Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Other Items

Sudarsan Raghavan's "Iran Said to Support Shiite Militias in Iraq: Proxy Groups Involved, U.S. Asserts" (Washington Post) and Edward Wong's "Speaker of Iraqi Parliament May Step Down" (New York Times) try to make sense out of military p.r. flack William Caldwell's statements yesterday where 'we have proof, we just can't prove it.' No one bothers to harken back to Vinnie Brooks -- if they did we might see it for the p.r. push it is (as when Brooks issued statement after statement about Jessica Lynch's 'rescue').

Addressing Seymour Hersh's "WATCHING LEBANON: Washington's interests in Israel’s war" (The New Yorker), Andrew Buncombe's "Bush 'Viewed War in Lebanon as a Curtain-Raiser for Attack on Iran'" (Independent of London via Common Dreams):

The Bush administration was informed in advance and gave the "green light" to Israel's military strikes against Hizbollah ­ with plans drawn up months before two Israeli soldiers were seized ­it has been claimed.
The US reportedly considered Israel's actions as a necessary prerequisite for a possible strike against Iran. A report by a leading investigative reporter says that earlier this summer Israeli officials visited Washington to brief the government on its plan to respond to any Hizbollah provocation and to "find out how much the US would bear".
The officials apparently started their inquiries with Vice-President Dick Cheney, knowing that if they secured his support, obtaining the backing of President Bush and Condoleezza Rice would be easier.
The report by Seymour Hersh quotes an unidentified US government consultant with close ties to the Israelis who says: "The Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits. Why oppose it? We'll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran."

From Hersh's article (starting with the "hunt down and bomb" because it bears noting):

"The Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits," a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. "Why oppose it? We'll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran."
A Pentagon consultant said that the Bush White House “has been agitating for some time to find a reason for a preëmptive blow against Hezbollah.” He added, “It was our intent to have Hezbollah diminished, and now we have someone else doing it.” (As this article went to press, the United Nations Security Council passed a ceasefire resolution, although it was unclear if it would change the situation on the ground.)

You need to remember that when this season's Vinnie Brooks swears there's proof . . . of something. Proof connecting Iraq and Iran . . . through proxy! There's no proof. Not by proxy, not by anything. But with Americans already leery of Bully Boy, already leery of war on Iran, the administration needs something. So a military p.r. flack offers . . . nothing while selling it as something.

What was Bully Boy's desparate (and embarrassing) attempt to interject himself publicly into the matter he'd avoided(vacationed during in fact) yesterday? His loser talker? He also said "look see" (though it sounded like "looksie" -- as though he were playing Jacks and thought "looksies" came after "sixes"). You can't take a "looksie" at Caldwell's statements because there's nothing to them, empty hot air.

Here's a look back at one of William Caldwell IV's more recent hot air moments, "Press Briefing June 8, 2006 - Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV" (Global Security):

Q (Off mike) -- with The Washington Post. Can you run down more detail about how exactly he died? How many airstrikes there were, and if Zarqawi died instantly or if he died later, just a little bit more detail on the operation itself?
If you would, technical crew, would you assist me in bringing up the video? I'd like to show you a video of the airstrike on the building that occurred last night at 6:15.
As you observe the target here, there was a flight of two F-16s from the United States Air Force. They have now been told where the target is. They have identified it. The lead aircraft is going to engage it here momentarily with a 500-pound bomb on the target. At this point, they're making an assessment as to whether or not the target had been fully engaged and whether they need to reengage it one more time. The decision has been made now by the commander, the pilot in charge up there, that they are going to do a re-attack, and you'll see the second 500-pound bomb go in shortly.
Okay, thank you.
Following this strike, Iraqi security forces, and specifically Iraqi police, responded to that location. They were the first ones to arrive on the scene. That was followed very shortly thereafter by elements of the Multinational Force North, specifically troopers from the 4th Infantry Division, which were a part of the 101st Airborne Air Assault Division up there. They then moved to the location, swept through the site, and identified six persons that had been killed in that strike at that time.
Site exploitation occurred. Zarqawi's body was then removed, brought back to a secure location. By visual identification it was established that that probably was him. But they went ahead and brought him back, did further examination of his body, found more scars and tattoos consistent with what had been reported and which we knew about him. They then did fingerprint identification, and that came back at about 0330 this morning as positively identified as Zarqawi having been killed.
Q So there was no firefight? It was two airstrikes.
GEN. CALDWELL: It was an Air Force strike that eliminated that target, and there was no further direct-fire engagement at that point.

