Thursday, February 14, 2008

Republicans Continue to Act as Al Qaeda Force Multiplier
Play the Terrorism Card Yet Again

Jebus H. Here we go again.

Do not try to make the administration accountable to the law! If you do, we will all die!! The terrorists are infinitely powerful, and capable of killing us all at any moment!!!!!!!!!!! Acquiesce to the president's will or all will die!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My god. There is something very seriously wrong with these people.


Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

The current law expires Saturday midnight. The vote should be taken before then---the Democrat-controlled Senate has already voted yes, a not irrelevant fact.

No number of exclamation points can change that, WS. [One or two would have conveyed the point without seeming hyperbolic.]

There is something wrong with these people, but IMO you got the wrong "these" people, who instead of attending to the nation's business are conducting a partisan wrangle in trying to subpoena members of the [Republican] executive branch.

Perhaps that will pass constitutional muster, and they have the right to try at least. But Harriet Miers and John Bolton aren't going anywhere, and that matter could wait until Monday.

If House Democrats want to vote against the bill, fine. I do not think the American electorate would approve, but I could be wrong about that. But let them be on record.

9:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who cares if it expires. All the powers necessary will still exist under FISA. As usual, Bush and the Republicans are full of shit. Just listen to this:

All of the many "denied" FISA requests before Bush started ignoring the law exist in the same parallel universe as the family farms lost because of the estate tax.

It seems that this is one of those inconvenient times when Republicans feel the Constitution is just a nuisance. The FISA court was set up specifically to allow compliance with the Fourth Amendment. Not only that, retroactive immunity for the telecoms would represent ex post facto law, something explicitly forbidden under Article I, section 9.

10:20 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Josh Bolten, not John Bolton, sorry. I read only so deeply into partisan nonsense, especially when it compromises considerations of national security.

The applicability of the constitution here is no slam dunk, as the Founders' intention of banning ex post facto laws was in preventing something legal yesterday illegal today. However, the argument per Article I Section IX has some weight.

However, I believe that congress has often granted de facto immunities from prosecution, or in this case, giving the trial lawyers a field day, suing for damages where there are no actual damages.

Or not---as one anonymous commenter here so eloquently puts it, the Republicans are full of shit. Yell anything loudly or coarsely enough, and it starts to sound like the truth. Reasonable people don't argue that way, but these are quite unreasonable times. "Truth" is a defense for anything.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, the evil trial lawyers. Always a convenient bogeyman. Last I checked, the courts were the appropriate forum for determining whether there are or are not any actual damages, not George Bush's or anybody else's fevered imagination. The Constitution, which outlines and limits the powers granted to government by the people, guarantees us the right to seek damages and redress.

"Washington, DC - Congressman Silvestre Reyes, D-TX, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, sent the following letter to President George W. Bush today regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The text of the letter is below:

President George W. Bush

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The Preamble to our Constitution states that one of our highest duties as public officials is to "provide for the common defence." As an elected Member of Congress, a senior Member of the House Armed Services Committee, and Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I work everyday to ensure that our defense and intelligence capabilities remain strong in the face of serious threats to our national security.

Because I care so deeply about protecting our country, I take strong offense to your suggestion in recent days that the country will be vulnerable to terrorist attack unless Congress immediately enacts legislation giving you broader powers to conduct warrantless surveillance of Americans' communications and provides legal immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in the Administration's warrantless surveillance program.

Today, the National Security Agency (NSA) has authority to conduct surveillance in at least three different ways, all of which provide strong capability to monitor the communications of possible terrorists.

First, NSA can use its authority under Executive Order 12333 to conduct surveillance abroad of any known or suspected terrorist. There is no requirement for a warrant. There is no requirement for probable cause. Most of NSA's collection occurs under this authority.

Second, NSA can use its authority under the Protect America Act, enacted last August, to conduct surveillance here in the U.S of any foreign target. This authority does not "expire" on Saturday, as you have stated. Under the PAA, orders authorizing surveillance may last for one year - until at least August 2008. These orders may cover every terrorist group without limitation. If a new member of the group is identified, or if a new phone number or email address is identified, the NSA may add it to the existing orders, and surveillance can begin immediately. We will not "go dark."

