Thursday, August 19, 2004

Free from its imprisonment and its vile occupation

The FBI’s justifications for its questioning of people planning to protest the R convention suggest that the Fibbies are thinking of themselves less as a law-enforcement agency than a secret police. The assistant director Cassandra (!!) Chandler said that of course they wouldn’t bother innocent people, but those about whom they had received "intelligence" that they were planning violent criminal activity or knew of such plans. Law-enforcement agencies don’t receive "intelligence"--and you know she gets off on calling it "intel" when she’s not talking to the press--they receive information; spy agencies receive intelligence. The arguments for these harassing activities are pre-emptive; you’re not enforcing the law when the law hasn’t been broken yet. This is the Bush Doctrine gone domestic: we don’t want the smoking gun to be a rotten egg thrown at Mayor Bloomberg, to paraphrase Condi Rice.

Speaking of preemption, Iran is talking about launching pre-emptive strikes against Israel and the US (they seem to mean the American troops in Iraq, who the Iranian defense minister described as "hostages") to prevent them launching preemptive strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities. They want to get their preemption in first.

The Iraqi national conference is now history, I believe. We never knew who they were. We never even knew how many of them there were--the tame media said 1,300, but 100 or 200 never showed up, and there were supposed to be 1,000 originally, but the first choices looked too unrepresentative, so more were conjured up somehow. And then they rendered what was already a sham even shammier by rubber-stamping a slate of candidates (that is, a list was chosen as a whole, rather than individuals being voted on) for the 81 seats out of 100 they were allowed to choose (it was meant to be 80, but Chalabi has been kicked out, although how and by whom we do not know). There wasn’t even a vote, the list was just declared to have been adopted. It’s like they think they’re in New Jersey or something.

Sadr, without ever meeting with the delegation, said he accepted their offer for him to give up the insurgency. Only... the US military would have to stop shooting up the place. So the Allayi clique upped the ante. Using the sort of playground-bully language so popular in Iraq lately, the defense minister threatened to "teach them a lesson they will never forget," and "set this compound free from its imprisonment and its vile occupation." And where previously the Mahdi Army was supposed to just drop its weapons and leave Najaf, now he’s telling them they have to turn in their weapons and themselves. Almost like he doesn’t want a peaceful solution. He added that only Iraqi troops would enter the shrine, American forces would just bomb it (sorry, I mean provide air support), and that Iraqi commanders would be in charge of the operation and why is everyone laughing at that? Guardian. Al Jazeera.

Ha’aretz says that Shin Bet is still torturing Palestinians. They got hold of a document. And continuing the foreign vocabulary lessons, here’s a Hebrew term for a torture technique: "hatayat gav" (forcing someone to maintain a position in which the back is bent backwards).

And as long as we’re doing Ha’aretz, there’s an article about a memorial plaque to the victims of a terror attack on a bus last year. All the Jewish victims are called "sainted" on the plaque, but a Filipina woman is just called "Mrs." because she’s not as, you know, good, as the Orthodox Jews.

No comment: "Mass. Judge Denies Relief to Gay Couples" (AP headline).

I also liked a headline about Greek sprinters walking out of the Olympics (as opposed to sprinting out, geddit?). I believe these are the two who missed their drug test because they "got the munchies and just spaced it." By the way, here’s what I wrote about drugs and the Olympics 4 years ago.

The Kerry response to Bush’s line about opponents of Star Wars living in the past is, for once, an effective response, noting that Bush’s pre-9/11 position was that the greatest threat to the US wasn’t, oh, say, terrorism but missile attacks, which are like, so 20th century. And Sam Rosenfeld at the American Prospect’s blog points out that most Americans when polled don’t understand why missile defense won’t work, and think we already have it (when the Russians launched the first Sputnik, many Americans wanted it shot down, not understanding that if the US knew how to shoot a satellite down, it would have been able to launch one of its own).

Funny, I thought we were supposed to have handed Abu Ghraib back to the Iraqis (and wasn’t it supposed to be torn down, too?). So why was it American forces who fired on prisoners today, killing 2 and wounding 5?

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