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October 26, 2005

Comments

...what they see is a small slice of the whole truth since so few actually go outside the compound.

which, in itself, says a lot about the "whole truth"; it says the country is a mess.

Interesting post! (Both yours and Yon's.)

A relative of mine spent time in Iraq over the past few years, as a correspondent for a largish newspaper. A lot of what he's said about it certainly corroborates Yon's post: for an organization to send a journalist to Iraq is expensive, and I can't imagine how one does it as a freelancer.

My relative has also mentioned the problem of being targeted in Iraq. He thought that at least part of the reason was that he wasn't Arab - as a journalist, he would probably stick out, but apparently doubly so as a foreigner. It made it almost impossible to talk to people, and in his eyes and the eyes of his paper, it wasn't worth it to go out of the International Zone because the risk to get a story far outweighed the possiblity of getting a story. He's told us he won't be back in Iraq for the foreseeable future because of this, because he doesn't want to join the journalists sitting around waiting for press briefings.

The embed process might help, but even with financial support from the military, I suspect a lot of journalists will share my uncle's attitude towards reporting in Iraq. Hopefully the new consititution and elections will change the situation soon.

they should be paying journalists a stipend to help defray the costs of this important function

I know this is a seriously-proposed solution to a real problem, but it gave me the shivers just to read it. Journalists being paid by the very people they are covering? It's a situation ripe for abuse. What real journalist would agree to something like this?

Its not surprising that jounrnalists are targets -- they usually are in most guerilla wars by one side or the other, and sometimes by both sides depending on circumstances.

Embed coverage is not going to help that much with regrd to journalists covering the circumstances in Iraq. Embeds probably get an excellent sense of what US troops are dealing with, but not a very good sense of the country itself. The troops are not that engaged with the mass of the people (they tend to stay in their bases or go on rapid patrols and avoid much interaction in order to avoid becoming stationary targets), and the embeds are limited to going where the troops go.

dmbeaster: Its not surprising that jounrnalists are targets -- they usually are in most guerilla wars by one side or the other, and sometimes by both sides depending on circumstances.

Certainly in the war in Iraq journalists are targeted by both sides. (As we discussed here in February.

Terry Lloyd, Fred Nerac and Hussein Osman were the first journalists and newsgathering colleagues to die in the Iraq war: 88 have been killed since the invasion and occupation.

"In many places a bullet is the cheapest and most effective form of censorship." link

Charles, will you ever recognize in your posts that there are multiple insurgencies in Iraq, including but not limited to AlQ (whose goal appears general instability), Kurds (ethnic cleansing leading to independence), Sunnis (civil war leading to a new totalitarian govt) and Shia (fighting off the Sunnis)?

Hooray for the new constitution! As best i can tell, we invaded iraq so that Iran could exert political and religious influence over the oil-rich, Shia occupied south. Brilliant.

cleek ..... through the glass darkly.

cleek, they NEVER left the hotel BEFORE the current war. They sat around the hotel bar, drinking and smoking. That was part of the problem, then (whatever be the direction of their political compass', or however much it may possibly infect their reporting). A bunch of lazy sods. In the case of one Scott Ritter, complicity in the regime's crimes (not reporting a prison for tykes!!&*#[email protected]+)

Things were no picnic when Saddam ran his murder squads. Minders' were generally required for all trips (or interviews of govt officials).

There are now THOUSANDS of independent news sources in Iraq. I did say thousands didn't I?

cleek ..... through the glass darkly.

cleek, they NEVER left the hotel BEFORE the current war. They sat around the hotel bar, drinking and smoking. That was part of the problem, then (whatever be the direction of their political compass', or however much it may possibly infect their reporting). A bunch of lazy sods. In the case of one Scott Ritter, complicity in the regime's crimes (not reporting a prison for tykes!!&*#[email protected]+)

Things were no picnic when Saddam ran his murder squads. Minders' were generally required for all trips (or interviews of govt officials).

There are now THOUSANDS of independent news sources in Iraq. I did say thousands didn't I?

Elmo: Things were no picnic when Saddam ran his murder squads. Minders' were generally required for all trips (or interviews of govt officials).

Whenever people respond to criticism of the state of Iraq post-invasion with this kind of reaction ("Well, things were JUST LIKE THIS before we invaded!" or "Well, at least we're BETTER THAN SADDAM!") I wonder what, exactly, they thought the US was invading Iraq to accomplish.

There are now THOUSANDS of independent news sources in Iraq. I did say thousands didn't I?

I think this is the first newspaper that was closed down by the US occupation.

They sat around the hotel bar, drinking and smoking. That was part of the problem..

what problem?

(not reporting a prison for tykes!!&*#[email protected]+)

Didn't this turn out not to be true? According to the Times:

As the Americans advanced on Baghdad, they mistook the orphanage for a jail or prison and released all the children who were there.

(Sorry, the link is to the pay archive -- I couldn't find the article online for free.)

Just a note that Chris Allbritton in Iraq has posted that the attack against the Palestine Hotel was (according to his sources) not directly targetting journalists, but security contacters in the building. It was also apparently a rare joint effort by elements of al Qaeda and ex-Ba'athists.

Not to get into any circular arguments, especially when it seems I'm being handed a golden invitation.

We can all agree, or disagree about the war. It's before, it's middle, it's present, and even any speculative future.

I read a lot of accounts, by reporters themselves, of what life was like for them, in Iraq, pre invasion. And essentially, that is all they did. Nothing.

Closing down one newspaper ... let's get real. And the other thousands, that did not exist before, and exist now? I think your scale is broken?

The Ritter story is true. From his own lips. To the world. Believe. The truth will set you free.

double-plus-ungood: According to Terry Karney (Pecunium on Livejournal):

The [Palestine Hotel] was known to be the residence of non-combatants. Given the general ROE (of which I still have a few copies) and the other buildings, of less real interest, which were off limits, the lack of such an interdiction for the Palestine hotel shows a careless, perhaps even reckless disregard, for the lives of non-Iraqi non-combatants.

