January 31, 2004


As an American by birth and a Southerner by the grace of God, I should be rooting for the Panthers to take the Patriots. The mere fact that the Pats play anywhere near Boston is enough to drive up their negs to me.


I expect the Pats to win. Lots of figgies, as the defenses stiffen up inside the 20. A long, hard slog to get into the endzone.

Pats 23, Panthers 19.

UPDATE: Great game. Apalling half-time show.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:44 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 30, 2004


Heh. Calpundit takes an op-ed as fact and runs with it, only to find that he's run himself right off a cliff. Was he running with scissors, too? You make the call.

Posted by B. Preston at 05:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


A good title and a good post from Paul Craddick on the case of the missing WMDs.

In general, it's a very good and linguistically-rigorous look at David Kay's statements concerning the infamous Iraqi WMD programs. It's definitely worth a read. But I do quibble with one statement that Paul makes:

A factor which might make us suspicious of the Telegraph is that the piece is very short, centering around this - and only this - matter, which gives the appearance that Kay views the question of materiel going to Syria as occupying a more important (or "focal") point in his overall assessment than is actually the case. This would appear to be borne out by this issue not being addressed in subsequent interviews with Kay - if it were "major issue" arising from Kay's analysis of the situation in Iraq (= central concern, something at the top of the list of questions), surely he would bring it up more frequently, even if interviewers didn't ask him about it directly.

Read the whole piece to get a better sense of Paul's thought train, which is somewhat distorted by this single quote. But on the issue of whether Kay would bring up the Syrian connection in interviews even if reporters don't ask him about it, I don't think so. Kay is by training an analyst, or at least that's the impression I get from watching him and looking at his quotes. Analysts, and engineers for that matter, tend in interviews to answer exactly what is asked of them and not much else. They stick to the questions raised and do not, in my experience, elaborate much beyond the central point of any given question. If you ask them a yes or no question, you will get a yes or no answer without much elaboration. If you don't ask them a question about something that they think is pertinent, they are less likely than most people to bring it up on their own. I'm speaking in generalities here, but those generalities are based on my experience as a reporter and interviewer, a career now spanning about 15 years. And keep in mind, I've interviewed dozens of scientists and engineers and analysts over the years, as well as mechanics, doctors, police, firefighters, home makers, kids, politicians, musicians and sports figures, so hopefully my experience gives me a basis from which to examine Kay's interviews. And from what I see, Kay is mostly interested in answering questions thrown his way and is not interested in offering information that is not asked of him. Or maybe "not interested" isn't the right way to say it. It just doesn't occur to him to answer questions not asked. But when asked, he answers fully and with apparent honesty.

He makes a perfect weapons hunter in that sense--he was charged to answer one specific set of questions about Saddam's Iraq, which had to do with WMD programs during the 1990s, presumably focusing on the period between 1998 and 2003. He has done his best to answer those questions, and his report does not stray afield into questions that were not part of his original mandate. He seems incapable of lying, or at least that's how I read him.

But he also is unlikely to bring up issues on his own that are not raised by others when he is interviewed. The Telegraph piece that cites Kay's Syrian theory was written by Con Coughlin. Coughlin is an expert on Saddam's Iraq--he wrote the book King of Terror which took a hard look at Saddam's brutal reign. Coughlin is more likely than most reporters to bring up the Syrian connection, because it is a theory that he believes himself. It was a question that he thought to ask because it is one he has been asking all along. Most reporters aren't interested in that question, for reasons they should probably explain at some point. And when they fail to ask it, Kay is unlikely to bring it up. Hopefully he'll see how his testimony and interview quotes are being twisted for political gain and start volunteering more information to provide balance. But even then, he isn't guaranteed a thorough hearing. I've seen reporters interview a subject and take one quote out of 20 that, stood alone, seems to contradict everything else the subject said, but in context makes perfect sense. Kay can probably look forward to similar treatment from most of the press.

Posted by B. Preston at 05:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Via Mike, a decent site that lets you map the states you've visited. Here's mine, with the states I've set foot in painted red:

create your own visited states map

70 percent and counting.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


The JYB's research ninja was inserted into action last night. For hours we heard nothing but the sound of static on our com links back at JYB-HQ. Worry set in--had he been compromised? Had the axis of weasels gotten to him? What had happened to our man on the mean streets of Washington?

This morning, the silence was broken. A dispatch came from our southern outpost:

Wanting to pay something back to one of my favorite blogs, and curious myself as to what the next Democratic Presidential candidate thought of the military in the early 1970s, I took up Junkyard's challenge to go to the Library of Congress (LoC) in Washington, DC, and see if I could find the LoC's copy of John Kerry's infamous book, "The New Soldier." I live in Arlington, Va., so it wasn't hard for me to get there this wintry Friday morning.

Junkyard sent me by email the LoC call number of the book, so
armed with that, I arrived at the LoC's ornate Jefferson
Building this morning promptly as the front doors opened at
8:30 a.m. I was grateful for the warmth on a cold D.C.
morning, but not so cheered when the guard manning the
entrance's metal detector told me I needed a "researcher's
card" to gain access to the Main Reading Room.

And of course, the room to obtain the card was across the
street, in another building. I trudged back outside into the
slop and cold, and enduring two minutes of cold as I crossed
Independence Ave., I arrived at the LoC's marble Madison
Building. The nice older lady in room LM-140 told me I was
the first one that day. Filling out a form with the usual
vitals, I was duly photographed and issued a researcher's
card, good for two years. When I used the LoC 10 years ago
for an academic study, you didn't need something like that,
so perhaps it was nice to see that the LoC finally got around
to issuing library cards.

I was then back in front of the Jefferson's Building guard,
presented him with my brand-new, LoC-issued researcher's
card, and gained access. The obscure book now making the
conservative think-circuit is only a half-hour wait from my
hands and a copy machine, I thought.

I made my way to the Main Reading Room after negotiating the
labyrinth in the basement, up one floor via elevator, and was
promptly told by the guard that I could not bring a newspaper
(Washington Times, of course) into the Main Reading Room.
But she was nice enough to let me stash it behind a trashcan
with no guarantee that it would be there when I emerged an
hour later. More delays, I thought, but the prize is worth

Finally I entered the restored LoC Main Reading Room, the one
with the onion-like circle of reader's desks surrounding the
grand center desk. I filled out by hand my book slip--just
like I did 10 years ago--and requested at the call number of
the book. I chose a desk for the book to be delivered to
(No. 5) which was easy to do since I appeared to be the only
researcher using the room. And handed the slip to the clerk,
who punched the time--8:57 a.m.--and sent the request on its

I killed forty minutes by browsing the reference books,
reading the NY Times' "History of the Cold War," a
comprehensive list of 17th century treaties, and then some
worn 1950s Congressional directories. I kept my eye on desk
No. 5, awaiting either a book with the cover we have all seen
in photographs, or the dreaded "returned slip."

