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Were from the UN and we're here to help!
January 25, 2003 12:54 PM   Subscribe

Were from the UN and we're here to help! Question: If you're a UN Weapons Inspector and a man jumps into your vehicle screaming "Save me! Save me!" clutching notebooks to his chest what do you do? The answer is simple, you turn him over to the Iraqi authorities who now claim to have "no information on the incident." This ought to foster more cooperation from Iraqi scientists...good work Blix and Co.
posted by RevGreg (54 comments total)

 
If you're a UPS delivery driver and a man jumps into your vehicle screaming "Save me! Save me!" clutching notebooks to his chest what do you do? The answer is simple, you turn him over to the local authorities......

I don't think the UN weapons inspectors are in Iraq to help anyone defect, as this would undermine their credibility with Iraqi officials. The inspectors acted properly and stayed within their mandate.

I also feel that your post selectively overstates certain parts of the article and blends them together with other unrelated stories about Iraqi scientists. Why not mention that one man attempting to contact the UN team was carrying three knives? No, no, it's better to only mention the one with notebooks clutched to his chest. Dramatic.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:11 PM on January 25, 2003


And good work RevGreg.

Single link to CNN, editorializing & an agenda. Way to go.
posted by i_cola at 1:15 PM on January 25, 2003


It's chilly in here. *backs out, slowly and carefully*
posted by ashbury at 1:20 PM on January 25, 2003


Wow. Like I haven't seen posts with ten links and an agenda on MeFi. I could have posted five other links that have the exact same story...please enlighten me as to how exactly that enriches the post?
posted by RevGreg at 1:20 PM on January 25, 2003


By the way i_cola, it's nice to see that other single link posts "with an agenda" get your approval. I guess we're not allowed to post items here that disagree with your worldview?
posted by RevGreg at 1:24 PM on January 25, 2003


If you read carefully edwoodwiles, you'd note that the "man with three knives" was captured by the Iraqi guards BEFORE reaching the compound...he was lost before anything could be done. The other guy made it into a UN vehicle and was turned over. One of these was a non-issue, the UN really had no jurisdiction. Once the guy was in the vehicle, they could have at LEAST had the sense to speak with him. Go watch the video of the inspector in the picture completely ignoring the guy like he wasn't even there...it speaks volumes.
posted by RevGreg at 1:28 PM on January 25, 2003


Now wait a minute. The UN inspectors are NOT there to help, they're there to perform a specific task of crucial importance to world politics, with the eyes of the entire world watching them perform a diplomatic tightrope walk in a hostile environment. Their job is so important that, if they say they found something suspect in Iraq, there will be war involving at least three countries.

They're doing a tough job, and they're constantly being criticised by people on every side of the issue. If there is the slightest hint that they are biased, then the whole diplomatic situation, and probably every chance there is of avoiding war, goes up in smoke. And giving sanctuary to Iraqi defectors is a pretty fucking big hint of bias.
posted by Hildago at 1:35 PM on January 25, 2003


If the UN inspectors are seen as helping defectors they loose all credibility. The guy with the notebooks could have been an Iraqi plant and the UN inspectors know they are being tested. Had they tried to help the man Iraq could justify that the UN has other motives and with good reason remove them from the country. This really isnt even a topic for debate.
posted by stbalbach at 1:40 PM on January 25, 2003


oh, and what Hildago & elwoodwiles &, well probably everybody else says...

RevGreg: No. No you are not. So where the hell do you get off posting this then? If you drop me an email next time I'll check out any future posts you want to make. You kids really gotta learn the rules...
posted by i_cola at 1:46 PM on January 25, 2003


Whether you think the UN inspectors are in Iraq to prevent war or to disarm Saddam, they're sucking at both.
posted by techgnollogic at 1:49 PM on January 25, 2003


If the UN inspectors are seen as helping defectors they loose all credibility. The guy with the notebooks could have been an Iraqi plant and the UN inspectors know they are being tested.

And not determining the nature of the plea man was making before turing him over somehow gives them "credibility"? The test would have been adequately passed if they had reviewed what the man had and, if they found that it was not within the bounds of their investigation, THEN they turned him over. Objectivity requires an analysis of the situation before you act...and that is exactly what didn't happen in this case.

oh, and what Hildago & elwoodwiles &, well probably everybody else says...