Since the hotel was known to be the full of non-combatants it needed to have safeguards, mmore clarity on the shoot/don't shoot requirements.

If there was confirmed fire (and of a sort which could have harmed the troops in the tanks, though this is harder to judge) then all bets are, pretty much off. Barring that (and there was no evidence that anything was certain enough, even in the heat of the moment) then the hotel should have been out of bounds.

The allegation that the tanks were facing artillery is an after the fact excuse, not made by those on the ground. The guys on the ground (at least per the reports of the engagement I read) thought they had observers, but there was no arty to speak of, and no one can say; in a built up area, that spotting is coming from any specific target. By the logic of, "potential spotters = valid targets," there was no building in Baghdad which was off limits.

Since some were off limits, the Palestine Hotel, again, ought to have been on the non-target list. cite

Elmo: In the case of one Scott Ritter, complicity in the regime's crimes (not reporting a prison for tykes!!&*#[email protected]+)

This is the sense of "not reporting" in which you mean he did report it? There's a 2002 interview in Time where it's clear Time is referencing a report Ritter made in 1998, when he was still the UN's "top weapons inspector" in Iraq.

LizardBreath: Didn't this turn out not to be true?

I'm not at all sure what story or non-story Elmo's referencing: impossible to say without a link, which he hasn't provided. Scott Ritter did report prisons for children in Iraq; there was apparently at least one instance where the US soldiers mistook an orphanage for a prison, opened it up, the building was looted, and the children ran away - to die, to starve, or to prostitute themselves.


Time: You've spoke about having seen the children's prisons in Iraq. Can you describe what you saw there?

Scott Ritter: The prison in question is at the General Security Services headquarters, which was inspected by my team in Jan. 1998. It appeared to be a prison for children — toddlers up to pre-adolescents — whose only crime was to be the offspring of those who have spoken out politically against the regime of Saddam Hussein. It was a horrific scene. Actually I'm not going to describe what I saw there because what I saw was so horrible that it can be used by those who would want to promote war with Iraq, and right now I'm waging peace.

Jesurgilac - are you commenting on the enormous truck bomb by insurgents yesterday, or the shelling by US forces a couple of years ago? The Allbritton post was regarding the bomb, and no tanks were involved, so I'm not sure what your comment means.

d-p-u-g: The Allbritton post was regarding the bomb, and no tanks were involved, so I'm not sure what your comment means.

*slaps self* Posting too late at night, and already having that link to hand, I muddled two stories. Apologies. I need sleep.

*slaps self* Posting too late at night,...

But it's only 4PM. :-)

No problem, I thought it might be something like that. Your own fault for living in an incorrect time zone, of course...

Jeanne D'Arc has been all over this story [most recent iteration here] although she's come to a different conclusion.

Jesurgislac ..... perhaps your moral compass needs demagnitization?

He was a first person witness, to crimes against humanity. And he waited four years to make it known. Saying it in defense of Ritter, as relates the time frame of the invasion of Iraq vs. the Time Magazine article, doesn't get it.

Without checking my past platform, and from memory (yes, a very dangerous thing to do on a public forum). I'm also quite sure the one Scott Ritter has received in the nieghborhood of three hundred thousand dollars from a Middle East Operative to 'produce a video'.

umm... who cares about Scott Ritter ?

Here is a transcript from CNN, dated July 11, 2001. About the esteemed Mr. Ritter and his "video".

'Ritter was back at the U.N. in person and on film to discuss the turnaround and spy allegations, captured in a new documentary that he helped produce called "In Shifting Sands".'

After checking my past platform, it was .... four hundred thousand dollars, and he received it from an Iraqi.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0107/21/dl.00.html

Scott Ritter would do well to never introduce himself to me. Should he ever have the opportunity.

From Elmo's link:

ROTH: The point of Ritter's film is that the U.S. manipulated inspections to spy on President Saddam Hussein and provide political cover for military action against the regime.

...

Eventually, Ritter says, U.S. intelligence agencies pressured the U.N. teams to find weapons of mass destruction, even though Ritter says he and his superior, Ralph Acheas (ph), thought Iraq was fundamentally disarmed.

It's hard to argue with that in retrospect.

I just knew someone would take up Scott Ritter's cause. Please all do feel free to disagree about the war (honest). But Scott Ritter is ________ (fill in blank with vile descriptor of your choice).

After my last post, my memory stirred a touch. So, I stuck five words in to Google. Just like that, I came up with this. Top of the page, first hit [wham bam thank you maam]

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/05/04/writt04.xml&sSheet=/news/2003/05/04/ixnewstop.html

The five words? In Shifting Sands scott ritter

'Iraqis tried to bribe Scott Ritter with gold
By Inigo Gilmore in Baghdad and Charles Laurence in New York
(Filed: 04/05/2003)

Iraq's intelligence services bought gold jewellery that they planned to give to the wife and daughter of Scott Ritter, the controversial former weapons inspector, as part of a clandestine project to encourage him to work closely with Saddam Hussein's regime, according to documents discovered by The Telegraph in Baghdad.

According to the documents, which were found in the bombed headquarters of Iraq's intelligence services, the cost of the presents was approved at the highest level in an attempt to develop "strong relations with them [Mr Ritter's family] that affect positively on our relations with him".'

I'm sure there are more. Scott Ritter is no American. Inspite of what he says. Or thinks. Or believes. Left, Center, or Right.

Elmo, do you actually read the things you point to?

Mr Ritter and Mr al-Khafaji have both made clear that they received no such gifts or funds.

...

There is no suggestion in the documents that any money or other benefits were ever paid to Mr al-Khafaji.

...

