Thursday, November 10, 2005

For the past several months, an ex-Marine named Jimmy Massey has been talking about American troops committing atrocities in Iraq. He was lying.

For the past few days, various liberal bloggers have been relaying a story, originally out of Italian news, that American troops used white phosphorus incendiary rounds --- a bit like napalm, only a whole lot worse --- against civilians in their invasion of Fallujah. According to the Army's own writeup of the action, those are true.

In certain respectable circles, I'm sure you'll be hearing a whole lot more about the first of these stories than the second. The same respectable circles that are using similar frauds from the Vietnam era to try to discredit the testimony at John Kerry's "Winter Soldier" investigation into atrocities in Vietnam.

I guess it's awfully convenient for them that people crop up spreading bogus stories. Odd coincidence, though. But just that. Maybe they're napalming civilians, but they're surely above releasing an agent provocateur at home to poison the national discourse?

Update: Several commenters note this article, which at least tries to debunk Massey's debunkers...

Monday, November 07, 2005

So, the FBI is lately using "national security letters", issued on its own initiative, without any judicial review, to get access to, well, pretty much anything they want to see. One known instance of this is a series of letters that requested information on just about every tourism-related transaction (hotels, rental cars, etc.), in Las Vegas in December, 2003. Judges who have seen the justification for these requests report that they are frequently issued on vague suspicion; one judge finally received a classified briefing and reported that it still contained "nothing specific". And those asked to turn over information on others are also forbidden to disclose the requests to anybody.

In this, we can see how punctiliously the government does what it needs within Constitutional limits on its power. The Fourth Amendment reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Well, peoples' papers and effects aren't being seized --- just copies of these things that other people might happen to have. So, no problem there. But even if you think there was one, and you're troubled by the lack of probable cause, or specificity in describing the places or things to be seized, be of good cheer. The Constition says "no Warrants shall issue", and these aren't warrants. They're National Security Letters. So of course, that's different.

Who knew that living within constitutional restraints on your power could be this easy?

Ahmed Chalabi just had a lovely visit with new Iranian President Mahmoud "Israel should be wiped off the map" Ahmadinejad. Chalabi praised Iran for its "positive role in the composition and formation of the Iraqi government", while Ahmadinejad, for his part, described the current dismal situation in Iraq as "the tragic outcome of the occupation by foreign forces" and looked forward to joint economic activity, including joint pipeline deals, as soon as the pesky Americans got out of the way.

All of this might be a little distressing to the hawks at the American Enterprise Institute, many of whom advocated invading Iraq based in part on the anticipation that Chalabi would be head of government there, and on his assurances that he would, among other things, establish diplomatic relations with Israel. Well, they'll have their chance to ask him about it when he plays the role of honored guest at the talk he's giving there next Wednesday.

Iran visit links via Juan Cole

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The riots in France have right-wing blogs drowning in schadenfreude. Pity that it's happening, of course, but it reveals the bankruptcy of the European social model, dontcha know. We do things better in the States, that is. Why, it's been more than a decade since such a thing has happened here.