The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Wednesday, July 23, 2003


Well, now we know why the Bushies fought so hard against the 9/11 commission report for so long: It proves that Saddam and Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks. Nothing.

Kos has portions of a recap that I can't, as of yet, find online, but when I find one I'll post the link. Among the highlights:
The report of the joint congressional inquiry into the suicide hijackings on Sept. 11, 2001, to be published Thursday, reveals U.S. intelligence had no evidence that the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein was involved in the attacks, or that it had supported al-Qaida, United Press International has learned.

"The report shows there is no link between Iraq and al-Qaida," said a government official who has seen the report.

Former Democratic Georgia Sen. Max Cleland, who was a member of the joint congressional committee that produced the report, confirmed the official's statement.

Asked whether he believed the report will reveal that there was no connection between al-Qaida and Iraq, Cleland replied: "I do ... There's no connection, and that's been confirmed by some of (al-Qaida leader Osama) bin Laden's terrorist followers."

The revelation is likely to embarrass the Bush administration, which made links between Saddam's support for bin Laden -- and the attendant possibility that Iraq might supply al-Qaida with weapons of mass destruction -- a major plank of its case for war.
Finally, finally, we might expect to see that percentage of people who think Saddam was behind 9/11 -- near half of the country! -- begin to sink. Still, it requires the media to report it, and so far only UPI has picked this up, I'm cautiously optimistic.

As if everything before didn't, this more than proves the sheer cynicism of our current administration. Pushing the release of the report to after the war -- it was originally scheduled to be released in January -- constitutes an outright deception of the American people. As Bill Maher put it on Saturday night, "the Joker is not the Riddler". Yellowcakegate was the tip of the iceberg.

UPDATE: Here's the UPI story. I'm sure it's gonna break the hearts of Bill Safire and Glenn Reynolds to know that the report concludes that Atta was in the United States at the time of the magical Prague meeting. And...
U.S. officials said Iraq was harboring an alleged al-Qaida terrorist named Abu Mussab al-Zakawi.

But the government official who has seen the report poured scorn on the evidence behind this claim.

"Because someone makes a telephone call from a country, does not mean that the government of that country is complicit in that," he told UPI.

"When we found out there was an al-Qaida cell operating in Germany, we didn't say 'we have to invade Germany, because the German government supports al-Qaida.' ... There was no evidence to indicate that the Iraqi government knew about or was complicit in Zakawi's activities."
Good point, and hey, that would put us in the awkward position of having to invade ourselves. Break out them Civil War figurines!

Over at my sister blog, the boys over at the Patriot throw a hissyfit over an inter-university study on the nature of conservatives, but it's many more parts bark than parts bite.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003


Reader Alex emails about my neglecting to discuss how Pvt. Jessica "You guys called in advance? How sweet!" Lynch was recently awarded with the Bronze Star, for "meritorious combat service":
This amazes me since she has no recollection of the ambush and the people around her never mentioned her involved in any "meritorious" combat. Not that i don't think she deserves her other medals, but to many (at least as i've read in other forums), this is just another part of the propoganda.
Good points aplenty here. According to the accepted criteria for being awarded such an honor,
The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the Army of the United States after 6 December 1941, distinguished himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight, in connection with military operations against an armed enemy; or while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
...I'm not exactly sure where she qualifies, unless laying in a military-free Iraqi hospital bed, waiting for American soldiers to pick her up (after having called ahead) counts. The other medals? Both make some measure of sense.

(And besides, some would argue, given that we became an aggressor state the moment the first "shock and awe" bomb rained down on Baghdad, would she and others be automatically disqualified because we were a "belligerent party"? Eh...)

Did everybody remember to order their copy of Ben Folds' new EP Speed Graphic today?

If not, head on over to Ben's new site, AttackedByPlastic, and pick it up!

From the 30-second samples supplied by the site, it appears that the recordings are more stripped-down than the highly-produced majesty we have come to know as Rockin the Suburbs. As a result, the 3-instrument mix of the songs seems to harken back to his debut album with the Five, back in '95. There are five songs, the first of which is a cover of The Cure's "In Between Days" (you know, the one that starts "yesterday got so old..."). The remaining four appear to consist of two gorgeous ballads ("Give Judy My Notice" and "Wandering") and a couple of upbeat tunes ("Dog", "Protection").

