it's been paid for. Iraqi oil certainly has yet to find its way to America.
There is one nation that would seem to have benefitted from the Iraq war. Benefitted greatly and with far fewer casualties. It would seem the President himself is operating with the conviction that Israel and its fate as a nation are paramount, more important than the reputation and fate of the United States itself, or even his own.
This country has been ruined, damaged beyond repair. Americans will be pariah everywhere now, for years. This isn't amusing to me. I think America has been sacrificed, and I think that's tragic.

#87 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 07:03 AM:

The current situation is indeed in many ways tragic. However, by reproving everyone in this conversation for not taking exactly his preferred tone, "Lance Boyle" is being several different kinds of jerk. Starting with the kind who shows up to collect on a moral debt not owed to him.

#88 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 08:21 AM:

You're still reading Boyle's posts, Patrick? You're a better man than I am.

#89 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 11:03 AM:

Lance, you appear to believe your role here is to lecture your fellow sophonts, but not to listen to them or learn from them. In the exercise of this role you've assumed, you've been neither accurate, nor pleasant, nor amusing, nor observant, nor well-informed, nor helpful.

My guess is that you're going to think your daring and unpopular political views are the reason that what's about to happen to you is about to happen. They aren't.

#90 ::: Barry ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 11:08 AM:

Jonathan Vos Post:

"Also, there was discussion over Samuel Adams beers and lobster rolls at the ICCS 2004 about Abu Gharib torture. One government-connected researcher told me:

"On the one hand, everyone held long term at Abu Gharib is, at a minimum, a murderer, as opposed to those rounded up and released soon."

Jonathan, your source made the mistake of assuming high levels of both competancy and efficiency. Remember that the US armed forces are said to be critically short of translators, that many of Saddam's records were destroyed, and others given over to Chalabi. That there was no planning [on the part of the units involved, or the Pentagon] for any post-war situation other than 'rice and flowers and back to the States'. That the sort of on-the-ground-and-in-the-alleys inel needed to sort people is precisely what we don't have. That there are a multitude of reasons for somebody being named as a terrorist (money, revenge, belief in rumors, desire to curry favor, fear of consequences of not naming someboy, actual knowledge). That productivity might very well be measured by prisoner counts, confessions, and names given [under torture].

What that all adds up to is that a reasonable organization could hold a very large number of people for quite a while, while sorting through the mess. And nothing that's come out in the past month or so indicates reasonableness.

#91 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 03:35 PM:

My guess is that you're going to think your daring and unpopular political views are the reason that what's about to happen to you is about to happen. They aren't.

T: oh, thank you, thank you, thank you. The first time I saw his chosen pseudonym he'd have been outta here if it were mine. Where did you get your patience and can I get some too?


#92 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 03:40 PM:

I second Mary Kay. I kept repressing the urge to post, "Did somebody just say something?" after his rants.

#93 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2004, 04:16 PM:

After the cathartic fun of ridiculing Bush subsides we'll be left with the fantastic notion that a moron ruled by madmen rigged an election in the most powerful country the world's ever known, and then went blindly into a useless war for reasons that quickly proved to have no substance. Then, after prosecuting that war to victory, a victory which he declared seemingly arbitrarily, as intense fighting continues still, the President suddenly begins to disintegrate in full view of the entire world.

As my ex-boyfriend used to like to say, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. In truth, I don't think that Bush is a moron, and I don't think that Cheney and company are madmen. However, I think that Bush is largely passive in the decision-making of this administration, and I think that his key advisors are pursuing goals that have nothing to do with the welfare of my country.

The election was ... well, had things been done in the normal fashion, Gore would have been president. Exactly how we came to this pass can be called a number of different things. If legality is defined by what the courts rule as legal, then it was a legal election. If legality is defined as abiding by the law, then the election was illegal.

There is one nation that would seem to have benefitted from the Iraq war.

Israel? I haven't noticed that Israel is doing any better now than in any year since the second Intifada was declared. Iran, on the other hand, has clearly gained a significant geo-political gain by eliminating a large and dangerous enemy on their borders.

And Lance, would you please separate your paragraphs by a double return? Your posts are difficult to read formatted as they are. All I'm asking for is that you make your positions easier to read, not affect your mode of expression -- unless your mode of expression is somehow tied up in making you difficult to comprehend. I can guess at why someone might choose such a mode, however this conversation moves too fast for that to offer me a good cost/benefit ratio.

#94 ::: Easy Money ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 01:38 AM:

Lydia Nickerson-
Thanks for the polite disagreement.

