Claudia Rosett’s now blogging on Oil-For-Food and covering the trial.
June 30, 2006
June 29, 2006
How about reconsidering the eminent domain gift that the New York Times got for their new building in NYC?
You know, give it back to original owners?
You could even use that “blight” argument to reverse the seizing decision…
Even though all sorts of people were expressing the outrage I feel over the New York Times’ Cavalcade Of Classified, I couldn’t put something together. In talking to different groups of folks outside my normal military environment about this subject, I felt like I did when the Air Force light colonel told me in all seriousness he didn’t understand why we had a Navy, since it’s all really an air problem and we didn’t need ships to do that: confronted with otherwise smart people speaking such utter idiocy that it would take an abnormally long time to teach that person to the level where his opinions were actually informed. I couldn’t tell if the task would be Augean or Sisyphean, actually, even from the smell.
So I’ve kept quiet till now.
And Lileks did part of it for me–at least humorously demonstrating that perhaps there are some kind of limits, and the argument being made (this half of the week; it’s been changing as the pressure on the papers refuses to dissipate) is fallacious.
Some drive-by points:
–One defense is to minimize the threat. It will work for the uninformed or willfully blind, as usual. It doesn’t work on Jim Treacher.
–Another defense is to categorically state no damage occurred from revealing classified information. Stating it does not make it so. We’ve got examples.
Keller’s use of the word “government” is meant to imply that this is a struggle between the government and the NYT. Such a portrayal disguises the true nature of the struggle, which is happening among government officials. The plain fact of the matter is that the NYT has picked sides in that struggle, but Keller would rather have a debate about the First Amendment than admit that.
–There are lots of people with explanations of mindset at the paper and explanations, devil’s advocate arguments if you will, arguing that we should give the benefit of the doubt to the paper. Well, if that were the only point, maybe–but who’s doing the same for the people sworn to do the work that’s being released? Do they deserve nothing but the blanket critique that “the government is wrong and needs to be closely watched”? Did everybody forget that government functionaries are also human beings doing a job? Who elects newspaper editors? Who among the press signs security forms like the operators, and do they hold better to their noncompete agreements? Why should I listen to an argument like “why should we trust the government” when the only other option presented is a news report of anonymous source expressing unspecified concerns without identifying even what axe is being ground?
Back in the day the Church Commission caused restrictions on spying activities. The initiative that caused this commission to exist was a pendulum swing of public opinion for reported abuses of covert/clandestine ops. So we stopped doing HUMINT, covered assessments in a thick coating of caveats, and built things like the Jamie Gorelick “wall” that acted in the event as enablers for strategic surprise and loss of intelligence. Let me translate: this killed a lot of people, much more people than may well have happened otherwise; and did other bad things. Beware the law of unintended consequences, particularly when one is trying to minimize loss of rights–including the right to not be blown up.
–There is no absolute good choice when dealing with war in an open society, no way to avoid having secrets to survive. There is only choice among suboptimal solutions in environments where the enemy votes.
–The hard part of the kill chain is finding what to blow up, not blowing it up. This is like antisubmarine warfare in that it’s bursty, long form, and depends on the way the enemy disturbs the environment. When we lose a way to detect that disturbance, we lose our target.
June 28, 2006
Both are damning indictments. Both are essential to understanding global politics circa 2003.
Both should indicate how rotten things are in Turtle Bay.
Someone mentioned they liked prefabricated houses. Inhabitat has their Prefab Friday blog posts; the archive is here.
June 27, 2006
Well, maybe then it isn’t a hobby. Maybe it’s just what needs to be done.
Recently I paid the price for speaking out when the Chinese government made good on its promise to retaliate against my family. A U.S. congressional delegation had requested to meet my family during their visit to Urumqi. On May 29, Chinese authorities responded by warning my three adult children living in the city to decline any such invitation.
Three days later, police took more drastic steps to prevent a meeting. The three children were driven out of the city, and the van stopped by the roadside, where two of my sons were badly beaten by police. In a further effort to intimidate me, one of the officers conducting the beatings handed my daughter Rushangul a cell phone, and told her to call me so that I could hear them screaming. One of my sons, Ablikim, was so badly beaten that he lost consciousness and had to be hospitalized before being taken to a detention center.
But the goons haven’t silenced her.
Jack Kelly points to a fascinating polemic by saying:
John Taylor Gatto, once New York state’s Teacher of the Year, is a severe critic of our public schools. He’s written a marvelous essay, which you can read here, pinpointing the most serious problems. It’s called “Nine Assumptions and 21 Facts about Schooling.”
The whole article is here. Our toddler will have to embark on some kind of schooling…
June 26, 2006
Rob Smith has passed away. I’m going to miss him, and wish I had met him in person.