At a quarter till 10, I got "the slip." DS557.A69 K44, "The
New Soldier," by John Kerry, anti-war demonstrator and
budding Presidential candidate, was officially: "Not on

So there abruptly ended my trip to the LoC this morning. Who
knows where the book is? My guess is that it is either 1)
still not shelved from the last person who requested it, or
2) loaned out to a Congressional office. Remember, while the
public cannot check out books, any Congressional office can.
I know I took full advantage of that when I worked on the
Hill. And of course, there is no due date--staff can keep
books checked out for as long as possible.

I'll leave it up to the readers as to whose office would
stand to benefit from a long-term withdrawal from the
library. And I will leave it up to the next Washington
reporter to find out from the LoC who checked out both copies
of Sen. Kerry's first book.

There is always eBay, of course, but I'm not going to pay
between $50 and $1,000 for a copy of this socialist
agitprop. Reading early 1970s garbage of the New Left, New
Mobe, or by any one of those quasi-Marxist-Leninist fronts of
the time should be free--or they should pay the reader to do
it. I'll wait till someone gets a copy of the book, scans it
as a PDF, and posts it on the Net to then read Sen. Kerry's
1971 leftist nonsense and see just how bad his thoughts
really are.

--Junkyard's Correspondent in Washington

Thwarted by our enemies, we are nevertheless undaunted. We know John Kerry's weapon of mass, um, anti-war agitprop exists. The records prove it! All of our intel indicates that it is still extant, though perhaps it was moved prior to our operation for some sinister purpose.

We will press on. We will never surrender.

But I'm not shelling out serious semoleans for it either.

UPDATE: What part of "We will never surrender" do you people not understand? When Churchill said that in his famous speech, do you think Hitler muttered to himself "By God, I think that guy's coming around!"? Of course we're not giving up. This mission is too important. We're sending in a second wave this weekend, in the hope that John who-by-the-way-smeared-his-fellow-Vietnam-vets Kerry's book returns to its rightful place on the LoC shelf, and will therefore fall into our hands. We have the best trained research ninjas in the blogosphere--if that book is available (um, for less than several hundred bucks), we will find it. And we will report on its contents. If it's fiskworthy, consider it fisked. If it's less of a Vietcong hymnbook than I expect, expect me to say so. I will report, so you can decide (once I actually have the book or its contents, that is).

Stay tuned.

Posted by B. Preston at 01:50 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


Those wily, sophisticated Europeans, always ahead of us backward Americans. Check out Belgium's brilliant new strategy for global force projection:

According to [Belgian Defense Minister] Flahaut: "The Americans throw so much money at their army that it simply can no longer act efficiently. If they have to get fifteen men from point A to point B, they will use three planes to be certain that it succeeds. We would send one plane, or even better: first examine if we cannot fly along with an ally'', says the minister. (my emphasis)

It's a ride-along program, a carpool to war! Why didn't we think of that? C'mon Rummy, get shakin' with that whole transformation thing! Maybe we can start carpooling with the Canadians.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:48 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

January 29, 2004


ABC News is now on the story of the Iraq oil vouchers--those Saddam issued to various pols, business types and journalists in order to buy their influence against us--and check out this line:

According to the document, France was the second-largest beneficiary, with tens of millions of barrels awarded to Patrick Maugein, a close political associate and financial backer of French President Jacques Chirac.

Maugein, individually and through companies connected to him, received contracts for some 36 million barrels. Chirac's office said it was unaware of Maugein's deals, which Maugein told ABCNEWS are perfectly legal. (emphasis mine)

So....the French connection gets a call from ABC about his sweetheart deal with Saddam, and in denying that it was illegal, he confirms that it actually happened!

So there's no need worrying anymore whether the documents that form the basis of this scandal are legit, or whether the backroom deals with Saddam happened. They did! The Chirac Mini-Me confirmed it. So let's see who else turned up on the list:

George Galloway, a British member of Parliament, was also on the list to receive 19 million barrels of oil, a $90.5 million profit. A vocal critic of the Iraq war, Galloway denied any involvement to ABCNEWS earlier this year.

"I've never seen a bottle of oil, owned one or bought one," Galloway said in a previous interview with ABCNEWS.

That's a classic non-denial denial. No one asked Galloway whether he'd actually gotten any oil, because everyone knows the documents aren't about delivery of actual oil. What use does an Indonesian journalist or a British backbench pol have with a few million barrels of oil? None. What, was FedEx just supposed to drop it on his porch? Of course not. But the voucher--essentially a promise to deliver oil--is worth quite a lot. Galloway is trying to pull a sleight of hand, substituting drops of oil for drops of ink on a page about oil.

Here's how it seems to have worked. Saddam's new pals get oil vouchers in exchange for sticking their necks out for him and opposing us. The voucher recipients would presumably sell them to oil companies, which would in turn actually get the oil (either smuggled out or, in Saddam's dreams, once the heat from us was off) and sell it on the market. In this way, Saddam gets to use his nation's most plentiful resource to buy allies, who get to use that same resource to get rich, and the oil companies that actually buy the vouchers from the bribed get the oil at a cut rate, which they will then sell for full or near full price on the market, pocketing substantial profits. Everybody wins, except the truth, which is that the whole thing is a scam designed to protect Saddam.

And you remember Galloway, don't you? He's the British equivalent of our own Baghdad Dems. He traveled to Baghdad in the run-up to the war and pretty much gave Saddam a pass on all questions. He blasted Tony Blair for supporting the war. I'm sure he called George W. Bush nasty names, too. Lefties, especially corrupt ones, tend to do that.

And here he is on a confirmed list of the bribed, Saddam's oil-soaked pet.

Who else shows up on the list? An Italian priest, several Russian officials (Russia got the lion's share of these vouchers), and...wait for it...

Yassir Arafat's own Palestinian Liberation Organization.


Yeah, neither am I.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Coulda shoulda woulda seen this coming:

Confirming the worst fears of those who oppose President Bush's plans to change immigration laws, U.S. Border Patrol officials report a 15 percent increase in the use of fraudulent documents at the world's busiest land border crossing.

Immigration-reform groups point to the finding at the San Ysidro border crossing with alarm – suggesting that putting what some see as an amnesty program on the table represents an invitation for more illegal immigration.

Can't say I'm surprised, since I would've been surprised if we didn't see an increase. But, you say, this can't be connected to Bush's guest worker thinamajig.

Yes it can.

The alarming increase in illegal migration prompted this editorial reaction from the San Diego Union-Tribune: "It has been nearly three weeks since President Bush proposed 'temporary' legal status for millions of illegal immigrants residing in the United States. Already, San Diego is starting to see the unintended consequences at the San Ysidro port of entry."

More than half of those caught using phony documents say the president's offer of de facto amnesty motivated them to attempt to sneak into the United States, the report added.

