Saturday, June 11, 2005

"Smoking Cannon" Brief?

Ministers were told of need for Gulf war ‘excuse’

MINISTERS were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal.
The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier.
The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal.

I think if this is true it dovetails perfectly with an Adminstration that has decided to fix intelligence and facts around the policy, rather than the other way around, thus providing yet another reason for a real and thorough independent inquiry into the accuracy -- or deliberate inaccuracy -- of the arguments used by the Bush Administration, to Congress and the American people, to invade Iraq.

I want to see this document.


Bolton and Downing Street Memo

Was John R. Bolton one of Bush's primary "fixers", that is, of intelligence and facts, around the policy of invading Iraq?

Bolton The Fixer

The evidence shows that Bolton at the State Department acted in parallel with the Office of Vice President Richard Cheney at the White House and with the Office of Special Plans at the Pentagon—the unit created by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith. The combination of their efforts had a chilling effect on the U.S. intelligence community, particularly that unit of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that would be responsible for actually crafting the top level report, called a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), on Iraq.

Over the months culminating in July 2002 Bolton tried to have two different analysts fired for refusing to accede to intelligence claims he wanted to make in behalf of the administration.

Two remarks:

1. That seems rather par for the course with what we know about Bolton's behavior, doesn't it, since at about the same time he was trying to shoot down Bustani.
2. Sure sounds like if intelligence was being fixed, and Bolton was a "fixer", Cheney and Feith probably were, too, with that special intelligence unit.

That's not a few bad apples that can be ignored because "we're already at war", it's a systemic, real problem that needs to be corrected, and the proper way to begin that is with a congressional inquiry.



Has the amount of saber-rattling at Syria gone up recently, or is it me?

Bush: Syria must not interfere in Lebanon

US Increases Pressure On Syria

U.S. Says Syria Has Agents in Lebanon

Bush Issues a New Warning to Syria

Iranian arms still head to Lebanon

Friday, June 10, 2005

I agree with every word

(except for the article's penultimate sentence about 'gulag')


I love my country. I love it first because it is my country, just as I love my family because they are my family. And while some things might make me decide to just give up on either my family or my country, it takes a lot more than it would to make me give up on some other family or country, just because they are mine.
But I also love it for the noble experiment I take it to be. We have never completely lived up to our ideals. We enslaved people, slaughtered the indigenous peoples of North America, and so on. But we also always had a set of ideals that we tried to live up to, however imperfectly, and these shine through even the darkest parts of our history, and let us see it as a still unfinished attempt to be something truly great.

Read the whole thing.

Thursdays are my day OFF/WriterGirl Update

For the moment, so I spent it with a friend at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and made a point of going through the Quilts of Gee's Bend, one of the special exhibitions, while we were there.

Why are Thursdays my day off? Because I started writing this novel on a Saturday, and tended to really want to loaf by Thursday, so I made it my day off. It's summer break, I can do what I want.

Next week, that all changes. In fact, the novel, she is finished today, or maybe tomorrow morning, although gobs of finishing touches and editing are required. Like, replacing all the [V]'s and [T]'s and whatevers with actual NAMES of PLACES and CHARACTERS. Yeehaw. I just didn't want to get bogged down with the linguistics at the very beginning.

Thursdays being my day off, that meant no posts in the blog, since I was too tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk at said museum to follow the news and blog about it after I got home. I love the Boston MFA. We've been there twice and still barely scraped the surface. Yesterday we kept to all "dead white-guy pictures", as I like to put it, except for walking through the Oceania/African/Native section, where I got to see the COOLEST MAP EVER and decided I had to put it in my book, since I so-conveniently have a character more-or-less based on the Aleut in there.

So I did.

Said book is now 160 pages, at the time of this writing. About an hour ago I realized I'd been writing in Times New Roman and not Courier New, so I changed it and my pagecount jumped to over 200, which means, technically, I've written a 200-plus-page (that's 50K words) novel in three weeks, as opposed to a 160-page novel (40K) in three weeks. That's three weeks, tomorrow. I had a small heart attack at about that time and shakily put the font back to Times New Roman until I'm done with the last couple scenes, since I've been pushing myself in 10-page increments in that particular format. Figured I might as well keep to it, and then change at the end. Writers are like autistics, we need our little rituals.

Just a few more pages.

(Edited later: few more pages finished! I'll have gobs of editing to do, but the story is told.)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

So, Who's Lying?

Bush and Blair Deny 'Fixed' Iraq Reports

Mr. Blair, standing at Mr. Bush's side in a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House, said, "No, the facts were not being fixed in any shape or form at all."

