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Thursday, April 15, 2004  

News and analysis: Realities of war harder to hide

•Blogger doesn't hail the chief

Hal Pawluk, the dude at 'Tude, watched George W. Bush address the nation and was not knocked dead.

Bush on TV: Condi was better

President Bush opened his press conference last night with an18-minute "set piece" which disappointed.

This was largely a replay of his speeches in the weeks and days leading up to his unilateral invasion of Iraq, back in early 2003. A minor deviation was that Iraq, with the resistance and deaths increasing, is now "a theater in the war on terror" rather than "central to the war on terror."

I was particularly disappointed in the question and answer period.

The President asked a number of reporters who had previously been chosen (the "must calls" he mentioned) to read questions they had previously submitted (he complained about not have gotten one).

I would have expected him to take advantage of this opportunity to insert his vision, but again, the answers were formulaic. Clearly he had nothing to impart, and simply rambled on, repeating as much of his scripted responses as he could remember (there were long pauses, and responses that didn't seem to fit the questions).

There was little content - or comfort - in the entire presentation. He did not have an answer to the question of who Iraqi sovereignty was going to be handed over to on June 30th (now 77 days away), and waved the red herring of the UN as if it were the UN's responsibility. The 9/11 Commission got short shrift, too, with the President unwilling to take any responsibility.

Overall, it was a frightening performance when contrasted to what is happening in the real world, so my rankings are:

Style: 7, Substance: 0.

Speaking of death, this month marked the highest casualty rate for the occupying forces in Iraq since the invasion occurred. One difference I've noticed in the blogosphere is fewer entries extolling how happy the Iraqis are to have American troops there. But, can it last? Most conservative bloggers are reluctant to face reality. I suspect the usual bevy of entries pretending the war is going wonderfully will soon return.

Newsman freed by hostage takers

The whereabouts of a kidnapped American in Iraq are still unknown. But, French newsman Alex Jordanov was released by the militants who had nabbed him yesterday.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A French television journalist, freed after four days in captivity in Iraq, said he was repeatedly interrogated by captors who accused him of being an Israeli spy and made him prove his nationality by drawing a map of France.

. . .Jordanov, 40, was freed Wednesday and taken to the French Embassy, where he collapsed from exhaustion and spent his first hours as a free man staring blankly at a ceiling.

. . .Jordanov, who works for Capa Television in Paris, was kidnapped Sunday while videotaping an Iraqi insurgent attack on a U.S. military convoy between Baghdad and Karbala, a city to the south.

`We got caught in a mass, mass, mass battle between the Mujahedeen and the Marines,'' Jordanov said. Many of the insurgents call themselves mujahedeen, or holy warriors.

During the chaos, Jordanov was separated from his cameraman, Ivan Ceriex. While Jordanov ran for cover, a car pulled up to him, four men jumped out, grabbed him and put a knife to his throat.

. . .Herve Chabalier, president of Capa, told LCI television that negotiations with Sunni Muslim clerics led to Jordanov's release.

Jordanov says physical abuse was minimal, but he was thoroughly humiliated.

The reporter did not say whether he intends to continue covering the occupation of Iraq. During the years I spent as a journalist, I was never assigned to a war zone. The most dangerous assignment I had occurred during rioting in an American city. If I had to make a decision about reporting from Iraq, I would find doing so daunting.

Did 'Nice' Rice lie?

Richard Einhorn at Tristero brought my attention to this analysis of Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 Commission. Tom Ball at the Daily News Online explains why he believes the perky Bush appointee was less than truthful.

Top 27 Pieces of Evidence that Show Rice Perjured Herself in Front of the 9/11 Commission: A Reference for Seekers of Truth

The August 06, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing, or PDB, has been declassified and released.

CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider

"What this [PDB] says is, the White House knew what bin Laden was capable of planning, where he intended to do it, which was New York or Washington, D.C., how he was going to do it. There was only one thing missing, which was exactly when he was going to do it, which turns out to be September 11."

1) This memo, which was central to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's testimony, is the latest injection into the evidential warchest that targets the administration's 9/11 claims intended to shield itself from accusations of incompetence, apathy, misdirection and distraction.

Note that the citing of this memo is nothing new. On May 17, 2002, Bob Woodward wrote an article titled "Aug. Memo Focused On Attacks in U.S.":

"In earlier comments [made by] National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and other administration officials, [they] stressed that intelligence officials were focused primarily on threats to U.S. interests overseas. But sources made clear yesterday that the briefing presented to Bush focused on attacks within the United States... Ari Fleischer told reporters [that] the headline on the document was, 'Bin Laden Determined to Strike the United States.' But sources who have read the memo said the headline ended with the phrase 'in U.S.'"

In sworn testimony to the 9/11 commission, Rice acknowledged that the title of the document said 'in' the US, but went on to insist that the memo was an 'historical document' rather than a warning of general strikes on American soil.

How can a document about what were current events be "historical"? That tidbit is just to prime the pump. The analysis is one of the best I've seen. And, you will love their handy color-coded chart. Read it.

10:45 PM