"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Sunday, August 31, 2003

DA's contextual analysis

David Akerman, who produces documentaries for the BBC, has done a mighty fine job of analyzing the last couple of days of testimony at the Hutton Inquiry and putting them into context. He has a 4-page piece today in Salon called Tony Blair's Moment of Truth, detailing many of the highlights of the British Prime Minister's testimony.

The article goes beyond that, however, extending back to the discrepancies about David Kelly's "misleading" statements to the Commons Inquiry, Andrew Gilligan's "mistakes" in his reporting, and inconsistencies between Alastair Campbell's testimony regarding his influence on the infamous dossier ("None whatsoever. I had no input, output, influence upon it whatever at any stage in the process.") and the facts (An entry on the dossier in Campbell's fabled diary ... from Sept. 11, notes that he had advised Scarlett: "The drier the better, cut the rhetoric.").

On that last bit, I wonder if Akerman is mistaken in assuming that this evidence "points in the contrary direction to the preferred line of the Campbell conspiracists." First of all, this directly contradicts Campbell's denial above. Secondly, cutting rhetoric from lies and making them sound drier doesn't make them any more truthful. Remember, Campbell is -- for the time being -- still a spin doctor, and from the available evidence, it looks to me like he was simply covering his ass.

We all remember the phrase "sexed up." Akerman kindly reminds us of the multiple dubious claims which made their way into the casus belli. While some of these have had to be retracted, and while evidence shows that John Scarlett and others expressed serious reservations about the content and wording of the September dossier, the government still denies the "sexing up" charge.

On the final page of the article, Akerman takes on the media, though I have to admit I can't really tell if he's saying The Sun and The Daily Mirror (yes, it's the same as The Mirror mentioned in the last post) are in disagreement or not.

So, while not perfect, it's pretty good stuff. As usual, I would warn the reader to take everything -- including this warning -- with a grain of salt. If you do read the article for yourself, don't stop there. Go read Tony Blair's testimony for yourself. And don't stop there either. Follow the trail, wherever it leads.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Campbell's last spin

The timing couldn't have been any better. Just when the media should have been doing what I was doing -- laboriously poring over every word of Tony Blair's testimony before the Hutton Inquiry -- Alastair "Tony's Ari" Campbell announced his resignation. This sent the media scampering all over themselves to dig up the dirt on the former tabloid reporter for the birdcage liner known as The Mirror.

Let me move right back to what he's trying to get you to avert your eyes from: Tony Blair's testimony. While I am not yet able to post anything that I would deem "complete," I can say this much: in the first 36 pages of Blair's testimony, I have noticed many things which the mainstream media has duly neglected. These include, but are not limited to: self-contradiction (p. 13), evasion of answers (16) , naivete (21), assumptions of how the public would "interpret" news reports (31-2), absurd claims (32), demonstration of irrational expectations of others (32), and alarming over-confidence in himself (1-36).

If you want to have some eerie fun with Alastair Campbell, take a look at the lyrics to Ozzy Osbourne's "Mr. Crowley," replacing "Crowley" with "Campbell" and "Satan" with "Tony."
Mr. Crowley Campbell, what went on in your head
Mr. Crowley Campbell, did you talk with the dead
Your lifestyle to me seemed so tragic
With the thrill of it all
You fooled all the people with magic
You waited on Satan's Tony's call

Mr. Charming, did you think you were pure
Mr. Alarming, in nocturnal rapport
Uncovering things that were sacred
Manifest on this earth
Conceived in the eye of a secret
And they scattered the afterbirth
As Aleister Crowley has been quoted:
"To read a newspaper is to refrain from reading something worthwhile. The first discipline of education must therefore be to refuse resolutely to feed the mind with canned chatter."
Now that's pretty eerie!

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Tony talks trash

According to an early Reuters report of Tony Blair's testimony before the Hutton Inquiry, "if a BBC report accusing his government of 'sexing up' intelligence on Iraq's banned weapons capability had been true, he would have resigned." As the Brits would say, that's utter rubbish!

If it had been true?! Ha! We all know that more than 45 minutes have passed since "A-Day," and no weapons of mass destruction have been used by Iraq, and none have turned up. We've repeatedly heard from intelligent "intelligence sources" that there was no evidence to back up the "45 minutes" claim. How long do we have to wait before the BBC report is "proven correct"?

