The Talking Dog

August 30, 2008, American Tune

And so as we ponder Sen. Obama's choice of Senator Joseph Biden, and Sen. McCain's choice of Governor Sarah Palin as their party's prospective Vice-President, consider, from our friend Stephen Truitt, what you hear in this NPR audio segment on the first man known as "The Veep," a term coined by then-eleven-year-old Steve in honor of his grandfather, Alben Barkley, thirty-fifth Vice President of the United States.

Listen through without crying: I dare you.

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August 29, 2008, That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine

Yes, that too is an S & G title; those guys were good. And the occasion fits perfectly for the utterly brilliant (I can't exaggerate on its brilliance) choice of 44-year old Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate.

With this one move, McCain has solved his problems with the Limbaugh contingent, the religious right, and the corporate contingents of the Republican base, quite possibly made a huge inroad in independent voters, and quite possibly, if there is any lingering resentment re: Obama's edging out Hillary for the number one chair, for those who want a woman in the number two chair (Nancy Pelosi is already in the number three chair), Palin may make inroads there too. To the 47 year old Black senator from Hawaii, Mccain raises with a 44 year old woman governor from Alaska!

For those wondering why I was so upset with the (boring) choice of Biden (a choice that looked too much to me like playing not to lose, rather than playing to win... especially coupled with a boring sack-of-s*** convention that was, dare I say it, Clintonesque in its bland technocrat laundry list, and not "Obamaesque" in setting out a broad vision and inspiration... in a word: Joe Biden). Because in so doing (and even chosing Hillary for second-seat would have prevented this contingency), Obama has opened up the possibility of the kind of aggressive, crazy-ass move we might expect from McCain... and McCain went for the opening!

On policy, of course, this election isn't even close: McCain was always a very conservative Republican, who admits that he knows nothing of economics, and his foreign policy (at least as he pronounces it) may be every bit as irresponsible as the current Administration's, and by further aligning himself with Bush just to get the nomination, that has only gotten worse. And while independent and quite interesting, Sarah Palin is hardly a liberal progressive. Still, as I always say lately, "it's the Supreme Court, stupid." But oh my. OH MY.

On overall atmospherics... this already sui generis race-for-the-ages... only just got moreso. Let the games continue!!!

Update: And the Obama team's immediate response is... wait for it... to criticize Gov. Palin's lack of foreign policy experience. Let's see... who else had "zero foreign policy experience" of late...? Before taking the Presidency, why neither Bill Clinton nor George W. Bush had any. Indeed, one might argue that Barack Obama has little, if any. Indeed, it might be argued that her other experience-- city council and mayor of a small town, brief stint as a state commissioner and governor for two years-- is also inappropriately "light" for "a heartbeat way" from the presidency (especially as McCain just turned 72, and would be the oldest man ever first elected President). But again... Americans of late (4 of the last 5 elections) picked the governor for the top spot... (see Clinton, Bill; Bush, George W.; Reagan, Ronald; Carter, Jimmy), while undervaluing all other titles... and Ms. Palin has the job-title "governor".

Oh boy. I started to feel this one slipping with the (boring and dare I say it, stupid) Biden choice. This response to Palin is NOT, IMHO, the appropriate response. The appropriate response is almost the opposite: embrace Palin's presence in the race. McCain has taken the mantle of "change" (and doubled down on perceived "maverickyness"). Too bad he only means that the names have changed, but the policies and the wrong direction that America is going will remain the same under McCain-Palin. "Lack of experience" proved a loser when Hillary tried it; why would Obama do that? Barack, man.. start playing to win (McCain just did... ballsy, crazy, but clearly.. he's playing to win...). STOP playing not to lose, Barack. Remember, man: you are the first major African American candidate. No one else will forget it; no matter what you or anyone else pretends, this race is going to turn on that fact. Just repeating "McCain = Bush" ain't gonna do it, man.

Start playing to win. Safe choices are like "prevent defenses": they prevent you from winning. Go for it, man. Or else McCain will connect on the "hail Sarah".

