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Atomized junior- The Radio Weblog

Tuesday, 27 April, 2004
A Bottle from Chalabi's private stock

One of a couple of things I was looking at going into last week-end were the investigation of the Iraqi Oil-for-Food Program that the UN has reluctantly commissioned Paul Volcker to carry out Corruption Allegations at U.N. Put Annan on the Defensive New York Times. Also covered in an AP story in the Boston Globe Annan says head of U.N. oil-for-food program indicates will cooperate with investigation Rumors of this scandal having been kicking around for a year or so. Mostly emanating out of the more garrulous republican circles. Its hard to say how serious it will end up being, I don't imagine evean those touting it know, they just have their hopes. It is clear already it will be plenty embarrassing. Volcker made sure he received assurance from everyone on the security council that they would at least nominally cooperate. Timing is everything in this world so it bears looking at why this has turned up again. An article from UPI adds a few more pieces to this story Analysis: Iraqis claim graft probe slowed. The angle this story takes is on a probe the Iraqi governing council organized to look into the same situation. This article begins with a man named Claude Hankes-Drielsma protesting before a house committee, led by Congressman Shay R.-CT, that his investigation had been delayed by L. Paul Bremer, probably done to give Volcker's commission a chance to settle this. Driesma was hired by Ahmed Chalabi, and has access to Chalabi's saucer-full-of-secrets - some 27 tons of documents Chalabi's private militia rounded up from the previous regimes bureaucracy and currently has under his own lock and key. The UPI article notes that a leak in an Iraqi newspaper brought this into play. The UN got on the wrong side of Chalabi by being invited by the Bush administration out of pure political expediency to examine the question of who in Iraq sovreignity was going to be turned over to on 30 June 2004. Special Envoy Lahkdar Brahimi did not reccomend the current Iraqi Governing Council which is Chalabi's sole official seat, or technocrat exiles with close ties to the pentagon. This corruption scandal filled with vague accusations is Chalabi's return message to the UN.

Considering William Safire's column in the NY Times Op-Ed Columnist: Brahimi's Two Mistakes which would not have gottten written unless there were those in the administration who wanted it written there are still those who are trying to ease the old wagon of cake-walk transformation along. The UPI articles quotes Congressman Shays saying: The lack of respect we are giving this council is troubling to me This article in the Village Voice: Fables of the Reconstruction by Jason Vest and the internal CPA memo it was written around AAN: Text of Redacted Memo by U.S. Official in Iraq Posted contain information which should help bridge the troubled waters of the congressman's mind. This memo written by an neo-conservative old-believer was probably leaked to aid Chalabi's efforts, but may have painted too clear a picture of the situation to really help. The Washington Post Speak, Memoer ( identified the memo writer as a AEI fellow who over the last year had been an advisor to the CPA in Bagdad.

Tom Kimmel, Grandson of Admiral Kimmel, one of the few people reprimanded after Pearl Harbor wrote a letter to the New York Times last week Pearl Harbor Readiness. I sympathize with him a little, but Adm. Kimmel illustrates the problem well. He was a man waiting for someone else to tell him he needed to be alert and to take action.

I was surprised to see the chink in the Administration's ban on photo's of flag drapped coffins arriving at Dover AFB come (and go) as I was surprised aslo by the fairly minor amount of sturm and drang accompanying it. The Washington Post put one of the pictures from the on its front page Friday. At some point over the weekend I pulled out Dos Passos and re-read the Body of an American news reel

...the bugler played taps and mr. Harding prayed to God and the diplomats and the generals and the admirals and the brasshats and the handsomely dressed ladies out of the society column of the Washington Post stood up solemn, and thought how beautiful sad Old Glory God's Country it was to have the bugler play taps and the three loud volleys made their ears ring ...all the washingtonians brought flowers
The Administration has stuck to a line about the sanctity and privacy of these returning dead. This may be true, but it is also true that they died in a very public war, being waged in the name of all Americans.
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Friday, 23 April, 2004
Better things

Since the end of March or so one of my favorite Weblogs Dim Sum Diaries has been on a partial hiatus and another Phil Cubeta's Wealth bondage, has spawned to a serious and more purposeful offspring Gift Hub (Connecting Funders, Active Citizens, and Advisors). "Active citizens"; is that like Al Farabi's Active intellect, or vigorously active. Should I buy good walking shoes and get a Duck Stamp pass to the national parks and seashores? Maybe more like activated charcoal - the kind you find in household water filters, soaking up societal toxins. Perhaps I have started off by willfully misunderstanding the endeavor. That's me.