I can't wait to see the full transcript of Blair's testimony. (I will update this when it's online.) In the meantime, the Beeb has key points from today's proceedings.

UPDATE: Read the entirety of Tony Blair's testimony before the Hutton Inquiry. This will take me some time to digest. I hope to update this report even further on the morrow.

Wolf Blitzer, Ass-kisser

I must've been really bored last weekend (or on prescription drugs!) because I found myself watching CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer." California Governor Gray Davis was on, and I was interested to see what would happen. Having previously endured watching Wolf give war criminal Henry Kissinger the kid glove treatment, I should have seen it coming, but I found myself cursing at the TV screen again.

If you've kept up with the news of the California recall at all, you might know a little about how it's supposed to work. The first part of the ballot is a Y/N choice on the issue of recalling the governor. The second part of the ballot will let voters choose a new governor if the recall issue passes.

It's pretty obvious that Davis is going to vote "No" on the recall issue. If you have been paying close attention to this issue, you might even know that part of the strategy Davis' is using to get more sympathetic voters out to the polls so that he's not recalled. One of the ways he's doing this is by showing his "respect" and "admiration" for Democratic Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante while simultaneously not supporting any candidate on the second part of the ballot. Wolf asked Davis at least 5 times (depending how you count) how he would vote on the second part of the ballot. Was he just feigning ignorance?

As if that sort of hounding weren't unfair enough, Wolf put a big chunk of Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign commercial on the air (for free) and put a letter from Rush Limbaugh to the L.A. Times on the screen, giving him even more undeserved airtime than he already has.

Attempting to appear "fair and balanced," Wolf aired videotaped comments from Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who said she'd vote "No" on the recall and that she wouldn't vote on the second part of the ballot. Wolf said this was a "principled" stance, but he actually spun this in a way which implied that Davis was "unprincipled" for not saying the same thing.

Now, I might have been able to endure the treatment of Davis if Wolf had ever asked Kissinger a single tough question. But he didn't do it. He couldn't. All the questions he put to Kissinger sounded like they were pre-approved.

Read the entire transcript of the Davis interview here.

He blitzes wolves. He kisses asses. He's Wolf Blitzer, the ass-kisser.

In the meantime, I'm awaiting Tony Blair's appearance before the Hutton Inquiry with bated breath.

Friday, August 22, 2003

The 9 lives of "Chemical Ali"

Just yesterday, US forces are said to have captured Gen. Ali Hassan al-Majid, AKA "Chemical Ali." While this story was widely reported in the media, many articles have either buried mention of the previous reports of his death deep within the stories or neglected this fact entirely. Also of note were the "hit list" of 10 names (compare this with the US' "deck of 55 cards") and "explosives shopping list" he was carrying when captured. Sounds like something out of a cheap novel to me.

Also sounding like a cheap novel is the report in the Washington Post which pulls no punches in the well-deserved demonization of al-Majid, but which fails completely to mention US involvement in Iraq during the Reagan administration when the Kurds were gassed. Who's the "brutal dictator" again?
The Guardian has so far been the only one I've seen to print a retraction of a mistaken report of al Majid's death.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

And the nominees for Most Murderous Actor are...

This article from Saturday's Scotsman says quite a bit:
DAVID Kelly’s last e-mail spoke of "many dark actors playing games". The Hutton Inquiry has begun to shed light on the identity of those actors and the games they played. After just four days of evidence, the cast already includes the Prime Minister [Tony Blair], the Defence Secretary [Geoff Hoon] and one of Britain’s most senior intelligence figures. Alastair Campbell would not have written this script.

Documents which would normally have remained secret for decades have become public property just weeks after they were written, and have helped to nail the lie that Dr Kelly was dealt with like any other government employee in similar circumstances. The lengths to which the government was prepared to go to ensure that its message, and its message alone, was the one the public received, has been exposed as never before. [Emphasis mine.]

Yet this week, the agenda was out of its control. The government machine and its cogs have been forced to stand helplessly by and watch as Lord Hutton, the man it hoped would clear its name, began to dismantle its very fabric.
Be sure to read the rest of the article, too, as it contains way too much to summarize here.

