Agam's Gecko
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Yes indeed, that's me I guess. I've gotten into a bit of a habit lately, slacking off to about once a week - if that. Well if you're looking for a daily blog, be sure to check out some of the links in the blog-roll. At the very least, "Iraq the Model" should be a regular read, just to counterbalance the constant doom and gloom that makes up the standard media diet these days. I recently added a few entries to the General category, and I draw attention to the very excellent writing by an individual going by the pseudonym "Wretchard" on the site "Belmont Club". I'll probably add a few more of my frequently visited spots today, including the "Religious Policeman" - very interesting to keep an eye on him lately with the situation in Saudi as it is.

So if you come to visit, and that old Agam is being irresponsible again and hasn't looked after the place since your last visit, then be sure to sample some other offerings on the menu, won't you?

One of the most often repeated pieces of "conventional" wisdom about Iraq, has been that Saddam's weapons of mass destruction programs were a fiction created by the US as a pretext to overthrow him. Never mind that virtually every other country also believed he had them, and likewise the Clinton administration - "Bush lied". Never mind the mass quantities of chemical nerve agents found in the past year stored in underground bunkers at several Iraqi weapons storage facilities. The agency which finds them calls them chemical weapon materials, the agency which documents the finds, insists on labelling them "pesticides" (see "Mother Of All Exterminators" and "Cased Not Closed" for more). Apparently the Iraqi military base commanders were a bit neurotic about having extremely pest-free facilities for their munitions storage. They seem rather more likely to be stockpiles of chemical weapons materials than they are to be vast quantities of bug-spray to keep the mosquitoes down. And biological weapons stockpiles? As the author of those articles (a former Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Defense Officer) notes, a bio-weapons stockpile can be held in a single scientist's fridge at home.

But this is all nothing new, and certainly nothing that the "respectable" media wants to report much about. But here is a little bit more that came to my attention last week - although it apparently also doesn't fit the general agenda of those who decide what's important for us to know. The UN agency UNMOVIC now says they know that Saddam secretly dismantled and shipped out WMD components before, during, and even after the war, according to a report on World Tribune:
The United Nations has determined that Saddam Hussein shipped weapons of mass destruction components as well as medium-range ballistic missiles before, during and after the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003.

The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission briefed the Security Council on new findings that could help trace the whereabouts of Saddam's missile and WMD program.

The briefing contained satellite photographs that demonstrated the speed with which Saddam dismantled his missile and WMD sites before and during the war. Council members were shown photographs of a ballistic missile site outside Baghdad in May 2003, and then saw a satellite image of the same location in February 2004, in which facilities had disappeared.

[...] In April, International Atomic Energy Agency director-general Mohammed El Baradei said material from Iraqi nuclear facilities were being smuggled out of the country.
I first found this while perusing the weblog of Western Standard magazine,
The Shotgun.

UPDATE: Apparently the NY Times ran this story, but it will be a pay for view by now. Other stories on this from Associated Press, StraitsTimes, and Reuters.

SON OF UPDATE: Also on Drudge. Extra links courtesy of the ever vigilant Protein Wisdom, in the event that the World Tribune link eventually dies.

SECOND COUSIN OF SON OF UPDATE: LGF offers this link for the World Tribune story, which looks a little more permanent.

Is there really as much panic among the media elites in Canada during this election campaign, as it sounds like to me all the way over here? Some of the commentators I've been following, say that even the Globe is getting rather hysterical at the prospect of Stephen Harper as Prime Minister. Come on, the guy doesn't really look that scary, does he? Are Canadians falling for this stuff? I would hope the people are a little more sophisticated than to fall for these kinds of desparate shrieking. The Globe & Mail had two guest columnists last week: first a small taste of Margaret Atwood's panic at the total destruction of Canadian culture:
Those calling themselves the Conservatives are really the Body Snatchers. They've eaten the comfy old Tories and peeled off their John A. Macdonald and John Diefenbaker skins and put them on, and now they're prowling the earth with destruction in their hearts.
And now, an even shorter taste of the pure terror in the heart of the well known, impartial political analyst, Maude Barlow: "A vote for Stephen Harper is a vote for George Bush." Yikes. It's almost like the oooga-boooga man is stalking the land. No, it's even worse, it's the American vampirical werewolf in Ottawa, or something. . .

