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6/07/2003

Radar interviews Drudge

It seems that the inimitable Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report, was interviewed by Camille Paglia and Maer Roshan in this month's Radar, a new curious little tabloid. He waxes eloquent about being a "new-age Jew" and doing transcendental meditation, and almost goes postmodern at one point, saying
I'm not even sure at what point rumors officially become news, Camille. The New York Times just caught a reporter making a great many outright falsehoods over a period of years, so I'm not the only one making mistakes. There have always been questions about journalism and rumor, where one ends and the other begins. But I don't know who it is that officially rings the bell and says, "Now it can be considered news."

I would love to say that the interview was interesting, and that it showed another side to one of the first, and worst, bloggers (although, at one point in the interview he says: "In the end I really don't care what I'm called, as long as it's not blogger."). Unfortunately, Drudge just came off as a jerk with only a passing interest in the facts (an impression I held prior to reading the interview). At one point, he admits that he doesn't even read half (well, actually more like any) the stuff he posts on his site
I can't remember the last time I actually read a full-blown article, you know. Usually I just scan the first two paragraphs and the last two paragraphs. I've had to become a speed-reader simply to feed this great big hole. I've got five computer screens lined up, and thousands of news stories to go through on any given day. It comes down to an editorial decision that I make every second that I'm sitting in front of the monitors.

The most shocking part of the interview, though, is when he throws around an unsubstantiated allegation that the DNC has a "dirt file" on Condolezza Rice, a la the Contender, which is "really thick." I'll reproduce the whole segment:
ROSHAN: Speaking of national security, how do you feel about Condoleezza Rice?

DRUDGE: Oh, she's a powerhouse! But the DNC has a dirt file on her that is really thick. Think of The Contender, or those other movies that have warned what happens when a female candidate has some dirt she'd rather hide. And I wouldn't be surprised if Democrats used it. I think the best match-up would be Donna Brazile versus Condoleezza Rice, high noon, and we get all that crap out of the way.

ROSHAN: When you compare Condoleezza Rice to [Gore's barely closeted campaign manager] Donna Brazile, what are you really saying?

DRUDGE: They're both tough black women who would run at the same time, and who possibly could have a dirt file on both sides. I know nothing. I haven't seen Condoleezza's file, but I've been assured that one exists.

I think Drudge has gotten a raw deal in some instances, but his nonchalant attitude about factual rigor is getting tired. Sorry to burst your bubble, but throwing around rumors like hotcakes is not the golden path to respect.

6/06/2003

The leading indicator that WMD will not be found

About a month ago, Jack Shafer wrote a witty little piece for Slate titled "The Leading Indicator That WMD Will Be Found: Seymour M. Hersh says they won't." His argument boiled down to the basic point that Seymour Hersh has steadily slanted against the Bush administration, and been wrong almost every time. So if Hersh was saying there are no weapons, it must have been a lead-pipe cinch to find them. Shafer even predicted, somewhat facetiously, that
If Hersh's interpretive/predictive streak holds, we should expect to find proof of WMD and a direct link between Iraq and al-Qaida within the next two weeks.

Well, now the New York Times is running with a story under Judith Miller's byline that casts some doubt on the only WMD-related equipment uncovered to date: the mobile trailers which ostensibly produced biological agents. Miller has been the most accepting reporter, by far, of the official administration line on WMD, and she continued doing so even after it went out of style, so the fact that she is now publishing the reports of skeptics is almost as newsworthy as the contents of the article itself. I won't bother with detailing the article, but the ending quote is too cute to pass over:
It's not built and designed as a standard fermenter...Certainly, if you modify it enough you could use it. But that's true of any tin can.

There are now no major reporters towing the line on WMD, which means that there must not be very many straws out there to grab a hold of. Shafer has already bitch-slapped Miller more than once now, I wonder what he'll say about this new piece. Maybe he'll take a cue from my headline.
Guilty Pleasures


I admit it: I have a guilty pleasure. Thankfully, I'm not alone in that one. It seems that Charles Paul Freund, Reason's resident renaissance man, shares my enjoyment of Arabian pop divas: Elissar Khoury (or just plain Elissa, as she is more commonly known), Nawal al-Zoughby, Najwa Karam, Hayfa Wehbe, Katia Harb, Ruba Hatem, Diana Haddad, and a dozen other flavors (I suppose there is a distinct Shami bias in that list, but you write what you know). My personal tastes lean toward the vocal playfulness of Elissa (I'm listening to Kilmet Hob right now), but Ruba Hatem (a Palestinian from Kuwait) has a sweet, if immature, voice too.