The part about "Documents which would normally have remained secret for decades" is really poignant. Almost 4 decades after the assassination of JFK, the world still has to wait another 23 years or so before documents from the HSCA's (House Select Committee on Assassinations) investigation into that matter are opened to the public. It's no wonder that conspiracy theories abound. After all, without the facts, all that can exist is speculation.

Meanwhile, back in London... as Alastair Campbell arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice today, banners protesting the Iraq war were being carried outside. One of them read: "Eight thousand Iraqis dead, 55 British soldiers dead, Dr Kelly dead, Iraq in chaos -- liberation?" So it's very good to see the swift and impartial investigation happening in this case. The public needs to know the truth so that we can truly move forward to the kind of world where this cannot happen. This is what democracy is about.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Geoff Hoon set to confuse Americans [so here's a translation]

In a case where we may actually be able to know tomorrow's news today, British Defence [Defense] Secretary Geoff [Jeff] Hoon is said to be preparing to "carry the can" [take responsibility] for the death of Dr [Dr.] David Kelly. According to Channel News Asia, "Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has been accused of putting his political self-interest ahead of Dr Kelly's welfare." The Beeb [BBC] says, Hoon has told colleagues that "he expects the furore [furor] to end his ministerial career." What? George Tenet didn't lose his job!

On Tuesday, Number 10 [British equivalent of "White House"] communications director Alastair [Al] Campbell is expected to be questioned over his involvement in "transforming" ["sexing up"] the dossier which was used to bolster the case for going to war in Iraq.

And Wednesday will be the day when we should get to hear what Blair spokesman Tom "Walter Mitty" Kelly (who formerly worked for the BBC) has to say for himself on that matter.

Heads will be rolling on Downing Street [British analogue of Pennsylvania Avenue]. I hope to return to a more serious manner commentary after these things have actually taken place.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Back in black

Just after the power started returning to New York City in the wake of America's largest blackout since Columbus' invasion, McDonald's started flashing its neon arches -- probably just to show the world who gets priority treatment.

While the Washington Times was busy kissing Bush's ass trying to make him out to be an environmentalist, the "unpaid army of researchers" known as the "Blogosphere" was hard at work digging up the facts about Bush's latest lies.

BuzzFlash has a nice exposé of Bush's comments regarding this week's blackout. (Thanks to The Poison Dart for the link!) As soon as Bush tried to deceive people into believing that he has pushed for modernization of the electrical grid "all along," BuzzFlash points out just how untrue this is -- unless your definition of "all along" is no longer than 26 months. An excerpt from BuzzFlash:
In June of 2001, Bush opposed and the congressional GOP voted down legislation to provide $350 million worth of loans to modernize the nation's power grid... [T]he Bush Administration lobbied against [legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA)] and the Republicans voted it down three separate times...
So it most certainly wasn't "all along." In fact, if Bush and the Republicans are concerned at all now, it's only about covering their own asses.

No, Bush didn't want to spend $350,000,000 to improve the power grid. But he was willing to cut taxes for the rich while simultaneously spending billions (currently over $69,000,000,000) of the Americans' tax money to drop bombs on Iraq, install a puppet "government," and spread money and power among his friends.

While 50,000,000 residents of North America sat in darkness, Bush bathed in the riches of oil -- "black gold," "Texas tea."

UPDATE: Catch a caboodle of editorial cartoons about the blackout here.

Friday, August 15, 2003

More pieces in the puzzle

An AFP article titled "Tape backs BBC's allegations of exaggerated threat" reiterates the points made in my 12:44 AM post on August 14 and seems to realize my first prediction in the 11:56 PM post on August 12 ("The tape will vindicate the BBC.").

Another article, "Geoff Hoon refused to shield Kelly," follows my third prediction ("The British government may come out with more blood on its hands than it possibly imagined.") from the post of August 12.

A similar article in The Scotsman, titled "Blair joins Hoon in the frame over Dr Kelly," says strangely that Kelly "was found dead after cutting his wrists on 18 July." This is the second time in just 2 days that I've seen "wrists" referred to in the plural, when previously, it had always been his "left wrist." Curiouser and curiouser it gets the deeper we go down the rabbit hole.

