Thursday, September 30, 2004

Peeling the Onion

Shrill and, as always, funniest when it tells the truth:

"Factual data presented in these publications indicates that Bush took little or no action on issues as widely varied as the stalled economy, increasing violence in post-war Iraq, and the lagging public education system," Rocklin said. "The newsprint documents also reveal huge disparities between the ways Bush claimed to have served Medicare patients, and what he actually did."

Wall Street Journal Reporter Farnaz Fassihi Modems in From Baghdad

Yes, she is a member of the Order of the Shrill:

Poynter Online - Forums: 9/29/2004 2:58:10 PM
From: [Wall Street Journal reporter] Farnaz Fassihi
Subject: From Baghdad

Being a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days is like being under virtual house arrest. Forget about the reasons that lured me to this job: a chance to see the world, explore the exotic, meet new people in far away lands, discover their ways and tell stories that could make a difference.

Little by little, day-by-day, being based in Iraq has defied all those reasons. I am house bound. I leave when I have a very good reason to  and a scheduled interview. I avoid going to people's homes and never  walk in the streets. I can't go grocery shopping any more, can't eat in restaurants, can't strike a conversation with strangers, can't look for stories, can't drive in any thing but a full armored car, can't go to scenes of breaking news stories, can't be stuck in traffic, can't speak English outside, can't take a road trip, can't say I'm an American, can't linger at checkpoints, can't be curious about what people are saying, doing, feeling. And can't and can't. There has been one too many close calls, including a car bomb so near our house that it blew out all the windows. So now my most pressing concern every day is not to write a kick-ass story but to stay alive and make sure our Iraqi employees stay alive. In Baghdad I am a security personnel first, a reporter second.

It's hard to pinpoint when the 'turning point' exactly began. Was it  April when the Fallujah fell out of the grasp of the Americans? Was it when Moqtada and Jish Mahdi declared war on the U.S. military? Was it when Sadr City, home to ten percent of Iraq's population, became a nightly battlefield for the Americans? Or was it when the insurgency began spreading from isolated pockets in the Sunni triangle to include most of Iraq? Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq remains a disaster. If under Saddam it was a 'potential' threat, under the Americans it has been transformed to 'imminent and active threat,' a foreign policy failure bound to haunt the United States for decades to come.

Iraqis like to call this mess 'the situation.' When asked 'how are thing?' they reply: 'the situation is very bad."

What they mean by situation is this: the Iraqi government doesn't  control most Iraqi cities, there are several car bombs going off each day around the country killing and injuring scores of innocent people, the country's roads are becoming impassable and littered by hundreds of landmines and explosive devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there are assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings. The situation,  basically, means a raging barbaric guerilla war. In four days, 110 people died and over 300 got injured in Baghdad  alone. The numbers are so shocking that the ministry of health -- which was attempting an exercise of public transparency by releasing the numbers -- has now stopped disclosing them.

Insurgents now attack Americans 87 times a day.

A friend drove thru the Shiite slum of Sadr City yesterday. He said young men were openly placing improvised explosive devices into the ground. They melt a shallow hole into the asphalt, dig the explosive,  cover it with dirt and put an old tire or plastic can over it to signal to the locals this is booby-trapped. He said on the main roads of Sadr City, there were a dozen landmines per every ten yards. His  car snaked and swirled to avoid driving over them. Behind the walls sits an angry Iraqi ready to detonate them as soon as an American convoy gets near. This is in Shiite land, the population that was supposed to love America for liberating Iraq.

For journalists the significant turning point came with the wave of abduction and kidnappings. Only two weeks ago we felt safe around  Baghdad because foreigners were being abducted on the roads and  highways between towns. Then came a frantic phone call from a journalist female friend at 11 p.m. telling me two Italian women had  been abducted from their homes in broad daylight. Then the two  Americans, who got beheaded this week and the Brit, were abducted from their homes in a residential neighborhood. They were supplying the entire block with round the clock electricity from their generator to win friends. The abductors grabbed one of them at 6 a.m. when he came  out to switch on the generator; his beheaded body was thrown back near the neighborhoods.

The insurgency, we are told, is rampant with no signs of calming down.  If any thing, it is growing stronger, organized and more sophisticated  every day. The various elements within it-baathists, criminals, nationalists and Al Qaeda-are cooperating and coordinating.

I went to an emergency meeting for foreign correspondents with the  military and embassy to discuss the kidnappings. We were somberly told  our fate would largely depend on where we were in the kidnapping chain once it was determined we were missing. Here is how it goes: criminal gangs grab you and sell you up to Baathists in Fallujah, who will in turn sell you to Al Qaeda. In turn, cash and weapons flow the other  way from Al Qaeda to the Baathisst to the criminals. My friend Georges, the French journalist snatched on the road to Najaf, has been missing for a month with no word on release or whether he is still alive.

America's last hope for a quick exit? The Iraqi police and National  Guard units we are spending billions of dollars to train. The cops are being murdered by the dozens every day-over 700 to date -- and the  insurgents are infiltrating their ranks. The problem is so serious that the U.S. military has allocated $6 million dollars to buy out  30,000 cops they just trained to get rid of them quietly.

As for reconstruction: firstly it's so unsafe for foreigners to operate that almost all projects have come to a halt. After two years, of the $18 billion Congress appropriated for Iraq reconstruction only about $1 billion or so has been spent and a chuck has now been reallocated for improving security, a sign of just how bad things are going here.

Oil dreams? Insurgents disrupt oil flow routinely as a result of  sabotage and oil prices have hit record high of $49 a barrel. Who did this war exactly benefit? Was it worth it? Are we safer  because Saddam is holed up and Al Qaeda is running around in Iraq?

Iraqis say that thanks to America they got freedom in exchange for insecurity. Guess what? They say they'd take security over freedom any day, even if it means having a dictator ruler.

I heard an educated Iraqi say today that if Saddam Hussein were  allowed to run for elections he would get the majority of the vote. This is truly sad.

Then I went to see an Iraqi scholar this week to talk to him about elections here. He has been trying to educate the public on the  importance of voting. He said, "President Bush wanted to turn Iraq  into a democracy that would be an example for the Middle East. Forget  about democracy, forget about being a model for the region, we have to  salvage Iraq before all is lost."

One could argue that Iraq is already lost beyond salvation. For those of us on the ground it's hard to imagine what if any thing could  salvage it from its violent downward spiral. The genie of terrorism, chaos and mayhem has been unleashed onto this country as a result of American mistakes and it can't be put back into a bottle.

The Iraqi government is talking about having elections in three months while half of the country remains a 'no go zone'-out of the hands of  the government and the Americans and out of reach of journalists. In  the other half, the disenchanted population is too terrified to show  up at polling stations. The Sunnis have already said they'd boycott  elections, leaving the stage open for polarized government of Kurds  and Shiites that will not be deemed as legitimate and will most  certainly lead to civil war.

I asked a 28-year-old engineer if he and his family would participate  in the Iraqi elections since it was the first time Iraqis could to  some degree elect a leadership. His response summed it all: "Go and vote and risk being blown into pieces or followed by the insurgents and murdered for cooperating with the Americans? For what? To practice democracy? Are you joking?"


Objective Reality Is Shrill And Unbalanced

Our base rituals and vile ceremonies are having the desired effect. Our chanting to the Black Dolphin has been heard. Our prayers to the Degenerate Bat have been answered. Our heinous sacrifice of Geddy Lee and a silver dog whistle to the demented Keening Blasphemy That Must Not Be Named has been received and looked upon with favor. Open your eyes, Ye Shrill Ones, and behold! The very fabric of space and time itself has been torn asunder, the immutable laws of and logic have been rendered void, and the universe has been corrupted and twisted by our malevolent ministrations until the cosmos itself seeths and pulses with irrational Bush-hatred. Matthew Yglasias notices, as he ululates psychotically to the dead, uncaring stars:

To read today's Wall Street Journal editorial page you'd think the CIA was trying to undermine the Bush administration CIA-style. Bugging BC04 campaign offices and giving the tapes to the DNC, arranging secret transfers of money to the Kerry campaign, engaging in select assassinations of key Republican figures, etc. In fact what they're doing is making factual claims about the situation in Iraq to members of the press. They've leaked some stuff, true, but they haven't leaked any information that one could properly call secret -- just the broad conclusions of analyses that the administration has obviously kept under wraps for political reasons. You've got to understand that there's something badly wrong with your candidate when making accurate descriptions of the present state of affairs in a foreign country is considered an efficacious way to torpedo your boy's reelection campaign. It's sort of like admitting that his whole presidency is based on a tissue of lies. Or worse -- delusions.
All together now, and if you don't know the words just hum along: Aaaiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Krugman R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaiii! AAAAAAIIIIIIIII!!!!

The Numbers From Our Membership Drive Are In: Pretty Much Anyone Who Is Neither A) Completely Clueless And B) Lying To Your Face Is Shrill

Here at the Occult and Hermetic Order of the Shrill we have just wrapped up our annual Krugmania! summer membership drive, and we couldn't be more pleased with our success. As of midnight last night, everyone who A) might possibly have some idea what they are talking about, and B) isn't a Bush party apparatchik, is now officially an Initiate in our most chthonian and argute sect. First, Dana Priest and Thomas E. Ricks report that from the CIA through the rest of the US intelligence apparatus, there is a growing belief that "[the Bush Administration's policy in Iraq is] a disaster, and they're digging the hole deeper and deeper and deeper. ... There's no obvious way to fix it. The best we can hope for is a semi-failed state hobbling along with terrorists and a succession of weak governments."