Anyways, the other day I was reading Freund's meditation on what racy Arab music videos reveal about the prospects for liberalization in Arabia, and I kept thinking to myself how far ahead of the curve Freund is (as usual). I have noticed some of the same things he has, but it is infuriating that the media and the blogosphere is oblivious to the entire phenomenon. Since I have spent an embarrassingly large portion of my waking hours looking at these women, straining to understand what they are saying with my nonexistent Arabic, I figured that I would be remiss if I said nothing on the subject (not that I have anything profound to say).

The four main videos Freund discusses are Elissa's Aychalak, Zoughby's saucy little number Elli Tmanetah, Wehbe's Aqoul Ahwak which is more fun to look at than listen to, and Samar's Hubbi Wi Hubbak (at least I think that's the one he's referring to, I haven't actually seen it). The most important point he makes is that this isn't just happening in the more liberal Arab states like Lebanon, but involves even conservative ones like Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

[T]his new world of Arab videos is a pan-Arab project. The recording label for all these acts, Rotana, is based in Dubai, the Gulf state with the region’s most open economy. Rotana’s acts can be seen throughout the Arab world but are showcased via ART-TV, a multiformat Arabic-language satellite service established by Saudi investors, based in Jordan, and with studios in Cairo, Beirut, and elsewhere in the region.

He spills the most ink on Elissa, and his description of the video is worth reproducing.
One of the more interesting music videos released last year features an attractive brunette who, according to the video’s narrative, is involved in a liaison taking place in a Paris hotel room. The visual narrative seems to offer the woman’s often disconnected impressions of this apparently illicit relationship: Sometimes a man with a calculating smile is in the room with her; sometimes she’s there alone, as if waiting for him. Naturally, the video is drenched in images of desire, especially the woman’s erotic perceptions of the liaison and of herself.

For example, in one imagined sequence she isn’t wearing much more than a skimpy bustier; in another she’s lying suggestively prone, apparently thinking about the mysterious smiling man (who is seen in the background but not really present). Several times the camera invites the viewer to assume the role of the man, with the woman gazing at us with all the erotic intensity she can muster. As is usual in music videos, many shots feature the same woman in the role of singer, appearing onstage and performing the song we are hearing. But there are shots where she is both the singer and the character, including a curious shadowy sequence where several makeup women are busily applying powder to her exposed cleavage.


Aychalak is a favorite of mine, so I was glad that Freund made it the centerpiece of his article. Even so, I think that another one of Elissa's videos, Ajmal Ihssas (watch it here), illustrates perhaps a more important cultural meme than just sexuality, namely, the role of the man and woman in the family. As the video opens, Elissa is flirtatiously vacuuming the floor while her beau strains to watch cartoons on the television behind her. Then he tosses a bowl full of popcorn in the air, and the scene transitions to Elissa sitting on the couch watching him vacuum. Now, with Elissa in the driver seat, she confidently points to various parts of the floor as if to say, "You missed a spot." After a little necking with her lover, we see them playing with each other in the bathroom as she helps him put on shaving cream. In the next scene, she is painting her nails while watching the man punch a speed bag, but she doesn't look too impressed. Throughout the whole video it is clear who is in control: Elissa.

The imagery in these videos is as powerful as any long-winded treatise on feminism, and arguably more so. The larger point that Freund makes in his article is that the images and ideas that lie in the popular culture can be more revolutionary than they are generally given credit for. I agree, and I hope these trends continue, it can only mean good things. (By the way, I emailed Freund and he said that he is planning more articles along this line. Quote: "anyway, i expect to do more on this somewhere, so i'll have a professional excuse to watch elissa videos all day." Haha, I hear you on that one.)

Guardian Retracts Powell Lie

Last saturday, the Guardian posted on article on its website by Dan Plesch and Richard Norton-Taylor titled "Straw, Powell had serious doubts over their Iraqi weapons claims." They alleged that Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, and Jack Straw, British Foreign Minister, had a conversation at the Waldorf Hotel prior to Powell's speech before the UN, where he unloaded classified satellite photos and NSA intercepts to demonstrate Iraqi noncompliance. In this conversation, Powell supposedly revealed serious doubts about the quality of the intelligence the US was relying on. Here are the first three grafs:
Jack Straw and his US counterpart, Colin Powell, privately expressed serious doubts about the quality of intelligence on Iraq's banned weapons programme at the very time they were publicly trumpeting it to get UN support for a war on Iraq, the Guardian has learned.