That's the bad news--the guest worker program has pretty done exactly what we critics expected. It has become a beacon to anyone even thinking about breaking the law to get here. It has probably also shone the way for al Qaeda and who know what other troublemakers.

The good news--about 66% of the country opposes the plan, and it probably won't get through Congress.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


This just in from the Martian Air Force:

Gusev Crater (MPI) - A spokesthing for Martian Air Force denounced as false rumors that an alien spacecraft crashed in the desert, outside of Ares Vallis on Saturday. Appearing at a press conference today, General Rgrmrmy The Lesser stated that "the object was, in fact, a harmless high-altitude weather balloon, not an alien spacecraft".

The story broke late Saturday night when a Major stationed at nearby Ares
Vallis Air Force Base contacted the Gusev Crater Daily Record with a story
about a strange, balloon-shaped object which allegedly came down in the
nearby desert, "bouncing" several times before coming to a stop, and
"deflating in a sudden explosion of alien gases."

Nothing to see here, move along:

General Rgrmrmy The Lesser stated that hysterical stories of a detachable vehicle roaming across the Martian desert were blatant fiction, provoked by incidences involving swamp gas. But the general public has been slow to accept the Air Force's explanation of recent events, preferring to speculate on the "other-worldly" nature of the crash debris.

Cover-up? We don't have no stinking cover-up:

Local residents like Driv Rhodo, who lives in the area of the alleged landings, are even more skeptical. "I seen it with my own 3 eyes" claimed Rhodo last week. "I've lived here over 300 years, most of my adult lifeform. Them things used to be few and far between but lately they come in every few years or so. The government wants to bury the truth but I can tell you what's real. The Earthlings are going to invade and the government is spending our hard earned tax dollars on press releases and denials instead of preparing for the battle to come."

A spokesthing denied any government involvement in the disappearance of
Rhodo, who has not been seen since shortly after the interview, claiming
"Any sentient being knows that a planet with the concentrations of water and
oxygen found on Earth is a deadly and inhospitable environment for the
formation of life, much less intelligent life. The fear and consternation
caused by the unfounded and wild speculations of citizens like Rhodo are a
traitorous disservice to the citizens of Mars."


Posted by B. Preston at 10:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


We have apparently been quietly kicking out Saudi diplomats by the score:

The United States has ordered the expulsion of dozens of Saudi diplomats suspected of helping promulgate Al Qaida ideology, diplomatic sources said. The State Dept. has refused to either confirm or deny the action..

The State Department revoked the diplomatic credentials of the Saudi
diplomats in Washington over the last month in an effort to crack down
on Saudi efforts to promote Al Qaida interests in the United States, the
sources said.

The Diplomatic sources said about 70 diplomats and embassy staffers were
expelled in late 2003 and dozens of others were ordered to leave the
United States by mid-February. Many of those expelled were said to have
worked in the office of the Saudi defense attache.

The State Dept. neither confirms nor denies.

Why would we boot them? Two words: al Qaeda:

The Saudi diplomats, in a determination made by the FBI and Homeland Security Department, were said to have abused their diplomatic privileges in the United States. The sources said most of the diplomats were responsible for operations of the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America [IIASA] located in Fairfax, Va.

IIASA, established in 1988, has provided free training for hundreds of
Muslims in the United States in Wahabi ideology, the basis for Al Qaida.
The institute is one of six overseas branches of the main religious
university in Saudi Arabia.

Something to keep our eyes on.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack



Don't forget that John Kerry is a prostate cancer survivor. My father is being treated with lupron, and the drug has enabled him to live relatively comfortably for the last several years. One of its side effects, though, is that as it shuts off your testosterone, it changes a man's facial skin tone--and the changes are dramatic. My father's face looks ten years younger, his skin is almost luminous, and he hardly has to shave anymore. If Senator Kerry is using this drug, his handlers would be reluctant to share that information--not very "Presidential." I could be wrong, but it's something to consider.

Myria, over to you...

Posted by B. Preston at 03:32 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


If I were George W. Bush's political director, that's how I would start framing this year's election. It's a variation on Reagan's classic line from 1980--"Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" It helped propel him to victory over Jimmy "let's gut our intelligence assets and give our enemies a helping hand" Carter. Mr. Sunshine beats Mr. Mallaise every time.

Point one would be the destruction of al Qaeda's camps in Afghanistan, and the worldwide rollback of its organization. The Afghan campaign caught bin Laden et al in the early stages of a biochem weapons program. We are safer because our troops halted that before it went too far.

Point two would be Iraq. One less madman striding the Middle East, and a chaotic but emerging civilized state to replace him. Whatever was the state of Saddam's WMD programs prior to the war, we can all agree that he isn't manufacturing anything but flatulents now.

Point three would be Libya. Gaddhafi has just shipped several tons of his nuclear and missile tech to us to demonstrate that he's no longer a menace. Wanna bet there's some North Korean goodies in there? Wanna bet we learn something about other rogue states and their WMD efforts through Libya's turn?

I'd take that bet. We're going to learn alot, and that will make us safer. And Libya's turn has already made us safer.

Take those three points together and in the post 9-11 world, Bush wins. His opponents have no comeback for any of it.

Posted by B. Preston at 01:35 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


George Tenet must know where all the bodies are buried. What else explains his deathgrip hold on the CIA, though it has had a spectacularly bad run under his leadership? He knows the dirt, and all of Washington knows he knows the dirt.


It may not be all his fault. In perusing an MSNBC story on the WMD hunt in Iraq kindly forwarded by Henry Hanks, one graph jumped out at me:

Sources familiar with the Senate report says it particularly lambastes the CIA for failing to develop its own spies inside Iraq. Instead, the agency relied for years on United Nations inspectors who expressed repeated concerns that Iraqis had failed to account for large quantities of biological and chemical agents it was supposed to destroy in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

Why would the CIA fail to develop humint resources inside Iraq? For starters Iraq was a police state. It's very difficult, thought not completely impossible, to develop reliable assets within hostile police states, and since 1991 Iraq has been a more than hostile police state. But what about before 1991?

Well, if you go back far enough before 1991 you hit 1979. At that time, Iraq was a police state but it was more neutral in US thinking than hostile. In fact, some considered Iraq a friendly. With the fall of the Shah in Iran right next door, Iraq became useful to US interests.

Well, in his four years in office Jimmy Carter managed to do quite a lot of damage to US intel activities. One decision he made was to order the CIA to roll up all of its assets in friendly countries, and stop operating in them. That decision led directly to the fall of the Shah of Iran, because it blinded the CIA to the on-the-ground reality brewing there (Iran having been a key US ally before the Shah's fall). It also left us blind once friendly states became unfriendly.

We lost our entire humint network in Iran. It's probable given the times that we also lost our entire humint network in neighboring Iraq. And once a humint network is dispersed, it is awfully difficult to rebuild it. It can be done, but it takes a long, long time. Your old operatives are off doing other things, and probably don't trust you anymore. Your potential new ones may have been killed off in blood purges like the ones the mullahs went on after taking over Iran. You're pretty much building from scratch, in a hostile police state where individuals have been taught to hate and distrust you.