Third, in the remote possibility that a new terrorist organization emerges that we have never previously identified, the NSA could use existing authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to monitor those communications. Since its establishment nearly 30 years ago, the FISA Court has approved nearly every application for a warrant from the Department of Justice. In an emergency, NSA or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may begin surveillance immediately, and a FISA Court order does not have to be obtained for three days. The former head of FISA operations for the Department of Justice has testified publicly that emergency authorization may be granted in a matter of minutes.

As you know, the 1978 FISA law, which has been modernized and updated numerous times since 9/11, was instrumental in disrupting the terrorist plot in Germany last summer. Those who say that FISA is outdated do not understand the strength of this important tool.

If our nation is left vulnerable in the coming months, it will not be because we don't have enough domestic spying powers. It will be because your Administration has not done enough to defeat terrorist organizations - including al Qaeda -- that have gained strength since 9/11. We do not have nearly enough linguists to translate the reams of information we currently collect. We do not have enough intelligence officers who can penetrate the hardest targets, such as al Qaeda. We have surged so many intelligence resources into Iraq that we have taken our eye off the ball in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As a result, you have allowed al Qaeda to reconstitute itself on your watch.

You have also suggested that Congress must grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies. As someone who has been briefed on our most sensitive intelligence programs, I can see no argument why the future security of our country depends on whether past actions of telecommunications companies are immunized.

The issue of telecom liability should be carefully considered based on a full review of the documents that your Administration withheld from Congress for eight months. However, it is an insult to the intelligence of the American people to say that we will be vulnerable unless we grant immunity for actions that happened years ago.

Congress has not been sitting on its hands. Last November, the House passed responsible legislation to authorize the NSA to conduct surveillance of foreign terrorists and to provide clarity and legal protection to our private sector partners who assist in that surveillance.

The proper course is now to conference the House bill with the Senate bill that was passed on Tuesday. There are significant differences between these two bills and a conference, in regular order, is the appropriate mechanism to resolve the differences between these two bills. I urge you, Mr. President, to put partisanship aside and allow Republicans in Congress to arrive at a compromise that will protect America and protect our Constitution.

I, for one, do not intend to back down - not to the terrorists and not to anyone, including a President, who wants Americans to cower in fear.

We are a strong nation. We cannot allow ourselves to be scared into suspending the Constitution. If we do that, we might as well call the terrorists and tell them that they have won.


Silvestre Reyes

Member of Congress

Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence"

But I guess we shouldn't let the facts get in the way of politically useful fearmongering.

10:52 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

My point was that they should vote, or at least work on the bill instead of playing the partisan subpoena game. Persons of good conscience can disagree with the content of the bill. I have no problem with principled disagreement. [Altho the Democrat-controlled Senate has already passed the bill.]

Silvestre Reyes? Hehe. Better you speak for yourself next time instead of cutting and pasting partisan cant.

5:22 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Sorry, Tom, no dice.

Congress makes a fairly weak move toward exercising its authority and the GOP plays the terror card--yet again doing its part to strengthen al Qaeda. (Once again, doing their work for them, multiplying their force, pumping up the terroriness of the terrorists).

Even if the vote were not taken (and it could have easily been taken if the contempt vote had simply gone through as it should have) we would merely revert back to the reasonable and just standards--that is, surveillance could be conducted with warrants.

And on top of it all, we get yet another walk-out--something the Dems didn't do in ten years under the thumb of psychos like Tom DeLay. And that's two for the GOP within one year. Street theater. They should get together with the anti-globalization puppet-show people...

Seriously, Tom. Just throwing words at this does nothing to mitigate the awfulness of their actions. It just undermines your own credibility. I know you're quite the GOP partisan, but seriously. Even such partisans should be able to recognize the badness of something like this.

7:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>Better you speak for yourself next time instead of cutting and pasting partisan cant.<

I must say it's been a long time since I've seen such a carefully constructed argument, buttressed by such compelling facts. It really makes Reyes' substance- and fact-free rant look irrelevant.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

It's the last two posts that are fact-free, not mine.

Neither do I question there might be legitimate arguments on the other side. I merely question why, with the clock running out, a partisan subpoena action was being pursued instead of the issue of national security.