Philanthropy! I confess I don't think about philanthropy much. People who have slid out of the middle class into the working class, as a class, don't. I associate it with a pushing and pulling consciousness raising exercise to pry open the minds and cluched fists of the rich, who are the only ones (well, them and gangsters, but what difference?) who have wads of cash on them large enough to be taken and put directly to work. While, all the while, reminding them of how nobly obliging they are.

Mir from DSD I believe is trying to write a book, making the web log temporarily a side project. All these people with better projects than their web logs. Writing a book is like having a hall pass in middle school - it allows one to wander the corridors in midday. I claim simply to have not heard the bell. The etymology of better, betera in old english, comes from the sanskrit bhadra fortunate. Briefly I thought it might be related to bette as in Belle en le Bette and was trying to sort out the best conjunction of beast and better. This as it turns out wasn't necessary. I suppose Atomized here is my better project, my painted porch.
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Wednesday, 21 April, 2004
No place like Home

You can read the newspaper, turn on the TV news, run your RSS aggregator til it smokes. Its hard for me to come home from work, my safe little job. Shake the numbed disengaged weariness from me and have any chance of relating to or comprehending the life that the marines and soldiers in Iraq wake to face each day. I was in the military, and I can't do it. I can't breech the gap. I can acknowledge, remember, sympathize, construct. But I can't understand, cannot feel it.

I recall being surprised and disappointed to realize that my friends and family had no true understanding no understanding at all of what life in the military was like. And then again what was there to understand, we weren't even being shot at. I spent my second two years stateside, "on the beach", at the Pentagon and then left the Navy to go to college. By the time I got to college I didn't care much if my family and friends back home understood what my life was like. I was older and had my own life to live. Those first two years with the RVAH squadron loom large though. Overseas, cut off from American daily life and pop culture. I watched little or no television for two years saw no current movies (except for Animal House), certainly heard no new music, this was a led zeppelin, pink floyd, nazareth, golden earring, amboy duke, deep purple, elvin bishop intensive period. Scarcely improving the following two years. On a carrier in those days, there was no real connection to to the states except through individual personal mail (the kind that involved paper and Fleet Post Office addresses).

Last Monday I read an article in New York Times G.I.'s in Iraq Tote Their Own Pop Culture. Just trying to assimilate the incredible difference between my experience then and this world now, the active attempt, brought me as close as I've been to what these men and women are living through over there. An in-country wide music server? We had the office boombox which we deliberately used to drive each other nuts (important when your confined to a ship at sea). Patrols in Humvees, 10,000 guerilla's trying to kill you, and your iPod. The article throws up a number of facts which the auther seemed a little tentative about. And which left me wondering just how they would integrate into the non-reducible experience of military duty- which requires comraderie and focus. The varied availability of news media sources not controlled by the military. The continued presence of mass pop culture, not in the form of the communal experience of an Adrian Cronauer, whom the article mentions, but individualized, atomized, private. Last is the assertion that there is no alcohol, "drugs aren't the thing anymore", and that MP3s have replaced it. MP3s are wonderful, truely - even those AAC ones Apple sells. Another couple of months like this last; though, and these soldiers will find themselves something that will take them further away than a song.

I often feel that the best thing the Navy ever did for me was to cut the cords that connected me to daily American media culture for the better part of four years, I never looked at any of it quite the same again. A play of light and shade against the wall, so many Javanese shadow puppets animated by the flickering of the fire alone.
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Monday, 19 April, 2004
web log type thing

Normally I don't resonate to typical and/or deliberate web log meme propagations, but this one I liked, so I'm signing on. (via East of the Sun, West of the Moon who saw it in Catrina

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
Here is mine:

She danced in her little chamber, in the great hall, in the gardens, and over the meadows, and even when she approached the altar she seemed to be dancing a delicious measure rather than walking.
This is from a short story by Gottfried Keller A Little Legend of the Dance found in a book named Short Shorts: an anthology of the shortest stories.
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Friday, 16 April, 2004
A brief aside

A momentary break from a diet of headlines. I emptied out the contents of my camera into my computer the other day. Couldn't help noticing that I had taken comparatively few of them. Most were taken by this person: A picture named Nicole.jpg (who took even this one). This is my niece Nicole, or as she is generally known - the ringleader. This is after I showed her the self-portrait setting on my little Olympus. The rest of these are hers also.