Fucking lies and the motherfucking asshole liars who tell them

I've never, ever lied before. I swear. Really. I mean it! Okay, I'm lying through my teeth. Well, some of them aren't even real teeth.

An ABC News report titled "Less Than Meets the Eye?" asks regarding the recent sting "whether any of this would have happened if the government had not set it up." According to (unnamed) law enforcement officials who spoke with ABC News, "Administration officials are leaving out key facts and exaggerating the significance of the alleged plot to smuggle a shoulder-launched missile into the United States."

And given the tendency to lie by the Bush administration and its biggest supporters, this doesn't surprise me. When I see news like this and the California recall being played up while the daily deaths of soldiers and civilians alike in Iraq, the inquiry into David Kelly's death, Halliburton, the budget deficit, and Bush's most recent vacation are all being played down, I can't help but be skeptical about this "news" story.

Remember the "noose" -- how it was "tightening" around Saddam? Remember that? That was a big fucking lie, too.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Tom Tomorrow and the "army of unpaid researchers"

Salon -- you know, that website with lots of good content, but which requires either a paid subscription or exposure to a rather obnoxious ad to get a free "day pass" -- has an interview with Tom Tomorrow, creator of This Modern World. I'm not going to excerpt anything from that interview here, as I'd prefer to let you go there and read the whole thing for yourself. Hey, if you want to pay, that's up to you. I always follow the "day pass" route, myself. (Just be careful about clicking the proper links over at Salon.)

It looks like it's about time for me to go do my unpaid research on that David Kelly story.

The formerly 5-word title of this post has been mysteriously deleted by Willem Dafoe and John Malkovich

That's right. Those "dark actors" are at it again.

Interesting, isn't it, how Andrew Gilligan's and Susan Watts' versions of things seem to be diverging, eh? While Watts is quoted in Sky News as now saying that Kelly "denied specifically that Alastair Campbell was involved in the conversation on May 30," her own transcript (can't tell if it's the same interview or a different one) says at the top of p. 3:
SW you were more specific than the source on the Today programme - not that that necessarily means that it's not one and the same person. but, um in fact you actually referred to Alastair Campbell in that conversation

DK err yep yep with you? .

SW yes
(Barring inadvertant errors, I've left punctuation, word-spacing, and spelling exactly as it appears in the document.) That transcript of Watts' interview with David Kelly is now available in PDF form (260 KB) via The Hutton Inquiry website. It's scanned text, so even though it's only 7 pages, it's kind of hard to read. I made it through the thing in about 20 minutes with it enlarged to 190% (as big as I could get to fit the text in the width of my screen). Only after doing that did I discover that it was, in fact, bitmapped scanned text, and I could've pasted it into a word processor document and read it a lot easier!

The strangest thing for me is at the bottom of page 3. It is precisely the stuff of which conspiracy theories are made. It reads:
SW but on the 45 minutes

DK oh that I knew because I knew the concern about the statement . it was a statement that was made and it just got out of all proportion . you know someone  They were desperate for information. they were pushing hard for information which could be released  that was one that popped up and it was seized on  and it was unfortunate that it was  which is why there is the argument between the intelligence services and cabinet office/number ten, because things were picked up on, and once they've picked up on it you can't pull it back, that's the problem

SW but it was against your advice that they publish it?

DK I wouldn't go as strongly as to say that particular bit, because I was not involved in the assessment of it. no. I can't say that it was against MY advice  I was uneasy with it  I mean my problem was I could give other explanations which I've indicated to you . that it was the time to erect something like a scud missile or it was the time to fill a 40-barrel, multi-barrel rocket launcher

    (Next 5 words physically removed from tape .not present on Monday 14/7/03  assume due to rubbing as tape constantly rewound)

.  ("all sorts of reasons why") 45 minutes might well be important and . I mean I have no idea who de-briefed this guy quite often it's someone who has no idea of the topic and the information comes through and people then use it as they see fit
(Red emphasis, mine.) Isn't it just a little too convenient for those 5 words which immediately precede the oh-so-important "45 minutes" to have just disappeared?!?

