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Lets's talk about democracy
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Monday, 5 December 2005
Condi comes out fighting!
Topic: War on Terror

[AP]Condi is off for a fence mending trip to old Europe today in an effort to blunt criticism that the US has been using European airports to fly rendered terror suspects around the world and in some cases has secretly detained these suspects in Eastern European countries. TheNYT reports she, "chastised Europe leaders today, saying that before they complain about secret jails for terror suspects in European nations, they should realize that interrogations of these suspects have produced information that helped 'save European lives.'"

That's rich, she's blaming them for the whole thing! So, we kidnap some European citizens and fly them to undisclosed locations around the world, we're trying to save your lives!!!

Steven Hadley---Mr. 16-words---said yesterday on FOX that on her trip she will be addressing European concerns "in a comprehensive way" and her main message will be, "Look, we are all threatened by terror. We need to cooperate in its solution." Which means; its our way or the highway: this is a game for big boys and you have to play along with us and cut out all this whining about human rights and don't even think about letting all those official investigations into these allegations go anywhere because we'll say you were in on it too.

For its part the US is "cooperating" in the war on terror with its European allies by complying with US law (The way we interpret it.) and Hadley says, "We respect the sovereignty of the countries with which we deal." (Yeah right, ask the Italians and Spaniards about that.)

The most important point to keep in mind over all this torture nonsense is that, "We do not move people around the world so they can be tortured." Just because the US has actually admitted they made a mistake by kidnapping an innocent German citizen on vacation in Macedonia and rendered him to Afghanistan where he was tortured while being interrogated, this shouldn't be any cause for skepticism on the part of our allies, [WaPo] because when people go over the line; "The pattern is very clear. We investigate them aggressively, where appropriate charges are brought and people are punished...and procedures are changed to try and reduce the likelihood of mistakes in the future." So, even though there are dozens of known cases of suspects being killed while under the benevolent care of the CIA at these "black sites" around the world, the fact that no one has been brought up on charges, or is ever likely to be; just the very fact that we say this happens should be enough. You can take our word for it. [HRW]

Iraqi prisoner probe put on hold?

Just as we should take the word of Iraqi PM al-Jaafari that the investigation into the discovery of the detention and torture of hundreds of Sunni prisoners in the basement of an Interior Ministry facility on Nov 15 would be completed in two weeks. What, the deadline has passed and the investigation hasn't been completed? That's strange, I would think since the ones behind this are most likely in the government, they wouldn’t have to look too far to find the perpetrators, but what do I know? [AP]

Report the good news!

So, what about all the good news coming out of Iraq, why don’t the liberal media ever focus on that? Rummy says Americans should be optimistic about the way things are going in Iraq and not rely on media reports to the contrary. "To be responsible, one needs to stop defining success in Iraq as the absence of terrorist attacks." [AP]

He should know, he's got his own media operation going on and it's a lot more balanced! A recent story written by an Iraq heaped scorn on those in the "western press and frequently those self styled 'objective' observers of Iraq [who] are often critics of how we, the people of Iraq, are proceeding down the path in determining what is best for our nation." Yeah, right on! Freedom is on the march to victory in Iraq, they don't need some media elite flunky in the US telling them what's up.

Well, it appears they do, because this was a portion of a story board written by a PR firm, the Lincoln Group, hired by the pentagon to plant pro-US propaganda in the Iraqi press to push the US line that everything is A-OK in Iraq. A report cited by the NYT from the pentagon task force on strategic communication of the Defense Science Board revealed that the government had a "fundamental problem of credibility" (Imagine that!) and called for a reinvention and expansion of its information programs. The Times said the US paid the Lincoln Group[ $5 million for the purpose of, "accurately informing the Iraqi people of American goals and gaining their support." The article by Jeff Gerth and Scott Shane goes on to say, though, that it wasn't all about simply setting the record straight: "But while meant to provide reliable information, the effort was also intended to use deceptive techniques, like payments to sympathetic 'temporary spokespersons' who would not necessarily be identified as working for the coalition...in addition the document called for the development of 'alternate or diverting messages' which divert media and public attention' to 'deal instantly with the bad news of the day.'" (What bad news?)

