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Why Beauchamp Matters.

| 205 Comments

One issue that keeps coming up is the question of why this whole Beauchamp thing matters? The neoleft blogs - John Cole et alia - are all "hey, they have a small circulation, it's not a big deal why obsess over it?"

Well, because memes drive ideas, and ideas - in the media monoculture - drive coverage, which in turn drive how we understand what's going on.

I wrote about it before (yeah, I say that a lot, I know, and it bugs me too) when I talked about the murder of Karen Toshima and the perception of gang violence:

For most of the next decade, as gang crime rose, peaked in 1995, and then fell dramatically, the narrative of life in Los Angeles was the omnipresent fear of gang violence.

That fear was fed by sensational media - first news, then movies and television - and it defined and limited life in Los Angeles.

Was gang violence a real issue in Los Angeles before 1988? Of course. Was it something worth spending significant resources on and attempting to suppress? Yes.

But the monomaniacal focus on Los Angeles as the "Gang Capital of the World" created a false impression that Crips and Bloods ruled the streets. Where did that perception come from? From reporting the, like a hip-hop drumbeat, regularly pounded home the point

In a few small pockets, for a few years, yes. But the vast majority of people in Los Angeles - people like me - drove throughout the city, ate in restaurants throughout the city (three of my favorites are in South Central and two in East LA).

But the perception of the city changed. Policies changed as a result - policies that may or may not have been good ones.

In Iraq the stakes are much higher. But the mechanisms we're using to sort them out really are no different. Wouldn't it be nice if they were?

Today, the WaPo gives a good example of why it's worth fighting the TNR issue:

'I Don't Think This Place Is Worth Another Soldier's Life' After 14 months in a Baghdad district torn by mounting sectarian violence, members of one U.S. unit are tired, bitter and skeptical.

I don't for an instant question the validity of what the Post reporter wrote, or the honesty of what the serving soldiers said.

But I'm willing to bet that I could - in a day or two of research I dont have time to do - find similar cites from troops in World War II or any other war that you choose. No one hates war the way soldiers do; talking to the soldiers that I know has convinced me of that.

But sometimes they have to be fought.

And deciding to fight them - and to win, and most important, how to win, having decided so - is important (yes, that's a statement I'll need to take some time and defend in comments), and so it's important that we have a complete view of what's going on.

A news media full of nothing but the heroic exploits of our troops isn't a complete view; neither is one that says our troops are brutal and brutalized, helpless and yet omnipotent, and that the reality of war with either the one TNR stubbornly clings to or the one presented in this article.

We need truth to see our way through this, and truth is ambiguous, morally complex, and fits no one's set agendas.

205 Comments

Isn't it sort of disappointing that one has to spend this much time telling journalists, and journalist's most ardent supporters, why it is important that journalists don't lie? Isn't that a pretty good sign that something has gone completely, hysterically wrong in that field, and that, maybe, it is far past salvaging??

We always used to say if a soldier isn't bitching, then he isn't a soldier. Having spent time in combat zones myself protecting an ungrateful populace, I can identify with the sentiment of those quoted. I also know that this kind of feeling comes and gos depending on that days morale, and can quickly flip either way at the drop of a hat. A good mission will drive morale up, a bad one will drive it down. Its a very fickle response, and this is something the media doesn't understand or cover really. Only those of us who have spent time in the suck will understand.

I really wish the military publications did a better job. Stars and Stripes, Navy/Marine/Army/Air Force Times all have done their services a major dis-service by refusing to really cover the military in a fashion that helps to educate the public, and inform its members. I guess a lot of that has to do with who owns those publications now. If you want to get really good information, you have to tap into the military news productions, but those never see the light of day in the public news sector, perhaps it would be a good idea for the government to have its own cable channel that had all of the various military news organizations do their daily productions for the public.

Many people are fully unaware that Journalist is a MO in the military. In the Navy you can actually specialize as a journalist, its a rate you can put in for, and they do a wonderful job doing PR work, as well as daily reporting. Too bad their reports are not picked up by the wire services, etc. It would do a great deal of good for the public.

Corvan: Isn't it sort of disappointing that one has to spend this much time telling journalists, and journalist's most ardent supporters, why it is important that journalists don't lie?

Your question pretty much answers itself.

Sometimes wars have to be fought...and sometimes they don't. Sometimes they are misadvantures. And the current occupation of Iraq is pretty far from war fighting. Where's the front? How much ordnance goes on target? This is nationbuilding bullshit from the Clinton years.

We need truth to see our way through this, and truth is ambiguous, morally complex, and fits no one's set agendas.
For 4 years, the truth for many news organizations, and right wing blogs, was how well everything as going in Iraq. Including this very site, you could get information on how small reconstruction efforts were going on while dozens(hundreds at peak?) of people were dying every week, and massive hits to the infrastructure and civilian populace were going on. And the left blogs ignored the successes, and challenges, and improvements.

And yet, every week went by declaring that things were ok, and under control. That Al-Qaeda was the major disruptive force (yet under control), and there was no major civil resistance. Or now, that the escalation is a success because violence is down(disregarding the fact that the escalation was to provide cover for political reconciliation). And this truth was propagated both by journalists who couldn't or wouldn't challenge information, and the leaders of our country.

The truth has meant so very little over the past 4 years (5, if you want to include the run-up). And now, it is important?
The truth is nothing more than something to be used if it meets what you believe, and to be ignored if it doesn't.

Beauchamp is important because he's our only example of on-the-ground disinformation that hurts the war effort by damaging public morale.

We have lots and lots of examples of miltary BS that hurts the war effort. As an early example, consider the bombing and ground attack on Makr al-deeb in early 2004. A wedding party, over a dozen children and nearly a dozen women killed out of 3.5 dozen killed. We announced that there was no evidence of a wedding, no cake, no decorations, no musical instruments, few women, etc. Hardly any women and no children killed. They were insurgents, dammit, they had some syrian money! Etc etc. When our reports obviously conflicted with what the media saw, we announced there would be an investigation. What do you think the investigation concluded? Did it say there was nothing wrong and the troops followed the ROE, so there was no problem? You know it.

We get false reports from iraq daily that purport to say how well things are going. Beauchamp wrote like he was disaffected, for publication, and he was the only one. That's why he's important. If we're going to complain about false reports from iraq that hurt the war effort, we need him. He's just about all we've got. Assuming he was lying, for which we have no evidence. Assuming the things he supposedly was lying about were in any way worse than the usual run of experience, which is mostly not claimed. Blase about dead bodies? Killing dogs? Routine. Callous about a disfigured woman, that one sounds like it's uncommon.

So, we're averaging 70 urban airstrikes a day, when COIN strategy says you don't do that. Let's not talk about that, though. Let's talk about Beauchamp saying he insulted a woman and nobody objected. Sure, he hurt the war effort worse than 70 airstrikes a day.

heh.

The Beauchamp story is important because we have a media that allows, intentionally or accidentally, false stories through that fit into its biases. From fabricated or exaggerated stories by "Jamil Hussein" of AP, to photoshopped "photographs" of Reuters, and to false "diaries" of soldiers, this is happening enough to not be random.

The story is also important because it illustrates a far too common hypocrisy of the media wherein they simply have no interest in transparency of their own conduct.

JT, - no, that's why it matters - a lot - whether Beauchamp's stories were true.

A.L.

Apparently it's time for The L.A. Times to step in and explain the Beauchamp business to everybody - in a tattered synopsis that's replete with errors - and to accuse the "pro-war blogosphere" of stonewalling the story that nobody cares about(!)

There are questions to be asked, though you won't see them in the pro-war blogosphere:
  • Who leaked the documents to Drudge and why, among all the documents the Army must have collected in this case, was one of them a transcript that could be used to put Foer and Scoblic in a bad light?
  • Why did Drudge take the documents down and why hasn't he explained his reasons for doing so?
  • Why no original link to the Memorandum, the only document that would have contained evidence?
  • Why has the Army kept Beauchamp in Iraq where it can control access to him and he's beyond the reach of any other jurisdiction?
  • Why hasn't the Army complied with the New Republic's FOI request?

Oh, and that's not all. Those who have suggested Beauchamp might grow into a good soldier are trying to dodge the issue!

Thursday, bloggers sympathetic to the war began circulating the idea that Beauchamp has suffered enough, that he now has demonstrated a willingness to be "a good soldier" and should be given "a second chance." Michael Yon, the ex-Green Beret who blogs as a "citizen journalist" from inside Iraq, even happened to encounter Beauchamp's commanding officer, who said the private should be left alone and allowed to honorably complete his service. Who knew the Army was awash in such compassion? [Readers must supply their own sarcastic sneer - G.]

Why the attempt to shift attention off the alleged fabulist, Beauchamp, and onto the editors of the magazine, who after initially supporting the invasion, have turned decisively against the war?

Somebody is playing politics with Scott Thomas Beauchamp, but it isn't the editors of the New Republic.

JT, that's the "Don't Worry About the Man Behind the Curtain" defense. Its unconvincing for you to wave your arms about previous stories to distract from this one.

Odd, my #10 was written after JT's #11.

Ah, JT's "1:48 AM" actually predates my comments.

Haditha is important, because we learned (one hopes) not to trust Tim McGirk's reports on that of his supposed impartial Iraq witnesses; just like his Taliban witnesses over in the NorthWestfrontier. His preference for the Waziri over the Kharotis in a seemingly balanced National Geographic piece in Nov. 2004, was a small sign of this tendency. Abu Ghraib is important
to show the difference between its management in the Saddam era, where it was a slaughterhouse out of "Saw" and the misconduct of a few stressed out soldiers. It wasn't worth a Moebius loop lasting for a month; which ended up
on Al Jazeera and AQ incitement sites 24/7. Fallujah is important because in our absence it became a tiny Salafi city state; an effort that cost much blood and treasure to rectify. They're important, but not in the way you think they are.

Which brings me to the insight I received from Trofimov's Grand Siege of Mecca book referred earlier. Details I didn't know the prophets Juhayman Uteibi and Mohammed Abdallah Quahtani had recruited their small army from across the Middle East, and even some quarters in America. He was encouraged to act by the specter of the abandonment of the Shah by the US govt; in the previous year.This would also draw in the Soviets into Afghanistan. He had
been freed from prison due to the intercession of Prince Nayef; interior minister who would later deny his own countrymen were involved in 9/11. He did this at the behest of Sheik Bin Baz, mentor to Mr. Uteibi, and the one who would craft the fatwa to allow US troops on Saudi soil. Saudi press
management was such; that many outsiders didn't know their own people were besieging the mosque. This lead to allegations of US, and Israeli involvement which provoked disturbances as far a field as Pakistan & Libya. Not for the first time were the security services of Saudi Arabia proven inadequate to the task. Elements of the French GIGN proved to be crucial in ending the standoff. In the interim a small revolt among the Shia in the oil rich region of Dhahran, AbQuaiq and Ras Tanura also broke out; provoked by a Iraqi Shia; Sheik Maqdeissi who would a generation later, prove to be the mentor to the very Salafi Musab al Zarquawi. The upshot of the confrontation was the Saud's aquiescing to the more militant activist, which would give us the likes of Osama bin Laden, and the more militant Wahhabi domestic network, who gained experience in Afghanistan, Chechnya & Iraq, whose handiwork was seen in 2003 and 2004; and was all to chillinglyrecreated in the film "The Kingdom" Almost none of this has permeated the wider media; meaning it will seem shockingly new when, not if it happens again
Zarquawi

AL, Beauchamp's stories were trivial.

The Haditha story, where we decided it was proper and correct to kill civilians on weak suspicion of insurgent activity, that one mattered.

The Makr-al-Deeb story where we decided that it was fine to lie to the media even when they could check independently, that one was important.

Abu Ghraib was important. We mistreated civilian prisoners -- suspected of insurgent activity -- both sexually and in religious terms, and then we dumped the blame on MPs who were peripheral to the effort but who took some of the pictures.

Fallujah was important. Najaf was important. Big lies.

Beauchamp is important only because he gives us a scarecrow we can use to ignore the important stories.

Alphabet City has two other stories on the same neighborhood in Baghdad which illustrate Gabriel's point about the ebb and flow of morale.

Arguing ever more loudly that it is okay for journalists to lie so long as they lie about the right things in the right way is not more convincing. As a matter of fact the tin eared defenses I've read here and else where on this sort of out right fabrication convinces me that lying might be an accepted practice in news rooms all over the country, and that there is a large audience for those lies...mostly, though not entirely, on the left.
Perhaps the media's current plight ( Haditha, Koran in the toilet, willie pete, TANG memos, staged car crash tests, Jayson Blair, Baathist and Hamas stringers, feauxtography, TNR-Steven Glass, TNR-Beachamp, Media Matters repeatedly, Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd, the bogus NBC story on the dragon skin armor, the out right worship of Arafat, the kissy face inteviews with Saddam, with Assad, with the President of Iran, CNN's sniper video, etc, etc.) Are simply a method of appealing to their market share. (i.e. People who can't tolerate reality and who demand that it go away.)

JT, that's the "Don't Worry About the Man Behind the Curtain" defense. Its unconvincing for you to wave your arms about previous stories to distract from this one.

Robin, we've had months of people waving their arms about this insignificant story to distract us from the others.

The main reason this story is important is that a bunch of right-wingers want it to be. They are using a handful of stories about media failure that tends to oppose the war, to help them ignore the massive media failure that ignores the reality that this war is lost.

AL, so I see that your primary concern over this Beauchamp silliness is that it is a potentially untrue set of images that is - in your opinion - typical of negative media stories harmful to the war effort.

You want more balanced reporting. This preseumably would contain stories that point out the positives as well as the negatives (afterall, I think we both agree that media should not be the propaganda arm of the government). You currently perceive that the negative reporting is overwhelming a paucity of positive reporting.

Some thoughts and questions come to mind:

1. what if the reality in Iraq really is overwhelming negative? Shouldn't the media's reporting reflect that?

2.How would you (or do you) know what the objective reality in Iraq is? It seems to me that you are premising on the belief that things in Iraq are actually much better than reported. Where does that belief come from if not certain media outlets (since you haven't been there and even if you had been you still wouldn't absorb the complete reality at all levels). If your belief is from media outlets then do we really have an imbalance in the media.

3. Do you have actual statistics to support your contention that most media stories are negative re; Iraq? Because I don't see it. I think it would important to this conversation to be able to cite stats saying (for example) 500 outlets writing stories about Iraq examined, avg 20 stories per outlet, 89.5% contained negative aspects, 63% half negative/half positive, 21% totally negative, etc because, otherwise we have all sorts of explanations for your perceptions that are only subjective (e.g. you have a son in the service and you strongly support the war. Therefore negative stories are just more salient to you; you tend to notice them more because they cause a strong emotional response). I am not saying this is the case, but it could be.

4. The soldier quoted in the WaPo; his could be a typical and persistent sentiment among the troops. Or his sentiment could be temporary and/or fairly unique. We don't know. Why isn't there something more scientific? Maybe better sampling? Maybe a poll of combat troops who have been discharged from the service. This is a failure of media for sure, but the failure cuts both ways. I can just as easily find an anecdote in a "right leaning" outlet where a soldier is quoted saying that every death - even his own - would be worth it if we'd stay the course and bring freedom, peace and hapiness to Iraq. Is that really any better? Again, the media is not meant to be the propaganda arm of the government.

Haditha is important, because we learned (one hopes) not to trust Tim McGirk's reports [....] Abu Ghraib is important to show the difference between its management in the Saddam era, where it was a slaughterhouse out of "Saw" and the misconduct of a few stressed out soldiers. [....] Fallujah is important because in our absence it became a tiny Salafi city state; an effort that cost much blood and treasure to rectify.

You are fantasticly missing the point.

It's COIN. We win by getting iraqis to support the iraqi government we support. Until we manage that we're going to have as many soldiers wearing body armor in iraqi temperatures as we can.

Makt-al-Deeb was important because it showed iraqis that we were ready to lie to the

Beauchamp is important only because he gives us a scarecrow we can use to ignore the important stories.
All of what you listed is the government creating lies and lying to it's people. This should be expected - not embraced, but expected. Yes, Beauchamp is trivial compared to Abu Ghraib.

This is about the media, even limited form journal media like TNR. You expect the government to lie, you expect the media to do a good job pursuing the truth. They did a passing job on this(from what they said), but not nearly good enough.

Are simply a method of appealing to their market share. (i.e. People who can't tolerate reality and who demand that it go away.)

Strange, since we're talking about the media's current plight.. I don't see anything in there about Fox News, or about the lie that was propagated about Al Gore claiming to invent the internet, Armstrong Williams, Monica Crowley, Gannon, Domenech.. Ah well, you must have run out of space.

Nice way to lump in Media Matters - nothing like just throwing in everyone you don't like.

Sorry, the cat jumped on my keyboard and posted for me.

Haditha is important, because we learned (one hopes) not to trust Tim McGirk's reports [....] Abu Ghraib is important to show the difference between its management in the Saddam era, where it was a slaughterhouse out of "Saw" and the misconduct of a few stressed out soldiers. [....] Fallujah is important because in our absence it became a tiny Salafi city state; an effort that cost much blood and treasure to rectify.

You are fantasticly missing the point.

It's COIN. We win by getting iraqis to support the iraqi government we support. Until we manage that we're going to have as many soldiers wearing body armor in iraqi temperatures as we can.

Makt-al-Deeb was important because it showed iraqis that we were ready to lie to them about bombing them, even when they could see the evidence with their own eyes. They figured out that we didn't care what they believed.

Abu Ghraib was important because it showed them that we were utter hypocrites and perverts who'd go right on committing perversions on iraqi prisoners, with no due process, even after the US public knew we were doing it. Note that most of the photographs weren't released, and none of the videos. The video of a US contractor raping an iraqi boy -- censored. That was a US contractor doing an interrogation, it wasn't the MPs after hours. The video of the US soldier having sex with a female iraqi prisoner -- presumed rape, not one of the soldiers charged. The trial was entirely about what US soldiers did, MPs who had the night shift, and not at all about what nonmilitary interrogators did during their shifts. The military didn't have authority over them. And it wasn't about what military interrogators did elsewhere. We said we weren't doing it even while we changed the rules slightly to do it a little bit different.

Fallujah was important because it showed iraqis that their sovereign government couldn't stop us from destroying an iraqi city. They said stop, we went right ahead. That set back iraqi trust in their government by at least 10 years.

Haditha was important because it demonstrated to iraqis that we had no interest in keeping them alive. We killed a bunch of innocent civilians -- women and children -- and first we lied about it and then we decided that we did it right. They knew all along we had that attitude, but we made it official.

You might want to argue about what the facts were in each case. Don't bother. Find an iraqi who wants to argue your positions and ask him how many iraqis take his side. Essentially everybody in iraq believes that we bombed an innocent wedding party and then our soldiers on the ground shot the survivors and we lied about it. They believe that we did and still do torture any detainees we consider "high value". They believe that we took very few prisoners while destroying an iraqi city and their sovereign government couldn't stop us. They believe that we routinely kill any iraqis we see after we have been attacked. When americans hear a story out of iraq we automaticly discount reports by iraqis, since we figure they're likely to be insurgents lying about stuff. But when iraqis hear the same story they automaticly discount what our military says. They think we lie a lot.

These beliefs on their part make our COIN activities very difficult. We have had some recent successes by helping iraqis go after AQI, the only group in iraq that's hated more than we are.

We utterly lost the media battle in iraq by 2005. Now we're fighting a rear-guard media battle in the USA, and not doing very well despite almost complete cooperation by the US media. I attribute most of that to US soldiers who come home and tell their friends what they've seen. Entirely unofficial and private. It stays out of the media but it trumps the media.

The market share the press seeks to preserve at all costs is apparent in the three previous posts. Why do I sense that the frenzied and silly nature of the left's defenses of the TNR is dictated more by their great distress that America might be winning this war (and that it is a war that needs to be fought) more than any partcular fondness for fact over fiction?
Should we see this as a tacit admission that the left, oh I'm sorry, the "moderate left", prefers to look to the politcal result of any particular report as oppsed to its accuracy, much as Pravda did in the past? I fear we should.
Gentlemen the postion you take here frankly says little about the TNR. (It is apparent to rational people able to tell themselves the truth that Foer has been lying for some time now.) And less about the war. Indeed it may take years to ascertain Iraq's effect on Iran Syria and all the rest. It does, however say a good deal about the ethics you embrace and bring to this conversation. None of it is good.

JT

"You might want to argue about what the facts were in each case. Don't bother. Find an iraqi who wants to argue your positions and ask him how many iraqis take his side."

That's exactly why controlling the story matters so damn much. When our press cycles endless images of those five events (and if I grant - which I don't - your take on them, that's an infinitesimally low rate of evildoing in the context of any war that's ever been fought. So the story becomes one that shapes the Iraqis perceptions of who we are and what we're doing. It becomes a weapon.

A.L.

avedis - good response, but...

You want more balanced reporting. This preseumably would contain stories that point out the positives as well as the negatives (afterall, I think we both agree that media should not be the propaganda arm of the government). You currently perceive that the negative reporting is overwhelming a paucity of positive reporting.

And, more important, because if it isn't factual, it can't hold up over time - see Union, Soviet.

Some thoughts and questions come to mind:

1. what if the reality in Iraq really is overwhelming negative? Shouldn't the media's reporting reflect that?

Well, one reason I've obsessed about numbers in a bunch of posts has been that if it were that bad, a lot more people would be dying. They don't seem to be. If it were that bad, the slices of normalcy that the Iraqi bloggers talk about (even Riverbend) wouldn't be there. So the irreducable facts don't support the overwhelmingly negative impressions that the media has given.

2.How would you (or do you) know what the objective reality in Iraq is? It seems to me that you are premising on the belief that things in Iraq are actually much better than reported. Where does that belief come from if not certain media outlets (since you haven't been there and even if you had been you still wouldn't absorb the complete reality at all levels). If your belief is from media outlets then do we really have an imbalance in the media.

No, it's from certain basic data like the fact that oil is being pumped - at some level - the rate of deaths is relatively low, some reconstruction is going on. At some level, all that data (from US government and other sources) could all be being falsified - but then we move into Giant Lizard territory.

