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

Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Amidst other things, micah holmquist praises the Bush Administration in this entry

One of the great elements of "the internet" is that it allows people to access not just publications and other news sources from all over the world but also many reports, studies and transcripts as they come out. Even the best of libraries couldn't do this in as timely of a manner. Of course, none of this could happen without the material being put on "the net" and on that matter I want to praise the Bush Administration, the Department of Defense and the State Department for the amount of material they publish in a relatively prompt fashion.

Information, of course, is hardly sufficient for critical analysis, a fact that Slavoj Zizek has noted and which is illustrated by reactions of bloggers to David Kay's "Statement on the Interim Progress Report on the Activiteis [sic] of the Iraq Survey Group."

Although there was some variance, the most common response was that the report had backed up the Bush Administration's claims about weapons of mass destruction, a sentiment not limted to bloggers. "WMD claims validated, media not" was a typical response. While the media may or may not have been validated, "WMD claims" certainly weren't. The Bush Administration made a lot of claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and such weapons have yet to be found. The weapons may yet be found and/or the Bush Administration may have made an honest mistake, but the claims have to be proven true.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, almost all supporters of Team Bush -many, but not all, of whom are shills- fail to see how the Kay's report problematizes something else U.S. President George W. Bush has said.

"Our coalition has made sure that Iraq's former dictator will never again use weapons of mass destruction," Bush said on the 23rd of last month. Sounds good but Kay says in his report that his team is trying to find weapons of mass destruction that it believes could be out there. Given that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is believed to still be alive and at large and the weapons have yet to be accounted for, Bush's statement is at best hyperbole. That may be acceptable to some, but I doubt that many of the same people would find it acceptable for Bush to say, "all threats against America have been removed. Terror and Terrorism are dead. We are safe." Both are exaggerations, so why should one be acceptable but not the other?


UPDATE: From the Department of Who are the Idiots who Think this Makes Sense?, Secretary of State Colin Powell writes in yesterday's Washington Post:

Although Kay and his team have not yet discovered stocks of the weapons themselves, they will press on in the months ahead with their important and painstaking work. All indications are that they will uncover still more evidence of Hussein's dangerous designs...

What's more, he and his team found that elaborate efforts to shield illicit programs from inspection persisted even after the collapse of Hussein's regime. Key evidence was deliberately eliminated or dispersed during the postwar period. In a wide range of offices, laboratories and companies suspected of developing weapons of mass destruction, computer hard drives were destroyed, files were burned and equipment was carefully cleansed of all traces of use -- and done so in a pattern that was clearly deliberate and selective, rather than random.

One year ago, when President Bush brought his concerns about Iraq to the United Nations, he made it plain that his principal concern in a post-Sept. 11 world was not just that a rogue regime such as Saddam Hussein's had WMD programs, but that such horrific weapons could find their way out of Iraq into the arms of terrorists who would have even fewer compunctions about using them against innocent people across the globe.

In the interim report, Kay and his team record the chilling fact that they "found people, technical information and illicit procurement networks that if allowed to flow to other countries and regions could accelerate global proliferation."

Having put an end to that harrowing possibility alone justifies our coalition's action against Hussein's regime. But that is not the only achievement of our brave men and women in uniform and their coalition partners.

Well we believe that we were right to think there was a threat in the first place, the main reasons for believing that threat existed are still in place and we haven't come up with any new reasons, but we have taken care of the threat.

That italicized musing isn't comedy, by the way. It is Bush Administration’s actual message. 3:09 p.m. 10/08/03

UPDATE #2: Julian Borger has an interesting story on some elements of Kay's report in yesterday's Guardian. (Thanks to Douglas Kellner for the link.)


Some clarification is perhaps needed on what I mean when I say the Bush Administration did present Saddam and those around him as an immediate or imminent threat, especially given how this issue is being discussed elsewhere. (None of which is to say they didn't say the threat would grow worse if the U.S. did nothing.) I'm not saying that they said they knew Iraq would attack the U.S. if the U.S. didn't strike first but rather that they said Saddam had the motive, the materials and the connections to do such an attack now if he chose to. As Bush said 366 days ago:

While there are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone -- because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people. This same tyrant has tried to dominate the Middle East, has invaded and brutally occupied a small neighbor, has struck other nations without warning, and holds an unrelenting hostility toward the United States...

Some ask how urgent this danger is to America and the world. The danger is already significant, and it only grows worse with time. If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today -- and we do -- does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?

