Thursday, April 01, 2004

It will be at the time and place of our choosing

Washington Post headline: “Kerry Criticizes President, Then Undergoes Surgery.” I guess Clarke should count himself lucky.

The Post also has excerpts of a speech Condi Rice was scheduled to give on 9/11/01, which the White House has been trying to suppress. She does talk about counter-terrorism: “that is why in May the president appointed Vice President Cheney to oversee a coordinated national effort to better protect the U.S. homeland against a terror attack using WMD.” That’s the committee that never actually met. But mostly she accused the Clinton admin of ignoring the real threat, presumably Soviet ICMBs, by neglecting Star Wars.

The LA Times website has some pictures of the Fallujah incident, although, LA being LA, they pay as much attention to the damage inflicted on a car as to the humans. That poor, poor SUV, it never hurt anyone.

Actually, the NYT’s photos are better, if that’s the adjective I’m looking for.

References to the bloody history of the American occupation of Fallujah leading up to yesterday have been at best parenthetical in the press reports, and at worst quite lazy. The NY manages two mentions of the April 2003 incidents when American soldiers twice fired on demonstrators, killing a number of people, and I say “a number”--and “lazy”--because the two Times stories give two different numbers, and one repeats the pretty-much-disproven claim that the soldiers had been fired on first. Eventually the army realized that killing 19 (or whatever) civilians (and later on 8 Iraqi cops) is not something you recover from, PR-wise, and mostly pulled out of Fallujah. The army has been replaced by the Marines, which last week decided to reassert the American presence by patrolling the streets, lifting their legs to mark their territory, firing rockets at houses, and other macho but pointless Marine-type activity.

Fallujah highlights a new military idiot, or maybe an old one I haven’t noticed before, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, the guy who said two days ago how great everything was going in Fallujah. Today: “We will be back in Fallujah. It will be at the time and place of our choosing.” Hey stupid, the place will be Fallujah, that’s the point. Every quote I’ve read from this guy is over-the-top tough-guy bullshit; he’s a walking--well, swaggering--caricature.

Spitting in the face of Bush’s last remaining ally, some assistant secretary of state has gone to Congress to accuse Britain of “going wobbly” in failing to eradicate the poppy in Afghanistan.

The US ends foreign aid to Serbia for its failure to cooperate with the war crimes tribunal. And today NATO forces (Americans) failed for the 583rd time to capture Radovan Karadzic, using explosives to break into an Orthodox church, injuring the priest and his son.

In further religion news, the state of Baden-Wurttemberg bans Muslim teachers wearing headscarves in school. Crosses are of course fine. The state’s education minister says the scarf is part of the history of women’s suppression.

And a Saudi cleric blames a drought on women not wearing veils.

And Bahrain bans The Passion of the Christ.

The Russian Duma bans demonstrations near Russian pipelines, kindergartens, embassies, major roads, hospitals, stadiums, concert halls, religious centers, and official buildings, and rallies that “run counter to the Constitution” or threaten “public morality.”

This fall, Harvard will have more female than male undergrads.

I’ve said that the US relied for some of its claims about Iraqi WMDs on a single defector it never interviewed. German intelligence agents are now saying they told the CIA that the defector, a brother of a Chalabi aide, was not credible.

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