Update Might Governor Palin have her own version of "troopergate"? Oh well... just shows the high risk nature of McCain's picking her. McCain has nonetheless just shored up his own base (big-time). We'll have to see how this plays out.

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August 26, 2008, Fakin' it

How good is it that Simon & Garfunkel named a song with that title, just as I pondered what to call a post about Hillary's too-long-awaited speech designed [to tepidly be] praising of Obama, rather than [to culpably be caught] burying him? Too good. But I'll take it. It sounds from her speech, that did contain the compulsory elements of Obama-Biden-praise, like, well, that... she's still running... the one thing she kind of needed not to do. Oh well. There's no "I" in team, Hillary Clinton (though there are, of course, at least two i's in.... Hillary Clinton... and I lost count in William Jefferson Clinton...). Is she sincere in telling America that "Barack Obama is my candidate?" Well, I'd like to give her the benefit of the doubt on that. I hope she even knows herself.

Still and all, it took 19 full freaking minutes of solipsism to note that today is the 88th anniversary of implementation of suffrage for women, the bit that got the loudest applause of anything! [Of course, in the end, why even bother trying to live-blog the Convention anyway, when Ayn Clouter so brilliantly dead-blogs it? I don't know... it was a rhetorical question.]

The only other rhetorical question remaining is... what damage Bill will be able to inflict on Barack tomorrow? [While I may be too hard on Hillary with my attributions of self-interested malevolence against her fellow Democrats, just don't get me started on Bill...] Give him a chance, people. Let me just say that I have every confidence that he'll be as effective an advocate for Democrats-who-aren't-named-Bill-Clinton as he has been for the last sixteen years.

Update: By acclimation after motion of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama is now officially the Democratic nominee.

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August 24, 2008, My little town

Well, it's been four years already, so it's time for a page one story in the Grey Lady that features good old political blogs and their presence at national conventions, particularly the Democratic Convention, as blogs are no longer just "hip" and "cutting edge" but are now arguably legitimate power players. Insofar as the most-read blogs now have daily readerships larger than all but a few newspapers, this presence of political blogs on the big stage is inevitable: not to do so would be to exclude key demographics from access to information and perspective, and of course, to a key activist base.

Beecause as alluded to in my interview with (future Supreme Court Justice?) Cass Sunstein, blogs can be more than mere opinion echo chambers (though let's face it, this is mostly what they are) and can actually be organizing points for political action (or fundraising; it's this last one-- fundraising-- that all elected public officials are obsessed with to the exclusion of governance, policy, or, well, anything else.)

You'll note, of course, that the likeliest bloggers to attend these things are the most trafficked (a reasonable proposition actually; see above)... and in some cases, the most geographically desirable (i.e., blogs with a single-state-politics focus have been given special privileges at this year's Democratic convention)... but, of course, "the professionals" are also going to be there in disproportionate numbers (again, practical reasons: you don't have to worry about taking a week from your day job when blogging is your day job.)

I suppose I should have some appropriately erudite thing to say about all this, oh, the corrupting influence of money and all... but I don't. When I began this hobby seven years ago, "blog" wasn't really a word yet; for me, it's still a hobby. Quite a few others have made it a profession: good for them. Some of the hobbyists are even trained, experienced journalists; most, of course, are not. To the extent that mainstream journalism, mostly because of corporate profit imperatives, has dumbed down everything to celebrity obsession and superficial gotchas, and bloggers call them on this, well, that's a good thing. To the extent that blogging joins in the bullsh*t and itself engages in internecine namecalling and generates more heat than light... that's not a good thing.

To develop a major blog takes a huge amount of time and effort, and often, money. We are a money-based society: no way out of it (which is why the Grey Lady article notes that a number of "smaller" blogs have raised convention-travel-expenses from their readerships). Just another part of the playing field. To the extent that my brethren bloggers can remember that money is not the entire playing field (the way that mainstream journalism, especially broadcast, has failed.... utterly and totally failed...)... the better for all.

And now... it's on to Denver... or bust!!! (And congrats to Iceland and its silver medal in team handball.)