Mr Ritter said that he had rebuffed each attempt and filed reports on the approaches to the FBI. He had also filed reports to the US Treasury when he was raising the money for Shifting Sands.

Iraq "tried" to bribe him, and "planned" to give things to his family.

Gosh, I'm shocked to learn that Saddam's regime was corrupt. Really.

Oh come on ral, you read something and you believe it. You read everything .... and you believe it. Where's the finesse? Interpretation, between the lines? We have a denial, not a contestation.

Scott was in Iraq. Before the war. With an entourage. A place we were soon going to invade. A country headed by a murderous whack job. He was only there, at Saddam's whim. At his behest. The docs of the plan would not exist, if those planning it. Did not already know that they had access.

Like I said ....oppose the war. But defending a defender of evil? Member Eason Jordan? Same deal. If Saddamski thought for even a second, that Scott was painting him in a bad light ..... zzzzzip. Out the door. Bye.

Access ONLY came with complicity. Eason Jordan complied. By NOT reporting what he personally knew of the true face of evil.

Why is it so hard to believe that countless millions (courtesy of U.N. corruption), flowed to bribes of those in the west. Politicians, journalists. Even dare I say, videographers. Scott's no filmmaker. Me, I've made a tiny film or two or three. But I never claimed to be a U.N. weapons inspector.

Now for four hundred grand?


Elmo: He was a first person witness, to crimes against humanity. And he waited four years to make it known.

Did he? Where is your evidence for that?

He said, in 2002, that he made it known that Iraq had a prison for children in 1998. Your assertion that he "waited four years to make it known" would be true if he knew about it in 1994, and didn't report it till 1998, but you haven't actually linked to anything that shows that.

cleek: umm... who cares about Scott Ritter ?

Scott Ritter has been publicly more right about WMD in Iraq than anyone in the Bush administration. Therefore, anyone who still supports the Bush administration's casus belli for attacking Iraq, will care desperately about discrediting Scott Ritter.

About Ritter:

He wasn't THE chief inspector, he was A chief inspector. Not saying anything at all about his level of qualification, just let's not inflate his importance too much. What was Ritter chief of? Concealment and investigation.

I'd tend to give him some slack in the area of knowledge outside his main discipline, as it's almost impossible to work cheek-by-jowl with experts in other fields and not gain some familiarity. IIRC Ritter's main area of expertise is missiles, and I'd guess that also means payload expertise (although probably not expertise as such in how nuclear and bio weapons made).

Credibility-wise, Ritter's made some rather unwise decisions after having departed UNSCOM. I'd say that he'd have been a great deal more credible had he stayed with them, even as a dissenting opinion. And I think he'd have done himself more service by offering a full explaination of his transformation from hawk to dove. Finally, the assertion that we'd attack Iran in June didn't exactly bolster his credibility.

As a human being, if even a quarter of the press is true, I'd keep my kids away from him. I suppose it's possible it all could have been a setup, but when your attorney pretty much admits that things were amiss...I'd tend to err on the side of caution.

So, faced with the question: which Scott Ritter do I believe, I have to choose neither. Not saying others have to make the same choice, just that his statements don't tend to carry any weight with me.

Uh, please ignore "explaination" and other typos. I think the part of my brain that's obsessed with spelling is experiencing a premature deterioration.

Slarti: As a human being, if even a quarter of the press is true, I'd keep my kids away from him.

It seems certainly to have been a setup: and there are some issues about how far police entrapment is entitled to go. (There have been credible reports, in pedophile entrapment cases, of the police officer posing as child actively encouraging the person they think is a pedophile to make contact - a practice which is both legally dubious and morally dubious.)

There has to have been some degree of temptation to respond in the first place, though, no matter how encouraging the police entrapment is, which is to say that I'd most likely prefer to be safe than sorry and keep any kids I was responsible for away, too.

On the other hand: Karl Rove has used the damaging rumor of pedophilia before, to destroy political opposition: we know that's a level he will stoop to. So there's got to be a degree of doubt, given that it was certainly a set-up.

Finally, it really doesn't make any difference to Ritter's credibility on WMD in Iraq: though supporters of the Bush administration appear to think it does.

Breaking news: Miers has withdrawn her candidacy for the Supreme Court.

It seems certainly to have been a setup

I'm not completely discounting that, but if so it's not the first time he's been set up. I'd think it'd be relatively easy to substantiate or dispute, but sealed records are tough to get at.

Finally, it really doesn't make any difference to Ritter's credibility on WMD in Iraq: though supporters of the Bush administration appear to think it does.

Well, if personal character were of no importance in evaluating credibility, I would agree with you. And if this were the only thing on the other side of the scale, I'd probably give it less attention.

Again, I'm not stating this as a recommendation for others, just my personal position in the matter. You may continue to take Ritter's post-1998 opinion in the matter of Iraq as gospel if you please; I tend to think that if anything, his opinion was more highly informed at the end of his stint on UNSCOM than it was a few years later. What could Ritter have possibly learned out of the loop?

Miers has withdrawn her candidacy for the Supreme Court.

Thank the Maker! Of course, there's no guarantee the next choice will be better.

Member Eason Jordan? Same deal.

If that's what you feel is a death-blow, I'd advise you to seriously bolster your argument.

I don't know if anybody here reads John Robb's Global Guerrillas site, but Robb (a software exec and former counterterror operator) is presenting the theory that the journalists weren't, at least primarily, the target, but rather the audience. Interesting discussion there, including a link to a Time article that states:

sources inside the Iraqi insurgency tell TIME that the real target was a security firm based in the hotel.

Slarti: You may continue to take Ritter's post-1998 opinion in the matter of Iraq as gospel if you please

That isn't what I said, Slarti: I said that he has been publicly more right about WMD in Iraq than anyone in the Bush administration. He has: that's just a fact. (It's also not saying very much, because the Bush administration has been consistently, crashingly wrong.)

