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The Ongoing Kerfuffle Regarding the IG’s Report February 15, 2007

Posted by nukemhill in WoT.
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There has, of course, been the the ongoing story about how the Inspector General basically took Douglas Feith to task for inappropriately challenging the Intelligence Community’s take on potential ties between Saddam and terrorist groups. The Washington Post got lots of mud on its face last week because it attributed some disparaging quotes to the IG, when in fact they came from Senator Carl Levin (D) several years ago. Needless to say, the WaPo had to do a mea culpa over that.

In the meantime, there has been some discussion about the actual content of the IG’s report. Imagine that. Over at PowerLine, they have a brief analysis of the report, and the DoD Under Secretary’s response to a draft version of the report. Their take on it is, as is their fashion, understated. Nonetheless, it is quite to the point:

The purpose of the DoD project was to re-examine the agencies’ raw intelligence on the contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda “absent an a priori assumption that secular Baathists and Islamic extremists would never cooperate.” The Under Secretary’s comments reveal how closed-minded the CIA was on this topic, and how important it was to bring diverse perspectives to bear. Consider this anecdote:

Sometime in early 2002, in the course of her work, [a DoD analyst] came across a finished 1998 CIA report on Iraq’s [redacted]. The report mentioned that Usama bin Laden had requested and received certain training from an Iraqi [redacted] service. On her own initiative, she requested and received through CIA channels the underlying information on which the item was based, consisting of two Memo Dissems, and subsequently obtained additional CIA reports from DIA and CIA on the issue of Iraq and al-Qaida.*** She recommended that the [Joint Intelligence Task Force] publish the [intelligence community] reporting data “so that it would be available to the entire [intelligence community] because reports published previously did not contain this important data” and that, without it, “analysis of the subject would be incomplete and inaccurate in the future.” ***

The analyst then called the J-2’s senior analyst and again recommended that the [intelligence community] reporting information be published to the entire [intelligence community]. The J-2 analyst responded that “putting it out there would be playing into the hands of people like Wolfowitz,” that the information “was old” and “only a tid-bit,” asked how did she “know that the information was true,” made a comment about trying to support “some agenda of people in the building,” and bucked the issue of publication back to the JITF chief. The JITF chief took no further action on the recommendation to publish the information, as far as we know.

This is the highly professional, objective attitude of the intelligence agencies whom the Inspector General considered it “improper” to question.

Both the IG’s report, and the Under Secretary’s response appear to be well worth the read.

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Bill vs. Steve February 15, 2007

Posted by nukemhill in Apple/AAPL.
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Okay, this is just too weird for words. Sometimes you just gotta say “huh?”

Probably NSFW.

(HT: Brian Tiemann)

Things that make me go “hmmm.” February 15, 2007

Posted by nukemhill in Politics (Ghahh!), WoT.
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Just had an interesting, if not completely conspiracy-theory driven, thought. My dad would be proud. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been seeing a ramping up of focus on Iran. The U.S. government is finally publicly acknowledging what many in the blogosphere have known for … months? … gad, years–that Iran has been meddling, rather forcefully, in Iraq. We’ve moved a third carrier group into the Persian Gulf, and more and more people are discussing the possibilities of some sort of military action against Iran.

I’ve been wondering about it myself, and haven’t really seen a way that the Bush Administration could pull it off. Bush has absolutely no political capital left, and has hit lame-duck status in record time. So, how is he going to give any kind of political boost to the Republican nominee in ’08? The ‘Pubs have to be worried about it. Playing to the Social Conservatives is a sure loser, and playing to the Fiscal Conservatives would get them laughed out of the country. The only real way is through foreign policy, but that is dicey, at best. If Iraq is still a mess next year, it’s a lost cause, and the Dems walk in. However, if Iraq really turns around, then it goes off the radar screen of the GAP, and the Dems get to play the “What are you worried about? War on Terror? Feh. It’s just police work now…” card, and the press would play right along.

Thus my conspiracy. What if Bush is actually expecting Iraq to be wrapped up by, oh, Spring of next year? What if the surge has been thought through (and with the news that Iraq is closing down its borders with Iran and Syria [paragraph 21], I’m beginning to think someone’s cranium is getting some exercise), and the expectation is that the Iraqi military is really going to be taking over for us relatively soon (my thoughts when I originally saw this map here)? What if, therefore, Bush is laying the groundwork for action against Iran, with the expectation that enough hard evidence will be available to justify it, and that overwhelming (or at least solid majority) support for said action will reside in the American public? Given that, the campaign becomes strictly about foreign policy, and the Republicans get to play “Iraq is working and we have to stay the course there and with Iran. Can you count on the Democrats to do this?”

It would be nothing short of brilliant, as far as I’m concerned (in my own befuddled, self-absorbed mind), if he were to pull this off, and fits in well with the old rope-a-dope strategy that Bush employed with varying levels of success post-9/11. I have absolutely no information that this is what’s going on, and have no clue whatsoever (what was your first hint) if it could be accomplished. But ain’t it a grand conspiracy theory?