Ah yes, we wouldn't want to oppose the prevailing view of a niche community now would we?
posted by RevGreg at 1:57 PM on January 25, 2003


They're there to inspect Iraq's weapons & weapons capabilities...and report their findings back to the UN. Not deal with refugees, disarm anyone or prevent anything. Inspect, report, let the UN get on with the rest...
posted by i_cola at 2:00 PM on January 25, 2003


They're there to inspect Iraq's weapons & weapons capabilities...and report their findings back to the UN.

And they know that this individual had no information pertinent to their inspections because of...telepathy?
posted by RevGreg at 2:04 PM on January 25, 2003


That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard, if they had telepathy they would have found the weapons by now. Idiot.
posted by Stan Chin at 2:06 PM on January 25, 2003


Sorry Stan, my bad.
posted by RevGreg at 2:07 PM on January 25, 2003


That guy is dead. And the inspector had ten minutes (!) to get someone on his walkie talkie with brain in his head to tell him the guy was trying to defect. Moron.

This inspection smacks of "peace in our time" and Blix is the new Chamberlain.
posted by Zombie at 2:17 PM on January 25, 2003


I had seen this piece, posted on one blog and picked up by Instapundit's blog, and also at israpundit blog. Clearly, a guy in distress appealing to an outside representivie, deserves to be heard and THEN a decision made.

More to the point, though: the mean spiritedness of so many posters is making this a site I no longer am interested in posting to.
posted by Postroad at 2:54 PM on January 25, 2003


I smell irony somewhere nearby, but where? Where?
posted by ashbury at 3:05 PM on January 25, 2003


And not determining the nature of the plea man was making before turing him over somehow gives them "credibility"?

Yes, that's exactly what it does. Unless the man happened to be carrying a potential weapons factory in his pants, in which case they should be fired from their jobs and summarily drummed out of the UN for not giving him their full attention!

Incidentally, I've got a potential weapons factory in my pants. (winks lewdly)

Objectivity requires an analysis of the situation before you act...and that is exactly what didn't happen in this case.

Ok. One guy with three knives runs up to your jeep. Objective analysis: " Step on it, Blix!"

Then the other guy runs up and starts screaming "Save me! Save me!" in Arabic. He never mentions (that we know of) that he's a scientist who may have information pertinent to the investigation.

And as you know from reading the article, it's not like the inspectors have totally ignored Iraqi scientists. They have in fact asked to be able to interview them. This is their job description. The issue seems to be that you think they should, in addition to inspecting things, become superheroes that rescue scientists from the forces of evil, which is, for better or worse, not the case.
posted by Hildago at 3:16 PM on January 25, 2003


I dunno; I guess it's a grey area. But if the UN is there to find weapons, and a guy runs up to them, risking his life, with potentially pertinent information, I think it's at least worth giving a look. Might I add that the biggest cache find in the previous inspections happened because of an Iraqi defection.

I don't see where the bias comes in from allowing an Iraqi to defect or even considering defecting. If they know of illegal weapons, who cares whether they tell the UN in London or in Baghdad? Not helping this guy has just cost him his life.
posted by Kevs at 3:32 PM on January 25, 2003


Ok. One guy with three knives runs up to your jeep. Objective analysis: " Step on it, Blix!"

Oh, for Christ's sake. He has three knives, so he must be some violent nutjob? I used to carry three knives regularly, one of them illegal; generally I used them to cut packing tape and seine twine.

Nobody is claiming that Blix's job is to precipitate the Glorious People's Revolution, but when somebody comes running into your car and says that members of a demonstrably oppressive regime are trying to kill him, I don't give a flying fuck what your job is; human decency says you you don't stab him in the back.

From a pragmatic standpoint, you can bet US troops are going to be really grateful to the UN for doing such a bang-up job building good will amongst the populace when/if we invade.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 3:50 PM on January 25, 2003


how do notebooks clutched even come close to suggesting that the man was a scientist with information?
save me save me. yes, we all realize that his life at that point was in danger. but even if he didn't have the down-low on weapons, crying "i know stuff" surely woulda been much smarter.
i mean really, most of what i know of iraq come from the movie "three kings" (which says something) and i equate an iraqi running towards an american humvee begging for safety in a slightly different light than, "oh, he must be trying to help our mission out here."
...and that he's probably dead (where does it say that again??) is like ripping on saddam for having only himself on the ballot. no shit, the country is still run by a manical dictator, newsflash? no.
posted by kid_twist at 3:51 PM on January 25, 2003


I don't see where the bias comes in from allowing an Iraqi to defect or even considering defecting. If they know of illegal weapons, who cares whether they tell the UN in London or in Baghdad? Not helping this guy has just cost him his life.