Folds is opening for Tori next week at the Concord Pav-, er, the Chronicle Pavilion in Concord, but I don't think I'm up to shelling out the dough for that right now. I'll wait until he tours in support of his new album, due early next year. (the next time I see him will be #5 for me). In the meantime, I may end up seeing Radiohead twice in a week! (Shoreline Ampitheater, then three days later at the Hollywood Bowl) Only problem is, it's during my first week back down in SB, but I think I can manage...

Speed Graphic is the first of three EP's Folds plans to release this year, including Sunny 16, due out in September, and an as-yet unnamed EP due out in November, all available at shows and from his website.

Looks like we killed Saddam's hotshot sons in a gun/rocket battle.
the U.S. military ... claim[s] their deaths will blunt Iraqi resistance to the American occupation.
Well, um... capturing them alive would have been a good help, possibly leading us to better information as to the nature of the resistance facing our troops (as in, we don't know if the Baathists are behind all of it or not). Killing them--whether or not the status of the operation demanded it--won't seem that helpful to the general situation, I don't think. The military should, of course, check to see if the boys were getting around Iraq carrying fake ID's . . . children of heads of state tend to have fake ID's.

Kidding aside, they were a couple of bad dudes who wont be terribly missed (mind you, they are examples of a lack of an estate tax in action). But also, why does this necessarily make things easier? If Saddam is out there, behind the bulk of the resistance, and knows his sons have been "terminated with extreme prejudice" by our boys, wouldn't he up the level of active hostilities? Isn't this how Batman got started? Case in point: in this fall's run-up to the Iraq war, Bush referred to Saddam as "the guy who tried to kill my dad", and *woosh*, we have a few hundred thousand young men and women over there, and we're killing Saddam's kids. Granted, in the past Saddam hasn't always shown qualms regarding offing members of his own family, but still.

Sunday, July 20, 2003


Judicial Watch has released some of the documents from the Cheney Energy Task Force, and we might just have an idea why he so desperately tried to keep them under wraps: They include maps of Iraqi oil fields and information on potential foreign suitors.

And, of course, this was all done prior to 9/11. A little bit more insight into Rummy's order that morning to conduct a "massive sweep" of intel to try to link the attacks to Saddam, I suppose.

Something to consider, though, is that this was leaked, meaning that Cheney probably wanted it to be seen, so I'm reluctant to go out dancing in the streets on this one. There are similar maps for Saudia Arabia and the UAE among the released documents. But of course, maps of Iraqi oil fields mean that the Cheney types had designs on acquiring such oil, and to do that would require "regime change", and so on... (again, all this was discussed even before 9/11)

(link via Hesiod)

The thing about these dubious claims made by the Bush administration regarding Iraqi weapons is that every bit of knowledge has been out there for quite a while. People in the know already know that everything from the Niger uranium, to the aluminum tubes, to the unmanned drones, to the canvas-covered trailers were a bunch of bunk. The only thing that's changed is that the press is suddenly not being incredibly lazy about them. By admitting that the uranium claim was incorrect, the Bushies probably thought they could immunize themselves against charges on other intel tidbits; hence Bush, a week ago, calling the yellowcake matter "closed". If this, along with Tenet falling on an unwarranted sword, mitigated the situation at all, it's hard to tell, because the press is actually somewhat lively right now.

Hence, the pretty reliable Dana Milbank reports on another bogus Bush claim -- that Saddam Hussein could have launched a chemical/biological attack within 45 minutes of the order -- emphasizing that the White House didn't check such a claim with the CIA.
The claim, which has since been discredited, was made twice by President Bush, in a September Rose Garden appearance after meeting with lawmakers and in a Saturday radio address the same week. Bush attributed the claim to the British government, but in a "Global Message" issued Sept. 26 and still on the White House Web site, the White House claimed, without attribution, that Iraq "could launch a biological or chemical attack 45 minutes after the order is given." (emphasis mine)
Disputes over the claim across the pond were part of what drove David Kelly to suicide.

Bush lied, soldiers, civilians and stressed-out scientists died.
THE DEAN MACHINE... keeps the motor clean!

Howard Dean . . . the internet candidate . . . has a substitute blogging gig over at the blog of vacationing Stanford professor Lawrence Lessig, whose specialty is cyberspace law.

He's got quite a handful a posts going, on copyright law, the Patriot Act, and the role of the internet in current and future times, among other things, go check it out.