'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Smoking Guns of Pathos 

So Kucinich was on Hannity ... I don't understand why anyone bothers with those sorts of venues. It's not that I have anything against spirited political debate but shows like Hannity and O'Reilly, etc., are so structurally biased towards the interests of the host that it is impossible to meaningfully engage them. A leftwing guest on such a show has the normal "problem of concision" (see the 2nd quote here) plus a host willing to cut the guest's mic at any moment plus Daily Show-style after-the-fact editing can be employed to make the guest look extra silly if necessary. However, despite all of the above, I heard Kucinich did a good job so I looked around for the transcript. The best I came up with was this summary of the appearance on News Hounds.

I must confess I don't follow the rightwing media at all and this tape that Hannity is trumpeting up as a smoking gun was news to me. Apparently its been all over the rightside of the blogosphere. It's an audio tape in which a couple of Iraqi army guys are supposedly discussing the "evacuation" of WMD's before the arrival of UN inspectors. As far as I can tell this is the entire transcript:

Col: Peace. We just have a small question.
Gen: Yeah.
Col: About this committee that is coming...
Gen: Yeah, yeah.
Col: ...with Muhammad El Baradei [Director, International Atomic Energy Agency]
Gen: Yeah, yeah.
Col: Yeah.
Gen: Yeah?
Col: We have this modified vehicle.
Gen: Yeah.
Col: What do we say if one of them sees it?
Gen: You didn't get a modified ... You don't have a modified...
Col: By God, I have one.
Gen: Which? From the workshop ...?
Col: From the al Kindi Company.
Gen: What?
Col: From al-Kindi.
Gen: Yeah, yeah, I'll come to you in the morning. I have some comments. I'm worried you all have something left.
Col: We evacuated everything. We don't have anything left.
Gen: I will come to you tomorrow.
Col: Okay.
Gen: I have a conference at headquarters. Before I attend the conference I will come to you.

For what it's worth, Tex of Unfair Witness sent an email to Raed from Raed in the Middle to get the opinion of someone who doesn't have to read a translation of this pathetic smoking gun. Raed replied as follows:

Dear Tex

I remember listening to this tape while I was in Baghdad, and we laughed too. Not because of the accent, because of the retarded content of it.
The Iraqis talking on the tape have an Iraqi accent for sure, but the way they were saying stupid things about hiding the "modified" vehicle didn't make any sense.

Believe me my friend, there are a lot of Chalabi supporters types that are more than ready to do this.

The people on that tape are unfortunately Iraqis. I hope they at least feel ashamed by now.
Maybe one day in the future we'll know their real names, and how much were they paid to act this dirty role.


So Raed thinks this tape was manufactured by Chalabi supporter types and, you know, lord knows, maybe he's right, but the point is it really doesn't matter.

The bar has been placed so low on what counts as a rightwing talking point in the domain of evidence of WMD's that these things read like parody. Prior to the invasion, the case being made by the right wasn't that Iraq possessed "a modified vehicle" or two -- it was that Iraq possessed enormous quantities of chemical and biological weapons and was actively engaged in developing nuclear weapons, that Iraq's stockpiles were so fantastically huge that it posed a danger to the United States of America so "grave" (to quote Bush) that the US needed to take action sooner rather than later. The really amazing thing is that Iraq appears not to have had anything. The current set of rightwing talking points are actually correct: Clinton did think Iraq had WMD's and so did all of the intelligence services of the nations of the world. Everybody figured Iraq had something. Hell, I figured it had something. However, Clinton and the intelligence services of the world didn't think that the threat posed by whatever odds and ends Saddam Hussein could horde away from the weapons inspectors justified the death and devastation caused by a war.

Quantities of anything the size of which the right was describing prior to the war don't just disappear, which leads rational people to believe that they didn't exist.

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