3. Do you have actual statistics to support your contention that most media stories are negative re; Iraq? Because I don't see it. I think it would important to this conversation to be able to cite stats saying (for example) 500 outlets writing stories about Iraq examined, avg 20 stories per outlet, 89.5% contained negative aspects, 63% half negative/half positive, 21% totally negative, etc because, otherwise we have all sorts of explanations for your perceptions that are only subjective (e.g. you have a son in the service and you strongly support the war. Therefore negative stories are just more salient to you; you tend to notice them more because they cause a strong emotional response). I am not saying this is the case, but it could be.

Yeah, that'd be a fun project. I'll look around and see, but as it's something that smart people have been writing about for four years, I'm hard-pressed to think that it's a total myth.

4. The soldier quoted in the WaPo; his could be a typical and persistent sentiment among the troops. Or his sentiment could be temporary and/or fairly unique. We don't know. Why isn't there something more scientific? Maybe better sampling? Maybe a poll of combat troops who have been discharged from the service. This is a failure of media for sure, but the failure cuts both ways. I can just as easily find an anecdote in a "right leaning" outlet where a soldier is quoted saying that every death - even his own - would be worth it if we'd stay the course and bring freedom, peace and hapiness to Iraq. Is that really any better? Again, the media is not meant to be the propaganda arm of the government.

Well, I talked to a decent number of military folks for over a year doing charity stuff over there, and still talk to some of them. And thew picture is relatively consistent. There are a number of thoughtful, smart people in the Phil Carter camp - which I tsake very seriosuly, BTW, but they are outweightd by a larger number of equally smart, thoughtful people who see a path through this by just pushing forward (the far largest group takes neiuther position and just believes that fighting Bad People is an inherently good thing).

I've read enough military history and biography to know that line troops are seldom fanataically positive about what they are doing - nor should they be; the fanatical ones are murderers, not warriors.

And the role of the press in a free society in wartime is a damn complex thing - which I've written about a ton.

How's that for a fast answer?

Mr. Thomas I find your allegation (totally false btw) about Haditha that it was "deemed proper to kill civilians on weak suspicion of insurgent activity" to be both deeply offensive and one that should require you to apologize to the brave Marines who's boots you are not fit to shine or carry.

Until YOU have been in combat facing men determined to kill you, you are not fit to judge what better men have done to survive. NO MARINE is required to die for YOUR political correctness nor concern for civilians over Marines. NO MARINE is required to die so you may feel morally superior.

Big surprise -- men being shot at by AQ will respond AS TRAINED and return fire, unlike Superman they don't have X-Ray vision and can't determine when AQ hides behind civilians. At any rate they are not required to die to save civilians. Nor should we ask this of them.

Peggy Noonan has your type pegged -- living your life through movies about Vietnam, sheltered in safe Suburbia, never facing a mortal threat to your life by men determined to kill you. You are in no position to judge NOR CAN YOU EVER JUDGE what men do in combat to survive. Those who can have determined the Marines face nothing more than a propaganda campaign by AQ. Thus dismissal of nearly all charges (and I expect the remainder will be dropped, except for the reporting up the chain of command).

Abu Graib was trivial (far worse as a matter of record was done in Pelican Bay where prisoners were subjected to disfiguring and crippling third-degree burns over 90% of their bodies). Fraternity Level hazing by poorly disciplined soldiers overseen by a pathetic, weak, fearful female Affirmative Action appointee (Karpinski is Exhibit A as to why Women have zilch place in the military and how Affirmative Action promotes incompetents).

What Beauchamp shows is the concerted and allied media effort by AQ and those who back them: TNR, Liberals, the Left. Outright lies and nonsense repeated and accepted as "truth" or "truthiness" by a pampered, socially isolated, clueless elite. Who expect Comic Book Superhero levels of perfectability in the US forces and scream "Nazis" when people are human and do what they have to in order to survive. Meanwhile I note yourself, Avedis, and Dave have been SILENT on AQ's abuses (as has TNR). OUR people are disemboweled, have their genitals cut off, drills into their arms and legs, and are beheaded when captured and you worry about panties on the head. From the usual suspects I hear nothing.

I don't have to ask who's side they are on -- I already know. It does not surprise me. The Left HATES America, not the least of which is us ordinary people "don't know our place" and don't kowtow to our "morally superior betters."

The main reason this story is important is that a bunch of right-wingers want it to be. They are using a handful of stories about media failure that tends to oppose the war, to help them ignore the massive media failure that ignores the reality that this war is lost.

A few years ago, when Saddam's regime collapsed (Thank Allah) rather more quickly than the left had hoped, leaving them caught awkwardly in mid-quagmire pose, I well recall how the "warbloggers" were sternly lectured against engaging in something called triumphalism, which leads to hubris and the pride that goeth before the fall, etc., and is furthermore insensitive to the feelings of people who are embarrassed when their country accomplishes something.

Then Strumpet Fortune rolled over on her belly, and we sank into an unpopular struggle with insurgent forces, the status and progress of which was difficult to gauge from any perspective, in or out of the country. But the left read the goat's guts loud and clear: THE WAR WAS LOST, which meant that they - beyond all hope - had won a glorious victory. At this point, they quite forgot the advice they had given about triumphalism.

We are now into the third or fourth year of leftist triumphalism, and the crowing has been going on around the clock. Every corpse of the sixties has been resurrected to crow, too. All kinds of masks have come off.

And now it's all coming apart. There was supposed to be a huge political payoff, but instead they got Pelosi and more Bush. The left and liberal media has utterly humiliated themselves over this war, and their blog rivals have thrived. There was supposed to be an international tidal wave against the United States, but apart from the Spanish and some repellent dictators, our traditional allies have held up. The French are closer to our views than theirs.

And they have utterly failed to make a dent in the war. Their "leaders", if one may call them such, have tried everything they can think of, and they have failed every time.

They are now in the denial phase that they have accused everyone else of being in. It will be the loudest denial phase in history. It's not fair that we're winning something that they had in the bag as lost. It's not fair that they can't cash in their big stack of chips.

Granted, the bulk of the public is still on their side, even if the facts no longer are. But when they turn their hostility against the soldiers, who have refused to be the dehumanized losers they want them to be, the public is not with them. The polls may turn many times before this is over, but that fact will not change.

J Thomas, why is it that you seem to have a different view of history than what happened? Is it because of the media stories that you incorrectly believe are objective? An example:

Fallujah was important because it showed iraqis that their sovereign government couldn't stop us from destroying an iraqi city. They said stop, we went right ahead. That set back iraqi trust in their government by at least 10 years.

This is a quite puzzling assertion on your part because in fact, the initial assault on Fallujah was halted in part because of the urgings of the Iraqi government - together with media driven myths about the casualties in Fallujah. It was later, after it became clear that leaving Fallujah in the hands of islamist extremists did not stop the violence inflicted upon its inhabitants was the attack on Fallujah resumed.

This is about the media, even limited form journal media like TNR. You expect the government to lie, you expect the media to do a good job pursuing the truth.

How old are you? It used to be, AP would send out a story and different newspapers would cut different parts according to their bias. If you looked at 3 or 4 of them you could usually get most of the original report.

I've never been involved in anything the media reported where they did a good job of pursuing the truth. Usually they just ran with a story that would make easy sense to their audience, and ignored everything that didn't fit.

_The market share the press seeks to preserve at all costs is apparent in the three previous posts. _
Do you mean TNR or all journalists? TNR doesn't care (which should be evident by now) - they had 30k subscribers last year, they'll have 30k subscribers next year.
Maybe you should also consider it to be the fact that some journalists succumb to both their own ego and laziness, and the old-school editors aren't prepared to deal with this in a world of instant challenge.

Why do I sense that the frenzied and silly nature of the left's defenses of the TNR is dictated more by their great distress that America might be winning this war (and that it is a war that needs to be fought) more than any partcular fondness for fact over fiction?
There is no frenzied defense of TNR - only frenzied attacks. This is how both sides work - ignore what is going on with passing defenses if it appears negative to what they believe, and attack what they believe is opposite.

Gentlemen the postion you take here frankly says little about the TNR. (It is apparent to rational people able to tell themselves the truth that Foer has been lying for some time now.) And less about the war. Indeed it may take years to ascertain Iraq's effect on Iran Syria and all the rest. It does, however say a good deal about the ethics you embrace and bring to this conversation. None of it is good.
I think you're talking to yourself here - I've come the closest to defending TNR, with the (paraphrasing) "they apparently checked up on background and failed," and they completely suck if that wasn't apparent. I think your preconceived notions are getting in the way of having a rational(for the internet) discussion.
You've gotten past the days of 30 posts in talking to yourself, but still seek to diminish the opposing viewpoints with half-information and hyperbole.

How old are you?
Too old to be doing this.

It used to be, AP would send out a story and different newspapers would cut different parts according to their bias. If you looked at 3 or 4 of them you could usually get most of the original report.
This is still done - in fact, there have been quite a few injections by papers where they completely change the meaning of the story. But this is something else entirely from pure journalism - this is typesetting.
The editor at a newspaper can alter the story, but the service (AP, Reuters) has the reasonable responsibility to fact check and verify the story.

I've never been involved in anything the media reported where they did a good job of pursuing the truth. Usually they just ran with a story that would make easy sense to their audience, and ignored everything that didn't fit.
Somewhat agreed, for the day to day reporting - too much information in too little time. For the expo's, where it involves multi-week involvement, it can get better.

Quoth J Thomas:

Beauchamp is important because he's our only example of on-the-ground disinformation that hurts the war effort by damaging public morale.

You're sure he's the only example? Because I seem to recall a certain "incredible shrinking 'n' destroyed mosques" story.

It's hard to prove that one -- maybe the American correspondent(s) who report that the mosques are still intact were misdirected by their guides; still, I will bet you a pint of Guinness or a really good sandwich there are more examples of disinformation than just the Beauchamp one.

I think a false claim of 5 mosques being destroyed damages public morale. We just don't have a single point of contact to name. It still constitutes an example. Depends, I guess on what the meaning of "example" is.

BTW, I am planning on putting up your guest post as soon as I get some administrivia straightened out.

Dave:
There is no frenzied defense of TNR - only frenzied attacks. This is how both sides work - ignore what is going on with passing defenses if it appears negative to what they believe, and attack what they believe is opposite.

Dave, you're wrong, and I'm going to assume that it's because you're not up to speed on this story.

I invite you to review the extensive work that bloggers like Confederate Yankee and Ace of Spades have done on this story, above and beyond the original articles by Michael Goldfarb in The Weekly Standard, before you dismiss all of it as frenzy.

In response to this, they have been accused of conspiracy and collusion, and of manufacturing a story that nobody cares about.

I assure you that TNR is not so blithe about all of this. They've been engaging in nasty counterattacks of their own, while desperately trying to get out of this thing with a whole skin. Unlike the happy campers who comment on their little blog, and their apologists on the lefthead blogs, they know full well that questions of journalistic integrity and credibility are very, very important - even to journalists.

They are crapping rubber bricks. They can't afford another Stephen Glass (whose stories, BTW, were of little or no political import) and they've created something worse.

J Thomas:
Beauchamp is important because he's our only example of on-the-ground disinformation that hurts the war effort by damaging public morale.

Who says Beauchamp has damaged public morale? I don't think Beauchamp rises to that prominence, unless you have him mixed up with Britney Spears.

I notice you have a tendency to do sudden 180 degree turns in debate. How do you reconcile this alleged damage with your subsequent comments in which you claim that Beauchamp is trivial and of interest only to right-wingers?

I think we all know that America is not hanging on our every word as we debate this. America doesn't read The New Republic, and may not even know what it is until Bill O'Reilly sticks his big nose into this. That doesn't mean that it has no influence - it does - or that questions about journalistic integrity are not important.

Also, knock it off with the "This is just distracting from ending the war" business. We're not all as stupid as Hillary Clinton thinks we are. We can entertain many thoughts and debate many, many things at the same time.

You guys aren't ending the war anyway. I'm not sure you're even trying. You're less organized than the Republican Guard looting a Kuwaiti appliance store for hair dryers. So we're not stopping you from doing anything.

I invite you to review the extensive work that bloggers like Confederate Yankee and Ace of Spades have done on this story, above and beyond the original articles by Michael Goldfarb in The Weekly Standard, before you dismiss all of it as frenzy.
You are right Glen - I used this as a negative response to the original comment, not as a dismissal of the work done. I'm betting I could not find a vocal defense on the top 20 left blogs. I do believe I could find a negative attack on the top 20 right blogs. While I used frenzied as a rebuttal(as it was used in the original), I do not believe I would use this as a description.
I would in a relative term - both from a volume+depth perspective, relative to defense of TNR's article. I would not seek to originate it(frenzied) myself, I was using it to balance the statement presented.

I assure you that TNR is not so blithe about all of this. They've been engaging in nasty counterattacks of their own, while desperately trying to get out of this thing with a whole skin.
Yup - the idea of the Army oppressing their story, or being played as fools, or any other argument you could find to agree with them more fits their worldview.
Being fooled by someone again does diminish their credibility - and by hiding their thoughts and actions they diminish it further.

Where's the front?

Where was "the front" in the American Revolution? Where is "the front" in Darfur?

Your notion of conflicts is quaint.

So, we're averaging 70 urban airstrikes a day

I see 6 incidents which might remotely be considered an "airstrike" in this recent summary which I pulled at random. Several are clearly rural and one was to blow up a road, so I'm being pretty generous in allowing them.

Source your claim.

"Beauchamp is important because he's our only example of on-the-ground disinformation that hurts the war effort by damaging public morale."

Who says Beauchamp has damaged public morale? I don't think Beauchamp rises to that prominence, unless you have him mixed up with Britney Spears.

OK, I agree. He just isn't that important.

I notice you have a tendency to do sudden 180 degree turns in debate. How do you reconcile this alleged damage with your subsequent comments in which you claim that Beauchamp is trivial and of interest only to right-wingers?

I try out different points of view. This time I asked 'What makes Beauchamp important?'. It can't be that a minor right-wing journal that's recently come out against the war made some minor mistakes and refused to own up to them. Look at my examples -- Makr al-Deeb, Abu Ghraib, Haditha -- every time the western media does minimal fact-checking. They tend not to pay much attention to atrocity stories unless the iraqis provide videos. (Or with Abu Ghraib, when US forces provided videos.)

Makr Al-Deeb was an exception -- they actually went there and talked to people and took their own pictures, after the iraqis showed them videos. I think that's because it was back in 2004 and the place was close to the syrian border which made it relatively safe to visit.

They do essentially no fact-checking in iraq, but mostly report what american and iraqi government sources tell them. It can't just be bad journalism that's the issue.

I figured it must be that this looks like bad journalism that's slanted the wrong direction. But as you say, he really isn't significant that way.

"So, we're averaging 70 urban airstrikes a day"

Source your claim.

When I looked for it I didn't find it right away, and I did find something that claims the number is far smaller.

airstrikes

This looks like, averaged over all of 2007, it was only about 110 airstrikes a month. Your 3 a day would be about right.

I don't think I just made that up out of nothing, I must have accepted someone else's claim without checking it, and I may have misunderstood it. 70 sorties a day might be on the low side, but maybe only a few of them involve dropping bombs.

On the other hand, that's 996 airstrikes by air force pilots. It's got to be easier to do strikes with army helicopters or UAVs than wait for the air force to show up. But I haven't found the numbers.

Aside from the number which looks wrong, COIN strategy says to minimise airstrikes which we are not doing. Unless what we're doing is minimising airstrikes, and we need a whole lot more now than before because the situation is so desperate.

Coincidentally, the battalion written about in the WaPo story AL quotes is Beauchamp's battalion. Unless there are two LTC George Glazes' in Baghdad. Michael Yon gave the COs name in his story on Beauchamp the other day and he show's up again in Partlow's story. Go figure. How did the WaPo miss fitting Beauchamp into the article?

Also, Thursday on Fox, they covered the sheiks victory parade in Ramadi. About a year after AQIs victory parade in the same city. Lots of dignitaries in the reviewing stand, something that would have been suicidal 6 months ago. Even better, the female reporter was walking the parade route in shirtsleeves. No body armor. THAT was the MSM catching up with Totten but they failed to call attention to it.

Some battalions are still having a hard fight, but we are winning. God willing, the American people have the guts to hang on.

Regards

"Aside from the number which looks wrong, COIN strategy says to minimise airstrikes which we are not doing."

Source your claim...

Ironic in this thread, your facts dont stand up but your conclusion is too important to ignore?

Glen Wishard points out quite correctly that Dave is wrong ( and I suspect intentionally wrong). Dave remains gleefully oblivious. J Thomas repeatedly sites a statistic that is wrong twenty fold as a basis for his conclusion then when he is forced to admit his statitic is in error repeats his conclusion as if facts haven't just ruined it....
Could it be that the press is willfully inaccurate becuase a large swath of its audience (its amen chorus as a matter of fact) demands inaccuracy to make it feel better about itself and its positions? I hope this isn't the case. This thread makes me wonder.

#42 from corvan:
"Could it be that the press is willfully inaccurate becuase a large swath of its audience (its amen chorus as a matter of fact) demands inaccuracy to make it feel better about itself and its positions? I hope this isn't the case. This thread makes me wonder.

It looks like that.

I think Scott Thomas Beauchamp, as a witness rather than as a soldier doing physical things, is as important as Lucy Ramirez.

In both cases, what mattered was their credibility, and their credibility derived from how well they conformed to what was wanted. Fools, fictional characters, house-plants and pet rocks can be given the same sort of credibility. And it can and will be taken away from them and given to the next "truth-teller".

There's a market for this stuff. It's obviously not fussy as long as it hears what it wants to hear.

Franklin Foer doesn't seem to care whether Scott Thomas Beauchamp refrains from recanting because of the truth or because of his wife. For that matter, the only thing his wife apparently cares about is that he not recant.

(Nice marriage, squire. Shame if something should happen to it.)

That's what the market wants, and so future Franklin Foers can make and unmake Scott Thomas Beauchamps the same way, or even more egregiously.

David:
... the only thing his wife apparently cares about is that he not recant.

Remember, that's according to Franklin Foer, a guy who could discredit the First Law of Thermodynamics by throwing his weight behind it.

She might have said something like "The most important thing in the world to me is that you come home safe," and Franklin just misheard her slightly.

I'm sure TNR subscribers will agree, though, that even if she never said any such thing, it is nevertheless very important that Beauchamp not recant. Therefore, the quote was entirely accurate.

Glen, you're right.

Al # 26, "And, more important, because if it isn't factual, it can't hold up over time - see Union, Soviet."

Sure. Agreed. Relevance, however?

I can recall all sorts of "positive" pro-administration pro-war reporting from the pre-invasion phase. Very poorly to not at all fact checked leaks about Iraqi WMD, etc. Regurgitated stories about aluminium tubes proving nuclear development when serious knowledgeable experts said otherwise, unlikely rusty trailers fingered by the administration as evidence of - and it's really very ridiculous - mobile bio weapons labs, airplane skeletons reported as training centers for kamikaze hijackers, tenuous (at best) associations between Saddam and Al Qaeda trumpeted by the media as a clarion call for regime change, etc, etc, etc......stories repeating administration talking points about inspectors not being allowed in to inspect sites when the inspectors themselves clearly stated that they had ultimately gained access to all sites and had found nothing to suggest an Iraqi threat........

All of these stories put out there by an administration determined to invade Iraq no matter what, were picked up by major media outlets and repeated by them over and over again without serious fact checking, without giving fair coverage of alternative outlooks despite the fact that such existed and were being presented by individuals and groups that should have been taken seriously and who were, as things turned out, correct.

The media, at one time, bought into the war hook, line and sinker and displayed an irresponsibility far beyond anything exhibitied by TNR and the Beauchamp pitance.

But not a word from AL or WoC on any of that sort of media failing. Not now, not then. In fact, even then, they were shouting down opinions counter to the administration's.

I will reiterate to all here what I asked AL; how the hell do any of you know WTF is happening in Iraq?

You don't. You get snapshots. Some negative, some positive, but you don't have a clue. You want to believe that US troops never do anything disgusting by normal civil standards? Then you are bigger fools than I could have imagined. You do believe it, but want to demand that it not be reported? Then, "see Union, Soviet."

Either way it hard not to conclude that you have drunk the neocolonial Koolaid and now demand that all expressions of reality be of the same grape flavor. Other than that you have nothing. You are not basing your objections to TNR on anything having to do with accuracy in media - if you were you would be more concerned with the massive media failings that got us into Iraq as opposed to this puppy piddle TNR/Beauchamp nothing. Because the global US media breakdown in the run-up to invasion is the type that threatens our republic. The possible media breakdown that is associated with Beauchamp is only a threat to the viability of TNR as a respected and profitable outlet.

Cover the discussion in any cloak of reasonableness you want to, but what I sense is that, rather than accuracy in media, you are all demanding that media conform to the party line. And that is all.

One more thing; contrary to what many of you may want to believe, the Vietnam War was not lost because of the US media conspiring to end it via negative coverage. Coverage in the 1965-1967 phase was generally positive. Media coverage of that conflict seems to have become increasingly negative with increasingly negative realities in theater; BTW correlation, not causation and draw your own inferences. Yes, any time the commies came to fight in a traditional battle we killed them and killed them hard. But war is not just about that. To those to whom that reality is known it is possible to understand how wiser voices in the media saw the end long before the government was able to admit it. You would have had them silenced.

Upon further reflection I get it now.

So here's how this little game of yours is played: I don't like what your saying so I will target you.

I will find something in your past, some point you made that is factually debatable, cause some question mark to form over your character, work to make any micro into a macro, any molehill into a mountain, and then, thusly armed, will relentlessly assial you. I will furiously attempt to exploit these chinks in your armor.

Now, I know that your hard core won't waiver in their support and my hard core already hated you for going against our party's line. I will try to sway a few in the middle to my side.

But mostly I am interested in keeping my side's blood up, lest they lose interest and go home before the other side does.

avedis, are you talking about John Cole, Kos, or Shakespeare's Sister?

c'mon. Let's get back on point, OK?