I should say, or should have said up front, that I got slammed here last year for what was a very difficult to write but sincerely written attempt to graph some fears I had, that at the time were just coalescing toward certainty. They're absolute certainties now.

If you can't see the benefit to Israel of an Iraq that is economically castrated and under complete "US" domination, with the pieces on the board as obvious as they are, you probably won't see it after ten dense paragraphs of reasoned argument and rhetorical hyperbole.

The major stumbling block seems to be, not the facts, which are childishly simple and obvious, but the ghosts of the Holocaust, which get thrown up like a shield whenever Israel is seriously criticized. In America.

I keep getting hit for objecting to people feeling smug for dissing Bush, and believe it or not it isn't fun. I don't like the negativity I get here, and I don't like it in my personal life either. But I'm not doing this for fun. I'm saying these things because no one else is. Except maybe John Stanton and a few other people like him. This is a message that the American people are not hearing.

What I'm saying is that whoever or whatever is running Israel now is also directing the actions of the US military in the Middle East, and to a great extent the actions of the President and Congress; and the opinion-shaping technologies of television and radio and newspapers. This may be just mental aberration on my part, but the expected things keep happening.

Given those conditions I think it may be sensible to wonder if Bush is dispensable, that the false sense of accomplishment getting rid of him will bring us will bring with it a kind of complacency, anxious though it may be.

Read the John Stanton piece, he's on it.

#95 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 02:46 AM:

Israel: Unless the war can somehow be dragged around to some semblance of the predictions of those who started it, Israel is coming out of it in an unpleasant position, because the new Iraq is going to be both anti-Israel, and possessed of a cadre of radicalised young men who will end up looking for other places to vent their anger.

Israel will make a convenient, and not that hard to get to, target.

As for "whoever or whatever is running Israel now is also directing the actions of the US military in the Middle East, and to a great extent the actions of the President and Congress"

I think you have been reading to Illuminati too often. The people in the US who are willing to go to any length in the support of Israel are doing it for their own (usually millennial) reasons, and Israel's interests are not truly theirs, as has been said before, "just because yuor on their side, doesn't mean they're on your side," and that holds true in the reverse.

As for Israel running the Army, et al., it's beneath derision. The Army, for all that it is an institution, is made up of a semi-random cross section of the nation, and unless you are trying to argue the Israelis have been planting sleepers, buy the thousands, into the services, so they will get promoted to the policy-making levels (which are few) then it ain't the case, because we don't appoint our generals, or admirals, they have to make it up from the bottom, over the course of decades.

As for smug... again, I think you mistake glib, and intelligent, response, often angry, usually with some sidelong bits of bantering leaven, for smug.

Were I prone to pop-psych, I'd say you were projecting.

#96 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 01:53 PM:

You know, as an american not in line with the current dominant national ideology, I feel a fair amount of empathy for israelis who want to live in a much-needed refuge and find it hijacked regularly, by both internal and external players, for use as a chess piece.

#97 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 03:06 PM:

Around the time Nixon was president, there were plenty of rah-rah supporters who found him ot be the best thing since sliced bread. These days, he's known to have been a crook. I can only hope that support of Bush is viewed in the same context in future histories.

Perhaps we need some sort of amnesty for Bush supporters. Just drop the chimp and we'll all go back to buisness.

#98 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 04:14 PM:

Quoth Teresa, appear to believe your role here is to lecture your fellow sophonts, but not to listen to them or learn from them. In the exercise of this role you've assumed, you've been neither accurate, nor pleasant, nor amusing, nor observant, nor well-informed, nor helpful.

My guess is that you're going to think your daring and unpopular political views are the reason that what's about to happen to you is about to happen. They aren't.

...Wow. I wish I'd had that to say to a certain someone on a local mailing list I moderate, before the previous moderator evicted him. He and his cronies were very fond of deflecting criticism of their needlessly caustic rhetoric by screeching about intolerance for disparate viewpoints. Your words here would have been the perfect rebuke.

Not that it would have convinced him, but it would have made me feel better, dammit! (And maybe it would have quashed some of the cronies' responses to news of his eviction.)

Permission to quote in full if another situation arises? With due credit and links given? Pretty please?

#99 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 06:12 PM:

Julia, do you read the mail from the edress you use here? I sent mail to you & Jill about our meetup and haven't heard from you yet.

(sorry for hijacking the thread, but this is the best chance to get her attention)

#100 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2004, 11:15 PM:

I think you have been reading to Illuminati too often. The people in the US who are willing to go to any length in the support of Israel are doing it for their own (usually millennial) reasons, and Israel's interests are not truly theirs, as has been said before, "just because yuor on their side, doesn't mean they're on your side," and that holds true in the reverse.

