Life During Wartime

13 Oct 2003

Paul R. Potts

Lots of fun today.

Now that Israel’s following the Bush doctrine of preemptive strikes, we’ve apparently got no good reason not to emulate Israel and engage in “collective punishment,” bulldozing orchards of date palms and citrus trees.

The Carnegie Foundation has a good analysis of the Kay report. Its most important conclusions are that the “lead” – the most important conclusion – is buried in the middle of the report:

In the middle of a paragraph halfway through his testimony, Kay presents what should have been his lead finding: “Information found to date suggests that Iraq’s large-scale capability to develop, produce, and fill new CW munitions was reduced — if not entirely destroyed — during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Fox, 13 years of UN sanctions and UN inspections.” Similarly, three paragraphs into Kay’s description of Saddam’s intention to develop nuclear weapons, he says: “to date we have not uncovered evidence that Iraq undertook significant post-1998 steps to actually build nuclear weapons or produce fissile material.

Joseph Cirincione also points out that UNMOVIC had a budget of only $60 million and was funded by the U.N., while Kay is requesting $600 million to continue the search for WMD in Iraq. Personally, I have a lot more confidence in Hans Blix and UNMOVIC.

Does this look like a successfully concluded war to you?

Identical letters from Iraq are being sent to hometown newspaters in soldiers’ names. They’ve been published by 11 newspapers. The Olympian received two identical letters over different signatures. The newspaper declined to publish them because it has a policy of not publishing form letters.

Sgt. Christopher Shelton, who signed a letter that ran in the Snohomish Herald, said Friday that his platoon sergeant had distributed the letter and asked soldiers for the names of their hometown newspapers. Soldiers were asked to sign the letter if they agreed with it, said Shelton, whose shoulder was wounded during an ambush earlier this year.

Sgt. Shawn Grueser of Poca, W.Va., said he spoke to a military public affairs officer whose name he couldn’t remember about his accomplishments in Iraq for what he thought was a news release to be sent to his hometown paper in Charleston, W.Va. But the 2nd Battalion soldier said he did not sign any letter.

Although Grueser said he agrees with the letter’s sentiments, he was uncomfortable that a letter with his signature did not contain his own words or spell out his own accomplishments.

I’m not exactly comfortable with this either.

Bill O’Reilly threw a tantrum on “Fresh Air.” I didn’t hear it but I’ll have to download the program from Audible. Terry Gross is not a hard-hitting interviewer; she rarely challenges or pushes back at her guests, with a few exceptions. (Her best shows, in my opinion, are interviews of musicians, where her love of all different styles of music shows through). I’ve heard her interview with Al Franken and read his book. She was attempting to give him equal time, but he didn’t seem to want it, even facing such a softball interview. He’d rather be able to claim that he attempted to present his views but the interview was far too mired in liberal bias to give him a chance to represent his views accurately. At least, it’s a lot easier than actually explaining or recanting the various blatant untruths he’s being called on.

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