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shorter Tom Van Dyke: I know you are, but what am I?

2:28 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Is there ever a time when there won't be a "clock running out" on some vital issue?

There will always be pressing issues in Congress. Saying that they should put aside investigations into strongly suspect actions in favor of other duties is something one could always say. There will always be something of importance that gets put on hold temporarily in order to pursue justice.

That's just how busy we are. It's not a good argument to say we shouldn't pursue an investigation, ESPECIALLY one that seems so necessary, simply because there are other things that we could be doing.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I didn't say it shouldn't be pursued, just that it could wait a few days.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The applicability of the constitution here is no slam dunk, as the Founders' intention of banning ex post facto laws was in preventing something legal yesterday illegal today. However, the argument per Article I Section IX has some weight

It was never legal for telecoms to spy on americans without a warrent. Hence the immunity. Geez, even you should be able to figure that out.

4:12 PM  
Blogger lovable liberal said...

Silvestre Reyes? Hehe. Better you speak for yourself next time instead of cutting and pasting partisan cant.

This from Mr. Post a URL and let them figure out what my argument - if any - is. Rich! Although I will admit that TVD is keen enough for his partisan cant to paraphrase a lot of it instead of merely cutting and pasting - unless of course he's pasting without attribution.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Thank you. I post my own thoughts. I don't listen to my side's partisan cant either.

As to the matter at hand, I find the alleged threat to national security more compelling than the alleged threat to civil liberties. But mileage may vary, and I can respect that.

I would rather the Democrat-controlled House exhibit some appreciation of the seriousness of the issue by advancing that argument rather than the subpoena thing.

As for the subpoena thing, given the Supreme Court's historical reticence to get in the middle between executive and legislative tug-of-wars, I don't expect much of substance.

That I think the Democrats also realize this, which is pretty much my point here.

As for your constitutional arguments, anonymous, rock on, altho I believe my point that congress has in the past granted such ex post facto immunities still stands unmolested.

6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it amazing that we've gone from a nation that came into being with phrases like Give me liberty or give me death and the actions to back that up to this kind of snivelling, bedwetting nonsense. As to the matter at hand, I find the alleged threat to national security more compelling than the alleged threat to civil liberties. But mileage may vary, and I can respect that.

Those that would give up liberty for security deserve neither.

Why is the concept that before wiretapping can be done to american citizens that a judge must review the evidence and issue a WARRANT so repugnant to you tom? Are you that afraid that terrorists might be hiding under your bed??

6:24 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Apparently you don't agree there can be principled disagreement with your own position, which concedes that the issue is not black-and-white, although it may require a prudent either/or decision.

So be it, I'm used to that with my friends from the other side of the Great Divide. But you seem to have abandoned your ex post facto argument, which I thought might have some merit. Apparently my demurral was enough for you to hop to the next lily pad.

As for the rest, I have much to say about the suitability of constitutional abstractions like Amendment IV applying to wiretaps, especially in times of national emergency.

You seem to believe no emergency exists or has ever existed, even in the days immediately following 9-11. That there was a national emergency, and that the telecoms cooperated with the government in its wake, is the reasoning behind granting them this immunity. To leave them open to litigation would likely make them less responsive should we have another such national emergency. This is not about Bush at all, but the ability of the next president to respond to a national emergency.

Since I'm not aware of any compelling arguments that civil liberties were harmed as a result of the telecoms' cooperation with the administration during the national emergency, I'd rather see them disposed to help the next president instead of not.

Should the next administration make improper use of whatever the telecoms' cooperation might yield, there are already numerous laws in place that would offer justice.

If we were having a proper discussion instead of exchanging ridicule and hyperbole, you might find me in agreement that absent time pressure, even the most restrictive interpretation of Amendment IV might be best.

As McConnell or Hayden said the other day, if Congress decides on a very restrictive interpretation, the CIA, et al., will abide by it. But he also voiced his [presumably informed] opinion that it would hinder intelligence gathering and possibly make the US more vulnerable to a terrorist attack.

To my mind, anyone who favors a restrictive interpretation of IV must acknowledge that, yes, that is a price we are willing to pay, or a at least a risk we will accept.

That would be an honest and principled disagreement that accepts the consequences of its decision.