"The enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy. Nothing more." - Schlock Mercenary

#101 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2004, 12:54 AM:

Easy Money (aka Lance?)

I read the Stanton piece. I even agree with some of it. Our support of Israel has been, perhaps, out of proportion at some times. That is a far cry from what you are saying, which sounds much more like a modern rendition of the Elders of Zion than anything I can recognize as real politics.

It's a mistake to believe that everything that's happening is all connecterd, organized, and planned. While I think that the Bush administration is malevolent, one of the areas in which I think they are most culpable is their incompetence. Allowing Chalabi to lead them around by the nose was _stupid_. If they'd really wanted a war with Iraq, they could have created one more credibly without his help. I think they were just stupid enough to need a pretext that they believed in. Or could believe in, if they squinted their eyes at it just right.

As for being smug about Bush-hating, how can you tell? Sounds like mind-reading or generalization, to me. I think that if you, for instance, look at just my posts, you'll find a mixture of black humor and terror and despair. I'm not smug. What do I have to be smug about? I'm worried about World War III, a Great Depression, becoming a Third World Nation, and devolving into a fascist state. You're welcome to argue that I'm being alarmist, but those worries don't lead towards smugness. I'm not happy about anyone's comeuppance. I desperately wish that Bush had been as good a president as people had predicted that he would be. The fact that things are, from my perspective, so much worse than anything I could have imagined in 2000 doesn't lead me to feel superior, it leads me wondering if I should have done something differently, and what I can do now. Honest question: do you see any of that as smug?

I think that if you look at what is posted in this fora, you will find that the majority of the writers here express similar sentiments, or are on Bush's side, in which case they are outside your argument. It's easy to overgeneralilze, taking what one liberal group has said and assuming that all liberals believe the same thing. I've had this beef about feminism for years. A feminist comes out and says something stupid, like pornography is rape, and suddenly that is the "feminist line" and all feminists believe it. Most of us are more nuanced than that, and some of us are actually in favor of pornography. The more the better.

#102 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2004, 12:18 AM:

Easy Money, if you "got slammed here last year," I'll assume you're operating under an alias, since I don't recognize your name. Your tone and arguments are starting to sound familiar, though, and your tin ear fits as well. "Smug" is not what's going on. And by the way: if you behave the same way this year, you'll get the same results you did before, only faster.

Mary Kay, the initial reason LB survived was that you guys seemed to be getting some amusement value out of arguing with him. I think I let him go on too long after that.

Nicole, permission granted, though on reflection I'd rather it said "...are the reason for what's about to happen to you."

My basic formulation goes, "Please understand that this has nothing to do with your political beliefs. It's completely personal." I long ago lost count of how many times I've used some variant of that, because unfortunately, what you've described there is a known species of internet jerk:

I wish I'd had that to say to a certain someone on a local mailing list I moderate, before the previous moderator evicted him. He and his cronies were very fond of deflecting criticism of their needlessly caustic rhetoric by screeching about intolerance for disparate viewpoints.

Not that it would have convinced him, but it would have made me feel better, dammit! (And maybe it would have quashed some of the cronies' responses to news of his eviction.)

I've never seen one who wasn't male, and they're almost always young. They have a limited supply of political rhetoric, all of which is heavy on slogans and doesn't connect with real-world events. They're loud, belligerent, and rude, and have little interest in real conversation on any subject. Many are nominally right-wingers, though others are nominally leftist or libertarian. The nominal right-wingers tend to be a bit louder and cruder, and use simpler words, but that's only a faint variance amidst the overall generic resemblance.

One of the most distinctive marks of the breed is that any time you rein in their rude behavior, they inevitably say you're trying to repress them because you can't cope with their political arguments. Inevitably. As far as I can tell, their position is that posession of their little handful of political slogans entitles them to be the center of every conversation, come out on top in every argument, and play aggressive dominance games with all the other participants. If politics weren't an available subject, they'd find another one and play the same games.

They're never more than a half-step away from whining and feeling sorry for themselves.

They're real conversation-killers. If you've only got one or two, they'll still manage to bend the conversation around to being about them. Add a few more, and they'll make the tone of the discourse so unpleasantly loud, stupid, and adversarial that more valuable participants will start dropping out, and entire ranges of subjects and approaches will become impossible to discuss. If the situation deteriorates any further after that, they'll start forming a pack. That's when it gets really bad. Members of packs misbehave as a performance for their fellow pack members, and egg each other on into worse and worse behavior.

If this guy who got evicted from your board left behind cronies who sang the "You're Repressing Me" anthem on his behalf, my estimate is that he should have been kicked out a lot earlier than he was.

