11 December 2006

Sorry, we're too busy undermining the President

[source, source]

When the State Department recently asked the CIA for names of Iranians who could be sanctioned for their involvement in a clandestine nuclear weapons program, the agency refused, citing a large workload and a desire to protect its sources and tradecraft.

Frustrated, the State Department assigned a junior Foreign Service officer to find the names another way — by using Google. Those with the most hits under search terms such as “Iran and nuclear,” three officials said, became targets for international rebuke Friday when a sanctions resolution circulated at the United Nations.

Score another one for John Poindexter and Open Source Intelligence theory.

Agreed — why do we pay these CIA people again?

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Doctor, it hurts when I do this

[source, source]

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated in a report released last month that more than 1.6 million Iraqis have left since March 2003, nearly 7 percent of the population. Jordanian security officials say more than 750,000 are in and around Amman, a city of 2.5 million. Syrian officials estimate that up to one million have gone to the suburbs of Damascus, a city of three million. An additional 150,000 have landed in Cairo. Every month, 100,000 more join them in Syria and Jordan, the report said.

In a report released this week, Refugees International, a Washington-based advocacy group, put the total at close to two million and called their flight “the fastest-growing humanitarian crisis in the world.? Its president, Kenneth Bacon, said, “The United States and its allies sparked the current chaos in Iraq, but they are doing little to ease the humanitarian crisis caused by the current exodus.?

Every night, hulking orange and white GMC Suburbans and sedans pull into the taxi garage in downtown Amman stuffed with Iraqis and their belongings, adding to the growing social problems they pose while fueling growing fears that Iraq’s sectarian tensions will spill over here.

As Iraq seems to disintegrate into warring factions of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, the risk that their dispute will be transferred here and increase local social problems is frightening the authorities.

Maybe those authorities should stop promoting chaos in Iraq. Just a thought.

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But feel free to spend your time asking it

Via Brothers Judd is this little tidbit on great quotes from television —

‘‘It’s crazy that there are so few women represented,? said Terry Lawler, executive director of New York Women in Film & Television. ‘‘It’s a glaring omission, and you have to wonder how many women were part of the choosing. You also have to wonder why there wasn’t any effort to ask, ‘Are we representing the full spectrum of women and shows that have been important?’ ?

Maybe because they were asking “Are we representing the best quotes?”?

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With a bang, not a whimper

[source, source]

Excerpts from a speech by out going Senator Rick Santorum —

Whether we know it or not, they have been at war with us, and the State of Iran specifically has been at war with us, since 1979 when they declared war against the United States. They have not rescinded that declaration. So when we talk about engaging Iran as the Secretary, the new, future Secretary of Defense has talked about, we are talking about engaging someone who is at war with us, who has declared war with us, and who has been at war and, and as I will talk about here, and I think it has been widely reported in the press, has been doing a lot to substantiate the claim that they have been at war with us […]

If we saw anything from the last election, the American public has no appetite for a broadening of this war, increasing the complexity of this war. You might be seen as warmongering, digging us deeper and more dangerously into a region of the world that we would rather not be in in the first place.

So what do we have? We have the Baker-Hamilton report which is a prescription for surrender. It is just a matter of time. It is certainly not a prescription for victory. Nowhere does it mention, other than of course that we would like victory, nor is there a prescription for victory in that report […]

Iran did as I predicted on this floor back in the spring–they played us along. They said: Well, you know we will negotiate with you as long as we can continue to produce nuclear materials and continue our nuclear program. So we negotiated and we negotiated and they developed and they developed. So finally in September of this year, enough people on both sides of the aisle and enough people in the administration finally were convinced that this was not a viable strategy anymore. What did we gain? We passed the Iran Freedom and Support Act, which probably surprised most people in this Chamber. We passed it unanimously–one of the last things we did before we broke. Most Americans don’t know it. Unfortunately, most in the Middle East don’t know it. I suspect if we went into the bowels of the State Department they may know it, but they are not going to do a damned thing about it because that is not their intent. They do not want to do anything about it. My guess is they will take that money and spend it on a lot of conferences and studies on what we should do instead of giving it to the bus drivers who went on strike as a strike fund so they can stand up to the government. Instead of giving it to dissent groups so they can disseminate information, instead of actively engaging we will appease. We will study, we will delay, and they will have time to further build.

That Santorum could only say this after he lost an election to a large extent proves his point that we, as a nation, do not take our current difficulties seriously.

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How facts can poison a story

[source]

In a Nov. 29 blog, “Will the real Ramadi please stand up?” I observed that three articles on conditions in Ramadi and al Anbar Province had appeared within a week of each other giving entirely different points of view. Mine and one in the Times of London said we’re winning the war in Ramadi; a Washington Post A1 story co-authored by “Fiasco” author Thomas Ricks claimed exactly the opposite. The difference, I said, could be explained simply. I and the Times writer reported from Ramadi. Ricks and his co-author have not only never been to Ramadi, they wrote their piece from Washington. Well now the WashPost has printed another article on the city, this time an upbeat one. What gives? You guessed it.The second one was reported from Ramadi. Case closed, thank you very much. Unfortunately, it’s little solace knowing how few journalists ever leave their safe little hovels in Baghdad hotels or Washington, D.C.

Which is, one supposes, one reason so much reporting about Iraq is done from elsewhere.

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