Hat tip: Let It Bleed

... is twice as many as I said in a post a few weeks ago. Just wanted to clear that up, and I forgot to do so last week. I had spotted only three among the ministers at the ceremony, but there are in fact six. Which is 6 times as many as any other middle east government, apparently.

I meant to include this with the mentions of the D-Day anniversary a while ago. We often forget how much our parents' (or grandparents') generation sacrificed, and the lack of attention and caring seemed never so apparent as with our esteemed Prime Minister recently. In fact I was surprised to see him at all on the screen that weekend, with the other leaders on the Normandy beach. I expected old Paul to be wandering around by himself that morning, without any cameras around him, on a rocky and windswept beach somewhere in Norway. . . .

I've forgotten now where I copied this from, but here it is anyway:
"Sixty years ago, Canadians were working alongside their British and American allies planning for the invasion of Norway and the liberation of Europe," Mr Martin told 350 members of what's left of our armed forces at CFB Gagetown. "Today, it is every bit as important that Canada step forward - just as we did during the invasion of Norway."
One of the other Liberal ministers last year referred to Vichy France when he wanted to talk about Vimy Ridge. Lest We Forget, indeed.

If anyone is curious about how the invasion of Europe might have been covered by media, if the current excessively politically correct BBC had been around at that time, an interesting and entertaining collaborative exercise on the Silent Running site is worth checking out and chuckling over. I've lost the direct link, but from the front page look for the banner on the left side which says something like, "D-Day in Europe, in Glorious BeebVision!"

And along the same lines, Victor Davis Hanson takes a "Look Back at Normandy" with some of today's political players and talking heads. Some samples:
  • NPR: Today we speak with Pierre Lang, a Normandy dairy farmer and once proud owner of four cows--until the morning of June 6.

    Farmer Lang: "The Germans? They never blew up my cows! No--only you did that. Look at the craters, the burned barn, the dead animals. Who are the real Nazis?"

    NPR: Perhaps you should ask Mr. Roosevelt that question, Mr. Lang.
  • Ted Kennedy: This entire disaster was cooked up in Hyde Park. The British didn't want it. Our commanders in the Pacific were against it. The French people surely didn't want "freedom" falling as bombs from the air.
  • Sean Penn: I'm going to Berlin to stop this madness so that my kids won't have to live in a world of Shermans and Tigers.
  • Noam Chomsky: It is well recognized that there is already a pipeline across the Channel. On good authority we know that petroleum is already flowing to this new captive European market. As leading scholars have pointed out, to understand the barbarism at Normandy one must learn about Standard Oil and British Petroleum--and the Rockefeller-Ford nexus.
However let it be known that Hanson is rarely so tongue-in-cheek. His articles are always worth reading, highly thought provoking and stimulating of fresh perspectives. A fine example of his informed historical wide-angle view can be sampled with his "Feeding the Minotaur", or any of his writings available on his site.

I don't know if this was triggered by the Dalai Lama's extremely successful visit to Canada, and more recently to the UK and other parts of Europe, but the Chinese government has had a propaganda junket making the rounds in New York and Washington, to promote their party line on the Tibet issue. To give an idea of just what kind of strategy is being employed by the Chinese colonial regime, here is the account of a statement given by the delegation leader at a press conference as carried on the International Campaign for Tibet website. Evidently there were dozens of media representatives present, but only four or five were from agencies not part of the official state controlled Chinese media.
"Therefore, as stressed by the ninth meeting on Tibet-related external propaganda, we should maximize the use of our 50 Tibetology centres and 1,000 Tibetologists to carry out external propaganda work on Tibet. Under appropriate banners of non-governmental organization, they should form a national force of Tibetologists and participate in Tibet-related activities of international non-governmental organizations. Our Tibet specialists should make well-planned visits to foreign countries. Similarly, foreign Tibetologists should be invited to country for conferences on Tibet. In this way, we should promote cultural exchange, discussion, cooperation, and friendship with foreigners. We should enhance our influence on international Tibetologists. By means of cultural exchange, we should enhance our influence on western community and its opinion. By means of culture, we should promote effective struggle for favourable public opinion regarding our work in Tibet.