#103 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2004, 01:58 PM:

Marilee, I do, but my spam filter is cranky so I didn't see your email. I'm waiting to hear from my host in DC but I should be able to get back to you by the end of the day, and it looks as if a great deal of yarn will be making its way to you next weekend.

#104 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2004, 08:33 PM:

Teresa,in my experience, when you tell someone that "it isn't to do with your political beliefs," they'll never believe you.

#105 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2004, 10:00 PM:

Teresa: an old friend of mine *loves* to go on panels with the libertarian versions of the numbskulls you describe. The standing joke among concom members here before he goes on a panel is to say "Remember, Hank; don't break the libertarians when you play with them--they're hard to glue back together.

#106 ::: Anna in Cairo ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2004, 07:00 AM:

I keep checking this thread hoping you have a new one up as Abu Ghraib depresses me and the thought that our government was duped by Iranian intelligence is depressing as well, but in a different way.

I am glad I did, as I laughed at TNH's recent description of those kind of people who repeat talking points over and over and when you tell them to shut up they go "help help, I'm being oppressed," (I love the Holy Grail!) because I get those in the lists I moderate which are about Islam and politics. Usually it's some sort of fundamentalist or literalist.

However, TNH mentions she's never met a woman who argued this way. I have. To this day she contacts my e-mail whining to be let back on the Islam lists that I moderate. She single-handedly derailed nearly every topic for a period of years, not to mention she would send those "friendship" type syrupy forwards to lists as if they were worthy of discussion.

#107 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2004, 09:04 AM:

I've met women who do it too. I suppose Teresa was fortunate enough to miss the eruption of "Violet aka Jessica" on rasseff.

#108 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2004, 12:02 PM:

I did!

... Are we sure she's female?

#109 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2004, 12:09 PM:

I'm sorry, Anna. I've been depressed too -- and not all of that is Abu Ghraib. I'll write about it as soon as I can stand to.

#110 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2004, 01:05 PM:

TNH said:
... Are we sure she's female?

On behalf of my gender, I'm hoping so. I would feel terrible if all of the asses were male. Do female asses get banished to the opposite sex?

Moonlit figures gathered to pass judgment over the traitor. The shrieks of the condemned echoed weirdly from the walls of the ravine as her handbag was cast into the bonfire. A hooded shadow advanced on the cowering prisoner, the steroidal needle glinting from her mauve-nailed fingers...

#111 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2004, 03:15 PM:

Andy, it's a little more complicated than that. Jessica used to be Jesse Amos. I don't know the level of transgender.

(I've been watching the Indiana Jones movies on USA this weekend -- all three are on today with the third in prime time -- and your description could certainly fit them.)

#112 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2004, 03:24 PM:

Note to self (and Marilee): I have to remember to check these things out first before I open my mouth.

#113 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 01:31 AM:

"Andy, it's a little more complicated than that. Jessica used to be Jesse Amos. I don't know the level of transgender."

Wow. If this is the person I suspect it is, I would personally recommend the administration of extremely large grains of salt.

I would also recommend that Andy Perrin not feel the need to apologize to anyone.

#114 ::: mitch ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 04:41 AM:

Does anyone have a theory about why two guys from Kuwait turned out to be behind the first WTC bombing, the Bojinka plan, and 9/11? Besides Laurie Mylroie's theory that they were Iraqi agents in disguise, that is?

#115 ::: Anna in Cairo ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 07:08 AM:

What sort of a theory? That the two guys from Kuwait work for Al Qaida? Why must there be a theory at all? Al Qaida's ranks are growing mostly as an angry reaction to US intervention in the region (recent estimate mentions the figure 18,000). They are coming from everywhere. Violent fundamentalism is not based on ethnicity or nationality. It is a world problem. There is no need for a conspiracy theory to explain this at all.

#116 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 10:25 AM:

Ah, Laurie Mylroie! A name to conjure with!

When it's time for the treason trials, she'll be at the defense table wearing an orange jump suit.

Mylroie believes that Saddam was not only behind the '93 Trade Center attack, but also every anti-American terrorist incident of the past decade, from the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania to the leveling of the federal building in Oklahoma City to September 11 itself. She is, in short, a crackpot, which would not be significant if she were merely advising say, Lyndon LaRouche. But her neocon friends who went on to run the war in Iraq believed her theories, bringing her on as a consultant at the Pentagon, and they seem to continue to entertain her eccentric belief that Saddam is the fount of the entire shadow war against America.
#117 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 10:31 AM:

OK, even with my first example shot down so neatly, and I don't suppose V*nn* B*nt* counts either, I still contend that, as with most things, there are women who do it too.