But that's not all:

Today 50 former high- level diplomats, generals and admirals declared President Bush has made America less safe and called for his ouster. ...

The claim that we are safer is the biggest lie of this campaign season," states the group. "Now we are bogged down there in a quagmire with no solution in sight." ...

"The plain fact is that George W. Bush and his team have succeeded in making our country and our people less safe, and more vulnerable to new terrorist attacks, by an unnecessary war against a threat that did not exist."

"We have lost the hard-won respect and admiration that America enjoyed ... Some of these losses are irrecoverable and others will take decades to repair, a process we must begin immediately by electing a new administration."

The group also accuses the President of gross negligence, stating, "Prior to 9/11 Mr. Bush and his team ignored repeated warnings about the danger of terrorist attacks."

"The American people must surely not reelect someone presenting himself as a strong and resolute war leader who is responsible for such a sorry record of judgment and performance."

"Leadership in the wrong directions is not the leadership we need or want. We can have no trust in such leadership for the next four years. It is definitely time for a change."
And it's not just people involved with national security and foreign relations who are joining up: we've got 30 Nobel-winning economists and scientists, and 80% of professional historians ready to pledge themselves to our dark order. And our international recruitment is going quite well, too.

Congratulations to everyone involved. On a personal note, I'd like to thank all the dedicated volunteers who gave their time to make our membership drive such a success. You will all be receiving a novelty "The Elder Heresiarchs travelled beyond the stars to that forsaken void where deformed daemons pipe their insane and tuneless song of irrational Bush-hatred and all I got was this lousy t-shirt" t-shirt, as well as a copy of the forbidden, banned, depraved, and blasphemous Alterman Fragments, now in paperback. But, more than anyone else, I'd like to thank the Bush administration. Without your tireless commitment to mendacity, malevolence, incompetence and simple disconnection from reality, none of this could have been possible. Job well done.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Taliban No Longer Exists... But Karzai Must Propitiate It Anyway...

"The Elder Shrill know the gate. The Elder Shrill are the gate. The Elder Shrill are the key and guardian of the gate. They know where the Shrill broke through of old, and where the Shrill shall break through again, differing in likeness from man's truest Eidolon to that shape without sight or substance which is Shrillness. They walk unseen in lonely places where Shrillness has been spoken and the Rites howled at their Seasons. The wind gibbers with Their voices, and the earth mutters with Their consciousness. The ice desert of the South and the sunken isles of Ocean hold stones whereon Their seal is engraven has heard their voices. Great Krugman is Their cousin. Aaaiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Krugman R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Iä! John Emerson! Andrew Sullivan! Yog-Sothoth! Seymour Hersh! Francis Fukuyama! Nyarlathotep! William Odom! Blind Azathoth! Iä! Mark Kleiman! Mark Kleiman! Mark Kleiman!"

Oh. I did not see you come in. Let me put this away...

We were simply transforming Mark Kleiman into one of the Elder Shrill, as this makes it clear he is:

Mark A. R. Kleiman: Rejoice!: "The Taliban is no longer in existence." You don't have to believe me; the President said it himself. Now that's what I call optimism; not only does he imagine good things that might happen in the future, he imagines good things as actually existing in the present.

What's strange is that the non-existent Taliban has enjoyed such a resurgence that Karzai is being forced to negotiate with them.

How much longer is this severely delusional character going to remain in power? Either four months, or fifty-six. It's up to you.

It is remarkable, is it not? A religio-military-political force no longer exists, yet our Afghan president must still carefully propitiate it. The Mad Scribe Alex tells us that this was foretold in guarded form the Krugmanomicon itself: "Iä! Crawfordath! Their hand is at your throats, yet ye see Them not; and Their habitation is even one with your guarded threshold."

Mark Kleiman Breaks the Shrill Barrier

Here he is, driven not into but beyond shrill unholy madness by the total disconnection from reality of George W. Bush:

Mark A. R. Kleiman: Rejoice!: "The Taliban is no longer in existence." You don't have to believe me; the President said it himself. Now that's what I call optimism; not only does he imagine good things that might happen in the future, he imagines good things as actually existing in the present.

What's strange is that the non-existent Taliban has enjoyed such a resurgence that Karzai is being forced to negotiate with them.

How much longer is this severely delusional character going to remain in power? Either four months, or fifty-six. It's up to you.

Who Are *You* and What Have You Done with the Real Richard Cheney?

Twelve years ago Richard Cheney was a shrill opponent of America's getting sucked into the Iraqi quagmire. Today?... Well, we all know. What has happened? Replaced by a fell servitor beast casting a hypnotic glamour? Controlled by his implants from afar by agents of Osama bin Laden? Or was his mind sucked out and replaced by the act of reading the dread Book of PNAC? One guess is shriller than the next:

CJR Campaign Desk: Archives: the Seattle Post-Intelligencer today offers up a little-noticed 1992 speech in Seattle by then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, in which he warned of getting "bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq."

"And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth?" Cheney asked his audience. "And the answer is not very damned many."... In his 1992 remarks, writes Pope, "Cheney foreshadowed a future in Iraq that is remarkably close to conditions found there today, suggesting that it would be difficult to bring the country's various political factions together and that U.S. troops would be vulnerable to insurrection and guerrilla attacks" "I would guess if we had gone in there, I would still have forces in Baghdad today, we'd be running the country. We would not have been able to get everybody out and bring everybody home," Cheney said, 18 months after the [Gulf] war ended.

John Eisenhower Is Shrill

Another grownup Republican succumbs, and joins the shrill. John Eisenhower is spotted in the Manchester Union Leader:

The Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News - 29-Sep-04 - Another View: >Why I will vote for John Kerry for President: THE Presidential election to be held this coming Nov. 2 will be one of extraordinary importance to the future of our nation. The outcome will determine whether this country will continue on the same path it has followed for the last 3½ years or whether it will return to a set of core domestic and foreign policy values that have been at the heart of what has made this country great.

Now more than ever, we voters will have to make cool judgments, unencumbered by habits of the past. Experts tell us that we tend to vote as our parents did or as we “always have.” We remained loyal to party labels. We cannot afford that luxury in the election of 2004. There are times when we must break with the past, and I believe this is one of them.

As son of a Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, it is automatically expected by many that I am a Republican. For 50 years, through the election of 2000, I was. With the current administration’s decision to invade Iraq unilaterally, however, I changed my voter registration to independent, and barring some utterly unforeseen development, I intend to vote for the Democratic Presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry.

The fact is that today’s “Republican” Party is one with which I am totally unfamiliar. To me, the word “Republican” has always been synonymous with the word “responsibility,” which has meant limiting our governmental obligations to those we can afford in human and financial terms. Today’s whopping budget deficit of some $440 billion does not meet that criterion.

Responsibility used to be observed in foreign affairs. That has meant respect for others. America, though recognized as the leader of the community of nations, has always acted as a part of it, not as a maverick separate from that community and at times insulting towards it. Leadership involves setting a direction and building consensus, not viewing other countries as practically devoid of significance. Recent developments indicate that the current Republican Party leadership has confused confident leadership with hubris and arrogance.

In the Middle East crisis of 1991, President George H.W. Bush marshaled world opinion through the United Nations before employing military force to free Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. Through negotiation he arranged for the action to be financed by all the industrialized nations, not just the United States. When Kuwait had been freed, President George H. W. Bush stayed within the United Nations mandate, aware of the dangers of occupying an entire nation.

Today many people are rightly concerned about our precious individual freedoms, our privacy, the basis of our democracy. Of course we must fight terrorism, but have we irresponsibly gone overboard in doing so? I wonder. In 1960, President Eisenhower told the Republican convention, “If ever we put any other value above (our) liberty, and above principle, we shall lose both.” I would appreciate hearing such warnings from the Republican Party of today.

The Republican Party I used to know placed heavy emphasis on fiscal responsibility, which included balancing the budget whenever the state of the economy allowed it to do so. The Eisenhower administration accomplished that difficult task three times during its eight years in office. It did not attain that remarkable achievement by cutting taxes for the rich. Republicans disliked taxes, of course, but the party accepted them as a necessary means of keep the nation’s financial structure sound...

Katherine of Obsidian Wings Drives Michael Froomkin Into a Higher State of Shrill

This is no longer shrill. This is ultrasonic: Voting Republican This Year = Voting for Torture: It’s not enough that Rumsfeld and probably Bush not just tacitly condoned but actively encouraged studies of optimal torture regimes, creating a climate in which undeniable and disgusting torture was used against Iraqi civilians, including children. And at Guantanamo (more). Even they at least had the hypocrisy to attempt to do the Iraq torture planning under wraps. (Hypocrisy being “the tribute vice pays to virtue”.) Meanwhile, at home, being too delicate to torture domestically, the Administration quietly subcontracted the job to Syria. (See my post almost exactly a year ago, Maher Arar Affair: What is the Pluperfect of ‘Cynic’?.)