Here is her brother Lucas. Lucas had a story for me the other week. I was over at their house. There were some new neighbors down the street who were having an open house, so Lou and his dad thought they'd go and drop in to say hello. About a half hour 40 minutes latter Lou comes back, and says the new neighbors were nice people - no kids his age though. Then he adds, knowing I like to write, that the father was a writer. I say "oh, what's his name, what does he write?" Lou says "I can't remember, but I can show you". A picture named Lucas.jpg He leans back grabs the Sunday Washington Post off the counter behind him looks at the front page, examines the headline carefully, then places his finger on the by-line and says "this is the guy right here Dana Milbank." I seemed suitably impressed, which impressed lou. He mused as to why they bought a house on his street, a famous star reporter like should have bought a mansion with a swimming pool. My brother in law, Al, comes by and injects "lawyers make as much as reporters, you know." He's on the hook for a pool now. Meanwhile Nicole is out at soccer practice with 'coach Paul' who writes for the Toronto Globe and Mail. "Lou", I said, "you and Nicky, you're living the life." I should point out only Lou is allowed to call Nicole 'Nicky', this is forbidden to all others.

These next two are her cousins, my sister Susan's kids. Grant who is six, A picture named Grant.jpg and Raine who having been born while they lived in Vancouver, is technically Canadian. Grant finds Spongebob square pants funny, but has the sense to wonder why any adult would. Currently spy gear rules his world (he's been to the Spy Museum in DC). Raine has just discovered that his household's cats are alive, and are possibly related to Thomas the Tank engine. A picture named Raine.jpg With their father formerly of Aberdeen, and only later Chicago, the highlands are with them both.

I am somewhat taken aback that Nicole seems to take better pictures than I do. These are all quite credible portrait photos, especially for a sixth grader. I did take this last picture, had to go through all my pictures to last summer to find one A picture named Nic_pogostick.jpg.
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Wednesday, 14 April, 2004
the bitter blame game

I've been following the two recent hearings of the 9-11 commission: Nat. Sec. Advisor Rice's last week. Clinton and Gore had afternoon sessions that same day, but that wasn't public and broadcasted. Yesterday they had an assortment of FBI directors, and Attorney Generals ( Ashcroft Faults Clinton Era at 9/11 Panel). A lot got said, and I mean that in a looser sense of that phrase not a stronger sense. CIA directors go to to-morrow. Three new staff statements have been prepared. Listening to these people talk and trying to make sense of it isn't my day job, just a civic hobby - like a public policy mystery science theater 3000. Condoleeza Rice went up on the hill and stone-walled, dodged, disingenuously misinterpreted, and ran out the clock. You can't argue with her for that, that was her job that day and she did it well. It's like getting mad at Roger Clemens for throwing strikes. Impressionistically though one thing stuck with me. An apologist for the current administration trying to characterize their attitude toward Bin Ladin versus Richard Clarke's: _we took [bin laden] seriously, but we didn't have our "hair on fire" like him [Clarke]_. That reflexive off hand disparaging dismissal of Clarke and people who shared his view. Clearly a bunch of off message malcontents who can't settle down. That this view comes to them so easily, even today. I don't know what to say. The most surreal moment so far: Rice denying they ever received any indication that Al Qaeda was planning attacks in the U S then being asked to name the document that didn't say this: Bin Ladin determined to strike in U S. That was the now famous 06Aug01 PDB. When I worked in the Chief of Naval Operations intelligence briefing section, he got his briefing from us before he went down to the Joint Chief's room to receive that briefing. The rule was he didn't want to find out anything he didn't already know when he got there. Head of the joint chiefs got the White House briefing, same general rule in effect. The tone and intensity of that PDB was more direct than that type of document normally gets. It clearly was trying to run up some flags, big flags - red ones, especially in the last two paragraphs.

Yes. It didn't say - "Filofax: Tuesday, eleven September 2001, downtown Manhattan. flight *** arriving World Trade Center 9:00am. - Osama." They didn't have specific intelligence on a particular attack. A point that Rice made Thursday, the Presedent made Saturday, Sunday,( Bush Says Brief on Al Qaeda Threat Was Not Specific) Monday, and again last night. My though there is: Were they waiting for that?