Their deep concerns about the intelligence - and about claims being made by their political bosses, Tony Blair and George Bush - emerged at a private meeting between the two men shortly before a crucial UN security council session on February 5.

The meeting took place at the Waldorf hotel in New York, where they discussed the growing diplomatic crisis. The exchange about the validity of their respective governments' intelligence reports on Iraq lasted less than 10 minutes, according to a diplomatic source who has read a transcript of the conversation.


The Guardian further alleged that the transcripts ("the Waldorf transcripts") of this conversation was being circulated in "NATO diplomatic circles." As it turns out, the conversation never actually occurred. Yesterday the Guardian affixed this correction to the article:
In our front page lead on May 31 headlined "Straw, Powell had serious doubts over their Iraqi weapons claims," we said that the foreign secretary Jack Straw and his US counterpart Colin Powell had met at the Waldorf Hotel in New York shortly before Mr Powell addressed the United Nations on February 5. Mr Straw has now made it clear that no such meeting took place. The Guardian accepts that and apologises for suggesting it did.

Personally, I had assumed the article was dubious from the beginning, and I had even sent a letter to Dan Plesch the same day the article was published asking for a copy of the supposed transcript. I also pointed out that no serious editor should have put that article to ink without at least quoting some part of the transcript. It hadn't crossed my mind that the article was just pure invention. Here is the whole thing:
I just finished reading an article you co-wrote with Richard Norton-Taylor for the Guardian, which alleges that Colin Powell registered serious concerns with Jack Straw about the intelligence used in the build up to the Iraq war.

Although you discuss the transcripts of this supposed conversation at length, it doesn't appear (at least from what you wrote) that you have actually read the transcripts in question. Instead, you seem to be getting your information from "a diplomatic source who has read a transcript of the conversation." Additionally, you admit later that you have no idea how the transcripts were made (if they were produced from tape, memory, or thin air). This seems like a tenuous thread to hang such a serious allegation from.

I find it hard to believe that an editor, even at the Guardian, would let something like this be published without having at least some portion of the transcript on hand. If you do have some of the transcript could you be so kind as to publish it, or at least allow me to see it privately so I can make up my own mind. It is just rude to cast about regarding a document that is being "circulated" and not quote a single complete sentence from it. Thanks for your time in advance.


I have been a critic of the credulous manner in which the media has dealt with the Iraqi WMD issue, and the unfortunate reliance (contra Machiavelli) on Iraqi exiles. Nevertheless, I do not believe that the administration told outright lies about the WMDs. I believe that they genuinely thought the threat existed, and that it was their duty to eliminate a danger to the American people (of course, reasonable people can disagree about whether they were right). It is one thing to say that the INC took Bush for a ride, and it is quite another to say that Bush took the American people for a ride. I most certainly do not believe the latter, and I think the evidence will vindicate that view.

6/05/2003

More on the Wolf

About 18 grafs deep into an otherwise vague and uninformative "he-said/she-said" article in the Washington Post, Pincus and Priest bring a offering to the gods of utter humiliation. It turns out that some of Wolfowitz's people asked the Defense Intelligence Agency to review Laurie Mylroie's controversial revisionist history of the involvement of Saddam Husayn in the original World Trade Center attacks, to see if there was any credence to the allegations (The War Against America: Saddam Hussein and the World Trade Center Attacks: A Study of Revenge). Needless to say, they didn't find anything of value in Mylroie's "work" (I believe this is what the laymen call a "no-duh" moment). Juxtaposed with the possible scrubbing of DoD transcripts to remove any references to discussion about the topic with Vanity Fair, this raises some interesting questions about one of the people who has control over the lives of American soldiers. The fact that he might buy the spy-world equivalent of young-earth creationism does not lighten my heart one bit.

6/04/2003

Smells fishy

Paul Wolfowitz's interview with Vanity Fair has been talked about all over the blogosphere, which is why I haven't said a word about it. The one thing I hate about the current state of the blog is the lack of originality and the profusion of incestuous links among bloggers. There are some bloggers who talk about news reports and world events (as opposed to just personal stuff), but who almost never seem to be reading primary sources (there is always a cred to LGF, or Insta, or Kaus, or Atrios, or...). This leads to the creation of "hot topics" and stories that get literally millions of links. I hate that, and sometimes it is almost as bad and myopic as the media the blogosphere is supposed to be reinventing. Still, there are times when a blogger uncovers some primary information that makes him as much a primary source as any newspaper.