Comes now a group of Congressional Republicans who are pure vice, and are not even trying to hide it: they have proposed that US law be amended to remove protections against torture — ie to legitimate torture, to plan to torture — for people we label “terrorists” (modern unpersons). The full horrid details are at Obsidian Wings: Legalizing Torture. The key move would be to exclude “terrorists” from the protection of the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The “terrorists” could be held in secret unless they could somehow overcome (without lawyers or witnesses?) a presumption of guilt. When they failed to overcome this impossible burden they could be subject to “extraordinary rendition” which is bureaucrat for “being ported or transferred to a country that may engage in torture”—a deportation that currently would be a serious violation of US law.

Anyone who votes for people capable of supporting these policies has blood on their hands. Not to mention what they are doing to the image of the US as the ‘City on the Hill’, the beacon to mankind. Once we descend into the torture pit, we’re just arguing about circles in Hell.

I've said before that voting against George W. Bush is not a matter of partisanship but a matter of patriotism. But it is now clear that it is something more as well.

Aaaiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Career Security Professionals R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aiiiiiii!!!

The career security professionals are shrill:

Growing Pessimism on Iraq ( A growing number of career professionals within national security agencies believe that the situation in Iraq is much worse, and the path to success much more tenuous, than is being expressed in public by top Bush administration officials, according to former and current government officials and assessments over the past year by intelligence officials at the CIA and the departments of State and Defense.

While President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and others have delivered optimistic public appraisals, officials who fight the Iraqi insurgency and study it at the CIA and the State Department and within the Army officer corps believe the rebellion is deeper and more widespread than is being publicly acknowledged, officials say.

People at the CIA "are mad at the policy in Iraq because it's a disaster, and they're digging the hole deeper and deeper and deeper," said one former intelligence officer who maintains contact with CIA officials. "There's no obvious way to fix it. The best we can hope for is a semi-failed state hobbling along with terrorists and a succession of weak governments."

"Things are definitely not improving," said one U.S. government official who reads the intelligence analyses on Iraq.

"It is getting worse," agreed an Army staff officer who served in Iraq and stays in touch with comrades in Baghdad through e-mail. "It just seems there is a lot of pessimism flowing out of theater now. There are things going on that are unbelievable to me. They have infiltrators conducting attacks in the Green Zone. That was not the case a year ago."

This weekend, in a rare departure from the positive talking points used by administration spokesmen, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell acknowledged that the insurgency is strengthening and that anti-Americanism in the Middle East is increasing. "Yes, it's getting worse," he said of the insurgency on ABC's "This Week."...

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The CIA, State Department, and Army Officers Are Shrill

Or, to use the new catch phrase, the CIA is filled with "pessimists and naysayers."

Growing Pessimism on Iraq | "...officials who fight the Iraqi insurgency and study it at the CIA and the State Department and within the Army officer corps believe the rebellion is deeper and more widespread than is being publicly acknowledged, officials say.

People at the CIA "are mad at the policy in Iraq because it's a disaster, and they're digging the hole deeper and deeper and deeper," said one former intelligence officer who maintains contact with CIA officials. "There's no obvious way to fix it. The best we can hope for is a semi-failed state hobbling along with terrorists and a succession of weak governments."

"Things are definitely not improving," said one U.S. government official who reads the intelligence analyses on Iraq.

"It is getting worse," agreed an Army staff officer who served in Iraq and stays in touch with comrades in Baghdad through e-mail. "It just seems there is a lot of pessimism flowing out of theater now. There are things going on that are unbelievable to me. They have infiltrators conducting attacks in the Green Zone. That was not the case a year ago."

At this rate, the Green Zone and the No Go Zones will overlap.

The Shrill Are in Crawford, Texas!

Alex of writes:

Alex: Did you notice that the Lone Star Iconoclast, Bush's home town paper, has joined the ranks of the Shrill? Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Bush Crawford

The LA Times Is Shrill

About four years late, guys, but welcome:

The suggestion that terrorists support Sen. John F. Kerry for president is ugly, but basically silly. The suggestion that Kerry supports the terrorists is flat-out disgusting. President Bush has allowed surrogates to spread the former idea, but he himself has helped to promote the latter.... [T]he point here is not subtle: The right to criticize the policies of those in power is not just one of democracy's fringe benefits; it is essential to making the democratic machinery work. And questions of war and peace — dead young Americans, dead Iraqis, a radicalized Middle East, billions of dollars: Was it worth all this? — are the ones that need democracy the most....

Compared with Kerry, George W. Bush is a coward. This is not a reference to their respective activities during Vietnam. It refers to the current election campaign....

The NY Times Is Shrill

Very late to the party, guys. If you're going to show up this late, you need to bring a *lot* more refreshments:

The New York Times > Opinion > An Un-American Way to Campaign: When Vice President Dick Cheney declared that electing Mr. Kerry would create a danger "that we'll get hit again," his supporters attributed that appalling language to a rhetorical slip. But Mr. Cheney is still delivering that message. Meanwhile, as Dana Milbank detailed so chillingly in The Washington Post yesterday, the House speaker, Dennis Hastert, said recently on television that Al Qaeda would do better under a Kerry presidency, and Senator Orrin Hatch, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has announced that the terrorists are going to do everything they can between now and November "to try and elect Kerry." This... undermines the efforts of the Justice Department and the Central Intelligence Agency to combat terrorists in America. Every time a member of the Bush administration suggests that Islamic extremists want to stage an attack before the election to sway the results in November, it causes patriotic Americans who do not intend to vote for the president to wonder whether the entire antiterrorism effort has been kidnapped and turned into part of the Bush re-election campaign.... Mr. Bush['s]... own campaign speeches... equally divisive and undemocratic.

The President's Hometown Paper Endorses Kerry

It's a good thing for him that President Bush doesn't read the newspaper. Look how shrill they are in his hometown:

Tiny Crawford Newspaper Endorses Kerry | A weekly newspaper that bills itself as President Bush's hometown paper endorsed John Kerry for president, saying the Massachusetts senator will restore American dignity.

The Lone Star Iconoclast, which has a circulation of 425, said in an editorial dated Sept. 29 that Texans should rate the candidates not by hometown or political party, but by where they intend to take the country.

"Four items trouble us the most about the Bush administration: his initiatives to disable the Social Security system, the deteriorating state of the American economy, a dangerous shift away from the basic freedoms established by our founding fathers, and his continuous mistakes regarding Iraq," the editorial said.

The Iconoclast, established in 2000, said it endorsed Bush that year. It also said it editorialized in support of the invasion of Iraq, and publisher W. Leon Smith promoted Bush and the invasion in a British Broadcasting Corp. interview, believing Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

"Instead we were duped into following yet another privileged agenda," the editorial said.

The newspaper praised Kerry for "30 years of experience looking out for the American people" and lauded his background as "a highly decorated Vietnam veteran."

So sayth the AP summary, which is shrill enough. Then check out the editorial for yourself, which opens:
Few Americans would have voted for George W. Bush four years ago if he had promised that, as President, he would:
  • Empty the Social Security trust fund by $507 billion to help offset fiscal irresponsibility and at the same time slash Social Security benefits.
  • Cut Medicare by 17 percent and reduce veterans’ benefits and military pay.
  • Eliminate overtime pay for millions of Americans and raise oil prices by 50 percent.
  • Give tax cuts to businesses that sent American jobs overseas, and, in fact, by policy encourage their departure.
  • Give away billions of tax dollars in government contracts without competitive bids.
  • Involve this country in a deadly and highly questionable war, and
  • Take a budget surplus and turn it into the worst deficit in the history of the United States, creating a debt in just four years that will take generations to repay.
These were elements of a hidden agenda that surfaced only after he took office.

The publishers of The Iconoclast endorsed Bush four years ago, based on the things he promised, not on this smoke-screened agenda.

Hint: it doesn't get any less shrill. Remember when it was unwise to lie to the press because they'd be sure to make you pay for it? It looks like they remember in Crawford, Texas.

Monday, September 27, 2004

David H. Hackworth Is Shrill

David H. Hackworth is shrill and unbalanced:

In its micro way, the [Private Jessica] Lynch scam symbolizes the miasma of deception surrounding the invasion and the ugly unsolvable occupation already causing the direst consequences to our national security.

From post-9/11 to the present, the war too has been based on lies fanned by the same Pentagon propaganda machine busy doing everything possible – including the censorship of our troops in Iraq for “national security purposes” – to convince the American people that, as we sadly heard for eight bloody years in Vietnam, there’s “light at the end of the tunnel.”

We went to war because we were told Iraq had WMD that threatened our country’s security and that Saddam was a key player behind 9/11. Both have been proven to be super whoppers.

We were also told that liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk with few U.S. casualties and would cost no more than a billion bucks – which would quickly be repaid by Iraqi oil. Yet more duplicity.

So far I count 1,050 American dead, 7,750 combat wounded and about 30,000 non-battle casualties. And our war costs are already close to a cool $200 billion.

Meanwhile, Super Flack James Wilkinson, the reported Spielberg of the Lynch saga, has recently been shifted from desert duties to advising National Security Advisor Rice on how to further deceive the American people.

Like Vietnam, the cover-ups and distortions will continue until the press and the people wake up. Hopefully that will be before the count is 3,000 or 4,000 dead American soldiers.
But Vietnam isn't a desert. So it's different.

The National Intelligence Council Was Preemptively Shrill Before War

In a Back-To-The-Future moment, it was revealed today that the National Intelligence Council predicted the quagmire in Iraq—in January 2003 before the invasion began. In shrill tones the NIC lays out the stark reality-to-be:

The same intelligence unit that produced a gloomy report in July about the prospect of growing instability in Iraq warned the Bush administration about the potential costly consequences of an American-led invasion two months before the war began, government officials said Monday.

