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The Army points to the CIA and says it’s their fault!


What are the parents to do when the kids fight?

Army Says C.I.A. Hid More Iraqis Than It Claimed
Eric Schmitt and Douglas Jehl, The New York Times September 10, 2004


WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 - Army jailers in Iraq, acting at the Central Intelligence Agency's request, kept dozens of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison and other detention facilities off official rosters to hide them from Red Cross inspectors, two senior Army generals said Thursday. The total is far more than had been previously reported.

An Army inquiry completed last month found eight documented cases of so-called ghost detainees, but two of the investigating generals said in testimony before two Congressional committees and in interviews on Thursday that depositions from military personnel who served at the prison indicated that the real total was many higher.

"The number is in the dozens, to perhaps up to 100," Gen. Paul J. Kern, the senior officer who oversaw the Army inquiry, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Another investigator, Maj. Gen. George R. Fay, put the figure at "two dozen or so," but both officers said they could not give a precise number because no records were kept on most of the C.I.A. detainees.

Under the Geneva Conventions, the temporary failure to disclose the identities of prisoners to the Red Cross is permitted under an exemption for military necessity. But the Army generals said they were certain that the practice used by the C.I.A. in Iraq went far beyond that.
The disclosure added to questions about the C.I.A.'s practices in Iraq, including why the agency took custody of certain Iraqi prisoners, what interrogation techniques it used and what became of the ghost detainees, including whether they were ever returned to military custody. To date, two cases have been made public in which prisoners in C.I.A. custody were removed from Iraq for a period of several months and held in detention centers outside the country.

Another question left unanswered on Thursday was why Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the military intelligence officer who oversaw interrogations at the prison, agreed to let C.I.A. officers use the prison to hide ghost detainees. General Kern said that when Colonel Pappas raised questions about the practice, a top military intelligence officer in Baghdad at the time, Col. Steven Boltz, encouraged him to cooperate with the C.I.A. because "everyone was all one team."


And what team would that be?  The team that makes people disappear?

I supposed it is important that our enemies fear us, and that they realize that anyone we round up could mysteriously disappear, and no one would know anything.  No accounting, no visits from anyone, no charges, no trail – no nothing.  Poof.  Gone.  We need to show we aren’t playing by anyone’s sissy rules here.  You don’t mess with us. No one and nothing is going to protect you.

And the Army goes and points fingers and says the CIA isn’t playing fair.  Not useful.

I suspect the idea here is that the world has to understand we are not what they think – and the United States of America now doesn’t play by any rules.  Because 9/11 changed everything of course, and rules are for sissies and wimps.  Like these army guys.  And folks who would vote for Kerry.

We have been told, and many believe, the most important thing in winning this war on terror, is showing the evildoers that we are tough.  Maybe it is the only thing that really matters.  Unless they understand we will break any rule, toss out the rights of even our own citizens, ignore any law that gets in our way, over there or over here – well, otherwise they will think us weak and keep attacking us.

That strategy may just make these bad folks hate us all the more, and throw away everything we say we stand for, but at least we won’t seem weak.

For this strategy to work one has to assume that being ruthless, amoral, and, when we feel like, lawless, has the particular direct effect on the bad guy of making them back off in awe, and fear, of our power and toughness.

Do you believe there is a direct cause and effect – act tough and the other side will then be good?  Have you ever seen that principal work in life?  What?  You say when someone acts tough and slaps an opponent silly, and breaks all the rules to do it, sometimes that opponent seethes with resentment and gets even nastier?  Ah, really?  Well, you are not in charge here.  Keep you illogical fantasies to yourself.  Our leaders know real life.

A bit further down in the Times article there too is this -


… The new disclosures about unregistered prisoners drew angry criticism from Democrats and Republicans, and a promise from Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia and the committee chairman, to hold a separate hearing.

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said, "The situation with C.I.A. and ghost soldiers is beginning to look like a bad movie."


I’m not sure what movie McCain was thinking of, but “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” comes to mind.  Remember the scruffy bandit, when his authority is questioned, says this – “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!”  Perhaps McCain was thinking of some other film.  The guys at the Times should have asked which one.

