Feltman’s response to Al Akhbar

Former US ambassador in Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman responded in the NY Times today to the allegations made in a previous article in the same newspaper on Al Akhbar about waking up every morning and getting upset after reading  Al Akhbar.

Feltman answered! There is something quite desperate in this act. Check the argument: Actually, Al Akhbar is not that heroic because it does not criticize Hizbullah’s SG Nasrallah just like Syrian Tishreen will never criticize Bashar al Assad.

Apart from the fact that no one talked of heroism, well, there is a tiny detail here: Al Akhbar is not owned by Hizbullah, and actually does criticize Hizbullah virultently. Check for example the corruption case of Salah Ezzedine. Needless to say that this point was made in the original NYT article, so what is Feltman babbling about. Does he want attention?

Does it occur to Feltman that defending or supporting Nasrallah may come from a conviction (heroic if he likes this word) that the guy is a leader to be respected, and that this probably reflects a large chunk of the Lebanese population and beyond?

From then on, Feltman’s answer loses all sense of logic and becomes plain stereotyping. Feltman confuses Western journalists, with Al Akhbar ones, lifestyle like drinking wine with political choice of supporting the resistance. This dimension is not even worth it to be explored, it has been done countless times on this blog.

And what did you know about Samir Kassir and Gebran Tueni? Just because they got killed makes them heroic? Is this how you guys work? Now that they are useless as such and can’t do much except through the way their image is being manipulated by your media, yes, they become heroic…

Besides, Feltman forgets that journalists of Al Akhbar and other press outlets as well as TV stations were killed by Israeli fire? Are these considered more or less heroic act? I guess it depends who kills or on which arena you fall.

But above all as I was saying, Feltman’s answer sounds like someone’s desperate for attention. One could hear him shout: “no, someone hear me, I am that ambassador they’re talking about, and I did not have a belly ache, they aren’t so impressive believe me!” Well, someone is angry because he was not ‘received’!

American ambassadors, they come here, don’t understand anything about the politics of the place (except through the specific ideology their administration feeds them to implement). Then they leave, still ignorant, imbued by the stereotypes they could gather from this or that dinner they had the chance to go to, wondering why their projects did not work.

Update: For a more elaborate answer, just found Angry Arab’s.

Meow …

This report is intended solely for the official use of the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors, or any agency or organization receiving a copy directly from the Office of Inspector General. No secondary distribution may be made, in whole or in part, outside the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors, by them or by other agencies or organizations, without prior authorization by the Inspector General under the U.S. Code, 5 U.S.C. 552. Improper disclosure of this report may result in criminal, civil, or administrative penalties.

Now Lebanon is produced by Quantum Communications, some of whose contracts with the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (originally the Middle East Television Network, but renamed in 2005) are described in the OIG-DOS report sourced above. The report was conducted due to ‘irregularities’ in the contracting process.

MTN/MBN was created in 2003 by the Emergency War Supplemental under the authority and funding of the Board of Broadcasting Governors, a US government-funded ‘independent agency.’ Soon thereafter, al Hurra was on the air. It has a budget of about $100 million a year from the BBG’s total budget of about $700 million (Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Sawa, Radio Farda, Radio Free Asia, Radio Marti, TV Marti, as well as al Hurra). There may also be additional revenue streams, but I am not sure.

Quantum Communications, along with Brand Central (which also received MTN/MBN contracts), Vertical Middle East and Firehorse Films comprise the Quantum Group, which is headed by Eli Khoury, who also directs Saatchi-Levant. He is also a founder of the Lebanese Renaissance Foundation, a DC-based group that lobbies the US federal government. The LRF has paid DLA Piper about $1 million for lobbying services since 2007 (the DOJ’s very incomplete online FARA (Foreign Agent Registration Act) database includes no Lebanese principals — Brazzaville has five!).

Quantum has had a slew of corporate and government clients (Jordan, Lebanon, IDAL, etc.), so it is difficult to know how much of their business comes from the US government. Perhaps very little, perhaps a great deal.

The IOG-DOS refers only to some initial MTN/MBN contracts in 2004 worth some $4.5 million, so it is unclear how much business Quantum has done through al Hurra. Saatchi-Levant also won a State Department contract for the now-defunct Hi Magazine.