The estimate came in two classified reports prepared for President Bush in January 2003 by the National Intelligence Council, an independent group that advises the director of central intelligence. The assessments predicted that an American-led invasion of Iraq would increase support for political Islam and would result in a deeply divided Iraqi society prone to violent internal conflict.

One of the reports also warned of a possible insurgency against the new Iraqi government or American-led forces, saying that rogue elements from Saddam Hussein's government could work with existing terrorist groups or act independently to wage guerrilla warfare, the officials said. The assessments also said a war would increase sympathy across the Islamic world for some terrorist objectives, at least in the short run, the officials said.

The contents of the two assessments had not been previously disclosed. Last week, Mr. Bush dismissed the latest intelligence reports, saying its authors were "just guessing'' about the future, though he corrected himself later, calling it an "estimate.''

It's clearly un-American when guesses prove more true than the body rhetoric of a stong, decisive administration.

More and More of the Security Community Is Shrill

Mike Turner, ex-Pentagon planner, is shrill:

MSNBC - ‘Staying the Course’ Isn’t an Option: Like Vietnam, the military is again being asked to clean up the detritus of a failed foreign policy. We are nose-deep in a protracted insurgency, an occupying Christian power in an oil-rich, Arab country. That country is not now and has never been a single nation. A single, unified, democratic Iraq comprised of Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis is a willfully ignorant illusion at best.

Two thirds of America's combat brigades are now tied down in this war which, under present conditions, is categorically unwinnable. Having alienated virtually every major ally who might help, our troops are simply targets. If Bush is re-elected, there are only two possible outcomes in Iraq:

  • Four years from now, America will have 5,000 dead servicemen and women and an untold number of dead Iraqis at a cost of about $1 trillion, yet still be no closer to success than we are right now, or
  • The U.S. will be gone, and we will witness the birth of a violent breeding ground for Shiite terrorists posing a far greater threat to Americans than a contained Saddam.

To discern the truth about Iraq, Americans must simply look beyond the spin. This war is not some noble endeavor, some great struggle of good against evil as the Bush administration would have us believe. We in the military have heard these grand pronouncements many times before by men who have neither served nor sacrificed. This war is an exercise in colossal stupidity and hubris which has now cost more than 1,000 American military lives, which has empowered Al Qaeda beyond anything those butchers might have engineered on their own and which has diverted America's attention and precious resources from the real threat at the worst possible time. And now, in a supreme act of truly breathtaking gall, this administration insists the only way to fix Iraq is to leave in power the very ones who created the nightmare

Aaaaiiii! Aaaaiiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Kevin Drum R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaaiiiiii!!!!

Yes. In spite of his attempts to resist it (and possibly because of his reading of the Ledeen Texts) Kevin Drum has fallen into shrill unholy madness and joined the Order:

The Washington Monthly: VOTE FOR US OR DIE....Mark Kleiman complains today that while there are reasonable arguments on both sides of the debate about drug importation from Canada, there's a distinct difference between the debaters themselves: supporters of drug reimportation are at least making legitimate arguments and being truthful about their goals, while opponents are just making stuff up in order to scare people. Color me something less than shocked. After all, using scare tactics about terrorism in every imaginable situation has become practically a fetish among Republicans since 9/11. Consider:

Canadian drugs: In an interview in August, FDA commissioner Lester Crawford tells an AP reporter that re-importing Canadian drugs is a bad idea because "cues from chatter" indicate that terrorists might target imported drugs.

Civil service protection: During the debate on the creation of the Homeland Security Department, George Bush insisted that he would veto any bill that included normal civil service protections for workers in the department. Spokesman Ari Fleischer explained: "The president will be effectively prevented from making decisions based on national security no matter how urgent a crisis we find ourselves in."

Refugees from Haiti: A Haitian refugee named David Joseph has been imprisoned for two years. He has an uncle in Brooklyn and nobody suggests he is anything but harmless. John Ashcroft refuses to release him, claiming that it might encourage terrorists to use Haiti as a staging area.

Taxes: On the eve of the Iraq war, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay explains that "Nothing is more important in the face of war than cutting taxes."

I wonder how they expect the rest of us to take terrorism seriously when they themselves so transparently think it's nothing more than a trivial debating point?

Sunday, September 26, 2004

The Bushalypse: Horseman Number One: Mendacity

Yes, Uggabugga is shrill: Shameless: Quoted from uggabugga:

Remember June 28? Here is how PBS' News Hour reported what happened that day: (emp add)

The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq transferred sovereignty to the interim Iraqi government two days ahead of schedule, in an effort to avert possible insurgent attacks.

The unexpected handover ceremony came at mid-morning Baghdad time, the middle of the night in the U.S. The event was convened hastily and secretly inside Baghdad's heavily guarded green zone.

Sounds grim, doesn't it? But here is what Bush had to say about it in today's radio address: (emp add)

We're making steady progress in implementing our five-step plan toward the goal we all want: completing the mission so that Iraq is stable and self-governing, and American troops can come home with the honor they have earned.

The first step was achieved on June 28th, not only on time, but ahead of schedule, when the coalition transferred full sovereignty to a government of Iraqi citizens.

Not only was it "ahead of schedule" but it was done in such a manner that the people in Baghdad were not inconvenienced. Since the handover was performed "secretly", that meant no traffic jams or other problems that a public event would have caused. But somehow Bush failed to mention that this morning.

Is anyone prepared to defend this by arguing it depends on what the meaning of "lying" is?

Anatol Lieven Is Shrill

From that bastion of shrillness, the Financial Times. Anatol Lieven says that the true name of today's Republican Party is the "National Americanist Party."

Is this a Godwin's Law violation? site : US capitalism recreates Europe's mistakes. Anatol Lieven. 15 September 2004: Some of the greatest long-term damage done by the Bush administration to the unity of the west has come from US domestic policies. By so flagrantly favouring the American economic elites at the expense of fiscal integrity, social welfare and environmental security, President George W. Bush and his colleagues have strengthened the belief of many Europeans that the American form of capitalism, and the political culture that underpins it, are very different from - and morally inferior to - those of Europe....

If Europe has taken a different capitalist path from the US in recent decades, this is not only because of differences in economic structures on the two sides of the Atlantic. It is also because of the horrible consequences that stemmed from unrestrained capitalism in Europe in the decades before 1945. In their assumption of unrestrained rights to make and retain profits, to block higher taxation of higher incomes and to determine the political, economic and social policies of their country, powerful sections of the American capitalist elites of today resemble the European elites of 1914 more than they do the European elites of 2004. One aspect of this is the hatred directed by these groups against American leaders who seek to qualify these rights, even with the clear intention of strengthening the American capitalist system as a whole: Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s, Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

In Europe, this belief in an absolutist version of capitalism combined with the radicalism and dogmatism of the old European left to produce many of the great disasters of modern European history. Refusing compromise with moderate leftwing forces, capitalists in parts of Europe in the decades before 1945 preferred instead to make alliances with the forces of radical nationalism.... The unreconstructed nature of important strands of American capitalism is reflected in the contemporary character of the Republican party. If today one were to seek a name for the Republicans that would situate them accurately in a wider historical and international context, it would be the American Nationalist party.... [The] Republican political, social and economic mixture is reminiscent of the classic positions of past rightwing nationalist movements in Europe and elsewhere.... [B]y bringing American capitalism closer to the norms pursued elsewhere in the developed world, a Kerry administration could even help to restore the idea of the west.

Tracking the Shrill with Grimoire and Camera

Matthew Yglesias joins those of us tracking the shrill with grimoire and camera. Here he spots the newly-shrill ex-hawk George Packer hiding in the pages of the New Yorker. Yglesias stuns him, takes a blood sample, puts a tag in his ear, and releases him back in the wild. As Packer runs back into the thicket of perfume advertisements, his voice raised in shrill unholy madness echoes through the night:

Matthew Yglesias: Shrill:

George Packer is shrill: "The problem with making sausage the President's way--other than the fact that it deceives the public, precludes a serious debate, bitterly divides the body politic when war requires unity, exposes American soldiers to greater risk, substitutes half measures for thoroughgoing efforts, and insures that no one will be held accountable for mistakes that will never be corrected--is that it doesn't work." And he continues: "In refusing to look at Iraq honestly, President Bush has made defeat there more likely. This failing is only the most important repetition of a recurring theme in the war against radical Islam. . . ."

Another dissilusioned hawk and I ask, once again, where it is that all the dissilusioned doves have gone off to? Can it really be the case that all these former hawks are America-hating defeatests putting a pessimistic face on things in order to embolden the adversary.

Hyde Joins the Shrill

U.S. Drug Officials: Afghans Boosted Poppy Crop | Afghans significantly increased their poppy crop in the past year, fueling a narcoticstrade that endangers U.S.-led efforts to stabilize the country, officials said Thursday.

A report expected in a few weeks from the CIA and United Nations is expected to show Afghans planted 100,000 hectares with the crop, up from 80,000 hectares last year, said assistant secretary of state Robert B. Charles, head of the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

"The past year witnessed record levels of poppy cultivation in areas previously not used for this purpose," Peter Rodman, assistant defense secretary for international affairs, said at a congressional hearing with Charles.