There's no point in playing a bitter blame game. After Madrid the more important question - concerning mass terrorist actions: has the executive branch addressed the "structural problems" within the White House and between the FBI and CIA that we have some chance of preventing a similar attack.
._._. pb _._
Having waiting another day to finish and post this. I see that CIA Dir. George Tenet testified today that the country was "in effect, unprotected" at the time of the attacks three years ago. No real surprise there. Also that it will be five years before all the problems connected with this are resolved BBC NEWS | Americas | US was 'unprotected' on 9/11 . I note the beeb has a direct quote for the "unprotected" line, but paraphrases the five year bit.
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Saturday, 10 April, 2004
Small Wars ii

Several months back I was trying to write a long piece about Iraq which I was going to put up as an essay link. I intended to write about Gil Merom's book How Democracies Lose Small Wars: State, Society, and the Failure of France in Algeria, Israel in Lebanon, and the US in Vietnam as part of this and took some notes to that end. Then Winter break was over and I had to go back to work. I never got around to finishing that post, but since I intended to (so I told myself) I mostly avoided stepping on its topics. I have taken that piece which I was writing in Userland's outliner and have posted it as is on the Essays and Stories page NeoCon's Piracy still in outline and decidedly draft form. Eventually I'll finish it and replace the draft. This lets me move on.

What Gil Merom indicates he is trying to do with this book is look at the two main theory's on asymmetrical warfare, and how they deal with fact that large rich democracies often lose small wars. In the course of this he proposes a third way.

The first, named realist, looks largely at the resources each combatant commands, it is biased towards measurable things: wealth, material and technological resources, population, and above all the military order of battle. From this it predicts a winner. It always predicts the side who has more. If this is not the case this model can only accomplish ex post facto rationalization - about how the initial accounting may not have been complete or geography and other overlooked natural resources favored the insurgency.

Against this is staked the balance of power, or balance of wills model. This trys to take into account more of the intangible sides of an insurgency, particularly the motivational aspects which side had more to lose: The U S for, instance, trying to keep one domino out of many upright, or Ho Chi Minh and his idea of a united (communist) Vietnam. This method will assign a victor based on the stakes of the outcome. Its reasoning can seem too pat, like a sports announcer intoning after a game is concluded that one team "came to play and just wanted it more".

Merom building on observations of the Vietnam war, and particularly Israel's war in Lebanon believes that in the case of democracies at least the frisson occurring between the leaders and people of the democracy more nearly determines the outcome. He conjectures the existence of a "normative gap" between state (the governing elites) and society (the people). This is the difference, and measure of distance between the opinions and understandings of the two. Merom tacitly acknowledges that there are things a state has to do or its leading elite believe that they have to do (or desire to do) in order to survive. Things just to maintain the status qou which would prick the conscience of the average member of the society. Ordinarily the normative gap is small enough that the elites have a comfortable degree of freedom. When a small war begins, especially if not accompanied by a general consensus, the process outlined in the his table (Small Wars | previous post) will begin.

In a democracy the people are nominally in command of the production and wealth of the nation. The soldiers and sailors that fill the ranks, and their families are voters. In order to embark on foreign adventures acquiescence is necessary to mobilize and use resources. If the war is straightforward, short and predictable this is never questioned by more than a few. When an insurgency creates a need for an additional outlay of resources, or when fighting an insurgency causes casualties. These facts bloom as information in a democratic society, and a second front of the war opens in the marketplace of ideas. As dialogue and debate concerning the war begin; demand for, and supply of, information about the conduct of the war, its initial reasons and rationalization take place. The control over the war - the combined consensus position shifts towards society, who are generally understood to hold only nascent inchoate opinions on such management tasks. If control of the insurgency is sought by resorting to ever sterner, repressive and violent measures, the initial expedient opposition (opposition to cost and casualties) will be joined by moral opposition. If the reaction of the ruling regime is to to become deceptive, coercive to engage in obfuscation, misrepresentation and censorship at home, then a second expansion of the normative gap occurs. The people begin to form a fully realize view of their own and recognize this set of opinions as being different from that of the regime (the ruling elite - societies have other elites). Consensus for prosecution of the war comes apart.