#118 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 10:45 AM:

The number 18,000 for al Qaeda fighters is shaky at best.

It comes from this: Presumed 20,000 trained at camps in Afghanistan over the years. Presumed 2,000 caught or killed. Therefore, 18,000 out in the world somewhere.

I wouldn't trust that number.

#119 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 11:08 AM:

That number is enough to make me nostalgic for the good old days when neocon protonumerology as applied to threat estimates was an order of magnitude high.

#120 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 12:22 PM:

Just while we're mentioning numbers of people, I find it rather distressing that the number of deaths of Iraqis in the "hot" part of this war keeps being given as "10,000 Iraqi civilians".
This just wipes out of memory the (one estimate) 20,000 Iraqi troops - fathers, brothers, sons - who were also killed. They may have been 'legitimate' targets, but so were Coalition troops in combat, and we didn't discount them.
One of the things that helps the Australian relationship with Turkey is that the war cemeteries of both sides in the Gallipolli campaign are equally respected. One of the things that revolts me about 'action' films is the cavalier treatment of deaths of multiple antagonists to the hero, like the conveniently non-human zombies, aliens or demons in computer games.

#121 ::: enjay ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 03:09 PM:

` with my first example shot down so neatly, and I don't suppose V*nn* B*nt* counts either, I still contend that, as with most things, there are women who do it too.

Although I would agree that most offenders are likely young and male, I have argued with women whose online arguments are abusive and confontational. At least one is also extremely intelligent, well-educated and articulate. I know they are woman, and old enough to know better, because I have also met them face to face.

They make an obviously deliberate choice to be offensive (in both senses of the word) in argument. Perhaps it is because they have so little respect for their opponents that they can't be bothered to engage in civil discourse.

I have come to believe, however, that some people do it because they find it amusing. For them, nastiness is the point of the game, rather than a by-product.

#122 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2004, 05:10 PM:

Patrick, she's certainly the person you're thinking of. I just killfiled her when she started posting to rasff (stopped a while back, I think, I haven't seen any replies to her for a long time). I guess after she had her name changed she didn't like it as well as she thought she would because she now calls herself Violet. Her website is

Jo, I kind of assumed most people knew who she was. It was a big deal at the time.

#123 ::: Anna in Cairo ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2004, 01:11 AM:

Graydon, thanks for the info -- I did not know the source for the number. It seems to me that as so little is known about Al Qaida given its cell-structure and its reliance on the cells not knowing much about each other, it would be highly speculative to come up with numbers at all. But one thing I think is beyond argument and seems frighteningly clear to me, at least here in the Middle East; Bush's policies are creating exactly the kind of anger and resentment that people like OBL need for recruitment. As Mubarak said, in a rare wise moment, "You will create 100 Bin Ladens." The 100, of course, being completely rhetorical and not meant to approximate an exact figure, but the meaning being completely clear.

#124 ::: mitch ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2004, 02:22 AM:

One would think, a priori, that Kuwaitis would be the people least likely to support a war against America. There is also no particular reason that Kuwaitis would be the most capable members of Al Qaeda. It's also rather odd that these top operatives come from the one family. And yet, that's how it seems to be. Abdul Basit Karim was the bombing mastermind in 1993, and tried to bring off Bojinka in 1995; his uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, became head of Al Qaeda's martyrdom committee and masterminded 9/11; another of Khalid's nephews, "Ammar al-Baluchi", wired money to Mohammed Atta from Dubai. And prior to all this, Khalid's brother Zahid ran a Kuwaiti charity for Afghan refugees, in Peshawar in the 1980s.

And let's look at some other facts. The WTC was bombed on the second anniversary of Kuwait's Liberation Day. Terry Nichols was in the same region of the Philippines, at the same time, as bombing expert Karim (aka Ramzi Yousef); and, as I believe Richard Clarke pointed out somewhere, once he returned to the USA his bombs were a lot more effective than they had been. When Yousef was on trial in New York for his Phillipines plane-bombing plot, a plane exploded, on July 17, Iraq's national day and the anniversary of the Baathist revolution there.

It really takes only two hypotheses to explain all of this:

1. Iraqi intelligence infiltrated the jihad movement in the guise of Kuwaiti Islamists. The identities in question having been obtained during the occupation of Kuwait, as Mylroie suggests.

2. American intelligence sought to hide the Iraqi connection. Much of the evidence from the 1990s that might have constituted part of the "case against Iraq" was already spun or explained away back then. To reopen those old cases would be to make this clear, with potentially bad consequences for the institutions that are now supposed to fight the war on terror. This is one of several reasons why the case for war was made in the way it was.