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August 22, 2008, Cuba si, Nixon no

One must hand it to the Obama campaign, which is evidently printing several versions of bumper stickers with different veep candidate names, just to keep things stirred up, and the feckless press interested in something besides celebrity obsession. We may know... tomorrow? Notwithstanding my own extensive experience in both the private and public sectors (including experience in the executive, legislative and judicial branches), and for federal, state and local governments, and being in Barack's college class (and IIRC getting a better grade than he did in political theory)... and most importantly, demonstrating my ubiquitous knowledge of everything with this blog... it seems it's not going to be me.

Who is it going to be? You know, you'd think Barack might have told me... but you'd be wrong. Might be (Hillary supporter and Iraq war yea-voter) Evan Bayh of Indiana; might be (plagiarist/windbag/Iraq war yea-voter) Joe Biden; might be (neo-civil-liberties hero/Iraq war yea-voter) Chris Dodd; might be (most incompetent campaigner ever/Iraq war yea-voter) Hillary Clinton. Do you'all see a pattern here? Honestly: I think they've all disqualified themselves because, well... you know. Yes, that means Govs. Sebelius, Richardson, Kaine or even Schweitzer or... Edwards? (Congressman Chet Edwards, not that other guy who isn't Rielle's baby's daddy) might work out, but...

Look: just let it be Al Gore, so that Barack and Al can set about cleaning up the God damned mess that we have. We will need both competence and integrity in unmatched degrees. We're past even blaming the Bush Administration, which will surely spend the next 4 months 29 days it has f*cking things up more, and as fast as possible, knowing that they may have tarnished their party's brand name so much that even a Black man can get elected in this country.

So, whatever. Barack, ask Al. Al, say yes. [TD... wake up!!!]

Update: (8/23/08) A rude awakening. It's Biden. All that wonderful build-up, and then such an uninspired, "safe" choice (as the Unseen Editor quips... was David Gergen unavailable?) Surely, David Broder will be happy. I mean, I'm going to vote for Obama and I urge you all to do the same (if nothing else, "it's the Supreme Court, stupid"), but a huge part of my enthusiasm has just been dampened. My greatest fear with Obama had been not the (racist) claptrap that he was some kind of radical Muslim Black power Manchurian candidate... my fear was that the slogan of change and hope was, in fact, just a slogan, particularly as there was little evidence he means any of it. Well, the choice of a longtime Beltway insider who voted yea on the Iraq war and bankruptcy reform and was a member of the Gang of 14 and other atrocities is about as Establishment as it gets. Maybe Barack likes the idea of someone who thinks he's "so clean"? Well. Color me disappointed, and not merely mildly so.

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August 18, 2008, I am a rock

The "rock-solid" go-to guy in the Bush Administration's grandest of grand strategies... our-man-in-Islamabad... Generalissimo Presidentissimo Pervez Musharaf of Pakistan... has just tendered his resignation in the face of an almost certainly-successful impeachment initiative in Pakistan's newly resurgent democratically elected parliament.

While the machinations in Georgia are of concern to Americans, events in Pakistan, for those who haven't been paying attention, are the freaking ballgame. Pakistan is the tip of the hub of the axis of the axis of evil: it is Pakistan that has been at the center of nuclear proliferation to North Korea, Iran, Libya, and God knows where else. It is Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) that has helped prop up al Qaeda and the Taliban both in neighboring Afghanistan. And it is in Pakistan's own wild-west tribal agencies where OBL, al-Zawahiri and the rest of A.Q. central command has safe haven to this very day.

The Bush Administration's grand strategy has been having old Pervez do the heavy lifting (it was actually content just to pay lip service to the Bush Administration, while sucking up American cash with which, among other things, it has continued to burnish its own nuclear program and prop up our friends... the Taliban and A.Q.!)... Pakistan's cooperative policy included rounding up any Arab in sight... many of whom made their way to GTMO or Bagram or God knows where else... and an occasional foot-soldier did indeed get picked up while OBL and closest minions remain laughably free in South Waziristan under the protection of Pakistani sovereignty.