Fighting an insurgency becomes as matter of nuance, considered choice and experience. As much if not more than it is a matter of "resolve and will" 1, 2. After Vietnam any campaign against an insurgency and nation-building was understood to need to be professionally managed and free from any hypocrisy if the message was to come through. Planned, not ad hoc. The pull of gravity - the daily trial. The human instinct for reprisal, and rigidity in the face of confrontation. This filtered through the institutional push of the military to fight. The mixed and shaded objectives of the Coalition Provisional Authority. These have proved stronger than any common sense apprehension of the progress of things, to diminish rather than increase the armed opposition. To assuage its causes - fear of domination by the U S, or one ethnic group by another. Or civil war. To steer away from increasingly unsympathetic and untenable subjugation of native Iraqi sovereignty, and in this way stay inside the initial normative gap.
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Friday, 9 April, 2004

The word Oakum popped into my head one day earlier this week. Oakum, I thought - after it had been there half the day or so - that's something sailors used to make. When a piece of rope got too old to be used it was thrown aside. In spare moments sailors would sit and pick it apart into fluff, soak it in a pot of pitch tar and then with a mallet and chisel they would pound this oakum into all the cracks and places in the deck where the boards had loosed and pulled apart. In this way the captain's cabin below could be kept dry from leaks. There must appear to be cracks and gaps among my planking and some kind stranger has come by and hammered oakum into my head. I peered at the MARC record on the screen in front of me. Encoding level 4, correct copyright date in the 008 fixed field, the 050 tag and the 300 tag. 020- check, 245 (2nd indicator 4) title is as it appears on the title page- check, 440 - check. DLC in the 040. Hit enter; next. Oakum. In the [[checksum dropped cannot resolve packet]] years since I left high school and hometown and meandered off into the world. Most effort, in what people tell me is the working or realworld has felt like days spent picking cordage and pounding oakum into the creaking deck. All to the good I imagine, if it keeps rain and leaks off the people below.
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Wednesday, 7 April, 2004
Small Wars

I wanted to throw this table up now and I'll come back and post on it in the next day or so. It's from a recent book by Gil Merom. How Democracies lose Small Wars.

Since my scan is a lot murkier than I had hoped I retyped the text below. I had hoped to rescan the table, but the book is currently checked out.
A picture named small-wars.gif

Distance between State and and Society
"Society" --- Consensus --- "State"
Insurgency starts/intensifies and manpower needs increase
(shift to state) Mobilization
(shift to state) Battlefield frustration,
 search for operational successes 
(shift to society) Growth of expedient opposition
Center of Gravity shifts towards the domestic scene
(shift to state) Brutilzation: war turns dirty
(shift to society) Further growth of moral opposition
Center of gravity shifts home
(shift to state) Deception and and oppression at home
The War become a perceived threat to democracy
(shift to society)Secondary expansion of the normative difference
War failure

(adapted from figure1.2 process of democratic failure in small wars: Gil Merom. How Democracies lose small wars. Cambridge univ. Pr, 2003)
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Tuesday, 6 April, 2004
So Where in this Town is Gordon Prange's Statue?

[I had written nearly all of this by last Wednesday (31 Mar 04) but wasn't feeling up to reading it over, and making corrections until tonight. I added a few comments following, on things I noted over the weekend pertaining to this.]
Every so often at the place where I work I see a woman named Marlene Mayo, a history professor. Years ago she was Gordon Prange's assistant, another history professor. Prange wrote a book. I've always considered it one of the best books I've ever read (nonfiction category): At Dawn We Slept This is a definitive and exhaustive examination of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. I got the book from my Dad years ago- I passed through Pearl Harbor twice during my time in the Navy, he did as well - in 1946. Even up to the time the book was published in 1981 It was hard to get any two people to agree what went wrong at Pearl. Something slipped through the cracks there [the Japanese Imperial fleet maybe]. Possibly what went wrong was operational - tactical. A failure of the local commanders at Pearl to maintain effective sea and air searches. Perhaps it was more strategic and conceptual. A failure to monitor rigorously the Japanese military and politic-military directorates as Japan and the U.S. drifted towards war, or to imagine the aggressive insightful use of naval airpower demonstrated by the strike. Aside from a few token firings the immediate investigations concluded that no one missed anything. It was just one of those things. It wasn't; though, not anyway you looked at it - particularly occurring a full year after the British attack on Taranto where aircraft from the carrier Illustrious sank three Italian battleships at their moorings.

