June 10, 2004

Oops, They Did It Again

You know, I just love how cocky some conservatives get when they try to argue the case for Bush. What's one of the first things out of their mouths about Bush's foreign policy, for example? We're winning the war on terror! After all, aren't terrorist attacks down recently? Well, sure, if you believe them. But keeping in mind that they are stupid, pathological liars about pretty much everything, this kind of story was inevitable, you know?

The State Department is scrambling to revise its annual report on global terrorism to acknowledge that it understated the number of deadly attacks in 2003, amid charges that the document is inaccurate and was politically manipulated by the Bush administration.

When the most recent "Patterns of Global Terrorism" report was issued April 29, senior Bush administration officials immediately hailed it as objective proof that they were winning the war on terrorism. The report is considered the authoritative yardstick of the prevalence of terrorist activity around the world.

"Indeed, you will find in these pages clear evidence that we are prevailing in the fight" against global terrorism, Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage said during a celebratory rollout of the report.

But on Tuesday, State Department officials said they underreported the number of terrorist attacks in the tally for 2003, and added that they expected to release an updated version soon.

Several U.S. officials and terrorism experts familiar with that revision effort said the new report will show that the number of significant terrorist incidents increased last year, perhaps to its highest level in 20 years.

You don't say! Gosh, all of us who said that the preemptive war with Iraq would very likely turn into a breeding ground for new terrorists, especially if Afghanistan was neglected as a result ... well, I guess we crazy anti-war liberals were right all along. Huh, I guess we should get over it. Again.

Now you're probably thinking, wait a minute, we shouldn't call them liars. After all, they were willing to correct their own report. Well, no, actually. Turns out Henry Waxman, a House Democrat, did some of his own research and was about to try to get the so-called-liberal-media to report it on something other than page 19. So the Bush administration decided to preempt and issue their own correction so they can say it was their idea, blah blah blah, and the papers reported it ... yes, that's right, page 19 (at least, that's where I happened to see it in my local paper).

I understand that politicans have to be cynical sometimes. I mean, it's a dirty, sausage-making job. But do they have to be political and cynical about everything, even the really big, important, this-is-why-you-should-vote-for-us stuff? Can't they have some principle beyond "let's just kick some ass" or "dissent is treason"?

If you follow the news (I mean the *real* news, not the Reagan deifications plastering every front page), you know about the big memo by now. You know, the one where a Bush political appointee offers a legal cover-your-ass opinion that says the president has the inherent power to ignore the law, for example, when he thinks torture is a good idea.

Remember, this is the whole torturing thing that was just "a few bad apples". Didn't have any support or direction from higher-ups on this one. NooooOOOOoooo. But will they actually release the full text of the memo, instead of what was leaked by some (God forbid) genuinely patriotic person who is concerned about the direction these nutballs are leading America? Oh no, says, Ashcroft, we can't go around releasing internal memos to the president. Oh, except if the internal memos can be used to smear a 9/11 panel member (and even that attempt was ridiculously misleading and unjustified). Then it's ok.

Another flip-flop, but hey, who cares? Bush is a nice guy with a happy smile, isn't he? He's just an honest, hard-working guy who wears a cowboy hat and would rather be working on his ranch, but dangit, no one else was qualified to be president. "Trolling for fools" is such a perfect summary of Bush's whole campaign strategy, and if it works again, God help us.

Can you tell I'm getting a little pissed off?

Posted by Observer at June 10, 2004 07:00 AM

Comments on entries can only be made in pop-up windows while those entries are still on the main index page. Sorry for the inconvenience this causes, but this blocks about 99.99% of the spam the blog receives.

While Iraq is used as the justification for terrorist acts, I'm not convinced that if we'd never done anything with Iraq they wouldn't just use Afghanistan or the exisistance of Israel as their excuse. While I'll readily agree Iraq isn't making us any safer, I'm not at all convinced it's making us any less safe.

I'm certainly not trying to defend Bush, but I am curious if incidents inside Iraq like roadside bombs and RPG attacks are counted as terrorist acts or just the insurgency that I'd label them as, since there seems like there has to be as many of those as all the rest of the world combined.

Posted by: Humbaba on June 10, 2004 09:09 AM

Wait, wait now. I want this in writing. If those "insurgency" attacks are not counted in the terrorist acts (which I don't think they are) and we're still seeing casualties on a daily basis and fatalities on a weekly basis does that imply that Iraq is making us less safe?

