"I knew the answer in the beginning:" Phosphorus chemical weapons: from U.S. weapons into Iraqi buildings & people; Fake Int

 Dumbpict51 IknewtheanswerinthebeExplodingDog comic says it all. "I knew the answer in the beginning." The poor stick figure works through it now, too late -- the war was rationalized in terrible ways, turned now to mist. The righteous American stands alone, confused, as the world smolders with conflict, blood all around. The US has apparently introduced White Phosphorus chemical weapons into the arena of Iraq, apparently using them around Fallujah to kill targets and surrounding people:

White phosphorus results in painful chemical burn injuries. The resultant burn typically appears as a necrotic area with a yellowish color and characteristic garliclike odor. White phosphorus is highly lipid soluble and as such, is believed to have rapid dermal penetration once particles are embedded under the skin. Because of its enhanced lipid solubility, many have believed that these injuries result in delayed wound healing. This has not been well studied; therefore, all that can be stated is that white phosphorus burns represent a small subsegment of chemical burns, all of which typically result in delayed wound healing.

..... Phosphorus burns on the skin are deep and painful; a firm eschar is produced and is surrounded by vesiculation.

White Phosphorus shells apparently react with human flesh by sort of melting it, giving victims a carmelized, melted appearance while the clothes remain intact. There are reports that it's a developed Marine tactic, used in Fallujah.

The US Army itself admitted that it uses WP in Iraq, in their own "Field Artillery Magazine", as a DKos diarist pulled it together. The military said (PDF):

"WP [i.e., white phosphorus rounds] proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."

When Paula Zahn introduced the exciting Suicide Bomber Woman Video the other day, they couldn't resist throwing in this horrible theatrical music, that kind of "Islamic Threat" theme, heavy with throbbing drums and synth strings, the stuff that keeps FOX News so jazzy and amusing. The thrill of the chase! Vicarious pursuit! Who can stop these Arabs before they come down the street!?

For some reason there are tornadoes ravaging the country today - the atmosphere is weird right now. Why are there so many Lockheed-Martin and Boeing feelgood promotional ads on CNN? What are they even selling?

"The End of News?" by Michael Massing - as rightwing dominance settles over much of the news landscape. This pretty much sums up the toxic information swamp we're in:

Through the Internet, commentators can channel criticism of the press to the general public faster and more efficiently than before. As became plain in the Swift Boat campaign against John Kerry, to cite one of many examples, an unscrupulous critic can spread exaggerated or erroneous claims instantaneously to thousands of people, who may, in turn, repeat them to millions more on talk radio programs, on cable television, or on more official "news" Web sites. This kind of recycled commentary has become all the more effective because it is aimed principally at a sector of the population that seldom if ever sees serious press coverage.

On the other hand, there's been this change in the political wind over the last month or so, with Libby's indictment, Harry Reid's recalcitrance -- forcing the long-suppressed investigation into the spoofed intelligence. It's been a treat to see Wolf Blitzer asking everyone about it, over and over, while Cafferty cackles. It seems the elite crew finally smell blood.

James Fallows runs through the basic points of the whole case. When every chattering head on TV claims "the Senate Intelligence report PROVES this intelligence manipulation never happened", and yet, that's pretty much their only firm point, it signals that a great many pillars of the pro-war case have finally been knocked away.

Another major defense of the war was the National Intelligence Estimate on October 1, 2002 that the CIA produced about Iraq - which they claim showed that the CIA and other intelligence agencies was dumb as anyone about the matter. There was a classified version that only a limited circle of politicians could read, and the unclassified version. The classified one had lots of things like "The State Dept thinks this WMD is not really certain", while the version that they deigned to permit Congress to read lacked the statements of doubt. Small catch. Lots of details on the NIE here and here.

RUMSFELD STRIKES BACK read the CNN title bar today, as he cited the Dems who'd talked about Iraq's threat in the past. He says that the decision to invade was based on the same stuff they had, they were all seeing, before 2000. He implies that the quality and quantity of information available to the Dems in 2002 and 2003 was the same as what the President saw, as 'everyone knew.' But even the Washington Post can't take that seriously anymore:

But Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material. And the commissions cited by officials, though concluding that the administration did not pressure intelligence analysts to change their conclusions, were not authorized to determine whether the administration exaggerated or distorted those conclusions.

Rummy even trotted out the Orwellian classic "Islamofascists: we just gots to kill 'em!"

Nothing quite as handy as merging political identities for a quick & lazy ethnic demonization -- see 'Judeo-bolshevik' for how these things work out.