Quantum has also been engaged in Iraq. For example, it has produced a series of television ads under the name of a phantom organization, the Future Iraq Assembly. The ads are available on Youtube and are similar to ads that also ran in Lebanon. Most observers believe the spots are funded by either the Defense or State Department.

It is unclear if Quantum was involved in any contracts related to al-Iraqiya. The station, part of the Pentagon “Free Iraq Media” plan, was initially the product of SAIC and served the needs of the Coalition Provisional Authority. In 2004, however, the Pentagon awarded a new contract for Iraq media to the Harris Group, who subcontracted the work out to the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC) and a Kuwaiti media company.

Interestingly, Firehorse Films seems to have been around since the early 1990s, producing documentaries about cultural matters. Anyway, post-2003, it has produced a film about al-Zarqawi for LBC, a documentary about religious minorities in the Middle East (yes, the Maronites play a starring role) for al Jazeera, and a documentary about the life and death of Arab nationalism. While I have no idea if these productions have made up the bulk of its work, they do suggest an interesting political line, no?

Is it art, the ‘market,’ political conviction or government subcontracts that is driving demand? I just cannot say, but imagine that like most collective human endeavors, it is a mixture of all those things.

More to come on the Pravdas of the Pradas.

The same Caspit revealed last week that Obama’s chief of staff and resident Israel expert in the White House, Rahm Emanuel, referred to Netanyahu in closed conversations as a “bullshitter.

An Analysis of Obama’s Speech in Cairo …

Your map of Africa is really quite nice. But my map of Africa lies in Europe. Here is Russia, and here… is France, and we’re in the middle — that’s my map of Africa.

— Otto von Bismarck.


Fath al Islam: a quick update

Itani has a little update on the state of affairs regarding the bad guys in the north and their friends in the south, in the Palestinian camp of Ain el Helweh. I just want to point out one or two things that I think we can conclude from everything that happened pre and post the Nahr el Bared debacle.

1- Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the US voluntarily and involuntarily had a hand in making circumstances ripe for Fath al Islam and other darker versions of “Islamists” militants to emerge. Syria, by kicking “al Qaeda” elements out of its country in order to clean its landscape and throwing it back on us. the US through the Mustaqbal movement, and actually the Mustaqbal movement on its own by trying to co-opt these wild creature and try to tame their zealousness with a bit of cash and status promises, and Saudi Arabia by simply sending official delegations to Lebanon for some conference who never went back. It seems also that the international “Rafic Hariri” airport of Beirut has unfolded red carpets for many of these dudes.

2- When something happens, like a crisis or something, the stupidest thing to say is “he’s the guy responsible for it”. Even in the case of an assassination or the start of a war. What’s important is why in the first place such an event is possible and in this case political circumstances are many, are multi-faceted and at the end of the day, what counts is who gets to gain from it, and who gets to lose.

The obsession

Senior Israeli officials warned yesterday that they were still considering a military strike against Iran, despite a fresh US intelligence report that concluded Tehran was no longer developing nuclear weapons.
(…)
However, it is widely assumed that Israel would need US approval, if not cooperation, for a bombing mission. In particular, its air force would need the US flight codes that would allow its planes to cross into Iran. When Israel requested those codes in 1991 to attack Iraq during the first Gulf war, the United States refused and there was no Israeli strike.

Oh when you’re smilin’!


…The whole world smiles with you.

The rituals of legislative rulings

When the U.S. House of Representative voted to put the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) on the list of terrorist organizations, Iran’s Parliament agreed on qualifying the C.I.A. and the U.S. army of terrorist organizations.

This can be read as follows: Any form of resistance must pass by the vocabulary of the hegemonic, here being the US definition of terrorism, its various uses, and the ability to ‘institutionalize’ the ruling (becoming law through the parliament). Why do Iran bother to pass legislative decrees stating that that these American institutions are ‘terrorists’? The same reason why it deployed all this effort for the ‘holocaust’ convention. The Holocaust convention was not a case of showing antisemitism etc. It was an effort to show that another ‘normalized’ reality could exist and be debated by people.

So why does it bother? Because the new conceptual and descriptive formulations will be uttered and written, it will enter the terms of speech and thus will exist as a political reality. In fact Iran takes very seriously the inner functioning structures of the international system, the U.N. etc. It uses the available system to voice contention. This is the power of symbols, this is what they actually do in a given reality.