Now I’m not sure which movie one would think of seeing this Associated Press item -


The military has lost key evidence in its investigation into the death of an Iraqi man beaten by Marine prison guards, throwing into doubt the status of a court-martial of one of the guards.

The missing evidence includes bones taken from the throat and chest of Nagem Hatab, attorneys said Thursday at a hearing for Maj. Clarke Paulus.

Hatab, 52, died last year at a makeshift camp in Iraq that was run by Marines. He had been rumored to be an official of Saddam Hussein's Baath party and part of the ambush of a U.S. Army convoy that killed 11 soldiers and led to the capture of Pfc. Jessica Lynch and five others.
The missing bones are just one of several errors in the investigation that came to light at Thursday's hearing.

Hatab's organs, which were removed during autopsy, were subsequently destroyed when they were left for hours in the blazing heat on an Iraqi airstrip. A summary of an interrogation the Marines conducted with Hatab shortly before his death at the camp also is missing, as is a photo of Hatab that was taken during questioning.


Oops.  But no movie title comes to mind here.  Some Keystone Cops thing?  No – too benign.  This is from some forties film noir potboiler - the cops protecting one of their own conveniently lose the incriminating evidence.  No, that doesn’t work either. We need Oliver Stone here to direct one of his conspiracy epics, like his JFK or something.  But the bad guys and the good guys get all mixed up here.  Maybe the Cohen brothers could make something of this.

One fears this sort of thing just makes us look bad to everyone else in the world – the two possible explanations for this missing evidence are incompetence or arrogant scorn for what anyone thinks.  The reaction in the Arab world, with our allies who really want to support us, and allies who wonder about us, will be devastating.  But then again, we long ago stopped caring what “they” think.  Well, Kerry does.  That alone will lose him the election.

Well, his concern for our international reputation and for gaining the support of other nations may be moot.

The election itself may be moot.

Here’s a summary of some issues as of Thursday, September 09, 2004 -


The state of California has decided to sue Diebold, the nation's largest manufacturer of electronic (touch screen) voting machines because the company lied about the machines' security. The machines have a special feature that creates fake vote totals when a secret 2-digit code is typed in. The LA Times article about the lawsuit does not specify whether there are separate codes to fake a Bush victory and fake a Kerry victory or whether one candidate's victory has been programmed in advance or whether election officials can enter any result they want. However, Diebold's CEO, Walden O'Dell, has said he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes for the president." The suit comes 6 months after the machines failed in the March primary. The machines are used in 19 California counties and many states nationwide.


Well, I suppose I could use my computer skills, and free time, to hack in and make sure all of California’s electoral votes go to Tommy Chong.  Others may have the same idea, of course.  Joan Rivers or Brian Wilson could carry the state.  One never knows. These machines are not that complex.  The field is open.  The hackers are giggling.  This could be great fun.

Finally, if you want one last item on the current follies, I recommend this.

Wrong-Way Bush
In the war on terror, the worst defense is a bad offense.
William Saletan - Posted Thursday, Sept. 9, 2004, at 3:42 PM PT SLATE.COM

Saletan takes us back to January 1, 1929 – the Rose Bowl – Cal plays Georgia Tech.  Roy Riegels was the center and captain of the California team.  Riegels was the guy who ran the wrong way and almost scored a touchdown against his own team.  He was a bit confused.  Saletan reminds us that when Riegels was heading the wrong way one of his teammates chased him and just begged him to stop.  Riegels was steadfast and resolute and uttered the proud words - "Get away from me! This is my touchdown!"  One of his teammates finally grabbed him and held on to him until his own team could catch up and tackle their own captain.  They stopped him at the three-yard line.  The other team was either staring in amazement or laughing their asses off.  It is said the Georgia Tech coach tranquilly observed - "He's running the wrong way. Let's see how far he can go."

You see the parallel.  Imagine Osama Bin Laden as the Georgia Tech coach and al-Qaeda as his team, and you can hear him tranquilly saying (but in Arabic) - "He's running the wrong way. Let's see how far he can go."

Yep. But what’s this about the wrong way?