"We know that profits from the production of illegal narcotics flow into the coffers of warlord militias, corrupt government officials and extremist forces," Rodman said in a written statement for the House International Relations Committee hearing on the Oct. 9 Afghan elections.

Committee Chairman Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., criticized the administration for not moving faster against a drug trade that threatens efforts to build a stable Afghan government. "The drug lords are getting stronger faster than the Afghan authorities are being built up," he said.

Ranking Democrat Tom Lantos of California repeated previous criticism of NATO for not contributing more troops, saying it threatens to turn Afghan's "potentially triumphant exercise of freedom" into "a tragedy with dozens of terror attacks against polling stations."

Iraqi Man On The Street is Shrill

General citizens of Iraq are defying the unbending optimism of their selected leaders with these shrill and unhelpful comments:

"People are very naive if they think Baghdad is safe," said Falah Ahmed, 26, a cigarette vendor in center city. A nearby tailor, Hisham Nuaimi, 52, said Allawi "is either deceiving himself or the Americans."

"What do you call a city with a car bomb every day?" he said. "Is this the security they are achieving?"

After his speech to a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday, Allawi described Baghdad as "very good and safe."

"When we leave home, we never know if we're going to return home alive or not," said Mohammed Kadhim, a taxi driver.

Why, one asks, do they hate freedom so much?

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Pervez Musharraf Is Shrill

Wow. Faisal is right. Steve Clemons says that Pakistani Dictator Pervez Musharraf is really shrill:

The Washington Note Archives: Check out this interview with Paula Zahn posted by John Aravosis. The whole thing is worth reading, but here is just the first bit that says most of it:

ZAHN: Is the world a safer place because of the war in Iraq?

MUSHARRAF: No. It's more dangerous. It's not safer, certainly not.

ZAHN: How so?

MUSHARRAF: Well, because it has aroused actions of the Muslims more. It's aroused certain sentiments of the Muslim world, and then the responses, the latest phenomena of explosives, more frequent for bombs and suicide bombings. This phenomenon is extremely dangerous.

Aaaaiiii! Aaaaiiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Pervez Musharraf R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaaiiiiii!!!!

Seattle Times Turns Shrill

This is just the opening. Their account of why, despite having endorsed Bush against Gore, the Seattle Times now endorses Kerry takes off from here:

The Times endorses Kerry for President 9/9/04 | Four years ago, this page endorsed George W. Bush for President. We cannot do so again — because of an ill-conceived war and its aftermath, undisciplined spending, a shrinkage of constitutional rights and an intrusive social agenda. The Bush presidency is not what we had in mind. Our endorsement of John Kerry is not without reservations, but he is head and shoulders above the incumbent. The first issue is the war. When the Bush administration began beating the drums for war on Iraq, this page said repeatedly that he had not justified it. When war came, this page closed ranks, wanting to support our troops and give the president the benefit of the doubt. The troops deserved it. In hindsight, their commander in chief did not.

Faisal Jawdat Is Shrill

"My friend," he says, "I look at this projection of the national deficit, and I shudder before its enormity. Take heed, and stay clear. These peaks, and the entitlement spending--there in the distance are the mountains of madness. I beg you, believe my tale, do not come to this place and this time."

*Extended CBO baseline with AMT reform and extensions of expiring tax provisions.

But he is wrong. These Mountains of Madness are not in the distance. They are here, right in front of us.

Pakistan: willing. Musharraf: shrilling?

Pakistani President* Musharraf apparently hasn't read the Iraq meme memo:

Brokaw: Do you think the American war against Iraq was a mistake?

Musharraf: Well, I wouldn't comment on that. But I will certainly say that it has complicated the issue.

Brokaw: In your part of the world.

Musharraf: In the Islamic world. In the Iraqi region. In the Middle East.

Brokaw: Made it worse for America?

Musharraf: Yes."

Publius of Legal Fiction Is *Really* Shrill

Wow. Publius of Legal Fiction declares that, whatever Glenn Reynolds is, "patriotic American" is not part of the description. He awards Reynolds the Hermann Goering award:

Legal Fiction:

last thing, Glenn Reynolds wins the Hermann Goering Award today. If you’ll remember Goering’s famous line:

Gilbert [the interviewer]: "There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."

Göring: "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

And now, Glenn Reynolds:

This is behavior that is absolutely unacceptable coming from a Presidential campaign in wartime, and it's not an isolated incident but part of a pattern of such behavior. Joe Lockhart should apologize for these remarks, and Kerry should fire him. Otherwise you're going to hear a lot of people questioning Kerry's patriotism. And they'll be right to.

I for one am sick and tired of hearing attacks on those who attack failed policies that got our troops killed, destabilized the Middle East, and have been the biggest gift ever to militant Islam.

Publius of Legal Fiction Is Shrill

The Mad Reporter Dana Milbank claims another victim as Publius of Legal Fiction joins the Order of the Shrill:

Legal Fiction: Lately I’ve been trying hard to avoid shrillness. After reading Dana Milbank’s collection of quotes today, I’m convinced that shrillness is the only proper response.

Before I get to that, let’s start with the latest Glenn Reynolds/Andrew Sullivan outrage – Joe Lockhart’s disparaging comments about Allawi being a puppet. Sullivan is outraged by them – Reynolds is as well. Now, I will agree that under normal circumstances, the following comments would be irresponsible:

The last thing you want to be seen as is a puppet of the United States, and you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips.

But these are not normal circumstances. Allawi was brought here – forty days from the election – as part of the Bush re-election strategy, and everyone knows it. This was supposed to be a victory lap, further solidifying the themes presented at the Republican Convention – until Kerry and reality intruded. Indeed, Allawi even adopted Bush talking points about how much progress Iraq was making, and that the terrorists were "getting more desperate." So, let’s dispense with the little charade about how this trip was beyond politics. It was entirely about politics.

Second, given that Bush is so radioactive in Iraq right now, I think that trotting out Allawi in the Rose Garden does little to help his legitimacy in the eyes of American-hating Iraqis. On this point, Lockhart is right on. The more Allawi is seen as a puppet of Bush (which was pretty much confirmed this week), the less chance of success he – and thus we – have. If I'm right, then Bush is sacrificing Allawi's legitimacy for the sake of his re-election.

I also want to address some of the despicable quotes listed in Milbank’s article today in which he describes the clearly coordinated attack that Kerry’s criticisms are hurting our troops and helping the enemy. Here are a few:

Bush: “You can embolden an enemy by sending a mixed message. You can dispirit the Iraqi people by sending mixed messages. You send the wrong message to our troops by sending mixed messages.

Cheney: John Kerry is trying to tear down all the good that has been accomplished, and his words are destructive to our effort in Iraq and in the global war on terror.

The surrogates were even more explicit. Milbank lists more. My favorite was Orrin Hatch: “[Democrats are] consistently saying things that I think undermine our young men and women who are serving over there.”

I’ll tell you what undermines our troops – getting troops killed undermines troops, Mr. Hatch – not criticizing the failed policies that got them killed in the first place. Bumbling an occupation and having no plan undermines troops. And Mr. Cheney, I’ll tell you what’s destructive to our effort in the global war on terror – your invasion of Iraq, which was Osama’s wet dream. And Mr. Bush, I’ll tell you how to embolden an enemy – invade the second-holiest land of Islam for no reason and then execute the war without a shred of competence. Lying about our progress also sends the wrong message to the people who are actually fighting your terrorist-aiding war. Let’s not forget that. We know exactly who – and what policies – have emboldened our enemies and undermined our troops. And it’s not John Kerry, or his criticisms of your failure. Nice try, though.

Kevin Drum of The Washington Monthly Is Concerned

Kevin Drum is worried that if he reads many more articles by Dana Milbank, he will become shrill:

The Washington Monthly: Today, thanks to the fiendish intervention of Dana Milbank, Publius descends into shrillness. Can I be far behind?

Dana Milbank is not the author of the Krugmanomicon, but he will do. Aaaaiiii! Aaaaiiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Kevin Drum R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaaiiiiii!!!!:

Friday, September 24, 2004

Dahlia Lithwick Is Shrill

Slate's Dahlia Lithwick is shrill:

Dahlia Lithwick: ... the government's claims in the Yaser Esam Hamdi case... some unstoppable, lethal killing machine, the Taliban's own Hannibal Lecter—a man so evil, he requires permanent warehousing down a bottomless hole. So the Bush administration's decision to release Hamdi is stunning, given that only months ago he was so dangerous that the government insisted in front of the U.S. Supreme Court and the world that he could reasonably be locked up for all time, without a trial or criminal charges. At oral argument before that court, Deputy Solicitor General Paul D. Clement insisted that "[n]o principle of the law or logic requires the United States to release an individual from detention so that he can rejoin the battle," especially, while we "still have 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan." A scant few months later Hamdi will be on a government jet, flying home to Saudi Arabia with an invisible "whoops" note pinned to his lapel...