Still, we don't need to judge Ritter's rightness by his having been credibly (or not) charged with child molestation, any more than we need to judge Bush's by his having gone AWOL, or charges that he used cocaine, or his record as a drunk driver, or a charge of rape, or having run every company where he had executive authority into the ground: we can judge it by the publicly available facts. The Bush administration was wrong about everything they said about WMD in Iraq: Scott Ritter was (mostly) right.

Scott Ritter was accused of child molestation?

That isn't what I said, Slarti: I said that he has been publicly more right about WMD in Iraq than anyone in the Bush administration.

He's also been publicly just as wrong, so I'm not sure where you're going with this.

He's also been publicly just as wrong

Has he? Sorry, I took a quick look at that 1998 document and I couldn't see where you were going with it. Would you mind outlining where you feel he went just as wrong as when (for example) Rumsfeld asserted that he knew exactly where WMD were, or when Bush claimed that Saddam Hussein was buying yellowcake from Africa?

By the way, Amy Goodman recently interviewed Scott Ritter on Democracy Now.

Ok, maybe not JUST as wrong, but if you bother to read even part of the linked piece, you'll see that Ritter was of the opinion that Saddam had both capability and was pursuing further capability. Either of which would be justification, and either of which are contradicted by him a few years later, without any cause given.

I'm not going to quote the parts that support my position, because there's not much there that doesn't. Also, Rumsfeld's "we know where they are" didn't refer to a specific location, but rather sites. So Rumsfeld was wrong, but Rumsfeld doesn't comprise anything more than a minute percentage of the people who thought Saddam had chem/bio and nuclear programs. Certainly we didn't go to war because we thought we knew exactly where the WMDs were.

Your misunderstanding of the yellowcake claim I won't bother going into; you have Google.

Ok, maybe not JUST as wrong

Thanks. :-)

, but if you bother to read even part of the linked piece, you'll see that Ritter was of the opinion that Saddam had both capability and was pursuing further capability.

I did read part of it, and did see that. My claim was that Ritter had been consistently more right than the Bush administration (which I think you implicitly concede) - not that he was gospel.

Certainly we didn't go to war because we thought we knew exactly where the WMDs were.

What exactly is the Bush administration claiming as its justification for invading Iraq these days? I lose track.

The primary public justification for invading Iraq (as we now know, the decision to invade Iraq was made, and the justifications for doing so whomped up afterwards) was that the Bush administration knew that Iraq had WMD, and even knew the exact sites where the stockpiles were located. That's the certainly the case Powell made to the UN.

If we assume that Bush & Co made an honest mistake, Ritter was simply better-informed and better able to assess risk than any member of the Bush administration: if we assume they were lying because they needed some justification for invasion and WMD would look good if they found any, Ritter was simply more honest.

Your misunderstanding of the yellowcake claim I won't bother going into

Better not. After all, once the Plame indictments get handed down, we can discuss it at more length. And doubtless will.

That's the certainly the case Powell made to the UN.

Yes, that we knew where the stockpiles were located. This is not the same as knowing where they were at the time of invasion; if you read the whole thing, you can see that these are places that think that the Iraqis have moved stockpiles out of. Baffling, that you read that and got from it that Powell was saying we'd be able to just walk up to WMD storage sites and start doing inventory.

Better not.

For your sake, perhaps. If you doubt, go back and read those fifteen words and see how they're different from what you're maintaining they say. Plame's got nothing to do with it, as I've been saying for quite some time.

Plame's got nothing to do with it, as I've been saying for quite some time.

Oh, it just happened by coincidence that after Joseph Wilson published an op-ed in the NYT, showing that Bush lied about the yellowcake in the SotU, that [whoever it was] just accidentally let slip that his wife was a covert CIA operative?

Ah well. Believe that while you can.

I gather the indictments are made public tomorrow.

No, Plame has nothing to do with the veracity of the yellowcake story. Nor did Wilson publish anything at all that showed that Bush lied about it. Again, you've misunderstood pretty much everything surrounding the yellowcake claim.

Nor did Wilson publish anything at all that showed that Bush lied about it

Why do you think the Bush administration went after Wilson, Slartibartfast?

Why don't you share your theory with us, felix?

Use your imagination. What was going on previous to Wilson's editorial that would cause him to come to the attention of those in the White House predisposed towards treasonous activities? Please use the phrase "tectonic plates" in your answer.

Slarti: Plame has nothing to do with the veracity of the yellowcake story.

Remains to be seen, but I think you're going to turn out to have been very, very wrong about this. Laura Rozen of warandpiece.com and Josh Marshall of talkingpointsmemo.com have reported together and separately on this for the last year and a half.

I'd like to place a friendly wager that the connection between Valerie Plame, Joseph Wilson, and the White House campaign to push back at them has everything to do with the entirely bogus yellowcake 'intelligence' that was inserted into the case for invasion. And that that will be demonstrated beyond all doubt within two years. (Via trial testimony, documents, and reporting.) Let's say $50. Are we on?

You could stop dancing around it and just say what you mean, on the other hand. I hear that can be quite effective.

Nell, that last was intended for felixrayman.

I'd be happy to place a wager, provided what's being wagered on can be suitably defined. If the bet is just that yellowcake is somehow mentioned in one trial or another, I'm not betting against that. So, if you have a specific set of occurrences that you'd like to bet on, please bring those on out.

You could stop dancing around it and just say what you mean, on the other hand

Haha. Coming from you, that amuses me greatly.

Let's just say that the statement, "Nor did Wilson publish anything at all that showed that Bush lied about it" is both true and misleading.

Dancing around it is, then. Crank up the Billy Idol.

Posted by: Anarch | October 27, 2005 at 09:49 AM
"If that's what you feel is a death-blow, I'd advise you to seriously bolster your argument."