Well, well. What to do? Damned if I know. Let orderly democracy take its course: the Pakistani military seems content to sit this one out, and Musharaf is overwhelmingly unpopular. It's quite possible that a new government in Pakistan will be more conducive to overall American interests, and might deemphasize its nuclear proliferation operation and it might help us hunt down OBL and top minions. Or it might be business as usual. Or things might be worse: after all, Pakistan itself actually contains all the necessary ingredients in the recipe for Armageddon.

Since this is a presidential election year... don't look for anything intelligent on the subject out of our candidates, and after 7 1/2 years, we know better than to even think we'd get anything intelligent from our own government.

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August 16, 2008, Kodachrome

After we take a moment to send best wishes to our ailing (but now recovering) TD Mom, and to marvel at Michael Phelps tying Mark Spitz's seven gold medals for swimming at the Beijing Olympics (with one race still to go... even without actually watching t.v....) we turn to an annual event, that being the convention of the American Psychological Association, this year in Boston, which is considering outright outlawing its members participation in military interrogations (i.e. torture).

It's been exactly a year since the APA debated the role of its members in assisting the more gruesome and unlawful aspects of American conduct in the war on terror at their convention in San Francisco last year; I remember it for the strangest of reasons, that being while in Colorado for last year's Pikes Peak Marathon, on my rental car's radio, I heard Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! radio program reporting from there on this very issue. [Our own reporting on the subject includes our interviews with Dr. Steven Miles on medical complicity and with Mike Otterman on more general issues of torture.]

Anyway, from the Grey Lady's account of the APA "debate":

At the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting this week in Boston, prominent members are denouncing such work as unethical by definition, while other key figures — civilian and military — insist that restricting psychologists’ roles would only make interrogations more likely to harm detainees.


Others strongly disagree. “The vast majority of military psychologists know the ethics code and know exactly what they can and cannot do,” said William J. Strickland, who represents the Society for Military Psychology before the association’s council. “This is a fight about individual psychologists’ behavior, and we should keep it there.”

At the center of the debate are the military’s behavioral science consultation teams, informally known as biscuits, made up of psychologists and others who assist in interrogations. Little is known about these units, including the number of psychologists who take part. Neither the military nor the team members have disclosed many details.

Defenders of that role insist that the teams are crucial in keeping interrogations safe, effective and legal. Critics say their primary purpose is to help break detainees, using methods that might violate international law.

In court documents filed Thursday, lawyers for the Guantánamo detainee Mohammed Jawad asserted that a psychologist’s report helped land Mr. Jawad, a teenager at the time, in a segregation cell, where he became increasingly desperate.

According to the documents, the psychologist, whose name has not been released, completed an assessment of Mr. Jawad after he was seen talking to a poster on his cell wall. Shortly thereafter, in September 2003, he was isolated from other detainees, and many of his requests to see an interrogator were ignored. He later attempted suicide, according to the filing, which asks that the case be dismissed on the ground of abusive treatment.

The Guantánamo court is reviewing the case. Military lawyers have denied that Mr. Jawad suffered any mental health problems from his interrogation. On Thursday, the psychologist in the case invoked Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the military’s equivalent of the Fifth Amendment.

“This is what it’s come to,” said Steven Reisner, an assistant clinical professor at the New York University School of Medicine and a leading candidate for the presidency of the psychological association. “We have psychologists taking the Fifth.”


The psychological association’s most recent ethics amendments strongly condemn coercive techniques adopted in the Bush administration’s antiterrorism campaign. But its current guidelines covering practice conclude that “it is consistent with the A.P.A. ethics code for psychologists to serve in consultative roles to interrogation and information-gathering processes for national-security-related purposes,” as long as they do not participate in any of 19 coercive procedures, including waterboarding, the use of hoods and any physical assault.

How these guidelines shape behavior during interrogations is not well understood. Documents from Guantánamo made public in June suggested that at least some of the coercive methods the military has used were derived from SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape, a program based on Chinese techniques used in the 1950s that produced false confessions from American prisoners.