… In the Bush-Cheney worldview, all foreign adversaries blur into one: "the enemy." All U.S. options simplify to two: "offense" or "defense." Going on offense shows "strength" and defeats the enemy. If the president starts running with the ball, and you criticize him, you show "weakness" and invite terrorism.


And that about sums it up.  As above, winning this war on terror is all about showing the evildoers that we are tough.  Unless they understand we will break any rule, toss out the rights of even our own citizens, ignore any law that gets in our way, over there or over here – well, otherwise they will think us weak and keep attacking us.


But here’s the rub -


But what if there's more than one enemy? What if the enemy we're "fighting back" at isn't the one that struck or threatened us? What if the president turns away from the team that was trying to score on us, and he starts heading for another team that's sitting in the stands, behind our own end zone? What if his "offense" is losing yards with every stride?

That's the lesson of three years of investigations.

The 9/11 commission has found "no evidence" of "a collaborative operational relationship" between Iraq and al-Qaida. Bush's handpicked chief weapons inspector, David Kay, says there "were no large stockpiles of WMD." What has this diversion done for the war on terror? A year ago, U.S. intelligence officials told reporters that "as much as half of the intelligence and special forces assets in Afghanistan and Pakistan were diverted to support the war in Iraq." While we've been bogged down in Iraq, Iran has revved up its own nuclear program, and North Korea has acquired the fuel for as many as eight nukes.

Bush screwed up. He picked the wrong target. He's been running the wrong way.


Ah, details, details, details….

Saletan runs the Bush-Cheney quotes and takes apart the whole mess.  And you can almost hear Bush say, "Get away from me! This is my touchdown!"

Saletan see himself on the three-yard line holding on, waiting for the team to catch up and stop this -


Bush says, "The world is a safer place with Saddam Hussein sitting in a prison cell." That's true. Every arrest of a bad guy makes the world safer. But the world is full of bad guys, and we have limited resources. The arrest of Saddam has cost us about $200 billion, absorbed our attention, and forced us to pull American troops from other countries. That means other bad guys have gone unchecked. Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the worst attack on the U.S. mainland, remains at large. In North Korea, the world's worst proliferator, Kim Jong-il, has built more nukes. Saddam had no nukes and never attacked the U.S. mainland.

Bush says, "Free societies in the Middle East will be hopeful societies, which no longer feed resentment and breed violence for export." That's true, too. But it will take a lot more time, money, and American casualties to transform Iraq into a free society. It would take still more time and money—and perhaps more casualties—to spread that transformation to the countries that contributed to the 9/11 plot. Even if this were possible, it's a very long and roundabout way of getting to a result that could be addressed more immediately by pursuing the people who struck us on 9/11 or threaten us today.


And there is much more of that.

This football story is, of course, an odd reference – an odd way to frame the business.

Monday afternoon I will have the occasion to drive past the Rose Bowl – appointments in Pasadena - and I will smile as I do.  Not that it matters – as the majority of the country is pleased that the guy is running with complete conviction at a goal, no matter right or wrong.  It’s the complete conviction that matters.

I’d rather win the game.




Footnote from Bob Patterson –


You had it nailed when you compared it to "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre."


Just remember how it ended.  Some folks were dead but the ones who were still alive enjoyed the experience.


John Huston won a best supporting actor Oscar for his role as Howard.


At the end Howard says to Curtin (Tim Holt): "Laugh, Curtin, old by, it's a great joke played on us by the Lord or fate or by nature - whichever you prefer, but whoever or whatever played it, certainly has a sense of humor.  The gold has gone back to the where we got it.  Laugh, my boy, laugh.  It's worth ten months of labor and suffering - this joke is."


A few moments later Curtin say: "The worst ain't so bad when if finally happens.  Not nearly as bad as you figure it will be before it's happened."


A guy who laughed and partied during the Vietnam War beats McCain, the guy who lost three limbs, and John Kerry based on patriotism and their war records.  Don't you get it?  Come on, at least give us an all-knowing smirk.


"Remember the scruffy bandit, when his authority is questioned, says this - "Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!" "


Fact checker's report: that was Alfonso Bedoya playing the role of "Gold Hat."


Hey, if CBS can laugh and be good sports, why can't we all?


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

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