Just me, but if you have incited even a reasonable fraction of a populace to ambush and even openly attack the most powerful and well-armed force in the world I'd say that you have managed to piss some people off mightily. But that's just me.

Posted by: Seattle Astronomer on June 10, 2004 10:10 AM

Even discounting events in Iraq, terrorist incidents are up dramatically around the world, no matter how you count it. I think if the question is "Does the war with Iraq make us safer?", you should include our casualties in Iraq. Either way, the answer is a resounding "NO".

To be intellectually honest about it, one cannot simply look at the numbers and say because there are more attacks, Iraq hasn't made us safer. Or vice versa. There are too many other variables. However, one can argue that Iraq has given new cause to quite a few new terrorists, so on that basis, I'd say the war is full of crap and *probably* won't make us safer, just as I've been saying all along.

Posted by: Observer on June 10, 2004 10:37 AM

Right, we don't know that without our invading Iraq the number of terrorist incidents might have been double. Seems prety highly unlikely, and I'd agree that Iraq didn't make us any safer.

All I was saying is I'm not convinced that Iraq gave much new cause to new terrorists who wouldn't have found plenty of cause without it.

Posted by: Humbaba on June 10, 2004 10:48 AM

What amazing arrogance that sounds like. Did you just say that "they hate us so much that if they didn't use Iraq as an excuse to commit terrorist acts they'd just have found another excuse?" (That's sure what I heard. Not exactly the way I'd ilke my country to be viewed in the world...)

That observation aside, let's play with that assumption, Hummer. Ignore Muslims for a minute. If you really believe that the terrorists would have found another excuse then let's leave them out of the equation. Has the war in Iraq had any positive effect anywhere else in the world (outside of Halliburton's wallet anyway)? Our international relations? The authority of the UN? Availability of oil? Morale and readiness of our military forces? World opinion of the US? (And if you are going to ignore the Muslims who learn to hate us because of Iraq then I am going to require you to ignore the people who are seeing a better life without Saddam because you could easily argue this is a wash.)

Even if we have not altered Muslim opinion of the US in the slightest because they were going to hate us anyway, the fact that we have damaged or destroyed international relations with governments around the world makes us less safe in the world.

Posted by: Seattle Astronomer on June 10, 2004 12:12 PM

The only possible positive effect I can see besides lots of combat training for our troops (arguably offset by loss of morale) is a possible deterrent effect on other petty dictators (Ghadaffi, maybe N Korea...) who know the current US leadership is war hungry.

Mind you, I'm not saying that I support the war in Iraq or that it's worthwhile.

Posted by: Humbaba on June 10, 2004 12:50 PM

Little by little things are getting better and you can be collected. When you think of all the things that never make the news. Little by little things are getting back to good condition.

Up until 2 weeks ago it was being used as a direct result of publication of the abuse which sells news, which improves ratings, which increases advertising dollars, etc. Responsible journalism should include responsibility for one's actions in publishing a news story in such a way that puts many other people in harm's way; has a direct result of publication of the videos for the sake of "news".

Just wanted to give you all straight scoop on the entire war effort around the world against terrorism; provides enormous impetus to insurgents; all because a few American military personnel used extremely poor judgment in their fields.

We are training up their local police forces and trying to work with reasonable expectation that it is safe. Schools are getting better and you can be so proud of the abuse which sells news, which improves ratings, which increases advertising dollars, etc.

Responsible journalism should include responsibility for one's actions in publishing a news story in such a way that puts many other people in harm's way; has a direct result of publication of a particular story might have on other people.

When I saw the publication of the abuse itself; that was known. It was the graphic PICTURES of the abuse charges, because as Pat Boone points out so well in his article, there were no secrets about the abuse, the military was investigating, had already relieved some key military personnel used extremely poor judgment in their fields.

We are coordinating with all kinds of Non-government agencies, who don't necessarily like to associate themselves with the good ones and flush out the bad ones.

Things are improving on that front.

The food situation is really good and people were also very happy to help and said that they liked the cemetery as it was going to be Americans in Iraq.

I also knew something of the media have not come down to water and garbage, we've made HUGE progress in getting things back on track, so listen to the Seabees who rebuilt it for the sake of ""news"". Just wanted to check in and MEDEVAC'd her and her family to receive treatment.

Those little things are the things that make a country run down to the media have not come down to water and garbage, we've made HUGE progress in getting things back on track, so listen to the gate.

