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October 09, 2002
Just the facts

I have long thought that the Congressional Record, that preservation of the words of our representatives for immortality, needed a serious overhaul. I've never liked the fact that folks were allowed to edit, delete, or insert remarks not actually made, you know, in Congress.

In light of current events, I don't think it's too much to ask that the people who are supposed to be representing us actually attend sessions and listen to each other talk. I suggest that the CR process be altered so that instead of allowing those guys to edit their remarks, or insert the text of stirring speeches they'd have made if they'd only shown up that day, it reflects no more and no less than the actual words spoken in Congress each and every day. If Senator Joe Nobody has a fabulous speech he'd like to make, he can get his butt down there and make it.

In the "war or no war?" debate, I don't think it makes things sound a darned sight better to refer to the USofA's position as armed evangelism and not imperialism. I don't doubt the Bushleaguer would welcome the new nomenclature, reeking as it does of a rather muscular Christianity, but I say imperialism is imperialism, even if you call it a Tupperware party. Forget finding a more P.C. word to describe what we're doing. Shouldn't we, instead, be debating whether or not we're doing the right thing in the right way?

Posted by AnneZook at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)
The war crimes court in

The war crimes court in The Hague is a tough subject. I approve of their stated aims and intents, as all reasonable people must.


Should all Americans be exempt from prosecution? Just some of us?

If us, then why not Canadians? Swedes? Norwegians? Laplanders?

I think that representatives of the European Union are right when they say that exempting the entire USofA weakens the power of the court overall. Why should we expect others to live up to standards we refuse to uphold ourselves?

But I also agree that there's concern that Americans could be unfairly targeted by our enemies. I'm sure that citizens of other countries with enemies have the same fear.

Of course, when it comes to something like the charges against Henry Kissinger, I'd say that our government wouldn't have to worry about Henry being charged with war crimes if our government hadn't approved Henry's sometimes-dubious actions, so the answer to that one is that our government can just jolly well avoid sponsoring war crimes.

I think I need to research this subject carefully. Some of what I've read recently indicates to me that "war crimes" as I personally define them and "war crimes" as defined by those in The Hague aren't quite the same thing.

In the meantime, here are some random thoughts on unconnected subjects.

In the news, sex causes death. How many of us would trade our libidos for immortalilty?

I might mock the Bushleaguer's inability to open his mouth without sounding like an idiot most of the time, but I'm not one of the enterprising souls publishing books about his brain-mouth disconnect. If you pretend the guy isn't the leader of this country with one finger on the nuke button, they're pretty funny.

I'm largely indifferent to organized religion as long as it minds its own business (which, alas, it so rarely does) but I couldn't let today pass without marveling that I'm actually in agreement with Andrew Sullivan on a subject. The Catholic Church, that bastion of immorality and unChristianity, does seem to be taking steps to place itself ever more firmly outside the reality of contemporary life.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)
October 07, 2002
Prepared Testimony of U.S. Secretary
Prepared Testimony of U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees regarding Ira, Washington, D.C., September 18-19, 2002.
We have entered a new security environment, one that is dramatically different than the one we grew accustomed to over the past half-century. We have entered a world in which terrorist movements and terrorists states are developing the capacity to cause unprecedented destruction.
I'd like to suggest that most of the European world has been living in this security environment for a very long time. It seems to have come as a surprise only to the USofA that terrorists might, you know, commit unannounced terrorist acts.
Today, our margin of error is notably different. In the 20th century, we were dealing, for the most part, with conventional weapons–weapons that could kill hundreds or thousands of people, generally combatants. In the 21st century, we are dealing with weapons of mass destruction that can kill potentially tens of thousands of people—innocent men, women and children.
Pretty rhetoric, but not quite accurate.

For a substantial portion of the 20th century the world was dealing with nonconventional weapons. It's quite easy to find on-line articles on the subject. Chemical weapons were widely employed in World War I. In fact, the first recorded incident of "biological warfare" is credited as taking place in 1346.