Memories, they can’t be bought and
They can’t be won in carnivals for free
It took me years, to get these souvenirs
And I don’t know how they slipped away from me
“Souvenirs,” by Steve Goodman
People keep forgetting there are lots of countries involved in the missile defense effort. The Wonk pretty much denigrates all of missle defense, but to his credit grudgingly credits a successful test with details and interesting fun facts (JDS Kirishima playing in the game).
June 25, 2006
I was talking to someone about a similar subject and thought about this Robert Kagan article. It’s a good description of my own assessment–Americans, in a group of non-Americans, tend to get at best the credit given before the but. And we have for a while, and do it to ourselves.
It’s a “read the whole thing” article, with many good points.
June 23, 2006
Don’t steal from Marines. It’s bad for your health.
(h/t Countercolumn; and it’s a damned shame stuff like this isn’t on Walter Duranty’s Newspaper of
Record Aid And Comfort To The Enemy.)
June 21, 2006
This Insta post has a transcript from congressmen who want to tell you something but are not doing so because the information is classified; they’ve been working to release what can be released and had a press conference announcing the current results.
This is as it should be.
I do wonder, however, if the information they are presenting includes the IEDs we found last year made of artillery shells with sarin in them, or the ones with mustard. Those were enemy mistakes, clearly; you don’t expend valuable sarin on a roadside bomb emplaced in such a way as to blow up the vehicle like a normal artillery round would.
Not useful unless you’ve been following Achewood this week, but “The guy is so old school he drives a yellow bus with gothic arch windows.“
June 20, 2006
Apparently it’s administration talk week or something.
Q: You’ve said we need a third “civil war” here to ensure economic opportunity, education, and to rebuild the family structure so that no young person is denied. How do we do that? How do we reach disadvantaged kids who don’t have that “flipper”?
A: What a kid needs is the tribal experience that comes from family. It could be the kind of traditional family we know or some of the nontraditional family units that have come into vogue. You belong to this family, we will not let you fail. If children do not get that from adults, what do they get? They’re blank recordings. If there’s nobody pushing them, they will drift off and find other tribes. They will pick up the worst pathologiesâ€”drugs, crimeâ€”of the communities in which they live unless they have adults who say, “Wrong, no, that’s not what we do in this family.”
Restoration of traditional family would be great, but I think that’s much harder than it might have been 20 or 30 years ago. There are kids who have never had a laptop, with an aunt or a mommy reading to themâ€”that kind of laptop. A teacher once told me, “These kids come in here at age six with their eyes blazing with excitement and joy, and by age nine the lights have started to go out. They realize they aren’t making it.” So you compensate for it with mentoring programs, with Head Start programs, with school programs, with what you saw down [at America's Promise] on the fourth floor.
I would have liked to have seen some discussion about the Americorps deal, as it seems to be like PJ Media–still alive, but not doing well at all. Couple Americorps with the homeschooling numbers and MS-13 and the significant difficulty the Gates Foundation has experienced in their education efforts, and you see some interesting trends.
June 19, 2006
Well, the article still is loaded with phrases like
The present US administration has presided over one of the most venal periods in the country’s recent history at home and abroad. Through a tricksy application of laws never intended for those purposes, George W Bush’s lawyers have dismantled constitutional balances between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of US governance to accumulate the exclusive power to interpret law in the presidential office, while on the international stage, citing the same necessity of protecting the homeland, American officials have stormed their way around the globe, kidnapping, torturing and killing.
…but make no mistake. This guy is blasting Noam Chomsky in a book review for the Guardian.
Reading Failed States, I had an epiphany: that by applying a Chomskian analysis to his own writing, you discover exactly the same subtle textual biases, evasions and elisions of meaning as used by those he calls ‘the doctrinal managers’ of the ‘powerful elites’. The mighty Chomsky, the world’s greatest public intellectual, is prone to playing fast and loose.
Which leads to a question: is that really what you see, Mr Chomsky, from the window of your library at MIT? Is it the stench of the gulag wafting over the Charles River? Do you walk in fear of persecution and murder for expressing your dissident views? Or do you make a damn good living out of it?
Now if only we can bring the writer round to seeing about those credibility-maintaining sentences above…
Got any guesses who she’s talking about?
towns and villages across Africa, … are digging wells and building dams and strengthening communities in the fight against AIDS. When a nightmare of wind and water devastated Southeast Asia, … were among the first on the scene in Banda Aceh helping to feed the hungry, to shelter the homeless and to care for the sick and the wounded. And of course here in our own country, few have done more than … to help ease the suffering of our fellow citizens who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. No man, no woman, no child is beyond the reach of your compassion. Whenever tragedy brings people to their knees, … have been there to help them get back on their feet.
I hadn’t quite thought of this group in such a manner, but should have.