Laura Rozen Joins the Ranks of the Shrill

And she brings with her a good two dozen of Republican foreign policy hands. Aaaaiiii! Aaaaiiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Laura Rozen R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaaiiiiii!!!!:

War and Piece: : This is almost unspeakably grim. Bush has turned Iraq into Lebanon, and he's running his election on this masking-taped Potemkin village of a liberated Iraq heading joyfully for elections that's all coming apart at the edges. Even if he manages to win reelection, I think any second administration would be set to soon collapse under the weight of the lies once people do wake up and realize what a disaster we have on our hands. You should hear the total condemnation of Bush's national security team I am hearing from Republican foreign policy hands I am interviewing for a forthcoming piece.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Brad DeLong is Shrill, And Not Only That, He's Unbalanced As Well. Diagnosis: Irrational Bush-Hatred

Some of you may already have heard that Brad DeLong is shrill. But did you know that he's also unbalanced? Well, by tactlessly pointing out that President Bush is in the habit of saying one thing whilst doing the opposite, he has revealed that it is so:

You see, George W. Bush *talks* about the importance of balanced budgets but does not *act*. Bush appears to know that he needs to talk about the importance of a balanced budget. But Bush appears not to know that it is important to balance the budget. Bush shows no sign of knowing that a reduction in current taxes coupled with a spending increase is not a tax cut, but is instead a tax shift and a tax *increase*--an increase in average taxes over the long run coupled with a shift in taxes from the present to the future.
With apologies to Tim Dunlop, if DeLong were a 70's song that was later covered by that chick from The Fugees who isn't famous anymore, he would be "Shrilling Me Softly (With His Song)".

Anthony Cordesman is Shrill

The Center for Strategic and International Studies took a look at the latest reports from the Bush administration about Iraq and wrote a little paper innocuously titled Inexcusable Failure that could only be described as shrill:

The fact remains, however, that the US-led coalition cannot be excused for its failure to reconstitute effective security forces and police, for trying to restrict the development of Iraqi armed forces to a token force to defend Iraq’s borders against external aggression, or for ignoring the repeated warnings from US military advisory teams about problems in the flow of equipment and in creating the necessary facilities. The US failed to treat the Iraqis as partners in the counterinsurgency effort for nearly a year, and did not attempt to seriously train and equip Iraqi forces for proactive security and counterinsurgency mission until April 2004 – nearly a year after the fall of Saddam Hussein and two-thirds of a year after a major insurgency problem began to emerge.

In many ways, the Administration’s senior spokesmen still seem to live in a fantasyland in terms of its public announcements, talking about an insurgent force of 5,000 – when both Iraqi intelligence and US intelligence in Iraq quote figures of from 15,000 to 35,000. It still exaggerates the foreign threat and role of Al Qaida, in spite of the fact only a small fraction of detainees and those killed are foreign and Zarqawi’s ties to Al Qaida seem limited to loose affiliation. For example, only 50 men out of the 3,800 the 82nd Airborne apprehended in the Sunni triangle area were foreign.

The fact the status reports do even more to disguise the level of true progress is simply unacceptable. No single mission is more important than security, and no Iraqi popular desire is clearer than that this mission be done by Iraqis. The US has been guilty of a gross military, administrative, and moral failure. It seems to be finally taking steps to correct these mistakes, but its past history shows that detailed progress reporting is essential, and that the US military has been reluctant at best to come to grips with the need for an effective effort.

It's probably a good time to point out that any author that uses the word 'fantasyland' in the context of the Bush administration is immediately and automatically inducted into The Order.

Digby Is Shrill

Of all the forbidden, occult, and shrill texts in the world, none is more shrill, more occult, or more forbidden than the dread Krugmanomicon. It is so forbidden that none have read it, at least none who have lived to reveal the dark and chthonian political hate speech scribbled on its damned pages. Perhaps it is only a legend. Perhaps. But, were it real, I think it would have a very hard time being shriller than Digby, who is currently blogging at 30 octaves above completely irrational Bush-hating insanity:

It's quite clear that any criticism of the president's leadership in a time of war is sounding the siren of defeatism in the face of terrorism. It's another example of what Zell Miller decried at the Republican convention --- Democrats determined to bring down the commander in chief by contesting an election. What could be more antithetical to freedom and democracy than that?
Use as much sarcasm as you like, dear Digby. It will neither disguise nor moderate your inner shrillness. Ph'nglui mglw'nafh and all that.

General Paul Van Riper is Shrill:

Eric Umansky reports:

Eric Umansky: Van Riper... was more pessimistic, and pissed. “I have no arguments with anything officers are doing in Iraq,” he said. “My problem is with the Pentagon and our political leadership.

“At some point there are no good military solutions. The military solutions were up front. With each passing day, the solution set has narrowed. So you get yourself in a corner. You’re going to have to bite the bullet sometime, and you are going to reap a whirlwind of negative publicity.

“All of our focus is on temporary, tactics and procedures: how to stop IEDs, for example. This is a war, and there ought to be a strategy. If there is one I haven’t heard it. It’d be like WWII where you launched planes out into the Pacific and hope they run into the enemy.”

Juan Cole Reaffirms Membership in the Order

Michigan history professor Juan Cole employs a shrill tone as he asks what it would be like if America were Iraq right now (reprinted in its entirety because it's so damn good):

What would America look like if it were in Iraq's current situation? The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.

Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.

And what if those deaths occurred all over the country, including in the capital of Washington, DC, but mainly above the Mason Dixon line, in Boston, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco?

What if the grounds of the White House and the government buildings near the Mall were constantly taking mortar fire? What if almost nobody in the State Department at Foggy Bottom, the White House, or the Pentagon dared venture out of their buildings, and considered it dangerous to go over to Crystal City or Alexandria?

What if all the reporters for all the major television and print media were trapped in five-star hotels in Washington, DC and New York, unable to move more than a few blocks safely, and dependent on stringers to know what was happening in Oklahoma City and St. Louis? What if the only time they ventured into the Midwest was if they could be embedded in Army or National Guard units?

There are estimated to be some 25,000 guerrillas in Iraq engaged in concerted acts of violence. What if there were private armies totalling 275,000 men, armed with machine guns, assault rifles (legal again!), rocket-propelled grenades, and mortar launchers, hiding out in dangerous urban areas of cities all over the country? What if they completely controlled Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Denver and Omaha, such that local police and Federal troops could not go into those cities?

What if, during the past year, the Secretary of State (Aqilah Hashemi), the President (Izzedine Salim), and the Attorney General (Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim) had all been assassinated?

What if all the cities in the US were wracked by a crime wave, with thousands of murders, kidnappings, burglaries, and carjackings in every major city every year?

What if the Air Force routinely (I mean daily or weekly) bombed Billings, Montana, Flint, Michigan, Watts in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Anacostia in Washington, DC, and other urban areas, attempting to target "safe houses" of "criminal gangs", but inevitably killing a lot of children and little old ladies?

What if, from time to time, the US Army besieged Virginia Beach, killing hundreds of armed members of the Christian Soldiers? What if entire platoons of the Christian Soldiers militia holed up in Arlington National Cemetery, and were bombarded by US Air Force warplanes daily, destroying thousands of graves and even pulverizing the Vietnam Memorial over on the Mall? What if the National Council of Churches had to call for a popular march of thousands of believers to converge on the National Cathedral to stop the US Army from demolishing it to get at a rogue band of the Timothy McVeigh Memorial Brigades?

What if there were virtually no commercial air traffic in the country? What if many roads were highly dangerous, especially Interstate 95 from Richmond to Washington, DC, and I-95 and I-91 up to Boston? If you got on I-95 anywhere along that over 500-mile stretch, you would risk being carjacked, kidnapped, or having your car sprayed with machine gun fire.

What if no one had electricity for much more than 10 hours a day, and often less? What if it went off at unpredictable times, causing factories to grind to a halt and air conditioning to fail in the middle of the summer in Houston and Miami? What if the Alaska pipeline were bombed and disabled at least monthly? What if unemployment hovered around 40%?

What if veterans of militia actions at Ruby Ridge and the Oklahoma City bombing were brought in to run the government on the theory that you need a tough guy in these times of crisis?

What if municipal elections were cancelled and cliques close to the new "president" quietly installed in the statehouses as "governors?" What if several of these governors (especially of Montana and Wyoming) were assassinated soon after taking office or resigned when their children were taken hostage by guerrillas?

What if the leader of the European Union maintained that the citizens of the United States are, under these conditions, refuting pessimism and that freedom and democracy are just around the corner?

Sweet Jesus! It's good to know that shrill comments like these just can't be accurate in the face of overwhelming optimism from the puppetinterim government of Iraq. Who apparently get their talking point from Karl Rove as well.

Or, as longtime member Johshua Marshall quips, "Is President Allawi actually part of the Bush campaign? Or is he registered as a 527?" Only the FEC can know.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Mark A. R. Kleiman Is Shrill

Mark A.R. Kleiman finds some very bad news: elements of the U.S. military are now modeling their behavior on that of villains in Robert Heinlein novels:

Mark A. R. Kleiman: "Cardiac arrest of unknown etiology": In a chilling scene in Heinlein's Between Planets, a torturer trying to extract information from the young hero tells him that his uncle has died of a heart attack. He then adds that since everyone dies when his heart stops beating, every death can be described as a heart attack. I suppose I should be glad to know that whoever was filling out the death certificates for the Abu Ghraib victims knew his Heinlein, but I'm really not. I'm really, really, really not. "Cardiac arrest of unknown etiology" on a victim who has been beaten to death? Pah!

(The rest of the story is even more chilling: it asserts that the case involved an innocent family held up back a blackmailer. But that part can't easily be verified. The part about the condition of the body and what's written on the death certificate can be verified, and apparently was verified by the Guardian.)