Let me also point out that Patrick Lang and Larry Johnson, the retired intelligence officials who say the INC was an Iranian front, believe that Iran was behind the Oklahoma City bombing. (See their support for the work of Jayna Davis.)

#125 ::: Anna in Cairo ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2004, 08:21 AM:

Well, Mitch, if you think Mylroie's hypotheses (I think that is much too dignified a name to give to her ideas, BTW) are the only logical theory that fits the facts, fine. Why should some Kuwaiti brothers NOT want to join Al Qaida? Al Qaida is not Saudi only. Kuwait, while not Wahhabi, is also extremely fundamentalist in its Sunni orientation. Perhaps you think that only Wahhabis join al-Qaida?

Iran behind the OK City bombing? I am afraid you lost me there. I did hear there were supposedly some Middle EAstern types who were helping the guys who committed that one get their act together. Sounds very convenient.

Your ability to believe that US intelligence was covering up Iraqi involvement in Al Qaida makes no sense. They had no real motive to do that. Also that would undoubtedly come out at a time when they were being PUSHED to MAKE STUFF UP about this supposed connection and even George Tenet was "stretching" the available facts to help his namesake in the White House go have his war.

I know that people don't have a particularly high opinion of the intel people. I myself would not work for them because i would not feel comfortable doing that kind of work. I have read "Killing Hope" and I know the CIA did a lot of awful things over the decades.

But I have met and worked with intelligence people when I was in the Foreign Service in the mid-90s, in 3 embassies, two are in the Middle EAst, and I will say this. Your ability to believe that they as an entire institution would cover up a mistake when faced with such a terrorist threat as Al Qaida getting support from Saddam Hussein, is really insulting to the many very dedicated people who joined them, much like people join the Army, to protect and defend the constitution of the US.

I can't believe I could even have the ability to sound this patriotic about the CIA of all people, I who signed petitions at Georgetown to keep them from recruiting on our campus -- but that was before I saw the slur you put on them above. It is utterly shocking. Whatever you think about what they do to our official enemies, they are loyal to the US and its interests as they perceive them (and on this issue I probably disagree with them as violently as anyone else on this list possibly could).

Are you aware that most of the people who have sold our secrets to other countries were not with the intel agencies but were with the Navy? The Intel guys are extremely dedicated to this country. And also they tend to admit mistakes or they would not be in intel for long. Don't you remember that Tenet actually took the fall for the bad intel in the SOTU when the story was first breaking? Have you not read Bob Baer's book (s) and figured out what WAS being covered up? Hint, it was not IRAQ who is continuing to get protected for the petrodollars. And it's not the agencies that choose to go down that particular political road. They implement policies from the WH.

#126 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2004, 11:55 AM:

"Remember, Hank; don't break the libertarians when you play with them--they're hard to glue back together.

But surely if you break a libertarian, an invisible hand will put him back together. Glue isn't necessary; Market Forces will hold the pieces in place.

#127 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2004, 12:10 PM:

I can't improve on Anna's response to Mitch, but I will note that putting together a whole bunch of related unsupported inferences does not make the individual inferences any stronger. (And of course they are only related because, as unsupported inferences, they can all be made to point in the same direction at will.)

This is a common mistake made both by conspiracy nutbars and also by some people who should know better. It's still a mistake.

Although it's tough call, the dumbest inference in Mitch's post is probably the one about Kuwaitis in Al-Qaeda. If untangled from the rest of the mess and stated plainly, it would run something like "because some Kuwaitis are involved in Al-Qaeda operations, and Kuwaitis are not generally anti-US, there must be some hidden reason for this." Even assuming that the second part is true (which is arguable), this is no different from saying "because some neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists are from Massachusetts, and Massachuetts is generally liberal, there must be some hidden reason for this."

#128 ::: mitch ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2004, 07:47 PM:

First, let's clear up the Iran/OKC "connection"... Jayna Davis is an Oklahoma City reporter. Her thesis is that a defector from Iraq's Republican Guard can be placed in proximity to McVeigh on the morning of the bombing - driving around with him in the same vehicle, for example. She has a number of witness affidavits to that effect. In interpreting her evidence, she has been assisted by ex-intelligence people like Lang and Johnson, whose belief is that Iran was the state sponsor, and the Iraqi merely a foot soldier.