And then we have the text of the memo:

From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02

cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell


C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.


  1. either Mr. Rycroft absolutely *sucks* as an aide and takes really bad minutes, or,
  2. Sir Richard Dearlove, the chief of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, who reported on the results of the "recent talks" in Washington, did so really, REALLY poorly and in a highly misleading manner...
  3. ...or someone's not being entirely truthful, here.

Who? That's all I'm asking.

 | After Downing Street

Night of the Living Downing Street Memo

Boo-hoo, the Washington Post is peeved because the Downing Street Memo won't die. It! Just! Won't! Die!

Cry me a river.

You've got a document that maybe -- maybe -- confirms what those nasty anti-war yahoos like myself have been saying since day one: that the Bush administration chivvyed the nation into a war in Iraq for what may boil down to 'personal reasons'.

And, oh, no, people keep trying to talk about it! Why, oh why, oh why won't they just let it drop?

Oh, right. Because we were the nasty anti-war yahoos like myself. That's why.

Well, you know what? Letting it drop is not good enough, for anybody, regardless of pro-war or anti-war stance. That has nothing to do with it, actually. If the president lies, we need to find out about it. This is America, and if you haven't read the Constitution, may I suggest you do so now? I'm starting to think con law should be required in public high schools.

*snaps fingers* Oh, wait, they used to do something similar, didn't they? Civics, wasn't it? In high school? Taught you stuff like why it was important that each branch of the government balance against the other? Yeah, that stuff.

This is part of "that stuff". This is about holding the executive branch accountable for its actions. This is a normal function of our government, being held accountable. Or, secrecy-obsessed Bush Administration notwithstanding, it's supposed to be.

"It reminds me of Watergate, which started off as a tiny little incident reported in The Washington Post.", says Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.).

Yeah. Does, kinda, don't it?

"We're Taking Him Out"

All I'm asking for, is the truth. That's all I want.

"We're taking him out"
Daniel Eisenberg. Time. New York: May 13, 2002.Vol.159, Iss. 19; pg. 36, 3 pgs

TWO MONTHS AGO, A group of Republican and Democratic Senators went to the White House to meet with Condoleezza Rice, the President's National Security Adviser. Bush was not scheduled to attend but poked his head in anyway-and soon turned the discussion to Iraq. The President has strong feelings about Saddam Hussein (you might too if the man had tried to assassinate your father, which Saddam attempted to do when former President George Bush visited Kuwait in 1993) and did not try to hide them. He showed little interest in debating what to do about Saddam. Instead, he became notably animated, according to one person in the room, used a vulgar epithet to refer to Saddam and concluded with four words that left no one in doubt about Bush's intentions: "We're taking him out." Dick Cheney carried the same message to Capitol Hill in late March. The Vice President dropped by a Senate Republican policy lunch soon after his 10-day tour of the Middle East-the one meant to drum up support for a U.S. military strike against Iraq. As everyone in the room well knew, his mission had been thrown off course by the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. But Cheney hadn't lost focus. Before he spoke, he said no one should repeat what he said, and Senators and staff members promptly put down their pens and pencils. Then he gave them some surprising news. The question was no longer if the U.S. would attack Iraq, he said. The only question was when.

Well, the Downing Street Memo certainly supports this report.

 | After Downing Street

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Blair, Bush, and the Downing Street Memo

All I'm asking for, is the truth. That's all I want. on Bush and Blair





President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair continued today to try to hide from the explosive revelations in the Downing Street Minutes.

Neither President Bush nor Prime Minister Blair denied today that the Downing Street Minutes are, in fact, the official minutes of the secret meeting that Prime Minister Blair held in London on July 23, 2002, with his top national security officials to receive a briefing from Richard Dearlove, then director of Britain’s CIA equivalent, MI-6.

Neither President Bush nor Prime Minister Blair denied today that Mr. Dearlove, in reporting on his meetings with high U.S. Government officials in Washington, stated at that meeting: “Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD [weapons of mass destruction]. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

The Prime Minister asserted that “the facts were not being fixed in any shape or form at all.”

The President claimed that “[t]here’s nothing farther from the truth” with respect to Mr. Dearlove’s statement that the President had decided, by July 2002, to invade Iraq, months before submitting his resolution on Iraq to the United States Congress and months before he and the Prime Minister asked the United Nations to resume its inspections for alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The American people deserve to know the truth. Mr. Dearlove’s report in July 2002 directly contradicts what the President and the Prime Minister said today. Only a full congressional investigation, with subpoena power, will reveal the truth., a broad coalition of veterans groups, peace groups, and public interest organizations across this country, renews its call today for Members of Congress to introduce a Resolution of Inquiry directing the House Judiciary Committee to launch a formal investigation into whether the President of the United States has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war. This inquiry must now answer the question: Has the President engaged in a conspiracy to deceive and mislead the United States Congress and the American people about the basis for going to war against Iraq? If the President has committed a High Crime, he must be held accountable under the United States Constitution.