Or maybe it's hopeful news: in Heinlein novels (as opposed to, say, S.M. Stirling novels) the villains always lose in the end. But I don't think they are very realistic. I see no sign around me of the highly-intelligent super-scientist dragons from the swamps of Venus who arrive in the nick of time to save the day in Between Planets.

Shrillness in Maine!!

Former Maine Governor Angus King is shrill:

Political Wire: Independent Streak: Former Maine Gov. Angus King, an independent who voted for George W. Bush in 2000, has endorsed Sen. John Kerry. According to the Portland Press Herald, King has not publicly endorsed a presidential candidate in the past quarter century, but this year he says "the case for change is overwhelming."

<nasal tone="like a Parasaurolophus">Ayuh! Ayuh! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Angus King Ah'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Ayuh!</nasal>

Republican Senators Sound Shrill

Even Republican Senators can't ignore that Iraq is a growing disaster. Gentleman, we welcome you to the Order of the Shrill. Extra bonus points: this was carried in the Washington Times, which isn't exactly what you'd call liberal media. Highlights:

Senators urge Bush to rethink policies in Iraq | [Senate Foreign Relations Committee] chairman, Sen. Richard G. Lugar, noted that Congress appropriated $18.4 billion a year ago this week for reconstruction. No more than $1 billion has been spent. "This is the incompetence in the administration," Mr. Lugar, Indiana Republican, said on ABC's "This Week."
"The fact is a crisp, sharp analysis of our policies is required. We didn't do that in Vietnam, and we saw 11 years of casualties mount to the point where we finally lost," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran who is co-chairman of President Bush's re-election committee in Nebraska.
"We made serious mistakes right after the initial successes by not having enough troops on the ground, by allowing the looting, by not securing the borders," Mr. McCain said. "Airstrikes don't do it; artillery doesn't do it. Boots on the ground do it," Mr. McCain told "Fox News Sunday." Mr. McCain said Mr. Bush was not being "as straight as we would want him to be" about the situation.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Ivor Roberts Is Shrill

Britain's ambassador to Italy says Al Qaeda hopes to help elect its best recruiting sergeant, George W. Bush:

MSNBC - U.K. envoy: Bush the best recruiter for al-Qaida: Britain’s ambassador to Italy described President Bush as “the best recruiting sergeant” for al-Qaida, Italian media reported on Monday. The comment, made at a closed-door conference at the weekend, was denounced by one leading Italian newspaper editor, who issued an open letter snubbing the veteran ambassador, Sir Ivor Roberts. Roberts was quoted as telling an annual Anglo-Italian gathering in Tuscany, “If anyone is ready to celebrate the eventual re-election of Bush, it’s al-Qaida.” Corriere della Sera newspaper said Roberts also told the meeting of British and Italian policy-makers, “Bush is al-Qaida’s best recruiting sergeant.”

Aaaaiiii! Aaaaiiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Sir Ivor Roberts R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaaiiiiii!!!!

Seymour Hersh Prays for the Second Coming of Henry Kissinger

Jeebus, this is shrill! This is perfect shrillness: shrillness shriller than which none can be conceived. Seymour Hersh is our new Grand Heresiarch. Via Laura Rozen:

War and Piece: : Seymour Hersh, speaking with Salon's Mary Jacoby, on George W. Bush's national security team:

Jacoby: Is there someone who is the Henry Kissinger in this administration?

Hersh: Oh, believe me, I pray for one [clasps his hands and looks beseechingly upward]. Wouldn't it be great if the reality was that they were lying about WMD, and they really didn't believe that democracy would come when they invaded Iraq, and you could go to war with 5,000 troops, a few special forces, a few bombs and a lot of American flags, and Iraq would fold, Saddam would be driven out, a new Baath Party would emerge that's moderate? Democracy would flow like water out of a fountain. These guys believe it. They believe WMD. There's no fallback with these guys. These guys are utopians. They're like Trotskyites. They believe in permanent revolution. They really believe. They believe that they could go in with few forces. They believed that once they went in it would happen quick. Iran would get the message. What they call occupied Lebanon would get the lesson. Even the Saudis would change.

Jacoby: They thought it would happen quickly?

Hersh: Very quickly. I don't have any empirical basis for it, but if I had to bet, the plan was to go right into Syria. That's why the fourth division was hanging for so long in the desert out there right on the border with Syria. In the early days of the war, before this government figured out how much trouble they were in -- which took them a long time -- they would drive practice runs... that amounted to the distance from the border to Damascus. It's my belief... that the real reason [Paul] Wolfowitz and others were mad at [Gen. Eric] Shinseki when he testified before the war about [the need for] 200 or 300 [thousand] troops -- it wasn't about the numbers -- was, "Didn't he get it? What had he been listening to in the tank? Didn't we explain to him...?... Shinseki just didn't get it! It wasn't about the numbers. He wasn't a member of the clan. He didn't join the utopia crowd....

Jacoby: With Kissinger, there were lies, and he knew exactly what he was doing ...

Hersh: Yes, one of his aides was assigned -- literally assigned on one of the secret flights they made to China -- to keep track of the lies ... But these guys, do you realize how much better off we would be if they really were cynical, and they really were lying about it, because, yes, behind the invasion would be something real, like support for Israel or oil. But it's not! It's not about oil. It's about utopia. I guess you could call it idealism....

Jacoby: So you don't think that this is some Machiavellian, cynical, manipulative ...

Hersh: I used to pray it was! We'd be in better shape.... I think these guys in their naiveté and single-mindedness have been so completely manipulated by -- not the Israelis -- but the Iranians. The Iranians always wanted us in. I think there's a lot of evidence that Iran had much to do with [Ahmed] Chalabi's disinformation [about nonexistent Iraqi WMD].... I think Iran was very interested in getting us involved. We get knocked down a peg; they become the big boys on the block.... I think Chalabi thought he could handle the Iranians. They were helping him all along with disinformation and documents he could give to the White House. Don't forget, once the neocons decided to go to Iraq in the face of all evidence, they were like a super-reverse suction machine, and anything in the world that furthered the argument that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction was hot. I call it stove-piping, because it's a technical work of art. But it was much more than that. It was anything -- vavoom! -- into the president's [office]. It was so amateurish, it was comical. How hard was it to get some crapola into the White House about WMD without the CIA looking at it?

Liberated Iraqis Quit Dancing In Streets, Join Order

The Guardian talks to one of Abu Ghraib's female inmates:

As Iraq lurches from disaster to disaster, from kidnapping to suicide bombing, from insurgency towards civil war, from death to death, what does she think of the Americans now? "I hate them," she says.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Yet Another Member of the Shrill

Yes, John Kerry is shrill:

The administration told us we’d be greeted as liberators.  They were wrong. They told us not to worry about looting or the sorry state of Iraq's infrastructure.  They were wrong. They told us we had enough troops to provide security and stability, defeat the insurgents, guard the borders and secure the arms depots.  They were wrong. They told us we could rely on exiles like Ahmed Chalabi to build political legitimacy.  They were wrong. They told us we would quickly restore an Iraqi civil service to run the country and a police force and army to secure it.  They were wrong. In Iraq, this administration has consistently over-promised and under-performed.  This policy has been plagued by a lack of planning, an absence of candor, arrogance and outright incompetence.  And the President has held no one accountable, including himself. In fact, the only officials who lost their jobs over Iraq were the ones who told the truth.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Matthew Yglesias Gets Shriller

And when you think that this was someone who *supported* the attack on Iraq:

matthew: Stop the world: It looks to me like The Washington Post's decided it's time to start getting off the Bush bandwagon. If it makes people feel better to insist that the administration has demonstrated "courage in setting goals and steadfastness in sticking to them" before they concede that there's been "extraordinary recklessness and incompetence in execution," I suppose I'll have to let that stand. What we've actually seen is rule by an extraordinarily vicious and corrupt group of people who don't have any genuine concern for anything other than the perpetuation of their own grasp on power and the enrichment of their cronies.

Time's Joe Klein Is One of Us

Joe Klein is one of the shrill: Bush's Iraq: A Powerful Fantasy: But all three CIA scenarios [for Iraq] were awful, I pointed out. The best case was "tenuous stability," a continuation of the sapping insurgency we're seeing now. McClellan began to read from talking points. The "pessimists and naysayers" had been wrong, he said, about the Iraqi people's ability to establish a transitional government, a national council and a transitional law. The "Iraqi people" had little to do with establishing any of those, but McClellan plowed on. A reporter asked if McClellan was saying that the CIA was filled with "pessimists and naysayers," but McClellan wouldn't bite....

Scott McClellan is beginning to sound like Baghdad Bob, the infamous spokesman for Saddam who announced hallucinatory Iraqi victories as the American troops closed in on Baghdad.... Bush told his crowds.... Saddam was a threat. The world is a safer place now that he's in jail. We must attack the terrorists before they attack us.... [Bush's] argument is tight, concise and, so far, impregnable. It is also a clever distortion of reality.... [W]e are facing a far more dangerous world than existed before the war. Many intelligence and military experts now believe that al-Qaeda has rebuilt its leadership structure and metastasized; that the U.S. military is overburdened and its leaders are likely to tell the next President that they lack the resources necessary to regain control in Iraq; that the U.S. government has lost the credibility to lead the world into action against future threats from, say, Iran or North Korea; that Iraq itself seems in danger of splitting into three chaotic regions, which—in the NIE's worst-case scenario—may lead to civil war....