Take Egypt for example

Don’t you often hear people say “Christian in Egypt are persecuted”? This is one of the many nice little bullshit myths one hears on the Middle East or on “Islamic” practices. Copts (Christian sect in Egypt) are actually significantly present in parliament (much more relative to the size of their community), and the few Egyptians I know to seem to agree on the idea that there are no sectarian animosity there. In a recent discussion, my Egyptian musician friend Mohammed (who studied for a long time Coptic musical liturgy) explained to me how often enough the media feeds the public with the news of ‘sectarian clashes’ breaking out and once some honest reporter tries to entangle the real cause of a fight he would find behind the ‘sectarian’ element some tribal, social, or personal issue at stake that has nothing to do with the fact that the people were Coptic or Muslims.

Not only that but Coptic Pope Shenouda III has made it clear that the biggest problem in the Middle East is divisive American foreign policy and the growing ego-centric urges of some Copts (Check the rare gem that is Pope Shenouda, here, here, and here are the enemies of Shenouda). For a nice comparison check History of the Maronites in Lebanon 101.

See, American policy have this really nice special feature in that they create new ‘substance’ to re-actionary identities. Thanks to NGOs of all kind and religious rightist groups Christians in Egypt are starting to feel they are in danger because hell they’re Christians. To make sure these fears are crystallized, they are simply financed.

Come on marNasrallah Boutross Sfeir, that is the best role model you can get in this par of the world.

The politics of naming

One of the first political phenomenon I am concerned with is the time (and resources etc.) dominant actors spend on finding suitable categories to define (or give meaning to) their various political actions. In addition to the fact that naming gives significance or the illusion of substance in perceiving the enemy, the symbolic act of naming Hizbullah a “terrorist” organization opens the door for so many different legal as well as diplomatic dispositions that has concrete material effect (in the same way the beefing up of an army has material significance):

United States lawmakers are stepping up pressure on the European Union to declare the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

A House of Representatives’ panel is to highlight Wednesday the importance of Europe as a fundraising base for the group, long held responsible by the United States for anti-U.S. and anti-Israel attacks.

Some European countries have resisted an EU designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, arguing that it is better to engage the group given its large role in Lebanese politics.

What is important here is to notice how, generally, legal appellations and social norms are all based on this categorization principle. In this case, the creation of significance is a political process embedded in institutions in place (governments, parliaments, courts, etc.) that serves to create disciplined subjects and the ‘other’.

Local motives, international triggers

I have this little theory that the latest political assassinations (starting with Rafic Hariri) in Lebanon are carried out by local actors (Lebanese mostly but may include regional players) are triggered by international political shifts and decisions in order to force a status-quo on Lebanese political alignments and decisions. Although I don’t have the time to do this with great historical investigative detail but I kind of recall that most of the assassinations followed or preceded either the voting of UN resolutions, or the issuing of the finding of UN commissions, the visits of political delegates from outside, or some regional political agreement or re-alignment.

For example, Walid Eido’s assassination was preceded by renewed French diplomatic activity with Syria. In the case of Pierre Gemayel there was a very similar circumstance: Syrian and Iraqi rapprochement. I’ll try to find similar patterns later on. It’s like every time something is opening up in the face of Syria, some ‘anti-Syrian’ guy in Lebanon is being blown up. Of course, not any sort of “anti-Syrian” guy, but someone who represents the lamb, the ideal scapegoat, the ‘weakest link’ (Eido and Gemayel are perfect examples). As I argued for Gemayel’s killing, Eido’s assassination obeys the same type of political logics. No material costs (the guy has no popularity for example), but high symbolic effect (represents Hariri’s staunchest supporter).

Bear in mind that the US has not accused Syria for Eido’s assassination. This of course is not a signal that Syria is not behind the assassination but tells you more about specific political configurations, and possible re-alignments. Is it possible that something is cooking in the corridors of regional diplomacy and that some party (Lebanese most probably, but with possible regional help, even groups within Syria) is trying to force a specific status-quo on the Lebanese local political platform?

In His Own Words …

I draw your attention and that of your readers to the fact that, for the first time in history — and I want to emphasize this — there are elements of the U.S. nuclear capability on the European continent. It simply changes the whole configuration of international security.