I'm going to keep reading that MSNBC story, which has its lede buried under a ton of disinformation, but thought I'd pass along that little nugget that might explain one reason we had such a hard time getting at the truth in Iraq. Jimmy Carter blinded us.

One other thought--of all the people in all the world that thought Iraq had WMDs, we have to include Saddam Hussein. Why else would he order his frontline troops to don chem gear?

UPDATE: I got the year wrong. Carter gutted the CIA in 1977, not 1979.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:15 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack


Needed: One operative with a couple hours to kill.

Where: Library of Congress, Washington DC

Task: Retrieve The New Soldier, by one John F. Kerry, photocopy as much of it as you can, and bring the pages to me.

Purpose: See what's in that book, and relate its contents to the public.

Serious applicants only. Reasonable expenses paid (in other words, I'm not flying anyone up from Florida for this). I have the book's call numbers and other pertinent information, which you can also look up on the Library of Congress' web site.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:34 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Let's see...Saddam was a mad butcher who put his political opponents through shredders. He started calamitous wars that killed thousands of his countrymen. He imprisoned children and forced his critics to watch while his henchmen raped their wives and daughters. He gassed his own people, and by defying the world turned his once thriving nation into the armpit of the Middle East. Now that he's in prison, no more wars, no more gassings, no more shredders or rape rooms, and with his sons dead, no more Husseins to rule.

You'd think the answer to "Are they better off?" would be pretty obvious.

Howard Dean quibbles. An Iraqi cuts him down to size.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:36 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 28, 2004


I caught a few seconds of Tony Blair on TV today. He was speaking in the House of Commons, calling out everyone who called him a liar over the Iraq dossier, and skewering them mercilessly. He roasted them over an open pit made warm by his eloquence, and by the passion he derived from being right, and from being wronged. He may be a socialist, but when he talks like he did today he could lead men straight to the gates of Hell, and he could convince them to tote a jug of gasoline along the way.

I couldn't help feeling little jealous. The British people have a leader who leads, and who, when lied about, actually fights back. He actually seems to understand the concept of honor, and what a man should do when his honor is questioned.

For over a year now, President Bush has been subjected to a barrage of lies, name-calling, comparisons to Hitler, distortions of his record, the likes of which is probably unparalleled in US history. Yes, Clinton inspired his share of bile and generated more than a few conspiracy theories, but no one committed blood libel against him or said that, for instance, he had ordered the Murrah Building bombed in 1995 in some kind of Reichstag reenactment. But that's what has been said of Bush about 9-11. He has been called a deserter, a dictator, and a murder, who lied us into war for some devious or greedy reason. Sitting senators have said as much about him, and more.

But he never fights back. Armed with nothing more than the facts and ten minutes to deliver a half decent speech, he could put the likes of Ted Kennedy away for good with a blast of hard truth. But he won't, fostering the image that he's weak, and fostering the perception that, since he isn't fighting back, there must be something to all the wild charges thrown his way. Meanwhile, the Democrats just keep acting like monkeys throwing their feces against the wall, hoping some of it will stick. They're truly disgusting creatures, but at some point they get lucky and the crap starts to stick.

Meanwhile, rather than take on his critics and expose them as the frauds they are, President Bush has launched a quixotic quest to kill them kindly. The compassionate conservative has dropped the conservative part altogether, and is off on a wild spending spree to try and buy himself another four years in office. He's increasing the National Endowment for the Arts, throwing a ton more money at the black hole known as public education, offering an insane amnesty policy for illegal aliens, and generally trying to find some way to secure the moderate to liberal vote with your tax dollars and mine.

It won't work. It just won't work. Given the choice between a fake Democrat and a real one, the real one will probably win. And right now, when it comes to his domestic efforts, Bush looks like nothing more than a fake Democrat.

Maybe the Bush administration is just unaware of what the Democrats say about them, how they accuse him of being a radical right wing zealot when he is anything but. Maybe they just think everyone sees how absurd all the accusations are and choose not to fight back. If that's what they think, they're wrong.

The problem with that thinking is that, at some point, even the most absurd charge left alone begins to stick. If I call your house every day and speak to your wife and tell her that you've been sleeping around town, even though she doesn't know me and does know you, if you don't eventually prove my charges wrong and if I keep calling with my tales, a seed of doubt will be planted. That seed will grow. And it will grow because you didn't defend yourself. At some point you will cross a threshold where no matter what you say and what proof you offer, she will not believe you because it took you so long to come up with a defense.

With the WMD verdict in Iraq and the absurdly overzealous spin the Democrats are putting on it, Bush is allowing a charge--that he lied his way into war--to stick. That section of the public that doesn't like him much anyway will find its excuse in his inability to grapple with that charge and defeat it. With the other even crazier charges that the Bush team lets linger out there, a weight of doubt sets in that makes even true believers question his strength and integrity as a leader. An innocent man is outraged when he is accused of a crime; Bush has been accused of many crimes, yet does not seem to be able to muster any outrage. Dishonored by the most scurrilous attacks, he fails to defend his honor. Over time this changes from a sign of serene confidence to a sign of cowering weakness, and Mr. Bush is fast approaching that time.

I'm not saying the the Bush administration should track down every moonbat in America and personally try and convince them that they're wrong. That way lies madness and futlity. But when Howard Dean floats conspiracy theories, and when John Kerry tacitly endorses them and the rest of the Democrat presidential field is silent, a response is warranted. When Ted Kennedy stabs you in the back every single chance he gets, a response is warranted. At some point, and soon, Bush needs to defend himself like Tony Blair did today, and put his idiotarian critics in their place. That's what an innocent man does.

But instead he just comes up with more big government nonsense and denies there are any problems, hunting for votes where he isn't likely to find them. It makes no sense. If George W. Bush loses in November, which at this stage is still a long shot but becoming shorter by the minute, it will be because in spite of his best efforts, he morphed into George H. W. Bush, who failed to respond to the attacks against him and who also tried to buy votes in the middle and the center left, only to discover too late that he had lost his base on the right. He hunted where the ducks weren't, and failed to take care of the ducks that should have been his all along.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:54 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack


The Afghan campaign not only robbed al Qaeda of its terrorist training bases, killed many of its operatives, led to the capture of others and scattered the remainder around the tribal areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan--it may have stopped their WMD program:

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - An al-Qaida program to develop chemical and biological weapons was in the early "conceptual stages" when it was cut short by the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, U.S. and Malaysian security officials told the Associated Press.


Officials believe the program was being run by Yazid Sufaat, a former Malaysian army captain and U.S.-trained biochemist, under the direction of Riduan Isamuddin, or Hambali, an Indonesian accused of heading al-Qaida's operations in Southeast Asia.

