Tuesday, April 25, 2006

NYT: Taking a look at the pipeline, ignoring other things

Once the project started going bad, senior American officials said, an array of management failures by both KBR and the Corps allowed it to continue. First, some of those officials said, they seldom received status reports from the company, even when they suspected problems and made direct requests.
"Typically when you manage a project, you have people who can tell you that you've got so much of your project finished and this much money that has been spent," said Gary Vogler, a senior American official in the Iraqi Oil Ministry. "We couldn't get anything like that."
Some warnings did in fact make their way to senior officials who could have stopped the project, said Donna Street, a Corps engineer who examined correspondence on the project after it failed. But neither the Corps nor the company seemed to act on them, Ms. Street said.

The above is from James Glanz' "Rebuilding of Iraqi Pipeline as Disaster Waiting to Happen" in this morning's New York Times. There's a lot that can be said here. There's the fact that the "American-led effort" is also administration self-interest. There's the fact that KBR (and on up the chain, Haliburton) has never had to demonstrate results (after being awarded their non-bid contracts -- apparently the details to all of this were worked out in Cheney's still secret energy meetings?). There's the whole point of the pipeline. But here's some things we'll focus on instead.

The paper that can't find Iraqi women unless they show up for a photo shoot ready to pose with a gun, can cover this? The paper that's done (a long, long time ago) one real article on the water issue in Iraq isn't interested in an update even though, for Iraqis, the water issue is more day to day pressing than the issue of a pipeline. Maybe the paper's motto is John F. Burns? Remember when he explained that he caters his coverage to American tax payers? ("Americans who pay taxes.") That's where the "interests" of the paper appear to be as well. But where's the "snapshot"? Since the paper wants to talk oil -- where's the paragraph or even sentence noting the oil blaze going on?

We noted it yesterday in our snapshot of Iraq. The paper wants to tell you about oil today (in a really long story) but doesn't want to tell you about the blaze? (Would that further panic 'American taxpayers'?) From the Associated Press:

It is not known whether the fire was the result of accident or sabotage.
The fire is burning at the North Oil Company complex in northern Iraq. Firefighters and Iraqi soldiers have been battling the blaze, backed by American forces.

What? American forces are 'backing' the action? Because things are so calm in Iraq that they've got nothing else to do but twiddle their thumbs? If it stops door to door searches, that might be a good thing but it seems a lot like the early days of the invasion when various sites were left unprotected but the oil fields were 'secured.' Taking it back to KBR and the other contractors, I thought we were told they were a 'full service' organization? If that's true, are they helping to battle the blaze and, if so, why are troops needed to address a fire when there's so much more to do in Iraq?

Reuters noted, "The fire is burning between the northern oil center of Kirkuk and Baiji, home to the country's biggest refinery." So maybe there's nothing else going on in that area?

Oops. Martha's highlight, Jonathan Finer's "Shiite Militias Move Into Oil-Rich Kirkuk, Even as Kurds Dig In: Control of Iraqi City Has Long Been in Dispute" (Washington Post):

Hundreds of Shiite Muslim militiamen have deployed in recent weeks to this restive city -- widely considered the most likely flash point for an Iraqi civil war -- vowing to fight any attempt to shift control over Kirkuk to the Kurdish-governed north, according to U.S. commanders and diplomats, local police and politicians.
Until recently, the presence of the militias here was minimal. U.S. officials have called the Shiite armed groups the deadliest threat to security in much of the country. They have been blamed for hundreds of killings during mounting sectarian violence in central and southern Iraq since the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in February.

But the most important "strategic" objective, apparently, is the oil blaze. Like the Times, the administration practices a curious form of "emphasis."

On Iraq, Wally found something that made him laugh:

Speaking of Iraq, Bush said "failure is not an option." So I guess it comes factory installed.

That's from Will Durst's "Daily Dose of Durst" (The Progressive -- April 21st, so scroll down). I'll note Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY NEEDS HELP COUNTING!" from yesterday. Lloyd notes Matthew Rothschild's "Bin Laden Thumbs Nose Again" (This Just In, The Progressive):

Here's bin Laden, four and a half years after 9/11, thumbing his nose at the most powerful nation in the world, and saying, essentially, you can't catch me.
For Bush and Rumsfeld, who had bin Laden dead to rights in Tora Bora and then outsourced the job to an Afghan warlord, every new bin Laden recording serves as a reminder of their colossal military blunder.

Rod notes a scheduled topic for today's Democracy Now!:

Author and activist Antonia Juhasz joins us to discuss her new book "The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time."

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