This press conference is impressive. I have no illusions about Putin, but intelligence-wise, he would have to be at the top of the class among heads of state. Combine this with having to listen to GWB and it makes me wonder how exactly the US “won” the Cold War.

Le toupet des Kurdes

If you were a Turk in an executive political position what would you do with a statement like this one:

The president of Iraq’s Kurdish region on Thursday rejected Ankara’s declaration that it was ready for dialogue with Iraqi Kurds provided they took measures against Turkish Kurd rebels holed up in the autonomous enclave.
“We do not accept the conditions laid down to deal with the PKK. We have always said that we would help Turkey if it chooses the path of dialogue and we confirm this,” Massoud Barzani told a news conference alongside Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, also a Kurd.

You know I wonder what Israelis were thinking when they started training Kurds and giving them military aid. Maybe they thought that selling weapons to Turkey on one side and to Kurds who just found themselves with the presidency of Iraq on the other, is something that could pay off eventually. Maybe they thought this would help the Americans… I mean what is the logic behind all these moves?
See, this is why I don’t believe much in grand conspiracy theories. People conspire don’t get me wrong, but people cannot accommodate for the desires/interests (depending on which terminology you want to use) of every ally.

An incident in the 6-day war

Here is an interesting (and long) blog entry discussing the attack on the USS Liberty in 1967. (Aqoul is a great blog in general.)

Turks enter Iraq

That is it, the moment that has been feared for quite some time finally happened, Turkish troops entered Kurdish Iraq yesterday to tame guerrillas ardor. This adds a new variable to the already explosive situation in the Middle East. Overlapping contradictory political agendas are multiplying. How will the US deal with this while preserving Turkey as a strategic ally? What is going to happen to Turkish-Israeli relations especially that it is Israel that has been training these Kurdish troops.

Just to make it clear

I was never fond of conspiracy theories. Not because people don’t conspire, far from it. But because in politics, people are not that shrewd and are not endowed with awareness of the long-term. In light of this, a couple of points so as to make sure everybody agrees on this:

1- It is the ‘ruling majority’ government (specifically the Hariri camp) that gave the possibility (directly or tacitly) for Fatah Al Islam to develop. As would say Al Haqid, Fatah al Islam is a Lebanese political actor, or is a product of the Lebanese political system. It is also the result of the corruptive and incompetent practice of post-Syria-withdrawal Lebanon government.

2- The US administration may have overseen or even financed the formation of the such groups, even if today it is possible that they cannot control what they started (recent history is replete with such examples from Afghanistan).

3- It is much less likely that the Syrians are behind the whole thing in the sense that Syria would not want to jeopardize the Lebanese army (one of its only remaining ally), and neither would want to put Hizbullah in an awkward position (which is clearly the case today).

4- Both actors can benefit though from likely future developments, although the US will definitely have a much more important role to play (maybe military) in Lebanon. Syria is to remain on the defensive trying to collect pieces of what is left from the US elephant-like advancement in the Middle East.

Parapraxis …

(This version CORRECTS that tribunal is mandated by U.N., not U.S.)

Abby … Abby Someone …*

” …it is extremely important that the court is set up so that Lebanon goes back to normal,” Rice told Al-Arabiya television.”

Gotta love it — the “normal” part …
So I am still on record saying that M14 would be idiotic for trying to go Chapt. 7 on the tribunal. Anyone have evidence to the contrary? Please, do share …

* A thousand points to anyone who gets this reference …

The overzealous vassal

So when you wake up in the morning and you read something like this,

Jordan’s King Abdullah II yesterday told a delegation of Knesset members that “we are in the same boat, we have the same problem. We have the same enemies.” The king reiterated the comments a number of times, which those at the meeting said referred to Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.
Abdullah also emphasized that he spoke not only for Jordan but for a group of states in the region. The king asked at one point: “Do you want Iran on the banks of the Jordan?”

You seriously start wondering how come we arrived at having to read such radical statements. Saudi officials are anti-imperialist militants compared to this guy!

That is not it. Aparently King II has also suggested (he likes to give intelligent advices) that Palestinians refugee should settle in host countries (specifically Lebanon) against remuneration. Fortunately for us, he informed Israel of his plan. You seriously don’t need americans in the area with this guy around. He can just do the job for them and keep things tidy enough while they’re out conquering new spaces.