David Swanson

Monday, June 06, 2005

We're Right Here, You Narrow-Minded Little Twit

A little jello wrestling, a little cheesecake, and, voila! Problem solved. Lance's answer to the eternally irritating question, "were are all the women bloggers?"

"That question, 'Where are all the women bloggers?' a babelfish would translate as 'I only know the names of four or five bloggers. You, the guy I'm interviewing right now, and I just learned your name from my producer. Matt Drudge, Glenn Reynolds, and Mickey Kaus. Frankly, that's more names than my head can hold and I'm really not interested in reading any blogs. Can you please say something that will stir up a little controversary on the subject and help keep me awake through the rest of this interview?'"

Lance notes, as we all know, that there are, in fact, plenty of women bloggers.

(Given how chatty we dames are, how could you doubt this? I mean, really. Men tell us we never shut up. You think the Internet would be any different? Ha. And ha, I say, ha-ha, again.)

What there are not are any who are regularly linked to by the top five or six male bloggers...who are the only ones the producers who book slots for talk shows care about.

YEP. Lance goes on,

I don't think the reason for this is sexism, although sexism always seems to come into play when those top male bloggers try to explain why they don't link to more female bloggers.

No, he thinks the reason is an extreme narrow-mindedness.

The trouble is that the top dog male bloggers are just not as interested in the wider world as most women bloggers are.

I think he may be right.

The practical effect of this narrow-minded obsession is that male political bloggers only link to female political bloggers, and since female bloggers talk about more than just politics, there "are no" female *political* bloggers, ergo, no women bloggers for these narrow-minded types to link to!

You know, this makes a hell of a lot of sense.

Shall I drag in some biological determinism while I'm at it? Sure, Sid, give it a whack! Women, being the gurus of multi-tasking that we are, are actually capable of paying attention to more than just politics or any one single subject.

Naturally, our blogs would reflect that.

But a narrow-minded, single-issue kind of guy isn't going to take seriously what a woman blogger says in her blog if her remarks about, say, George and Vlad's latest adventure are preceded by an entry about something "non-political", because, being narrow-minded, all that other stuff is viewed as worthless.

I could also throw in a bit here about how women's lives are de facto politicized, because of our being second-class citizens in America, so that even our more "personal" discussions are in fact political.

Regardless. We just don't spend *all* our time talking about George's latest gaffe. We think faster than that. And in parallel[*].

You could, and god knows people do, ask this question in a variety of other arenas, like, say, science. Where are the women scientists? At one point the burning question of the day might have been: why didn't Sidra go to grad school in physics? She's bright, good test scores, loves cosmology and astrophysics, gets all excited talking about black holes, enjoys the good crunchy math...

The answer to that question (one answer of many to that question) is that Sidra didn't want to spend the next 20 years only doing one little slice of physics, only becoming an adept at one tiny, little, narrow, thing, when there was a whole, immense, broader *world* to explore, as a scientist and as a person. And a particle accelerator, let's be honest, ties you down even more than kids do.

Hell, kids, if I can't do more than seven or eight things at a time, I'm liable to get BORED.

[*] I've discovered the difference between men and women. Women are parallel, men are serial.

Now, there are two solutions to this problem, off the top of my head. One, if you're a woman blogger, keep two blogs: one for politics, and one for everything else. This is actually a pain in the ass and may be quite difficult because, as a woman, the personal is political. Whether I get a raise at my job touches on issues of sexism or racism or even religious fundamentalism, all of them political in the sense that they reflect the same cultural stressors that shape the decisions of this nation as they are being made right now and hence may provide great insight into them. The second is to just keep on answering this question until every man on the planet has been personally educated by having 15 women bloggers email him every time he asks theis. If you take the second tack, be sure to inquire if he's going senile, because this Q has already been A'd before. Then suggest gingko biloba or fish oil supplements or something, to keep his memory sharp.

Now, my mention of the first tack makes me realize that male political bloggers are not actually political bloggers, at least not in the sense of people who might want to talk about the underlying currents of American society and its affect on the various branches of government and their actions. Washington DC's actions don't exist in a vacuum, but in a social and historical context that should always be considered.