The bias comes from the fact that the inspectors are there to look for weapons violations, but there is not a presumption of guilt on the part of Iraq. The idea is to keep it clinical and detached, so that if they find weapons, no one, including Iraq will be able to say, "they found them because they wanted to find them," or if they don't, to say "they didn't find anything because they weren't really looking."

If someone runs up to an inspector and asks to defect, the inspector cannot wave a magic wand and say "ok, you've defected," he would actually have to take it upon himself to protect that person. That requires the inspectors to blatantly take sides against the government of Iraq. For this reason they cannot even consider acting one way or another in that situation. If they do anything, it delegitimizes the entire operation.

If someone wants to defect, there are ways to go about doing that. It's awfully sad that they died, but it's much more preferable to me that a few innocent people die unnecessarily than the chance, however small, that a war that will cost tens of thousands of innocent people to die can be avoided, is lost because some irresponsible inspectors decided to take the law into their own hands.
posted by Hildago at 3:59 PM on January 25, 2003


One guy with three knives runs up to your jeep.

The guy with the knives never made it to the jeep, he was caught by Iraqi guards first. Unless he had shown otherwise, one would have to assume that the knives were for use against the Iraqi guards as well as possib;y a threat to inspectors.

Then the other guy runs up and starts screaming "Save me! Save me!" in Arabic. He never mentions (that we know of) that he's a scientist who may have information pertinent to the investigation.

Yeah, after a gap of about 40 minutes. Whether or not he said anything comprehensible, for him to be turned over without at least making sure that he DIDN'T have anything is reprehensible.

The issue seems to be that you think they should, in addition to inspecting things, become superheroes that rescue scientists from the forces of evil, which is, for better or worse, not the case.

Quoting from UNSC Resolution 1441:

Decides that Iraq shall provide UNMOVIC and the IAEA immediate, unimpeded, unconditional, and unrestricted access to any and all, including underground, areas, facilities, buildings, equipment, records, and means of transport which they wish to inspect, as well as immediate, unimpeded, unrestricted, and private access to all officials and other persons whom UNMOVIC or the IAEA wish to interview in the mode or location of UNMOVIC's or the IAEA's choice pursuant to any aspect of their mandates; further decides that UNMOVIC and the IAEA may at their discretion conduct interviews inside or outside of Iraq, may facilitate the travel of those interviewed and family members outside of Iraq, and that, at the sole discretion of UNMOVIC and the IAEA, such interviews may occur without the presence of observers from the Iraqi government;

To be quite blunt and rude about it, what fucking part of that don't you understand? What I understand is that the best way to PREVENT the war is to find undeniable proof of a breach. Saddam's clique have already made arrangements for asylum in another country and I think that complete world agreement that Iraq is in breach and the threat of invasion would tip the scale to a PEACEFUL resolution to this situation. Continued stalling and incompetance (meaning, not applying 1441 to it's FULLEST extent) only shows that the UN is unwilling to make the effort and will (and in my opinion SHOULD) result in hostile means being used.
posted by RevGreg at 4:01 PM on January 25, 2003


Huh? I don't get it. The UN Inspectors can't help someone defect because that would show bias? I don't see how these scientists can be expected to tell the truth unless they are free to leave Iraq after they do so. They should be free to do whatever they want.
posted by xammerboy at 4:03 PM on January 25, 2003


Oh, for Christ's sake. He has three knives, so he must be some violent nutjob? I used to carry three knives regularly, one of them illegal; generally I used them to cut packing tape and seine twine.

Not saying he was a violent nutjob, just that if I was in a foreign country and someone with three knives ran up to my car, my first thought would not be to hug him. And is the fact that you carried three knives, one of them illegal, supposed to lend credibility to your argument?

...when somebody comes running into your car and says that members of a demonstrably oppressive regime are trying to kill him, I don't give a flying fuck what your job is; human decency says you you don't stab him in the back.

That's probably why you aren't in charge of a sensitive diplomatic operation upon which hinges the lives of countless men and women. I certainly wouldn't thank the inspectors if all my enlisted friends had to go to war because they decided to be generous on that particular morning of all mornings, with those particular people of all people.