"We should develop suitable research projects by using our Tibetologists, particularly those of Tibetan nationality, as well as our historical relics, cultural scriptures and other resources, which are not available to others. Specialists and scholars should work together and support serious research works on important issues in order to produce heart-winning scholarly arguments. Effective scholarly arguments must be made available for our external propaganda on Tibet. We should appreciate the unique value of renowned writers’ works for the promotion of external propaganda on Tibet. With far-sight, determination and proper planning, we should organize projects to publish foreign language books on the deeper issues that have wide interest, but are misunderstood, in foreign countries. We should participate in western intellectual activities and promote our views in the western community through their own intellectuals."
China has recently released another of its "White Papers" on Tibet, essentially reiterating the theme of "China's indisputable ownership of Tibet for many centuries" and so on and so forth. The Tibetan Government had been preparing an official response to this, when apparently their website was hacked into and the preliminary draft of the document was released. Not only that, but the document was mailed to Tibet support groups around the world, in such a way as to look like genuine communication from the Tibetan Government in Daramsala, and carrying a destructive virus attached for good measure. Naturally, Chinese hackers are suspected.

Meanwhile in Lhasa, the Chinese authorities have built steel barricades across the devotional areas of the city's most important and most sacred temple, the Jokhang, according to reports to the Tibet Information Network. The measures are said to have been taken in order to ensure that tourists are not able to view the temple without having paid the entrance fees. Take a look at this photo, and this one.

And finally, Tibet supporters peacefully protesting the presence of Chinese president Hu Jintao in Budapest, were shocked when a member of the Chinese delegation attacked peaceful demonstrators demanding human rights for Tibet from China. Hungarian police seized the delegate, who is protected by diplomatic immunity, and led him away from the scene where he was later released.

One more, a little more positive this time: Radio Free Asia's Tibetan Service is reporting from Kathmandu, that Beijing has given a nod to a "non-official" Tibetan visit in the coming weeks. The group could have up to five participants, and in addition, the long awaited official delegation is expected to return for their third visit this October.

China Digital News reports on Canada's shameful support of China's heavy handed suppression of basic human rights. And when I say Canada, I mean you, me, and our lovely and talented Liberal government and Crown Corporations. Canada's Export Development Corporation is a Crown Corporation, using taxpayer's money to help finance, provide loan guarantees, insurance, and in other ways promote and support dicey business deals for Canadian companies abroad. Nortel Networks is such a company, and is also under investigation by stock market regulators in Canada and the US. Nortel is also under criminal investigation by the US attorney in Dallas. Nortel still hasn't filed its 2003 tax returns.

This article cites an opinion piece in the The Asian Pacific Post, which includes this:
"What this company is doing is basically telling China that we at Nortel can help you track down activists and free speech advocates," said [Clive] Ansley, a former professor of Chinese studies and Chinese law in Canada, who was the first foreign lawyer to open a law office in Shanghai. Instead of implementing laws to control the export of such technology that results in scores being rounded up, jailed and even killed, the Liberal government has been handing out tax dollars to companies like Nortel.
According to Probe International, there is plenty of evidence to show that EDC...
. . has a long record of financing environmentally damaging and economically unsound projects. Many EDC projects have also contributed to the violation of human rights and are plagued by corruption. Because of its exemption from the Access to Information Act, EDC's activities are sheltered from public view. The absence of public sector oversight and market discipline make EDC-supported projects a perfect breeding ground for corruption and business activities that harm the environment, sink Third World citizens in debt, and cost Canadian taxpayers money. Most profoundly, EDC secrecy potentially threatens lives and undermines democratic institutions.
Canada's principle institute for promotion of democracy and human rights around the world is the ICHRDD (International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development), usually known by its short name as "Rights and Democracy". This is our equivalent of the American publicly funded independent institute, the National Endowment for Democracy, or the British Westminster Foundation. The President of Rights and Democracy in 2001 (possibly he still is), Warren Allmand, told a House of Commons committee at that time that:
In trying to get information from the government on what role was played by the EDC in financing Nortel and other companies developing this technology for the very repressive government in China, we tabled 17 access to information requests. We got back blank pages. We got back blank pages--17--because the EDC is not subject to the Access to Information Act.
The China Digital News article has more links on this subject. This "Golden Shield" project, which Nortel has been assisting the communist dictators with, is nothing new. More info on the Golden Shield here. We should not be supporting such companies, and our government should not be throwing our public money around at things like this. Especially when our elites want to crow about how morally superior we are to the evil Americans!

