Tuesday, March 23, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Lord, Do They Love That Sheikh.

Our Long National Nightmare: A Fond Look Back A researcher has discovered that J. Edgar Hoover's FBI kept a dossier on John Kerry during his anti-war days (the researcher discovered this after eleven years of waiting for his FOI request to be processed). Perhaps the ultimate compliment for a Democratic politician: H.R. Haldeman said he acted like a Kennedy, and Dick Nixon himself called Kerry a "phoney."

Ariel Sharon, Wearing the Bad Idea Jeans Apparently, your faithful servant at the MLWL isn't the only one who thinks assassinating Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin was a bad idea. Israel's intelligence chief, Avi Dichter, also argued against the assassination, saying the costs outweighed the benefits. Sharon went ahead with it anyway: After all, I can't think of any recent examples where the leader of a country has ignored the advice of his intelligence services and made a decision that backfired horribly, can you?

Welcome Home. Don't Call Us 23 active duty personnel in Iraq have committed suicide over the last year, and six soldiers have killed themselves after coming home. The latest was a Green Beret in Colorado, who blew his brains out in front of police officers called to his home during an argument with his wife. The army is supposed to provide seven hours of counseling for every soldier returning from combat, but veterans' groups say even this minimal level of care is being neglected.

The Coalition of the Willing to Vote These Jerks Out of Office First it was Aznar's turn; will it be Koizumi's next? Public opinion in Japan is still split down the middle over the deployment of 350 troops to Iraq, and Koizumi's popularity continues to hover and around 49 percent. However, Koizumi has a lot staked on the war: his spokesman, sounding more confident than anyone in the Bush administration these days, says there's a "strong possibility" we'll still find Saddam's nukes, ocean-liners of anthrax, etc.: "It is impossible that there are none," he says. We should all pay close attention to the upper house elections in July: If Koizumi's party gets punished there, it's a good sign that yet another Bush ally is headed for the scrapheap.

Presenting Our "Day Late, Dollar Short" Special Houston Chronicle reporter Harvey Rice offers a mea culpa that I think is shared by most of the national press corps who covered Iraq and who aren't named Judith Miller: "I was a witness to, and in a sense a participant in, the most concerted, successful attempt by our government to control war coverage in our history." Yes, Harvey. "In a sense" you were a participant - in the same sense that the getaway driver is a participant in a bank robbery. Rice nonetheless paints this pictures of the yahoo who stage-managed this operation for the Right: "The entire anti-information campaign was run by a Texan named Jim Wilkinson, a Republican political operative who once worked for former U.S. Rep. Dick Armey. Wilkinson, now communications deputy for National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, was one of a score of Republican operatives who descended on Florida during the balloting recount in the 2000 presidential campaign. Wilkinson also helped sell the impression that Al Gore claimed to have 'invented the Internet.' Despite his penchant for desert camouflage uniforms and military jargon, Wilkinson, a civilian, was essentially a political commissar who controlled information about the war as if he were running an election campaign." Why is the first mention of all this hitting the papers one year after the war started?

-Consider Arms