Wednesday, May 26, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Your Viewpoints Are Stupid.

Blinking in the Glare of the "Bright Light of Hindsight" I can't fucking believe it! The New York Times actually published a correction about their incredibly shoddy Iraq reporting. Well, sort of. As Jack Shafer predicted in Slate yesterday, the correction (published today) basically lets everyone off the hook because the Times blames editors along with reporters for the egregious series of fuck-ups. No one is mentioned by name; the Times only admits that "Some critics of our coverage during that time have focused blame on individual reporters." No, actually, all critics of the coverage focus blame on Judith Miller, a neoconservative reporter whose disgraceful behavior as an embed and whose dedicated shilling for Ahmad Chalabi brought the paper nearly as much shame as the Jayson Blair episode last year. Until the Times fires Miller or at least reassigns her to the dog show beat, this story isn't over.

They Also Served (Poorly) As much fun as it is to beat up on the New York Times, they weren't the only ones who got suckered by Ahmad Chalabi and the Iranian intelligence service (the US government also got taken in, for example). Here's a list from a Knight-Ridder investigation into phoney stories planed by Chalabi and Co. from late 2001 to the middle of 2002. Note that the list ends 10 months before the war began; if it were updated to include stories through, say, December 2003, it would be much, much longer.

New Appointments to Homeland Security: Chicken Little and the Boy Who Cried Wolf It's summer, and with two political conventions, the dedication of the World War II monument, and a major economic summit coming up, it's time once again to have Tom Ridge try to scare us with his color-coded Terrorometer. You know, one day there's really going to be a terrorist attack, and no one will be prepared for it because we're all so used to ignoring the hyperbolic, overstated warnings of Duct Tape Ridge and the rest of the gang.

Wait! Who Is This Sinister "Al Qaeda" You Speak Of? In all the excitement over prison torture and staying the course, you can be forgiven for forgetting about the ostensible purpose of the war in Iraq (no, not the WMD or freeing Iraq people...the other ostensible purpose): to score a decisive victory in the war on terrorism. At least, the government probably hopes you forgot about it, because, as a pro-war defense think tank in London points out today, the war has actually been a huge boon for Al Qaeda. The report finds that, among other ill effects, the war has split the Western alliance by isolating the US and Britain, galvanized and rejuvenated Al Qaeda, and led to an impossible occupation in Iraq that the International Institute of Strategic Studies says will require 500,000 coalition troops to be effective (there are 145,000 now). The report estimates that there are now about 18,000 fighters affiliated with Al Qaeda in 60 countries. Hey, but at least we got that "Sadan" guy...

We Will Not Negotiate With Militias and Criminals...Except This Guy Despite saying that it wants portly Shi'ite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr "dead or alive," the US occupation is reportedly in negotations to allow Al-Sadr and his militia to begin participating in the governing of Iraq. The idea is to make a deal similar to the one that has left Fallujah, previously the center of Sunni resistance, relatively quiescent (quiescent because American troops have evacuated the city and left the insurgents in charge). My point here is not criticize the deal; I actually think it's smart. The point is that doing stupid bullshit like announcing we want Al-Sadr "dead or alive" unnecessarily complicates things like this. We should leave the cowboy language in the movies.

-Consider Arms