Tips of the hat to the Blogfather, Jeff Goldstein, and A Second Hand Conjecture for planting the seeds that gave forth this rambling discourse.

No Connection Between Saddam and Osama February 11, 2007

Posted by nukemhill in WoT.
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Ace does a fabulous job of compiling an exhaustive list of many of the connections we’ve known about, even before Bush “made it all up” to justify an illegal war. He does the work I wish I had the time for. Read the whole thing.

Are We Losing the Long War? February 8, 2007

Posted by nukemhill in WoT.
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Joe Katzman at Winds of Change has a post up which basically rips Bush and his administration for failing to deal with Iran.  It’s been apparent to anyone with half a brain, and the willingness to use it, that Iran has inserted itself into the conflict in Iraq.  Has been involved since early on, in fact.  We’ve IDed weapons from Iran, personnel, documentation, etc.  But the President and his senior leadership appear completely unwilling to deal with the issue.  Joe falls just short of accusing them of treason.

Maybe I’m being naive, maybe I have blinders on.  Maybe I’m trusting too much in the skills and will-power of the Presidency.  I simply can’t believe that we would allow our troops to be in a shooting gallery without giving them 100% support in executing their mandate.  Then again, maybe Bush has completely lost focus, and has no energy left with which to fight this fight.  I don’t know.  Given that we’ve seen a significant increase in helicopter shoot-downs over the last few weeks, and the weaponry is apparently getting to the insurgency from Iran, it seems we have Causus Belli to pursue at least a legitimate border shut-down with Iran, and the freedom to nail any Iranians in Iraq we think aren’t above suspicion.  Maybe this escalates tensions with Iran.  So what.  We can’t let the situation remain as it is.  This becomes a victory for Iran, and a huge set back for Western Democracy.

Is Bush really willing to kick the can down the road for the next administration?  I don’t have any faith that a problem ignored now will be a problem dealt with firmly in the future.  Not without first having to deal with a catastrophe internally….

RTWT.  Read the comments to the post, too.  They’re enlightening as well.

Benefits of the New Deal February 7, 2007

Posted by nukemhill in General Interest.
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Here is a great article in the Wall Street Journal about the mixed bag we’ve inherited from Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Here’s a list, in case the article goes behind a wall, of some of the sources:

I have absolutely no idea when I’ll be able to read all this, but they certainly seem worth it.

Snapshot analysis of some Vista reviews February 4, 2007

Posted by nukemhill in Apple/AAPL.
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Brian Tiemann has a quick-and-dirty analysis of some Vista reviews at his blog. Below is a repeat of a post I made on The Motley Fool.

Brian concludes with:

The journalists reviewing Vista seem to keep coming to the conclusion that while it looks awfully pretty, it doesn’t really do much to make computing any better of an experience, and the Mac—whose once-mind-bogglingly-glitzy interface now looks rather austere by comparison—seems to be all about getting down to efficient business and keeping your life in order over the years, whereas Vista jumps up and down trying to get you to pay attention to it, like a wrinkled ex-hipster in disco threads rocking out at a rave. Vista illustrates nothing so much as how less really can be more. I hate to sound like such a partisan, because really I’m glad to see that Microsoft is trying, and a great Vista would mean a greater Mac OS X in the future; but Apple seems to have won over the critical pundit market—which, though it doesn’t exactly represent the computing world as a whole, is sure to have a pretty big impact on it. People are seeing in Vista that this is what we’ve been waiting for all these years, and… it’s just kinda “okay, so what next?” I mean, if even the Penny Arcade guys are Vista-doubting Mac people now (you need to catch up), then Windows has been relegated—just like in the ads—to the older generation, the unhip, the workmanlike, the unintentionally nebbishy that tries so hard to be cool that it just embarrasses itself.

Yes, he’s partisan. But he’s not shy about ripping Apple when necessary, and has acknowledged wins by Microsoft. I think he’s got a good feel for how Vista’s being received by the more objective pundits. (Is that an oxymoron?)

His point can’t be over-emphasized. This is a big opportunity for Apple to take way more than mind-share. Full system upgrades (as in purchases of brand new computers) are going to be very necessary for the vast majority of people who are interested in using Vista. 2007 and 2008 are a real opportunity for the Mac to make serious inroads. No, the corporate market isn’t coming our way in any significant fashion, for obvious reasons (compatibility with Exchange Server being the most obvious). But the home market is truly ripe for the picking.

If Apple keeps the upgrades coming on a regular basis for the mini and MacBooks, they’ll be absolutely cost competitive with anything in the PC market that will be powerful enough to run Vista. And that will be the deciding factor for many potential switchers. They’re going to read the reviews, and OS X will keep coming up as a viable option. Again and again and again.

The flood gates are about to open.