catching up on the news

Linette and I made a test run to the hospital this evening. Not counting the time we were stopped, eating pizza, it took about 20 minutes Then, we came home and dove head-first into nesting again. Tonight, its the kitchen. If the babys room didnt have the giant, orange POISON sign outside of it, Im sure wed be in there. But, as the lead contamination team still isnt done, weve settled for cleaning the fridge, rearranging the spices, and reorganizing the Tupperware So, I just decided to take an hour or so off and catch up on the news… This, in case youre interested, is what I found.

First, theres a new Paul Krugman piece in the New York Times. Its a continuation of the Ashcroft is the worst Attorney General in the history of this country theme that Krugman kicked off last week. In this chapter, we see Ashcroft trumpeting the capture of a Muslim would-be mall bomber (even though he was actually caught a while ago and had no bombs), while keeping mysteriously quiet about an American white supremacist caught with a massive stockpile of weapons. Heres a quote from Krugman:

In April 2003, John Ashcroft’s Justice Department disrupted what appears to have been a horrifying terrorist plot. In the small town of Noonday, Tex., F.B.I. agents discovered a weapons cache containing fully automatic machine guns, remote-controlled explosive devices disguised as briefcases, 60 pipe bombs and a chemical weapon a cyanide bomb big enough to kill everyone in a 30,000-square-foot building.

Strangely, though, the attorney general didn’t call a press conference to announce the discovery of the weapons cache, or the arrest of William Krar, its owner. He didn’t even issue a press release. This was, to say the least, out of character. Jose Padilla, the accused “dirty bomber,” didn’t have any bomb-making material or even a plausible way to acquire such material, yet Mr. Ashcroft put him on front pages around the world. Mr. Krar was caught with an actual chemical bomb, yet Mr. Ashcroft acted as if nothing had happened.

Mr. Krar’s arrest was the result not of a determined law enforcement effort against domestic terrorists, but of a fluke: when he sent a package containing counterfeit U.N. and Defense Intelligence Agency credentials to an associate in New Jersey, it was delivered to the wrong address. Luckily, the recipient opened the package and contacted the F.B.I. But for that fluke, we might well have found ourselves facing another Oklahoma City-type atrocity.

So, if you believe Krugman (as I tend to do), our Attorney General is following a script that calls for evil middle eastern men to be paraded in front of the press while downplaying the possibility of domestic terrorism, like that which we saw in Oklahoma City. I guess thats something that a lot of us have suspected, but its interesting to see the two cases, those of Krar and Padilla, held up side by side. Clearly one was pushed on the media while the other, which appears to have been a great deal more dangerous, was kept quiet. One has to wonder why. My guess is that the war in Iraq has a lot to do with it.

And here, in case youre still interested in reading, is a new article by Seymour Hersh. This one is primarily about Iran and Israel and the roles those two countries are now playing in Iraq Its Hershs contention that Israel has lost hope that the US will ever be able to turn Iraq around. And, with that in mind, theyve decided to implement their Plan B the covert support of Iraqi Kurds. (Something which, by the way, complicates things exponentially for us in the region.) Heres a quote from Hersh:

Israeli intelligence and military operatives are now quietly at work in Kurdistan, providing training for Kurdish commando units and, most important in Israels view, running cover operations inside Kurdish areas of Iran and Syria. Israel feels particularly threatened by Iran, whose position in the region has been strengthened by the war. The Israeli operative include members of the Mossad, Israels clandestine foreigh-intelligence service, who work undercover in Kurdistan as businessmen and, in some cases, do not carry Israeli passports.

And, lastly, heres a piece by Christopher Hitchens on the lies of Michael Moore. Im still going to see Fahrenheit 9/11 the day it opens, but its worth noting the concerns of Hitchens, many of which seem legitimate. Heres a clip:

He prefers leaden sarcasm to irony and, indeed, may not appreciate the distinction. In a long and paranoid (and tedious) section at the opening of the film, he makes heavy innuendoes about the flights that took members of the Bin Laden family out of the country after Sept. 11. I banged on about this myself at the time and wrote a Nation column drawing attention to the groveling Larry King interview with the insufferable Prince Bandar, which Moore excerpts. However, recent developments have not been kind to our Mike. In the interval between Moore’s triumph at Cannes and the release of the film in the United States, the 9/11 commission has found nothing to complain of in the timing or arrangement of the flights. And Richard Clarke, Bush’s former chief of counterterrorism, has come forward to say that he, and he alone, took the responsibility for authorizing those Saudi departures. This might not matter so much to the ethos of Fahrenheit 9/11, except thatas you might expectClarke is presented throughout as the brow-furrowed ethical hero of the entire post-9/11 moment. And it does not seem very likely that, in his open admission about the Bin Laden family evacuation, Clarke is taking a fall, or a spear in the chest, for the Bush administration. So, that’s another bust for this windy and bloated cinematic “key to all mythologies.”

You be the judge. I have a moldy kitchen sink to attend to.

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