Friday, August 12, 2005

All options are on the table

Yesterday, Bush gave an interview to Israeli television in which he did something which you’d think would be considered newsworthy: he threatened another country with military force. But this is what these last few years have brought us to. Everyone is so used to Bush dealing with the rest of the world through threats of military force that it’s viewed as completely unremarkable. Including by Bush; I saw a clip of it on the BBC, and he issues the threat completely casually, like it’s nothing.

Oh, you want to know which country? Iran, for its nuclear program.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, all options are on the table.

Q: Including use of force?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, as I say, all options are on the table.
Then he goes on a bit about last resort blah blah blah. He also said in the interview that Abbas needs to “dismantle terrorists.” Drawing and quartering, I assume. And he was asked about the one time he visited Israel: “I’ll never forget waking up in the hotel and seeing this golden shine on the Old City. It was just -- and I remember waking up Laura, I said, ‘Laura, you’re not going to believe -- you’re not going to believe this fantastic sight.’” He really is easily distracted by shiny objects, isn’t he?

But not by signs because, well, he’s not much of a reader. His motorcade sped by Cindy Sheehan, who was holding up a sign reading “Why do you make time for donors and not for me?” Is that a trick question?

Gen. Richard Myers, in a declaration to the District Court in Manhattan, asks that the remaining Abu Ghraib pictures and video not be released. His declaration (pdf), not all of which has been released either, says the release would result in “riots, violence and attacks by insurgents” in both Iraq and Afghanistan and, hell, everywhere else too. It’s quite a chilling document, painting a picture of massive insurgency in both countries barely kept under control (which is funny, because that’s not what he says everywhere else) and how it would all turn to shit if these pictures came out, practically the end of the world, so the censorship they want isn’t about covering their asses at all but a noble effort to save the world from anarchy and bloodshed. Release of these pictures would be the first official release, as opposed to a leak, which he says would be ever so much worse because it would seem to be an official attempt “to further ridicule and humiliate the individuals depicted, their culture, or their religion.” Also, Myers still thinks that the residents of Afghanistan are called “Afghanis.”

I had been going to point out that the argument Myers was making to the District Court was pragmatic rather than legal. “It would cause bad things to happen” is not an objection based in legal principles, which are the things, the only things, courts are supposed to consider. But in fact, they’re trying to stretch a statute allowing non-release of law-enforcement records which might endanger a snitch (“could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual”) to cover this.

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