I was going to say something about when I met John Lehman who is one of the members of the 9-11 panel. Lehman came in as Secretary of the Navy under Reagan (yes, it was that long ago) his office was right around the corner from ours. I had to deliver and pick up a set of daily briefing documents that all the Admirals and important folk got. I remember Lehman shook my hand when I first met him - he shook everybodies hand. He took over a small display case in the hall by his office which had been filled with pictures of sailors, and filled it with pictures of sailors having their hands shook by him. It came about that Muammar Qaddafi, for one reason or another declared a "line of death" across the Gulf of Sidra, a sizable portion of the Mediterranean. The U S sailed ships across it, being by all convention and maritime law, international waters. The Libyans sortied two jets out seemingly to attack the carrier, and were shot down. At some point subsequent to this, Lehman had what appeared to be the printing plates of the next days Washington Post front page mounted on the door to his office. The art of public relating was not unknown to him. Self promoting can hardly be counted a crime in Washington, it shouldn't be used to condemn Richard Clarke

Last week the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States held what was to be their eighth group of hearings. There will be at least one more: National Security Advisor Condeleeza Rice next Thursday. The week was bracketed by former National Security Council counterterrorism chief, Richard Clarke's appearances on 60 Minutes and Meet the Press last Sunday. The Commission (a presidential commission) released two staff statements in conjunction with this which should be viewed as foundations for the discussion, while not entirely encompassing it. Along with the political desire to apportion blame, there is an argument occurring on the best approach to Terrorism. A basic dichotomy which seeks to understand terrorism as ultimately being a national or state organized thing or stateless - interstate. Closely related to this is a further argument on the best approach to it: criminal (legalistic) or military (force/destruction). The policy debate has retreated to simplifications, where one side tries to paint the other as over-committed to non-State and criminal, or state based and demanding military action respectively. The State Dept. provides an annual unclassified report to congress Patterns of Global Terrorism the ones covering the Clinton Presidency are one link further out on an archive page. This is all part of their Counterterrorism Office suite of Pages. These make a worthwhile set of tea leaves to peruse. You can see the ups and downs of various terror vectors, see the slow upgrading of Usama Bin Ladin, from 17th son of a billionaire, to renegade financier, terrorist enabler, terror planner, to godfather of world terrorism. Through much of his career he rates only a curious sidebar treatment and Al Qaeda only merits listing as a terrorist organization about the time Bin Ladin begins to issue fatwa's to kill Americans in its name. By this time he seems to have been doing so for years. These reports also make clear there are many terrorist organizations across the world and a great deal of terrorist activity.

The Commission's Staff Statements (PDF's available off their front page) give a clearer picture of how terrorism reduction was actually practiced. through steady pressure and using the tools of disruptions, renditions, and extraditions laid out in Presidential Decision Directive 39. This allowed for a program of using the CIA to actively seek out terrorist and terrorist cells, capture the players destroy their communication means and in cases where foreign police captured them to seek their extradition to the U S to stand trial. As military assets were steadily brought into this a further Presidential Decision Directive was written to establish a national coordinator for counter terrorism under the National Security Advisor. That was Richard Clarke's position. The logic to this approach came from empirical evidence of past experience that perceived terrorist organizations, while hard to eradicate, could be run down to small rump organizations which found it hard to coordinate or mount significant operations.

The CIA's Counter Terrorism center began to see Usama Bin Ladins organization as being different at a fairly early juncture (1996) and established a special sub-unit to focus on it. Interestingly the statement notes it was originally called the TFL (terrorist financial links) station before being named the UBL station. It was (and is) a question of just how different and more ambitious al Qaeda is from previous terrorist endeavors. It is also a question of their motives. I believe that bin Laden expected that he, al Qaeda, and the Taliban would survive the repercussions of the 11 Sept. 2001 attacks intact. Two days before, the Northern Alliance leader, Massoud,on whom the U S reluctantly pinned hope of engaging bin Ladin directly had been killed by two suicide bombers posing as documentary film makers. This was at a meeting of the leaders of all the various assorted forces in the Northern Alliance. The news reports I read before the events later in the week overwhelmed it said witnesses claimed that the faux photographers repeatedly pressed for the entire conference leadership to assemble for a group photo, but only Massoud who among them most resembled a politician came out. It always seemed that this was a combined operation: a mass emotional stroke against the the heart of the west with a practical strategic move to throw into disarray the thin ranks of useful allies the west might have. It was meant to be the opening round of a war to remove the middle east from the west's effective sphere of influence.