Meanwhile, the "People's" Republic, in the spirit of international solidarity and liberation of oppressed masses, will be selling $200 million dollars worth of military equipment to the dictator Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. AfricaPundit surmises (in the regular "Africa Regional Briefing" feature on Winds of Change), that these may be necessary for Mugabe's next offensive "against the formidible forces of Zimbabwe's independent press."

Alright, something seems just a little bit amiss here. Canadian taxpayers are supporting companies which help China's commie dictators jail and kill citizens who exercise their right of independent thought and speech. The Chinese, of course, can be expected to give their fraternal support to a fellow Marxist oppressor who viciously punishes free speech. But should it seem so unremarkable for Canada to be doing the same thing?

Well, after including the grateful words last week from Mr. Arthur Chrenkoff of Australia - formerly of Soviet dominated Poland - I feel that these short quotes should be placed here as well. The man from the Gdansk shipyards who became the figurehead of the Solidarnosc movement, Lech Walesa:
Poles fought for their freedom for so many years that they hold in special esteem those who backed them in their struggle. Support was the test of friendship. President Reagan was such a friend. His policy of aiding democratic movements in Central and Eastern Europe in the dark days of the Cold War meant a lot to us. We knew he believed in a few simple principles such as human rights, democracy and civil society. He was someone who was convinced that the citizen is not for the state, but vice-versa, and that freedom is an innate right.
All the best, Lech. You were an inspiration your-own-self. Cathy Young came to the US in 1980 as a young immigrant from the Soviet Union.
She remembers:
In March 1983, when I was a student at a community college in New Jersey, Reagan gave a now-famous speech in which he referred to the Soviet Union as "an evil empire." One of my classmates, an older woman active in various left-of-center causes, clucked in disapproval and said to me sympathetically, "You must have been so offended--after all, he was talking about your native country!" I felt like saying, "Why do you think I left, you dunderhead?" though my actual response was more diplomatic. My classmate was shocked to learn that my own reaction to the speech was, "Finally, someone gets it!"
I can relate to that. Cathy says she would have wanted to vote for him in 1984, but hadn't acquired her citizenship yet.

A couple of things dropped into the old mailbag a few weeks ago. Obviously I'm not what you'd call "diligent" about dealing with my mail, heh. A reader writes:
the Burg beheading is the only thing that I've heard of on TV that deserves to be called "reality television."
Well, I would agree that what is commonly referred to as "reality television" looks to me like anything but "reality" (believe it or not, stuff like "Bachelorette" and "Temptation Island" --BLECHHH! -- is showing on Indonesian network tv - I think it's supposed to demonstrate how depraved we are, or something). Now of course, I'm not anywhere near the receiving zone for most Norte Americano television, but from what I've gathered, the Berg beheading would qualify to be the "reality tv that you will never actually see on your tv". Remember, I saw the beheading completely by accident over here, while some high school teachers in the US were punished (as I heard it) for allowing students to find the video on the internet with school computers. It's never been shown on the public airwaves. In fact my understanding is that the whole story of Nick Berg was finished by the day after his execution. Naked pyramids and dog collars are more suitable subjects for repeated viewing I guess, even after everyone has all the images committed to memory.

Anyway, as we've seen, Allah's armies apparently believe Him to have an insatiable appetite for infidel heads. That part's real enough, but you won't be seeing it on tv. The Saudi al Qaedists who attacked the compounds in Khobar had it first on their "to-do list", and they found a Swede inside and mounted his high on the front gate for passers by to see. Many Filipinos and Indians ("Christian and polytheist infidels") met the same fate. Mr. Johnson last week, Mr. Kim Sun-Il last night. That heart-rending wail of his, "I don't want to die!" - God it just grabs you by the guts. But tomorrow the story will be over, and we won't be seeing his reality any more. There's still more to come of the Abu Ghraib abuse and torture, though.