Both men are suspected members of Jemaah Islamiyah, an al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremist group.

Yazid was arrested in December 2001 as he returned to Malaysia from Afghanistan. Hambali was arrested last August in Thailand and is in U.S. custody at an undisclosed location.


Yazid graduated from the University of California at Sacramento in 1987. But after returning to Malaysia, he began attending religious classes run by Hambali, a charismatic preacher, and became one of scores of Malaysians and Indonesians recruited to his radical form of Islam in the mid-1990s.

Yazid, 40, spent time in an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan and became a key Jemaah Islamiyah member in Malaysia. He is accused of allowing top al-Qaida operatives - including two eventual hijackers in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks - to use an apartment he owned for meetings in Malaysia in January 2000, and gave Sept. 11 suspect Zacarias Moussaoui a letter of employment that helped him enter the United States.

It sounds like war was definitely the answer to stopping these goons, and not a moment too soon.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The Iraqi Governing Council thinks so, and is investigating.

Documents from Saddam Hussein's oil ministry reveal he used oil to bribe top French officials into opposing the imminent U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

The oil ministry papers, described by the independent Baghdad newspaper al-Mada, are apparently authentic and will become the basis of an official investigation by the new Iraqi Governing Council, the Independent reported Wednesday.


Al-Mada's list cites a total of 46 individuals, companies and organizations inside and outside Iraq as receiving Saddam's oil bribes, including officials in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Sudan, China, Austria and France, as well as the Russian Orthodox Church, the Russian Communist Party, India's Congress Party and the Palestine Liberation Organization.


Posted by B. Preston at 03:31 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


It's official--the British government's Iraq WMD dossier wasn't "sexed up." It was the BBC that got things "sexed up," and let the headrolling begin for it.

Blair didn't base the war on lies. Neither did Bush.

So there.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Drudge has a set of pics today showing...changes...in John Kerry's face. He's lost some of the old cragginess, the lines of character that have gotten him compared to melting crayons, sharpei dogs and who knows what else. He's looking smoother, younger, less wrinkled. If he keeps it up, he'll pass John Edwards for this year's Junior Miss lookalike.

He denies he has used Botox or any other radical face-improving substance. Yet the radical face improvement is undeniable--it's not just good lighting.

So what gives?

A JYB operative has a theory, passed along to me, and I'll pass it along to you. Remember about a year ago, Kerry said he was in perfect health but then underwent treatment for prostate cancer? It was a big deal at the time, for both the less than candid health report and for the surgery itself. But that was an eternity ago, and everyone has forgotten it by now. I had forgotten it until the operative reminded me, a reminder which caused me to slap my forehead so hard I think I rattled a filling.

Well, one treatment for prostate cancer is estrogen therapy--suppression of testosterone and replacing it with increased levels of estrogen. Apparently it helps manage the cancer in the prostate.

I'm not saying that Kerry is getting estrogen therapy. I don't know, and there wouldn't be anything wrong with it if he was. But there has to be some explanation for his ability to apparently turn back time and unwrinkle his face. Oil of Olay isn't that good.

One way we'll know is if Kerry exhibits side effects. Estrogen therapy increases the risk of bone loss, especially around the hips. So if sometime on Super Tuesday Kerry falls and can't get up, he's been getting in touch with his feminine side. For understandable medical reasons, of course.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:06 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack


Or not.

Posted by B. Preston at 01:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


President Bush said, yesterday I think, that he still has "great confidence" in our intel agencies. With all due respect, that makes one of us. He can have all the confidence he wants--I want to know why they got Saddam's WMD question so wrong, or at least appear to have gotten it wrong.

I was going to sit down and use this snow day to write a big long essay about how and maybe why it all happened--how our intel agencies and those of our allies and even France--got it all wrong. But Jonah Goldberg has already done it, and he says pretty much what I planned to say. He says that it's obvious the Bush team doesn't want the WMDs to become an election year issue, so it is downplaying the post-war failure to find WMDs in Iraq. He says it's obvious that the Dems don't want to handle the problem seriously, since they'd rather use it to advance the "Bush LIED" nonsense. And he highlights the dangers of bad intel in the future, which are either another pre-emptive war or a US city blasted by a nuke or other WMD. All things I pretty much wanted to say. So check out his column on the subject.

To his bit I will add a little bit about North Korea. The Bush team was very, very fortunate that when confronted with evidence, gathered by our intel agencies, that the Norks were secretly developing nuclear weapons, they confessed. It was an unusual move for them. They didn't have to confess--they could have retreated into their usual game of denials and threats. It seems clear to me now that we know whatever we know about the NoKo nuclear program because they want us to know it. They want us to think they have a small stockpile of weapons and are creating more, most likely for the purpose of blackmailing us. Our intel agencies probably do not know the truth about the NoKo nuclear program, if their record in Iraq, Libya and Iran are any guide. In Iraq, it seems clear now that the intel agencies overestimated the threat, a threat most likely maintained for some nefarious purpose that only Saddam Hussein understands. In Libya and Iran, our intel agencies badly underestimated the threat.

The Norks are probably gaming us. But we don't know in which direction--is the threat worse than we think, or not as bad? If we had a drive from the White House to reform our intel agencies, or if we had Dems on the Hill who would act like responsible adults instead of petulant children, we might be able to get to the bottom of the NoKo game, but we don't have either. We have both the Bush administration and the Democrats playing political games with our intelligence, in the middle of a war.

That's bad. Very bad.

MORE: Here's today's required reading on the WMD/intel issue. It's too good to quote--just read it all.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:55 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


Yeah, I know I'm a little late getting to Al Franken's unilateral sneak attack on a Lyndon Larouche-ite...


...but can you imagine if a Bush supporter did this?

Posted by B. Preston at 09:23 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 27, 2004


John who-by-the-way-smeared-his-fellow-Vietnam-vets Kerry won. It's looking like he'll be the nominee. He has a lifetime ACU rating of 6 and a lifetime liberal (I forget the actual group name--something about progress or democracy, because they're not honest enough to just call themselves "liberal") of like 93, making him more liberal than Ted "Flipper" Kennedy. And Kerry has already written off the South.

Heh. I thought I heard thunder earlier tonight, but it turned out to be Karl Rove clapping with delight. Kerry is Mike Dukakis without the charm, a candidate who literally looks like warmed over 60s liberalism, only it got so warmed over that it melted. Though he probably does look better in a tank.

Joe Lieberman apparently can't count. He thinks he came in third, when he actually came in fifth. I guess that's the political version of social promotion. Psssst--Joe. That 3 you keep touting is actually a 5. There is no "margin of error" in an actual vote, so you did not in fact tie anyone. You got 9 percent of the vote; four other guys got more. You lost. You don't have a chance, now move along.

Dean is still weird. So is Clark. Both look slightly unhinged, though Clark is starting to look like the dad on Frasier to me. That'll pretty much ruin that character as far as I'm concerned.

