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.

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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, November 19, 2003

I deal with this here but it deserves to be said more forcefully...

In the final paragraph of The Weekly Standard piece about the memo suggesting ties between Saddam's regime and al Qaeda, "Case Closed," Stephen F. Hayes writes, "...there can no longer be any serious argument about whether Saddam Hussein's Iraq worked with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to plot against Americans."

Complete and utter bullshit. Nothing in his article documents that Saddam's regime and al Qaeda worked together "to plot against Americans." If the ties turn out to in fact be true (hardly a given, especially since other intellignece looks to have been less than without fault), is it possible? Certainly. Likely? Maybe. A given? No, and the excuse for logic that suggests otherwise is very similar to the “logic” behind the idea that any weapons of mass destruction that Saddam ever had or may have ever had existed only for him to use against the U.S. and any ambition for such weapons was certainly an ambition to attack the U.S.

UPDATE: Via Matthew Barganier of antiwar.com, here's a bit from a Daily Mirror report by Bob Roberts (snicker) on U.S. President George W. Bush's cancellation of a speech before the British Parliament:

The US president planned to give a joint address to the Commons and Lords during his state visit to Britain.

But senior White House adviser Dr Harlan Ullman said: "They would have loved to do it because it would have been a great photo-opportunity.

"But they were fearful it would to turn into a spectacle with Labour backbenchers walking out."

"How dare they!" important intellectual Max Standard said. "How dare anyone even think about breaching ettiquete in the presence of the Grand Leader in the Global Fight for Freedom and Fun! I hope they assign [Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J.] Feith to look into how widespread this sentiment in this European country and determine what bit of Nazi nomenclature is necessary to eliminate this fifth column." 12:35 p.m. 11/19/03

UPDATE #2 Saragon has responded to this entry in the comments section of this post. His objections were that any relationship with al Qaeda could be considered to amount to a "plot against Americans" and that, independent of the previous argument, a number of points in the memo did indicate something of a plot. My response:

If any cooperation with any person linked to al Qaeda constitutes plotting against �Americans,� o.k. But I don�t buy that statement. Too little is known about what was done. If you want to say Saddam�s regime was �with the terrorists,� fine but that difference that actively plotting against. I don�t think it is unreasonable to leave open the possibility that al Qaeda was told by Saddam�s regime not to use certain weapons against the U.S., although I�m not saying any evidence exists that this was the case, as survival on Saddam�s part very well could have looked to him to amount to not pissing off the U.S. Could he prevent such attacks? Probably not but that doesn�t look like a �plot� to me. If someone sells a gun to Mulder Murder and MM goes out and kills someone, the seller may be negligent in selling to a suspicious character but in and of itself the sale was not a plot.

As for the specifics�

Number 9 is hopeless vague. Who did bin Laden talk about �the successful movement of explosives into Saudi Arabia, and operations targeted against U.S. and U.K. interests� with? And did this later visit or visits connected in the memo have any real connection? Was it one meeting that Hijazi and Turabi were both at? There is plenty to suggest that something might have been going on involving a link and attacking �interests� of the U.S. but it could very easily have been The Face of Evil of the post-Milosovic era keeping in contact with those around him.

#17 doesn�t say any more than Iraq was �looking to recruit� from what is implied to be the al Qaeda milieu. Was there any agreement? According to Hayes, the authors of the memo say they do not know. While I do appreciate the reference to one of my favorite romance movies of the decade or so, keep in mind that al Qaeda and the regime could have been cooperating on some level and never plotting against the Land of Some Group of People. In fact I don�t think that is out of the question at all.

We agree on #25 while #27 says nothing about what �interests� constitutes. It could have been military installations that the U.S. and the U.K. used to bomb Iraq, which is, at least in my opinion, qualitatively different than a �plot against Americans." And then there is the matter of whether the Saudi�s were right in their �learning.� I�d say that was a cheap shot if wasn�t for a certain controversy.

#37 is interesting. [Abu Musab] al Zarqawi�s ties to al Qaeda are unclear. He, by every account I�ve seen, has had some contact with al Qaeda but he was independent of the group to some extent. How independent is not clear. (Someone could say something like, �well he still was an anti-American terrorist,� but the issue here is ties between al Qaeda and Saddam�s regime.) Regardless of his ties, all the memo suggests he was doing in Iraq was organizing resistance to an invasion by a foreign power that appeared to be on its way and did in fact come relatively soon. That�s something of a long established human right.


