Pontificator: News and Commentary

Saturday, March 15, 2003 :::
Is the CIA up to its old tricks? Let's see -- Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N. relied on documents purporting to show Iraq was actively trying to procure uranium. Now it's revealed that that the documents were forgeries, but noone will admit who provided them, where they came from, or how exactly we got them.

Here are some MANDATORY questions for Tim Russert, George Stephanopolous, Bob Schieffer, Wolf Blitzer and Tony Snow (Ha!) tomorrow morning:

1) Who provided the U.S. with the forged Iraq documents?

2) Who committed the forgery?

3) If you don't know, what is the U.S. doing to determine who committed the forgery?

4) Who analyzed the documents before giving them to Powell for his U.N. presentation?

5) Are these forged documents part of a CIA or DOD disinformation campaign??

6) Are we talking Gulf of Tonkin here?

7) Do you really think we're that stupid?

8) Why do you have so much contempt for the American people?

9) Is this an impeachable offense?

UPDATE: Jim Henley points out that the CIA is an unlikely cuplrit, given their past skepticism regarding these forgeries. He's right. A more likely culprit is the Defense Intelligence Agency ("DIA"). Rumsfeld has specifically ordered the DIA to find information linking Iraq to WMD or Al Qaeda:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his senior advisers have assigned a small intelligence unit to search for information on Iraq's hostile intentions or links to terrorists that the nation's spy agencies may have overlooked, Pentagon officials said today.

Some officials say the creation of the team reflects frustration on the part of Mr. Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and other senior officials that they are not receiving undiluted information on the capacities of President Saddam Hussein of Iraq and his suspected ties to terrorist organizations.

But officials who disagree say the top civilian policy makers are intent on politicizing intelligence to fit their hawkish views on Iraq.

Politicizing Intelligence? Sounds like an explanation for the U.N. disaster. A DIA staffer, anxious for a gold star from Rumsfeld, gives him the forged documents without performing adequate quality control. Thus, the U.S.A. ends up disseminating false information to U.N. -- a foreign policy debacle if ever there ever was one.

::: posted by Pontificator at 10:49 AM

Friday, March 14, 2003 :::
Cheney is still being paid millions by Halliburton.

Is this a conflict of interest? Technically, no. The payments are insured, so Cheney gets paid whether Halliburton profits go through the roof or even if it goes bankrupt. But it's still a conflict. How can Cheney not be loyal to an entity presently paying him millions of dollars? Is Cheney going to kick Halliburton in the teeth, punch it in the kidneys, even if it deserves it, even if its interests run counter to the interests of the USA?? I think not. And Halliburton stands to make mucho $$ from the war in Iraq.

The appearance of impropriety = the appearance of Cheney smooching Halliburton.

Cheney should donate the Halliburton money to the Sierra Club.

::: posted by Pontificator at 7:48 PM

Was the arrest of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed staged?

Was he arrested days, or perhaps even weeks, or even months, earlier?

Was a long-secret arrest leaked to give Pakistan the political clout to abstain in the Security Council vote on Iraq?

When I first saw links to this article, I thought it was the rantings of a conspiracy theorist.

But it's a Reuters story, which appears to have credible on-the-record and off-the-record sources.

In the war on terrorism, things are not always what they seem.

For all we know, Osama Bin Laden may be in custody. Or not.

::: posted by Pontificator at 12:51 AM

Thursday, March 13, 2003 :::
Medical Malpractice "Reform" (meaning caps on non-economic damages, no matter how serious the medical injury or outrageous the professional misconduct) just passed the House. If this becomes law, it will do real damage:

"[O]pponents say it cheats people out of compensation after being terribly abused by negligent or incompetent doctors.

"If this bill were current law, no experienced trial lawyer would take the case of Jesica Santillan, the Mexican girl who died after receiving the wrong organs at Duke University Hospital," Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., said. The 17-year-old died at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina last month after receiving a heart-lung transplant from a donor with the wrong blood type.

"The case would be complex and expensive to put on, there would be no economic damages, and the maximum non-economic award would be $250,000," Hastings said."

Now the bill goes to the Senate. Looks like it's time for another FILIBUSTER!!!

I expect John Edwards to lead the charge.

::: posted by Pontificator at 10:55 PM

Wednesday, March 12, 2003 :::
Here's a good question for the warmongers and warbloggers out there. How many of you wish George W. Bush was president in October 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Professor Reynolds?

Andrew Sullivan?

Anybody? Anybody?

Maybe Wolf Blitzer should make this the subject of his next on-line poll.

::: posted by Pontificator at 10:48 PM

The boycott of Michael (Weiner) Savage's MSNBC show worked. All six of its national advertisers have agreed to pull their ads. Check out their public statements (slamming Weiner as beyond the pale) here.

Chalk one up for the good guys!

::: posted by Pontificator at 4:46 PM

Former Miami Vice star Don Johnson -- International Money Launderer??

What exactly were "$8 billion (US) worth of credit notes, cheques and securities" doing in the truck of his car?

$8 billion???? Looks like a job for Crockett and Tubbs.

::: posted by Pontificator at 3:08 PM

Tuesday, March 11, 2003 :::
One good thing about running an anonymous blog is that it is easy to go out on a limb with predictions. So here it goes. In light of the massive world-wide opposition to the war with Iraq, and the high likelihood of large number of Iraqi civilian casualties, I predict that Bush, Rumsfeld, Franks, and perhaps other high-level officials will be indicted in some national or international judicial forum for war crimes. These war crimes will likely be related to a military accident that kills large numbers of Iraqi civilians. There will be competing versions of events where the prosecutors claim some element of intentionality or reckless disregard for human life in the conduct of the low-level military officers responsible for the accident. I also predict that Bush, Rumsfeld and Franks will screw the low-level officers and hang them out to dry (perhaps prosecuting them in U.S. military courts) in order to save their own skin.

I also predict that this war-crimes controversy will greatly limit the United States' moral authority in condemning future murderous tyrants. More troubling to the Bush personally however, will be the loss of his ability to earn outrageous speaking fees for post-presidency overseas speeches, since he will risk arrest and detention the moment he leaves U.S. sovereign territory.

Remember, you heard it here first.

::: posted by Pontificator at 11:37 PM

Thanks Risdee for keeping the pontificator blog running during my two all-too-brief vacation stints. All of America appreciates your service.

Ok, back to work. I see that veteran U.S. diplomat John Brown has submitted his principled resignation over Bush's Iraq policy.

His accompanying written statement is worth reading:

"I cannot in good conscience support President Bush's war plans against Iraq. Throughout the globe the United States is becoming associated with the unjustified use of force. The president's disregard for views in other nations, borne out by his neglect of public diplomacy, is giving birth to an anti-American century."

Mr. Brown is the proverbial canary in the coal mine. As Bush's policies (and utter lack of charm) make us less popular, our ability to enforce our interests worldwide will weaken. Even worse, as it becomes more difficult for us to enjoy the cooperation of our allies, it will become more and more difficult to undertake the world-wide law-enforcement effort necessary to stop international terrorism.

::: posted by Pontificator at 12:00 AM


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