Different strokes/different folks. Not why I'm here. I'm here because Obsidian Wings' focus is on the heart and soul. Not the mini skirt, hose, and cfm pumps. It's the real deal.

These days, I'd rather listen, maybe even discuss. And certainly disagree. I'm not here to win anything (though certainly I've played http://www.jebikes.com/java/WhackAMole/ a time or two before, on other sites/boards. But for me it has lost it's charm.)

http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGBXY2S2BFE.html

"UNITED NATIONS (AP) - More than 2,000 companies made about $1.8 billion in payments to Saddam Hussein's government .... The smuggling of Iraqi oil outside the program ..... poured much more money - $11 billion - into Saddam's coffers .... "

This conversation is silly without agreeing on the meaning of "lied". As far as I can tell, the infamous 16 words were in fact a lie - there's no reason to believe that the Brits knew what Bush claimed them to know. Of course the entire yellowcake discussion by the Bush admin is silly since Saddam could no more turn yellowcake into weapons-grade material in 2003 than I could - the whole point was to mislead the American public. Wilson's trip didn't disprove the surface meaning of Bush's statement, but it did disprove the meaning Bush intended his listeners to take away - that Saddam was a big scary pre-nuclear power.

Yo Elmo, how many of those companies were US?

Slarti, until we find out who is being indicted for what, I think it impossible to lay any specific wagers.

Cheney's office hid info from the Senate.

Posted by: rilkefan | October 27, 2005 at 05:39 PM "Yo Elmo, how many of those companies were US?"

http://www.karltanswell.co.uk/hamster.jpg

I've got a song, I ain't got no melody
I'ma gonna sing it to my friends
I've got a song, I ain't got no melody
I' ma gonna sing it to my friends

Will it go round in circles
Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky
Will it go round in circles

Billy Preston

RF:

Man, the long knives are out for Scooter.

Slarti, don't be obtuse. Obviously the word 'yellowcake' will come up at any trial whatsoever; the question Wilson was sent to Niger to investigate was whether an attempt by Iraq had been made to acquire yellowcake, and the what the possibility of success for such an attempt might be.

My wager is that sworn, non-perjurious testimony or documents (credible, non-forged) entered into evidence in the next two years will show that the effort to discredit/punish Wilson and/or Plame was motivated by the desire to hide the fact that the Iraq-seeking-yellowcake-in-Africa "intelligence" was fake, something known to the parties who spread the Plame=CIA, Plame-sent-Wilson-to-Niger story.

Let me know if that's not specific enough for you. In two years, $50 probably won't even buy you a full tank of gas.

Let me know if that's not specific enough for you.

It's not that it's unspecific, it's that it's only grazingly related to my point: Wilson's findings in Niger have nothing to do with the veracity of the yellowcake claim. Period.

Now, it certainly is within the realm of possibility that some in the White House thought that what Wilson said was of more than tangential importance, but I'm not going to bet against people being stupid.

"Wilson's findings in Niger have nothing to do with the veracity of the yellowcake claim. Period."

Wrong or misleading. Period.


"I'm not going to bet against people being stupid."

Re the Bush WH, I'll bet on stupid and evil. But there's no reasonable argument about the fact that the Bush admin was lying (in the sense of intentionally misleading the public) about the data.

Wrong or misleading. Period.

I don't get this "misleading" bit. Were you misled by it? Did you feel yourself inclined to be misled by it? Misled in which direction, exactly?

As for "wrong", what Wilson said in his op-ed immediately following his visit to Niger is clear and simple. It's got little or no intersection with the fifteen words, and certainly doesn't contradict them. "Sought" and "bought" have two completely different meanings, the fifteen words discusses one and Wilson discusses the other. Both are easily accessible on the Internet and have been for some time; it escapes me how you can think they're somehow contradictory.

"I don't get this "misleading" bit. Were you misled by it? Did you feel yourself inclined to be misled by it? Misled in which direction, exactly?"

I was referring to your comments here, actually, but see my previous comment if you don't understand my position.

Slart, the Venn diagram of 'sought' and 'bought' in this context has significant overlap. In any event, this sort of argument is a useless waste of time. The Admin thought the implications of the op-ed were sufficiently grave that they mounted a mini-campaign. Not one of truth -- here's what we know, and why we know it -- but of ad hominem: pay no attention to this man, don't you know he only got this gig because his wife sent him. In the practical sense, they knew exactly what you affect not to know: that for public purposes, sought & bought don't make any difference -- the claim in the SOTU was crafted to play cute, and the Pres was put in office because he doesn't play cute. Blog defenders can do it all they want, but the Admin knew it had to face the op-ed down on other grounds.

There's a similar practical difficulty with the continued insistence than no laws were broken wrt revaling Ms. Plame's position. If that is so, there's no reason on earth for the leaker to have refrained from confessing, especially once the CIA had complained to DOJ. Instead, the leakers (and, I believe, their bosses) hoped to brazen it out. Not because they didn't think no laws were broken, but because they thought that Omerta would protect them.

Not everyone who acts like a crook is a crook. Plenty of people who do are.

Slarti: My offer stands, but clearly you're too committed to chickensh*t hairsplitting ever to accept. Parsing won't get this administration's ass out of a sling.

Wilson's findings in Niger have nothing to do with the veracity of the yellowcake claim. Period.

You'd better tell that to Ari Fleischer and a crapload of other senior administration officials* then. The notion that the yellowcake claim in the SOTU and Wilson's trip/op-ed are unconnected is post-facto spin whirled up by the GOP PR machine to cover up their various damaging admissions of precisely such connections.

* You'll have to chase a lot of links here, since Eriposte's annotations are, too put it mildly, extensive.

Slart, the Venn diagram of 'sought' and 'bought' in this context has significant overlap.

No. Words have meanings, your diagramming notwithstanding.

Sought.

Bought.