If you want to go there, I can respect that. And if they continue to pursue this course, I want the Democrats in congress to be on the record on it.

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You seem to believe no emergency exists or has ever existed, even in the days immediately following 9-11. That there was a national emergency, and that the telecoms cooperated with the government in its wake, is the reasoning behind granting them this immunity."

There was no such need for brazen presidential lawbreaking. FISA allows for unwarranted wiretapping even without a warrant, allowing up to 72 hours AFTER the fact to get one.

"Should the next administration make improper use of whatever the telecoms' cooperation might yield, there are already numerous laws in place that would offer justice."

This assumes the legal discovery process can get a toehold, which under the current secrecy mania of the Cheney administration is impossible. Read John Dean's books for the sorry details. National security provides the perfect cover for Cheney's maniacal, and actually admitted, obsession with creating an autocratic executive branch.

Such were the nightmares of the founders of this country.

9:39 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Talking about Dubya and Cheney is a dead letter with me, OK? Especially around here. Either I'm a Kool-Aid drinker or you all have Bush Derangement Syndrome. Probably both, so let's just not.

I laid out my position and I believe I laid out yours fairly, so if you want a principled discussion, pick it up from there.

10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, no sale. That is the current makeup of the Executive Branch and that makes it 100% relevant. You go to war against the imperial president you have, not the one you wish you had.

What's more, it establishes a precedent that could enable a future president to continue such abuses.

And FWIW, you do seem like a Kool-Aid drinker, or at least someone who has no problem with authoritarians. And I guess three-quarters of the country has 'Bush Derangement Syndrome'.

There is simply no way to determine whether there is a true emergency and exigency requires extreme measures without some disclosure. Violations of law and extreme secrecy are a very toxic combination.

"If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy" - James Madison

I was working at World Financial Center across the street from the WTC on 9/11, and I pass through Grand Central Terminal, an attack on which would represent a wet dream for Al Qaeda, twice a day. But I'll be damned if these craven fear-mongers are going to destroy the liberties our country was founded on because they can find enough pearl-clutchers out there to voluntarily submit to their agenda.

10:30 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

So make your case without the pejorative language and making it personal, how data-mining during a national emergency threatens the civil liberties in this here republic.

Me, I think it's an overabstraction of the Fourth Amendment that ill-reflects reality. Make your case that it's "tyranny and oppression," per your Madison quote.

But I'm listening. Just keep in mind that the level of overheated language is judged by most reasonable folks as indicative of the unworthiness of the underlying argument.

Yes, you have gone to war with the imperial presidency we have [BDS], but soon that presidency will be gone. Me, I'm defending President Obama's prerogatives.

11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since I'm not aware of any compelling arguments that civil liberties were harmed as a result of the telecoms' cooperation with the administration during the national emergency

and you would know if there were how exactly?? are you too dense to understand that that is the purpose of the lawsuits against the telecoms, to find out the answer to this question and not rely on trust me from members of this adminstration?

Ignorant and a coward, your parents must be so proud.

12:01 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Cheers, mate.

But should you ever risk dropping the anonymity of the internet and go out in public to spout off like this, best leave the other fellow's family out of it, lest you take your head home in a fucking bag.

1:47 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Would warrantless wiretap authority make it easier to catch terrorists?

Certainly. As would the authority to search anyone's car without probable cause. Or the authority to round up all firearms. So no one denies that such things would help against the terrorists. We can always purchase additional security by giving up rights. The point is that the cost is too high.

Given the authority that already exists, include the authority to obtain retroactive warrants, many of us just don't believe these additional infringements of our privacy rights are warranted.

Furthermore, given that the Bush administration is both:

(a) Either absolutely incapable of rationally assessing the severity of threats against us or dead set on intentionally exaggerating them


(b) Dead set on grabbing more power


(c) Willing to play the terrorism card at every opportunity in order to get what they want (witness Iraq),

it just isn't rational to either trust them on this matter or cut them any slack.

The Bush administration has been wrong about everything. At every turn they're either lying or confused or too incompetent to do the job. But the one tune that runs through the whole disaster is "Be very afraid...and do what we say."