In 1995, after several years of deceit by the Iraqi regime, the head of Iraq's military industries defected. It was then that the regime was forced to admit that it had produced more than 30,000 liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents. The inspectors, however, concluded that Iraq had likely produced two to four times that amount. This is a massive stockpile of biological weapons that has never been accounted for, and capable of killing millions.

We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas. Saddam Hussein also has experience in using chemical weapons. He has ordered chemical attacks on Iran, and on more than forty villages in his own country. These actions killed or injured at least 20,000 people, more than six times the number of people who died in the attacks of September the 11th...

...sophisticated delivery systems aren't required for a chemical or biological attack; all that might be required are a small container and one terrorist or Iraqi intelligence operative to deliver it.

And that is the source of our urgent concern about Saddam Hussein's links to international terrorist groups. Over the years, Iraq has provided safe haven to terrorists such as Abu Nidal, whose terror organization carried out more than 90 terrorist attacks in 20 countries that killed or injured nearly 900 people, including 12 Americans. Iraq has also provided safe haven to Abu Abbas, who was responsible for seizing the Achille Lauro and killing an American passenger. And we know that Iraq is continuing to finance terror and gives assistance to groups that use terrorism to undermine Middle East peace.

We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy -- the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks. We've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases. And we know that after September the 11th, Saddam Hussein's regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America.

Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.

This argument would require significant modifications if it was in fact known that Saddam did not have biological or chemical weapons, which is why the search for such weapons is important for political reasons and, assuming that there is still reason to believe that the Bush Administration's claims about Saddam's weapons could be true, for reasons of safety.

This speech wasn't an isolated incident.

Here's Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz on November 15, 2002:

Another question that I’m often asked, is “why act now, why not wait until the threat is imminent?” Again, it seems to me this question has a fairly simple answer. It was expressed very clearly by Senator Joseph Lieberman in the Rose Garden, the day the original Joint Resolution on the Use of Force was introduced. He said, “I have felt for more than a decade now that every additional day that Saddam Hussein is in power in Iraq is an additional day of danger for the Iraqi people, for his neighbors in the region, particularly for the people in the military of the United States, and indeed, for the people of the world.”
In a December 2002 article National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice writes:
In fighting global terror, we will work with coalition partners on every continent, using every tool in our arsenal -- from diplomacy and better defenses to law enforcement, intelligence, cutting off terrorist financing, and, if needed, military power.

We will break up terror networks, hold to account nations that harbor terrorists, and confront aggressive tyrants holding or seeking nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that might be passed to terrorist allies. These are different faces of the same evil. Terrorists need a place to plot, train, and organize. Tyrants allied with terrorists can greatly extend the reach of their deadly mischief. Terrorists allied with tyrants can acquire technologies allowing them to murder on an ever more massive scale. Each threat magnifies the danger of the other. And the only path to safety is to effectively confront both terrorists and tyrants.

For these reasons, President Bush is committed to confronting the Iraqi regime, which has defied the just demands of the world for over a decade. We are on notice. The danger from Saddam Hussein's arsenal is far more clear than anything we could have foreseen prior to September 11th. And history will judge harshly any leader or nation that saw this dark cloud and sat by in complacency or indecision.

The Iraqi regime's violation of every condition set forth by the U.N. Security Council for the 1991 cease-fire fully justifies -- legally and morally -- the enforcement of those conditions.

It is also true that since 9/11, our nation is properly focused as never before on preventing attacks against us before they happen.

...some threats are so potentially catastrophic -- and can arrive with so little warning, by means that are untraceable -- that they cannot be contained. Extremists who seem to view suicide as a sacrament are unlikely to ever be deterred. And new technology requires new thinking about when a threat actually becomes "imminent." So as a matter of common sense, the United States must be prepared to take action, when necessary, before threats have fully materialized.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said on January 26, 2003:
We should not underestimate what is at stake here. Saddam Hussein's hidden weapons of mass destruction are meant to intimidate Iraq's neighbors. These illegal weapons threaten international peace and security. These terrible weapons put millions of innocent people at risk...

The United States believes that time is running out. We will not shrink from war if that is the only way to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.

We continue to reserve our sovereign right to take military action against Iraq alone or in a coalition of the willing. As the President has said: "We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. History will judge harshly those who saw a coming danger but failed to act."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld got into the following exchange on January 29, 2003:
Q: Thank you. Do you believe Iraq represents an imminent threat to the United States?