I do want to interject here, that I'm quite encouraged to see that the South Korean government has no plans to toss out their huevos and kiss terrorist butt. Of course I feel for his family and loved ones, sympathise with the feelings of Korean people, and can even understand their general attitude to just get the hell out of there. But the plain fact is that kissing butt, doing what you're told, marching on demand like that 10,000 or so Italians did when Zarqawi's people ordered them to - these are all exactly the wrong courses of action. Completely counterproductive, no matter how much we may be tempted to do the easy thing and just give in. Giving in is simply a complete betrayal of everything we live for.

Anyway, back to reality tv. No one in the CBS/NBC/CNN/ABC/BBC/CBC/PBS viewing area will be seeing any of these torture videos from Abu Ghraib. The AEI held an event on the pre-war abuses which were common everyday events in that prison, including apparently an extremely disturbing video that Saddam's torturers took of themselves having fun. I understand it goes well beyond humiliation with dog collars, nudity and flowered panties. Even worse than scary snarling dogs and fake electrodes. Evidently those guys had an appetite for severed heads as well. The organisers of this public event had alerted all the mainstream media, and of course virtually none of them were interested enough to cover it.

Be very careful with that link: I hope it's just an index page, but I haven't visited it. Personally I've seen enough of Fedayeen Saddam's home movies to convince me that the regime was pure evil, I don't need any more. BBC Panorama showed a documentary in the fall of 2002 that contained footage more disturbing than anything I've ever seen on television. Well, until the Berg killing I guess.

Another item from the mailbag (heh, I can hear somebody laughing out there!):
from a clown website "clownarchy" (referring to gay marriage):
Remember: When Marriage is outlawed, only outlaws will have in-laws.
This one reminded me of something I saw on Sullivan's page (he writes a fair amount about the gay marriage thing), so I just had to wait until I could dig through his archives and find it again. And thus, my extreme un-prompt-ness in answering my mail.

According to Gallup polls:
In 1968, only 20% of Americans approved of marriage between "whites and nonwhites." By 1983, 43% said they approved of marriage between blacks and whites, and in the most recent survey conducted for AARP, 73% of Americans expressed approval toward black-white marriages. This percentage is up significantly since Gallup last asked the question in June 2002.

While a majority of black adults have consistently approved of marriage between whites and nonwhites since Gallup began asking this question of blacks in 1968, only 17% of whites approved in 1968. It wasn't until 1997 that a majority of whites expressed approval toward black-white marriages. According to the latest survey, 70% of whites and 80% of blacks approve of marriage between whites and blacks.

Younger Americans are more likely than older Americans to approve of marriage between blacks and whites (approval ranges from 85% among the 18- to 29-year-olds to just 47% among those 65 and older).
I have to admit that I was really quite surprised at this revelation, at how very recent it is that public opinion on this issue finally shifted to the other side. It was only seven years ago that a majority of whites finally approved of mixed race marriages! As Andrew points out, today there is roughly double the amount of support for same-sex marriages as there was in 1968 for mixed race marriages. This alone should be enough to show how silly it is to be considering a Federal Marriage Ammendment to the Constitution. Surely everybody can compromise a bit on this, I think it's a mistake to make it the major issue in the election. Provide for an equivalent set of rights and responsibilities or something. The name of the game is, and always will be, personal freedom - so who cares if it's called by a different name from holy matrimony (holy patrimony!)? Things change, culture changes, always has and always will - but it does it on its own timetable. Trying to hold back the tide is as useless as trying to push it faster. Just work it out, Americans - this is not the thing to be divided over at the present time. Much more important things are at stake.

Like I said, the Gallup quote was found on Andrew Sullivan's page.

I like this one a lot: firm evidence that the single most critical condition for producing non-terrorist human beings, is....... freedom and democracy! Roger Simon reports that one of his readers sent him the subscription only article by New Republic editor Lawrence Kaplan:
A recent study by Princeton's Alan Krueger and Czech scholar Jitka Maleckova analyzed data on terrorist attacks and measured it against the characteristics of the terrorists' countries of origin. The study found that "the only variable that was consistently associated with the number of terrorists was the Freedom House index of political rights and civil liberties. Countries with more freedom were less likely to be the birthplace of international terrorists."
I knew it, I knew it all along! Heh, how could it be otherwise? Well, I've subsequently come across reference to this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, which I think may be further details of the Princeton study.