I'd also note that if Davis is right, there are some striking parallels between WTC 1993 and OKC 1995. In WTC 1993, the ones who got away were a guy from Iraq and a guy from Kuwait, who both entered the bombing plot late. The original conspirators (Egyptians, Palestinians and Jordanians, mostly from an Al Qaeda mosque in New York) were all arrested pretty quickly. In OKC 1995, we have, once again, a guy from Iraq and a guy from Kuwait (the same guy from Kuwait, "Ramzi Yousef"), getting involved with some amateur bomb-makers. The guy from Iraq is in Oklahoma with McVeigh, the guy from Kuwait is in the Philippines with Nichols. But only McVeigh and Nichols are apprehended.

There's nothing unusual about Kuwaitis being mujahideen. But one might suppose that they'd prefer to fight in Bosnia or Chechnya, say, rather than against the country which is the very reason why Kuwait still has its independence.

And this is not just a matter of Kuwaitis joining Al Qaeda, but of Kuwaitis being the organizers behind the three most ambitious Al Qaeda attacks on the USA - WTC 1993, Bojinka 1995, and 9/11. So who are these masterminds? They come from a single family with its roots in Pakistani Baluchistan. Zahid al-Sheikh, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's brother, was reportedly a leader in the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood, and the one who ran the charity in Peshawar. I think he's the key to understanding this.

If we accept the evidence so far, we have these Kuwaitis behind at least three attacks, the first of which (WTC 1993) was carried out on the eve of Kuwait's Liberation Day, and which had an Iraqi participant who was smart enough to get away. On the fringes of the second (Bojinka 1995), we may have a meeting with a future OKC bomber, whose pal is then spotted in the company of a former Republican Guardsman on the morning of the bombing. And when Ramzi Yousef is captured and brought to trial in New York for his plane-bombing plot, a plane explodes over New York on the day which celebrates Iraq's Baathist revolution.

Given all of that, it would be mad not to be curious about the Iraqi "aspect" of those events, and even more curious about the Kuwaiti connection. Mylroie's theory is: Iraq was the state sponsor for all of it, and the Kuwaiti connection is a fabrication, the work of Iraqi intelligence. One might propose instead that the Kuwaiti wing of Al Qaeda chose to work with Iraq, perhaps even that they were collaborators during the original occupation. I would like to be able to decide between such variations on hypothesis 1, which is why I want to know more about Zahid.

Now, on to hypothesis 2. It is not necessarily a slur on American intelligence to suggest that they covered things up. Terrorism is psychological warfare, and circulating a misleading cover story about an attack is one way to deny the terrorists and their sponsors the psychological impact they wish. (See the case of the anthrax letters.) Combine this public deception with covert action designed to genuinely neutralize the threat, and you have a formula for success.

Consider what happened in 1993. The World Trade Center was bombed, the original plotters were caught, but the late arrivals who really ran things got away. What did the FBI do? They organized a sting: they had a double agent (an Egyptian, in fact) organize a similar plot, drawing cannon fodder from the same fundamentalist milieu. When the plot was sufficiently advanced, they stepped in and busted everyone. It was in the headlines. Then, a few days later, Clinton bombed the headquarters of Iraqi intelligence. The reason he gave was the attempt to assassinate Bush in Kuwait a few months before. But consider how it looks from Saddam's perspective, assuming that he ran the first plot (and that's what New York FBI thought): You try to blow up buildings in New York. You fail, but your agents get away. The American government does not publicly implicate you. Then, a few months later, another plot to blow up buildings in New York is very publicly busted; and immediately, Clinton bombs your intelligence headquarters. The message would be clear: we're on to you, don't try that again.

#129 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2004, 12:32 AM:

enjay, that's a reasonably fair description of (what I dearly hope is only occasional instances of) my posting, and truly, I haven't chosen the tone to be offensive. It's just that it's really hard for me to be measured when I'm angry, and I end up sounding as if I'm trying not-very-successfully to be professorial. I'm not, really. Mostly I'm choosing my words carefully because I'm trying not to descend into a string of curses.

That would be a good time not to post, I know, but the mind is sometimes slower than the fingers.

I'm not personalizing what you said, just saying that in my experience, abrasive postings aren't always deliberately that way.

#130 ::: Anna in Cairo ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2004, 05:00 AM:


I agree that Emjay's description of female "jerks" (using TNH's terminology) also might apply to an angry me (although I sometimes manage to quit hitting "send" or "post" when I am in that kind of mood), and I would, by that definition, also sometimes come off as abrasive. But I think he was talking about someone who does this as a general rule, as opposed to someone who gets obviously pissed off by stupidity and responds with sarcasm or anger.