Labra lege...Semper Fi

1st Lt. Mark V. Shaney USMC
Baghdad, Iraq

Posted by: 1st Lt. Mark V. Shaney USMC on July 1, 2004 09:31 PM

My first instinctive comment to any reports of good news in Iraq is, essentially, I hope you are right. I hope the good news is representative of the situation in Iraq. But the overall picture of the country, various indicators of economic health (oil production and electricity generation, for example) or security (by just about any measure you like), looks grim.

And the whole "few bad apples" meme regarding the torture died a painful death a few weeks ago, even though some conservatives here in America are embarrassing themselves trying to prop up that dead corpse of an excuse. The facts are pretty clear: the torture and abuses were condoned at high levels, and *those* are the people who need to be let go, not just the ones carrying out the orders. The ones who gave them. They should be embarrassed to call themselves Americans.

Posted by: Observer on July 1, 2004 09:53 PM

My second instinct is to applaud your call for responsibility among journalists. I wholeheartedly agree that they need to think first about the lives and safety of our troops.

In fact, many journalists (and I'm talking "The New York Times" here) are at the heart of why you are even in Iraq fighting a war of distraction against an enemy that is far less of a danger to America than Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc. Not to mention many misguided leaders. We shouldn't be there in the first place, in my opinion.

I look forward to the day they take some responsibility for their actions. I'm not holding my breath.

By forcefully expressing my opinion, I hope to help avoid future counter-productive pre-emptive wars that put our troops in needless danger. I appreciate what you are doing for our country, and I hope it all goes well for us. I hope you are right, and I hope you remain in good health.

Posted by: Observer on July 1, 2004 09:59 PM

I hope, Lt. Shaney, that everyone can separate the disdain that Observer and I have for the current Bush administration, and realize that we have nothing but deep respect for the people who are in harm's way and who have to do the real work there in Iraq. We are not there, and we never will be there, and we can't know what it's really like to be there. (And part of our frustrations come from being certain that we are being fed intentionally incorrect information, both by the White House and by the Big Media conglomerates.)

I have an inkling of what it might be like. I was never in the military (I registered for the old draft in 1974 when I turned 18, but that was the last year they ran it and they took no one; and the military wasn't interested in anyone as firmly set on pursuing a career in astrophysics as I was). However, I was around military all my youth; my dad was Red Cross, Service to Military Installations -- an NGO in the broadest sense, as they call them now. We were stationed at Camp Pendleton during the Cuban Missile Crisis (and although I was only 5, it was an insanely stressful period), in West Berlin in 1962-65 shortly after the Wall went up, and Dad spent a year in Viet Nam in 1967-68. As much as is possible for any lard-ass civilian who's never been to Asia, I think I have some clues about what it's like to be US military in Iraq right now, simply because I grew up surrounded by people who had been in similar situations, and what I heard and saw from them didn't match up well with what one could get from the papers and TV. I know enough to believe the guys in uniform. I know what kind of loyalty and honor servicemen have.

We sincerely believe that you deserve all the support that the country can give you ... and that support should be to figure out exactly what job should be done, give you the physical and moral support you need to do the job, and then get you home ASAP once your part is done. That's not to say that I think now that we should get out immediately, as soon as we can get everyone into aircraft home; given that we have disrupted another country as thoroughly as we have, we need to set it right and make the place into a respectable, working country. That will take years if it is done properly.

By contrast, we believe the Bush administration have no loyalty to anyone but their own pocketbooks, and who know nothing about honor except that it's in the dictionary between "homophobia" and "hooker". We sincerely believe that you and other military personnel were put in Iraq by amoral, greedy men at the highest levels, who committed the US to be there purely for personal profit, both monetary and political, from a quick conquest of an oil-rich country. We believe those men do not have and never have had any concern for your safety or duty (because duty is always two-way), or for the welfare of the Iraqi people, and they are in no way interested in turning Iraq into a respectable working country. They just want to siphon off as many billions in oil money and defense and reconstruction contracts as they can, and fleece the electorate into giving them four more years of blank checks come November.

Posted by: Feff on July 2, 2004 12:36 AM

A related spam propaganda comment elsewhere led me to check into this other comment. It's also spam that has been posted to many other blogs and sent to many newspapers. I was suckered in by this one, and I should've known better. Anything here is an informative link about this and similar propaganda spams. I'm genuinely embarrassed for my country, having to stoop to this. How long until the grownups are back in charge, agin?

Posted by: Observer on July 11, 2004 08:11 AM