Huge link-fest, Anarch. From what I've read so far, though, the author is also conflating "sought" with "bought", and has presented the sixteen words as a claim that Iraq had bought yellowcake, which is clearly NOT the meaning. Given that the author is making some fundamental errors in reason just in the top couple of layers of links, I think digging deeper is probably a waste of time.

The notion that the yellowcake claim in the SOTU and Wilson's trip/op-ed are unconnected is post-facto spin whirled up by the GOP PR machine to cover up their various damaging admissions of precisely such connections.

No, it's simply obvious when you look at what the words actually say, rather than what the DNC PR machine has whirled them around to say. See how that works?

And, really, all you need is in the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Iraq, starting on page 36. You'll note that the linkfest you provided presents some of the facts, but conveniently omits others. Such as that the INR was the only agency out of four that thought the Niger intelligence was "highly suspect" (which somehow has gotten reported as "highly dubious"). Pages 44-47 are also fascinating, and the conclusions make interesting reading, but I suspect they'll be shrugged off as a product of the RNC PR spin machine.

My offer stands

And I'm ready to accept it, when you're ready to make a bet that I'd take the other side of. What was your bet, again? Are you betting that the Senate Intelligence Committee report is contrafactual?

Why do you think the Bush administration went after Wilson, Slartibartfast?

As you say, we may find out after testimony has been offered. Before then, I decline to speculate. But it's your speculation; I invite you to run with it.

You could speculate that the Senate Intelligence Committee report is a pack of lies, for instance. I'd want to hear more on that, though, like which specific portions were fabrication.

Slarti: Before then, I decline to speculate.

Too late, you already have. You've repeatedly asserted on this thread that Plame has nothing to do with the yellowcake claims in SOTU: that is rank speculation. So, since you don't decline to speculate, what is your theory about why the White House went after Wilson - since you clearly have enough of a theory that you're sure it was nothing to do with the yellowcake?

that is rank speculation

No, it's fact: Wilson's trip and the findings from it didn't contradict the sixteen words. What people erroneously concluded from Wilson's op-ed and subsequent comments, I have no opinion on. If it turns out that someone decided to view Wilson's time in the press limelight as an attack on the administration and outed Plame in some sort of bizarre retaliation, I wouldn't be all that surprised. But I don't take such things as a brand of legitimacy on the notion that Wilson debunked the sixteen words, because that's not supported by any thorough investigation of fact.

No, it's fact: Wilson's trip and the findings from it didn't contradict the sixteen words.

That's the conclusion you've drawn, okay. (Wrongly, mind you, but I see how you drew the conclusion: Josh over at TPM has been outlining how Bush supporters use their brand of logic to draw exactly that conclusion for months, so it's not difficult to understand when I see you following those guidelines.)

But it is your speculation that the yellowcake issue has nothing to do with the Plame Affair - which you asserted as fact here.

If it turns out that someone decided to view Wilson's time in the press limelight as an attack on the administration and outed Plame in some sort of bizarre retaliation, I wouldn't be all that surprised.

However, since you withdraw that assertion, I accept your withdrawal from the field.

Any word about the indictments yet?

I know what the words mean. I also know that with respect to a commody like this, you have to seek it pretty seriously to buy it.

I also know that the point of the SOTU was to tell the public that there was a gathering threat, and that the use of 'to seek' and of the Brits were ways to play cute while conveying the message that it was happening. The time to play cute was well passed when Cheney told Russert in March 2003 that we knew that the Iraqi nuclear program was reconstituted.

Slart go ahead and stick your fingers in your ears and say la-la-la-la: the reason the Admin responded at all to Wilson (much less in the way they did) was because they understood that his findings undercut their claims.

In a hurry, so this'll have to be to the point:

Slarti: From what I've read so far, though, the author is also conflating "sought" with "bought", and has presented the sixteen words as a claim that Iraq had bought yellowcake, which is clearly NOT the meaning.

Uh, no, the author explicitly does not conflate the meaning of "sought" and "bought". The author, in fact, explicitly acknowledges the two are different, e.g.

"Why would Ari Fleischer state that he had said "many times" that "we don't know if it's true" whether Iraq even sought to purchase uranium in Africa (let alone Iraq actually purchasing uranium).

[That quote, btw, took me all of 3 seconds to find, so I can't imagine you read the link(s) all that carefully.]

You could also look to the front page of The Left Coaster where, about halfway down, resides a post entitled Treasongate: Desperately Seeking (or Buying) Uranium. It's an interesting thread, too, although he's trying to prove something a little different there.

No, it's simply obvious when you look at what the words actually say, rather than what the DNC PR machine has whirled them around to say. See how that works?

If one doesn't care about anything resembling factuality, sure. Some of us still do, however, and simply putting together words in a random order doesn't meet that standard. The point that eriposte is making, and one which you seem hellbent on ignoring, is that the Bush Administration itself claimed that that's what the words meant. IOW, those who were actually responsible for uttering the words, or representing those who were, themselves acknowledged the misrepresentation. It was significantly after the PR disaster began to unfold that they (and the GOP) changed their tune to try to weasel out on a technicality.

[And incidentally, speaking of conflation: if you're going to accuse multiple people of being dingbats in a single post, could you please preface their quotes with their names? It's awfully irritating to have to backtrack to figure out which allegations I'm supposed to respond to and which I can safely ignore.]

However, since you withdraw that assertion

Oops, someone's not comprehending very well. Or is it your contention that a connection exists just because someone thinks that it does? If so, we really need to dig up the Friends of Bill thing again.

I also know that with respect to a commody like this, you have to seek it pretty seriously to buy it.

Buy what? Actual meaning? Really, you need to get away from politics.

Slart go ahead and stick your fingers in your ears and say la-la-la-la:

Have you read the Senate Intelligence Committee report yet? I have. If looking at the facts presented in committee as well as the testimony of people who were actually involved in everything relevant to this discussion constitutes la-la-la-ing to you, I plead guilty.