Why does Dean keep referring to himself as some sort of reincarnation of Harry Truman? Is Dean saying that, if elected, he'll fight the current war to a useless stalemate and go home on a train once he's done with the White House? Or is Dean promising to nuke our enemies into submission and then rebuild them? Truman seems to be an odd choice for an anti-war candidate to emulate, if you ask me, given the fact that he led the end of one war and prosecuted a second one to futlity. He was pretty unpopular by the time he left office. Dean also took time on Fox tonight to whine again about all the intraparty attacks he suffered in Iowa. Cry me a river, ya big baby.

Edwards still hasn't shook off the Miss Breck thing. He looks perfect, not a hair out of place and not an original thought in his pretty little head. His grin is unnervingly Carteresque, but his rhetoric is old-school class warfare. But give him a few years, and he just might grow up into a real politician. If he can win a couple terms as governor of something, maybe he can get some experience and become that Clinton II that so many expect him to be. But not yet. He's just too green.

Oddly enough, not one candidate has decided to get out of the race as a result of tonight's tally. Kerry beat Dean by about 12 points last time I looked, and Dean doubled up on everybody else behind him. In a normal year, the bunch that the second-place finisher doubled up on would be hanging it up, but instead they're all declaring victory and vowing to fight on, or declaring that they took third when they took fifth.

Which is all good, if you're a Republican. The longer the Democrats all drag this out, the better. They'll exhaust their funds. They'll fracture their base. They may have a tough time reaching consensus even at the convention. And they risk a third-party run from Dean if he feels like Terry MacAuliffe knifed him, which in fact is Dean's opinion. I hope he nurses that opinion through November.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:35 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


When Neal Morse left the band Spock’s Beard, fans hoped and prayed that when he returned he would recapture the magic that that band was able to sustain through several years and cds. With Morse as its vocalist and writer, Spock’s Beard had carved out a niche as one of the most creative and explosive progressive bands on the planet. With nods to Bach, Kansas, Jethro Tull, the Who and Yes, Spock’s Beard defied convention on every disc. It reached its pinnacle of creativity and commercial success with 2002’s Snow—and then Neal Morse abruptly left the band, though he departed on friendly terms with his mates (which include Neal’s brother Al). Morse left to pursue music that would express his newfound faith in Jesus Christ.

After a wait of nearly a year, Morse and Spock’s Beard have both returned, though they’re clearly now on different paths. Spock’s Beard has delivered Feel Euphoria and has solidified its place as the reigning titan of progressive, or prog, rock, but without Morse as its engine and engineer. On his own, Neal Morse has delivered Testimony, his first solo effort, and it is, in a word, brilliant.

As the title suggests, Testimony is Morse’s autobiographical treatment of the choices, circumstances, feelings and thoughts that led him from the life of a hard rock front man to Christianity, and thus out of Spock’s Beard. Though you will never find Testimony in the worship section of any record store, it is in the deepest sense of the term an act of worship. It showcases an artist at the height of his creative powers, powers directed at explaining how and why he came to faith and expressing his love for his Savior.

Testimony is what Christian music should be. Not necessarily in terms of musical style, though, as no one style can please everyone. But Testimony is so well-written and so seamless and fearless a work that it should find a place among the classics of Christian, and secular, prog rock. Beginning with a Romans 1 desire to simply know the unknown God and to “begin again,” Testimony traces Morse’s life as he stumbles through doubt to find Jesus. But it isn’t a linear path. Morse wanders through years of hard living and uncertainty, eventually landing on the doorstep of an old days party friend named Cherie in Nashville. Cherie has become a Christian and left the party scene behind. When he visits church with her he hears the pastor say that salvation isn’t based on works. The unchurched Morse is relieved to hear that, since he hasn’t worked musically in a year. It’s not the first time Christianese has gotten in the way of Christianity, yet managed to hit the right note in someone’s searching heart anyway.

His reaction to his first foray into church should be required listening for all Christians who want to make their faith or church relevant in today’s world:

Can somebody shout Hallelujah?
Can somebody give an amen?
The church sang and danced
And the band cranked up to ten
They talked about living water
They sang about Jordan wide
I never felt so out of place in all my life

Something kept calling me back there
Oh, the love of the people so strong
Soon I was dancin’
And clappin’ and singin’ along

The seeker Morse got old time religion, John’s “they will know you are Christians by your love” capturing the heart of a down and out rocker. The lesson for churches seems to be that being up to date with technique is not a bad thing, but if you don't start with the fundamentals, like obvious and evident love, you're probably not going to reach a seeker like Morse.

He marries Cherie, and “like a breeze through a window” his faith starts to grow. The band, Spock’s Beard, starts to build a following, but for Morse the conflict begins. His band, the work of several years of his life, is prospering, but he feels a calling to go in another direction. Should he leave behind the band and his friends who comprise it, just when it is poised to make it big?

The conflict seems to reach its apex in “The Storm Before the Calm,” a blustery symphonic piece mixed seamlessly with traditional gospel fare. Morse eventually emerges with “Oh, To Feel Him,” and his path is set. His creativity, which is considerable, will be used to bring musical glory to God.

Testimony is probably the most aggressively Christian cd set in a long, long time. It’s not “spiritual” with vague references to “You” or “Him” or even “God.” Morse is unafraid to call on Jesus, to make Him more than real to listeners. Crossover artists should take note of how a new and clearly on-fire Christian handles his faith in front of his mostly secular audience. He dives in head first, without apology.

In terms of musical style, Testimony is impossible to categorize. It lurches and veers from dark, symphonic Danny Elfman-esque cuts to, I’m not making this up, an Irish jig, a warm blues-jazz number, and straight up progressive rock. At times it sounds like Queensryche and Spock's Beard have gotten together to trade licks in a battle of the bands. Testimony is a musical thrill ride, especially on the first few listens. Morse keeps you guessing where he will go next, and never disappoints.

Through it all, the percussion of Mike Portnoy, best known for his work with the prog band Transatlantic (and of which Neal is now a former member), forms the backbone. Portnoy may be the best drummer in rock today, and his playing on Testimony is at once a tribute to old-time jazz drummers Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich and to more recent legends like Neal Peart and Jon Bonham, and a truly original work that stands on its own. His work on Testimony is a knockout. The double disc set is worth picking up just to hear what a real drummer can do with great material.

Also appearing on Testimony is the Kansas legend Kerry Livgren. Morse’s own life closely tracks Livgren’s experiences of just over 20 years ago. At that time, Kansas was one of rock’s biggest acts, yet Livgren’s turn to Christianity ended up bringing that band’s successful run to a halt. Livgren eventually released the seminal Christian rock work Seeds of Change, which to some extent chronicled his own journey from agnosticism through a variety of Eastern philosophies to Christianity. Morse and Livgren clearly have much in common. I would not be surprised to see them partner up often in the future. Livgren’s astounding lyrical talent combined with Morse’s impassioned vocals could form an unbeatable combination. And both are capable of playing as one-man bands; Livgren does on most of his sets, and Morse does on this one.