So you'll forgive us for crying bullshit on this. They've misused the terrorism card at every turn. So here comes another case...the evidence and arguments are a little hazier here, but we've seen all this before. Sure, the admin and its water-carriers can make a half-assed case here. But, having been subjected to a parade of half-(and less)-assed cases, many of us are just fed up with it.

Instead of fighting over the details at this point, many of us have stepped back to say: they're always wrong, they're always grabbing for power...time to put the brakes on this.

Oh and: it really is time for conservatives to stop doing al Qaeda's work for them. American conservatives are the most important ally al Qaeda has. I and others are at the point of saying STFU. This is one case in which your bed-wetting is really doing tangible harm. The goal of terrorism is to leverage fear to achieve political ends. Ooops...too broad a definition, I then American conservatives turn out to be terrorists...

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm, priorities....

1:37 PM  
Blogger lovable liberal said...

Thank you. I post my own thoughts. I don't listen to my side's partisan cant either.

Ah, so they're getting it from you? 'Cause they track remarkably well.

2:17 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

They say I lot of things that are idiotic. But there are underlying principles to any position, and I arrive at them independently. For example, I often cite the fact that Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright putatively killed more innocent Iraqis with the sanctions than Bush's war ever did. That's not boilerplate from my side of the aisle, it's my own observation.

On this issue, WS is honest enough to admit his opposition comes more from an enmity for George Bush than any positive thesis as to why immunity for the telecoms is harmful. But as I said, I'm talking about President Obama's prerogatives.

I've heard in several places that this bill would pass if the Democrat House leadership would permit a vote. [Seems logical, as it passed overwhelmingly in the Democrat-controlled Senate.]

If true, that means that Speaker Pelosi is simply playing politics with national security, as she did when she passed over the eminently qualified and well-respected Jane Harman to chair the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, instead appointing that idiot Silvestre Reyes, who didn't even know that al-Qaeda is a Sunni, not a Shia, movement.

As for the GOP being an al-Qaeda force multiplier, it's an interesting concept. I myself am inclined to the position that successful al-Qaeda attacks are the greatest force multiplier, and if we increase the risk of them by hewing to inherently meaningless abstractions of Constitutional protection to "preserve what we are," such a nuance will be lost on those in the Muslim world who danced in the streets when the Twin Towers went down.

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"For example, I often cite the fact that Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright putatively killed more innocent Iraqis with the sanctions than Bush's war ever did. That's not boilerplate from my side of the aisle, it's my own observation."

I think I see at least one of TVD's major problems. The lack of understanding of what a *fact* is:

6:31 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, I've been down this road on this blog before, which is why I used the word "putatively." Thank you for your conscientious research.

In fact, I had occasion to speak with Matt Welch last year, and thanked him for being just about the only one I could find who dogged the story down.

Unfortunately, little of the world knows that fact, as Matt's the only one I found and Reason enjoys only a small circulation and influence.

And the Muslim world accepts the 500,000 figure since Albright was mindless enough to falsely confess to it.

I enjoy our conversations, anon, but forgive me if I skip the rehash here. I'm sorry I mentioned the Albright thing again, but when under scurrilous personal attack, I'm obliged to defend myself. I used to let these things go, but then I was accused of dodging and running out.

If you're genuinely interested, a summary of my thinking on the subject can be found here, at the only other blog I comment on, a delightful brew of evangelical and gay libertarians.

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I often cite the fact that Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright putatively killed more innocent Iraqis with the sanctions than Bush's war ever did. That's not boilerplate from my side of the aisle, it's my own observation.

Links please Tom Van Bedwetter. and no freerepublic crap either.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

100,000 for Clinton, according to Matt Welch. Your link.

85,000 for Bush, according to Iraq Body Count.

Had you questioned the accuracy of Johns Hopkins' numbers [600,000, which makes Bush look bad] with tenacity you questioned UNICEF's numbers [500,000, which makes Clinton look bad], I'd think you were an honest person, in search of the truth. Even the outlying figures are close enough to swing it once you add the qualifier "innocent," which I did. And those figures, one or the other, are accepted by ignorant people all over the world.

And if you ever want to insult me to my face, just let me know where to find you, "anonymous."