That's sort of what Scott McClellan does every day, so I don't see what the big deal is.

Bloggers beware!

One of the problems with "priming the pump" of the Iraqi media was brought up in a Knight/Ridder article: "'There is no 'local' media anymore,' said a senior military official in Baghdad who has knowledge of American psychological operations in Iraq. 'All media is potentially international. The Web makes it all public.'" This leads me to wonder if a lot of the stuff I see on blogs that claim to post messages from "real Iraqis" who are trumpeting the wonders of the American occupation aren't simply products of the Lincoln Group or US Psy-Ops officers. All you bloggers out there should be careful about who you let post about the "real" conditions Iraqis are living in.

Two good news stories:

An AP story on Dec. 4 from Samarra reports that,” After keeping their distance for months, Iraqis in this Sunni Arab city suddenly began cooperating with US troops, leading them to insurgents and hidden weapons caches. The reason: anger over the killing by insurgents of a local tribal chief."

The report by Antonio Castaneda says the reason for the killing of Sheikh Hikmat Mumtaz al-Bazi was either because of his connection to the US, which isn't spelled out, or "a contract dispute over a US funded project." In any case, "'That's when they decided to take a stand,' said Capt. Ryan Wylie, commander of Bravo Company, Third Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment. '"They defiantly had an idea of the terrorists and where they hang out." Even though Castaneda writes that, "almost everyone agrees that the biggest reduction in violence here is public backlash against the insurgents after the Oct. 11th killing, "he doesn't quote any locals, so it's kind of difficult to know what the people who live in Samarra really thinking or what's really going on. The piece doesn't mention whether the reporter is embedded with Bravo Company, but one assumes he is because I doubt it's safe enough in Samarra for him to just go out and talk to people on his own without a heavily armed escort.

According to this report, attacks are down to one or two a day, from seven a day before, so the US has pulled out two thirds of its troops and replaced them with Iraqi paramilitary commandos, who are most likely Peshmerga or Shiites. [Its funny this story comes out right after W. gets done with his big speech on his strategy for victory which is based on replacing US troops with Iraqis and Rummy's touting of all the tips their getting all of a sudden from Iraqis around the country. Weird, isn't it?]

In another good news story, Nancy Youseff of the Inquirer Foreign Staff writes that Iraqi troops on the Syrian border got a visit by the US and Iraqi brass to praise their progress in securing the area. "Gen. George Casey Jr., the American commander in Iraq, joined Iraqi Defense Minister Sadoun al-Dulaimi (A certifiable Looney.) and about 35 Iraqi officers who are in charge of guarding the Iraqi-Syrian border for a ceremony timed to coincided with Presidents Bush's speech yesterday..."

It seems in the aftermath of Operation Steel Curtain, the border is pretty much secured and the surrounding towns are all under control and are rapidly being manned by Iraqi security forces who are set to take over any time now. Soon, we won't be hearing any more about multiple casualties in a single attack from this part of the country, just like what happened after Fallujah II. The ten Marines who were killed this week on patrol around Fallujah was just an anomaly, I'm sure.

Democracy on the march around the world!

While we'll be hearing a lot about the "veneer" of democracy in Venezuela we probably won't be hearing too much about Kazakhstan’s presidential elections which returned Condi's old friend from her Chevron days, Nursultan Nazarbayev, to office with 85% of the vote. [NYT]

[AP]Meanwhile in Venezuela the elections there which saw big gains for the ruling party will be seen by the main stream media as less legitimate because the opposition decided to boycott the vote claiming they'd be robbed anyway. Or, it could be because they wanted to discredit the process to make Hugo Chavez look like more of a dictator? "Maria Corina Machado, who leads the U.S.-backed vote watchdog group Sumate, called the vote 'illegitimate.'

"We are going to have a single party parliament that doesn't represent ample sectors of society," she said in a statement.'" Well, of course, she's say that, since Sumate is getting its funding from the US. Why don't we see any US funded democracy groups operating in Kazakhstan? Oh, right, Nazarbayev is something less than a dictator of the Cental Asian mold. He's a good guy with a lot of oil as opposed to Chavez who is anti-democratic, even though his elections are actually compeditive when the opposition doesn't decide not to participate.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:19 PM EST
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