If you buy one prog rock set this year, it should be Testimony. It is an incredible and incredibly varied study of one man’s hard journey to faith in everlasting God. It is also one killer listen, from the first note to the last.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


That's my best distance so far in penguin batting.

UPDATE: Now 321.1

Posted by B. Preston at 06:21 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack


At the prodding of Matt Welch, Blogads will probably have their single largest day of sign-ups and revisions in its history.

I've brought them back to the JYB today, and they're over on the right atop that column. Rates are realllly cheap--$10 and week, $15 for two weeks, $30 a month and on up from there to $175 per year. Got an idea for some other price structure that fits your budget better? Email me, and let's make a deal. Considering the size of the JYB audience--roughly 1,000 hits per day most weekdays (and over 8,000 13,000 yesterday)--it's probably the best deal in the blogosphere.

So what are you waiting for? Want to get your blog a little attention? Take out a Blogad! Want to sell something? Take out a Blogad!

What will the JYB's proprietors do with the money? Feed our kids! Take trips to the Far East! The usual.

Actually, you'll end up paying my DSL bill, which Mrs. JYB isn't too happy about these days. You'll probably help me buy John Kerry's 1971 book off of Ebay, where it's going for a pretty hefty sum. You'll help keep this here blog semi-solvent. And you'll help turn my addiction hobby into a productive venture.

You might just get your own blog some worthy attention, too, attention you can then use to make a heap of dough off of your own Blogads.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


France lost a big military weapons customer when Saddam Hussein got pushed from power by the US 3rd ID and Marine 1st. What to do?

Find a new customer with an eye for conquest and money to spend. So if France gets its way, will Taiwan eventually have to face off against Mirage fighter jets?

Posted by B. Preston at 01:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


In 1971, anti-war activist John Kerry penned a book titled The New Soldier. Here is its cover:


The men on this cover are holding an American flag upside down, and are mocking the flag-raising on Iwo Jima atop Mt. Suribachi, February 23, 1945.

Who are these Vietnam-era protestors mocking?

Six young Marines, three of whom died on Iwo Jima fighting the Great War, the war to preserve freedom for our generation and generations to come.

Sgt. Mike Strank died on March 1, 1945 when a mortar hit him.

Sgt. Harlon Black was killed later in the day on March 1, 1945. He had taken command of his unit upon the death of Sgt. Strank just a few hours earlier.

Franklin Sousley died on March 21, 1945 on Iwo Jima. He was 19 years old.

The remaining three flag raisers survived the battle, but all have since passed away. John Bradley was the last; he died in 1994.

The cover of John Kerry's book mocks these men.

MORE: If you don't think it's fair to hold Kerry accountable for what went on the cover of his book (even though he ran the organization that published it), then take a look at how he treated his fellow Vietnam veterans. He smeared them.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:45 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

January 26, 2004


Some day, that will probably be the name of an irreverent punk band. Today, it's the subject of serious political intrigue.

David Kay, the civilian who once led the US hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, has resigned from his post. His parting interviews are stirring up a hornet's nest of controversy. Watching how different news organizations treat his quotes is fascinating.

Writing for the Telegraph, Con Coughlin plays up Kay's Syria connection quotes. Kay apparently believes that some of Saddam's illegal weapons caches ended up in Syria as part of a pre-invasion deal between Saddam and Assad, according to Coughlin's piece.

In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Dr Kay, who last week resigned as head of the Iraq Survey Group, said that he had uncovered evidence that unspecified materials had been moved to Syria shortly before last year's war to overthrow Saddam.

"We are not talking about a large stockpile of weapons," he said. "But we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam's WMD programme. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved."

If true--and it is supported by some circumstantial evidence--this theory by itself destroys the "Bush LIED" mantra that the Dems and their press allies have been trumpeting. There is precedence to back up the Syrian plot. On the first night of the first Gulf War, Saddam launched several of his fighter jets, but instead of ordering them to engage US jets streaming toward Baghdad to begin the allied bombing campaign, Saddam ordered them to Iran, where they landed as part of a pre-war deal to preserve them to fight another day. Those fighters remain in Iran to this day. The mullahs hoodwinked Saddam into giving them a free air force. Saddam was also later ripped off by North Korea, which charged him for advanced missiles that it said it would deliver but never did. Saddam has a history of making bad deals with fellow axis of evil partners to either retain or acquire weapons. It's no stretch at all to assert that he would make a similar deal with fellow Ba'athists in Damascus to keep--as it turns out permamently--his illegal weapons. We need to find out.

But back to the Kay quotes. What Democrat press allies, you ask? Well, how about the Associated Press? In a story datelined yesterday, AP correspondent Scott Lindlaw takes the opposite angle from Kay's outgoing quotes. He buries the possible smuggling to Syria in the bottom third of the story, and adds doubt about the contents of that pre-invasion shipping operation that do not appear to come from Kay himself. The doubt seems to be Lindlaw's, craftily inserted to downplay the possibility that Syria accepted WMD shipments from Iraq shortly before the war.

Instead, Lindlaw uses the bulk of his story to play up Kay's quotes about the CIA and its possible hyping of the Iraqi WMD threat.

U.S. intelligence agencies need to explain why their research indicated Iraq possessed banned weapons before the American-led invasion, says the outgoing top U.S. inspector, who now believes Saddam Hussein had no such arms.

"I don't think they exist," David Kay said Sunday. "The fact that we found so far the weapons do not exist - we've got to deal with that difference and understand why."

Now, how do we square Kay's comments here with his comments to Coughlin stating that Iraq probably shipped some banned weapons to Syria? How can Saddam ship weapons that do not exist? I don't know, but it seems to me that in these stories there is a glaring conflict--either the weapons existed or they didn't. Kay says in one story that they did exist and are probably in Syria; in another, he says they didn't exist at all. The next reporter to interview him should try and reconcile these conflicting stories, which are coming from the same weapons hunter.

Until we get that clarification, it might be useful to look at the rest of the AP story. We might find some truth clues in it.

After further quoting Kay about the failure to find weapons, the AP piece moves to a quote from Sen. John Kerry, who just happens to be running for president (and whose Vietnam-era protests are getting renewed, and unflattering, scrutiny):

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said Kay's comments reinforced his belief that the Bush administration had exaggerated the threat Iraq posed.

"It confirms what I have said for a long period of time, that we were misled - misled not only in the intelligence, but misled in the way that the president took us to war," Kerry, a White House contender, said on "Fox News Sunday.""I think there's been an enormous amount of exaggeration, stretching, deception."

That's about what you'd expect from someone who is running to replace President Bush and is looking for any reason to dent the President's favorability ratings. More on Kerry's theories later.