A.L.

How does the Beauchamp story's accuracy compare to the Tillman and Lynch stories? And calling John Cole "neoleft" is ridiculous: he's a conservative who likes habeas corpus, finds torture abhorrent and isn't so keen on pumping up non-existent success in an endless war.

As I've pointed out repeatedly, our original goal of a secular, pro-American, pro-Israel(!) Iraq isn't even mentioned any more, at least by the pro-war faction. We're hoping to settle for Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis in a stasis of mutual hostility in a backwards, theocratic state (OK, not Kurdistan). For example, how's that oil-revenue sharing law coming along? Pretty good proxy for how our political reconciliation plan is a non-starter.

Ironic in this thread, your facts dont stand up but your conclusion is too important to ignore?

I don't have a lot of time to look for sources for a very few people who by my previous experience are almost certain to ignore them anyway. My conclusion that we need to avoid urban airstrikes for COIN is true, and General Petraeus said so in his COIN book.

I did a little more searching. We're getting a lot of reports like this:

Coalition forces launched 1,140 airstrikes in the first nine months of this year compared with 229 in all of last year, according to military statistics.

USA Today

But this is an official number of USAF airstrikes, not including army, marines, navy, or other coalition members, not including helicopters or UAVs. Even Juan Cole gets this wrong.

The number I gave is floating around:
http://onlinejournal.com/artman/publish/article_2560.shtml
"70 per day":

but it isn't 70 airstrikes per day, it's 70 close air support missions per day, and not an average number but a "on many days" number. Some of the reports call it 50-70 missions per day. Of course it's possible to do CAS without actually bombing or strafing anybody, you can just fly around and intimidate people.

I found a fair number of sites that claim '70 close air support missions on many days since October 1' (not an exact quote but the consistent meaning) but most of them don't give a source.

"The U.S. Air Force posts daily accounts of its operations, listing between 50 and 70 “close-air-support missions” each day."

This iranian source at least says this much about where that comes from -- again, air force and not including anybody else.

Essentially every hit I found was from October 22, 2007 or later. Presumably there was an earlier source I didn't get which called attention to this statistic, and other repeat it.

-
Link fixed: David Blue.

Ouch, I got a link wrongly formatted, I hope somebody will fix it.

David Blue,

The more Andrew and Avedis struggle deseprately to change the subject the more I suspect you're right. It is the market for these fabrications that is driving their manufacture.
It is quite a puzzle. How exaclty does a country move forward when a large swath of it ( and most of its intellegentisa) is deep in the throes of a temper tantrum so vile they cannot be trusted to admit the most self evident truths before them.
I have asked often enough if the Foer case is a symptom of a deeper rot in journalism. The responses I have seen here ( transparent attempts to change the subject, quoting of obviously false statistics, general foot-stamping and name calling ) make me suspect that that a number of commenters here sense the nature of what journalism has become and are rather panicked at the thought that others might discover what they have deduced, and used to their partisan advantage politcally.

And of course, J Thomas shows up to explain he doesn't have time to source the claims he made regarding 70 air strikes a day thoroughly and to explain that the number is floating around out there some where and that should be good enough.
Thus lending further credence to the theory that the media, while factually irresponisble, is managing to say what its core audience wants to hear. Which leads me to wonder. Should that be the media's job?
And by the way seventy air strikes a day for nine months would total out just a tad higher than 1,140, I think.

corvan,

After being called on it, J Thomas has been forthright in trying to justify the 70-per-day airstrike figure. I've gotten things wrong too, and I respect his frankness on that point.

J Thomas, regardless even the usatoday story fails to seperate urban from nonurban environments.

More importantly, lets get down to brass tacks. Your point is correct that one should avoid airstrikes that risk collateral damage. Obviously that doesnt mean abandoning such strikes.

But lets look at the context. Last year American troops were largely confined to their bases under the benighted scheme of General Casey. Clearly allowing the insurgents to gain control of any neighborhoods it wants isn't part of COIN. So lets not compare an unsuccessful strategy with one that is proving extremely successful.

Now our troops are out in the neighborhoods, taking on the insurgents where they are found in an attempt to take and hold areas. Obviously this incurs a great deal more combat, which will require air strikes. It also forces the enemy to move around to avoid US forces, allowing us to potentially catch them out in the open (and hopefully away from civilians). Killing insurgents is important.

Finally all we really need to do is look at the massive decline in Iraqi civilian casualties of all types in the last few months and evaluate if are airstrikes are continuing to make up a large percentage of the remaining casualties. I dont beleive we have seen that information presented, and its ultimately the only ones that matter. Our techology cannot be forgotten. Nor our adapting tactics- our planes now carry cement bombs with no explosives that simply crush a structure with no collateral damage. The idea isnt that bombing itself is a bad idea, its that collateral damage is. IF we are limiting collateral damage, bombing isnt an issue. You have yet to show us any evidence of that in any way.

Btw Patraeus also wrote this: Why We Need FISTs—Never Send a Man When You Can Send a Bullet

AL #48, I have no problem agreeing with you that the tactics I mentioned in #46 and #47 are employed by all sides of the political affiliation in this country; whether or not frequently by those individuals you mention? I don't know.

I think it is on point to ask, "How do you know what you think you know?"

How do you "know" that, for example, Juan Cole is prediposed to be biased against the mission in Iraq. How do you that he is a "crank"?How do that he isn't absolutely correct?

Answer is that you don't. You lack the complete and quality information and the education and the time to thoroughly assess the situation (this is not a slight against you. I also lack in the same way as do 99.9% of all Americans).

Thus we are left with a reliance on the following:

1. Anecdotes (e.g. "well I talked to this guy who was just discharged and he said......."

2. Media outlets that have a myriad of reasons for misrepresenting the truth, ranging from sloth to idealism to pay offs.

3. Our own concious and subconcious predispositions (e.g. "I think all war is wrong" or "I think it is America's job to bring freedom to the world"or "My country right or wrong" or "never trust the government. It always lies..." Some of these are very fundemental to our personality make up.

#3 tends to decide how we filter and select #s 1 and 2; which we will pay attention to, which we will remember and which we will believe.

And this is just another way of saying we only hear what we want to hear becuase changing #3 is very difficult, stressful and confusing for most people. We must - to some degree - remove information that threatens our perspectives.

You say, "We need truth to see our way through this, and truth is ambiguous, morally complex, and fits no one's set agendas."

I couldn't agree more.

And previously you said, ".......I don't for an instant question the validity of what the Post reporter wrote, or the honesty of what the serving soldiers said."

Fair enough; recognizing anecdote for what it is.

You go on, "But I'm willing to bet that I could - in a day or two of research I dont have time to do - find similar cites from troops in World War II or any other war that you choose. No one hates war the way soldiers do; talking to the soldiers that I know has convinced me of that......"

Now I sense you swerving - albeit subtly - toward a predisposition; toward a #3 from my list.

Continuing on that new trajectory, ".....But sometimes they have to be fought."

Gaining momementum and force toward your predisposition.

"......And deciding to fight them - and to win, and most important, how to win, having decided so - is important (yes, that's a statement I'll need to take some time and defend in comments), and so it's important that we have a complete view of what's going on...."

And we have arrived.

What I hear - and I am admit I am doing just a little reading between the lines - is that you hold fast to the beliefs that Iraq was a necessary war. That even if not necessary in retrospect, now that we are there we must win. That we can win. That victory must be achieved at any cost ( I sort of assume from having read your opinons over time that this has to do as much with national pride as it does with national security). With a focussed will we can win.

You are, for some reason, very invested in these beliefs and I think you want to filter out anything that threatens them. I don't understand you because I don't hold any of these same beliefs and I am, therefore, not invested in them. I am able to absorb information that runs counter to them. I, of course, have other predispositions (though they are different than some here try to assign to me).

I think there are others like you. I think that this is what the whole TNR assualt is all about.

Better put Obsidian Wings on your target list
I still don't know how much of Beauchamp's tales were accurate and how much was fabricated. Nor do I care. But I am going to relate this because I think that the vilification Beauchamp received was much less because what he said might not be accurate and far more because what he said attacked a particular narrative near and dear to the hearts of many of those who support the war in Iraq.

I had to get back to my FOB the other night. I was away from my unit, so I hitched a ride. The guys in the HMMWV I rode in seemed like normal soldiers: a bit irreverent, sometimes frustrated, but decent guys. Until we passed through a town and spotted three dogs in the middle of the road. Without hesitation, indeed with genuine glee, the driver accelerated and apparently ran down one of the dogs (in the dark, from my position, all I know for sure is that there was a bump). He then got into a vigorous argument with the gunner over whether or not he had hit the dog; the gunner was attempting to deny him 'credit' for the kill. There was no objection from the vehicle commander over any of this...killing a stray dog didn't seem to faze him in the slightest. Granted, this didn't affect the mission one way or the other, and it was a dog and not a person. Still...I felt a bit ill at the thought the vehicle I'd been riding in probably ran over a dog, and the fact this seemed to bring joy to otherwise normal appearing people remains appalling to me.

Does this mean Beauchamp was telling the truth? Nope...I still can't prove that one way or the other. My point in bringing this up is only to note that, whether or not his story was true, soldiers are people, and sometimes people do some pretty unpleasant things. And attacking people who point out that soldiers are people, however cathartic it may be for some, does nothing to change that fact.
Armed Liberal is totally correct about one thing in the original post: events tend to be interpreted through a received narrative, and it's possible for that narrative to be a distortion. If I wanted to pick an example, though, I might go with Al Gore Serial Exaggerator, or George Bush Affable Guy, or Iraq WMD. It was that NY Times you are now so negative about that employed Judy Miller, a woman who even helped con-man Ahmad Chalabi (did you see he's now a Petraeus BFF?) stage a comic-opera scene with a phony scientist pointing to the ground as a WMD hiding place.

Eventually the narrative changed, mostly under the weight of the unsustainable notion of infinite progress with so little tangible result in terms of getting to come home. It may be that under these circumstances, Beauchamp's columns, which didn't seem that far outside what I imagine war looks like, failed to receive the vetting that they (or any other story) deserve. But whatever inaccuracies Beauchamp made (even if deliberate) aren't going to turn into a counternarrative of success as long as poster "G'Kar" of Obsidian Wings is retelling much the same thing. Or as long as John Cole, who's driven a tank, gets to heap ridicule on armchair warriors trying to figure out how to drive a tank over a dog, or not, from a Toys-R-Us model.

In other circumstances I could be more sympathetic. But let me tell you something from my days in the wilderness watching the MSM gearing up for the Shock and Awe fireworks show: if your view of the war is that it's a great success and only liberal sabotage is keeping it hidden, well, the truth is going to out. The fact you concentrate your fire on the liberals makes me wonder if at heart you realize Iraq is pretty much the mess we say it is, but you hope that if no one says the Emperor is naked there's some possibility General Petraeus can fix it.

I messed up the link to Obsidian Wings in the previous comment.

Good point Anrew. It's like someone telling a story in which they say, "Sept 23rd. It was another foggy morning in San Francisco".

No one is going to fact check to see if that morning really was foggy given the climate in Frisco.

If they said it was a snowy morning then that would be a flag to fact check.

Running down dogs? As I've said a dozen times, who cares? Why would any bother to fact check. This is normal behavior for troops at war.

Now, if Beauchamp told stories about stripping Iraqis naked and making them perform soddomy on each other with attack dogs snapping at them, that would be worth fact checking.

But running down dogs? Playing with bones? Insulting a burned woman? Hardly out of the normal.....just another foggy morning in Frisco.

#51 from J Thomas: "Ouch, I got a link wrongly formatted, I hope somebody will fix it."

Thanks for your OK, and always glad to help. :)

Well, if you're going to keep pursuing this piece of trivia, you might at least look at this interesting email exchange

between Glenn Greenwald at Salon and from Col. Steven A. Boylan, the Public Affairs Officer and personal spokesman for Gen. David G. Petraeus . Boylan's verbal games and clear partisan affiliations (he's obviously a major source for the material leaked to rightwing bloggers and linked here) seem more significant than those of a private writing a pseudonymous diary for a discredited rag.

But to repeat, in the context of a war that's killed hundreds of thousands, and wounded, bereaved or displaced millions, in pursuit of a mythical threat, the fact that some members of the US military are economical with the truth in regard to some mildly disturbing gossip is not really worth worrying about.

"he's obviously a major source for the material leaked to rightwing bloggers and linked here"

Walking a fine rope of libel there my friend. I hope you have some evidence of this.

"But to repeat, in the context of a war that's killed hundreds of thousands, and wounded, bereaved or displaced millions, in pursuit of a mythical threat, the fact that some members of the US military are economical with the truth in regard to some mildly disturbing gossip is not really worth worrying about."

Absolutely true. But the fact that major media outlets are equally conomical with the truth, considering the political component of this war, is very much worth worrying about.

John Quiggen:

If Glenn Greenwald is taking over as lead investigator for the left on this issue, what does that say about the rest of you?

In no time at all, we'll be hearing about how Karl Rove got Scott Beauchamp to set up The New Republic. And the rest of you guys are going to have to go around repeating that. Over and over and over and over.

But if you're not just repeating Greenwald - or if you are not Greenwald himself, because with him you never know - then you tell me: What information was leaked to a right-wing blog?

If a milblogger takes the time to contact the Army and ask some questions, and receives a statement in reply, that is not a "leak". BUT SO WHAT IF IT WAS? TNR, and TNR's defenders, want to know the whole truth, right?

BTW, Boylan's e-mail is shot through with elisions. The full email is here.

John, sometimes being busy and unresponsive is useful - I tend not to find Greenwald too interesting, both because of his credibility history (I don't cite John Lott a lot, either) and because he's basically a hysterical partisan.

But since your post, it looks like his credibility is once again under challenge...

I'll leave the analysis of that to others, and wait for an outcome.

Meanwhile, you can assert "...in pursuit of a mythical threat..." all day, but outside the core group of partisans (which you're a member of, as I'm a member of another set) that's an unproven and really unprovable assertion.

Is Iraq worth it?

That's a brutally wicked question, and a the debate about what to do from here is one worth having.

A.L.

Greenwald's original post with excerpts (marked with ellipses) from the Boylan email contained a prominent link to the full, unedited version.

Ah, what exactly is the point?

I'm not interested in standing up for a known sock-puppeteer's overall integrity, but this complaint against Greenwald is specious. And I, too, am suspicious of links between military PR staff and right-wing bloggers like Drudge—not that they are necessarily immoral or illegal, but that we ought to have some understanding of potential bias on all sides.

The Bush Administration had its Iraq honeymoon with the press and wrapped it up with the carefully choreographed Mission Accomplished performance.
"There are some things you can't fake," he [Chris Mathews] explained breathlessly. "Either you can throw a strike from sixty feet or you can't. Either you can rise to the occasion on the mound at Yankee Stadium with 56,000 people watching or you can't. On Tuesday night, George W. Bush hit the strike zone in the House that Ruth Built.... This is about knowing what to do at the moment you have to do it--and then doing it. It's about that 'grace under pressure' that Hemingway gave as his very definition of courage." And remember that now-infamous Mission Accomplished moment? True, Matthews did not join his guest G. Gordon Liddy in admiring--still not kidding--the President's pretend penis, but he was no less focused on Bush's fashion statements. "He looks great in a military uniform. He looks great in that cowboy costume he wears when he goes West," he cooed.
Pretty embarrassing to re-read that, isn't it? I could post an awful lot of similar swill from those days, too. And some of us were yelling "What mission is accomplished?" but no one was listening—certainly including the pro-war bloggers: Now that the war in Iraq is over,…

AJL, apparently the source of the email is denying having sent it.

And re leaks, if they are so generically awful, how is that that the SWIFT program leaks (to talk about one that is universally considered kind of benign) weren't reviled on the left?

A.L.

"And I, too, am suspicious of links between military PR staff and right-wing bloggers like Drudge—not that they are necessarily immoral or illegal, but that we ought to have some understanding of potential bias on all sides."

Which is entirely reasonable. Suspicion is a good thing in journalism. Assumption and credulity are not, as this TNR debacle shows if nothing else. Thats why conservatives have been screaming about a biased media for 20 years- because groupthink is dangerous and most newsrooms and papers in this country dont have a conservative to speak of. Maybe the wacky sports guy.

Blogs are biased, intentionally, and they are a different beast. Blogs rely on their own credibility such as they can build. They dont ask (even demand) the assumption of truth and journalistic integrity as we have seen Foer and his people doing. If you expect to keep that mantel of independence and journalistic ethics, you have to live up to it every time.

I assure you, i am just as suspicious of the links being elements of the CIA and Pentagon cozing up with NYT reporters for god knows what agenda as you are.

Drudge is not a blogger of any kind. If he were, he never would have removed his post on Beauchamp.

But we've reached the low threshold of any sustained argument of this type, where all they have left is to accuse everybody of being in on a conspiracy - the Army, Drudge, bloggers, and now Greenwald has got Dick Cheney in there, too.

Bootless from here on out.

'Meanwhile, you can assert "...in pursuit of a mythical threat..." all day, but outside the core group of partisans (which you're a member of, as I'm a member of another set) that's an unproven and really unprovable assertion.'

Just to be clear, I was referring to Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction, as described by the Administration in the leadup to the invasion. Are you really claiming that they were real, or that it can't be proven that they weren't?

A.L., I don't believe I said leaks were generically awful. I said that they needed to be examined for bias and motivation, not to mention accuracy. (Any number of leaks from the White House pre-invasion were not true.) I'm not privy to the motives of the SWIFT leaker, although some remnant respect for the Rule of Law (as compared to the new The President is The Law system) would be my guess.

John - nope - but I will assert that most people who knew what they were talking about believed in them, and that Bush was very clear that the goal was to change the Iraqi regime before we were certain they had WMD.

I've talked endlessly about why I thought the war made sense, and about the fact that my justification (strategic shock to Iran and Saudi Arabia) hasn't proved out. I've also talked endlessly about the fact that it was going to be a long-term project that would be hard, have setbacks, and take persistence because it involves real moral actors, the Iraqi people - who aren't just counters in some domestic (for either of us) political game.

I'm happy to talk about what to do next; I'm wide open to ideas that make more sense than 'sit and grind it out'. But I'll also suggest that it made a lot of sense not to intervene in Cambodia, either. Are you glad we didn't?

A.L.

AJL - I know you didn't say leaks were generically awful. You seemed to say (and amplified in the latest comment) the notion that leaks that advantage your (righteous) positions are OK, while those that advantage contrary (un-righteous) positions are horrible and illicit. You'll forgive me if I arch an eyebrow, right?

A.L.

"But I'll also suggest that it made a lot of sense not to intervene in Cambodia, either. Are you glad we didn't?"

But we (that is the US) did intervene. To quote PBS

" On March 18, 1969, American B-52s began carpet-bombing eastern Cambodia. "Operation Breakfast" was the first course in a four-year bombing campaign that drew Cambodia headlong into the Vietnam War. The Nixon Administration kept the bombings secret from Congress for several months, insisting they were directed against legitimate Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge targets. However, the raids exacted an enormous cost from the Cambodian people: the US dropped 540,000 tons of bombs , killing anywhere from 150,000 to 500,000 civilians."

It seems pretty clear that the US bombing made the position of the Cambodian government untenable, and led to the rise to power of the Khmer Rouge. And of course, after the Vietnamese overthrew Pol Pot, the US supported his insurgency, and voted for his regime to retain its seat in the UN.

So, on the whole, I don't think this is a good advertisement for intervention.

JQ - I was thinking of the period before the government fell; the one endcapped by the letter Kissinger got:

'Dear Excellency and Friend:

'I thank you very sincerely for your letter and for your offer to transport me towards freedom. I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion. As for you, and in particular for your great country, I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty. You have refused us your protection, and we can do nothing about it.

'You leave, and my wish is that you and your country will find happiness under this sky. But, mark it well, that if I shall die here on the spot and in my country that I love, it is no matter, because we are all born and must die. I have only committed this mistake of believing in you [the Americans].

'Please accept, Excellency and dear friend, my faithful and friendly sentiments.'

A.L.

[about Saddam's nukes] ...but I will assert that most people who knew what they were talking about believed in them

This is an oxymoron, a statement that has to be false even if it's true.

By definition, people who believed in Saddam's nukes didn't know what they were talking about.

Anybody who believed in Saddam's nukes got taken in by the false propaganda. This is like "most four-year-olds who knew what they were talking about believed in Santa Claus."

Sand, this Beauchamp thing is just throwing sand.

Or, to quote - "mote, meet beam".

See? I can do the faux Yoda non-sensical refutation too!

But, once more, for the bleacher seats:

a. Cherry-picked example
b. False conclusions from that example.
c. False judgments about importance of example.
d. False universalizing of example, to all media.

All to cover the lack of a philosophic, analytic, and pragmatic justification for an invasion and occupation, that, in the end, has been unnecessary, in lives lost, in the money spent, in reducing terrorism, or in promoting the cause of freedom and democracy.

There really are only three reasons why this invasion and occupation can be justified, and those justifications are completely at odds with the stated reasons (WMD, democracy, spreading freedom, protecting from terrorism, quench the rise of Islamic extremism) and they are the following:

a. Guarantee the stability of the oil flow.
b. "Drain the swamp". (Meaning destroy as much as is necessary, let God sort it out, and pick up the pieces - cry HAVOC! - and let loose the dogs of war)
c. Revenge and fear, or "don't f**k with us" - "if someone hits us (9-11), we (the U.S.) are so vengeful, we will destroy a country in the same region, but completely unrelated to 9-11! So other countries, don't get any ideas!!!"

THAT at least, is an honest argument. It ignores the concept of blowback, it's a huge, almost incalculable opportunity cost, in terms of birthing 1000 Bin Ladens, training the next generation of Al-Queda, ignores real solutions that require working with others in a constructive way. In terms of the three reasons above, actually, the Bush - um sorry - Cheney plan looks fairly successful, and is, somewhat, working.

But A.L., your arguments for staying in Iraq - purple thumbs and all, are, I'm sorry to say, complete bulls**t.

"Anybody who believed in Saddam's nukes got taken in by the false propaganda."