And it's awfully reasonable of you to say that the inspectors are the ones who stabbed them in the back, and not the people who actually killed them.
posted by Hildago at 4:11 PM on January 25, 2003


further decides that UNMOVIC and the IAEA may at their discretion conduct interviews inside or outside of Iraq, may facilitate the travel of those interviewed and family members outside of Iraq, and that, at the sole discretion of UNMOVIC and the IAEA, such interviews may occur without the presence of observers from the Iraqi government

what fucking part of that don't you understand?

The part where it applies to the current situation, considering that interviews are not the same as defections, and that the article points out that they are interviewing iraqi scientists, as per their jurisdiction. What they CANNOT do, and I am repeating myself here, is protect people from the iraqi government. "Save me! Save me!" is not a request for an interview, it is a request for UN intervention, for fuck's sake, and while it may warm the cockles of your heart to think the UN is in Iraq to airlift the huddled masses to safety, that is NOT the case.

Now, argue whether the UN should be in Iraq for different reasons, but don't tell me that it is wrong of them to act with objectivity if objectivity is their stated mandate. If the scientists had wanted to cooperate with the UN, they should have applied to do so, rather than doom themselves by asking the inspectors for something they cannot give, ie sanctuary.
posted by Hildago at 4:21 PM on January 25, 2003


And is the fact that you carried three knives, one of them illegal, supposed to lend credibility to your argument?

My point is that knives have nothing to do with anything. Carrying knives doesn't make you hostile. Julia Child carries knives.

That's probably why you aren't in charge of a sensitive diplomatic operation upon which hinges the lives of countless men and women.

Because I think it's idiotic to alienate the people on whose side we are claiming to be, and whose attitude toward us will spell the success or failure of any kind of pseudo-democratic regime we might attempt to set up if we succeed in ousting Saddam?

And it's awfully reasonable of you to say that the inspectors are the ones who stabbed them in the back, and not the people who actually killed them.

Well, yes, actually it is. 'Stab in the back' implies a betrayal; presumably the Iraqis had never bothered pretending to be this guy's friends, whereas the UN has tried to convince people that it stands for human rights and fair treatment.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 4:28 PM on January 25, 2003


I don't get it. The UN Inspectors can't help someone defect because that would show bias? I don't see how these scientists can be expected to tell the truth unless they are free to leave Iraq after they do so. They should be free to do whatever they want.

Yeah, that would be nice. But a UN inspector is not the person to approach if you want to defect from your country, especially if you are running up to their jeep and demanding to be protected. What are they supposed to do, let you ride in the back seat? Ask the proper people in the proper place at the proper time, and I'm sure there would be someone who would get you asylum, but instead they chose to put the inspectors in a position where they could not have acted any other way than the way they did, or all hell would have broken loose.

What is the alternative? That the inspectors are evil and wanted the scientists to die? Or that maybe RevGreg knows their job description better than they do? No, obviously their hands were tied, and, unfortunate though it was, there was no choice but to turn them down.
posted by Hildago at 4:29 PM on January 25, 2003


My point is that knives have nothing to do with anything. Carrying knives doesn't make you hostile. Julia Child carries knives.

I insist that the presence or absence of deadly weapons on someone who runs up to your car out of nowhere affects your perception of that person.

Because I think it's idiotic to alienate the people on whose side we are claiming to be, and whose attitude toward us will spell the success or failure of any kind of pseudo-democratic regime we might attempt to set up if we succeed in ousting Saddam?

Ok, two things.

1. Again, the UN is not "claiming to be" on anyone's "side". They are neutral, that is why they are the ones chosen to carry out inspections. This is a crucial point.

2. Who do you mean when you say "we" and "us"? The priorities and restrictions on the United States are totally different than on the UN. "We" were not involved in the incident, "we" just read about it on cnn.com. If it had been "us" there, I'm sure it would have been a much different story.

Well, yes, actually it is. 'Stab in the back' implies a betrayal

Yes, but betrayal implies obligation, and while, as you say, the UN has said it stands for human rights, it has not said it is there to rescue anybody.