Moreover, after September 11th, they have discovered a new means of delivering these weapons—terrorist networks. To the extent that they might transfer WMD to terrorist groups, they could conceal their responsibility for attacks. And if they believe they can conceal their responsibility for an attack, then they would likely not be deterred.
Confusing. Why claim that terrorists weren't aware of the potential of terrorist networks before 9/11?
There are a number of terrorist states pursuing weapons of mass destruction—Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, to name but a few. But no terrorist state poses a greater and more immediate threat to the security of our people, and the stability of the world, than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
Because he masterminded 9/11.

No, wait, that was some other guy.

Because he's been actively making war on his neighbors for the last ten years.

No, wait, he hasn't done much invading since he last got his hands smacked in 1991.

Could someone provide a few facts some time soon?

No living dictator has shown the murderous combination of intent and capability -- of aggression against his neighbors; oppression of his own people; genocide; support of terrorism; pursuit of weapons of mass destruction; the use of weapons of mass destruction; and the most threatening hostility to its neighbors and to the United States, than Saddam Hussein and his regime.
Well. Yeah. That might be true.
Saddam Hussein has openly praised the attacks of September 11th.
You can't kill everyone who doesn't like us and who says so publicly.
Last week, on the anniversary of 9-11, his state-run press called the attacks "God’s punishment."
That was on religious grounds. I abominate what they've made of their religion, but it isn't grounds for making war.
He has repeatedly threatened the U.S. and its allies with terror—once declaring that "every Iraqi [can] become a missile."
When? Last week? In 1988? When?
He has ordered the use of chemical weapons—Sarin, Tabun, VX, and mustard agents—against his own people, in one case killing 5,000 innocent civilians in a single day.
And had the world taken action against him then, we wouldn't be having this conversation, would we? The high moral ground was a lot higher before we had a personal axe to grind.

There continues a list of atrocities attributed to Hussein, none of which I doubt, and none of which are tied to a timeline. Nor is any factual data offered to back up any of this. "No new information against Saddam" is what the press keeps saying, and it looks true.

The world has acquiesced in Saddam Hussein’s aggression, abuses and defiance for more than a decade.
Not all of the world, sunshine. There have been plenty of people crying foul! for quite a long while now.
In his UN address, the President explained why we should not allow the Iraqi regime to acquire weapons of mass destruction
I thought you said he already had them?
In recent weeks, a number of questions have been surfaced by Senators, Members of Congress and former government officials. Some of the arguments raised are important. Just as there are risks in acting, so too there are risks in not acting.

Those risks need to be balanced, and to do so it is critical to address a number of the issues that have been raised:


Some have asked whether an attack on Iraq would disrupt and distract the U.S. from the Global War on Terror. [...]
Oh. I see. "Issues" are not the same thing as "answers to the hard questions."
Another question that has been asked is this: The Administration argues Saddam Hussein poses a grave and growing danger. Where is the "smoking gun?"
I lied!

A hard question: "Where is the proof that what you're saying is true?"

Mr. Chairman, the last thing we want is a smoking gun.
Answer: We have no proof.
In our country, it has been customary to seek evidence that would prove guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt" in a court of law. That approach is appropriate when the objective is to protect the rights of the accused. But in the age of WMD, the objective is not to protect the "rights" of dictators like Saddam Hussein—it is to protect the lives of our citizens.
Zzzzzt! I'm sorry, that is incorrect, but thank you for playing!

Laws have to apply to everyone equally. Even sadistic, psychotic dictators.

However, I'd object that asking for reasonable "proof" that Hussein is actively, today, making plans to take aggressive action against another country should not be treated as an absurdity. Something besides the oft-contradicted word of the White House is required.