These techniques included “prolonged constraint,” “exposure” and “sleep deprivation,” known informally as the frequent flier program.

In this kind of environment, “health professionals, bound by strong ethical imperatives to do no harm, may become calibrators of harm,” said Nathaniel Raymond of Physicians for Human Rights, which has been strongly critical of the psychological association’s position.

According to the standard operating procedure for Camp Delta, at Guantánamo, the “behavior management plan” for new detainees “concentrates on isolating the detainee and fostering dependence of the detainee on his interrogator.”

Some psychologists, though appalled by these techniques, emphasize that there is a danger in opting out as well.

“There’s no doubt that the psychologist’s presence can be abused,” said Robert W. Resnick, who is in private practice in Santa Monica, Calif., “but if there’s no presence at all, then there’s no accountability, and you walk away feeling noble and righteous, but you haven’t done a damned thing.”


However the field addresses the issue, scholars say it may not alter the relationship much between psychologists and the military. Psychologists have helped screen recruits and study morale going back to World War I, and in Iraq, some military psychologists have worked long tours under fire, managing troops’ mental reactions at the front.

“American psychology really grew up with the military,” said Jean Maria Arrigo, a psychologist who has studied the profession’s relationship to military intelligence. “It was barely considered a science before the collaboration began, and the entanglement goes very deep.”

The S&G title "Kodachrome" applies to this post because there is an extremely bright line associated with this issue: the microsecond that a prisoner in American custody is subjected to cruelty, to anything-- anything-- that would be objected to if done to a captured American-- the line has been crossed. There, that wasn't so hard. Waterboarding, sleep deprivation, dogs, death threats... all unacceptable. Indeed, all war crimes.

This is the problem: there is a right answer. Involvement in these coercive interrogations is not only "professionally unethical" (notwithstanding "debates" that a "professional association" that is arguably itself a captive of the military or at least the military industrial complex may have)... it is illegal, and most importantly, it is simply wrong.

Yes, I admit that we are a few weeks short of seven years' slippery slope slide into a moral abyss of anything justifies "our national security". But it wasn't true then, and it's not true now. If we can't maintain our most fundamental values as civilized human beings (let alone as the world's sole super-power and principal guardian of human rights)... then there is little point for our continued existence as a nation. The terrorists will have already won. Is that what we want? Wake the f*ck up people: these issues are not debatable. Read that line above:

In court documents filed Thursday, lawyers for the Guantánamo detainee Mohammed Jawad asserted that a psychologist’s report helped land Mr. Jawad, a teenager at the time, in a segregation cell, where he became increasingly desperate.

This is A KID. So is Khadr, and so were quite a few others (as noted in our interview with GTMO chaplain James Yee).
What justifies torturing children? I'll tell you what: NOTHING. EVER. JUSTIFIES. IT. PERIOD. Which is why I, who unlike most of you or most of those at the APA convention was actually across the street from the WTC on 9-11, find these "debates" so appalling.

There is no debate about participation in torture, or even "abuse" or "mere" cruelty: it is wrong, without reservation. And those involved should be stripped of any professional credential, and in my view, prosecuted as the criminals they are. And that's as bright a line as it gets.

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August 11, 2008, The Boxer

I've kind of held back in discussing the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan Russian incursion into the Georgian separatist territory of South Ossetia (and now, evidently, the other Georgian separatist territory of Abkhazia), which has been met with "condemnation" from the United States. One wonders what might have happened if we had a less solipsistic President who didn't "look into the soul" of former KGB agent and Russian strongman (now from the position of prime minister) Vladimir Putin and see "someone I could do business with" and instead saw simply... a former KGB agent, who at a minimum would be duplicitous, ahd hardly our "friend" (and in any event someone with interests quite possibly very different from our own) and at a maximum would, well, try to restore Russia to its Soviet era levels of power.