Friday, September 17, 2004

More Vets Join The Order

It isn't just the powerful and famous. Vets fresh from the front lines are joining in droves. Blogger buggieboy is one them, and now one of us:

This U.S. Army website discusses terrorism in a realistic manner, showing that Al Queda is not the only enemy we face and that 9/11 "changed the world" only for the uninformed. Any national security professionals that didn't realize the danger of terrorism before 9/11 are incompetent and should not be given responsibility for our defense. This includes the entire Bush administration team.
His resume lists the 101st Airborne Division, the Second Infantry Division, and the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Does it list the Shrill Vote Veterans for Competence?

Introducing the Order of the Shill

Not everyone is called to the ancient and hermetic Order of the Shrill. Some join the Order of the Shill -- those courageous individuals who throw off their own sense of integrity in order to shill for the executive branch. The Order of the Shill is not open to your Aunt Edna who believes Iraq was behind the 9/11/01 attacks. No, the Order of the Shill is far too exclusive to accept just any poor deluded fool. It is restricted to those who clearly know better, yet make the obligatory rounds to the media in support of the mendacity, malevolence, incompetence, or simple disconnection from reality of the George W. Bush administration. Members of the Order of the Shill occasionally show their dual membership in the Order of the Shrill which, if nothing else, makes for good theater.

Today we introduce an anchor member of the Order of the Shill: Colin Powell.

Secretary of State Colin Powell disputed U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's assertion that the U.S.-led war in Iraq was illegal and said in an interview published on Friday the comment was "not a very useful statement to make at this point."

"What does it gain anyone? We should all be gathering around the idea of helping the Iraqis, not getting into these kinds of side issues," Powell said in an interview with The Washington Times.

Illegal war? Bah! Why talk about that now? Look, a bird! Aaaaiiii! Aaaaiiii! N'ppeakkeeth hynd c'rtainnn! Powell sssh'rt timm'rr! Aaaaiiiiii!!!!

British Army Colonel Tim Collins Is Shrill

Neoconservative darling and British Army Colonel Tim Collins is one of us now: News | "A form of common assault": Col. Tim Collins, celebrated for a rousing speech to his troops on the eve of the invasion, said America and Britain were suffering the consequences of toppling Saddam Hussein without thinking about what to put in his place. That failure raised questions about the reason for going to war, suggesting it was to vent anger at Saddam rather than to liberate oppressed Iraqis.... "The evidence would show, in hindsight, that the preparations for a free and fair Iraq weren't made. Therefore one must question the motivation of the powers that went to attack it." He added: "The simple fact is that nature abhors a vacuum and so does politics. If you knock something down, you must be prepared to put something in its place or live with the consequences of that which fills the vacuum.".... [H]e said that if the war was ordered to liberate Iraq, the coalition was guilty of gross incompetence. But there was reason to think it was a "cynical war that was going to happen anyway, to vent some anger at Saddam Hussein's regime with no regard to the consequences on the Iraqi people. In which case it is a sort of form of common assault -- and the evidence would point towards the latter," he said.

A year and a half ago, Tim Collins was the darling of the hard-line Bush supporters of the Weekly Standard:

Battlefield speeches: Britain has its first hero of this war, Lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins of the Royal Irish Regiment. Collins is heralded not yet for his feats on the battlefield, but for the stirring address to his troops, the regiment's 1st Battalion, on March 19, with battle imminent. As Sarah Oliver of the Mail on Sunday reported that night, Collins was "wearing his kukri, the Gurkha blade he is entitled to carry as a Gurkha commander. He spoke to his 800 men, an arm of Britain's 16 Air Assault Brigade, at Fort Blair Mayne, their desert camp just 20 miles from the Iraqi border." The British have not lost their knack for battlefield eloquence:

>It is my foremost intention to bring every single one of you out alive, but there may be people among us who will not see the end of this campaign. We will put them in their sleeping bags and send them back. There will be no time for sorrow.

The enemy should be in no doubt that we are his nemesis and that we are bringing about his rightful destruction. There are many regional commanders who have stains on their souls, and they are stoking the fires of hell for Saddam. He and his forces will be destroyed by this coalition for what they have done. As they die they will know their deeds have brought them to this place. Show them no pity.

We go to liberate, not to conquer. We will not fly our flags in their country. We are entering Iraq to free a people, and the only flag that will be flown in that ancient land is their own. Show respect for them.

There are some who are alive at this moment who will not be alive shortly. Those who do not wish to go on that journey, we will not send. As for the others, I expect you to rock their world. Wipe them out if that is what they choose.

But if you are ferocious in battle, remember to be magnanimous in victory. It is a big step to take another human life. It is not to be done lightly. I know of men who have taken life needlessly in other conflicts. They live with the mark of Cain upon them.

If someone surrenders to you, then remember they have that right in international law, and ensure that one day they go home to their family. The ones who wish to fight? Well, we aim to please.

Stop-Lossed Iraq Veterans get Shrill

Hundreds of soldiers from the 3rd Brigade--some of whom are Iraq veterans--have been threatened with transfer to Iraq if they do not voluntarily re-enlist. This has forced these brave, patriotic citizens towards shrilldom:

"They said if you refuse to re-enlist with the 3rd Brigade, we'll send you down to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which is going to Iraq for a year, and you can stay with them, or we'll send you to Korea, or to Fort Riley (in Kansas) where they're going to Iraq," said one of the soldiers, a sergeant.

The second soldier, an enlisted man who was interviewed separately, essentially echoed that view.

"They told us if we don't re-enlist, then we'd have to be reassigned. And where we're most needed is in units that are going back to Iraq in the next couple of months. So if you think you're getting out, you're not," he said.

But some soldiers presented with the re-enlistment message last week believe they've already done their duty and should not be penalized for choosing to leave. They deployed to Iraq for a year with the 3rd Brigade last April.

"I don't want to go back to Iraq," said the sergeant. "I went through a lot of things for the Army that weren't necessary and were risky. Iraq has changed a lot of people.''

The enlisted soldier said the recruiters' message left him troubled, unable to sleep and "filled with dread."

Curious how actual combat changes your perspective on war.

Thursday, September 16, 2004


Professor THIDWICK will not meet his class in "Modern American Politics" this morning, or indeed any morning. In partial explanation we offer this note, written by him in the pre-dawn hours:

I begged the Dean not to make me teach "Modern American Politics" this semester. I knew that in order to teach it properly I would have to delve into the secrets of the Bush administration. I knew that I would learn THINGS THAT HUMANS (as we say in these post-sexist times) ARE NOT MEANT TO KNOW. I feared that this would drive me insane--into shrill unholy madness. And so it has.

But up until now I have still able to teach my course. I am proud of that. Far gone in shrill unholy madness as a result of the incompetence, mendacity, malevolence, and disconnection from reality that I am, I could still communicate with my students in English and. Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Krugman R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aiiiiiii!!!

Apologies. The fits come and go. They come more quickly now. By proper effort of will I can sometimes. Ph'nglui mglw'nafh. Stop them. There. But I fear that tonight I have taken another step, and will no longer be able to intelligibly communicate with humanity. I have learned more. So shrill as to be inaudible to human hearing. But the dogs will still hear me, for a while at least.

While preparing tomorrow's lecture I came across this: a letter from Michael Scheuer, the head of the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit from 1996-1999:

Michael Scheuer: In the CIA's core, U.S.-based Bin Laden operations unit today there are fewer Directorate of Operations officers with substantive expertise on al-Qaeda than there were on 11 September 2001. There has been no systematic effort to groom al-Qaeda expertise among Directorate of Operations officers since 11 September. Today, the unit is greatly understaffed because of a "hiring freeze," and the rotation of large numbers of officers in and out of the unit every 60-to-90 days--a process in which experienced officers do less substantive work and become trainers for officers who leave before they are qualified to support the mission. The excellent management team now running operations against al-Qaeda has made repeated, detailed, and on-paper pleas for more officers to work against the al-Qaeda--and have done so for years, not weeks or months--but have been ignored.

Fewer officers with substantive expertise on al-Qaeda than on September 11. Aaaiii! Nyarlathotep! Aaaiii! No systematic effort to groom al-Qaeda expertise since 11 September. Aaaiii! I can see them approach! Yog-Sothoth! Paul Wolfowitz! Aaaiii! The al-Qaeda unit understaffed because of a "hiring freeze," Aaaiii! They are here! All of them! Shrub-Crawfordath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young! Donald Rumsfeld! Aaaiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Krugman R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aiiiiiii!!! Rotation of large numbers of officers in and out of the unit every 60-to-90 days. The trans-dimensional door! The Opener of the Gate! Richard Cheney! Aaaiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Krugman R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aiiiiiii!!! The Keymaster! Gozer! The Lesser Shoggoths! Experienced officers do less substantive work and become trainers for officers who leave before they are qualified to support the mission. The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man! Drowned R'lyeh surfaces! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Krugman R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aiiiiiii!!! Sigourney Weaver! He Who Must Not Be Named! Richard Perle! The Young of Shrub-Crawfordath! Why do they hate America so? Rand Beers tried to warn us! Condi Rice! Eldest of All the Shrill, save us!!

Professor THIDWICK's disability leave is expected to be of indefinite duration.