Bowl options


Joe Rexrode's Lansing State Journal preview of this year's Michigan State men's basketball team doesn't adequately consider that basketball is about more than just raw skills and talents. A lot of it is, to sound cliched, grit and determination. There was no doubt that the 1999-2000 team had that as they won 22 straight games before losing to Duke in the national semi-finals. A lot of those games were on the road and/or involved comebacks. Last year's team didn't do that and if they are to win a national championship they are likely going to have to grow just a bit more as players.


Sarah Schmidt of the CanWest News Service reports on the popularity on of The Simpsons amongst children in Canada.

The Simpsons is the most popular television show among Canadian children, according to a new survey of kids aged 8 to 15 to be released today.
Who did the survey isn't clear from the story, although it turns out to be the Canadian Teachers' Federation. 1:54 p.m. 11/20/03

UPDATE #3: Part of me doesn't want to make fun of Hayes because I do think the publication of his story is a good thing, but I've spent enough time with the piece that the majority of me says, "Do It."

...reporting, from... [a] "well placed" source:

10. The Director of Iraqi Intelligence, Mani abd-al-Rashid al-Tikriti, met privately with bin Laden at his farm in Sudan in July 1996. Tikriti used an Iraqi delegation traveling to Khartoum to discuss bilateral cooperation as his "cover" for his own entry into Sudan to meet with bin Laden and Hassan al-Turabi. The Iraqi intelligence chief and two other IIS officers met at bin Laden's farm and discussed bin Laden's request for IIS technical assistance in: a) making letter and parcel bombs; b) making bombs which could be placed on aircraft and detonated by changes in barometric pressure; and c) making false passport [sic]. Bin Laden specifically requested that [Brigadier Salim al-Ahmed], Iraqi intelligence's premier explosives maker--especially skilled in making car bombs--remain with him in Sudan. The Iraqi intelligence chief instructed Salim to remain in Sudan with bin Laden as long as required.

The analysis of those events follows:

The time of the visit from the IIS director was a few weeks after the Khobar Towers bombing. The bombing came on the third anniversary of a U.S. [Tomahawk missile] strike on IIS HQ (retaliation for the attempted assassination of former President Bush in Kuwait) for which Iraqi officials explicitly threatened retaliation.
That's analysis?
...few people in the U.S. government are expressly looking for such links. There is no Iraq-al Qaeda equivalent of the CIA's 1,400-person Iraq Survey Group currently searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction.
Yeah like that's been a serious search.


Hayes gives more details on the memo in "The Saddam-Osama Memo (cont.)" In it Hayes mentions some comments from former Central Intelligence Agency Director during the Clinton era James Woolsey's comments on last Sunday's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer. Here is the relevant exchange:

BLITZER: Let me go -- Director Woolsey, wrap up this segment for us. There's an article in the Weekly Standard that came out, referring to a memo that Doug Feith wrote, a top Pentagon official, to the chairman and the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, suggesting that the linkage, the evidence, the intelligence evidence involving al Qaeda's relationship with Saddam Hussein, goes back more than a decade.

Are you convinced that there has been a close relationship between Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime throughout the '90s?

WOOLSEY: Oh, definitely. It had been all along. George Tenet wrote a year ago October to the Congress and told them that, said there'd been a relationship going back a decade. Training in -- by Iraqi intelligence of al Qaeda in, quote, "poisons, gases and explosives."

This memo expands on that. It's a different question whether Iraqi intelligence had something to do with 9/11. That is certainly arguable. It is a different issue.

But a relationship between Iraqi intelligence and al Qaeda, this memo -- and I've seen this on the Web -- puts flesh on the bones of what George Tenet wrote a year ago.

And I would say, after reading this piece in the Weekly Standard, anybody who says there is no working relationship between al Qaeda and Iraqi intelligence going back to the early '90s, they can only say that if they're illiterate. This is a slam dunk.

This is even more proof that idiocy is a bipartisan quality.


More on this general topic can be found here, here, here and here. At this point, I think this discussion has pretty much hit a dead end and this is where it will remain unless, or perhaps until, more data comes out. The Weekly Standard could certainly help this along by releasing the memo, although it is understandable if they don't want to. 3:12 p.m. 11/20/03