Slarti: Or is it your contention that a connection exists just because someone thinks that it does?

Is it your contention that no connection exists just because you think it doesn't?

False assertions about yellowcake in SOTU 2003; the outing of a covert CIA operative.

You may have a theory that there's absolutely no connection between the two, and you're entitled to that theory, of course. But asserting that this theory of yours is true, while at the same time claiming that you "decline to speculate", is bad argumentation. Plainly if you've got a theory there's no connection, you are speculating.

"Why would Ari Fleischer state that he had said "many times" that "we don't know if it's true" whether Iraq even sought to purchase uranium in Africa (let alone Iraq actually purchasing uranium).

Anarch if it's your contention that the WH press secretary speaks for the entire intelligence community, I'm not sure what to do with that. Again, I'm not going to read Eriposte's stuff right now, for the reason that each of his articles link manifold other articles, which in turn link still others, and you have to follow the links all the way down to the bottom to find out that he's reached his conclusion only by inserting something speculative. Find me something non-speculative, condense it and fire it off and we can discuss that. Otherwise, I'm open to discussing the Senate Intelligence Committee report with you.

Is it your contention that no connection exists just because you think it doesn't?

Is it your contention that Joe Wilson found something that does contradict the sixteen words that for some reason he was able to withhold from the CIA (and the newspapers) while threatening the WH with it? Or some other scenario in which Wilson knew something contradictory of the sixteen words that somehow failed to make print? Something that didn't make print even after Plame was outed? And it's your belief that this will all come out in trial?

Ok, then. I guess that's possible, just as it's barely possible that I'm held in my chair not by mass-attraction but because the Earth sucks. If you're willing to admit things of this nature into the realm of possible outcomes, then, you know, God may actually have created the Universe only a few thousand years ago?

Maybe you can see why I think I'm a little closer to concrete fact than material not in evidence.

Is it your contention that Joe Wilson found something that does contradict the sixteen words that for some reason he was able to withhold from the CIA (and the newspapers) while threatening the WH with it? Or some other scenario in which Wilson knew something contradictory of the sixteen words that somehow failed to make print? Something that didn't make print even after Plame was outed? And it's your belief that this will all come out in trial?

Woo, Slarti! Nice set of straw men! Are you collecting them?

If you read what I wrote: I contend that there is a connection between the false statement about yellowcake in SOTU 2003, and the outing of a covert CIA operative about six months later.

You have asserted as fact that there is no connection between the two. So, you're speculating, since you cannot possibly know that there is no connection. Now how about just acknowledging this?

You're right, Jesurgislac: I can no more know that there's no connection than I can know the Flying Spaghetti Monster made the universe with his celestial pasta machine.

Slarti: I can no more know that there's no connection than I can know the Flying Spaghetti Monster made the universe with his celestial pasta machine.

Nothing like being able to acknowledge gracefully that you were wrong, is there?

You're right, Jesurgislac: I can no more know that there's no connection than I can know the Flying Spaghetti Monster didn't make the universe with His celestial pasta machine.

Twice, even. The second one is what I actually meant. And pardon me if Nothing like being able to acknowledge gracefully that you were wrong, is there? gives me a little chuckle. It must be catching.

Slarti: gives me a little chuckle. It must be catching.

Eh, Slarti: when you publicly and repeatedly speculate about an investigation, then say coyly (when asked to explain the theory behind your speculation) that you "decline to speculate", it would be more gracious of you to admit "okay, yes, I was speculating" than to produce a bunch of straw dolls, then go to that old standby the Spaghetti Monster.

So, moving on to the next thread...

Find me something non-speculative, condense it and fire it off and we can discuss that.

Try reading the Libby indictment. :-) Linked to from the CNN story.

Done. It doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know, relative to this discussion. It does tell us that the allegation is Libby lied, and I think that's likely.

Done. It doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know, relative to this discussion. It does tell us that the allegation is Libby lied, and I think that's likely.

It also tells us that 1) Patrick Fitzgerald disagrees with your assertion that, "Wilson's findings in Niger have nothing to do with the veracity of the yellowcake claim" and 2) if you had stood by your earlier statements, you would already owe Nell $50, and 3) Patrick Fitzgerald can tell you, using mostly previously reported information, why the Bush administration went after Joe Wilson in spite of the fact that you consider the matter to be too speculative to be worthy of comment.

It also tells us that

No, it doesn't.

if you had stood by your earlier statements

I still do, your failure to understand them notwithstanding.

3)

Irrelevant. Look, if you want to take the time you ought to have spent reading (and comprehending) my earlier comments and use it to make irrelevant comments further downthread, fine, but don't expect me to take it seriously.

Slarti: you ought to have spent reading (and comprehending) my earlier comments

Like: "Plame's got nothing to do with it, as I've been saying for quite some time." That was a pretty clear comment, I thought...

So: why do you think [whoever it was*] leaked Plame's name to Robert Novak: given that you have, apparently (unlike Fitzgerald**) already ruled out any link to the false statement made about yellowcake in SOTU 2003?

*as we must continue to say, I suppose, until further indictments are handed down.

**whom we might suppose to know a tad more about the situation than you do...

I claim no great expertise in the arcane discipline of Slartibartfastology, but in following this thread (from a safe distance), I think I espy what may be the tricky crux of it.

S. does not deny (though you may think he does) that Libby et al. leaked Plame's name in order to discredit Wilson, who was kicking up a ruckus about the yellowcake issue.