And so, here we are. The pro-western Salikashvili government in Georgia has been pissing off Putin for a while, and Russian ethnic enclaves in nominally Georgian territory but not under Georgian control have pissed off Georgia, both for some time. This seemed a perfect opportunity for someone to launch a pissing contest (regardless even of how it nominally started). Especially a good time for a Russia eager to reassert itself and test out its new and improved military might at a time when its likeliest rivals can't do too much because one of them is putting on a sports-show in Beijing (to be fair, there's not much the Chinese would be likely to do here anyway), and the other is tied down in its leaders' last fantasy war in Iraq and is planning its leaders' next fantasy war in Iran... btw, there are American troops in Georgia for "training" and some Georgian troops were deployed to Iraq (while Georgia pitches for NATO membership) and IIRC some more troops are there in support roles in "the war on terror".

American moral and strategic leverage are... lower than they might otherwise be, right now. Many Georgian refugees fleeing the fighting decry the lack of overt American assistance. It still remains unclear if Russian forces will go beyond the breakway ethnic Russian enclaves (Georgia,of course, accuses Russia of doing just this with full intent to occupy and "regime change"... and Russia denies it). These enclaves had been left over as "to be dealt with later" after the breakup of the Soviet Union (and messy in-fighting around 10 or 15 years ago)... there are Russian troops in a lot of former Soviet republics these days, and if the current conflict serves as a model for Russian military interventions... lest just say there are going to be a lot of them.

Just another part of the powerful legacy of the Bush Administration's excellent Iraq adventure and its other really smart policies. (Not to be too snarky, it's not so much about a direct American intervention on one side or the other, but about the leverage to make Russia think twice about doing this sort of thing in the first place... leverage that Putin, at least, has concluded we don't have, and there appears to be no reason for him to believe we do.)

Update: Kleiman nails the essence of Bush Administration duplicity and incompetence on matters Georgia. As he says... unbef*ckinglievable. And The Editors tell us why we shouldn't care too much-- Republican standard-issue Neanderthal chest-thumping notwithstanding.

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August 7, 2008, Scarborough Fair

What can one say about the amazing outcome of "The War Crimes Trial of the Century" (seriously, the only American "war crimes trial" since right after World War II, and the only one so called in this 21st century), that of Hitler's OBL's personal chauffeur motor pool driver and mechanic, Salim Hamdan. Yesterday, Hamdan was convicted of the made-up charge of "material support of terrorism" and acquitted of the made up charge of conspiracy to commit a war crime. Today, the same herd of kangaroos magically sentenced Mr. Hamdan to a term of 5 1/2 years, which, since it amazingly includes time served, just happens to correspond to the end of the Bush Adminsitration (just as David Hicks' sentence just happened to correspond to the end of the Howard Government in Australia)!

Andy has more... and more still.

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August 5, 2008, Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard

And so it's time to bask in reflected glory of some of our friends...

Ron Suskind's new book (which I just bought) "The Way of the World" has just comes out, and though Candace mentions it prominently, she is too modest to mention that she is featured prominently in dozens of pages of Suskind's latest work for her tireless dedication and service on behalf of her GTMO-detained clients.

And kudos to our friend Mad Kane who was just awarded the 2008 Robert Benchley Society Prize for Humor (the grand prize, none of this first runner-up stuff for our Mad)... the finals judge was none other than the great Bob Newhart.

To quote from the late, great Mr. Benchley (don't ask me why I picked these): Most of the arguments to which I am party fall somewhat short of being impressive, owing to the fact that neither I nor my opponent knows what we are talking about and Tell us your phobias and we will tell you what you are afraid of.

To coin a phrase, indeed. And kudos, ladies.

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August 4, 2008, Old friends

Literary giant, Soviet dissident and Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn passed away at 89, in Moscow. His ground-breaking works including A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch and The Gulag Archipelago duly pissed off the powers that be in the former Soviet Union, who responded with various forms of ostracism, including attempts to ban his work and eventual exile.

Solzhenitsyn outlived the U.S.S.R. by around 17 years; in later life, he was a fan of national greatness Republicans Vladimir Putin and the resurgent Russia.