And when there is that risk, and we are trying to defend against the closed societies and shadowy networks that threaten us in the 21st century, expecting to find that standard of evidence, from thousands of miles away, and to do so before such a weapon has been used, is not realistic. And, after such weapons have been used it is too late.
"We don't have proof and we don't expect to be able to get any proof but we'd better bomb a few thousand civilians into dust just in case."
I suggest that any who insist on perfect evidence are back in the 20th century and still thinking in pre-9/11 terms.
No one is asking for "perfect" evidence. Just a few facts, some dates, and a coherent timeline that isn't demonstrably full of lies.
On September 11th, we were awakened to the fact that America is now vulnerable to unprecedented destruction. That awareness ought to be sufficient to change the way we think about our security, how we defend our country—and the type of certainty and evidence we consider appropriate.
Apparently the previous attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 didn't count.
In the 20th century, when we were dealing largely with conventional weapons, we could wait for perfect evidence. If we miscalculated, we could absorb an attack, recover, take a breath, mobilize, and go out and defeat our attackers. In the 21st century, that is no longer the case, unless we are willing and comfortable accepting the loss not of thousands of lives, but potentially tens of thousands of lives – a high price indeed.
I continue to insist that if the leaders of this country have just recently come alive to the potential for the use of "nonconventional" weapons against the USofA, we have got to re-evaluate how we elect people in this country.
We have not, will not, and cannot know everything that is going on in the world. Over the years, even our best efforts, intelligence has repeatedly underestimated the weapons capabilities of a variety of countries of major concern to us.
It's a matter of concern to me, as well, considering how much money you guys spend every year.
We have had numerous gaps of two, four, six or eight years between the time a country of concern first developed a WMD capability and the time we finally learned about it.
If I performed that way, I'd get fired.

I'm just saying.

Now, do we have perfect evidence that can tell us precisely the date Iraq will have a deliverable nuclear device, or when and where he might try to use it? That is not knowable. But it is strange that some seem to want to put the burden of proof on us—the burden of proof ought to be on him—to prove he has disarmed; to prove he no longer poses a threat to peace and security. And that he cannot do.
A. "Innocent until proven guilty." Because principles matter.

B. I repeat, no one is asking for "perfect" evidence.

C. Disarmament isn't quite what y'all are asking for when you place very public calls for Iraqi citizens to rise up and assassinate their leader. Which, I might add, is one of the stupidest ideas you guys have ever come up with, and you've come up with some doozies.

What in god's name are you going to do if someone takes you seriously and puts a bullet in the man's crazy brain? Where's your internal momentum for "regime change" then? How long are you going to have to wait to see if the new leaders are any better than the one they have now? Hel-lo?

Well, if one were to compare the scraps of information the government had before September 11th to the volumes of information the government has today about Iraq’s pursuit of WMD, his use of those weapons, his record of aggression and his consistent hostility toward the United States—and then factor in our country’s demonstrated vulnerability after September 11th—the case the President made should be clear.
Can you elaborate on some of this information, for the benefit of the studio audience?
We cannot go back in time to stop the September 11th attack. But we can take actions now to prevent some future threats.
Whatever happened to that bin Laden guy, anyhow?
Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent—that Saddam is at least 5-7 years away from having nuclear weapons.

I would not be so certain. Before Operation Desert Storm in 1991, the best intelligence estimates were that Iraq was at least 5-7 years away from having nuclear weapons. The experts were flat wrong. When the U.S. got on the ground, it found the Iraqi’s were probably six months to a year away from having a nuclear weapon – not 5 to 7 years.

We do not know today precisely how close he is to having a deliverable nuclear weapon.

Excuse me? He was six months to a year away eleven years ago, but you don't know what happened after that except that you think he doesn't have it yet?

Who are these experts, anyhow? Economists?

Some have argued that even if Iraq has these weapons, Saddam Hussein does not intend to use WMD against the U.S. because he is a survivor, not a suicide bomber—that he would be unlikely to take actions that could lead to his own destruction.

Then why is Iraq pursuing WMD so aggressively? Why are they willing to pay such a high price for them—to suffer a decade of economic sanctions that have cost them tens of billions in oil revenues—sanctions they could get lifted simply by an agreement to disarm?