What he denied was that this has anything to do with the veracity of the yellowcake claim. IOW (if I understand him aright), although the lovable hotheads in the White House may have thought (or even feared) that Wilson's testimony disproved the SOU claim, and based on this thought or apprehension set about recklessly violating national security laws and otherwise committing felonious (not just unethical) behavior, these are all irrelevant. Because S himself, in his wisdom, can assure us that this paranoia was ill-founded (as paranoia so often is), that in fact Wilson did not refute Bush's statement, no matter how it appeared. I'm not quite sure whether S. is contending that the "veracity" of Bush's statement remains untarnished (unlikely, but it wouldn't be the only unlikely contention out there these days), or simply that its "veracity" was undermined by something other than Wilson's statement.

If I read this aright, it's like one of those tricky murder defenses in which the killer claims he didn't have criminal intent because he killed the wrong guy by mistake. I.e., yes the White House lied and obstructed justice to pull Wilson down because they thought he was going to refute Bush, but since he really wasn't refuting Bush, it's OK.

Or perhaps not. If I've figured out the argument correctly, I think I deserve some kind of a diploma in S.ology, but he may deny it just because I've spoiled his fun. Ah well. It's about bedtime anyway.

Dr Ngo: I think I espy what may be the tricky crux of it.

No: I think the tricky crux of it is that Slarti doesn't want to admit that Bush lied in SOTU 2003... and is therefore pretending not to understand plain statements by other people, being deliberately obscure himself, and complaining that if other people don't understand what he's saying it's their fault for taking what he said at face value rather than carefully decoding it to get the underlying message.

It's not about communication, for Slarti: it's about not having to admit that he was wrong to ever support that disaster-area President.

If I read this aright, it's like one of those tricky murder defenses in which the killer claims he didn't have criminal intent because he killed the wrong guy by mistake. I.e., yes the White House lied and obstructed justice to pull Wilson down because they thought he was going to refute Bush, but since he really wasn't refuting Bush, it's OK.

You were pretty dead on until you said this, Doc. If you can find where I've said anything resembling this, please tell me. You were so dead on that I encourage Nell and Jesurgislac to read everything you wrote up to that point a few dozen times until they grok it in fullness.

I think the tricky crux of it is that Slarti doesn't want to admit that Bush lied in SOTU 2003

Yeesh. I don't know why I even consider trying, anymore.

Slarti: I don't know why I even consider trying, anymore.

Maybe you could try something different? Like writing plainly and clearly what you mean, and not deliberately misunderstanding other people's plain and clear statements?

You have fun being deliberately obscure: which is your choice of fun. It ill becomes you then to complain that other people keep misreading you: when you're deliberately obscure, your intent is to be misread.

The Dr: If I read this aright, it's like one of those tricky murder defenses . . .

Slart: You were pretty dead on until you said this, Doc. If you can find where I've said anything resembling this, please tell me.

You may well have shrunk from the final words, Slart, but they were certainly implicit. Otherwise your point is entirely meaningless.

No, wait, now I get it. Your participation in this thread is sort of a meta-demonstration of the relationship between Wilson's trip and the SOTU. While all the people looking at context, tone and words think they see contradiction, if one looks at the words alone one sees -- what -- ships passing in the night. People just talking past eachother. (The only difference is that the Rovians were actually trying to convey a substantive point about the SOTU . . .)

Well done!

No need to reread - it was clear what you meant the first time, and it's still clearly entirely wrong, or perhaps not entirely under an extremely narrow and strained and highly unrealistic interpretation of what happened and what Bush said (part of my concise case for which is above, unrebutted).

(Hopefully this isn't posted a zillion times - annoying typepad. [Hmm, I wonder if one can refer to a very very small number as a zilchion]).

Firedoglake on the WaPo reporting is relevant.

Well, I've read something highly relevant to this discussion and possible wager: Wilson's corrections and responses to the characterization of his trip and his public statements in the "additional comments" section of the Senate Select Intel. Committee report that Slarti's so fond of.

The heart of the issue is here, where Wilson defends himself against the charge that from July 6 onward "Wilson told anyone who would listen that the President had lied to the American people, that the Vice President had lied, and that he had "debunked" the claim that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa."

My article in the New York Times makes clear that I attributed to myself "a small role in the effort to verify information about Africa's suspected link to Iraq's nonconventional weapons programs." After it became public that there were then Ambassador to Niger, Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick's report and the report from a four star Marine Corps General, Carleton Fulford in the files of the U. S. government, I went to great lengths to point out that mine was but one of three reports on the subject. I never claimed to have "debunked" the allegation that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa. I claimed only that the transaction described in the documents that turned out to be forgeries could not have and did not occur. I did not speak out on the subject until several months after it became evident that what underpinned the assertion in the State of the Union address were those documents, reports of which had sparked Vice President Cheney's original question that led to my trip. The White House must have agreed. The day after my article appeared in the Times a spokesman for the President told the Washington Post that "the sixteen words did not rise to the level of inclusion in the State of the Union."

I have been very careful to say that while I believe that the use of the sixteen words in the State of the Union address was a deliberate attempt to deceive the Congress of the United States, I do not know what role the President may have had other than he has accepted responsibility for the words he spoke. I have also said on many occasions that I believe the President has proven to be far more protective of his senior staff than they have been to him.

I see and grant the point that Slarti wants to insist on, as does Wilson: What Wilson's op ed said did not directly contradict the sixteen words.

However, what he revealed about his trip did begin to expose how weak the basis was for the claim in the State of the Union speech. In combination with the White House admission that the sixteen words should not have been included, Wilson's experience became a dangerous narrative. It made plausible the idea that there might be equally weak foundations for other claims designed to create the impression that Saddam would acquire nuclear capability unless overthrown, that other dissents and disconfirming analysis had been ignored.

So something had to be done to discredit and punish the dissenting 'community', before the idea took hold that all the weapons claims were tissue paper, and that the President and Vice President had known that as they pushed the country to war.

No, I won't be placing that wager, Slarti. "Plame has nothing to do with the veracity of the yellowcake story." Technically true. L'Affaire Plame' has to do with the veracity of the case for war. And the veracity of the President and Vice President of the United States on such a matter.

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