Rumsfeld: You know, that is a question that is coming up quite a bit, and it's an important question.

Clearly, it's been -- what's been going on there has been going on in large measure for some 12 years. In a different way, it's been going on since the inspectors left -- free play for them.

Every day, every week, every month that goes by, let alone years, their programs are maturing, and their relationships exist, and they have intelligence agents around the world, they have relationships with terrorist networks, and they have opportunities to do things.

Now, at what moment was the threat to -- for September 11th imminent? Was it imminent a week before, a month before, a year before, an hour before? Was it imminent before you could -- while you could still stop it, or was it imminent only after it started and you couldn't stop it, or you could stop one of the three planes instead of two or all three? These are very tough questions.

And plans change. We know that the al Qaeda plans sometimes took a year to develop, and they were -- the cells existing around that waited impatiently until the time was perfect, and then they acted.

We have -- we know we have imperfect knowledge of everything that goes on in the world. We know that. We know that an attacker can attack at any moment they want. And we know the lethal effect of an attack might not be 300 people or 3,000 people, but 30,000 people. How do we, how do you, how do all of us, how do the people in the world decide the imminence of something? And I would submit that the hurdle, the bar that one must go over, changes depending on the potential lethality of the act.

Q: But as you see it now, do you believe that Iraq does present an imminent danger, imminent threat?

Rumsfeld: The President has stated -- our job here is to be prepared to do what we're asked. The President has stated that he considers the Saddam Hussein regime a danger to the United States and a danger to the region; that it has weapons of mass destruction, that it is developing still more, and that it has linkages to terrorist activities; and that every other effort has been exhausted -- the diplomatic, the economic, limited military activity in the Northern and Southern low -- no-fly zones; and that the string is running out.

If that isn't enough, at the very least this blog entry on Bush's official campaign website makes it clear that the political wing of Team Bush is comfortable with people believing that there was "imminent." 8:42 p.m. 10/08/03

UPDATE #3: I debated how to respond to Tom Maguire’s comments on this post’s second update. Eventually a response wasn’t warranted. All communication involves some shared set of assumptions and when someone wants to ignore context and facts in order to claim to have scored a point, communication seems pointless. 9:29 p.m. 10/12/03

UPDATE #4: If partisans of the "war on terror" are going to insist that the Bush Administration never said Saddam was an "imminent threat" because Bush and friends didn't use that term, they ought to be similarly upset when the political wing of Team Bush distorts what members of the Bush Administration have said to score political points.

For instance, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Condoleezza Rice gave a speech about Iraq on Tuesday, a transcript of which has shown up not only on whitehouse.gov but also Bush's official campaign website. "[R]ight up until the end," Rice says in the speech, "Saddam Hussein continued to harbor ambitions to threaten the world with weapons of mass destruction."

The headline on the campaign site is, "National Security Advisor Rice: Saddam Hussein Threatened the 'World with Weapons of Mass Destruction.'"

Even amongst only those who know about it, there hasn't been much of a demand for a correction. My apologies to Jason Leopold. 1:43 p.m. 10/13/03

UPDATE #5: GeorgeWBush.com writes:

This editorial on Iraq by Robert Kagan and William Kristol should not be missed. Kagan and Kristol outline exactly how our nation knew that Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction were such a danger (for starters, Iraq admitted to producing 3.9 tons of VX nerve gas and 8,500 liters of anthrax -- and never once accounted for these weapons).
Actually it doesn't. What it does is just assume that Saddam having weapons of mass destruction was -funny how the tense thing works- a threat. This assumption may have some mert but there are significant problems with it as well and no reasonable person would just accept it as a given.

Kagan and Kristol write:

Kay and his team also discovered a massive effort to destroy evidence of weapons programs, an effort that began before the war and continued during it and even after the war. In the "looting" that followed the fall of Baghdad, computer hard drives were destroyed in government buildings--thus making the computers of no monetary value to actual looters. Kay also found documents burned or shredded. And people whom the Kay team tried to interview were in some cases threatened with retaliation by Saddam loyalists. Indeed, two of the scientists were subsequently shot. Others involved in the weapons programs have refused to talk for fear of eventual prosecution for war crimes.
At the risk of beating a dead hawk, it amazes me that ostensibly smart people can say Saddam's weapons of mass destruction were a threat to the U.S. then but not worry about the weapons now. 12:42 p.m. 10/14/03