Be sure to read the 154+ painstakingly transcribed pages of Andrew Gilligan's testimony which you can compare and contrast with that of Susan Watts and others over at The Hutton Inquiry website. PDF documents of all the evidence in the case (for example, the infamous dossier in its various states of evolution) can be found here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Going out on a limb

David Kelly's taped conversation with the BBC hasn't been fully revealed to the public, but the inquiry into his death is supposed to reveal more of its content to us soon.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict what will happen in the next day or two of this inquiry:
1) The tape will vindicate the BBC.
2) The things David Kelly said on the tape will not conflict with what he told the Commons Inquiry before his death when he is said to have "cast doubt on [Gilligan's] version of events." (i.e., I think Kelly chose his words very carefully in that Commons Inquiry)
3) The British government may come out with more blood on its hands than it possibly imagined. (See #1, and imagine what else he might have said about the "dark actors." He may have also named more names than just Campbell "off the record.")
4) Heads will roll, perhaps in the streets of London.
Take a look at these 2 quite opposite articles that came up when I did a Google News search for "David Kelly" about an hour ago:
A) BBC had 'concerns' about the report
B) Dead UK Scientist Believed Iraq Had Few Weapons
Notice how the first article casts doubt on Mr. Gilligan, but in a very "shadowy" way. There's all this talk of questionable "language." What sort of language? Did he regret using the words "sexed up" because it sounds goofier than "exaggerated" or "embellished? That very article seems to be "marred by [the] flawed reporting" it accuses the BBC of using.

Then take a peek at the second article, and notice how it portrays Dr. Kelly's trustworthiness. Also pay attention to these points:
"(Saddam Hussein's weapons) program was small. He couldn't have killed very many people even if everything had gone right for him," said Gilligan, reading notes from his interview with Kelly.

Another section of Gilligan's notes had Kelly referring to "no usable weapons" in Iraq.

Nearly five months after U.S. and British forces invaded Iraq to topple Saddam no weapons of mass destruction have been found, undermining public trust in Blair.
Unfortunately, that second article still says "Kelly slashed his wrist last month" instead of the much more preferable "Kelly was found dead with a slashed wrist." How's that for "questionable language"?

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Variations on a theme of "tweedledum" and "tweedledumber"

I guess some of you have might have wondered if the California recall has anything to do with next year's U.S. presidential election -- being that California carries 54 electoral votes (more than 10% of the United States' 538 vote total). If so, I'd tend to agree with you. (It looks like somebody at Pacific News Service does, too. Buzzflash, even more so -- with lots of annotated evidence to back up the argument.) Even if you believe -- as many people have opined -- the bit about Gray Davis' handling of the California budget (which by any measure would pale in comparison to the utter mess Bush has made of the federal deficit), this recall is a farce. Arnold Schwarzenegger vs. Arianna Huffington vs. Gary Coleman vs. Gallagher vs. Angelyne vs. Georgy? It's quite possible that no major Democratic candidate will run, turning this so-called "show of solidarity" into a certain loss for the party; however, since Schwarzenegger's entry into the race, that may be changing.

Back to the subject of next year's election. While I really like Eric Blumrich's stuff on Bushflash.com, even he felt he needed to put up a disclaimer about his latest animation. (I don't see the disclaimer today, but the animation is up.) Featuring Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich as the best choices for "the democratic wing of the democratic party," it basically pits them against the Republo-crats Dick Gephardt, John Kerry, and Joe Lieberman -- all of whom backed Bush's invasion of Iraq and the Patriot Act. Unfortunately, while these two potential candidates seem to hate Bush just as much as I do, Howard "Statistics-up-the-Yin-Yang" Dean ("we're the 'party of responsibility,' and they're not") and Dennis "Whisper-to-a-Scream" Kucinich ("two-thirds of the Democratic 'carcass'"?) both come across in my eyes as not-so-articulate half-ass wannabes. Why weren't they screaming and quoting statistics long before Bush decided to commit troops to Iraq?