[. . .]
Q General, Rich Oppel from The New York Times. Just two questions. One, could you talk a little bit about Abu al-Masri and his background? And also I just want to be clear, when the Iraqi security forces arrived right after the bomb went off, Zarqawi was dead when they got there. Is that correct?
GEN. CALDWELL: That is correct. He was dead when we -- when we arrived there.
Yeah, al-Masri, Egyptian Arab. He's not an Iraqi. Born and raised in Egypt. He was trained in Afghanistan, went through his training there. We know he has been involved with IEDs and making here in Iraq. Probably came here around 2002 into Iraq, probably actually helped establish maybe the first al Qaeda cell that existed in the Baghdad area. And there's obviously a lot more, because we've been looking at him fairly closely for a while, about him.
But key thing that we realize is he's not an Iraqi. You know, he's from a different country, he's come into Iraq and he's been out killing innocent Iraqi civilians. He's not the kind of person that the government of Iraq, the Iraqi people themselves, nor the coalition forces care to have existing in this country.
All right. Well, listen, I just -- I want to thank everybody very much. We are extremely excited about the fact that the government of Iraq has announced and has had today confirmed the ministries of the last three, both in Defense, Interior and National Security, which gives them that opportunity to truly take a step forward. And then it was complemented by the fact that a terrorist that was out there killing Iraqi civilians today no longer exists.

At least twice asked if Zarqawi (or "Zarqawi") was dead from the air strikes, responded in the affirmative. That's not correct. So is Caldwell a liar or a useful tool that they feed lines to when it's time for spin?

Martha noted the earlier Washington Post article but Bryan notes another one and wonders if we can quote from it because "it's mainly about movies but I think it gives a look at the life on the ground that we really don't get most of the time." I agree and I'll even offer transition. Caldwell (what, you thought we were done with him?) is fond of telling everyone with a pen and paper that his father (Willie III is the father, Willie IV is in Iraq and has also fathered Willie V) loved, loved, love Jerry Bruckheimer's Pearl Harbor and thinks it's just as it was when Willie III was a teenager. Whether that's true or just more hot air (Bruckheimer's been very good to the Bully Boy), it's a movie and maybe, if the people of Iraq can endure a little more suffering, it can play in Iraq? Here's Joshua Partlow's "Baghdad's Cinemas Falling Casualty to War: Few Remaining Theaters Pull In Meager Audiences With Replays of Old Films" (Washington Post) telling you what is and what is not playing at your local Iraq theaters:

In the capital of this warring country, where days beat to the percussion of bombings and gunfire and nights are spent locked down under a citywide curfew, Baghdad's remaining moviegoers are all lonely souls. The showing at the cavernous Semiramis cinema, with its 1,800 red velvet seats and two balconies, attracted just 11 people, each of them sitting by themselves.
"People like me are starting to feel ashamed of coming over here. Because of the violent situation, they think you are a carefree person if you go to the cinema in such conditions," said Ali Hussein, 49, a cosmetics wholesaler unemployed since his office burned down six months ago. "But some people feel more secure here than in the cafes and restaurants, which are being blown up."
Most of the city's once-popular movie theaters have shut down for lack of business. Those that remain open save money by replaying the same films. As with art and music and theater in Baghdad, going to movies is a cultural luxury losing out to the daily killing.
"There are more stories worthy to become movies in Iraq than there is oil in this country," said Ziad Turkey, the cinematographer of "Underexposure," Iraq's first post-invasion feature-length film. "But we don't have an audience. All that we have, the movie houses, are merely buildings. They are not theaters."
At Semiramis, in central Baghdad, moviegoers used to line up off of Sadoun Street to watch one of seven daily films, said an employee who feared to give his name. Now, in addition to the Egyptian movie, there are three choices: Jackie Chan's "Thunderbolt," Jet Li's "Hero" and Wes Craven's Baghdad-appropriate effort "Scream." All were released before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. The owners can no longer afford to import the latest films.

That's not an insult of the article. I agree with Bryan, it's a view of reality. And probably something many who may have more difficulty relating to other news (such as zeroes and zeroes and zeroes) can relate to.

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