Friday, May 21, 2004

Selected Readings

Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing column, Washpost:

Here is a summary of what today's news stories say did not happen during President Bush's hastily-arranged visit with Republicans on Capitol Hill yesterday:

• He didn't provide any new details about the June 30 transition of sovereignty in Iraq.

• He didn't persuade a handful of balking Senate Republicans to go along with his tax plans.

• He didn't dissuade House Republicans from approving provisions in the defense bill he has threatened to veto.

• He didn't talk about embattled Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld or Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi.

• He didn't comment on the prison-abuse scandal.

• He didn't come up with a new speech.

• He didn't take any questions.

• He didn't say anything new.

Oh, and of course:

• He didn't meet with Democrats at all.


• He didn't talk to reporters.

Oh well - I'm sure the Republicans were suitably grateful for any little attentions.

Howard Kurtz on new details from Abu Ghraib:

Man, the latest Iraqi prisoner photos are just revolting.

One set of pictures, obtained by ABC News, show two American soldiers grinning like clowns as they stood over the ice-packed body of a dead Iraqi--one who died after being questioned by U.S. forces.

I don't want to hear about how the soldiers lacked the proper "training." And I don't want to read any more interviews in which neighbors say how nice they seemed. Anyone with half a brain would find this sort of thing sadistic. And they can't exactly argue that they're trying to extract information from a recalcitrant trainee, since the subject in question is quite clearly deceased.

No shit, Sherlock.

From the WashPost article:

"Do you pray to Allah?" one asked. "I said yes. They said, '[Expletive] you. And [expletive] him.' One of them said, 'You are not getting out of here health[y], you are getting out of here handicapped. And he said to me, 'Are you married?' I said, 'Yes.' They said, 'If your wife saw you like this, she will be disappointed.' One of them said, 'But if I saw her now she would not be disappointed now because I would rape her.' "

He said the soldiers told him that if he cooperated with interrogators they would release him in time for Ramadan. He said he did, but still was not released. He said one soldier continued to abuse him by striking his broken leg and ordered him to curse Islam. "Because they started to hit my broken leg, I cursed my religion," he said. "They ordered me to thank Jesus that I'm alive."

I would be very interesting in finding out what important 'intel' this interrogation netted us.

The incomparable Molly Ivins:

AUSTIN, Texas -- It's quite difficult to convince people you are killing them for their own good. That's our basic problem in Iraq.

You can try explaining that you are killing them in order to bring freedom and democracy to their nation -- "Freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in the world. And as the greatest power on the face of the earth, we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom," said President Bush. However, this argument is less than convincing if an American bomb or bullet has just killed your child. Or if you were among the 70 percent to 90 percent of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib who were there by accident.

Team, our national debate on this occupation is approaching the hopelessly dotty. This is no longer a matter of trying to decide if the glass is half-empty or half-full, or whether our media are looking at this through rose-colored glasses or through a glass darkly. What is, is. The trend lines get steadily worse.


The dotty part of the debate comes from the neocons, whose idea this was in the first place. A few weeks ago, Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, said, "I think no one can properly assert that the failure to find Iraqi WMD stockpiles undermines the reasons for the war." Really? Well then let me assert it improperly. You told us that it was why we had to go to war, and you can't just stand there and lie about it now. This is like trying to debate the Red Queen.

Sometimes it's more a matter of the neocons not being able to get their act together. Paul Wolfowitz, my fave, said the other day, "No one ever expected this would be a cakewalk." Actually, those were the very words rather famously used by his neocon buddy Ken Adelman, who predicted the war would be a cakewalk. But nothing tops Wolfowitz's classic declaration, "There is no history of ethnic strife in Iraq."

Just FYI - I'm out of town this week to do a gift show, so posts may be sporadic.


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