Sunday, March 25, 2007

Robert Fisk "America is not at war"

Robert Fisk argues, elequently as ever, and better than I could, that it is fear of an imagined enemy that is consuming America. The seminar to which he refers is at Valdosta, Georgia:

Dr Michael Noll's students at Valdosta are as smart and bright-eyed as Dr El-Baradei's in Cairo. They packed into the same lecture I had given in Egypt and seemed to share a lot of the same fears about Iraq. But a sullen seminar that same morning was a miserable affair in which a young woman seemed to break down in anger. If "we" left Iraq, she said in a quavering voice, the jihadists, the "terrorists", could come here to America. They would attack us right here.

I sighed with frustration. I was listening to her voice but it was also the voice of the woman on Fox TV, the repeated, hopeless fantasy of Bush and Blair: that if we fail in Iraq, "they", the monstrous enemy, will arrive on our shores. Every day in the American papers now, I read the same "fear" transformed into irrationality. Luke Boggs - God, how I'd love that byline - announces in his local paper: "I say let the terrorists rot in Guantanamo. And let the Europeans ... howl. We are a serious nation, engaged in the serious business of trying to kill or capture the bad guys before they can do us more harm." He calls Guantanamo's inmates "hardcore jihadists".

And I realise that the girl in Dr Noll's seminar isn't spouting this stuff about "jihadists" travelling from Iraq to America because she supports Bush. She is just frightened. She is genuinely afraid of all the "terror" warnings, the supposed "jihadists" threats, the red "terror" alerts and the purple alerts and all the other colour-coded instruments of fear. She believes her president, and her president has done Osama bin Laden's job for him: he has crushed this young woman's spirit and courage.

But America is not at war. There are no electricity cuts on Valdosta's warm green campus, with its Spanish style department blocks and its narrow, beautiful church. There is no food rationing. There are no air-raid shelters or bombs or "jihadists" stalking these God-fearing folk. It is the US military that is at war, engaged in an Iraqi conflict that is doing damage of a far more subtle kind to America's social fabric.

Read the enire article.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Plame testimony

Here is a partial transcript of Valerie Plame's testmony to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform yesterday. I think it speaks for itself.

I worked on behalf of the national security of our country, on behalf of the people of the United States until my name and true affiliation were exposed in the national media on July 14, 2003, after a leak by administration officials.

Today, I can tell this committee even more. In the run-up to the war with Iraq I worked in the counter proliferation division of the CIA -- still as a covert officer whose affiliation with the CIA was classified.

I raced to discover solid intelligence for senior policymakers on Iraq's presumed weapons of mass destruction programs.

While I helped to manage and run secret worldwide operations against this WMD target from CIA headquarters in Washington, I also traveled to foreign countries on secret missions to find vital intelligence.

I loved my career because I love my country. I was proud of the serious responsibilities entrusted to me as a CIA covert operations officer and I was dedicated to this work.

It was not common knowledge on the Georgetown cocktail circuit that everyone knew where I worked.

But all of my efforts on behalf of the national security of the United States -- all of my training, all of the value of my years of service -- were abruptly ended when my name and identity were exposed irresponsibly.

In the course of the trial of Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, "Scooter" Libby, I was shocked by the evidence that emerged.

My name and identity were carelessly and recklessly abused by senior government officials in both the White House and the State Department.

All of them understood that I worked for the CIA and, having signed oaths to protect national security secrets, they should have been diligent in protecting me and every CIA officer.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Neil Young: Live at Massey Hall

I just bought the new Neil Young CD, Live at Massey Hall

It is a solo acoustic performance -- just the man, his guitar, and a piano. Not even his harmonica. The sound quality is excellent for a 35 year old recording. Taken from a 1971 performance signifying Neil'as return to Canada after five years in the States, his voice is clear and strong, at the peak of its powers. His guitar playing is complex and passionate. Contains many of my favourite Neil Young standards, including Old Man, Needle and the Damage Done, Don't Let It Bring You Down, and I Am a Child.

The package I purchased contained a DVD as well for only about two dollars extra. I haven't seen it yet. You can also buy the CD alone.

I highly recommend this release for any casual Neil Young fan.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Sudan response to ICC charges

This from Human Rights Watch, on the government of Sudan trying lower level officials who have been charged for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

“The decision to try Ali Kosheib immediately following the ICC prosecutor’s announcement is obviously an attempt to pre-empt the international court case,” said Sara Darehshori, senior counsel in Human Rights Watch’s International Justice program. “Sudan should let independent international monitors into the country to observe the trial in if it wants to show that it’s anything other than window dressing.”