However, I don't see a conflict between standing for human rights in general and not helping this person in particular, assuming that being allowed to seek out weapons of mass destruction helps the greater good. Maybe you do see a conflict where I don't.. I can imagine how some people might. I don't think it's really that important to the article.
posted by Hildago at 4:38 PM on January 25, 2003


The UN isn't objective on that matter. There have been official resolutions stating, to paraphrase, that Iraq is violating its requirements under a whole grip of UN resolutions, the Gulf War surrender resolution inclusive. It's not a court. The inspectors are there for the purpose of making sure that Saddam does not cheat again. It's not that they want to discover whether he has cheated in the past; the position of the UN is that Saddam has cheated often in the past, and is probably cheating now.

The options for Saddam now are:
1) Get rid of all weapons that he is not allowed to have; I'd say he's violating this tacitly by his payoff of suicide bombers in Palestine, and also that it's nearly certain, in the mind of an objective viewer, that he's violating this by his internal repressions, possession of certain WMD and long range missiles and firings upon UN and British planes in the no-fly-zones. However, until a loaded gun, so to speak, is found, the option of Saddam ceasing these activities is still a possibility. This option, I believe, is the worst for the Iraqi people.
2) Exile himself and his inner circle, and allow the UN to help a new govt. form in Iraq (implicit that this new govt. would get rid of the weapons). This is, of course, probably the best solution at the time being.
3) Have himself and his weapons removed, by force, by the US, UK and their allies. This, obviously, is not good for the US and allies because of the cost in dollars and lives, and not good for Iraq because of damaged infrastructure and deaths, of course, though I don't foresee many civilian deaths in such an event.

I would say that if weapons were found, the options in Iraq drop to two - 2 and 3. I think 2 would be the most likely situation.

That said, any possibility of UN reluctance to find weapons (because, for instance, certain inspectors don't want to see a war, as Hildago elucidated) is only going to push the US and allies toward option 3. Option 3 is not the best option.

For the sake of both the West and the Mid-East, the UN needs to take advantage of any opportunity it has to stop Saddam's delays and lies. This story is a small confirmation that that is not the case.
posted by Kevs at 4:47 PM on January 25, 2003


Terrible situation. I wouldn't want to be in a foreign land ruled by an oppressive dictator with people flinging themselves at me trying to flee and not having either the means nor the power to help them.

This speaks to the ineffectual nature of international law--it's nice to see more people like RevGreg speaking up for the empowerment and strengthening of international institutions. Good show.
posted by raaka at 5:12 PM on January 25, 2003


empowerment and strengthening of international institutions.

Perhaps, but given the condition.. guy running into car crying in the middle of the day surrounded by Iraq guys with guns.. what would you do have a gunfight? Iraq would love that in fact that's probably what they are trying to provoke. There was no choice in this situation.
posted by stbalbach at 5:32 PM on January 25, 2003


The guy with the knives, now, he wasn't running with knives blazing was he? Didn't they find the knives after they wrestled him down and took him into custody?
posted by Ron at 6:45 PM on January 25, 2003


Why didn't the photograhers & journalists save him? Instead of snapping or scribbling away, they could have formed a cicle and protected him themselves... o, but that would have compromised their ethics, and their mission.

Now I see...
posted by dash_slot- at 6:46 PM on January 25, 2003


Don't you know RevGreg ? Anytime anyone posts a link on Metafilter that doesn't meet the expectations of the resident MeFe politically correct schoolyard bullies, it's considered to be 'promoting an agenda'.
posted by Kaslo at 7:14 PM on January 25, 2003


What notebooks?
posted by Bletch at 7:31 PM on January 25, 2003


You know, we have the ability, so why not just plant a small nuke somewhere in Iraq, find it, and then let the bombing begin, let's just get it over with and go back to our cocoa.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:01 PM on January 25, 2003


I insist that the presence or absence of deadly weapons on someone who runs up to your car out of nowhere affects your perception of that person.

I hope insisting makes you happy, because it doesn't do crap for your arguement. An X-acto knife is a deadly weapon. A cast-iron skillet is a deadly weapon. My collection of vintage cigarette lighters, in conjunction with my lighter fluid, could be a deadly weapon. Bringing up these knives is a cheap shot that misses the point.

1. Again, the UN is not "claiming to be" on anyone's "side". They are neutral, that is why they are the ones chosen to carry out inspections. This is a crucial point.

That's funny, I seem to remember something about a Declaration of Human Rights. Must be imagining things.

2. Who do you mean when you say "we" and "us"? The priorities and restrictions on the United States are totally different than on the UN. "We" were not involved in the incident, "we" just read about it on cnn.com. If it had been "us" there, I'm sure it would have been a much different story.