11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I'm not the same anonymous (mine are at 10:20 P.M, 10:52 P.M., 12:09 P.M., 2:28 P.M., 9:39 P.M., 10:30 P.M., 1:37 P.M. and 6:31 P.M.), but there's also this from the article to which I linked:

"The sanctions, first imposed in 1990 after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, are administered by the U.N., not the U.S."


"Sanctions critics almost always leave out one other salient fact: The vast majority of the horror stats they quote apply to the period before March 1997, when the oil-for-food program delivered its first boatload of supplies (nearly six years after the U.N. first proposed the idea to a reluctant Iraqi government)."


"Garfield concluded that between August 1991 and March 1998 there were at least 106,000 excess deaths of children under 5, with a "more likely" worst-case sum of 227,000. (He recently updated the latter figure to 350,000 through this year.) Of those deaths, he estimated one-quarter were "mainly associated with the Gulf war."

-- so the 100,000 figure was derived from statistics before the oil-for-food program, and 25,000 of them 'belong' to George Bush I.

So I don't see either of the following as tenable premises:

1. Whatever deaths are attributable to sanctions are the fault of Bill Clinton.

2. Another war, including full invasion, was the best solution. If 25,000 deaths were attributable the the first Gulf War which was over before you blinked, then the second one held the possibility, which has come to fruition, of many more.

3. The rate of excess deaths *on the eve of invasion* was anywhere near where it is now.

9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And speaking of Republicans as a force multiplier, the original topic of Winston's post,

"And so, even with limited numbers, al-Qaeda appears to Muslims as a huge, rising and conquering army. Just as important, Americans have been taught by their leaders to see al-Qaeda behind every rock and tree, ready to pounce. American leaders, in effect, now terrorize ordinary Americans, making Washington appear to be the enemy of its own people's civil liberties.

This all gives us confidence in our plan to defeat America -- by bleeding it into bankruptcy and tempting it to spread out its forces.

Brothers, the amount of money that Washington spends on wars to murder Muslims and on pointless "homeland security" measures is staggering, with no end in sight. The war in Iraq alone is costing $12 billion per month. Bush is also burning money to deploy troops to Africa, under a new Pentagon command created to steal the continent's oil. And after America's Iraq "surge," U.S. generals cannot scrape up the few thousand troops they would need to fight our Taliban brothers in Afghanistan because Washington's NATO allies refuse to send reinforcements.

Thanks be to God, brothers, America is hemorrhaging money and ruining its military by trying to fight al-Qaeda's mujaheddin wherever they appear -- or, more accurately, wherever U.S. officials imagine they appear...

Frankly, brothers, things had to get much worse for Muslims before they could get better. We had to goad America into sending a larger, more vulnerable presence into the Muslim world before we could bleed its forces and treasury. The mujaheddin's 9/11 raid did just that; the inexplicable U.S. decision to invade Iraq vastly expanded the American presence. (Only God could grant such a miracle!) Al-Qaeda and the groups we have inspired are now exploiting both the triumph of 9/11 and the hornet's nest in Iraq that the Americans so foolishly kicked over."

By the man whose job for 6 years was to obsess about Osama Bin Laden, here:

10:14 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Do you honestly believe Bill Clinton escapes moral responsibility for the human cost of the sanctions by dissolving it into the UN? I do not. Neither did Madeleiene Albright, who rightly accepted responsibility for it.

Moving the timeline past 1998 ignores the Oil for Peace scandal, and maintains that "containment" was as effective and as sustainable as when the sanctions were far harsher. I do not agree with that, either.

I realize my thesis---even if Bush and Clinton's numbers are anywhere close---are shocking and require a rethink of the bland condemnation of Bush's war. The Iraqis have a chance at a future that includes human dignity; Clinton simply bought a few years of cheap peace at the cost of many innocent lives.

I do not expect a such a rethink, therefore. It's too radical a thought for partisans to even consider.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting for an affirmative argument on behalf of blocking telecom immunity, the original subject. WS has presented an honest, albeit in my view unfortunate, answer.

As for the "force multiplier," I'm happy with my reply that successful al-Qaeda attacks are the greatest force multiplier. See bin Laden's remarks on the "strong horse." The rest of what you print here seems to be, um, al-Qaeda "spin." They are losing, and probably have already lost in Iraq, their brutality---and lack of success---having disgusted the Muslim world.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I believe he escapes moral responsibility to the extent that he took the least bad of the available options.