Yes. By SADDAM, who intentionally acted to give the appearance he possessed these weapons. Forgive us for taking him at his word.

And please stop rewriting history. The line of '4 year olds' that believed and voiced the belief that Saddam had nukes is long, begins and ends in the US Congress, and goes right through the Clintons. You may recall it was Bill Clinton who first went to war with Iraq to destroy these fantasy WMDs.

hypo - just 'cause you didn't know the reference doesn't make it nonsensical...*g*.

Well, we keep running into these outliers - you know, the exceptions in which the media spins things in one set direction. And every time I meet people in the media - their attitudes confirm the bias. So I'm kind of stuck here in exceptionland.

Nice list. I'll suggest that revenge (raising the perception of real threat we present) isn't always a bad thing. But that leaves us with...

...the problem of what to do now.

I'm kinda uncomfy washing our hands of the millions who are likely to die if we pull out based on Medea Benjamin's timetable. I'm, bluntly, not sure how to manage the process - except to note that by actually putting the pros in charge as opposed to the poltical hacks, we seem to be making progress, so maybe it makes sense to let them work for a while.

Of course, when casualties were bad, the fact that violence was so high meant things could never end well. Now that violence is down, political irrenditism means they will never end well. I'm trying to project forward for the next reason...

A.L.

Is Iraq worth it?

That's a brutally wicked question, and a the debate about what to do from here is one worth having.

Unfortunately, unless we choose on moral reasons, we have to base our choices on what looks possible or likely.

We could say that our moral obligations trump everything else. By that reasoning perhaps we owe the iraqis our best shot at killing all the insurgents so they can have a good democratic government, whether we can actually get a good result or not. Or we owe them a quick withdrawal and copious reparations for the damage we've done, regardless what kind of government they wind up with. When you don't care about results you can suggest doctrinaire choices.

But to make a results-based choice we have to know about things we don't know.

If I thought that with another 6 months of occupation we would turn things around, then I'd be all for another 6 months. If I thought there was no hope at all then I'd be for pulling out as fast as we reasonably can. (When the patient's heart isn't beating but the heart-lung machine is doing it for him, and his kidneys aren't working but the dialysis is doing it, and his liver isn't working, and his brain severely damaged and showing no activity, at some point it's time to stop the heroic measures and pull the plug.)

There is no reliable evidence about how well we're doing. The official iraqi death rates are clearly underestimates and have always been underestimates. They are utterly unreliable. The reports about hours of electricity available are at least as unreliable as old soviet economic figures. Reports made by the iraqi police and filtered through the iraqi government are -- unreliable.

Public reports by the US military are wartime propaganda and it would be stupid to believe them. Classified reports that get leaked might be disinformation, if they look good they might be propaganda leaked in hope that it's easier to believe that way, if they look bad they might be entirely bogus.

And the media isn't doing much independent research for fear of getting kidnapped or airstriked etc. The only reasonably-safe way to do news is to go with US military missions where you will see what they choose to show you.

To me the fact that there is no reliable information says that things are very very bad. Could we hope to wind up with iraq as a long-term ally? I don't see it. True, it worked in the philippines. From 1904 to today, an unarmed US Marine could go anywhere in the philippines in perfect safety and friendship. Apart from the japanese invasion there hasn't been a shot fired in anger at an american in the philippines for over a hundred years. A wonderful success story, if you believe it. But iraq is different. If we can't get a functioning friendly iraqi government, what's our goal? Occupy them for the next hundred years? Until the oil runs out?

But if we pull out we'll still have trouble in the middle east. We only have two allies in the whole middle east -- kurdistan and kuwait. Neither of which would exist without our military support. We ought to at least have one or two nations we can keep troops in, so we have a beach-head in case we need to invade somebody else. It's bad for us to withdraw completely and then later if we have to invade somebody we depend on the Marines to do amphibious assaults.

On the other hand, say we do pull out. The russians and chinese and indians will try to gain influence. They're all military powers that can begin to project power that far. And the various locals won't be getting along all that well. At some point, probably pretty soon, some of them will be negotiating with us to come back in and help them. So if we do withdraw our troops from everywhere but kuwait and Qatar, we can probably get them back into a third friendly country pretty quick.

If we pulled out of iraq it would hurt our prestige. The world would see that we weren't strong enough or ruthless enough to suppress iraq. That isn't good. But if we stay longer and still fail to suppress iraq that doesn't make us look better.

The only alternative to a bad outcome is to win. Winning means we wind up with iraqis happy with us, and their sovereign government friendly. I don't think that's in the cards whatever we do at this point. So our best choice is to pull out slowly enough that we don't abandon stuff we want to take with us, and we blame both the misjudgement to invade and the poor tactics on Bush. We promise that next time we'll only do it for very good reasons and we'll use our normally good strategy and tactics and we'll be much much more effective. That way we minimise the damage to our prestige etc, though it's still bad.

But that looks to me like the best we can do on the assumption we can't actually win. But if you believe on absolutely no reliable evidence that we are likely to win then you'll reach a different conclusion.

"Anybody who believed in Saddam's nukes got taken in by the false propaganda."

Yes. By SADDAM, who intentionally acted to give the appearance he possessed these weapons. Forgive us for taking him at his word.

I forgive you. Go, and sin no more.

What about Saddam's claim about how much oil he had? Any idea how much oil is really there?

Did Saddam say anything else we care about? Anything that might be a lie?

How about this iranian guy, do we want to believe him about anything?

And how about Bush? Nobody's taking his word for anything, I hope.

These guys are all habitual liars. Except for Saddam, who presumably has given up lying by now. He lies at peace.

Gotta love this thread.

AL asserts

We need truth to see our way through this, and truth is ambiguous, morally complex, and fits no one's set agendas.

And so I wonder how he would interpret the following report:

BAGHDAD (AFP) - At least 20 decapited corpses were found and a suicide bomber killed 28 policemen northeast of Baghdad on Monday, as the US military transferred the security control of Karbala to Iraqi forces.

"Reality has a Liberal Bias", perhaps?

We certainly don't need Scott Beauchamp to tell us how awful this war is, do we?

30 seconds on the internets:

Thursday October 11, 2007 11:01 PM
bq. By STEVEN R. HURST
bq. Associated Press Writer
bq. BAGHDAD (AP) - A U.S. attack killed 19 insurgents and 15 civilians, including nine children, northwest of the capital Thursday - one of the heaviest civilian death tolls in an American operation in recent months. The military said it was targeting senior leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Alan -

Yes, it's seriously awful...more awful than WW II? More awful than the Hundred Years War? The War of Jenkins Ear?

War is pretty much awful all the time.

How would you rate this against Saddam's normal peacetime state, just as a question?

A.L.

And some more Liberal Propoganda:

http://www.iraqbodycount.org/database/recent/

Sunday 28 October: 26 dead
Baghdad: car bomb kills 2, Kadhimiya; roadside bomb kills 2, Gatoun; 5 bodies; also, body of kidnapped tribal chief found.
Kirkuk: car bomb kills 8.
Basra: 2 killed in separate attacks.
Najaf: philosophy professor killed by gunmen.

Al Tabatha morgue buries 25 unidentified bodies in mass grave, Baquba

Saturday 27 October: 50 dead
Baghdad: roadside bomb kills 8, Jisr Diyala; 4 bodies.
Zanbour: 4 policemen killed in dual attack.
Mosul: 4 killed in attacks; 1 killed by US fire during clashes; body of 17-year-old is found.
Falluja: woman and child shot dead by US forces when they open fire at passing car.
Thar Thar: 17 decomposing bodies found.
Suwayra: 2 bodies.

The number of civilians killed by US forces in October has now gone up to 86, including 23 children.

Friday 26 October: 29 dead
Baghdad: 3 bodies.
Adhaim: roadside bomb kills 6.
Muqdadiya: suicide bomber kills woman; mortar attack kills 2.
Buhriz: roadside bomb kills farmer.
Hawija: nurse is shot dead on her way to work.
Latifiya: 2 bodies.
Kut: 2 bodies.

Thursday 25 October: 50 dead
Baghdad: teacher shot three times in the eyes; 5 bodies.
Kufa: police shoot at car at checkpoint, kill child inside.
Baquba: 7 killed in separate attacks; 8 bodies.
Mosul: 2 killed in attacks; 2 bodies.
Khalis: mortars kill 2 women and 2 children.
Ijimi: mortars kill 4 children from the same family.
Falluja: 2 bodies.

Wednesday 24 October: 41 dead
Baghdad: roadside bombs kill 9, Jisr Diyala; 6 bodies.
Hibhib: mortars kill 3.
Zaghaniya: gunmen break into house, kill 3 (father and two sons).
Shalamga: landmine kills 7 2 electricity workers repairing electricity line and 5 policemen accompanying them near Basra.
Hilla: 3 people, including a child, killed during clashes between gunmen and police.
Baquba: civilian dies in shooting; 2 bodies.

Tuesday 23 October: 46 dead
Baghdad: gunmen kill 2 policemen, roadside bomb kills 1; 4 bodies.
Mikashifa: US forces kill 16 civilians, including 3 children, in air strikes near Samarra.
Baquba: roadside bomb blows up minibus carrying family to a wedding, kills 3 family members; gunmen kill 2; 1 body found.
Karbala: Iraqi police kill 2 young girls 3-year-old Mariam and her sister 18-month-old Ayat in a house raid, while looking for their father.
Basra: 5 killed in clashes with Mahdi army; a woman is killed when a mortar strikes her house.
Mosul: 4 people killed, including a 5-year-old child killed by random fire and a woman struck by a random bullet inside her house.
Iskandariya: random fire kills girl.

The number of civilians killed by US forces in October has now gone up to 83.

Monday 22 October: 87 dead
Baghdad: roadside bomb in Zafaraniya, Karrada kill 7; during clashes with insurgents, 7 National Accord members have been killed, Fadhil; the driver of Radio Free Europe journalist has been found murdered, while the journalist is missing; 5 bodies.
Mahaweel: roadside bomb kills 2.
Iskandariya: an engineer is killed by gunmen; a man dies when a mortar hits his house.
Mosul: roadside bomb kills policeman; 6 bodies.
Kirkuk: 3 bodies.
Baquba: 3 bodies.
Anbar: mass grave containing 25 bodies is found.
Near Falluja: 15 bodies.

Alan, get a grip. If I wanted the daily casualty count, I could go to Juan Cole's site. People are dying in Iraq - every day. That's not news to anyone here, and posting a list of all their names is no more an argument against the war than posting a list of the names of the 9/11 victims was an argument for it.

No more. Be interesting or be gone.

A.L.

J Thomas, im sure you took your post as being clever. And thats really rather sad. I understand you held Bush and Hussein at about the same level of trustworthyness, but that is more a testament to your own delusions than anything in real life. If a thug tries to sell me a bridge, I scoff at him. If he tells me he has a pistol in his pocket, i take him deadly seriously, liar or not. Grow up.

Armed Liberal, I would say on balance that the situation is worse than under Saddam.

The situation is clearly worse for Christians, except to the extent that almost all of them having fled, they may be doing better in their new homes.

That's doubtful, though, because the situation is worse for the 1 million plus Iraqi refugees in Syria, who are prostituting their daughters to stay alive.

On the other hand, at least those girls don't have to spend their lives wrapped up in abayas—the situation is also worse for Westernized women in Iraq whose liberties are sharply curtailed in much of the country.

The situation is probably worse for the million-plus internal refugees. The daily death toll from sectarian violence is comparable to or greater than the daily execution toll from Saddam's secret police. Electricity is finally very slightly better (probably temporary). On the other hand, the middle class having fled, access to health care is probably worse.

And, let's be honest, it's not as if "untidy" political freedom has taken root. Under Saddam, at least you knew whom to fear about speaking your mind. In the new Iraq, you can die no matter which faction you support.

I'm not the only one who thinks this way. Iraqi ex-PM,Kofi Annan,
LINK TO OPINION POLL.

Andrew -

Bummer for all those tawny foreign people, then I guess. We can't stop them from being brutalized, because that's too brutal. So we have to just let things run their course. We'll sign petitions, and write Very Firm Letters, and then go get some tea.

Because if you can't accept the brutality it takes to sometimes end brutality, we're all kinda stuck, aren't we?

A.L.

So you hate the war, Andrew? I'm not sure I believe you. Could you say it, like, 150 more times?

Because unless it means "Because I hate the war, I consider the people fighting the war to be dehumanized and that's why I believe TNR, and I consider this to be such a good argument that I'm not going to let anybody talk about anything else" it just kind of adds to the noise level.

No more. Be interesting or be gone.

You really are pulling that card out way too often lately. Sorry you are missing my point here.

You're implicit claim is that media coverage of Iraq is bad, skewed and incomplete, and that this bias has negatively impacted the public's perception of the war.

Is this correct or incorrect?

Avedis raised some interesting questions regarding this hypothesis above.

But, as I said above, we don't need TNR or Beauchamp to find this out.

So, in my view, you have an exceedingly weak position that you have not, and perhaps cannot, support. Nor have you really tried to in an analytical way.

Alan -

Yes it is, exactly correct. Make a case that it isn't. Yes I've seen the body counts (both the plausible and implausible ones - see the coverage of Lebanon to note how managed the media are by the other side), and yes, they're horrible.

But horrible isn't yes-or-no. there are degrees of horror. Compton, CA is horrible; it has a murder rate that isn't an order of magnitude from Baghdad's these days. Columbia is horrible - but I have friends who just vacationed there, and a friend with a business there.

So yes, when the media tries to make Iraq as horrible as Darfur I shake my head and wonder why.

Do you?

A.L.

A.L.;

You're the one making the claim, not I. It is only necessary for me/us to point out the shortcomings, not prove a negative.

I don't agree that "the media" tries to make Iraq anything. You are ascribing intent to the reportage. I am arguing that the spectrum and breadth of media outlets makes this highly unlikely, if not impossible.

In order to prove your hypothesis, you must demonstrate:

1) There is an inherent, MEDIA-WIDE bias to all reporting from Iraq.

2) That there is an intent by US reporters at least to portray the events in Iraq as disproportionately worse than they actually are.

3) That the US public does not support the war in Iraq primarily because it has been systematically kept unaware, or misinformed, about a large amount of data or information regarding the situation there that, if brought to light, would change their views from negative to positive.

I will quickly raise just a few brief points against each of these.

1) Modern media sources are as wide and as varied as they have ever been in the history of mankind. It is easier than ever to obtain information from traditional (TV, radio) or non-traditional (internet) sources. The list of news sources on TV alone is vast. On the internet, even more so. It would be impossible to imagine that there is a coordinated effort to bring about any single bias or perspective across the whole spectrum.

2) As for the "media monoculture": "US reporters" include a cadre of journalists working for news sources such as Fox News, Newsmax, the NY Post (or any of Murdoch's outlets), Washington Times. I find it hard to believe that anyone would be able to accuse this group as "anti-war" or part of a vast left-wing news conspiracy. If anything, I think there is better evidence to support the idea that the US media is biased in favor of Republicans and Neo-conservatives. Their failure to do anything more than feed the Administrations' propaganda to the public is part of the reason we're even in Iraq to begin with, when, if the full facts and information were made known then, I strongly believe that the public would have opposed the war from it's inception. In other words, yes, there is a media bias, but not in the direction you are asserting.

3) This is a hard point to prove or disprove. But I will raise one point. That is, what is "News". You'll note of course by comparison that a large number of bad deeds go unreported on a regular basis in the US media. Why? Because it is not "news"...i.e., it is not an unpredicted or unexpected occurrence. That helps partly to explain why seemingly small events become so widely reported. Now, for Iraq, we were told on more than one occasion by Administration spokesman and representatives that "Saddam had reconstituted his nuclear program" and had "drones capable of attacking Israel", that we'd be "greeted as liberators" and that the war will "basically pay for itself". That our "smart bombs" would minimize civilian casualties to acceptable levels.

So, the administration, in order to "sell" the war, painted an overly optimistic picture. I'm pretty sure you'll agree with this. However, my point is that the public was led to believe one thing, but then something very different occurred. No weapons were found, the war is costing US taxpayers greatly, many civilians have been killed, etc.

That is news. And that is why it is being told to us as it is; because the reality seems very clearly to disagree with the Administrations position, the position of those who brought this country to war. This is a noteworthy and major incongruence that, in my view, took too long to arrive and is still (contrary to your point) under-reported in the media.

Talk about moving the goalposts. First you challenge anti-war posters to claim that life was better under Saddam. I made an attempt to meet that challenge, including links suggesting that most of the Iraqi people feel just the same way. So now you change your argument to we're making a delicious omelet and it's still at the broken egg stage and we're going to fix it (this last point is entirely an article of faith with little empirical justification).

Am I to assume that your implication that at least right now it's better than under Saddam is withdrawn?

If by an order of magnitude you admit Baghdad has ten times as much violent death as the most dangerous slum in California, well, that's a pretty lame boast.

It's fascinating to see the turn of logic the "US out of Iraq" crowd has taken. (I won't call them the anti-war crowd until one convinces me their policies would actually end the war.)

It used to be: "We know X is true, therefore the war must be lost."

Now they say: "We know the war is lost, therefore X must be true."

Hmm.

Ben

"Am I to assume that your implication that at least right now it's better than under Saddam is withdrawn?"

One metric of Better is "no more checks going to Hamas".

It's better.

Ben

One metric of Better is "no more checks going to Hamas". It's better.
I believe, Ben, that in context the question was whether the situation is better for Iraqis, and for them it hardly matters whether checks are going to Hamas or not. (I suppose one reason we built the embassy and bases is to keep the successor governments of Iraq from sending checks to Hamas, which would be one of the few policies the Sunni and Shia are likely to agree on.)

The situation is also much better for Halliburton and Blackwater shareholders, if that's the way you want to take the argument.

(It will also be interesting to see if the proprietors are as concerned about pro-war drive-byes.)

As another illustration about why the Beauchamp story matters, there is yet another fake story about Iraq in the news. This time it is Al-Reuters that appears to be the source of it. Gateway Pundit describes the fake story and efforts to check it out.

Robin wrote:

As another illustration about why the Beauchamp story matters, there is yet another fake story about Iraq in the news.

Gateway Pundit describes the fake story and efforts to check it out.

I'll note that two out of your three short sentence include the editorialized word "fake".

But, contrary to your post, these stories have relation whatsoever to Beauchamp.

Baghdad, Iraq (AHN) - Iraqi police said Monday that they have found 20 headless bodies in north of Baghdad with one believed to be a tribal leader.

Meanwhile, Iraqi police denied earlier reports that 20 headless bodies had been found dumped near Baquba.

If anything, these developments only serve to cast serious doubt on the credibility of information sourced to the "iraqi Police". So which version of the story should we believe?

And should we conclude from these discrepancies that you're faking outrage to make a point?

Alan:
But, contrary to your post, these stories have relation whatsoever to Beauchamp.

Alan, you were the one who brought this unsubstantiated report into the thread. In comment #81, if you recall, where you were rejoicing about the "liberal bias" of "Reality", as if "liberals" love to gloat over headless bodies.

Do you understand that in war there is a thing called propaganda, which we are not allowed to engage in but which the enemy makes free use of? Do you understand why Al Qaeda would be very eager to propagate stories of decapitated tribesmen and tribal leaders, given their deteriorating support among key tribes in Saddam's Former Liberal Utopia?

The fact that some of these reports are true only means that Al Qaeda is brutal enough to enact these retributions when they are able to get away with it, and they can do so in the confidence that people like you will blame the US and not them. And heap praise on the fascist Saddam to boot.

I agree that this is only marginally related to Beauchamp, because I do not believe that Beauchamp intended to create any kind of propaganda. Beauchamp was a self-interested individual who wanted to make a name for himself by selling to a particular market, and you are ample proof that such a market exists.

Don't protest that "everybody knows what a bad person Saddam Hussein was." Germans were better off until we invaded their country to get Hitler. Georgia was nice and stable until Sherman walked across it. The arguments you use would justify the eternal existence of every kind of tyranny.

The fact that some of these reports are true only means that Al Qaeda is brutal enough to enact these retributions when they are able to get away with it, and they can do so in the confidence that people like you will blame the US and not them. And heap praise on the fascist Saddam to boot.

Glen, please, do you really expect me to reply to your comments if you're going to level these kinds of ridiculous charges against me?

Perhaps we all need to think a bit more about the relationship between the government's interest in propaganda to promote its causes and the publics interest in knowing the truth in a free society?

But I will have to say that when "The Government" is "My Government", I don't appreciate being lied to and told it's not lies, but rather Important Propaganda in the Service of National Security.

Alan:
Glen, please, do you really expect me to reply to your comments if you're going to level these kinds of ridiculous charges against me?

You and others are continually pushing the "everything was better under Saddam" theme. At least take responsibility for it.

Glen, where did I argue that "everything was better under Saddam"? I don't recall doing so, but am certainly willing to be corrected.

Ben at #95
One metric of Better is "no more checks going to Hamas".
It's better.

I do not believe that arguing that making life better for those living in Israel is beneficial to the people of Iraq, or for most anyone in the middle east. In fact, running with this argument and publicizing it would probably make many things worse.

Just sayin.

Glen at #101
You and others are continually pushing the "everything was better under Saddam" theme. At least take responsibility for it
The statement that "many things are worse off now, as is the quality of life" does not mean everything was better under Saddam. What you have done is take a criticism of our occupation, and our leadership, and made it into a support of Saddam. This has been done by those arguing the merits of the Iraq War all along, with the paraphrased "Would you rather have Saddam in charge?'"

This is argued so that you can diminish someone, not so you can build up your own arguments.

and from earlier

Do you understand that in war there is a thing called propaganda, which we are not allowed to engage in but which the enemy makes free use of?
We also make free use in it - you can start with the close in photos of Saddam's statue and go to the recent al-Sadr broadcasts in Iraq.

Alan -

You're right. The Saddam praise should have been addressed to someone other than you.

My point about bringing up the headless bodies remains.

Dave:
We also make free use in it - you can start with the close in photos of Saddam's statue and go to the recent al-Sadr broadcasts in Iraq.