This is by no means intended to slight Mr. Blumrich in any way. It's obviously much harder to find a real solution to Bush than it is to just replace him with something -- anything. But American voters need to do more than just replace Bush. They need to replace him with a viable alternative. Go see the Bushflash animation for yourself, and see what you think about all this. I think I'm gonna be sick.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

What they knew and when they knew it

Isn't it ironic that just 2 days after the bombing of Jakarta's Marriott Hotel, Indonesian authorities are already admitting that they knew for about 6 weeks that the hotel was a terrorist target? It's probably because they're not trying to use it as an excuse to go to war. If that were the case, they'd be sure to stall any investigations into the matter, pack a supposedly investigative commission with war criminals and other administration supporters, and release a "report" with all of the pages about Saudi connections redacted.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

The secret enemies of David Kelly

In a strange twist to the "fiction" portrayed daily in the news, British government spokesman Tom Kelly -- hopefully no relation to Dr. David Kelly -- has admitted and apologized for calling the doctor a "Walter Mitty character," implying that the things Dr. Kelly told the BBC regarding the British government's case for war were merely the result of the overactive imagination of a person with an unfulfilling life.

Why would Tom Kelly do such an utterly despicable thing? The Guardian gives us a pretty good idea. An article published today says of just such government spokespersons: "On a daily basis they sow rumour and disinformation in order to discredit critics of the government." Hear! Hear! [Side note: Down below that article, there's a sadly funny reference to the "search for WMCs (Walter Mitty characters)."]

It would only logically follow, then, that Dr. Kelly had in fact said the things Andrew Gilligan is being accused of falsely attributing to him and that the British government was already aware of the fact. Tom Kelly's apology doesn't actually prove anything, but if Dr. Kelly didn't give Mr. Gilligan the information about the "sexed-up" dossier, this latest accusation would be even more absurd. First, they say that David Kelly didn't say these things to the BBC. Then, the British government's story changes: "Well, he said it, but only because he was, er, delusional. Yeah, that's the ticket." I hate it when that happens!


Early, early this morning, even before the birds woke up, I added lots of links to this page -- including an e-mail link so I can find out if anyone is visiting the blog and if they have any thoughts about the contents. The birds are probably just about finished with their day of worm-hunting, but I still don't see the new links. I'm thinking that I've got to post something new, so here it is.

Update: That did the trick, in case anyone reading this has experienced the same problem. Try out some of those links on the right.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Creative Democracy

In the 2000 U.S. presidential election, things went terribly wrong. The runner-up is now in the White House squandering the federal budget, packing the administration with religious extremists, and committing murder across the globe. Many Democrats feel hopeless, and -- well -- they just may be.

Take a look at these statistics. Currently, they show Joe Lieberman in the lead. But if you go down to the 4th section, you'll see that whoever's participating in this poll all seem to have the hots for Hillary. The so-called "left" has become far too "centrist" for my tastes.

Some creative thinkers have adopted a plan to "draft the General," that being Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, CNN. Don't get me wrong -- anybody would be better than Bush. But can't the Dems get a little more creative?

Too bad Frank Zappa is dead! Larry Flynt probably won't win the California governor's office -- if this farce of a "recall" is actually carried out. Maybe he could be drafted for the job. Michael Moore? Bill Moyers for Prez? Let's "aggregate" some "diffuse" ideas on this one -- how 'bout it?

Jumping to conclusions

The longer I ponder the mysterious death of Dr. David Kelly, the less sense it makes to me. I think it has something to do with the word "suicide" and the way it has been and continues to be used in the news to describe this case.

A Google news search for "David Kelly" murder today comes up with 37 hits. (A similar search for "David Kelly" suicide currently gives 3,440 hits.) Finally, some questions are being asked. For over 2 weeks, I've been seeing the kind of headlines which state that Dr. Kelly's death was a suicide as if it were a known fact. Questions that should have been asked much earlier about electrodes, the lack of a suicide note, outside interference into the investigation, and -- last, but not least -- the rush to judgement are finally being asked.

I don't wish to blindly promote these theories of murder and draw a rapid conclusion from them as some have. However, I do find it somewhat positive that these questions are being asked. More questions need to be put to the news organizations whose editors plainly state "suicide" as opposed to "suspected suicide," "mysterious death," or more objective terms such as "death," "demise," or other words which don't draw conclusions for the audience.