And relatively speaking, I find it hard to get exercised about a $1bn scandal in a program that ameliorated the effects of sanctions, especially when compared to the hundreds of billions (including $9bn we can't even find for God's sake), countless lives, American prestige, the future of Afghanistan among many other things that Bush has flushed down the toilet with his idiotic invasion.

If the effects of war and internal chaos were worth it to the Iraqi people to be rid of Saddam, he would have met the fate of Sukarno, Ceacescu, Palavi, Marcos and many others. So I'd feel a lot better about the justice and likelihood of the Iraqis' "chance at a future that includes human dignity" if they had actually, you know, *chosen it*.

As for the immunity, I think it's self-evident what the *affirmative argument* is for actually enforcing the law.

And what I printed there was exactly Al Qaeda "spin", which was the whole point, since Bush has given Bin Laden his wet dream on a platter. It was written by a person who's forgotten more about Al Qaeda than you know, and who, along with our own current intelligence services, knows that the invasion of Iraq has been the gift that's kept on giving to Bin Laden.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Sorry, that spin is foretold nowhere in bin Laden's 1996 fatwa. The al-Qaeda dream is in tatters, hopefully.

As for what is self-evident, if congress passes the immunity, that's the law. [It's nowhere clear that the plaintiffs would win anyway.]

You think Clinton chose the least worst of all options. I disagree. Many died, and it was a temporary peace.

And I regret bringing up Iraq in the first place. But since I have backed my claim with credible sources, I have answered the other anonymous' challenge.

I don't claim that my thesis is correct, only that it's possible and the honest person will consider it.

Cheers, I'm out. Continue if you want, disagree all you want, but I'd appreciate it if you didn't say anything foul about me behind my back on a personal level, especially anonymously.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point is really that all Bin Laden needs is some propaganda point that has a patina of legitimacy to aid in his recruiting, which our latest NIE says has been going like gangbusters, unlike how *in tatters* AQ was soon after 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan. So the point that Scheuer was making is that AQ was drowning after those events and George Bush threw it a Goddamned lifeline.

And directly from the NIE:

"Of note, we assess that al-Qa’ida
will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), its
most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack
the Homeland. In addition, we assess that its association with AQI helps al-Qa’ida to
energize the broader Sunni extremist community, raise resources, and to recruit and
indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks."

As far as the facts indicate, the only thing in tatters is our reputation, measuring its lowest ratings ever in many countries. Even our NATO allies are refusing to stand by our operation in Afghanistan because we've shortchanged it so badly the past five years because Bush saw something shiny in Iraq. The lost opportunity costs are simply staggering.

And congress can't pass immunity and make it the law (at least according to the Constitution) unless it has a time machine that I don't know about.

And obviously Clinton bought a temporary peace. But the salient point is that the peace was interrupted by George W. Bush, in a war that the Iraqis neither asked for nor deserved.

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, I'm sure the Iraqi people are so relieved to no longer be the subjects of sanctions and merely be cannon fodder in the ingenious *flypaper* experiment.

Something which was predicted beforehand too:

"The U.S. intelligence community accurately predicted months before the Iraq war that al-Qaeda would link up with elements from former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s regime and militant Islamists to conduct terrorist attacks against U.S. forces in that country, according to a report released today by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence...
While predicting that terrorist threats heightened by the invasion would probably decline within five years, the assessments said that lines between al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups around the world "could become blurred." U.S. occupation of Iraq "probably would boost proponents of political Islam" throughout the Muslim world and "funds for terrorist groups probably would increase as a result of Muslim outrage over U.S. actions.""

11:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And if you ever want to insult me to my face, just let me know where to find you

post your address pussy. I'll be there.

9:38 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

There is nothing more pathetic than a challenge to a fight delivered over the internet.

I'm sure everyone here has heard it before, but perhaps they need to be reminded:

Entering into an intimidation match (regarding a physical fight, no less) on the internet is like entering the Special Olympics.

Even if you win, you're still retarded.

9:44 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

You know, except for the fact that the candidates for the special olympics didn't choose to be retarded and are therefore laudable, whereas you two choose to be.

9:45 PM  

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