No. We made free use of propaganda in WWII; we have no such freedom today. We make propaganda like Puritans having sex. Nor should we go back to what we did in WWII. Nevertheless we should recognize Al Qaeda propaganda for what it is, shouldn't we?

We made free use of propaganda in WWII; we have no such freedom today.

Tell us about the restrictions on propaganda today.

All I've seen is that we try not to be obvious about it. Like, when the name of a US military unit devoted to creating propaganda gets published, we change the name.

What other restrictions are in force?

I was going to ask how I became a member of the neo-left, when actually what I am a member of is the anti-Bush and anti-GOP (at least in it the current state, but then I saw this:

It's hard to prove that one -- maybe the American correspondent(s) who report that the mosques are still intact were misdirected by their guides; still, I will bet you a pint of Guinness or a really good sandwich there are more examples of disinformation than just the Beauchamp one.

Which, of course, leads to the Malkin video of a mosque with a roof missing and claims that no mosques were destroyed amidst claims there is no such Jamil Hussein.

At this point, of course, I recognize that an attempt at arguing here is absolutely useless.

PS- Jamil Hussein exists. Even Malkin admits to that. Now.

The only refutation I see of my claim that, Yes, on balance Iraq was better off under Saddam is that Saddam was a very bad man, but we are sweet and pure and all our motives are noble (except, I guess, the cheap oil and the subservient puppet government, but since those didn't work out, they don't count against us).

This is all crap. If the Iraqi death rate is higher with no end in sight, it's higher with no end in sight, and all our sanctimonious and self-serving self-delusion doesn't change that one iota.

Some interesting discussions on the justification for the Iraq war in this thread.

The anti-war lefties seem to believe that the high toll on Iraqi civilians means the war is not justified. But this is a naive view; a course of action must be weighted against the likely alternatives, not some miraculous outcome where no one dies.

So what alternate outcome for Iraq did lefties envisage? Should Saddam have remained in place, brutalizing his citizens, indefinitely? Should the sanctions, which were not only corrupted but resulted in poverty and death in Iraq, remain in place indefinitely? If Saddam died, what would be likely to happen? A smooth transition to the control of his equally brutal sons, or an uprising that would result in the same chaos that we see know, except that the US would not immediately be there to combat the genocidal militias and put a democratic government in Saddam's place? Would any of those be preferable?

Considering the most likely alternate outcomes, and on the balance of probabilities, I believe that the current war is the most humanitarian outcome that could reasonably be expected. The left carps and whines about the war, but never puts forward a view of what the alternative would be, and I think there is a very good reason for that.

#107 So you believe Iraq was better off under Saddam? What makes you think Saddam's regime would have lasted forever? What makes you think the Saddam's regime wouldn't collapse, resulting in a situation similar to the current situation in Iraq, but without US intervention?

#107 More: Do you really believe Iraq would be better off with Saddam?

Let's say hypothetically we hadn't invaded Iraq, and today Saddam's regime was on the verge of collapse, and AQI and affiliates were trying to set up an Islamic state of Iraq, and Iraq was trying to cause tension by equipping Shiite militias and so on. In other words, an identical situation to what we have now. And let's say we could supply a little economic help to Saddam and he would stay in place. If you really believe Iraq was best of with Saddam, then will you tell me, with a straight face, that you would support helping Saddam in this hypothetical situation because he was the best option?

Err, make that Iran causing tension.

Considering the most likely alternate outcomes, and on the balance of probabilities, I believe that the current war is the most humanitarian outcome that could reasonably be expected. The left carps and whines about the war, but never puts forward a view of what the alternative would be, and I think there is a very good reason for that.

That is because we deal in Reality, and there is no reason to go about answering such silly questions as "well, what might have happened?" There is a difference between learning from history and using a situation to diminish someone else by asking them these questions - as I brought up above.

And that's what your questions, all of them, were. Since you want to do that... What would life have been for Iraqi's if Reagan didn't prop up Saddam? What if Bush had decided to use a greater occupying force? What if Bush had used the Army's original occupation plan? What if Cheney had said repeated his misgivings from back in 1994?

Ah well. Imagine that.

Considering the most likely alternate outcomes, and on the balance of probabilities, I believe that the current war is the most humanitarian outcome that could reasonably be expected.
Riiiiight. This is the best that could have happened.

And let's say we could supply a little economic help to Saddam and he would stay in place. If you really believe Iraq was best of with Saddam
Do you think the people of Kazakhstan have enjoyed the economic help we've given their dictator?

Saddam used chemical weapons over 200 times, he killed tens of thousands of civilians with them. After the Coalition overran Iraq they found nine facilities that could be used to produce chemical weapons (apparently any place that can make insecticides has most of what is needed). The Coalition also found several thousand tons of stockpiled pre-cursor chemicals. So it would have taken Saddam what, 3 days... a week maybe to have some WMDs manufactured.

To say that Saddam had no WMDs, is like walking into a pizzeria, seeing ovens, frozen dough, and blocks of cheese but no cooked pizzas and then saying "what pizza, there are no pizzas here". It is intellectually dishonest. Saddam controlled the industrial infrastructure to make WMDs at will (and he did for years). The invasion of Iraq took away that industrial infrastructure.

If the invasion hadn't happened, then we would have been faced with a situation where Saddam retained that capability. At some point he might have made an arrangement with terrorists. It doesn't matter if he did or didn't have contact with terrorists before. The U.S. didn't have contact with the people who ran gulag/death camps in siberia but we aided them when we wanted to hurt Nazi germany, so the possibility would have always existed.

Under those unavoidable circumstances how could any other course of action by a President not have been negligent?

lebeaux:

The chemicals and precursers were stored in ammunition depots, not the normal location for commercial use products.

What I'm finding interesting in this thread is the apparently strong belief on the Left until the Bush Administration, no one had ever observed, thought, said, much less written anything that would have led anyone to believe;

  • That Saddam Hussein possessed and maintained stockpiles of WMD.
  • That Saddam Hussein sponsored, sheltered and provided training to terrorists.
  • That Saddam Hussein's terrorist connections included Al Qaeda and a collaborational relationship was possible.
  • That Saddam Hussein had a record of lying to and deceiving UN Weapons inspectors.
  • That Saddam Hussein's hatred of the United States, taken together with the above, made him a significant threat to America's national security.

Apparently, all these obviously ridiculous notions sprang, fully formed, like Athena out of the top of Zeus' head, from the diabolically creative imaginations of the Bush Administration's voluminous cast of nefarious characters, who then proceeded to sell this hitherto unheard of idea that Saddam posed a threat to the United States to a gullible American public through a pliant American Press.

So we're now treated to the thoroughly absurd spectacle of journalists publicly castigating themselves, slapping their foreheads and shedding hot tears, for "not doing our jobs" and "agressively questioning" the Administration's supposedly clearly false (in retrospect of course) assertions about Iraq, Saddam, WMD, terrorism and everything else under the sun while they're at it.

But the fact is; even if given a thousand years, not a single one of the mendacious hacks wailing and gnashing their teeth about being "misled" by the White House on WMD and Iraq would ever have thought to question the Bush Administration's assertions about Saddam Hussein's ties to terrorists, his WMD programs and his willingness to attack American interests.

And that will be because most of them spent the 1990s writing and reporting things like this;

    HEADLINES

  • US Government - Bin Laden and Iraq Agreed to Cooperate on Weapons Development - New York Times (November 1998)
  • Iraq Has Network of Outside Help on Arms, Experts Say - New York Times (November 1998)
  • U.S. Says Iraq Aided Production of Chemical Weapons in Sudan - New York Times (August 1998)
  • Iraq Suspected of Secret Germ War Effort - New York Times (February 2000)
  • Signs of Iraqi Arms Buildup Bedevil U.S. Administration - New York Times (February 2000)
  • Flight Tests Show Iraq Has Resumed a Missile Program - New York Times (July 2000)
  • Iraqi Work Toward A-Bomb Reported - Washington Post (September 1998)

Note the dates. President Bush was not elected until November 2nd 2000 (not counting the recount episode) and he did not take the oath of office until January 21st 2001. So the Administration officials quoted in these pieces (both on or off the record) all happen to be officials of the Administration of one William Jefferson Clinton. All the American intelligence officials cited happened to be serving the Administration of William Jefferson Clinton.

Anyone with an ounce of honesty must therefore wonder; how come it is only the Bush Administration that is accused of "misleading" the American people on the threat posed by Saddam Hussein to the United States when we have the Clinton Administration's CENTCOM Commander, General Anthony Zinni saying that "Iraq remains the most significant near-term threat to U.S. interests in the Arabian Gulf region ... Iraq probably is continuing clandestine nuclear research [and] retains stocks of chemical and biological munitions ... Even if Baghdad reversed its course and surrendered all WMD capabilities, it retains scientific, technical, and industrial infrastructure to replace agents and munitions within weeks or months." before a Congressional Committee in 2000? How come it is only the Bush Administration that is being accused of "misleading" the American people when it was the Clinton Administration's Justice Department that filed the indictment against Osama bin Laden that stated "... al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq ..." in 1998?

The answer is simple. By meticulously embargoing any mention of anything ever said about, Iraq, Saddam Hussein, terrorism and WMDs prior to the start of the War in Iraq, and then purposefully ignoring anything afterward that would undermine the new narrative that Saddam Hussein was never considered a threat by anyone before President Bush came to office and "manipulated intelligence" to make it so. This would include any new articles, news programs, speeches and other public statements and documents.

Here's an example.

    ... it is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons. - Bill Clinton [Larry King Live (CNN) - July 22, 2003]

The similarities between what was asserted by the Clinton and Bush administrations are so striking as to make it impossible to successfully accuse the Bush Administration of lying without implicating the Clinton Administration ... and there is no subset of the American people more loyal (89%) to the Clinton Administration than members of the American Press.

The undisputed master at this has proven to be the New York Times; the newspaper that sets the agenda for the entire Fourth Estate, yet unfortunately a newspaper that lacks a single person of principle, honesty and decency in its entire editorial board and most of its reporting staff. Remember; this is the newspaper that advocated the abolition of the Senate filibuster throughout the 1990s only to abruptly change its mind just in time to prevent the confirmation of a Republican President's Supreme Court nomination. This is the newspaper that sought to open up the adoption records of John Roberts' children in order to find something it can use to hurt his family and nomination.

Couple the above with a constant barrage of misleading headlines and ledes; loaded phrasing i.e. "Domestic Spying Program"; the strategic positioning of exculpatory information to where it would be least likely noticed i.e. the 14th paragraph; the placing of the most scurrilous of charges on the front page and the subsequent corrections/recantations on page A19; repeatedly running damaging stories on the front page for weeks and then running the exonerating story once; and most importantly, carefully calculated omissions and it is a wonder this Administration is still standing.

Either way, today the New York Times and her fellow Left-wing cohorts have capitalized on the average American's ignorance of Intelligence matters and successfully pushed forward the story that;

  • Prior to the Bush Administration, no Intelligence report ever contained any caveats.
  • Prior to the Bush Administration, the Intelligence Agencies of the United States always achieved complete unanimity.
  • Prior to the Bush Administration, majority and minority reports were given equal weight in Intelligence matters.
  • Prior to the Bush Administration, America awaited a 100% certainty before acting in the interests of national security.
  • No intelligence obtained prior to January 21 2001 was used in making the case for the War against Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

When the story of the Bush Administration is written, this should be considered one of its greatest failures. That this bastardized version of reality was substituted for what they knew to be true and they did nothing to put a stop to it. The Bush Administration should never have conceded, through its silence, the WMD argument against Saddam Hussein.

This record of silence, and the Press' embargo of pre-2003 Iraq news is precisely what convinced Anthony Zinni that it was safe to lie straight through his teeth; "What bothered me ... [was that] I was hearing a depiction of the intelligence that didn't fit what I knew. There was no solid proof, that I ever saw, that Saddam had WMD."; conveniently forgetting what he said before Congress in 2000. Zinni knew that none of the major news organs (barring perhaps FOX) would bring up the fact that he said something entirely different when a Democrat was in the White House.

It's high time this BushLied idiocy is faced and destroyed once and for all. It is a fact that Democrat Senators and Representatives sitting on the Congressional Intelligence committees since before Bush's inauguration in 2001 reached the same conclusion about Saddam, WMDs and terrorism as the Bush Administration from the very same intelligence long before and after Bush was inaugurated. It is not difficult to find articles from a myriad of newspapers from all around the nation and the world that were published throughout the 1990s telling us about Saddam, his WMDs and his worrying relationship with terrorists and terrorism. And let us not also forget the Robb-Silberman Report, Duelfer Report, Butler (UK) Report, Iraq's 1990's UN Weapon's Declarations, etc.

In other words, this narrative (Dave, JThomas, avedis, AJL, etc.) that the Bush Administration made it up entirely out of whole cloth that Saddam Hussein had WMDs without any supporting evidence from the Intelligence services past or present, and somehow got the New York Times, a full-fledged party organ of the Democratic Party (among others), to go along with him in lying to the American people is patently ridiculous.



"Just to be clear, I was referring to Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction, as described by the Administration in the leadup to the invasion. Are you really claiming that they were real, or that it can't be proven that they weren't?"

You can press the google button and find out what Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Madeline Albright, et al had to say about Iraq's WMD, and when they said it.

Go ahead, you know you want to.

So what alternate outcome for Iraq did lefties envisage?

I'm not a lefty, but here's the plan I proposed before the Gulf war and supported until it was too late: Buy iraq from Saddam.

I proposed that we offer him $5 billion and amnesty in exile for himself and his family and whatever top leaders he wanted to take with him. In return he hands over his government apparatus to us undamaged.

If he accepted, we'd get his police and secret police working for us, we'd get whatever WMD capability he had, we'd get temporary control of the oil, etc.

We would tell the iraqi people that they were now a territory of the USA, and they would quickly be expected to run a democratic government, and within 3 years they would have a plebiscite -- they could vote to be independent, or to keep their territory status, or to apply for statehood as a US state. And they would repeatedly have that vote as long as they stayed a US territory.

So then we start reforming the secret police from the top down, and deal with corruption in the police and army, and so on. We keep pointing out there's no excuse for violence, anybody who wants complete independence should persuade iraqi voters.

For less than we spent on the original invasion we could do a full reconstruction. Our original estimates were that it would cost only $20 billion to modernise their oil infrastructure. That left $60 billion to reconstruct everything else, and the oil income would help too.

I believe this plan would have worked considerably better than what we wound up doing, and if by some chance it started to fail we could switch to the sort of occupation we're doing and we'd still be better off than we are now -- we would have secured the arms depots while things were still peaceful.

I've seen reports that before we attacked, Saddam was willing to accept exile and $1 billion. But Bush refused.

Stupid two-valued logic.

"We had to either do exactly what we did do, or else do nothing. Those were the only possible choices and I claim what we did was better than the only alternative."

Try to stay away from that kind of thinking. It makes you stupid.

By meticulously embargoing any mention of anything ever said about, Iraq, Saddam Hussein, terrorism and WMDs prior to the start of the War in Iraq, and then purposefully ignoring anything afterward that would undermine the new narrative that Saddam Hussein was never considered a threat by anyone before President Bush came to office and "manipulated intelligence" to make it so.

But what you're trying to cover up is that Bush lied about it. That dog won't hunt. Bush lied us into war and an occupation that we're losing.

What's also getting covered up is that Bill Clinton's raids destroyed the remnants of the WMD program. There ought to be an asterisk on all those quotes from the 1990s. Oh, and that we had UN Inspectors in-country in 2003 whose work was verifying that the WMD program had indeed ended, and we chased them away, I suppose out of fear that they would keep us from our wargasm.

It is indeed very tiresome hypos in 108ff. Where is the swell to invade Zimbabwe? Burma? Turkemistan? (Oh, wait, the Stans are mostly our allies!) The facts are plain: overall, the quality of life for Iraqis is as bad now as it was under Saddam, considering the decimation of the middle class, the secular community, the Christians, etc. Let's compare that to the situation of 2003. We screwed up but without us it would have been even worse?! Hummmph, I thought we were into moral clarity.

As General Patton said, a bitchin' army is a fightin' army. An army with high morale is full of griping soldiers. An army with low morale is quiet.

"PS- Jamil Hussein exists. Even Malkin admits to that. Now."

Whew. Well, I'm glad that finally got cleared up. There's actually someone named 'Jamil Hussein' and he exists, in Iraq. Took an extraordinarily long time for the AP to 'prove' that 'fact', though; don't you think? I mean, the AP is a vaunted news agency charged with the duty to inform the public, not just some people spitballing ideas on a blog's comment section. Most normal people found it a bit troubling that it took so long to provide proof for such a simple thing. It's almost like they didn't confirm their source with the necessary due diligence required by something so important as the 'Fourth Estate'.

Now, the question remains : Were the multiple stories quoted from 'Jamil' true or not? Mostly not.

Of course, I've always contended that once they found someone named 'Jamil Hussein' the narrative would end with "See? Jamil exists. Therefore, that proves all his stories are true. Move along now, nothing new to see here." And that's where we are now.

According to Andrew J. Lazarus, "Bill Clinton's raids destroyed the remnants of the WMD program."

Yeah right. Interesting considering that not even Bill Clinton himself actually thought so. Note the date in the quote below.

... it is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons.    - Bill Clinton [Larry King Live (CNN) - July 22, 2003]

"What's also getting covered up is that Bill Clinton's raids destroyed the remnants of the WMD program."

ROFL! Of course. Because its convenient to your argument. What were the inspectors doin in 2003 since Clinton managed to surgically rid Iraq of every speck of WMD? What a waste of resources!

This may be the most ridiculous thing i've ever heard in this debate. The same intelligence agencies that served Bush so poorly were almost supernaturally omniscent under Clinton. You have got to be kidding me.

Kudos to you Mr. Knight.

You articulated nearly exactly why I detest the current leftist machine in its entirety...Why I left the Left.

They collectively depend on their power to obfuscate reality and integrity out of the national discourse in service of feeding the continuum of willful ignorance suffered by those who haven't yet discovered the depths to which their 'trusted' party leadership-wreck will plumb.

I'm done with the whole friggin' lot of them.

Zell Miller was apparently the last of the American Democrats.

But what you're trying to cover up is that Bush lied about it.

Lied about what? What are you referring to as "it?" Was he President when the New York Times and all her sister papers cited Administration and Intelligence officials reporting on Saddam Hussein's weapons programs and dangerous relationships with terrorists ... including Bin Laden in the 1990s?

Did he use the Jedi mind trick on Anthony Zinni, Madeline Albright, Al Gore, Jay Rockefeller, Janet Reno, John Kerry and Bill Clinton? Because all of these folks were saying the exact same thing prior to his Presidency, in the run-up to the war and long after the war began.

And note; these are people who receive the exact same intelligence the President does. The Chairmen of the Intelligence Committees as well as the Leadership of the House & Senate are designated by law as having the same security access and clearance as the President of the United States. The receive the same raw intelligence as and when they demand it from the Intelligence agencies ... and they ALL concluded Saddam had WMD.

So, unless every single Democrat in the House and Senate, including members of the Clinton Administration (ever wonder what exactly it was Sandy Berger stuffed down his pants?) as well as the NYT, the Washington Post, CBS, CNN, etc. also lied, then Bush did not lie.

You can't have it both ways.

Bill Clinton's raids destroyed the remnants of the WMD program.

Ha ha ha ha.

And this other time, Bill Clinton shot a Tomahawk at Osama bin Laden and missed his head by like an inch, and it hit a factory in the Sudan that was full of some kind of really bad stuff.

***

As we near the Thanksgiving season, I once again give thanks that Bill Clinton can no longer pick up a phone and order a Tomahawk missile strike. For the moment, at least.

Interesting considering that not even Bill Clinton himself actually thought so. Note the date in the quote below.

... it is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons. - Bill Clinton [Larry King Live (CNN) - July 22, 2003]

Umm. Is he perhaps saying that after he had a bunch of stuff blown up, he couldn't say exactly what it was that had gotten blown up?

So, how much of that uanncounted-for minor stuff has been accounted for now?

If it's still unaccounted for, that's really bad, right? Here are all these biological and chemical weapons and we didn't know whether we'd blown them up because we just blew them up without counting them first, and they might still be there. Woooooooo.

Are you scared yet? Presumably Saddam knew where the stuff was if it hadn't gotten blown up, and now nobody organised knows where they are. They could be just waiting somewhere for terrorists to find them and use them. [start up the twilight zone music]

Well, but we don't worry much that argentina has chemical and biological weapons. We don't worry about israel or south africa or taiwan. Saddam was a bad guy but maybe it wasn't worth a trillion dollars and tying down our army for 4+ years because we weren't absolutely sure how much of his chemical weapons we'd blown up.

And note; these are people who receive the exact same intelligence the President does. The Chairmen of the Intelligence Committees as well as the Leadership of the House & Senate are designated by law as having the same security access and clearance as the President of the United States.

Note that they did not actually have the same information. You can say that by law they were supposed to, but they didn't. If they had, they would have known that Bush was lying.

"Note that they did not actually have the same information. You can say that by law they were supposed to, but they didn't. If they had, they would have known that Bush was lying."

Could you please tell us exactly what the lie was?

Also which piece of intelligence was intentionally withheld from the Intelligence commitees. Both the chairman and vice-chairman, btw, have subeona power over every single piece of data, analysis, paper, harddrive, analyst, etc in the entire government. Anything they didnt 'have' was because they didnt bother to get.

By your little argument, the president didnt' 'have' all the intelligence either. Obviously! That would take a big desk! At the end of the day they were looking at the same reports from the same people based on the same data, and if either party wanted more they had all the power in the world to get it.

Lying indeed.

Note that they did not actually have the same information. You can say that by law they were supposed to, but they didn't. If they had, they would have known that Bush was lying.

Lying about what? I see you're really trying hard to avoid specifying precisely what it is you're accusing Bush of lying about. And secondly, your proof for this - that Democratic Senators and Representatives on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees received false information from the CIA, NSA, NRO, DIA, etc on the orders of the President - is what?