Now I really need to say that I really admire your ability to abrade (is that a verb?). You are the mistress of the sarcastic one-liner and I admire your abrasiveness to the point I usually say "why don't I think of such clever, sarcastic and pithy ways of shooting a dumb argument down in flames like Julia who writes Sisyphus Shrugged?" and I don't think you sound professorial at all. Just really, really funny. However I am glad that I don't write for a conservative magazine or otherwise draw attention to myself so that I would be on the receiving end.

James McDonald: Sorry, I thought someone else commented on the Al Qaida figures and thanked him instead of you.

Mitch: I don't see the point of discussing Mylroie's theories further. You have obviously made up your mind already. What is to discuss? As I see it you are just trying to convince others that they have merit. Good luck.

#131 ::: mitch ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2004, 06:20 PM:

This is an interesting exercise in getting people to re-think. If I list lots of suggestive evidence, it's a collection of "unsupported inferences" with no mutual confirmatory value. If I highlight the explanatory hypotheses, they're "Mylroie's theories", and everyone already knows she's a crackpot, thanks to Peter Bergen's article.

Anna, you mentioned Bob Baer. Does he ever say *why* his team was in northern Iraq in March 1995, trying to take out Saddam? (It's worth contrasting his account of events with that of Andrew and Patrick Cockburn in their book on Saddam, by the way.) It's interesting that just two months before, it was serendipitously discovered that another terrorist spectacular from "Ramzi Yousef", a.k.a. Abdul Basit Karim from Kuwait, was in the works. It was literally discovered by accident: the improvised bomb lab in his Manila apartment caught fire. One might suppose that this revealed the 1993 bombing of Iraqi intelligence headquarters to have had no deterrent effect, requiring the Clinton administration to up the ante. But that would be an unsupported inference.

#132 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2004, 01:19 AM:

Anna in Cairo, please remind me to bake you cookies. You just made my whole day.

#133 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2004, 05:06 AM:

Teresa wrote: I'd put your quoted version in ROT-13, except that fewer and fewer people seem to know about that.

"What's ROT-13?" he asked, cryptically.

#134 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2004, 07:35 AM:

It is indeed possible for women to be jerks, as web-and newsgroup search for the on-and-offline career of "Curio Jones", aka "Karen Curio Jones", aka "Karena Jones", aka Diana Louisa Napolis, should demonstrate.

She's the Usenet Kook who promulgated Satanic Conspiracy theories — and accused many newsgroup posters (including me) of partaking in those conspiracies.

Her true identity and gender got confirmed in her hometown (San Diego) newspaper, and she got even more press when she later started accusing Hollywood notables of helping space aliens electronically torment her, and threatened to kill one of them. She was charged, found mentally incompetent to stand trial, spent some time in a California mental hospital, was finally found competent enough to plea-bargain, and was then given a "time served" sentence, so she is now (or the last I heard) out on parole.

These latter events go a bit beyond ordinary jerkdom — into mental health issues — but she was certainly behaving like a jerk long before she went completely off the road.

Too many newsgroup posts and websites to list. Just Google on the names above (and variations like "Diana Napolis" and "Diana L. Napolis"), or do this preset Google Web search for most of them. Hit the "Groups" tab to see related Usenet newsgroup postings.

#135 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2004, 07:06 PM:

Quoth Teresa,

If this guy who got evicted from your board left behind cronies who sang the "You're Repressing Me" anthem on his behalf, my estimate is that he should have been kicked out a lot earlier than he was.

Your estimate is 100% correct, but it should be said that the previous moderator acted from a saintly generosity with benefit of the doubt. I do admire her for that. Me, I'd have kicked him out too soon to be able to convincingly defend myself against the choiristers.

He was often heard to talk, laughingly, about the conversations that got him evicted elsewhere. He didn't seem able to recognize himself as the connecting thread between all of his getting-kicked-off-mailing-lists experiences. I suspect that's a common symptom too.

A belated thank you for your thoughtful expounding on this particular conversation-killer. I'm a bit erratic with my daily reading, and would hate to leave the impression of posting and then rudely disappearing. All the best to you!

#136 ::: Matthew ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 08:29 PM:

As welcome as water in one's shoes...

#137 ::: Julia Jones spots comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2004, 02:08 AM:

Don't think I want to check if that really is a personal homepage.

#139 ::: David Goldfarb notes a positive flurry of comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 03:49 AM:

It's all over the place.

#140 ::: David Goldfarb sees 4 comment spams running ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2004, 04:46 AM:

Online gambling and Viagra ads, it's two kinds of spam in one...and repeated four times!

#141 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2004, 08:57 AM:

You can find the registrants' names, addresses, and phone numbers for these .info domains here:

They are all obviously fake.

But some things are real:

IP number:

That block is owned by; their abuse address is:

Abuse Investigations

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