Sunday, August 03, 2003


There's been a lot of discussion going on recently about the Futures Market in Terrorism. Many of its opponents were appalled by its "grisly" nature. Others, like Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds, supported the idea. Personally, I found the concept "offensive," but I simultaneously wanted to examine its potential values.

I was somehow led to Instapundit with the belief that the site had something to offer in the way of validating the idea. Unfortunately, Reynolds seems to contradict his own arguments in favor of the idea when he quotes Josh Chafetz:
A futures market in terrorist attacks, while it sounds grisly, may help us to aggregate diffuse knowledge in a way that will prove superior to expert knowledge. It also may not, but it seems to me that it's worth a try. At the very least, if we're going to demand that the government get creative in fighting terror, we shouldn't be so quick to criticize when it does just that. [italics mine]

Chafetz explains this idea by saying, "[B]y watching the information-aggregating index that we call "price," producers can generally ensure that, when you go to the supermarket, you'll find the brand you want." At least the idea is different, he seems to be saying, "so we shouldn't be so quick to criticize." Guess what -- I can no longer find many of the brands I want. They must've been too different.

"Aggregat[ing] diffuse knowledge" is not the same as putting knowledge out in the open, which Reynolds seems to be arguing for in his post and his 3 other articles linked above. Putting information out in the open ("Wanted" posters, for example), he seems to be saying, would let the public help authorities find "the bad guys." How this can work is exemplified in the case of how the Washington area snipers were spotted by someone at a rest stop after the license plate number of the suspects' vehicle was finally revealed to the public. This is not the same as aggregating diffuse knowledge. The terrorism futures market assumes that only people with money (and among them, only those who would "play" such a market) have opinions that are worthy of consideration, and that by distilling these opinions, terrorist acts could be prevented. At this point, it is still an idea which I strongly oppose. I'm glad it's gone, and I hope that it doesn't come back like Hong Kong's Article 23 did.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Dark actors still playing games

On Sunday, July 27, 2003, I belatedly wrote about the mysterious 24-hour delay in revealing to the public that the body of David Kelly had a slit wrist. Just yesterday -- 14 days after his death -- it was revealed that 4 electrocardiogram pads were found attached to Dr. Kelly's chest. It's not simply the fact that they were there that disturbs me as much as it is the 2-week delay in revealing it. Of course, there's also the fact that they don't tell us why he had them on -- heavy on speculation, short on real information. Whatever comes out about this in the next couple of days will most likely have the feeling of a cover-up.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Read all about it!

The REPORT OF THE JOINT INQUIRY INTO THE TERRORIST ATTACKS OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 – BY THE HOUSE PERMANENT SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE AND THE SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE -- "9-11 Report" for short -- is out, and you can get your very own PDF copy here (5.5KB). 858 pages in all, it contains sections formerly labeled "TOP SECRET" and some scanned documents. Found this via Steve Perry's Bush Wars, where he also has a nice annotated listing of Bush's Top 40 Lies About War and Terrorism.

Update: You can also obtain both the complete PDF of the 9-11 Report or smaller segments of the document from The U.S. Gov't Printing Office.

Call me a masochist, but I also submitted myself this evening to reading a transcript of a Bush press conference which exceeded the previous bounds of disbelief I had for the current occupant of the White House.

Not only did he "complain" about the media's beating of the drum for the "March to War," but he also made references to himself getting old, losing his memory (two excuses for "forgetting" parts of some questions -- "Oh, yeah -- Saddam!"), "finding [his] feet," and having a "log in [his] eye" (to paraphrase that chestnut). Then there was something about "Super Stretch," one bit where he might be construed as trying to frighten a fledgling member of the press corps ("Be careful whose company you're keeping" -- I find it hard to imagine it being a "joke"), bragging about how much he can spend in his campaign ("Just watch me"), pre-approved (they sure seemed pre-approved) question[s] about Liberia, and countless other bits of insanity.

Update: I have discovered that "Super Stretch" is a reference to Washington Times reporter Bill Sammon. See paragraph 5 for the reference to the name and the rest of the article for a description of how the Whie House deals with those who ask "pesky" questions. It's not Democracy.

"Just keep saying 'It's only a movie.'"
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