Sunday, February 18, 2007

Scanning Anonymous Sources

Why watch any setup reality TV, when you got the real thing going on for real. The recent “event” in the release of information for a new type of roadside bomb was weirder than any reality TV and certainly more theatrical. I don’t mind anonymous sources as long as I know they are the administration’s official anonymous sources, and I like political drama as well as anyone else.

The anonymous official sources within the administration recently stated that roadside bombs were getting much more sophisticated with explosively formed penetrator (EFP) to pierce the armor currently in use on Humvees in Iraq. This munition is much difficult to make and is not so improvised as a artillery shell fixed with a detonator.

The mixing of shaped charged explosives and a specifically manufactured casing indicate that these bombs were not put together (improvised) in some shack or hunkered down in a clump of tree. The Bush administration says it’s coming from Iran. They danced around whether the leadership of Iran knew, but I agree with the sentiment that it’s hard to believe that in a country like Iran, they didn’t know. Wherever the EFP’s are coming from, I’ll bet the Iranians know.

Of course, I was wrong about Saddam and WMD’s. I saw the footage of dead Kurds. If that’s not proof, I don’t know what is. But Saddam did not have WMD’s.

He was bluffing – bluffing Iran, more than us or the UN. Saddam’s greatest fear was Iran and an insurgency in his own country. The fear the US might invade was down the list, maybe third on his list of greatest fear. Bush called Saddam’s bluff and won the pot, which turned out to be Saddam’s greatest fear. Bush now has a problem with Iran and an insurgency he can’t do anything to stop. The more things change, the more they "stay the course" same.

Along with knowing now that Saddam was bluffing, we also know that our intelligence in that area sucks, and what little bit we did have, was cooked. There is nothing worse than cooked bad intelligence when you’re trying to make a decision.

So, how good is the intelligence of what is obviously no longer improvised and where are these munitions coming from? Why would it benefit the Iranians for Americans to be attacked and killed more effectively? Don’t they want the Shiite dominated government of Iraq to succeed?

Other recent events here at home have shown us the way to answer those questions. The Scooter Libby trial showed a part of the press we know existed, but we never really got a behind-the-scene view of what is now know in DC as professional journalism. It’s a good ol’ boys club with rules and guidelines just like any private club and the females just add another aspect to how The Club is run. (Seems those golden aspen weren’t the only thing at their peak.)

Also, recent revelations and investigations of the intelligence prior to the invasion of Iraq show that we were getting a lot of bad intelligence and manufactured intelligence referred to as disinformation. One of the most famous uses of disinformation was during WWII and the invasion of Europe. This one may rank right up there with it.

The Bush administration was played for a sucker and snookered by disinformation into overthrowing Saddam for special interest in the Middle East. Perhaps Saddam’s third greatest fear was doing the work of his greatest fear.

However, also coming out is that there was some good intelligence. The old Knight-Ridder papers reported that their anonymous sources were saying that the NYTimes anonymous sources – which turned out to be the administration unofficial official leak – where getting it all wrong. Seems the NYTimes was snookered by the same disinformation as the administration.

So, DC journalists have anonymous sources that are right, wrong, and spinning them or playing them for what their worth.

How could we use this asset to our advantage?

Why not get the DC journalists to canvass their leakers and snitches as to how good is the intelligence on these special shaped charged explosives? Each anonymous source would be awarded points for whether they are elected, appointed, contracted, or hired, how high up they are, and how many degrees separate them form Kevin Bacon. Points would be subtracted for sources that have a special interest in which way the vote goes. These points would weight their response, and when we tally all the anonymous votes, we’d have a consensus on just how good this intelligence is. Or, lack of consensus would also be indicative – at least a local known unknown would become a known known (I’m going to miss him.).

We publish the tally and post it on the internet for all to see. We put all the anonymous votes together clumped by major media name such as NYTimes, WaPo, NBC, and by all means, Fox.

It’s more weighted political gossip than some political soul since to talk to reporters unofficially about the office is for an official the same as selling your soul, but that’s not our problem. Our problem is how to use this situation as an asset – how to milk this bitch. With a canvass of anonymous sources we would have the information reporters have – and don’t report.

The texture of all the anonymous sources available to us all.

The DC leakers’ sway.

The snitch report.

Is this doable or what?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

I'm not a real journalist, but I play one in DC

Given the heighten attention given to high profile investigations and trials, I make it a rule to ignore them until a decision is made. However, I’ve been drawn to the Libby trail by some blogs I’ve seen. As Ms. Huffington pointed out in her post here and here, the Scooter Libby trial for lying to the FBI and grand jury is illuminating more than just the inner workings of the administration. What Arianna calls the Washington Club of politicos and "journos" is one big happy and secretive society.

While secretive clubs are not new to politicians, it is just the sort of thing on which journalist are suppose to be reporting instead of being members in good standing.

It's as though you turned on the light at night in an infested room to see a pack of mice scurry for cover, and even scarier, you caught the cat socializing within the vermin's midst. If that's the case, how do you determine which is vermin? By what the cat says!?! I don't think so.

By the testimony from the news people and those of the administration, we know this special secret club has rules of engagement. What are these rules? Seems that would be newsworthy – and yet, it goes unreported.

William Powers at the National Journal offers up a discussion that we are seeing things the way they are and not some idealistic view of journalism. A "to lay down with dogs you got to break a few eggs" view of journalists in Washington. To report on politicians, you must act like one, you must become one with them. Is that in The Club’s rules?

A story in
WaPo, notes that the halls and cafeteria in the building where the trial is occurring is like high school with too many people with too much history with each other trying to look professional. Meg Greenfield's analogy rules.