The AP piece then moves to a quote from Hans Blix, offering his usual balanced commentary on Iraq:

Hans Blix, the former chief U.N. inspector whose work was heavily criticized by Kay and ended when the United States went to war with Iraq, said Sunday the United States should have known the intelligence was flawed last year when leads followed up by U.N. inspectors didn't produce any results.

"I was beginning to wonder what was going on," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "Weren't they wondering too? If you find yourself on a train that's going in the wrong direction, its best to get off at the next stop."

That train going in the wrong direction might just be the UN, which refused to enforce the raft of anti-Iraq resolutions even when it became obvious that Iraq was in material breach of them. But we won't go there--yet.

The Lindlaw piece then moves to a quote from Sen. Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, expressing surprise that "no semblance of weapons has been found"--even though Kay's initial report stated that more than a semblance of weapons was in fact found. Kay's report indicated a weapons program, though likely dormant, did exist. Kay's report highlighted the discovery of a small amount of botulinim, the most toxic substance on earth, in the refrigerator of an Iraqi WMD scientist. What Kay's report did not show is what happened to the large stockpiles of other WMDs that Saddam was known to have possessed before the first Gulf War, and which seem to have disappeared either in the mid 90s or in the run up to last year's invasion. We still have no evidence for what happened to those weapons, which everyone from Hans Blix to Jacques Chirac to John Kerry and George W. Bush agreed existed prior to the war. That's what we need to find out. And that's the one thing that Kay says in both the Coughlin and Lindlaw stories--we need to find out what happened to those weapons, because Saddam never offered proof that he had destroyed them.

So what to make of Kay's quotes that the weapons didn't exist? Lindlaw could be quoting him out of context. I cite two pieces of evidence to back up that theory.

The first is that, buried toward the middle of his own story, Lindlaw quotes Kay saying things that line up better with the idea that Kay himself believes Iraq did have banned weapons:

But on Sunday, Kay reiterated his conclusion that Saddam had "a large number of WMD program-related activities." And, he said, Iraq's leaders had intended to continue those activities.

"There were scientists and engineers working on developing weapons or weapons concepts that they had not moved into actual production," Kay said. "But in some areas, for example producing mustard gas, they knew all the answers, they had done it in the past, and it was a relatively simple thing to go from where they were to starting to produce it."

The Iraqis had not decided to begin producing such weapons at the time of the invasion, he concluded.

Kay also said chaos in postwar Iraq made it impossible to know with certainty whether Iraq had had banned weapons.

And, he said, there is ample evidence that Iraq was moving a steady stream of goods shipments to Syria, but it is difficult to determine whether the cargoes included weapons, in part because Syria has refused to cooperate in this part of the weapons investigation.

All of that makes sense--the post-war chaos possibly allowing some theft or smuggling, the possible freezing of some Iraqi programs until the UN could be persuaded to lift sanctions and, eventually, the US-UK no-fly zone enforcements, and the possible movement of weapons to Syria. It squares well with what we know about Saddam--not that he would simply stop producing weapons, but that he could try and keep as much activity going as possible.

The point is, if Kay himself insists that the weapons did exist, why did Lindlaw lead with Kay saying they didn't?

The second piece of evidence for Lindlaw taking Kay out of context is the way Lindlaw treats a quote from Vice President Dick Cheney:

Cheney warned in March 2003, three days before the invasion: "We believe he (Saddam) has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."

That quote comes from the March 16, 2003 edition of Meet the Press. On its face, it looks like Cheney either greatly exaggerated the Iraqi WMD threat ("reconstituted nuclear weapons" would be a pretty big threat) or outright lied, since Kay's weapons hunters have not found any nuclear weapons.

But. Cheney's quote has been lifted out of a context that makes it clear he is talking about reconstituted programs, not actual weapons. Eugene Volokh has already demolished the deceptive use of this quote by the New York Times, Slate, Salon and the Washington Post. I guess we should add the AP to that list. It's inexcusable for Lindlaw to use that quote without supplying its context, but if he did supply that context it would refute his interpretation of it. Which is probably why he doesn't supply the context.

The picture that seems to be emerging from all this is that, nearly a year after the invasion, we still don't know what happened to Saddam's weapons. He had them, a fact everyone agrees on, as late as 1998. In December of that year Saddam kicked the UN weapons inspectors out of Iraq. It's not reasonable to assume that he then unilaterally stopped all weapons development. We need to find out what happened between 1998 and 2003.

Back to Senator Kerry, and then I'll wrap up. Sen. Kerry charges President Bush with misleading, exaggerating, stretching and deceiving the American public in order to get us to support war. That is a very serious charge, far more serious than Kerry himself is handling it. Kerry asserts and insinuates, but fails to explain one simple yet obvious follow-up question--Why? Why would the president knowingly commit troops to a war that, he must know, will prove him a liar. Because if you believe that Bush lied us into war, you must also believe that Bush knew before the war that the causus belli did not in fact exist. You must believe that Bush knew there were no illegal weapons, yet he used those weapons as a pretext for war.

Why would Bush do this? Why would he lie his way into a war that would, in the end, prove that he is a liar? It makes no logical sense at all, even if you believe that some other factor--oil, or enriching Halliburton, or giving us a stage for faking the Mars rover pictures, whatever--was the real reason for war.

What makes more sense is that, for some reason, a combination of factors have gotten us to this point. Our pre-war intelligence was faulty because getting good information out of a police state is not easy, or because we were relying on Iraqi dissidents who had a vested interest in hyping the weapons threat to us in the hope that we would, finally, act to remove Saddam. Saddam was obviously being deceptive, or perhaps his own scientists were deceiving him into believing that they were making weapons that have now turned out to be vaporware. Or perhaps the weapons did exist, but are either still buried in some sandpit or have been shipped off to Syria. There are all sorts of directions one can logically take, none of which carry the logical baggage of the "Bush LIED" charge.

But none of those other angles are useful to a man who wants to replace Bush in the White House, so that's why Kerry isn't interested in them. He doesn't care about actually getting to the bottom of the Iraqi WMD question. He is just interested in scoring political points, and if mounting charges that fall just short of treason against President Bush is the only way he can do that, then that's what he'll do. Kerry is levelling charges that amount to "Roosevelt knew about Pearl Harbor but let it happen to get us into the war" against President Bush. The press, and more importantly the voters, need to hold him accountable for it.

And we still need to find out what happened to Saddam's illegal weapons.

MORE: If Bush LIED, so did everyone who worked for Clinton, and Clinton himself. Sandy Berger, Clinton's National Security Advisor, even believed in pre-emption. Al Gore isn't exempt, either.

MORE: John Kerry's first book depicts the American flag upside-down on the cover, with vets apparently mocking the Iwo Jima flag raising. Interesting...I expect his heiress wife to shell out for the last few copies any day now.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:03 AM | Comments (38) | TrackBack