Because, just as a guess, we're not the only enemies he has. And, at another guess, because he might think he could hold the world to hostage by threatening to unleash a plague against us? Because, in a really wild guess, thinking in a logical, survival-mode is a bit much to expect from a guy who is expecting such a significant reward in heaven? Because, in a final wild guess, he's a psychotic megalomaniac?

I mean, I'm no expert or anything.

Imagine for a moment that Iraq demonstrated the capacity to attack U.S. or European populations centers with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Then imagine you are the President of the United States, trying to put together an international coalition to stop their aggression, after Iraq had demonstrated that capability. It would be a daunting task. His regime believes that simply by possessing the capacity to deliver WMD to Western capitals, he will be able to prevent—terrorize—the free world from projecting force to stop his aggression—driving the West into a policy of forced isolationism.
He seems to be saying that if France or Spain is attacked, they're going to refuse to defend themselves. Again I'm frightened by the complete lack of vision with which these people approach the idea of international cooperation and global politics.
The question implies that the U.S. should have to prove that Iraq has already attacked us in order to deal with that threat. The objective is to stop him before he attacks us and kills thousands of our citizens.
And we're back to the crux of the matter. We cannot and should not make a pre-emptive attack to "save ourselves" without proof that he intends to attack us.

On the other hand, should the U.N. decide to take action against Iraq based upon its long history of aggression and human rights abuses, that would be an entirely different matter.

The frustrating thing about the Bushleaguer, et. al., is that they continue to undermine their own case for war this way.

I would respond that for more than a decade now, the international community has tried every other step. They have tried diplomacy; they have tried sanctions and embargoes; they have tried positive inducements, such as the "oil for food" program; they have tried inspections; they have tried limited military strikes. Together, all these approaches have failed to accomplish the UN goals.
And, I repeat, it is now the time for the U.N. to make a decision about their next step.

He goes on to make a good case that inspections aren't going to find anything Iraq doesn't want us to find anyhow, which I do agree with, although the mind boggles at the idea of Iraq as a country with "vast underground networks" full of experts developing all kinds of weapons of mass destruction.

Seems to me that if nothing else purchases of materials on such a vast scale should have been at least partially traceable back to Iraq. What are those intelligence guys doing with their time, anyhow? Holding Parcheesi competitions?

Some say that there is no international consensus behind ousting Saddam—and most of our key allies are opposed.
Not true. They're opposed to the way Bush is going about things, which isn't quite the same thing.

There follows some actual discussion of allies, air bases, and monetary cost. No answers, just mentions that we'll have what we need when we need it. But at least he talked about these things, right?

But I would suggest that even if Saddam Hussein were to issue an order for the use chemical or biological weapons, that does not mean his orders would necessarily be carried out. Saddam Hussein might not have anything to lose, but those beneath him in the chain of command most certainly would have a great deal to lose – let there be no doubt. He has maintained power by instilling fear in his subordinates. If he is on the verge of losing power, he may also lose his ability to impose that fear—and, thus, the blind obedience of those around him. Wise Iraqis will not obey orders to use WMD.
Now wait just a cotton-pickin' minute. We're supposed to kill Hussein because he has weapons of mass destruction and he's going to use them against us, but it's okay to attack him because if he has a righteous cause, like defending his country and his people, then they're going to refuse to act?
Another argument is that acting without provocation by Iraq would violate international law.

That is untrue. The right to self-defense is a part of the UN Charter. Customary international law has long provided for the right of anticipatory self-defense—to stop an attack before it happens.

Huh? Since when?

And does he realize that this same reasoning could now be used by Hussein to justify an attack on the USofA? We've threatened to attack him, so he's entitled to "anticipatory self-defense."

In addition, he is in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions. Those concerned about the integrity of international law should focus on their attention his brazen defiance of the UN.
And not on my flawed logic.

I deleted three pages trying to make this entry short enough to actually read. I give up.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)