Because if you, alone among everyone on this Earth, have proof of this, then you have successfully found a bona fide impeachable offense that will successfully turn Bush out of office. Why don't you get on the phone to John Conyers and start the ball rolling?

I suppose Bush also personally gave the DGSE (French), MI6 (British), Mossad (Israeli), etc. all the information they used to also conclude that Saddam Hussein had WMDs, right?

Man, you're ridiculous.

Oh ... and by the way, Rockefeller, Bayh, Feinstein, etc. were all members of the Intelligence Committee before Bush became President. All of them cited information dating back to the Clinton Administration as part of the evidence they used to conclude that Saddam Hussein still maintained a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction and a continuing weapons program.

Like I said, you can't have it both ways. If Bush lied, then everyone from Clinton down to the editorial board of the New York Times lied to.

Martin Knight,

A couple of partial quotes:

"We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud".

C. Rice

"And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong"

Dick Cheney

There's a lot more, but, the inspectors were on the ground, reporting negative results.

It has already been reported about how, whatever WMD's were present, "the facts were being fixed around the policy".

So yes, whatever degraded capacities of WMD's were thought to exist, nothing that justified the invasion. Especially after the UN route had been chosen, and El Baradei was saying "wait, nothing's here", after scouring the country. And of course, he was right.

So stop trying to pretend that WMD's had anything at all to do with why we invaded Iraq. Convenient as an excuse, only.

Mr. Knight, when Bill Clinton left office, we did not have inspectors in Iraq verifying that the WMD program had been effectively destroyed. I'm sure it's an accident that you stopped your quote from Pres. Clinton right before he said
"So I thought it was prudent for the president to go to the U.N. and for the U.N. to say, 'You got to let these inspectors in, and this time if you don't cooperate the penalty could be regime change, not just continued sanctions.'"
I thought Bush was masterful in getting Saddam to readmit inspectors. Only later did I realize that, like Hitler weeping when the Munich Conference denied him the opportunity to make war over the Sudetenland, Bush didn't want to verify the end of Saddam's WMD program, he wanted a war.

Sorry AJL, rewriting history is not something I'm much of a fan of. First you argue that these weapons were destroyed by the Clinton Administration's bombing raids, implying that this was well-known. I point out that Clinton himself did not know that. So you cite Clinton saying he approved of Bush going to the UN for a resolution as what ... proof that Bush is Hitler?

PS: The date of that CNN interview is important for contextual purposes - July 2003 - war began in May, didn't it?

Apparently the Left's new method (developed specifically for Saddam Hussein's purposes) is for the target nation to gesture toward the desert and say "Find them if you can."

Of course, my understanding of a proper weapons inspection process is to have the target country actively co-operate by submitting a listing of its weapons depots, complete and consistent documentation for when and where it destroyed its weapons - if indeed it has destroyed them - for forensic confirmation, and provide free unfettered access to its scientists.

Let me quote Hans Blix from his February 14 2003 report to the United Nations Security Council.

Another matter and one of great significance, is that many proscribed weapons and items are not accounted for. To take an example, a document which Iraq provided suggested to us that some 1,000 tons of chemical agent were unaccounted for. One must not jump to the conclusion that they exist; however, that possibility is also not excluded. If they exist, they should be presented for destruction. If they do not exist, credible evidence to that effect should be presented.

On the matter of private interviews with persons of interest in Saddam Hussein's weapons development programs;

A number of persons have declined to be interviewed unless they were allowed to have an official present or were allowed to tape the interview. Three persons that had previously refused interviews on UNMOVIC terms subsequently accepted such interviews just prior to our talks in Baghdad on the 8th and 9th of February. These interviews proved informative. No further interviews have since been accepted on our terms. I hope this will change. We feel that interviews conducted with any third party present and without tape recording would provide the greatest credibility.

Blix's conclusion?

Today, three months after the adoption of Resolution 1441, the period of disarmament through inspection could still be short, if immediate active and unconditional cooperation with UNMOVIC and the IAEA were to be forthcoming.

I understand the myth of a fully co-operative, helpful and trustworthy Saddam Hussein is a keystone for the Left in arguing that he deserved to be allowed to continue ruling Iraq. But it is what it is, a myth. Read through Blix's diplomatese and quite frankly the man played games with the inspections process. He apparently didn't read 1441.

hypo ... the quote game is not helpful to your side. Which is precisely why we don't see all these quotes ever referenced by the Left's contingent in the Press Corps.

"Someday, he will surely rebuild his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and I‘m certain he will use them as he has before." - Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
"Saddam Hussein certainly has chemical and biological weapons. There's no question about that. There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons." - Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
"Serving on the Intelligence Committee and seeing day after day and week after week the briefings on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and his plans on using those weapons; he can not be allowed to have those weapons. It‘s just that simple!" - John Edwards (D-NC)

Note, these are all people who have served (Rockefeller is the long time co-Chairman) on the Intelligence Committees of Congress. They all served before and during the Bush Administration.

I repeat; y'all cannot have it both ways. If Bush lied, then they ALL lied.

It's silly to keep rehashing this stuff with people who're trying to exxonerate Bush at this late date.

I won't bother, except to point out that however you try to justify it, still you have to admit that Bush lied, and fairly consistently.

Want to argue for any shred of honesty in his claims about having a social security plan?

"won't bother, except to point out that however you try to justify it, still you have to admit that Bush lied, and fairly consistently."

WHAT WAS THE LIE?!!!!!!!!?!????!?!??!?!?!?!?!

That's a very cute attempt to change the subject, J Thomas. But you ain't getting away that easy.

Answer the question; lied about what?

Mr Knight, you continue to pursue a tactic of extremely selective quotation, and I also notice you don't bother to supply links and dates. From Google, it's clear you are just abridging a pre-packaged attempt at refutation from this source, so why not link and be done with it?

The full report of Hans Blix that you selectively quoted from is here, and if you had read it in its entirety, you would have found material such as
Mr. President, what are we to make of these activities? One can hardly avoid the impression that after a period of somewhat reluctant cooperation, there has been an acceleration of initiatives from the Iraqi side since the end of January. This is welcome. But the value of these measures must be soberly judged by how many question marks they actually succeed in straightening out. This is not yet clear.

As I wrote, I thought it was masterful of Bush (whom I misunderstood) to force Saddam to re-admit the UN inspectors. They were making progress. They were also (and perhaps this is what angered Bush more than anything) disproving on the ground the bullshit we had purchased from "Curveball", Chalabi, and other con artists. We were supplying the UN with WMD sites down to the level of GPS coordinates and they didn't pan out. Remember Rummy saying "We know where they [WMD] are"? You can't supply quotes from before this debunking as some sort of silver bullet.

It also became very clear that we didn't want a disarmed Iraq. We wanted to invade Iraq, and that's why our war sent the inspectors packing.

M. Knight,

At least my quoting has to do with my subject matter. Hans Blix was in the country, as were his inspectors. It doesn't matter much about Pelosi's quotes at various times, same with Rockefeller.

As has been pointed out by AJL, you've discredited yourself, with your selective use of quotations. You aren't even trying to have an honest conversation here.

MAK, you seem to be kind of selectively knowledgeable about the topic. If you haven't noticed Bush's lies by now I'm pretty sure you aren't going to after they get pointed out to you. It's a mug's game. Go find some other mug to play with.

You are refusing to acknowledge that Bush has systematically lied, even now. So you aren't worth arguing with.

This is quite comical. Bush's lies are apparently so many and blatant that Thomas refuses to so much as produce one.

Come one JT, just one little lie. Money where your mouth is. This refusal to state what you are so adamant is obvious is quite lame. There are so many fairies in the garden, i just refuse to point one out to you!

Mark, I've gotten trolled enough about this sort of thing in the last few years. I've done my share.

I'm going over the old geneva conventions chestnut again today. Two in one day is too much.

Bush couldn't even stop telling lies after the war.
But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them.
That was the trailers for weather balloons.

I know, I know. They're not lies, just intelligence that was completely wrong. Like all those false statements in the 2003 State of the Union. Not just the yellow-cake, but the nerve gas (none), the rebuilding at nuclear sites (none), all that.

Oh, except that experts had already dismissed the idea those trailers were bioweapons-related before Bush made his speech. But unless he saw that report, then it wasn't a lie, right? And by accident, of course, it didn't get to Bush, just like all the caveats about the rest of the WMD.

Why, you would almost think Bush wanted a war. Maybe he was reading Jonah Goldberg!?

I don't get it, AJL. So Nancy Pelosi did not say what she said? Or is it because you don't like where I supposedly got the quote from that somehow makes what she said not what she said? Same with Rockefeller, John Edwards, John Kerry, Joe Biden, etc. and practically every Democrat who asserted that Saddam Hussein had WMD but now never ever have said it before. Are you saying my quotes are inaccurate or something? If not then I don't see how where I got my quotes have anything to do with your argument.

And of course, you saying I did not read Hans Blix's report, when I provided a link and cited his very last statement summing up his report is a little bit rich. Almost as pathetic as J Thomas's "Bush lied but I cannot tell you what he lied about so you have to agree that he lied ..." but not nearly as pathetic as the "poor innocent Saddam was fully cooperating" rewrite of history you have adopted.

By the way, hypocrite, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. My quotes are just as valid as yours.

Endpoint; Democrats (including Intelligence Committee members with the same security access level as the President, and President Clinton) believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Most foreign intelligence services (including the DGSE of France) believed the same thing. Newspapers reported up until 2000 (after Desert Fox) that Saddam had WMDs and had established relationships with terrorists citing Clinton Administration officials - including the Democratic Party's very own New York Times.

That's something none of you can deny.

So if Bush lied, then they all lied.

OK, Martin, Mark, and anyone else who wants to take a crack at this.

Do you think Bush is lying when he said:

“I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority.”

“I don’t know where he is. I’ll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.”

“Deep in my heart I know the man’s on the run, if he’s alive at all…I just don’t spend much time on it, really, to be honest with you.”

??

Martin, Congress does not run its own intelligence service. They work from the same data as the Executive Branch, and when the Executive Branch is busy suppressing the data they don't like, Congress's view is likewise distorted.

What distinguishes Congress from Bush is that Bush was getting reports which, had he bothered to read them, would have contraindicated the confident assertions (all of which turned out to be false) that he was making—and which many Democrats were echoing. What distinguishes early 2003 from the period right at the beginning of the war is that the WMD inspections teams had returned to Iraq and they were coming up empty. (I believe that while I intended to use the same Blix report as you, I in fact quoted a later one: not surprising given your unwillingness to link sources). George Bush didn't see any reason to delay his war on the account. The Democrats? Most too chicken to protest, which isn't the same thing.

I don't get it, AJL. So Nancy Pelosi did not say what she said? Or is it because you don't like where I supposedly got the quote from that somehow makes what she said not what she said?

I keep trying not to get trolled on this topic, but I'm appalled that this line is still getting cast. Even if a bunch of politicians from another party went along with the lies, that wouldn't make it true.

But the logic here is so twisted. imagine a con man comes into town and hires some people to write false reports. He tells them generally what he wants and lets them use their creativity some too. Then he shows the fakes to people and runs a successful con. And afterward he uses the defense: "Hey, it wasn't just me telling these lies. All these victims believed it too. Hey, I got taken in by the people I paid to lie to me just as much as all those people who did what I wanted them to. It wasn't my fault. I got conned, nobody can blame me for that."

It's so silly.

Bush lied. Everybody knows now, unless they're trying very hard not to know. Get over it.

Both the chairman and vice-chairman, btw, have subeona power over every single piece of data, analysis, paper, harddrive, analyst, etc in the entire government
No, no they do not have anything this extensive. And even then, they can try to subpoena it, but it does not make it that they'll get it. Especially if people like Feith are around to channel and contain information they don't like - you can't subpoena it if you don't know it's there.

So if Bush lied, then they all lied.
Actually, they could say they were misled, or misinformed. Lying assuming knowledge of the truth, which you can't say they had - however, the president and others in the administration were given information that directly conflicted with their information.

Honestly, if you want to try and say that Bush is not responsible for the lies of his employees, then that's something else. If someone in his administration lies, is it ok to say Bush lied? Or would you rather that the term be "the Bush administration lied"?
Are you really being that trivial? Are you that desperate to change the narrative?

Here's a couple where he was well, let's call it a convent lie

16 words? Aluminium tubes? Don't worry, just keep pretending it didn't happen.

C'mon guys, you hounded J Thomas until he replied and you won't even take a stab at my much simpler question to you in #145.

Remember...treat others as you would have them treat you.

Got you stumped, mebbe?

Alan - Is Bush a politician?

Were his lips moving as he spoke?

Q.E.D.

Seriously, I think the next epiphany people will have from using the Internet is that people say lots of things which often contradict each other - and yet we manage to construct consistent meaning out of all that stuff.

A.L.

Wow, so many distortions this evening, ill have to try to hit them in rapid fire succession:

143: "I know, I know. They're not lies, just intelligence that was completely wrong" You dont understand what a lie is, which is a big part of your problem. A lie is KNOWINGLY telling a falsehood. In this particular example Bush would have to be DERANGED to lie about something that was about to be publicly debunked. Occams razor suggests he believes what he said. WHICH IS NOT LIEING.

145: Alan, no. I dont believe he lied when he said those things. I dont know how you can beat up Bush for 'ignoring' OBL in Pakistan to go to war in Iraq, and then claim he's lying about being ok with ignoring him. Pick one. Either tracking down OBL was his priority or it wasnt. His actions suggest no.

146: Andrew if you have some evidence that data or analysis was supressed from Congress I suggest you produce it. Finally you will have the impeachment you've been dreaming of. Im listening.

147: "Bush lied. Everybody knows now, unless they're trying very hard not to know." Apparently just like everybody knew the earth was flat. But nobody seems willing to do the simple task of QUOTING THE FREAKING LIE.

149: "No, no they do not have anything this extensive. And even then, they can try to subpoena it, but it does not make it that they'll get it." Then there should be some executive branch member sitting in federal prison right now. Where are they? Please produce the cases where Congress was denied intelligence data. Link?

"Actually, they could say they were misled, or misinformed." Ah, if the president is misled and misinformed, its a lie. But if a democrat is misled and misinformed, BY A DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT EVEN, its just a misunderstanding. Just so we understand the rules.

"Here's a couple where he was well, let's call it a convent lie" The anti-Bush oped you site doesnt even call them that. They are differences of opinion, which btw at the time nobody found odd, considering they were right in line with what everyone had been saying since well into the Clinton years.

150- Alan, see my response above, but no, i believe he meant what he said. Killing the man, OBL, was not the top priority of Bush or the American government. Which made and still makes a lot of sense. As we've been told so many times, killing people just produces more martyrs, right?

OK, Mark, let's start with the root question. There isn't any doubt (I think you will agree) that many of the statements Bush made in the run-up to war turned out to be completely false. There's a continuum from a deliberate lie at one end to a completely honest mistake in claiming something one honestly believes to be true at the other. Where does George Bush fit in? I'd say near the lie end, in the zone where you adopt a position you like and don't want or accept any information that contradicts it. Even before the war, there was a fair amount of skepticism about "Curveball" and Chalabi, but VP Cheney was working very hard to make sure that this sort of information didn't get the hearing it deserved, while all manner of rumor did. The link in 149, for example, doesn't call Bush a liar only because the author lacked proof that Bush knew that the statements he made (e.g., that the IAEA said Iraq was six month away from developing a weapon) were false. But we can certainly conclude that when Bush made such a false statement (IAEA said no such thing), which doesn't depend on any murky intelligence, which could be verified easily, he was showing reckless indifference to whether his statements were true or not. (The idea that it is a "difference of opinion" whether IAEA said something that it did not say is, I believe, now known as "truthiness".) And I think it's then reasonable to assume that Bush was just as indifferent to the veracity of other claims that relied on "secret" stuff (that is, rumors collected by Cheney and his gang).

Now, if Democratic members of Congress said something similar about the IAEA, I'd have to say they were just as careless and just as much to blame. But, shoddy as their work was, it wasn't this bad, because they acted in good-faith reliance on the work of the Executive Branch. Your comments about subpoenas are ridiculous. The Bush Administration continues to reject Congressional subpoenas on all sorts of topics and has sent up Cabinet officials who apparently refuse to answer even in closed session. You may be right that this behavior should result in impeachment, but the fact that political realities make this impossible—Republicans wouldn't impeach Bush right now if he forcibly sodomized Larry Craig on television—doesn't mean that you can blame Democrats for not reading materials that (a) they had no reason to know existed and (b) would not have gotten even if they asked.

Mark may well disagree with the "root question" you propose, and proposing doesn't make it so.

The root question of this thread is pretty obviously whether it is acceptable or ethical for our media to blatantly lie to us, and then cover it up when confronted with clear evidence that (a) we've been told things that were untrue; (b) the people who told us these things did not simply believe in things that were untrue - they had clear, credible, and pressing evidence that what they were saying was untrue.

Unlike a national leader, they do not have the luxury of a job description that necessarily includes making a decisions and persuading others of it, despite inevitably partial information and weighing of risks that include inaction as well as action.

Unless the National Enquirer is their paragon of journalism, their job description pretty much requires that they hew to the facts, clearly convey uncertainty where it exists, and immediately reverse course if their information is called into question. They are not leaders who must decide even if some folks don't like them, they are reporters who must be trustable within a much narrower calling.

On the continuum from "deliberate lie" to "honest mistake," where has the New Republic fallen in the Beauchamp affair?

But the logic here is so twisted. imagine a con man comes into town and hires some people to write false reports. He tells them generally what he wants and lets them use their creativity some too. Then he shows the fakes to people and runs a successful con. And afterward he uses the defense: "Hey, it wasn't just me telling these lies. All these victims believed it too. Hey, I got taken in by the people I paid to lie to me just as much as all those people who did what I wanted them to. It wasn't my fault. I got conned, nobody can blame me for that.

Still trying to be cute, J Thomas?

So when Clinton and his Administration officials (Anthony Zinni, Madeline Albright, Sandy Berger, etc.) were going on and on about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and scary relationships with terrorist organizations, even after Desert Fox up until the last moments of 2000, it was because Governor Bush of Texas was really the one running the show and paying the entire CIA to lie? I repeat, pathetic.

Again, no mention of the specific lie.

No, no they do not have anything this extensive.

Yes they do, Dave. From the National Security Act of 1947. Please go ahead and read the whole of Title V - From section 501 to 507. I'm helpfully providing you with a link and a quote of 502.

REPORTING OF INTELLIGENCE ACTIVITIES OTHER THAN COVERT ACTIONS

SEC. 502. [50 U.S.C. 413a] To the extent consistent with due regard for the protection from unauthorized disclosure of classified information relating to sensitive intelligence sources and methods or other exceptionally sensitive matters, the Director of Central Intelligence and the heads of all departments, agencies, and other entities of the United States Government involved in intelligence activities shall -

(1) keep the congressional intelligence committees fully and currently informed of all intelligence activities, other than a covert action (as defined in section 503(e)), which are the responsibility of, are engaged in by, or are carried out for or on behalf of, any department, agency, or entity of the United States Government, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity and any significant intelligence failure; and

(2) furnish the congressional intelligence committees any information or material concerning intelligence activities, other than covert actions, which is within their custody or control, and which is requested by either of the congressional intelligence committees in order to carry out its authorized responsibilities.

So, Dave, when you say;

And even then, they can try to subpoena it, but it does not make it that they'll get it. Especially if people like Feith are around to channel and contain information they don't like - you can't subpoena it if you don't know it's there.

Then get John Conyers to start the impeachment engines. Don't you wonder that with all the "proof" you all have, Conyers still refuses to start the work of getting articles of impeachment drawn up? It's a matter of principle. Isn't it? After all, when Republicans impeached Clinton they already knew it wasn't going to result in his removal, but they went ahead anyway on principle.

Unless your proof of the President violating the law was obtained through your crystal ball? I mean, how is it somehow possible that Jay Rockefeller and Silvestre Reyes (and Jane Harman before him) have no idea what intelligence data exists ... but you do?

PS: AJL, I've linked sources in each and every one of my comments on this thread - including Hans Blix's 02/14/2003 testimony. Repeating over and over again that I do not like to provide links is just utilizing a standard pedestrian propaganda technique ... which is primarily the way "BushLied" gained its currency - you and your fellow Leftists in the Press just repeated it over and over again.

What's really interesting to me is that President Bush presented what no one has denied as the majority consensus view of the Intelligence agencies' analysts that Saddam still had WMDs and was still running a WMD program - Clinton's George Tenet called it a slam dunk. Intelligence Committee Democrats stood up and stated that this was consistent with the reports they have been seeing for years prior to Bush's inauguration as President.

So on what basis are all these BushLied accusations built on? Leaked minority dissenting opinions on the pages of Democratic newspapers with tendentious headlines. The actual situation is like this example; Out of 100 analysts, 92 analysts came conclusion A, the remaining 8 came to conclusion B. Apparently, according to the Left, the Bush Administration not giving as much weight to the conclusion reached by 8 analysts as it did to the one reached by 92 constitutes Bush lying.

On the continuum from "deliberate lie" to "honest mistake," where has the New Republic fallen in the Beauchamp affair?

I'd say they were indifferent to truth. They published a story they thought would sell. The particular three issues that people say they should have fact-checked still seem trivial to me, but their stand since then has been pretty much counterproductive.

I think this is typical for the mass media generally. They treat news as entertainment and publish what they think the public will be interested in. If it's mostly entertainment then somebody else can do fact-checking if they think it needs to be done.

The New Yorker magazine is famous for their fact-checking. The fact that they have built a reputation based mostly on the claim that they fact-check their sources ought to say a lot right there.

Still trying to be cute, J Thomas?

So when Clinton and his Administration officials (Anthony Zinni, Madeline Albright, Sandy Berger, etc.) were going on and on ...

But Moo--om, all the other kids are lying too!

Look at the bottom line. Bush got us in a trillion+ dollar war based on lies that were easy to discredit, and he didn't bother to get them checked.

You could argue that this was simple unmitigated incompetence. You could argue that it isn't that Bush was lying to us, it was that he was utterly and completely clueless, that he had no beginning trace of a clue.