I say 'we' in reference to the UN since the US is a member nation, and a prominent one. Sure, the US doesn't have complete control over the UN, but it does support it, and I don't have control over US policy either. 'We' is still apposite.

However, I don't see a conflict between standing for human rights in general and not helping this person in particular, assuming that being allowed to seek out weapons of mass destruction helps the greater good. Maybe you do see a conflict where I don't.. I can imagine how some people might. I don't think it's really that important to the article.

What in the hell do human rights have to do with the greater good? The entire point of human rights is that they apply to individual humans; if they didn't, plenty of fascist regimes could easily justify themselves as torturing dissidents for the greater good.

Of course, you are absolutely correct when it comes to what the UN actually practices, which is not at all the same as what is claims to stand for; but I don't see why I shouldn't hold it to its professed principles and policies just because it doesn't demand the same of itself..
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:03 PM on January 25, 2003


"Don't you know RevGreg ? Anytime anyone posts a link on Metafilter that doesn't meet the expectations of the resident MeFe politically correct schoolyard bullies, it's considered to be 'promoting an agenda'." (Kaslo)

Kaslo - Given that I had one (rather reserved) post - about the most recent German and French opposition to the US push for an invasion of Iraq - summarily deleted from Mefi (presumeably because it could have become a lightning rod of sorts because my name was attached to the post), are your opinions are misinformed? I now see a message which pops up when I go to my "post a link" page: "If you're going to make a post related to Iraq and the impending war, please reconsider, as the topic has been discussed previously many times...". I would politely suggest to you that the "schoolyard bullies" you refer to may be those closer to your own political persuasion who employ the tactics of personal invective to shut down debate.
posted by troutfishing at 11:12 PM on January 25, 2003


This is a perfectly hellish story, made even more tragic because the notebook-guy is now living in unthinkable hell, if he is unlucky enough not to have been executed.

The U.N. inspector picture with notebook-guy seems to cut through the bull and go to the heart of the problem of U.N. inspections: U.N. inspectors aren't doing a goddam thing!

They are making reports, and putting checkmarks in notebooks and playing ring-around-the rosy on a thug-guided tour of Iraq, and are inexplicably coming up empty-handed time and time again.

Somebody comes running up saying "save me" with an arm full of information, and they turn him away. Do you see why everybody is losing patience with these stone-age beaurocrats?
posted by hama7 at 12:10 AM on January 26, 2003


hama7, do tell: precisely what information did he have an armful of?

And do you suppose that the inspectors would have been allowed to continue their jobs if they'd kept this fellow? Do you suppose they'd even have been allowed to drive their car out of the compound, let alone actually give him asylum?

I feel great pity for this fellow, but what he did was commit suicide. He might just as well have flung himself in front of a speeding train yelling "save me". The UN inspectors could never, ever, ever have done anything for him, even if they had chosen to. And if they had even tried, the whole world would have changed forever today.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:37 AM on January 26, 2003


hama7, do tell: precisely what information did he have an armful of?

No one will ever know, and you're right. He committed suicide. But, aren't the inspectors there to inspect? If so, why aren't they inspecting anything except what they're allowed to?

Kafka's imagination seems like a weekend in Cancun by comparison.
posted by hama7 at 12:54 AM on January 26, 2003


Two scenarios occur to me, here:

1) The poor guy was nobody in particular (carrying papers may have seemed like a good way to encourage inspectors to take him more seriously, on first sight) terrified of the variables that Iraqis surely know will accompany impending invasion -- and now he's dead.

2) He's a spook operative, making a very, very public point -- and now he's dead.

My gut tells me it's probably the latter - given how much anti-war sentiment has built up, but you never know.
In either case, I wouldn't have turned him/them over to Iraqi authorities - but then I'm not there on the ground to make that call.
posted by Tiger_Lily at 3:20 AM on January 26, 2003


For the record, the man was taken inside the compound by UN guards, presumably questioned, and his notebook was examined, before he was turned over to Iraqi security. The notebook was determined to be empty.
posted by dhartung at 8:40 AM on January 26, 2003


Thanks for the info, dhartung. That seems quite germane to this debate -- that the notebook was empty.

I'm not heartless enough to be a UN inspector. Maybe I should be glad that there are people who are willing to turn the defector over to Iraqi authorities. I wouldn't be able to live with myself had I done that.
posted by Holden at 9:01 AM on January 26, 2003


Maybe this had something to do with it?

