Friday, August 01, 2008

GWOT report card, summer school edition

Is there a grade worse than “F”?

A top government scientist who helped the FBI analyze samples from the 2001 anthrax attacks has died in Maryland from an apparent suicide, just as the Justice Department was about to file criminal charges against him for the attacks, the Los Angeles Times has learned.

Bruce E. Ivins, 62, who for the last 18 years worked at the government's elite biodefense research laboratories at Ft. Detrick, Md., had been informed of his impending prosecution, said people familiar with Ivins, his suspicious death and the FBI investigation.

. . . .

The extraordinary turn of events followed the government's payment in June of a settlement valued at $5.82 million to a former government scientist, Steven J. Hatfill, who was long targeted as the FBI's chief suspect despite a lack of any evidence that he had ever possessed anthrax.

The payout to Hatfill, a highly unusual development that all but exonerated him in the mailings, was an essential step to clear the way for prosecuting Ivins, according to lawyers familiar with the matter.

Except there now won’t be any prosecution. No testimony in open court. No hearing that might shed a little light on how the government chased the presumably wrong lead for five years before a shakeup at the FBI shifted focus to Ivins. Now we are to believe that the case is closed because the alleged suicide is somehow tantamount to a confession.

In Bush-Cheney terms, a dead “culprit” without having to go through open US courts is a BIG win.

* * * *

And then there’s the global part of the Global War on Terror™:

American intelligence agencies have concluded that members of Pakistan’s powerful spy service helped plan the deadly July 7 bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, according to United States government officials.

The conclusion was based on intercepted communications between Pakistani intelligence officers and militants who carried out the attack, the officials said, providing the clearest evidence to date that Pakistani intelligence officers are actively undermining American efforts to combat militants in the region.

. . . .

The information linking the ISI to the bombing of the Indian Embassy was described in interviews by several American officials with knowledge of the intelligence. Some of the officials expressed anger that elements of Pakistan’s government seemed to be directly aiding violence in Afghanistan that had included attacks on American troops.

Some American officials have begun to suggest that Pakistan is no longer a fully reliable American partner and to advocate some unilateral American action against militants based in the tribal areas.

Well, on its face, this would look like a complete failure for the Bush Administration: With the US no closer to capturing bin Laden or al Zawahiri, one of our chief allies in the hunt seems to be in league with the very folks that helped protect the al Qaeda leadership in the first place. But look at this again. The White House now has brand new excuse for why the US has failed to crush al Qaeda or the Taliban—we’re not just fighting a ragtag band of dead-enders or some such, we have to outwit a nuclear power, a country with a large and sophisticated intelligence apparatus and a well-stocked military (we should know, we stocked it). Why, that might require—wait, what is it? right—“unilateral American action.”

Really, when you’re looking at it through the Bush team’s binoculars, what more could you want?

* * * *

And speaking of unilateral action:

Seymour Hersh — a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist for The New Yorker — revealed that Bush administration officials held a meeting recently in the Vice President’s office to discuss ways to provoke a war with Iran.
In Hersh’s most recent article, he reports that this meeting occurred in the wake of the overblown incident in the Strait of Hormuz, when a U.S. carrier almost shot at a few small Iranian speedboats. The “meeting took place in the Vice-President’s office. ‘The subject was how to create a casus belli between Tehran and Washington,’” according to one of Hersh’s sources.

. . . .

HERSH: There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up.

The team in Veep’s office apparently rejected the plan because “you can’t have Americans killing Americans.” Really? Sorry to sound the cynic here, but I can’t imagine Vice President Cankles getting all that upset about sending American troops to their death in order to accomplish his broader goals—“I mean, come on! This is the War on Terror, people! You gotta break some eggs to make an omelet! You saw Wanted—the ancient order must be preserved!”

Sorry, I got a little too into that. . . .

But, seriously, the team might have rejected that particular casus belli, but I can assure you there are plenty more where that came from. And, with the combination of a presidential directive allowing defensive fire from covert teams of US operatives already inside Iran, and the Congressional authorization that basically declared a large portion of the Iranian military a terrorist organization, the whizzing sound of shots fired in anger is only a heart-clogging breakfast away.

But there are some logistical matters to work out—namely, the US is woefully under-equipped for a third military incursion, the Secretary of Defense is not so hot to start a hot war, and Cheney’s favorite proxy warrior, Ehud Olmert, just had to step down from his PM post because he is an incompetent commander-in-chief and corrupt as the day is long.

Really, it’s like the Patty Duke Show of international affairs. . . .

But as far as a grade on this front in the GWOT™, because no Iranians are yet dying by America’s hand, we’ll have to give them an incomplete.

I know you are as excited as I am for the fall semester.

(cross-posted on The Seminal)

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home