His death now reminds us that he was actually still around... when our own government, albeit on a smaller scale and only with respect to swarthy Muslim people, decides to engage in behavior reminiscent of the Soviets (in quality, anyway, if not yet in scale)... well, a cautionary tale is presented.

R.I.P. Comrade Solzhenitsyn.

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August 1, 2008, Somewhere they can't find me

Could we have come to the coda of the FBI's oft-bungled anthrax investigation? Greenwald comments on broader implications of the apparent suicide (just ahead of impending indictment) of the prime suspect, Bruce Ivins, 62, a civilian researcher at the Army's bio-weapons research facility, Ft. Detrick, Maryland, including the extraordinarily interesting issues surrounding media-generated hysteria in the aftermath of 9-11 attempting to link the anthrax attacks to Saddam Hussein (amidst literal White House denials!) while the only actual evidence showed that the source of the anthrax was not only domestic, but from our own military' research facility. One of many ironies of this case is that the anthrax used in tainted letters sent to Sens. Daschle and Leahy, Tom Brokaw of NBC, and others, which ultimately resulted in the death of 5 people, and national paranoia, was tested at Ft. Detrick.

One of numerous money paragraphs in Greenwald's rich Salon piece:

It's extremely possible -- one could say highly likely -- that the same people responsible for perpetrating the attacks were the ones who fed the false reports to the public, through ABC News, that Saddam was behind them. What we know for certain -- as a result of the letters accompanying the anthrax -- is that whoever perpetrated the attacks wanted the public to believe they were sent by foreign Muslims. Feeding claims to ABC designed to link Saddam to those attacks would, for obvious reasons, promote the goal of the anthrax attacker(s).

We had a government gearing up to attack Saddam's Iraq almost before it was sworn in. We had a nation in some degree of shock if not existential angst after the September 11th attacks. And then, we had terror not merely in some specific location at giant office towers or government buildings, but anywhere, anytime, through the mail (I recall at that time the office manager of the small law firm where I then worked in strategically meaningless White Plains, NY donning gloves and a mask to open the mail... I'm sure this was common all over America.) Throw in a nation looking for answers-- any answers-- as Greenwald notes, by January 2002, the President himself was linking Saddam and anthrax in speeches, and voila, we have the backbone of a national consensus that Saddam poses a mortal threat (and to this day, a signficiant portion of the populace believes Saddam was intimately linked to the events of 9-11)-- and you have a combination as lethal as the anthrax itself.

Glenn Greenwald is, like myself, a lawyer, and we are trained to be a careful lot, which is why Glenn confines himself to the facts as we know them, which include gross irresponsibility on the part of ABC News in reporting the purported Saddam link (bentonite and silica in the anthrax samples, reported-- but false) and other media linkages.

But let me throw in a few more facts we know. The FBI's analysis has always been "inside job" (for years, the prime suspect was another Ft. Detrich man, Dr. Steven Hatfill), and since it appears that this was the case, and given that our prime suspect is now conveniently dead (after a stint in mental health care), we cannot ask him questions like "why?" or ask him with whom he associated, and to what extent he acted alone. I will, however, add something to Greenwald's spot-on analysis: we know that the Bush Administration has made tremendous efforts to the seed the clouds of the media for its pet projects, including buying outright retired members of the military to recite its talking points, (extensively discussed here by... Glenn Greenwald!), or in earlier times, running actual fake news reports, and paying commentators such as the Armstrong Williams fiasco...

Given that playing a sympathetic media has been pretty much the main strength of this Administration... the statistical probability that all of these facts are the result of complete random chance would seem to be quite remote.
Just saying.

Update: Greenwald again, on just how weak the case the FBI is leaking actually is; given how solid the FBI has been in making cases against, oh, Wen Ho Li, Richard Jewell or Steven Hatfill... why should its evidence against Bruce Ivins, a registered and active-primary-voting Democrat who supposedly sent poisoned letters to Dem leaders Daschle and Leahy, be uncritically accepted? Indeed, why should just about anything that comes from any part of the United States Government in the era of this Bush Administration be accepted, at all, unless proven to a damned near moral certitude?

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