Which brings me back to my point. It seems that Josh Marshall is taking a bit of a breather from his Tom DeLay-Department of Homeland Security jihad, in order to do some footwork on the Tannenhaus interview. Marshall tried to track down the part of the interview where Wolfowitz discusses the conspiracy theories that put Saddam Husayn in the driver seat for the Oklahoma City bombing in 1993 and the first World Trade Center attack in 1995. As Marshall found, Tannenhaus discusses it in the VF article, but the official DoD transcript is silent.

So I called the Pentagon to see if the transcript was a complete transcript or only a partial one. A Wolfowitz spokesman, Jeff Davis, told me that, though he wasn't present during the interview, to the best of his knowledge it was a complete transcript -- save, possibly, for any pleasantries at the beginning of the conversation, or any parts that may have been off the record.

So what happened to the parts of the interview where the 1993 and 1995 bombings were discussed? Davis speculated that those quotes from Wolfowitz might not have been from the interview at all, but rather from published accounts of other previous statements Wolfowitz may have made, or other transcripts from the Pentagon website that Tanenhaus may have gotten his hands on.

So then I called Vanity Fair. Vanity Fair's Beth Kseniak told me categorically that Tanenhaus' and Wolfowitz's discussion of the 1993 and 1995 bombings definitely took place during their interview.

If that's true, why isn't it anywhere in the Pentagon's transcript?


Damn you Salon

A couple of days ago I was doing my normal sweep through the news, and I decided to drop over at Salon to see what was going on over there. It turns out that they are making people get their "day passes" (basically, you sit through a 15 second advert and then you can read the content) before they can even get through the door. The advertisement they have up right now is for Windows XP, and the god-forsaken thing keeps crashing my browser (Opera). That means that I have to load up Internet Explorer in order to watch the darned thing, which I hate more than anything. I mean, why do I even have to sit and watch a advertisement for Windows Media Player, or Windows Messenger, or any of the other crap Microsoft is pushing? Obviously, if I have XP I have that stuff already, and if I don't then I can't use it anyways. Am I missing something, or is this the most pointless ad series ever (in addition to being a pain in my anti-IE ass)?

6/03/2003

Doesn't she look like an angel?


Don Rumsfeld wants bacon and sausage

The New Yorker has really outdone itself with a parody of Donald Rumsfeld ordering breakfast at Denny's. It is simply genius. Here are the last few grafs.
Look. I want bacon and sausage. Now, let me stop right here. Bacon is, we all know, and nobody seriously doubts it anymore, very similar to sausage. They both come from pigs, they’re both cooked, and they’re both eaten. They’re similar. S-I-M-I-L-A-R. They’re not the same. S-A-M-E. If they were the same, I wouldn’t be ordering both of them. I don’t think the most liberal person in the world can deny that, unless he wants to maintain the existence of a parallel universe, with spacemen and ray guns.

Now, is there going to be a cost for this? Sure. Will it be a high cost? I don’t know. Am I going to pay for it? Don’t know. Am I going to pretend I’m going to the bathroom and then just bolt on the check? Maybe. Are they going to catch me getting into my car? Not if I send somebody out to start the car and pull it up right outside the door so I can just run out and dive into the back seat. Do I have a good chance of getting away with it? Absolutely. Is this a crime? I personally think of it as defending myself from breakfast items of exorbitant price. Period.

It’s just a rational way of dealing with expense, a very forward-looking, sensible way of dealing with breakfast in a very cost-conscious manner. That’s all.

Thank you very much.


You know the drill: read the whole thing.
Okay, so here is what I could find on Chadirji/Chadirchy

I mentioned an item in the Times yesterday which blithely referred to a "nascent democratic movement" in Iraq, without providing any details about the leader, Nasir Chadirji. I decided to do a little searching on my own to see what I could find. Apparently, Nasir is the son of an Iraqi architect Kamil Chadirji, who founded the National Democratic Party in pre-Husayn Iraq, and who also produced a wonderful collection of photographs at a time when photography was essentially banned in Iraq (Social Life in the Middle East, 1920-1940: A Photography of Kamil Chadirji). The NDP was abolished in 1963, with the assassination of Abd-al-Karim Kassem and the rise of the Ba'ath party.

It also turns out that I didn't look close enough at the press when I said Nasir hadn't gotten any ink, the British Daily Telegraph said a few more words about Chadirji than did the Times, calling him "an inspired choice."

Bremer must build on the seven-man council advising on the future of Iraq. The addition of Naseer Chadirji, an independent-minded man of high personal integrity, as the seventh member, is an inspired choice.