This is one I've seen relayed in several places, and I find it totally predictable. According to Screen International, the United Arab Emirates based distributor for Moore's "Farenheit 911", Front Row Entertainment has been contacted by organisations related to the Hezbollah in Lebanon
with offers of help. It seems that the Armies of Allah are getting all soft hearted with their affections for the large one:
In terms of marketing the film, Front Row is getting a boost from organisations related to Hezbollah which have rung up from Lebanon to ask if there is anything they can do to support the film. And although Chacra says he and his company feel strongly that Fahrenheit is not anti-American, but anti-Bush, "we can't go against these organisations as they could strongly boycott the film in Lebanon and Syria." . . . Front Row, which also worked with Moore's Bowling For Columbine, is setting a precedent with Fahrenheit as it is the first documentary ever to be released theatrically in the territory. Bowling went straight to video and had a healthy run. Indeed, Moore is, explains Chacra, "considered an Arab supporter," locally.
Spotted first on Instapundit. By the way, Robert Heinlein - the author of the famous novel "Farenheit 451", which was later made into a movie, and much later was plagiarised by Moore for the title of his Kerry campaign video.. er... crockumentary... er.. subjective videographic op-ed piece, yeah that's it - Robert Heinlein apparently thinks Mr. Moore is an absolute jerk. Actually his language was stronger, but I want to keep this as a family rated blog.

Elections have taken place in one of France's farthest-flung and most exotic possessions, French Polynesia. Voters elected the archipelagic colony's first pro-independence leader . . . Can we expect Le Monde and Le Figaro etc. to praise the islanders' brave and principled stance against the outdated and bitter legacy of French colonialism? Will they rather lament the impending loss of their idyllic south seas getaway? Or maybe the simple and childlike islanders were tricked by anti-French CIA shenanigans and black operations? Will the advanced and highly civilised forces of Parisian society show fraternite with the freedom loving people of the south Pacific? And finally, will the French state happily say goodbye to its traditional nuclear testing zone? Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, in another part of their far-flung empire, the Franco-imperialists' military involvement in Ivory Coast appears to be a quagmire. According to this translated article from Ivory Coast's Fraternite Matin, they've alienated the few friends they had there.

Beautiful plummage, these "journalists" have, eh? Well I still do consider it to be an honourable profession, but it's getting progressively more difficult, the more I see reporters displaying their aloof airs of superiority :
NEW YORK (AP) -- Reporters at three news organizations are resisting subpoenas issued in the trial of a lawyer charged with conspiring to support terrorists.

Prosecutors issued subpoenas to four reporters at Reuters, The New York Times and Newsday, saying they want the reporters to testify that lawyer Lynne Stewart said what they quoted her as saying in their articles. . . .

Lawyers for the reporters have argued that making the reporters testify would compromise their neutrality by forcing them to side with prosecutors.
Hmmm, so it amounts to something like, "We are the news paper/agency/source of record in this country, but don't expect us to come forward and affirm the accuracy of our quotes." Well I have to say, after seeing the "reputable" media's behaviour this week, they would be well advised to maintain this particular snobbish attitude toward questions of accuracy. There can certainly be no other more effective defence for the latest round of 'bias shall trump objectivity,' which flooded the airwaves and front pages following the final two public hearings of the Sept. 11 Commission.

BBC started it off for me, on the morning (over here) following the Wednesday (over there) hearing. "It's final: No links between Saddam and Osama". Talking "experts" on the screen for the anchor to interview, and reinforce the final verdict. The sneers came thick and fast - nobody apparently noticing that the "expert" had flubbed it and had actually sneered at "no connections between bin Laden and Sept. 11." I had to laugh as that one was repeated every hour on the hour, all morning. Basically it was a full day of completely over-the-top mis-characterisation of what the committee staff report actually said. And from what I learned later, the day's "newspapers of record" in the US were just as bad - but eventually they started to take a bit more care and correct their wordings and headlines.