A blog point to by Huffington called JustOneMinute offers up a very plausible scenario in which Russert had to lie to the FBI and on the stand because of were he had actually learned about Ms Wilson's CIA position. NBC in general and Russert in particular are covering up an even bigger story than who leaked what to whom.

The problem with that scenario goes back to what I’ve been harping on here about the MSM – especially DC MSM – if the problem was liberal bias we would be better served than what we are getting now. Andrea Mitchell, Dick Gregory, and Tim Russert having that kind of information and not running with it, belies the attention – in this case, air time – grabbing circus we now call professional journalism.

The only reason I can think of for why they would keep something like that secret is The Club’s rules. Maybe they feared more being kicked out of the club for reporting the Vice President’s office was trying to smear the name and reputation of a public servant regardless of who sent whom than the attention they would have received for reporting that to the rest of us.

In sports I’ve heard of something called a fans reporter or something like that. This sport reporter does not go down into the locker room or become good buddies with athletes on which they are reporting. They keep the perspective of the fan and report what they learn -- less insight but a more objective point of view. I don’t read sports enough to know how effective it is in the sports world, but it is a noble idea and journalism is eat up with stuff like that.

Maybe we need a citizens’ reporter in DC.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Reaping the Whirlwind

When I posted my 8th blog ever Reap the Whirlwind, back in 2004 on the third anniversary of 9/11, that Islam would rue the days they taught hate in their religious schools, I didn’t realize I’d see the beginning of all that payback.

This year’s
National Intelligence Estimate painted a grim picture for what is about to happen in Iraq. Turkey planning to move into Northern Iraq should any sort of breakup or partitioning occur, Saudi Arabia supporting the Sunnis in Iraq even if the Americans don’t leave, and Iran ever presents in Southern Iraq and they are all taught "to hate" is to be closer to God. The whirlwind is returning home with a deadlier vengeance than the violence inflicted in America and Europe.

Perhaps innocents do get virgins in heaven when they martyr, but what happen to those that send their children to die and what happens to those that allow that sort of thing to go on?

While the teaching of hatred was for non-Islamics such as the Americans and Europeans, hatred has a way of finding its own outlet, as though all that stress and tensions in those living in the hell that is now in the Middel East finds an easy pathway for expression.

Added to that the fighting between Hamas and Fatah, and it would seem Islam is headed for a religious crisis. Even the recent attempt to bring Israel back into the conflict equation did not succeed. Perhaps cooler heads in Israel have recognized its electric rod role in the Middle East.

Many a Machiavellian would say let the followers of Islam turn on themselves, we will benefit from their self-destruction. The chance that the oil will be disrupted scares more people than it excites with opportunities.

This may do more for the development of alternative sources of energy than all the conservationists, anti-global warmers, and America first-ers have been trying to do all these years put together.

Leave Iraq. Leave now. Leave Afghanistan. Whatever good we could do, we’ve done. Come home and get ready for the big one. Leave the Muslims to themselves.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

What's Going to Happen in 2007

I'm starting a new annual event. I'm going to publish what I expect to happen, and this time next year I'll see how I did.

Major Expectations

1. Congressional investigations of the administration will become the major news story of this year; or rather, it will lead to what will become the major news stories. Some juicy bit of information will lead to a press feeding frenzy. Given this administration’s arrogant and contemptuous disregard for constitutional “checks and balances” – a result of Cheney’s plan to reinvigorate the power of the presidency – investigations of questionable practices will lead to a Constitutional crisis. Either impeachment proceeding will have started or serious discussion of it before the year is out.

The administration will try to cover up, and mistakes will be made. It's all happened before and it's about to begin again.

2. The surge will not work in Iraq. Unexpected events or the insurgency will just escalate their activities to render the surge ineffective. Of course, more Americans will die. More Iraqi will die also, but that was going to happen anyway – that's the point.

The Iraq problem could escalate into a greater Middle Eastern war between Arabs (Sunnis) and Persians (Shiites).

I keep thinking one of the groups in Iraq is going to get enough power then the Americans will be in the way of continued growth. At that point, they will turn violently on the Americans, running a campaign of attack on Americans much greater than has been seen before, trying to rally more Iraqis to their cause. Americans may have to evacuate Iraq.

3. Castro is going to die this year. What happens after that is anybody's guess. Power struggle in Cuba, normalization of diplomatic relations with the U.S., mass migration of Cubans living in the U.S. back to Cuba – all or any of this could happen. It will be an exciting time for Cubans and their American friends.

The really, really long shot prediction

1. Bush will have a nervous breakdown. I just don't think he will be able to handle the coming pressure of investigations of his administration. In his past, whenever he fucked up royally, his dad or his dad's friends came to his rescue, however, Bush has got himself into a situation that not even his father can help him. His dad tried with the Iraqi Study Group, but Bush refuse to use their suggestions. Maybe he is still in denial about his rebellion against his dad.

With no place to run, he will have a breakdown. Cheney will become President.

2. Bush will pull Iran into his war. Remembering how people rallied to side when he decided to invade Iraq, he believes the same would occur when he goes to war against Iran.

Scoring previous predictions

My ability to predict the future is questionable. I thought Saddam had WMD's. I saw the footage of where he had gassed his own people and read he had done the same to an even greater number of Iranians during their war, so I was sure he would at least have poisonous gas. But they found nothing except some very old gas ordinance. Saddam was bluffing and Bush called his bluff. Bush is currently dealing with his winnings.

What was known unknowns. The full implication of Powell's Pottery Barn metaphor is only now becoming known.

However, I was sure the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. One of my first posts was an expression of that very thought. I knew we could overthrow the bastard, but I knew any attempt at nation building was a huge mistake. I didn't know what was going to go wrong but I knew our takeover would not work out and I am being proven right every day.

So, we'll see how these predictions fare and we'll come back here next year and score the results.