Even so, the Telegraph still doesn't give any background on Chadirji to tell readers why he was such a good pick.

Searching on Archnet, I found this photograph of Kamil Chadirji's house in Baghdad which he took himself.


So you're telling me the guy who invented this can't even do my homework?

On my organic chemistry set, the last problem is a work-through of the formation of gulose from D-glucose, which is a vital step in the Fischer proof. The last question is:
Indicate whether the gulose that Fischer made is a D or an L sugar. (Be careful. Fischer messed this up himself and confused everyone for many, many years.)

Well, now I'm confident.

6/02/2003

Who is Charles Johnson giving money to?

I was playing around at Open Secrets, typing random names into the Individual Donor Lookup, and I decided to try the warblogger's warblogger just on a whim. The relevant readout is:







Contributor

Occupation

Date

Amount

Recipient
JOHNSON, CHARLES
CULVER CITY, CA 90230
  3/20/2001 $500
Watson, Diane E 

Assuming there isn't some other Charles Johnson from Culver City, CA (which, admittedly, there may very well be), little green footballs was giving money to a politican who had this to say about the war in Iraq (I feel obligated to point out that the donation occurred prior to 9/11):
I still do not believe that Iraq poses an imminent threat to the U.S. I remain unconvinced that there is a link between the terrorists and Saddam, and I do not understand how ridding the world of Saddam, at this moment, will enable us to dismantle the terrorist network. I do believe that the cost of the war and its aftermath will adversely affect our nation’s ballooning budget deficit. And, finally, I remain very concerned about the political and diplomatic consequences of a unilateral, pre-emptive war in Iraq.

Hmm...I'm sure there is a perfectly good explanation for this.
Is Eric Rudolph a "Christian terrorist"?


He is alleged to have planted a bomb at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, two abortion clinics, and a gay nightclub. He is also believed to have been affiliated with the Christian Identity movement, a sect of radicals who believe that Anglo-Saxons are the true sons of Israel, not the Jews. One of Rudolph's favorite sayings was that the television was the "electronic Jew." In a letter taking responsibilty for the terrorist attacks he railed against the "ungodly communist regime in New York" (i.e. the Jews) and the "legaslative bureaucratic lackey's in Washington."

We declare and will wage total war on the ungodly communist regime in New York and your legaslative bureaucratic lackey's in Washington. It is you who are responsible and preside over the murder of children and issue the policy of ungodly preversion thats destroying our people

It is pretty clear that he received assistance from fellow anti-government Christians in North Carolina in his evasion of one of the largest manhunts in America. According to USA Today:
Rudolph's arrest Saturday in Murphy, N.C., ended a five-year run as one of the FBI's most-wanted fugitives. He was in such good health that federal authorities resumed searching Sunday through the densely forested mountains of North Carolina in an effort to determine whether he had help evading authorities for so long. Even his mother says she does not believe that he could have lasted for five years alone.

"He must've had help," she said. "He loved the woods, but I don't think he could've done it on his own."


So does this make him a "Christian terrorist"? That is a difficult question. Certainly, there are ambiguous statements in the Bible, mostly in the Old Testament, but also in the New, that are interpreted by people like Rudolph to justify this kind of madness. For example, this passage when Jesus sends out his disciples:

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law -- a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.

Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:34-9)

Or this one at the Last Supper:
He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment."

The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords."

"That is enough," he replied. (Luke 22:36-8)

There are numerous others. Although the image of Jesus as a pot-smoking peacenik is obviously contradicted by the Biblical record, I do not find anything in my reading which would give sanction to terrorism. These passages can be taken in any number of ways, and it isn't at all clear to me that justifying the killing police officers and pregnant women is the way to go.

The usual way of taking the first passage is that he is referring not to a physical sword, but to a spiritual sword which divides good and evil, truth and falsity. For the second, it does seem difficult to take it in any way other than that he is talking about a physical sword (he refers to "buy[ing] one"), but he also says that just two swords will be enough, so he clearly isn't talking about waging a battle or a war. He is talking about people having the ability to defend themselves from persecution, not for offense against an enemy. The biblical record is just more complicated and textured than most Christians (radical or not) give it credit for being. Neither the peacenik nor the warrior images really fit Jesus.

So in summation, I think that someone could read certain Bible passages in such a way to justify terror (i.e. it is not impossible, like some Christians think), but that this is contrary to the larger body of Jesus' teachings. More than anything, his message was peace and good works, and invoking him to promote a racist, homophobic, terroristic creed is as absurd as it is tragic.

