Just Above Sunset
April 4, 2004 - More on maintaining the right attitude...

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Fred Barnes comments on how the Iraq folks need an “attitude adjustment” as they seem to resent us being there occupying their country.  (See You and me against the world....)   What about our attitude here on the home front?


John McCreery comments here on this attitude business…


…on Americans who now believe that Bush has lied to them but still think that he has made the country more secure, a couple of thoughts occur to me. 

First, I am reminded of abused wives who return to abusive husbands, ignoring the likelihood that what will happen is more abuse.  Clinging to what you feel that you know can be less scary that stepping off into the unknown - especially if the unknown is someone who represents attitudes that you have learned to demonize.  Or, as the cliché has it, "Better the devil you know...."

Second, there is the underlying belief my right-wing brother articulates, that acting tough makes us more secure.  It's a nasty world out there and protecting ourselves means that, "We gotta be the baddest boy on the block." Us folks on the civilized left need to figure out how to combat that view, and not just intellectually. 

There is plenty of evidence, from gang wars in the hood to Sharon-style Middle East "peacekeeping" that what being the baddest boy on the block gets you is resentment, hatred and shot in the back.  But guys like my brother don't want to see it.  The emotional appeal of "We gotta kick butt" is too strong. 

The only hope I can see is to counter with Teddy Roosevelt's advice to "speak softly but carry a big stick." Speaking softly alone won't do.  Reviving that old-fashioned hero who is quiet, polite, a real buddy to his friends AND can take down the baddy when necessary could be just what we need. 


Yes, but as he says, the emotional appeal of just kicking the shit out of folks is strong.  No one will mess with us, right?  Ask Ariel Sharon about that. 

Note – the remake of the movie “Walking Tall” opens this weekend.  That’s the original “take no prisoners and kill the evil guys” film – it defines doing good as kicking ass.  A righteous movie.  This remake stars “The Rock” – the former professional wrestler who, unlike Jesse Ventura, has decided not to run for office, yet. 

So what else can sour your attitude? 

Other news this week –

The New York Times reports that the White House is blocking release to the 9/11 commission of three-quarters of nearly 11,000 pages of Clinton administration files.  Former Clinton aides say the files contain highly classified documents about the Clinton administration's efforts against al-Qaeda. 

Say what?  The Bush folks don’t want to commission to know what Clinton actually was doing about terrorism?  Why?  How odd.  The White House later in the week backed off a little and said they might send some more of these documents over, but the documents would be carefully edited for only what Bush felt the commission really needed.  Yep.  Right. 


Then at the end of the week (Friday night) the Bush administration said the commission could see all the documents in question – that is, they could come over and examine them as long s they didn’t take notes or make copies of anything at all.


Those of us with a bad attitude about how righteous and good our leaders are now have an even worse attitude

Oh yeah, and I read in my local paper that after the White House refused to allow two Medicare officials to testify - House Republicans shut down an inquiry into whether the Bush administration acted illegally or inappropriately last year when it withheld from Congress its cost estimates for the Medicare prescription drug bill. 

Hey, don’t ask.  Don’t tell.  Bah.

And this - Prosecutors in the Valerie Plame case have reportedly expanded their focus beyond the leaking of the CIA officer's identity, and are now looking into whether White House officials lied to investigators or mishandled classified information related to the case. 

Man, just like Watergate – now they’re looking into a cover-up.  Not only a possible crime (outing a CIA agent out of pure spite and blowing her cover, and her contacts’ covers) but then lying about it to the original investigators.  Damn.  That’s cold. 

Finally, back to that business in Fallujah…

It seems a Washington Post article calls the four civilian contractors killed in Fallujah, "among the most elite commandos working in Iraq," and cites suspicions that their deaths were not random but targeted. 

Something else was going on?  Could they be a hit team that was exposed?  The four were employed by Blackwater Security Consulting, which the Post says pays its armed commandos an average of $1,000 per day. 

Who are these Blackwater people? 