No, what *they* are, is current affairs junkies with the memories of a desiccated cactus, who perform the same sort of 'shred and move on' analysis that some people perform on icons of pop culture. It's a surficial kind of discussion that doesn't try and address any issue in great depth, doesn't look at any underlying trends -- like, say, the rise of American capitalism, robber barons, laissez-faire economics and the Supreme Court rulings of the Lochner era -- because that would require real thought on the connections between *surficially* diverse topics, which these single-issue guys are not well-equipped to perform.

Sigh. As Lance put it, these guys are "[d]umb in the way anyone who becomes too specialized is dumb".

Now, Lance suggests the issue is between wonks and writers. Above, obviously, I have framed it as a fundamental difference between men and women. Are either of us right? Maybe, maybe not.

But I love the cheesecake idea.

Bolton and Downing Street Memo

Key Democrats say likely can't block Bolton

The Senate returns this week from recess and again will face the contested nomination, which has twice been delayed by Democratic concerns about Bolton, the top U.S. diplomat for arms control they say has a record of abusive, erratic behavior that should disqualify him for the sensitive diplomatic job.

"[Bush] is making a mistake, a serious mistake, not only institutionally, but for his own naked self interest".

Speaking of Bolton as a mistake,

Bolton Said to Orchestrate Unlawful Firing

John R. Bolton flew to Europe in 2002 to confront the head of a global arms-control agency and demand he resign, then orchestrated the firing of the unwilling diplomat in a move a U.N. tribunal has since judged unlawful, according to officials involved.

A former Bolton deputy says the U.S. undersecretary of state felt [OPCW head] Jose Bustani "had to go," particularly because the Brazilian was trying to send chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad. That might have helped defuse the crisis over alleged Iraqi weapons and undermined a U.S. rationale for war.

Bustani was *doing his job*, but that got in the way.

Bolton has been criticized for supposed bullying of junior U.S. officials and for efforts to get them fired. Bustani, a senior official under the U.N. umbrella, says Bolton used a threatening tone with him and "tried to order me around."

Given how America has been throwing its weight around on the global stage the past few years, I

a. am not terribly surprised that this guy Bolton is George W. Bush's choice for ambassador.
b. think it's quite enough, thank you, and this fellow shouldn't be in charge of anything more international than perhaps a Canadian cow living in Minnesota?

Now, recall that at this same point in time, the US had already decided to invade Iraq, so having Bustani send weapons inspectors to Baghdad might undermine their "case for war". Around which, per the Downing Street Memo, intelligence and facts were being fixed.

Bolton didn't come up with the idea of removing this Bustani guy who wouldn't play ball with the US, but he jumped on it, first trying to suppress facts and get certain Americans hired at OPCW, making a menacing phone call Bustani, and then the US threatened, illegally, to withhold their dues (22% of that organization's budget) if Bustani stayed in office.

All, quite possibly, to protect their "case for war" in Iraq.

What I see here is a pattern of behavior, one that doesn't care about reality, but only about manufacturing a justification for a war with Iraq. Fixing intelligence around policy, using “spikes of activity” to try to provoke Saddam into doing something that would justify an invasion, as the Downing Street Memo describes, and removing any obstacles, like the head of a UN agency, that might hinder the path to war.

We must continue to demand a formal inquiry into these actions. If the US was taken to war based on deceit and a rationale conjured out of thin air, we must know. And the administration who took us there must be held accountable.

I'm not asking for anything more than the truth. I'm an American citizen, and my elected officials work for *me*. I want to know what they're doing in my name.

[*] OPCW: Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

Bush and Blair made secret pact for Iraq war

According to Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British Ambassador to Washington, who was at the dinner, Blair told Bush he should not get distracted from the war on terror's initial goal - dealing with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Blair 'dissuaded Bush from attack after 9/11'

The Lies That Led To War

Tens of thousands of people are dead in Iraq, including more than 1,600 U.S. soldiers and Marines, because of false allegations made by President George W. Bush and Di Rita's more immediate boss, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, about Saddam Hussein's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and equally imaginary active nuclear weapons program.

The truth. That's all I want. Let the chips fall where they may.

 | After Downing Street

If I Ran For Office

I'd run on the "I work for the American People" platform. It's pretty straightforward, you know? I'm a 'the people' myself. Have been all these years, since the day I was born, and I know what I worry about is how I'm going to pay off my school loans, what happens if a member of my family got sick, how to get more clean air and water for the kids that come after me, how to keep all kids off the streets and in school so they can have a shot at a decent life, because, god damn, if you don't have an education in America you can't move up any ladder anywhere.

You could get a lot done in four years or 6, or whatever many years, if you didn't spend over half of that time campaigning for re-election, don't you think?

This observation inspired by Whose Party Is It Anyway?