Wouldn't you rather give him the benefit of the doubt and suppose he lied?

What's really interesting to me is that President Bush presented what no one has denied as the majority consensus view of the Intelligence agencies' analysts

Are you claiming that Cheney didn't tell them to have that consensus? We had lots of reports of dissenting views, that were presented as anonymous leaks because the analysts involved feared for their jobs.

George Tenet called it a slam dunk.

What Tenet later claimed was that he said persuading the public was a slam dunk. Which it turned out it was. He was saying it would be easy to lie to the public and be believed.

The actual situation is like this example; Out of 100 analysts, 92 analysts came conclusion A, the remaining 8 came to conclusion B.

You're making up your numbers. What we have is the analysts who believed Curveball, that kind of analysts, came up with Bush's conclusion. Remember that Cheney invented a whole new intelligence group because the ones he had wouldn't give him the answers he wanted. It was his bozos who came up with this "consensus".

I think you ought to realise, in case you haven't, that people are arguing with you out of habit or because it's fun. Nobody seriously believes that this stuff is debatable any more. Everybody knows it was lies except for a few people who try hard not to believe it. You're campaigning for a lost cause, and people are kind of laughing at you for it. Like, 'wow, I thought all those dinosaurs were extinct by now.'

"Apparently, according to the Left, the Bush Administration not giving as much weight to the conclusion reached by 8 analysts as it did to the one reached by 92 constitutes Bush lying."

This is exactly the point. ANY intelligence question of this magnitude is going to have dissent. Its in the nature of the beast.

Did Bush take that conclusion and try to convince the American people that he was sure, and that this is the right thing to do? YES. Thats his job. He is a politician, a leader. When you propose your social security fix, you dont say, 'well 87% of the experts believe this, but i should remind you that the other 13% think my program is completely nuts and wrong'. That is not politics. Maybe it should be, but thats not how things work.

And to touch on the Tenet CYA- the only way what he claims in retrospect can be true is if the guy is an even bigger scumbag than we imagined him to be. He's basically now claiming that its not that he was incompetant, its that he has no problem with intentionally fooling the American people into going to war. Even Tenet isnt that stupid, its pretty darn obvious this latest line is his attempt to save his (rightly) awful reputation, and it just hasnt occurred to him the implications of what his 5 years later justification imply about him.

Either way I assume Tenet knows where Capital Hill is. If he really didnt think Bush was portraying the CIAs intelligence honestly, one would think he would have got in touch with the leaders of the intelligence committees. Oh, that's right, Cheney was holding his dog hostage right?

Let me put this more succinctly: if you believe what you are saying is true, if you believe the proponderence of the evidence and analysis presented to you supports this, if you believe that others of your relative rank hold the same opinions (former president, allied governments), and if you believe it is the right thing to do for the good of your country, it is not a lie to sell that plan to the best of your ability, so long as you do not intentionally tell an untruth. It is not a lie not to footnote your work, thats a job for clerks, not politicians. More importantly thats a job for the opposition, if there is one.

Its pretty obvious that you guys dont believe Bush though he was acting for the good of his country. You assume malice, and therefore you read malice into all his actions (you think?!). Your 'arguments' are self-reinforcing and circular, which is fairly obvious to everyone considering what a simple task it would be to simply show us the lies. You see this kind of behavior in all types of true believers.

Mark and A.L.;

Thanks for responding. I didn't think the question was that hard.

Mark...you'll notice that I didn't indicate whether I think Bush was lying when he made those statements. I'm just trying to get a sense for what kinds of statements people here would judge credible or not, and why. This seems like a good one to ask about.

A.L....#151...I'll try to keep this reply handy, and remember the sentiment, as I read your future posts. It is very interesting.

people say lots of things which often contradict each other - and yet we manage to construct consistent meaning out of all that stuff.

What you seem to be suggesting is that all politicians "lie" (or say contradictory things), and it's up to us to "construct meaning" from this. I agree with this (we can never fully appreciate another person's unique perspective) but only to a point. The problem is that this implies that everyone's interpretation is equally valid, since they're all based on a biased perspective. I suppose I like to think that some interpretations are "more correct" than others if they more closely conform to a set of available, observable facts.

To take the current example, I would believe Bush's statement (as Mark does) about not "caring" about bin Laden IF

1) The government was not doing anything at all to track his whereabouts.
2) The government was not attempting to monitor the activities of his organization, Al Qaeda.
3) The government would pass up on opportunities to capture or kill him if they arose.

So the question comes down to whether you agree or disagree with these points?

J Thomas, all your fantastical conspiracy theories (apparently Cheney created another CIA, George Tenet's plain words are actually code for something else, etc.) really come down to one thing; you can't point to one thing you can call a lie by Bush without implicating practically every Democrat in Congress and in the previous Administration.

Because all of them were saying the same thing and had been long before Bush became President. It's on record, and try and dodge it as you might, you can't deny it. So my point stands. If Bush lied, they all lied. If Bush was clueless, then they were all clueless.

You cannot have it both ways.

Are you claiming that Cheney didn't tell them to have that consensus?

Yes. In so far as you're demanding I prove a negative. Not only I but the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said so as well - and furthermore, no analyst has come forward to say that Cheney forced him to come to any conclusion.

Besides, if indeed he did, and you have proof (not just your fantasies), that's an impeachable offense right there - it means Cheney broke the law. John Conyers has an office that you can easily reach by phone, fax and email in case he missed all this "proof" despite being a Ranking Member and Chairman of a Committee with significantly high levels of security clearance (Judiciary) and the fact that he hates Cheney with the heat of a thousand suns.

So why don't y'all get the ball rolling?

You're making up your numbers.

The concept of illustration is not something you're familiar with, I see ...

We had lots of reports of dissenting views, that were presented as anonymous leaks because the analysts involved feared for their jobs.

Wow.

What brave people these analysts be - nation going to war and possibly losing tens of thousands of its soldiers' lives versus their jobs ... and they picked their jobs.

Of course, this just proves to me that you have no idea what you're talking about. Apparently you're of the abysmally ignorant notion that Intelligence reports were always unanimous. There was apparently never an NIE were some minority of Intelligence analysts dissented from the consensus.

It must this Community Based Reality I've been hearing about.

PS: Bush lied about what?

I would also like to comment on the issue of "Lying".

Mark and Martin want to argue that 1) Lying is easy to prove, and 2) Since no one has done so for Bush's (and the Administration's) pre-war utterances, than they were not lying. 3) This means that Bush was "telling the truth".

I don't think it is easy to do 1 if proof is required of foreknowledge.

That makes 2 much harder, if not impossible, to do, especially in a situation where the actors are secretive or can control access to incriminating evidence or information.

3 is clearly false. Failing to prove something does not mean that it's opposite is true.

SO, where does that leave us?

Here's my view. Bush may not have technically lied about the intelligence, at least by any standard that we're likely to get his supporters and defenders to accept.

However, there is a clear record of inflammatory statements. Selective supporting information was exaggerated while contradictory evidence was suppressed or ignored. The threat level was wrongly represented to be at the extreme end of the spectrum and the time-frame necessary to deal with this artificially compressed (imminent threat). Information that was shaky (such as Iraqi defectors testimony) was given great prominence, while hard evidence (UN inspectors reports) dismissed.

Any way you want to cut it, guys, there ain't no way in hell you're gonna convince anyone to ignore all this by splitting hairs over whether they "lied" or not.

What they did was coerce and manipulate the public using their powerful position in government to lead us into a war fought for none of the reasons that they argued for. This is inexcusable and immoral by any normal standard of government or human conduct, and is a sin far worse than lying in my view.

Either way I assume Tenet knows where Capital Hill is. If he really didnt think Bush was portraying the CIAs intelligence honestly, one would think he would have got in touch with the leaders of the intelligence committees. Oh, that's right, Cheney was holding his dog hostage right?

Exactly. And note, of course, that the Intelligence Committees, unlike any other Committee(s) in Congress have both the Minority and Majority leaders as co-Chairmen.

Heck, Tenet could have gone to Daschle, Reid, Gephardt, Pelosi, etc. They have the security clearance to hear whatever he had to say. But he didn't ... and now he's offering this ridiculous CYA story ...

It's just amazing the God-like Jedi powers the Left has attached to Dick Cheney. Maybe that explains Pelosi and Reid's recent bouts of incompetence. He's mind-tricked the poor weak minded fools!

Thanks Alan. Now I know how to drive a goalpost ...

PS: Dissenting views by a minority of analysts have always existed. It is in fact considered worrying if all analysts come to the same conclusion.

But nonetheless the consensus opinion almost always carries the day - because it is the opinion held by the majority. So while the consensus might have been wrong, my position is that the President was not wrong to go with it because like all human beings, he's not availed of hindsight prior to making a decision.

The fact that hindsight has now enabled us to see that the dissenters were correct does not therefore mean that the President misled or lied because he (along with Democrats) went with the majority opinion at the time he made the decision to topple Saddam Hussein's regime.

MAK, you have argued basicly that "everybody knew" Saddam had his nuke program and so it wasn't a lie when Bush claimed he had evidence of it.

Well, the way it is, now everybody knows that Bush lied.

You're stuck with that. You can argue all you want that people shouldn't know that. You can argue that it isn't any more true than the things Bush was saying about Saddam's nukes were true. But it doesn't matter what you say.

Everybody knows Bush lied except a few people who still deny it, the same sort of cranks who were saying that we didn't have any proof of Saddam's nukes back in the day. Not the same people, but the same kind of people. The kind of people who argue that the things everybody knows might be wrong, because nobody has bothered to prove them to your satisfaction.

You can argue about it for the next ten years, you can argue yourself blue in the face every day for the next ten years, and it won't make any difference. I know, I was there in 2002 when people believed on no evidence whatsoever that Saddam had a working nuke program. It's hopeless and you might as well give up.

Bush lied. Everybody knows it. End of story.
You lose. I can sympathise, we got into a trillion+ dollar war over the nukes that I knew Bush was lying about. It's tough. I argued on blogs about aluminum tubes and trucks with canvas sides and IAEA inspections. Some people argued with me at long length, they made arguments I knew were bogus and I argued back and told them so and their response was to make more bogus arguments. But most people completely ignored all that. They knew Saddam had a nuke program and we had to take it out.

I know what it feels like. I kind of sympathise with you. No matter how good your arguments, even if you had good arguments this time around, it wouldn't matter. Some people argue with you because they enjoy it, or out of habit because they've been through these arguments before and they already know what to say the next time around. But mostly people just completely ignore you or think you're a kook. They know Bush lied and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.

But look on the bright side. Bush got away with it. He isn't runninig for anything and he isn't getting impeached. Clinton is likely to win the nomination and then there's nothing to choose between the parties about the war -- they'll both keep us stuck in it. People are kind of mad about the GOP about gasoline prices and the economy and all, but the stock market is holding up and the housing market hasn't collapsed. Everybody knows Bush lied about the war and about social security; he might go down in history as one of the worst presidents, but Bush and the GOP are both likely to get away with it just fine.

Your 'arguments' are self-reinforcing and circular, which is fairly obvious to everyone considering what a simple task it would be to simply show us the lies. You see this kind of behavior in all types of true believers.

Mark, that reminds me, what happened to our discussion about geneva conventions? It got right up to the point where the illegal combatants usually slink away and stop talking about it until the next time, when you stopped responding.

Martin;

You are characterizing the pre-war intelligence and hard evidence as providing a "consensus" view among a "majority" of analysts, while the contradictory evidence was a "minority view". As if the way to arrive at a conclusion is to count up the number of "for" and "against" facts and go with the winner.

I also cannot figure out how you could possibly know this to be true.

Here is Martin saying that he cannot prove a negative and so can dismiss J Thomas' question in the first part of the sentence, while in the second part-mere words away-he is offering a negative result as proof against the same question.

Yes. In so far as you're demanding I prove a negative. Not only I but the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said so as well - and furthermore, no analyst has come forward to say that Cheney forced him to come to any conclusion.

Clicking his name, which links to Red State blog, home of the infamous plagiarizer Ben Domenech, provides some help in understanding what it takes to produce such a Moebius-strip of a comment.

"So the question comes down to whether you agree or disagree with these points?"

Disagree, because you are building a straw man. Look at it this way- we have an executive order barring assassination of individuals. We target individuals during military missions, however. Because there is a difference between assasinating an individual as the point of an operation, to make a political change, and targetting an individual because he is a 'command and control' node, an important element of an organization.

So yes, we are trying to take out Al Qaeda, the organization. And OBL is part of that organization, an important part. Bush's POINT (if we can institute a little context here) is that OBL is one man and killing him will not decisively change our situation.

Now you may argue that Bush was hyperbolic in his emphasis on that point, but to argue he is lying? To what end?

"Mark and Martin want to argue that 1) Lying is easy to prove, and 2) Since no one has done so for Bush's (and the Administration's) pre-war utterances, than they were not lying. 3) This means that Bush was "telling the truth"."

Alan, dont misunderstand me- I happen to agree with the above. It is JT and AJL that are arguing (loudly and constantly) that Bush is so clearly an established, proven, bold faced liar that anyone arguing to the contrary is a denier. That it is so simple and straightfoward they refuse to even present their specific claims.

I am trying to combat that, or at least make what you just wrote readily apparent. Because they are trying to use the meme that Bush is a liar and malevolent as an argument in itself, which clearly affects anything we talk about with this administration.

I mean, whats the point of having an honest debate with someone who believes Lucifer is one of the players involved? The assumptions behind their arguments are always going to rest on something we fundamentally disagree on. Kinda like the people who are against Harry Potter- how do you argue with someone that believes in witchcraft and its ability to corrupt children? How do you argue with someone that believes our president is intentionally trying to hurt our nation? Any policy discussion will always come back to trying to limit Bush if not remove him, which is not necesarilly going to be in the best interests of winning this war or the nation in general. Concensus requires you on some level to believe we are all interested in goals that dont require each others destruction.

OK, Mark, then how to judge statements like these:

Two days after 9/11, President Bush declared: "The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our No. 1 priority, and we will not rest until we find him."

In September 2006:

In his speech, Bush said terrorist leaders' statements have made plain their goals, which he called the present-day equivalent of the "evil" aims of Vladimir Lenin and Adolf Hitler.

"Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. The question is: Will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say?" Bush said, adding that "we're taking the words of the enemy seriously."

Link.

"Well, the way it is, now everybody knows that Bush lied."

There is obviously significant dissent. Which by your definition makes YOU a liar.

"Mark, that reminds me, what happened to our discussion about geneva conventions?"

I got tired of you assuming your own conclusions and getting to pick your own definitions. I dont intend to wrangle legal decisions with someone that simply assumes they know the absolute and obvious meaning of a document that has been subject to a bunch of case law demonstrating the exact opposite. Hint- it was somewhere around your statement that Bush invented the illegal combatant terminology.

"As if the way to arrive at a conclusion is to count up the number of "for" and "against" facts and go with the winner."

Alan, do you know a better way to analyze intelligence? Magic 8-ball? Is there really a world where intelligence is so stunning singular, so untainted by different opinions or data? Its sure not this world. There is ALWAYS differing opinion, there is ALWAYS contradictory data. Sometimes just bad luck. Remember Clinton's attack on OBLs empty tents? Was Clinton 'lying' about having targetting information they thought was firm?

"OK, Mark, then how to judge statements like these:"

Generally by context, of which there is precious little here. I'm still trying to figure out what your point is from a policy point of view. Bush the Elder once said he hated broccoli, then i saw him eating broccoli once. LIAR!!!!!!!!!! Come on, can we introduce a level of relevance into this discussion. Maybe some context too?

Mark, come on, Clinton did not mobilize the entire armed forces in his efforts to get bin Laden.

Do I know a better way? Yes, of course. Bean-counting is out, of course. Weighing the strength of evidence is clearly the reasonable approach when dealing with a large volume of often contradictory evidence.

Just to give one example, on the one hand we had the personal testimony of disgruntled defectors telling intelligence officers that there were weapons all over the place, while on the other there were the documented reports of the UN inspectors.

Now, if you WANT to believe that the defectors are right but inspectors are wrong (i.e., you're biased) then you'd weigh the evidence differently than someone who was suspicious about personal testimony (geez, any lawyer).

It becomes lying, I suppose, when you are worried that others won't also view the situation as you do, and so you fix the facts around the policy.

For all I know, Bush went back to drinking and babbles nonsense without any knowledge of whether he is speaking truth or falsehood. So if "lie" means that he absolutely knew he was telling a falsehood, that's pretty hard to tell without recourse to cross-examination, if then. You really think we're going to get a Perry Mason moment here?

On the other hand, I can and do claim that the Bush Administration, including Bush himself, acted with very little regard for the truth of what they said, that they encouraged views that fit the predetermined conclusion of making war, and that they punished people who brought contrary opinions to the table. One could start with the small item in comment 149: did the IAEA say what George Bush claimed they did? No analysis required. Just a simple matter of how to evaluate truthiness. And you could go on to something more nuanced: what warrant was there for Condi Rice warning us of a mushroom cloud?

Now, there's something almost amusing in Martin asking if Cheney set up a parallel CIA. He did.
The agency, called the Office of Special Plans (OSP), was set up by the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to second-guess CIA information and operated under the patronage of hardline conservatives in the top rungs of the administration, the Pentagon and at the White House, including Vice-President Dick Cheney. The ideologically driven network functioned like a shadow government, much of it off the official payroll and beyond congressional oversight. But it proved powerful enough to prevail in a struggle with the State Department and the CIA by establishing a justification for war.[snip] The president's most trusted adviser, Mr Cheney, was at the shadow network's sharp end. He made several trips to the CIA in Langley, Virginia, to demand a more "forward-leaning" interpretation of the threat posed by Saddam. When he was not there to make his influence felt, his chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was. Such hands-on involvement in the processing of intelligence data was unprecedented for a vice-president in recent times, and it put pressure on CIA officials to come up with the appropriate results. [my emphasis]
I know, I know: Cheney made these unprecedented trips to Langley to wish the spies Happy Birthday. After all, we don't have Cheney's own description and without his confession (which I could get in two minutes with a waterboard, but never mind), it's just he said, she said, right?

And what about people who turned out to be correct? Well, we all know what happened to Larry Lindley when he underestimated the cost of the war by a factor of 20, instead of the official underestimate by a factor of 100: he got canned. Shinseki?

But I do notice that Martin (and, no Martin, there are no links in your comment 122) has never tried to answer one simple question: if the Bush Administration were interested in the truth about the WMD program, what would be the correct course of action when much of the information we received (bought, actually) from Iraqi defectors was contradicted by the work of Blix's inspectors? We know what Cheney thought. As Blix puts it, "I think they chose to ignore us." The Administration thus:
Cheney warned that if his administration found fault with Blix's judgments, "we will not hesitate to discredit you." In a separate meeting, Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense, ridiculed the inspectors' caution, telling them, "You do know they have weapons of mass destruction, don't you?"
Does that sound like people who care about truth? Not to me.

"Do I know a better way? Yes, of course. Bean-counting is out, of course. Weighing the strength of evidence is clearly the reasonable approach when dealing with a large volume of often contradictory evidence."

Do you honestly believe that isnt what happens? Come on. It all comes down to which reports you buy into, and that is a subjective decision. You can accuse Bush and his people all day of being incompetant and credulous. That is not the same as making things up whole cloth, and THAT is what we are talking about.

"Just to give one example, on the one hand we had the personal testimony of disgruntled defectors telling intelligence officers that there were weapons all over the place, while on the other there were the documented reports of the UN inspectors."

The same UN inspectors that did so well in NK? Why in gods name would we take UN inspectors (with their own political agendas mind you) that at the time everyone considered useless if not comprimised over the analysis of the CIA that we spend billions on? THAT is plain wreckless, sure in retrospect it makes sense, but at the time it would have been absurd to the point of naievity.

A quote from your link:

"More than a hundred summaries of his debriefings were sent to the CIA, which then became a pillar - along with the now-disproved Iraqi quest for uranium for nuclear weapons - for the U.S. decision to bomb and then invade Iraq. The CIA-director George Tenet gave Alwan’s information to Secretary of State Colin Powell to use at the U.N. in his speech justifying military action against Iraq.

Tenet gave the information to Powell despite a letter - a copy of which 60 Minutes obtained - addressed to him by the head of German intelligence stating that Alwan appeared to be believable, but there was no evidence to verify his story.

Through a spokesman, Tenet denies ever seeing the letter."

Well. Thats interesting. The heroic George Tenet was the one that passed this information on WITHOUT THE CAVEAT. Does that make him the liar? This is the point. Intelligence is always tangled and subjective and cluttered like this. This idea that the truth should be so obvious that if you dont get it right you must be a liar is silly. Not just that- but the president can only see what his people show him. If Tenet loses a critical piece of information Bush never has the full story, so how can you call him dishonest for it?

"Now, if you WANT to believe that the defectors are right but inspectors are wrong (i.e., you're biased) then you'd weigh the evidence differently than someone who was suspicious about personal testimony (geez, any lawyer)."

But again- YOU just said you weigh the evidence based on who you trust more. You are seriously telling me the President should have trusted UN inspectors more than our combined intelligence crowd, not to mention our allies? Guess what, I'd WANT to believe my own people we spend billions on over a group of foriegn technocrats with questionable loyalties and a mixed track record as well.

Your argument only makes a lick of sense with the benefit of hindsight. If Bush had said to the nation, "The inspectors have spoken, i have all these reems of contrary evidence from the CIA, NSA, MI5, etc but i really get a good feeling from Hans Blix" he would have been run out of town on a rail. BY THE DEMOCRATS.

But Alan, the UN weapons inspectors were unhappy with Iraqi compliance until the very end, when the US tanks were warming up and Saddam suddenly decided to cooperate.

Until then we'd had the guy who ran to the inspectors and was pulled screaming from their car by Iraqi security forces (what ever happened to him, I wonder?), and a series of briefings from Blix to the UN that were critical of Iraq's cooperation.

There is a strong argument to make about the last-minute decision that Bush was faced with - to invade or not - and how it was handled and whether he was correct. But to suggest, using hindsight, that the year leading up to the war was one in which Bush, and Bush alone, saw a threat is absurd.