They keep saying, "How dare we have this discussion now, when the war is still happening and the troops need moral support?" Well, three arguments:

First, the American public ought to see the difference in Iraq intelligence between what Democrats in Congress, Bush himself, the various intelligence agencies, and the shady guys around Cheney and Rumsfeld saw. The stuff from Chalabi should be on the public record, one piece at a time.

Second, because I believe that things were willfully manipulated (and aggressively defended when attacked - the Plame case a key symptom), the people who did that shit should lose their security clearances and go play golf with their devious friends. They don't have some intrinsic right to government paychecks, even if firing them would embarrass or fragment Bush's sad White House more than it has already. It has been widely said, especially in recent weeks, that people like Michael Ledeen were running around in 2002, helping move the specific Niger forgeries that scared the hell out of the American people. Some of this was dug up by Josh Marshall and Laura Rozen in "Iran Contra II?" Larry Franklin and the AIPAC scandal fold right into this stuff, as well.

Third, it is plenty patriotic to believe that the American people should pressure the government to have a realistic, honestly weighed and "not murderously insane" view of the world. The Bush Administration has no short-circuit to infallibility or the Wisdom of God. The embattled ranks of the U.S. military need to know that the pencil-pushers in DC will actually have to pay a price for their nonsense, and their evasion of disasters like the torture policy. The blame here resides near the top of the chain of command -- we have to help out the lower rungs by getting them out of the system. The armed forces have to know that we are going to protect them from being forced to commit such terrible acts as torture.

From an article in the Miami Herald, Leonard Pitts:

In the name of fighting terror, we have terrorized, and in the name of defending our values, we have betrayed them. We have imprisoned Muslims in America and refused to say if we had them, why we had them, or even to provide them attorneys. We have passed laws making it easier for government to snoop into what you read, who you talk to, where you go. We have equated dissent with lack of patriotism, disagreement with treason. And we have tortured.

Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham attempts to suspend Habeus Corpus for people detained as terrorist suspects. (If you permit yourself to believe that they're all known, proven terrorists, well, that just isn't true of any jail or shadow detention network - sorry)

Fortunately there are lots of military veteran Democrats, many from Iraq, who are getting into the elections less than 12 months from now. While I can't demand their politics align with my own perfectly, they'd be a hell of a lot better than the chickenhawks at understanding the terrible price of war and violence (as well as treating veterans decently).

The blowback against the Right is reaching far and wide.

Jordan bombing: Juan Cole reflects on the death of Moustapha Akkad, a Syrian movie producer who was involved with the Halloween movies, among others. Akkad was on track to produce a film about Saladin, but now it won't happen:

The guerrilla war in Iraq has claimed a unique cinematic voice of transnational modernity, who had explored the terror of psychopathology and the angst of alienation, as well as the history of anti-colonial movements.

The Iraq conflict has become a bad horror film. It has killed the grandfather of the "Halloween" movies. And it has snuffed out the man who wanted to bring real Muslim heroes such as the Prophet Muhammad, Omar Mukhtar and Saladin to American film-going audiences. Now, his last project will remain unachieved. Saladin was a Kurd from what is now northern Iraq, and he defeated the Crusaders with a legendary chivalry that inspired their respect.

Zarqawi's henchmen inspire only horror, not respect. They have no chivalry, only bloodthirstiness. They are Michael Myers, not Saladin.

Moustapha Akkad was an American voice as well as a Muslim one. We needed his ability to communicate one culture to the other. His death diminishes us all, and signals the nightfall of a decade-long "Halloween" of the horrific sort for Iraq and for the United States.

New Israeli Labor Party leader wants to pay settlers to leave West Bank: Condi Rice managed to cut a deal to fully open the Gaza-Egypt border for the Palestinians, a major step forward towards independent operations. This is good, but also the new leader of the Israeli Labor party, Amir Peretz, said that he wants to compensate settlers who want to leave the West Bank.

Peretz, who accuses the government of neglecting the poor and wants to restart peace talks with the Palestinians, also told Israeli television on Saturday he would back any bid "to give back parts" of the West Bank.

Wegner said Peretz agreed with Sharon that Israel should keep large Jewish settlement blocs in the occupied land. But, Wegner said, Peretz wanted the "billions" Israel spends on building those enclaves to be diverted to help the country's poor.

.....Wegner said Israel was in effect holding settlers not protected by the barrier as "political hostages".

This is true. It is unethical to force Jewish people to live in an occupied territory when they simply can't afford to move out. Perversely, market forces keep impoverished Jewish settlers trapped there, deprived of the choice to leave -- trapped by tax incentives and poverty, they're hapless pawns in the Israeli right-wing's absurd land game.

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