"Thousands of e-mail messages have been sent out since Thursday, a military source told CNN. [...] The message includes instructions to the e-mail recipients to contact the United Nations in Iraq if they want to defect."
posted by sfenders at 9:12 AM on January 26, 2003


CNN has some interesting bylines...
White House correspondent Dana Bash and State Department producer Elise Labott contributed to this report

I didn't know the State Department was into news production. Something new every day...
posted by holycola at 9:26 AM on January 26, 2003


Ah, yes. Well it helps to forewarn the inspectors that their cooperation is central to your propaganda with Iraqi citizens. Jesus...
posted by Tiger_Lily at 9:51 AM on January 26, 2003


So this notebook......was it moleskin?
Anyway, thanks Dhartung for the further information. I stand by my original post. Should have the UN taken this one guy, leading to their own possible expulsion, leading to the inevitable US bombing raids that will lead to the deaths of thousands of other Iraqis?
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:48 PM on January 26, 2003


"Thousands of e-mail messages have been sent out since Thursday, a military source told CNN. [...] The message includes instructions to the e-mail recipients to contact the United Nations in Iraq if they want to defect."

So...that was approved by the UN, was it ("The message includes instructions to the e-mail recipients to contact the United Nations in Iraq if they want to defect.") ? Or was it another psy-ops operation, designed to
i) undermine the UN;
ii) assert US superiority.

Just askin'.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:26 PM on January 26, 2003


dash,
I'd say it was a meant to yield either way. If the UN inspectors kept custody of them, they're great propaganda from a humanitarian standpoint. If they got turned over to Iraqi guards, it's useful in maligning the inspection team and Iraq. But clearly, if it's shown that the U.S. made no reasonable attempt to let the UN inspections team know that they were blitzing the public to defect to them, they likely knew the team would be confused, turn them over and ultimately alienate public support.

If we didn't let them know what we were up to, it was a dirty play on our part--big time.
posted by Tiger_Lily at 4:27 PM on January 26, 2003


Hildago: That's probably why you aren't in charge of a sensitive diplomatic operation upon which hinges the lives of countless men and women.

elwoodwiles: Should have the UN taken this one guy, leading to their own possible expulsion, leading to the inevitable US bombing raids that will lead to the deaths of thousands of other Iraqis?

You guys have this thing the wrong way 'round. The inspectors are not on a diplomatic mission, and their job is not to avert "inevitable" bombing raids. They are on a fact-finding mission, and their job is to bloody well find out whether or not Hussein has any banned weapons.

If it turns out that he does, and this leads to US bombing and the deaths of thousands of Iraqis... they cannot shrink from their duty to make the truth known.

However, I can see how you can view things from your point of view, given that the inspectors themselves are acting like their mission to peace at any cost, rather than determining the truth.
posted by jammer at 11:05 PM on January 26, 2003


jammer:

You're exactly right, and Hidalgo, et al, are exactly wrong, and manage to sound rather arrogant in the process. Nothing worse than be arrogantly wrong, in my book.

How's this for the supposed neutrality the inspectors are supposed to maintain:
[Mohamed El Baradei] said his inspectors "should be able within the next few months to provide credible assurance that Iraq has no nuclear weapons programme. These few months would be a valuable investment in peace because they could help us avoid a war." (from The Guardian)

---

Hidalgo says: The part where it applies to the current situation, considering that interviews are not the same as defections, and that the article points out that they are interviewing iraqi scientists, as per their jurisdiction. What they CANNOT do, and I am repeating myself here, is protect people from the iraqi government.

You may continue to repeat yourself, ad nauseum, but you will still be in error...

further decides that UNMOVIC and the IAEA may at their discretion conduct interviews inside or outside of Iraq, may facilitate the travel of those interviewed and family members outside of Iraq,

That quote, as I read it, says something like this:

The inspectors may interview anyone they please and protect them from the Iraqi government, even to the point of assiststing inerviewees and their families in defecting from Iraq.

So again, what part of the resolution do you not understand? Or do you think the above extract means that the inspectors are only allowed to book a short getaway for the questioned scientists and their families -- a bittersweet getaway consisting of a short time of freedom spent in a vacation paradise followed by the bitter return to Iraq and guaranteed execution as a traitor?
posted by syzygy at 1:36 AM on January 28, 2003


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