A.L.

"Well, the way it is, now everybody knows that Bush lied."

There is obviously significant dissent. Which by your definition makes YOU a liar.

No, there is no significant dissent. Only a few deniers. ;)

"Mark, that reminds me, what happened to our discussion about geneva conventions?"

I got tired of you assuming your own conclusions and getting to pick your own definitions.

?? I have no idea what you're talking about here.

I dont intend to wrangle legal decisions with someone that simply assumes they know the absolute and obvious meaning of a document that has been subject to a bunch of case law demonstrating the exact opposite.

Want to link to case law that demonstrates the opposite of something I said?

Hint- it was somewhere around your statement that Bush invented the illegal combatant terminology.

I didn't say he invented the terminology. But I believe his administration is the first government ever to take that tack. Do you know of another government that has ever made this claim before? I'd be interested. I don't know for sure that no government has ever made this very strange interpretation of the document before, but I don't know all the history and I'd be interested if it's ever been tried before now.

Just to repeat the point, your claim is that when a civilian participates in action against an occupying army he becomes an illegal combatant and loses all rights under the geneva conventions.

I look at the actual wording.

Art. 68. Protected persons who commit an offence which is solely intended to harm the Occupying Power, but which does not constitute an attempt on the life or limb of members of the occupying forces or administration, nor a grave collective danger, nor seriously damage the property of the occupying forces or administration or the installations used by them, shall be liable to internment or simple imprisonment, provided the duration of such internment or imprisonment is proportionate to the offence committed. Furthermore, internment or imprisonment shall, for such offences, be the only measure adopted for depriving protected persons of liberty. ....

The penal provisions promulgated by the Occupying Power in accordance with Articles 64 and 65 may impose the death penalty against a protected person only in cases where the person is guilty of espionage, of serious acts of sabotage against the military installations of the Occupying Power or of intentional offences which have caused the death of one or more persons ....

That leaves me wondering, what's the difference between illegal combatants who have no rights under the geneva conventions, versus protected persons who have done espionage, sabotage, and murder of occupying soldiers but who still have many rights under the geneva conventions -- including the right to a fair trial before their execution?

It's usually just when we get to this point that the guys arguing for illegal combatants shut up until the next time.

"but which does not constitute an attempt on the life or limb of members of the occupying forces"

You really believe the people we hold in Guantanimo fit this description?

"Want to link to case law that demonstrates the opposite of something I said?"

Well, we could start with the single most important supreme court case in question, Ex Parte Quirin 317 US.1 1942

"By universal agreement and practice the law of war draws a distinction between the armed forces and the peaceful populations of belligerent nations and also between those who are lawful and unlawful combatants. Lawful combatants are subject to capture and detention as prisoners of war by opposing military forces. Unlawful combatants are likewise subject to capture and detention, but in addition they are subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals for acts which render their belligerency unlawful. The spy who secretly and without uniform passes the military lines of a belligerent in time of war, seeking to gather military information and communicate it to the enemy, or an enemy combatant who without uniform comes secretly through the lines for the purpose of waging war by destruction of life or property, are familiar examples of belligerents who are generally deemed not to be entitled to the status of prisoners of war, but to be offenders against the law of war subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals."

I also believe this satisfactorilly addresses the issue of whether the term 'unlawful combatant' is some Bush contruct.

More Quirin:

"By a long course of practical administrative construction by its military authorities, our Government has recognized that those who during time of war pass surreptitiously from enemy territory into our own, discarding their uniforms upon entry, for the commission of hostile acts involving destruction of life or property, have the status of unlawful combatants punishable as such by military commission. This precept of the law of war has been so recognized in practice both here and abroad, and has so generally been accepted as valid by authorities on international law that we think it must be regarded as a rule or principle of the law of war recognized by this Government by its enactment of the Fifteenth Article of War. "

"As if the way to arrive at a conclusion is to count up the number of "for" and "against" facts and go with the winner."

Alan, do you know a better way to analyze intelligence?

One method which has some currency is to take the available evidence and construct alternate interpretations. Usually two, but there could be more. Make the best case for each interpretation and note what evidence has to be discounted for each to be true.

If both fit pretty well, then the intelligence doesn't provide firm conclusions. The exercise is likely to show what sort of evidence needs to be collected to distinguish between the alternate approaches. (Though there may simply be no way to get that evidence.)

This is not rocket science. This is the default. Counting 'for' and 'against' votes is some sort of travesty.

We had no evidence that Saddam had a nuclear program. We had a collection of informers who made claims about Saddam's nuclear program which never ever checked out. We had the aluminum tubes story. We had the niger story which wouldn't have said much even if it hadn't been a crude forgery. The way the debacle currently gets explained is that every foreign intelligence agency which said it believed Saddam had a nuclear program had looked at the forgery and immediately seen it was a forgery, but they each believed that some other intelligence agency had evidence that Saddam wanted uranium, evidence that turned out to be the same crude forgery. This story is not particularly believable.

What we actually had was the heads of the US and british intelligence services claiming there was evidence, and the british claimed the french had evidence which the french did not in fact claim they had. I've seen no evidence solid that anybody in CIA below the director believed in evidence for Saddam's nukes, and nobody in DIA outside Division of Special Services.

Maybe there were a bunch of CIA people who believed it. But what evidence would we use to support that idea over the alternate idea that they mostly thought they didn't know one way or another?

Mark, your Quirin quote comes before the Geneva Conventions were even codified. They'd supercede it when we ratified them. Unless they happened to agree, which you could argue by the body of the text or by some other way.

Try again, if you like.

I understand that, but the principle of unlawful combatants is clearly a matter of law as of 1942. Contrary to what you have said.

"I've seen no evidence solid that anybody in CIA below the director believed in evidence for Saddam's nukes, and nobody in DIA outside Division of Special Services."

Do you have evidence that they didnt? Seems like a pretty big charge, that Tenet was out there on his own. Particularly since you JUST CHAMPIONED HIM YESTERDAY.

"but which does not constitute an attempt on the life or limb of members of the occupying forces"

You really believe the people we hold in Guantanimo fit this description?

Read the rest of the article. I quoted this part because it made the rest clearer. If somebody paints yankee go home on a wall, the most you can do to him is intern him for a time appropriate to the offense. Similarly if he gets in the way while you're trying to go somewhere, "nonviolent resistance" etc. Imprisonment for a reasonable time is the only allowed punishment.

If they spy, sabotage, kill soldiers, etc then you can also give them a fair trial and execute them. But they are protected persons under the geneva conventions while you do it.

Do you see a way to interpret part 4 of the geneva conventions otherwise? How would you do it?

We said that we wouldn't honor some parts of the geneva conventions when we ratified them. For example, the GC say we won't put the Red Cross symbol on anything except actual Red Cross materials, but we already had it on a lot of first aid kits etc and we said we weren't going to stop. We didn't say we wouldn't honor Article 68.

l.looolaannabbvbdZAsaaz <-- my 4-year-old wanted to type some

"I've seen no evidence solid that anybody in CIA below the director believed in evidence for Saddam's nukes, and nobody in DIA outside Division of Special Services."

Do you have evidence that they didnt?

I'm saying I've seen no evidence that they did. Both stories fit so far.

Seems like a pretty big charge, that Tenet was out there on his own. Particularly since you JUST CHAMPIONED HIM YESTERDAY

Tenet made his claim about what he said.

woodward

”McLaughlin has access to all the satellite photos, and he goes in and he has flip charts in the oval office. The president listens to all of this and McLaughlin's done. And, and the president kind of, as he's inclined to do, says ‘Nice try, but that isn't gonna sell Joe Public. That isn't gonna convince Joe Public,’” says Woodward.

In his book, Woodward writes: "The presentation was a flop. The photos were not gripping. The intercepts were less than compelling. And then George Bush turns to George Tenet and says, 'This is the best we've got?'"

Says Woodward: “George Tenet's sitting on the couch, stands up, and says, ‘Don't worry, it's a slam dunk case.’" And the president challenges him again and Tenet says, ‘The case, it's a slam dunk.’

Tenet claims he was saying that the argument wasn't about whether there was good evidence that Saddam had a nuclear program etc. The argument was about whether the public would be convinced by what Bush considered weak evidence. And Tenet claimed that yes, the public would be convinced. Bernstein's original wording fits Tenet's claim about this. I remember McLaughlin confirming this but I don't want to bother to look up the reference.

Do you have a link to another interpretation? Tenet claims he wasn't talking about how good the evidence was, he was talking about whether the weak evidence would persuade the public. And he was right, the public was convinced except for the few who actually looked at the weak evidence.

Do you want to claim that Tenet said the evidence was good as opposed to saying the evidence would convince the public? Do you have some sort of evidence for that?

That's some unconvincing spinning J Thomas.

I can trace the notion of an unlawful combatant back to at least 1863. Lincoln asked a legal scholar to research and articulate the law of war, which then became General Orders Number 100 It defined a few groups and dictated what was to become of them:

  • uniformed enemy soldiers, detached from main sources are partisans entitled to full privileges of prisoners of war.
  • hostile enemies without uniform are not entitled to prisoner of war statuts, but are to be "treated summarily as highway robbers or pirates."
  • scouts or soldiers in concealment found lurking in the lines of the captor are to be summarily executed as spies.
  • war rebels who arise against the occupying force may be killed whether they act singularly or in small bands.
Well, I'd say that when it's a bunch of defectors (all of whom turned out to be subsidized by the US Taxpayer as funneled through the INC) versus on-the-ground inspections at the very sites the defectors, for lack of anything better to say, had "identified" it's the old Groucho Marx line: Who do you believe, me or your own eyes?
But Alan, the UN weapons inspectors were unhappy with Iraqi compliance until the very end, when the US tanks were warming up and Saddam suddenly decided to cooperate.
As I said, I was impressed at how Bush was outmaneuvering Saddam, and pursuing just the course that Democrats like Kerry and Edwards expected from Bush when they allowed him carte blanche. But our reaction to Saddam's capitulation on the inspectors issue made clear that we weren't interested in disarming Iraq but in invading Iraq. (No tries yet on justifying Bush's fabrication of an IAEA report on Saddam's imminent nuclear weapon? And how it fits in with all the other exaggerations that aren't lies until Bush admits they are lies?)

On the GC issue, I would state the argument a little differently from J Thomas. There is such a thing as an unlawful combatant, e.g., a spy. According to the GC, however, the determination that a detainee is such an unlawful combatant is made retail by tribunals (like we gave Quirin et al) and not wholesale by Bush and Rumsfeld, which is what happened. What tribunals we have established were largely forced upon the Administration by adverse court rulings and many participants, including prosecutors, are labeling them kangaroo courts.

On the flip side, the Supreme Court recently affirmed the Quirin ruling in Hamdi:

The capture and detention of lawful combatants and the capture, detention, and trial of unlawful combatants, by "universal agreement and practice," are "important inci-dent[s] of war." Ex parte Quirin, 317 U. S., at 28.

Hamdi v. Rumsfeld

I can trace the notion of an unlawful combatant back to at least 1863.

Yes, but has any nation that signed the Geneva Conventions claimed that the idea is compatible with the Geneva Conventions, except the USA? That's what I'm asking.

And has the USA affirmed that after we signed the GC and before this Bush administration?

On the GC issue, I would state the argument a little differently from J Thomas. There is such a thing as an unlawful combatant, e.g., a spy. According to the GC, however, the determination that a detainee is such an unlawful combatant is made retail by tribunals (like we gave Quirin et al) and not wholesale by Bush and Rumsfeld, which is what happened.

Sure, but the argument at that point is whether spies/unlawful combatants are still protected persons as defined in GC4. I say they are, and that they get the same protection that other civilians get except sometimes they don't get to communicate with outsiders etc. They can be executed after a trial, as other civilians who commit capital crimes can. But you don't get to just say they aren't under the GC at all and do whatever you want with them.

The US supreme court might have recently unilaterally changed the GC, though, I'll read the link and see what it says.

As phrased in 193, I agree. Protected person is really a statement about nationality and status. Persons who are spies and saboteurs are protected persons within the jurisdictional meaning, even though their right to life (and many lesser rights) can be taken away after trial. I should mention, though, that this is not quite the same as other civilian crimes, in that I believe it is not permissible to introduce new capital crimes to an occupied territory (hence, perhaps no such crimes), while I am not aware of any restriction on the execution of convicted spies.

I don't have a problem with use of "unlawful combatant" to describe spies and saboteurs, but the Administration's blanket use of the word is without foundation in either history or law.

"Do you want to claim that Tenet said the evidence was good as opposed to saying the evidence would convince the public? Do you have some sort of evidence for that?"

Err, the man's JOB TITLE? Am I wrong, or is the director of the CIA tasked with gathering, analyzing, and dispersing intelligence, and not selling a war to the American public?

Now if we were talking about Karl Rove it might make a lick of sense. Why would the Clinton appointed CIA director be trying to gin up a war for Bush? Why would he use that as a defense, unless he's a)an idiot or b)using it as an after-the-fact justification for his words?

"But you don't get to just say they aren't under the GC at all and do whatever you want with them."

Wait- once they have been tried by the occupying power they are subject to that powers rule of law, correct? I'm still not seeing the problem here. They have been tried and held under the Military Commissions Act which is our law which punishes unlawful combatants. No different than if they had been charged with spying and executed like the Quirin case. Their GC protections got them a fair trial under a military tribunal, the Hamdi decision got them that. Now they have been convicted. Whats the problem?

On the flip side, the Supreme Court recently affirmed the Quirin ruling in Hamdi:

Thank you, so far I've looked at the first 17 pages of this 100 page document. Do you have a specific section in mind?

They seem to be talking about the situation Hamdi was in -- a US citizen captured with a foreign army. The geneva conventions aren't about what you do with your own citizens, only with enemy citizens. Quirin might very well apply to Hamdi even if it no longer applies to people that the GC does apply to. Does this document say Quirin applies to foreign civilians when we are occupying their countries?

It looks to me like the GC don't apply to citizens of countries we aren't at war with and also aren't occupying. So for example if we catch a saudi civilian in iraq the GC don't apply to him. We can discuss his fate with the saudi embassy.

It looks to me like the GC applied to what americans did to iraqis in iraq during the war, and what iraqis did to americans in america during the war. (And what soldiers did to each other wherever.) And then during the occupation it applied to what americans did to iraqis in iraq. If you accept the legal fiction that we are no longer occupying iraq then it presumably doesn't apply any more.

One of the rules is we don't take iraqis out of iraq or afghans out of afghanistan. But probably most of the ones we sent to Gitmo or wherever were from somewhere else -- saudi arabia, sudan, jordan, etc. So the GC wouldn't apply to them.

We had a guest post on this a while ago - worth rereading...

A.L.

Massive topic drift here, but an interesting discussion...

A.L.

"But you don't get to just say they aren't under the GC at all and do whatever you want with them."

Wait- once they have been tried by the occupying power they are subject to that powers rule of law, correct? I'm still not seeing the problem here.

If they're protected persons then you don't get to do whatever-the-hell you want to them. You can imprison them for a term you choose at their trial. You can intern them as long as you have to, giving them right of communication as soon as it's safe to. You can execute them after that trial. But you don't get to torture them, you don't get to do anything abusive at all. Punishments for bad behavior etc are limited to not letting them earn money, forcing them to do work maintaining their prison for no more than 2 hours a day, and a few things like that. If they're protected persons it takes a really creative argument to say it's OK to do any sort of coercive interrogation. A whole set of rights for protected persons, that we haven't been handing out.

Probably a lot of the people at Gitmo are not protected persons under the GC anyway. But iraqis and afghans probably are, and any iraqis or afghans we might perhaps have at Gitmo probably are.

Anyway, my point with this is not to say we're doing war crimes. Back then we were talking about strenuous interrogations, and you wanted me to define torture. And my point was that when the GC applies we don't have to argue about exactly what's torture and what isn't. if there's any hint of a doubt then it isn't allowed. No "physical or moral coercion" for interrogation. Period.

I'll take it a bit further than that. If we can get by without coercive interrogation for people the geneva conventions apply to, we can probably get by that way for everbody else. If we don't need to torture iraqis we probably don't need to interrogate saudis or canadians or australians or americans either. Even though when we torture canadians or australians etc the GC don't cover it.

"If they're protected persons then you don't get to do whatever-the-hell you want to them. You can imprison them for a term you choose at their trial. You can intern them as long as you have to, giving them right of communication as soon as it's safe to. You can execute them after that trial. But you don't get to torture them, you don't get to do anything abusive at all."

Isnt executing them abusive? What if part of our punishment is holding them incommunicato? If they are subject to our laws you are very much cherry picking what we can do to them in a way i dont see in the GC.

"Punishments for bad behavior etc are limited to not letting them earn money, forcing them to do work maintaining their prison for no more than 2 hours a day, and a few things like that"

Again, now you are digging back into what POWs are entitled to under GC. Where does it say that after the trial and conviction they gain the status of a POW? Nowhere. You're mixing apples and oranges here.

If we can try and execute a prisoner, how would that not be a violation of their GC rights the way you would define them? We dont execute POWs or protected persons.

Thank you, so far I've looked at the first 17 pages of this 100 page document. Do you have a specific section in mind?

I'm looking at page 10 of the document where the court reafirmed Quirin's holding that the law of war authorizes "the capture, detention, and trial of unlawful combatants." This was done over Justice Scalia's contention that Quirin should be scrapped.

My only point is that this is contrary to your assertion that the Geneva Conventions superceded Quirin.

"You can execute them after that trial. But you don't get to torture them, you don't get to do anything abusive at all."

Isnt executing them abusive?

It's the particular punishment they say is OK.

What if part of our punishment is holding them incommunicato? If they are subject to our laws you are very much cherry picking what we can do to them in a way i dont see in the GC.

I may have misread. The document makes a distinction between "internment" and "imprisonment". Sometimes it talks about "detention" which appears to mean either one, and sometimes when they say "detention" they might be talking only about internment. So I might be wrong here.

Art. 76. Protected persons accused of offences shall be detained in the occupied country, and if convicted they shall serve their sentences therein. They shall, if possible, be separated from other detainees and shall enjoy conditions of food and hygiene which will be sufficient to keep them in good health, and which will be at least equal to those obtaining in prisons in the occupied country.

They shall receive the medical attention required by their state of health.

They shall also have the right to receive any spiritual assistance which they may require.

Women shall be confined in separate quarters and shall be under the direct supervision of women.

Proper regard shall be paid to the special treatment due to minors.

Protected persons who are detained shall have the right to be visited by delegates of the Protecting Power and of the International Committee of the Red Cross, in accordance with the provisions of Article 143.

Such persons shall have the right to receive at least one relief parcel monthly.

I'm not real sure now whether this applies to convicted criminals or only to accused criminals before trial.

Then there's the whole section titled "Section IV. Regulations for the treatment of internees". I was thinking that it applied to prisoners, but maybe it doesn't. Some of it clearly doesn't.

I apologise for speaking so definitively about this. I see now that I might easily be wrong about this part.

The problem is the GCs are very confusing, sometimes redundant, sometimes conflicting. Reading some of the history it was apparently made intentionally fuzzy regarding unlawful combatants (not what they called them, but what we would call them). The larger nations wanted harsher potential treatment of insurgent types, the smaller nations wanted a blanket protection (which makes sense if you think about it, particularly after what Belgium went through in the WWI specifically).

I get the feeling there just isnt a definitive answer to this question. I think in the bigger picture there is a real problem that these people don't have a nation they are representing, which is what the GCs are premised on. I mean we could call them common criminals, make a show of returning them to their native nations, and then take them back free and clear (sort of reverse rendition) but would that make anyone feel better?

I'm looking at page 10 of the document where the court reafirmed Quirin's holding that the law of war authorizes "the capture, detention, and trial of unlawful combatants." This was done over Justice Scalia's contention that Quirin should be scrapped.

My only point is that this is contrary to your assertion that the Geneva Conventions superceded Quirin.

I don't that there is any conflict here. (IANAL.) Hamdi was a US citizen and not subject to GC. The SC affirmed Quirin that 'The capture and detention of lawful combatants and the capture and detention and trial of unlawful combatants, "by universal agreement and practice," are "important incident[s] of war."' The GC agrees here. Everything else I see discussed on page 10 etc is about US treatment of US citizens where the GC does not apply. So I don't see anything here about what the GC says about rights of 'unlawful combatants' that the GC does apply to. Quirin can say they have no rights, GC definitely says they have some rights, and the GC ought to take precedent -- this certainly doesn't say otherwise.

Do you see it differently?

I get the feeling there just isnt a definitive answer to this question. I think in the bigger picture there is a real problem that these people don't have a nation they are representing, which is what the GCs are premised on. I mean we could call them common criminals, make a show of returning them to their native nations, and then take them back free and clear (sort of reverse rendition) but would that make anyone feel better?

Again, GC applies only to nations we're at war with or occupying. It probably applies to iraq and afghanistan and their citizens, and to nobody else.

In terms of legality of treatment of AQ members, we might legally work out the details on the saudi ones with the saudi government, the sudanese ones with the sudan government, the jordanian ones with the jordanian government, the syrians with the syrian government, etc. In theory each government ought to be interested in our evidence that their citizens really did commit crimes. It's only polite to inform a foreign government when we have one of their citizens who's in AQ, and what we caught him doing. They'd probably appreciate it. If we can't deal with some particular government that tells us something worth knowing.

Similarly, we might have a lot less trouble with say arab governments about our interrogation methods than we do with canadian and australian and italian governments. An arab government that doesn't like AQ probably won't have much objection to our getting information however it works. And I don't know of any of them who like AQ which is officially trying to overthrow them all.

On the other hand we don't want to tell them secrets since there's no particular reason to think any of them can keep secrets. They might each have a few AQ sympathisers in sensitive positions.

But again, I claim if we have good interrogators we can follow GC with everybody and it won't hurt us. We don't need strenuous interrogations and they get in the way. The whole point of Gitmo and secret prisons in eastern europe and all that is to get past our laws, and we don't need to do that in the first place to get results. Though we might need to sneak past our laws if we want to take revenge.

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