Adventures with Salam Pax

Peter Maass, of the New York Times Magazine, has an article at Slate about his discovery that the Baghdad blogger, Salam Pax, was, in fact, his own interpreter.
The day after I returned to New York, reunited with my cable modem, I checked out a friend's blog that linked to an Austrian interview with Salam Pax. I clicked to it. Salam Pax mentioned an NGO he had worked for, CIVIC, and this caught my attention. I knew the woman who was in charge of CIVIC; she stayed at my Baghdad hotel, the Hamra. Salam Pax mentioned that he had done some work for foreign journalists. We traveled in the same circles, apparently. He also mentioned that he had studied in Vienna. This really caught my attention, because I knew an Iraqi who had worked for CIVIC, hung out with foreign journalists, and studied in Vienna. I clicked over to his blog.

His latest post mentioned an afternoon he spent at the Hamra Hotel pool, reading a borrowed copy of The New Yorker. I laughed out loud. He then mentioned an escapade in which he helped deliver 24 pizzas to American soldiers. I howled. Salam Pax, the most famous and most mysterious blogger in the world, was my interpreter. The New Yorker he had been reading—mine. Poolside at the Hamra—with me. The 24 pizzas—we had taken them to a unit of 82nd Airborne soldiers I was writing about.


I found Pax a while back, almost near the beginning of his blogging days, and although I didn't read him as regularly as I wish I had, I always considered him to be genuine and serious. He has come in for some harsh treatment among war hawks for, among other things, being critical of the military government, living in a privileged household, and not being warm with Chalabi and his crew (two examples are Bryan Preston in the National Review and David Warren in the Ottawa Citizen, although I'm loath to put them in the same group since Preston is actually rational).

I am not going to get into a long discussion and analysis of Salam's archives, since there just isn't any point to it, but I will say that I strongly disagree with people that are trying to pigeonhole him as a Ba'athist (some of it apparently instigated by the INC). Anyone who has read his blog for any period of time knows that just isn't the case. Salam certainly isn't beyond criticism, but if I were in his shoes I would like people to grant me the benefit of the doubt unless they had solid reasons for believing something. Many of these allegations (specifically, Warren's diatribe) are based on tendentious readings of his blog and strings of unsupported conjecture. He is human, and as such has flaws, but he should at least be criticized fairly.

Oh, and by the way, there is a nascent democratic movement

In a New York Times dispatch on a recent guerrilla raid on American forces in Iraq, there is a rundown of the political factions which are supposed to make up a new "political council" to help bring an Iraqi face to the military government. There is a little nugget hidden in there that I missed the first time through.
Seven of the Iraqi political figures, who call themselves the "leadership council" and who met today with Mr. Bremer, said they would meet on Monday to formulate a response to his proposals. They represent the two main Kurdish factions in northern Iraq, the Iraqi National Congress of Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi National Accord of Iyad Alawi, the Shiite Muslim movement of Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim, the Shiite Dawa Party and the nascent democratic movement of Nasir Chadirchy.

Who is Nasir Chadirchy, and why haven't I heard about this "nascent democratic movement" before? There is nothing on this guy from Google, Google News (except for the Times article), Yahoo!, Yahoo! News, or even Lexis/Nexis (sorry, no link). There is simply no ink on this guy, except for a short toss-away mention in a single paragraph in a single article. Why?

6/01/2003

De-Baathification Ain't Easy

According to the Los Angeles Times, fifteen loyalists to the outlawed Ba'ath party in Iraq, including the the dean of Iraq's national police academy (Maj. Gen. Akram Abdul Razak), were arrested in a raid yesterday while they were conducting a meeting for Husayn partisans. This comes on the heels of a statement by Lt. Gen. McKiernan that "The war has not ended," which was reported in the Post. The Ba'athists were meeting openly, without much effort to conceal their activities, every Saturday at the academy. Even further, they had apparently been vetted under the "de-Ba'athification" process, and it was believed that they were not particularly loyal to the former regime.
But the arrests Saturday underscored how difficult the process of ridding Iraqi society of once-powerful Baath Party functionaries is likely to be. Kerik indicated, for example, that those arrested had already passed through an initial screening process set up to identify former Baathists.

The fact that the group was able to meet regularly for nearly two months after the collapse of Hussein's regime without much apparent effort to conceal their activities showed the weaknesses of this procedure.

"There is a vetting process, but it's not foolproof," Kerik acknowledged.


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