micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links

Welcome to the musings and notes of a Cadillac, Michigan based writer named Micah Holmquist, who is bothered by his own sarcasm.

Please send him email at micahth@chartermi.net.

Holmquist's full archives are listed here.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Sites Holmquist trys, and often fails, to go no more than a couple of days without visiting (some of which Holmquist regularly swipes links from without attribution)

Aljazeera.Net English
AlterNet (War on Iraq)
Alternative Press Review
Always Low Prices -- Always
Another Irani online
antiwar.com (blog)
Asia Times Online
Axis of Logic
Baghdad Burning (riverbend)
BBC News
blogdex.net ("track this weblog")
The Christian Science Monitor (Daily Update)
Common Dreams
Daily Rotten
Democracy Now
The Drudge Report
Eat the Press (Harry Shearer, The Huffington Post)
Empire Notes (Rahul Mahajan)
frontpagemag.com (HorowitzWatch)
Guardian Unlimited
The Independent
Information Clearing House
Informed Comment (Juan Cole)
Iranians for Peace

Iraq Dispatches (Dahr Jamail)
Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation
Iraq Occupation and Resistance Report (Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice)
Mr. Show and Other Comedy
The Narco News Bulletin (blog)
The New York Times
Occupation Watch
Political Theory Daily Review
Press Action
Project Syndicate
Raed in the Middle (Raed Jarrar)
The Simpsons Archive
Simpsons Collector Sector
Technorati ("search for mth.blogspot.com")
United States Central Command
U.S. Embassy Baghdad, Iraq
War Report (Project on Defense Alternatives)
The Washington Post
Wildfire (Jo Wilding)
wood s lot
www.mnftiu.cc (David Rees)

Blogs that for one reason or another Holmquist would like to read on at least something of a regular basis (always in development)

Thivai Abhor
As'ad AbuKhalil
Ken Adrian
Christopher Allbritton
Douglas Anders
Mark W. Anderson
Aziz Ansari
Atomic Archive
James Benjamin
Elton Beard
Charlie Bertsch
alister black
Blame India Watch
Blog Left: Critical Interventions Warblog / war blog
Igor Boog
Martin Butler
Chris Campbell
James M. Capozzola
Avedon Carol
Elaine Cassel
cats blog
Jeff Chang
Margaret Cho
Citizens Of Upright Moral Character
Louis CK
Les Dabney
Natalie Davis
Scoobie Davis
The Day Job
Jodi Dean
Dominic Duval
Steve Earle
Daniel Ellsberg
Tom Engelhardt
Lisa English
Barbara Flaska
Brian Flemming
Joe Foster
Yoshie Furuhashi
Al Giordano
Rob Goodspeed
Grand Puba
Guardian Unlimited Weblog
Pete Guither
The Hairy Eyeball
Ray Hanania
Mark Hand
Hector Rottweiller Jr's Web Log Jim Henley Arvin Hill Hit & Run (Reason) Hugo Clark Humphrey Indri The Iraqi Agora Dru Oja Jay Jeff Lynne d Johnson Dallas Jones Julia Kane Blues Benjamin Kepple Ken Layne Phil Leggiere Brian Linse Adam Magazine Majority Report Radio Marc Maron Josh Marshall Jeralyn Merritt J.R. Mooneyham Michael Scott Moore Bob Morris Bob Mould Mr. Show and Tell Muslims For Nader/Camejo David Neiwert NewPages Weblog Aimee Nezhukumatathil Sean O'Brien Patton Oswalt The Panda's Thumb Randy Paul Rodger A. Payne Ian Penman politx Neal Pollack Greg Proops Pro-War.com Pure Polemics Seyed Razavi Rayne Simon Reynolds richardpryor.com Clay Richards Mike Rogers Yuval Rubinstein
Steven Rubio
Saragon Noah Shachtman Court Schuett The Simpsons Archive Amardeep Singh Sam Smith Soundbitten Jack Sparks Ian Spiers Morgan Spurlock Stand Down: The Left-Right Blog Opposing an Invasion of Iraq Aaron Stark Morgaine Swann Tapped (The American Prospect) tex Matthew Tobey Annie Tomlin Tom Tomorrow The University Without Condition Jesse Walker Warblogger Watch Diane Warth The Watchful Babbler The Weblog we have brains Matt Welch
Alex Whalen
Jon Wiener
Lizz Winstead
James Wolcott
Wooster Collective
Mickey Z

Sunday, June 08, 2003
Weapons questions

Maybe President George W. Bush was on to something this past Thursday when he decided to stop talking about suspected biological weapons labs as proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. In today's Guardian, Peter Beaumont and Antony Barnett write:

Tony Blair faces a fresh crisis over Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, as evidence emerges that two vehicles that he has repeatedly claimed to be Iraqi mobile biological warfare production units are nothing of the sort.