Listening to, reading or watching the "reliable" media that day, one would have concluded that Saddam and Osama had never even heard of each other. "There's no link, no link, Bush lied, people died." Now, even if we can completely trust the staff report's findings - and I have doubts about how fully they looked at this issue - it said nothing of the kind. But I really think the media ought to be a little less shrill about it (which they seemed to start doing the following day at least), for as I wrote last week, it was many of these same media agencies which had planted the whole Osama-Saddam collaboration as an accepted truth, back at the end of 1998, beginning of 1999. Anyway, as the members of the commission clearly stated before the day was out - and including the most anti-Bush posers among them - they agree and have substantial evidence that there were contacts, meetings, communications - in other words links of many kinds - between Saddam and Osama going back years before Sept. 11. Some of these cackling "I told you so" types seemed to be forgetting the fact of the Clinton government's 1998 indictment of Osama, which stated:
In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the Government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq.
The part that makes me wonder at the commission staff's thoroughness, is the part where it says they can't be very sure even about al Qaeda's involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing... and the later foiled plot to blow up a dozen airliners over the Pacific Ocean....good heavens, man! As far as I can tell, that much has been quite well established already. Indeed we even know for a fact that an Iraqi embassy person in Manila was also linked on the latter case (that is, in addition to the al Qaeda people).

Hmm, maybe that's the catch: how is al Qaeda defined for these purposes? Maybe the cell which pulled off 1993 WTC, or the Cole, or Khobar Towers, or the East African embassies, or the Bojinka plot weren't sufficiently close to bin Laden to qualify as legit AQ members. Maybe only the central Shura Council of a half-dozen men, are considered the legit AQ members for some people's purposes. If you take it far enough down this road, the statement "No links between Iraq and al Qaeda" could be narrowed down to mean that Saddam and Osama haven't actually kissed yet.

Anyway, you can be sure that there will be more on this - the staff report is pretty thin on that particular issue, and the media spin on it was just silly. The reports (#15 is the relevant one here) and hearing transcripts are available in pdf format here. After all, they were charged with focussing on the Sept. 11 plot in particular, and what they said was that Saddam and Osama did not collaborate together specifically on the attacks against the United States. Which of course is very different from "No links, Bush lied" etc. Indeed the commission members seemed a little perplexed on what all the fuss was about, because they sure didn't feel they had said anything which contradicted anything the administration had said. And of course, when the media calmed down and used the little sense their creator has endowed them with, they had to finally see the point.

More on this from Andrew McCarthy on Iraq & al Qaeda - I haven't read it yet either. Obviously Stephen Hayes will have something out about it soon - maybe already - so I'll check his magazine for that. I have Laurie Mylroie's book right here but haven't started it yet, on her evidence for Iraqi involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Like someone said last week, if there are 100 pieces of evidence, and only 10% of them can be checked out and confirmed - does that qualify as a "link"?

I'm amazed, simply amazed....... The current crop of geniuses in the Australian "Big Brother" household shall hereby comprise our traditional Joke of the Day :
"Last week the legitimacy of US and Australian involvement in Iraq was the topic of a rather passionate discussion in the Big Brother kitchen.

"Housemate Bree stated that George W. Bush's motivation for sending troops to Iraq was driven by a personal vendetta. According to the attractive Queenslander, Saddam Hussein had killed George Bush Sr during the first Gulf conflict and now George Jr was out for some good old-fashioned Texas-style payback.

"Another bimbo in residence, dizzy brunette Ashalea, had previously asked: 'Where's the Berlin Wall?' This display of ignorance was only compounded by pretty-boy Wesley, a housemate who has vocalised his desire to be Australian PM. The budding politico sagaciously put his arm around Ashalea and explained that the Berlin Wall ran down the middle of a 'communist country' known as Berlin. It was erected by the 'rich' communists of the east side of the country to 'keep out' their 'poor' comrades from the west."
This delightful nugget was found at the increasingly essential daily read, namely the frequently cited Mr. Arthur Chrenkoff. Anyway, don't feel too bad, Australia. A few weeks ago, Der Spiegel magazine in Germany had printed a statement in one of their stories, about how the former US President Henry Kissinger had said or done one thing or another. It may be hard to believe for such a "reputable" media source (like, where have I seen those sneer quotes lately, again?), but the fellows at "No Pasaran" (see blogroll) kindly provided a scanned image to dissuade any doubters. And I seen it with my own eyes! Man oh man, what is this old world coming to?

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