....LMB: "Powell Brings the Heat. But Not Much Light"....

February 05, 2003

Today Colin Powell brought his powerpoint presentation of doom to the UN Security Council. You can read all the text here, and most of his photos and slides can be seen here (unfortunately not all of the slides can be enlarged).

Now, I could go through and analyze Powell's report line by line, but I don't have much to go on. Powell says "we intercepted this suspicious sounding phone call that might be about hiding chemical weapons from inspectors." Maybe it's the real deal, maybe those quotes are taken out of context, maybe the tape is a forgery. How the hell would I know?

And the satelite photos:

Seriously, how many people on Earth could tell if this analysis is accurate? How many experts on satellite imaging are also experts on military bases and weapons of mass destruction? A hundred? A thousand?

Or, it could be complete fabrication. I'd have no way of knowing.

It's all the same to me.

Here's what some other people think:

This fellow thinks that the reason for Powell's presentation was not to give evidence about whether or not Iraq had these weapons, but to deliver a message that the U.S. will go it alone if it has to. I'm skeptical of that interpretation because the White House says that on almost an hourly basis.

This fellow thinks that Powell's presentation was unconvincing, but wishes he'd said more about the al Zarqawi terrorist network itself, not its thin-to-nonexistent ties to Iraq.

This fellow sees the presentation as yet another power-play in manipulating the press.

This fellow sees the presentation as political theater.

But skipping to the end, after Powell's presentation 10 of the 14 members of the UN Security Council voted to continue on with the weapons inspections. France voted for tripling the number of inspectors, which seems like a good idea to me.

All of this information is useful on its own, but not in this context.

I remain convinced that the U.S. government seeks to invade Iraq as part of a larger plan to reshape the Middle Eastern geopolitical situation to its own advantage. Since "manipulating the political landscape of the Middle East" would not be a very acceptable reason to either the U.S. populace or the international community, a more acceptable reason was cooked up: weapons of mass destruction. An America still reeling from its first major terrorist attack would be very willing to fight for this reason. The rest of the world is a bit more skeptical.

So in context, whether or not Iraq has these weapons is irrelevant. The only thing relevant to this campaign is: do they buy it? Are enough American people convinced that war is acceptable that there won't be an outcry against the action? Are enough foreigners convinced (or intimidated or bribed) to accept this war so that they won't get in America's way?

Iraq probably does have some supply of chemical and biological weapons. After being ravaged by the Iraq-Iran war, the Gulf War, and over a decade of economic sanctions, I don't think these supplies are very plentiful, and I don't feel Iraq is very dangerous. I'm sure some folks would say "are you willing to bet your life on that?" And if the alternative is killling tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, the answer is "yes, I am."

The inspectors aren't hurting anyone, and under the close scrutiny of the entire world, I doubt that Iraq is likely to attack anybody. Nobody likes a stalemate, but this is one I can live with. Some weapons are found and dismantled, a few hundred inspectors spend months and years on a potential wild goose chase, and the citizens of Iraq are not turned into piles of ash and bone.

Until there's a good and slightly peaceful way to replace Saddam Hussein's regime, or until the Iraqi people ask us to wage a war of liberation in their name, the stalemate is probably the least bloody option.

Of course, the Bush administration and I don't see eye to eye on this issue.

Posted by Jake at 10:21 PM

The graphic made my day.

Posted by: Cervinia at February 6, 2003 04:35 AM

Don't you remember the Cuban Missil Crisis? Photo experts made that case. Wise up.

You don't think chemical weapons are dangerous?

Posted by: Rachel at February 6, 2003 09:29 AM

lol.. and I thought I had to be dumb cos I hadn't understood a thing about those pictures, I can't see anything at all there!

Posted by: intimidated foreigner ;) at February 6, 2003 11:49 AM

It's my constitutional right to bear chemical weapons, Goddamn it! When will you bleeding-heart liberals learn? If you come to my house and try to take 'em, I'll smoke you with sarin. And that ain't no shit, G.

Posted by: Eric at February 6, 2003 05:19 PM

Rachel honey,

he said he didn't think IRAQ was dangerous--although he assumed it still did have a few leftover chemical weapons.

Of course chemical weapons are dangerous.

Are they dangerous to Americans, here within the confines of our sovereign territory, when the technology to send ballistic missiles of any sort all the way from Iraq to the US is either nonexistent or, at the least, nearly impossible for a relatively dinky and highly monitored country like Iraq to ever manage?

Er, no. We're honestly in about as much danger from Iraq as we are from the Aleutian Islands.

Now, if I were Israel, I'd be danged concerned about Iraq, seeing as how they could actually reach me; but I am not Israel.

Come to think of it, I'm not a country at all. Hmm. This post is getting kooky.

Posted by: michele at February 6, 2003 08:27 PM

Oh stop lying Michele, you are so Israel.

Rachel- all I'm saying is that I don't trust the Bush administration, I can't verify the interpretations of those satellite photos myself, and that I think that the weapons issue is not the real reason the White House wants to attack Iraq.

Posted by: Jake at February 6, 2003 10:33 PM

I am NOT Israel, I am not I am not I am not.

I am the Seychelles.

Posted by: michele at February 7, 2003 10:55 AM


in regards to the photos, i think you have to find some retired intelligence specialists to be able to really interpret them. unfortunately its not as simple as using your skills in journalism and communications to get at the bigger picture of the story, as you have been doing on most of the other posts on this website. that said, without outside help, you're going to have to take colin's word for it. or not.

and yes, they might look like rather fuzzy obscure photos. but unfortunately, the fact that he has shown those photos means he's already burned several key image sources the US has. so yes, they're fuzzy, but for good reason. just remember, the NRO is capable of taking SAT photos so clear that they can read your license plate. enough said.

anyways, great thought provoking website you have here.

to think, from the humble beginnings of newswatch...


Posted by: art at February 7, 2003 05:35 PM

Ooh, can I be Palestine? Please?

Posted by: Eric at February 7, 2003 07:09 PM

Art- you've got a good point. The Bush administration has reached "boy who cried wolf" status in my book. They could be 100% correct, but I'm so skeptical I don't know if I could believe them. Which means I'm probably not the best source for analysis on these topics anymore.

All you readers, remember that Jake has his own super-skeptic biases, and make your own judgements accordingly.

Wow, Art remembers NewsWatch? What a fossil.

Posted by: Jake at February 8, 2003 02:47 PM

I know your expertise in satellite recon analysis is legendary *cough* but why do so many people rush to defend Iraq? Why does the burden of proof seem to always be on the United States? Everyone seems to believe everything Saddam Hussein says, even though everything he has ever said has been a complete lie.

Anyway, I thought the wittiness of your original post was lost in light of your complete ignorance.

Posted by: Reason at February 15, 2003 10:11 AM

Seems some folks have forgotten why we are kickin butt in the first place. The liberal fags in the country wanted to turn the other cheek when 6 thousand innocent americans were killed on 9-11. We agreed that if you supported terrorists in any way that you were responsible for 9-11 and we will hunt you down. That position didn't carry much clout with the pussyboys at the UN so we had to chose something that would affect each of them...WMD's. The fact remains that WMD's were held by Hussein, Hussein had used them before, Hussein had sold them to Haamas, Haamas has close ties to Bin Laden, Bin Laden ordered the attacks on 9-11...don't tell me we don't have to worry about Iraq.

Posted by: bill at September 8, 2003 01:14 AM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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