The intelligence agency MI6, British defence officers and technical experts from the Porton Down microbiological research establishment have been ordered to conduct an urgent review of the mobile facilities, following US analysis which casts serious doubt on whether they really are germ labs.

The British review comes amid widespread doubts expressed by scientists on both sides of the Atlantic that the trucks could have been used to make biological weapons.

Instead The Observer has established that it is increasingly likely that the units were designed to be used for hydrogen production to fill artillery balloons, part of a system originally sold to Saddam by Britain in 1987.

Damn Brits! I mean how could they? Didn't they know that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was soon going to become evil? I don't know how Margaret can live with herself!

To be honest, I'm not certain what an "artillery balloon" is and, for once, google isn't much help.

A story by Judith Miller and William J. Broad in yesterday's New York Times provided a different but similar take to the Guardian story:

American and British intelligence analysts with direct access to the evidence are disputing claims that the mysterious trailers found in Iraq were for making deadly germs. In interviews over the last week, they said the mobile units were more likely intended for other purposes and charged that the evaluation process had been damaged by a rush to judgment.

"Everyone has wanted to find the 'smoking gun' so much that they may have wanted to have reached this conclusion," said one intelligence expert who has seen the trailers and, like some others, spoke on condition that he not be identified. He added, "I am very upset with the process."

The Bush administration has said the two trailers, which allied forces found in Iraq in April and May, are evidence that Saddam Hussein was hiding a program for biological warfare. In a white paper last week, it publicly detailed its case, even while conceding discrepancies in the evidence and a lack of hard proof.

Now, intelligence analysts stationed in the Middle East, as well as in the United States and Britain, are disclosing serious doubts about the administration's conclusions in what appears to be a bitter debate within the intelligence community. Skeptics said their initial judgments of a weapon application for the trailers had faltered as new evidence came to light...

The skeptics noted further that the mobile plants had a means of easily extracting gas. Iraqi scientists have said the trailers were used to produce hydrogen for weather balloons. While the white paper dismisses that as a cover story, some analysts see the Iraqi explanation as potentially credible.

I stress that the Times piece does include responses to the doubts raised by those deemed to be "skeptics."

Jim Henley has written not one but two excellent posts on this topic that go into a lot of the scientific details.

Former White House counsel to President Richard Nixon John Dean argues in a June 6 FindLaw piece that Bush lying about Iraq's WMD, or at least U.S. knowledge of WMD, wound constitute an impeachable offense. As pleasant as that sounds, and as Dean notes dishonesty on this matter from Bush has not yet been proven, impeaching him for the act would constitute a dramatic shift in how presidential dishonesty is handled as plenty of presidents before Bush have lied about foreign policy and received no such censure.

In my mind the following questions are of primary importance:

-It is beyond dispute that Saddam has chemical and biological weapons programs. What happened to the weapons, equipment materials used to produce such weapons and information on how to produce such weapons?

-What sort of nuclear weapons programs, if any, did Saddam have? If he had one, what happened to any weapons, equipment and materials used to produce such weapons and research on such weapons that existed?

-What sort of intelligence on Saddam's WMD programs was available to Bush? His predecessors? The leaders of other countries, most notably Great Britain?

-Assuming they thought Iraq had WMD or programs on such weapons at the time, how important was it to the Bush Administration to find any WMD and materials from the programs used to produce WMD once Operation Iraqi Freedom began? Why did it appear they weren't particularly interested in the matter?

If Saddam had WMD at the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom, why weren't they used?

There are at least a few plausible answers to all of these questions, even though an factual answer to each of them might not be found. Still, any answers would do a lot to clear up what happened.


"Iraqis carrying hammers and axes yesterday began to demolish a police station in the troubled city of Falluja in a public act of defiance against the US military," writes Rory McCarthy in yesterday's Guardian"In what appeared to be a well-organised operation a crowd of labourers, mostly young men and boys, sawed off railings and tore out the metal window frames from the three-storey building. Others, using mallets and metal poles, knocked down the outer wall brick by brick, and were slowly trying to break apart the building itself."

UPDATE: " An artillery balloon," Court Schuett has informed me, "is used to measure wind direction and speed along with a few other things to help in aiming artillery rounds." 4:33 p.m. 06/09/03