Rice Pudding …

Tis a testament to the rottenness of the current US regime that I find myself with sympathies for a sycophant like Mme. Rice. No comment here, I just like the pic.

I would add that all of this plays perfectly into Iran’s hands, just as the “Holocaust conference” did. Sometimes I wonder if power makes you stupid. If so, make me a weakling.

Damned Proud …?

Bolton calls it “perfectly legitimate and good politics” for the Israelis to try to defeat their enemy militarily as it was acting in its own self-defense. He said he was “damned proud of what we did” in preventing an early cease-fire.

What planet do these people come from?

Musharraf out

The next regime that is going down is not the Iranian one boys and girls, but the Pakistani one. The US is apparently fed up with Pervez Musharaf and thinks more and more that he is not of such a big help in their war on.. (what?) well in their imperial quest. So they’re looking for ways to replace him, maybe with army chief or something.

Another Pedestal of Humanity’s Eternal Becoming …

Into the Simulacrum …

I have probably explained my dislike for Baudrillard somewhere on this blog (the Gulf War did take place), but sometimes I doubt when I hear that the State Department’s annual human rights report:

cited Borat’s loss of his Kazakh webpage http://www.borat.kz in late 2005 alongside court cases and limits on free speech faced by the few domestic media critical of Kazakhstan’s long-serving President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
“The government deemed as offensive the content of a satirical site controlled by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and revoked the .kz domain,” the report said.

Ok.

Lesson in Palestinian history

Sorry but I could not refrain from posting this concise (even if deja vu for many) summary of what are the choices left to Palestinians. No wonder why Hamas does not ‘recognize’ Israel. If words (i.e. the act of not recognizing) is all that is left, then be it:

United Nations “Partition Plan” to the Palestinians:
You are going to have 47% of the 100% which was originally yours.

“Oslo Agreement” to the Palestinians:
You are going to have 22% of the 100% which was originally yours.

Barak’s “Generous Offer” to the Palestinians:
We are going to give you 80% of 22% of the 100% of the land which was originally yours.

Sharon’s “Peace Plan” to the Palestinians in 2000:
We are going to give you 42% of 80% of 22% of the 100% of the land which was originally yours, and this 42% will remain under continuous curfew.

“American Zionists” to the Palestinians:
According to our version of the Bible you are entitled to 0% of 42% of 80% of 22% of the 100% of the land which was originally yours.

The “Road Map” to the Palestinians that Bush envisions:
If you stop your resistance to the occupation (which we call terrorism), and your refugees give up their right of return to their ancestral homes, and you agree to only elect officials acceptable to Bush and Olmert you agree to lock up all your resistance fighters, and you agree to drive your cars only on roads that Olmert assigns for your use, and you do not object to the ‘wall’ that Sharon started building & Olmert is finishing, and you agree not to claim Jerusalem as your capital, and you agree that your children’s school curriculum only includes courses and books approved by the Israeli government, and you agree not to give birth to more than three children per family, and stop complaining about the new law that prohibits Israeli Arabs from marrying Palastenian Arabs, while it allows them marry any other nationality in the world.

THEN President Bush, will consider putting pressure on Olmert to consider negotiating with you on the 42% of 80% of 22% of the 100% of the land which was originally yours.

(Thanks Ali)

Liberation …

“They also have something of an equal chance to participate in the misery of a destroyed national order. A somewhat leveled opportunity to be kidnapped, to be forced into exile, to have their daughter abducted or raped, to have their father murdered, families killed in the suicide bombings.”

Deja Vu, All Over Again …

Sound familiar …?

Hersh, (Sigh) …

Well, just read Sy Hersh’s new piece and must admit I was disappointed. I found almost nothing original in either content or analysis and believe the piece could have been written by piecing together already very public information.

I was not going to post on it, until I heard Wolff Blitzer call the piece “explosive” this morning on CNN. Perhaps the only gaseous discharge I heard was the allegation concerning Negroponte’s motivations:

I was subsequently told by the two government consultants and the former senior intelligence official that the echoes of Iran-Contra were a factor in Negroponte’s decision to resign from the National Intelligence directorship and accept a sub-Cabinet position of Deputy Secretary of State. (Negroponte declined to comment.)
The former senior intelligence official also told me that Negroponte did not want a repeat of his experience in the Reagan Administration, when he served as Ambassador to Honduras. “Negroponte said, ‘No way. I’m not going down that road again, with the N.S.C. running operations off the books, with no finding.’ ” (In the case of covert C.I.A. operations, the President must issue a written finding and inform Congress.) Negroponte stayed on as Deputy Secretary of State, he added, because “he believes he can influence the government in a positive way.”