In March, the Guardian (UK) reported on Blackwater's hiring of Chilean mercenaries - many of whom had trained under the military government of Augusto Pinochet - to replace U.S.  soldiers on security duty in Iraq. 

Pinochet?  That name rings a bell. 

Okay, to cheer you up, a little on the press -

Another Guardian (UK) report on Israeli accusations of bias against the BBC states that, by comparison, "Israeli officials boast that they now have only to call a number at CNN's headquarters in Atlanta to pull any story they do not like."


Had enough? 

Try this from another left leaning UK newspaper:

'I saw papers that show US knew al-Qa'ida would attack cities with aeroplanes'
Whistleblower the White House wants to silence speaks to The Independent
Andrew Buncombe, The Independent (UK), 02 April 2004

Here’s their scoop -


A former translator for the FBI with top-secret security clearance says she has provided information to the panel investigating the 11 September attacks which proves senior officials knew of al-Qa'ida's plans to attack the US with aircraft months before the strikes happened. 

She said the claim by the National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, that there was no such information was "an outrageous lie". 

Sibel Edmonds said she spent more than three hours in a closed session with the commission's investigators providing information that was circulating within the FBI in the spring and summer of 2001 suggesting that an attack using aircraft was just months away and the terrorists were in place.  The Bush administration, meanwhile, has sought to silence her and has obtained a gagging order from a court by citing the rarely used "state secrets privilege". 

She told The Independent yesterday: "I gave [the commission] details of specific investigation files, the specific dates, specific target information, specific managers in charge of the investigation.  I gave them everything so that they could go back and follow up.  This is not hearsay.  These are things that are documented.  These things can be established very easily."


Well, perhaps she’s lying to get her own fifteen minutes of fame, just like Richard Clarke.  Perhaps not. 

This is not good for Rice and Bush.  Why do these folks keep coming out of the woodwork?  Are they all so needing of public attention?  Why do they all hate their country, as the conservatives often ask? 

Here are more details. 


… Mrs Edmonds, 33, says she gave her evidence to the commission in a specially constructed "secure" room at its offices in Washington on 11 February.  She was hired as a translator for the FBI's Washington field office on 13 September 2001, just two days after the al-Qa'ida attacks.  Her job was to translate documents and recordings from FBI wire-taps. 

She said it was clear there was sufficient information during the spring and summer of 2001 to indicate terrorists were planning an attack.  "Most of what I told the commission 90 per cent of it related to the investigations that I was involved in or just from working in the department.  Two hundred translators side by side, you get to see and hear a lot of other things as well."

"President Bush said they had no specific information about 11 September and that is accurate but only because he said 11 September," she said.  There was, however, general information about the use of airplanes and that an attack was just months away. 

To try to refute Mr Clarke's accusations, Ms Rice said the administration did take steps to counter al-Qa'ida.  But in an opinion piece in The Washington Post on 22 March, Ms Rice wrote: "Despite what some have suggested, we received no intelligence that terrorists were preparing to attack the homeland using airplanes as missiles, though some analysts speculated that terrorists might hijack planes to try and free US-held terrorists."

Mrs Edmonds said that by using the word "we", Ms Rice told an "outrageous lie".  She said: "Rice says 'we' not 'I'.  That would include all people from the FBI, the CIA and DIA [Defence Intelligence Agency].  I am saying that is impossible."

It is impossible at this stage to verify Mrs Edmonds' claims.  However, some senior US senators testified to her credibility in 2002 when she went public with separate allegations relating to alleged incompetence and corruption within the FBI's translation department. 


Well, this too will be spun by the Bush folks as just another disgruntled employee to whom we should not listen at all. 

So much news?  Will our press deal with it all? 

This week’s job report was good.  That’s what we’ll see in the news, along with much more on Janet Jackson.  No matter most of the jobs added were part-time.

You know, it is getting harder and harder to maintain a cheerful, optimistic attitude about where we’re all going. 


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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