This level of ambition seems to have out-stripped the policy judgments of the incoming administration. For all the smoke and heat of their counter-offense against Clarke for his book and testimony they made very little headway against the substance of what he - and the 9-11 commission itself were saying. What little they could manage was undercut by their own statements and record if not by history itself. They let their distaste of the Clinton administration, Bush's catastrophic allergy to Clinton | Slate, prejudice them from any serious consideration of the previous administration's approach and gradual appreciation of the danger. Their approach such as they had one was notable only for its desire to exist in contraposition. A strategy looking towards a military understanding of the problem and a grand military solution. Unimplementable in its map spanning nation eliminating scope (in testimony even Wolfowitz admitted this), and therefore an impractical semi-idea. This reality forced them to "park" the issue and essentially do nothing. Much like someone needing to fix a broken window who concocts a scheme of home improvement and extension so involved and expensive it can't be undertaken and the window is left un-repaired. It isn't immediately clear between the Administration's statist understanding of geopolitical dynamics and the hob goblin of their imaginations Saddam Hussian that they realized that al Qaeda represented danger as well. Nothing In National Security advisor Rice's undelivered, and unreleased speech Washington Post- Top Focus Before 9/11 Wasn't on Terrorism ; Rice Speech Cited Missile Defense indicated that at all. There is another side, as yet unexamined, implicit in that speech of Rice's. The mass emphasis on missile defense and "star wars" programs signaled a defacto abandonment of the non proliferation effort. Pakistan's nuclear bazaar seems to have been open for business under their very noses. There is a shift from preventing acquisition of nuclear weapons to defending the U S by "shooting them down". This is little more than preparation to fight the last (the cold) war. It did not seem to occur to them until after 11 Sept. 2001 that nuclear or similar weapons could walk in to this country as well as ballistically fly.

The White House admitted " President Asked Aide to Explore Iraq Link to 9/11 Attacks after first denying any such conversation took place. Their focus on the threat of rogue states continued almost unaltered. The depiction you would get from those inside and close outside the administration is one where these states - the axis of evil - would be seen by turns as brutalist pathetic hollow shells ready to collapse, and wellsprings of an almost superhuman anti-american effectiveness; presented on a single breath. Terrorist organizations were conceived as agents of these states. The many parts of al Qaeda and militant resurgent Islam are more nearly Frankenstein monster's of both these states and ones we embrace than agents of them. Long since fled out to the wilderness of the world to examine and fulfill their own debased destiny among us.
._._. pb _._
As I get around to posting this finally. I am struck by not only the peculiar oddness of the White Houses insistence that President Bush not speak to the 9-11 commission unless Vice President Cheney is by his side. Maybe even more unhappy is the President's statement yesterday that he lacked the information to prevent the attacks on the world trade center Yahoo! News - Bush Says He Lacked Info on Sept. 11 even as the the heads of the commission speculated we probably did know enough Leaders of 9/11 Panel Say Attacks Were Probably Preventable. What George W. Bush doesn't know, or doesn't want to know simply can not be the issue. It's a profoundly bizarre statement. As I said before concerning intelligence. It is a matter of spending money until you know. Reading the 9-11 Commission staff statements I was often struck by the fact that they weren't doing as much as I assumed they were doing - particularly after the attack on the USS Cole. There is a tremendous amount from the Bush administration's perspective riding on NS Advisor Rice's testimony The Rice stuff: Is it enough? |, oddly I find myself hoping the plan isn't to kick her out to the mob and pull up the drawbridge behind her back.

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further addendum: While reading through NS Advisors Rice's statements before the 9-11 panel and all the reaction to it, I realized I had left one link out of this post I had wanted strongly to include Does policy structure need update? | It all about team-based management in the end.
11:38:02 PM    comment [];trackback [];

North wind, East wind, Plum blossom, cherry

To the few people who read this web log. I apologize for the lack of content for the last week - week and a half . After getting over one cold. I promptly caught another, even worse. What little writing I did went very slowly and trying to proofread was too painfull (part of this involved a lingering round of conjunctivitis) All in all I had considerable trouble gathering thought together. Fortunately my job does not require this from me, so I went into work all week. Nominally I just figure after a quick glance that a given bibliographic record describes a book accurately and has the proper authority controlled access points and if not serendipity alone will lead its one true researcher-in-need to it. I'm almost positive that's one of Ranganathon's maxims.

I did introduce my niece (Nicole) to the existence of internet-based macromedia flash mahjong games , so it's not like the week was without accomplshment.
10:07:47 AM    comment [];trackback [];

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2004 Paul Bushmiller.
Last update: 4/28/04; 01:13:59.