This is absurd puffery and a little reverse engineering leads one to believe that Hersh completely got played by his “sources” on this issue. This is one of the two problems I have with Hersh’s work as it often takes bureaucratic infighting as evidence of the direction of US policy. The blatant ass-kissing of Negroponte suggests that the source may have been Negroponte himself or one of his close aides in Foggy Bottom or supporters on the Hill. Of course, I have no idea, but Negroponte, as the intelligence czar, likely encountered significant antagonism from the DOD and thus one must understand this “information” in this context. To go from that rather quotidian reality to the Contras is ridiculous and the ass-kissing should make all very suspicious. To be sure, many on the Hill and at the CIA and State have bureaucratic reasons to talk with Hersh, but I just wonder how far this really get us with respect to US policy in the Middle East. I agree that the Pentagon has usurped the CIA with respect to covert operations and intelligency, but this is not a new story and evidence can be gathered on this point without polishing Negroponte’s apple.

I would also say that his interview with Nasrallah was really disappointing, or at least what he chose to include in the interview. To be sure, it seems he only included quotes to fit his thesis, but this has the effect of making Nasrallah look like a wild conspiracy theorist, something he is decidedly not:

I can assure you that the Saudi kingdom will also be divided, and the issue will reach to North African states. There will be small ethnic and confessional states,” he said. “In other words, Israel will be the most important and the strongest state in a region that has been partitioned into ethnic and confessional states that are in agreement with each other. This is the new Middle East.”

For me this is inexcusable, because Nasrallah does not give interviews to American journalists, so when he does, it is an irreducible opportunity that should not be missed.

I would add that Hersh’s descision to quote Armitage and Baer on Hizbullah is a bit ridiculous as their thoughts remain haunted by memories of the 1980s and they expose themselves as idiots when talking about a Hizbullah that no longer exists. To paraphrase and answer Baer, the dog did not bark because it died over a decade ago.

I would add that one part of Hersh’s thesis makes no sense. It has been widely understood that the CIA has been deeply involved in Lebanon, because the activities have been more political and financial, than military. This reality does not fit his contention about the DOD takeover of intelligence or the reporting requirements. I would agree in the case of Iran, but in Lebanon, this seems off the mark.

Again, I would say I was disappointed with the piece. He can do and has done better. I would add that it is a bit odd that the piece works mostly as a summary of the last 10 months, when I had understood that Remnick, his editor, had wanted a more newsy Hersh for the pages of the New Yorker. The quote retread is not good enough given the rapid pace of events on the ground.

Perhaps most distressing is Hersh’s take on the militant Salafi groups in Lebanon. There is some truth to what he says here, but I had hoped that the time he spent in Lebanon would allow him to understand a bit more of the complexity of the situation (his television appearance made me cringe). Sadly, it seems he is just as susceptible to generalities and misrecognition as the Beltway bureaucrats who drive his stories. To be sure, this bit is designed for American audiences, but without the proper local context, it falls flat. In sum, imperial muckraking may be a noble profession, but the full story (elucidating domestic and international connections) is not here and thus one feels the author is mirroring his sources by engaging in a narrowly targeted polemic. Oh, well …

ADDENDUM: Please

Military Revolt …?

“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”

The propaganda wars are in full swing in the British press. Let the leaks continue …

ADDENDUM: It seems Sy Hersh has prepared an update on US war plans. I think I am on record here saying that Hersh sometimes gets played by his sources and cherry-picks and then over-inflates evidence to fit his particular narrative, but his work is unparalleled here in the US. If it is somewhat conspiratorial in form and content, it seems a necessary evil in the national security state. It is also a bit funny that Nasrallah says he is willing to talk to the Americans, but Jumblatt says he cannot talk to Hizbullah. I had thought Hersh was coming out with a piece on the Hariri assassination. I guess not.

From the Vault …

“For the U.S. to get involved militarily in determining the outcome of the struggle over who’s going to govern in Iraq strikes me as a classic definition of a quagmire.”

— Dick Cheney, 1991.