Join 3,440 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Mystery ships
February 22, 2003 12:06 PM   Subscribe

Three giant cargo ships are being tracked by US and British intelligence on suspicion that they might be carrying Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The ships have been sailing around the world's oceans for the past three months while maintaining radio silence in clear violation of international maritime law.
posted by stbalbach (59 comments total)

 
I wonder if they'll file a followup report if/when they find that it's just smugglers or something. If it were Fox News, I wouldn't even wonder.
posted by RylandDotNet at 12:20 PM on February 22, 2003


uhh....

WHAT EFFING PORT DID THEY SAIL FROM?

The whole argument linking them to Iraq is based on Iraq being able to smuggle out the cargo to a port. What port? Syria or Jordan? Maybe that would work -- but that means they went out the Med, rather than the Gulf, and if you think there aren't a huge number of NATO warships in the Med, you're wrong. (And how much cargo? You'd think we'd notice one hundred twenty thousand odd tons going out of Iraq right now.)

Not stating the port-of-departure cripples the Iraq link. And, I love this. It states in one sentence that it's thought the departed from some other country, to avoid all the warships in the Gulf. Later, it states that the ships have docked in Yemen, magically avoiding all the warships in the Gulf, I guess.

You know, I'd probably accept the argument that we need to get rid of Saddam, if only the governments involved would stop lying to me.
posted by eriko at 12:21 PM on February 22, 2003


Old news, although admittedly I would have liked to here more on this issue in the last few days. Can you find a more recent link explaining what has been done about the ships since this information was made public three days ago?
posted by Jimbob at 12:21 PM on February 22, 2003


Speaking of Boats of Badness, here's a theory of what bin Laden might have meant when he vowed to become a martyr in "the belly of the Eagle."
posted by homunculus at 12:38 PM on February 22, 2003


What is the diff between a cargo ship and giagantic cargoe ships?
What bothers me is that we have a wishy washy attitute. Why not a premptive strike so that those ships and what they are carrying do not get used by terrorists or against the US? If it turns out we were wrong, the insurance will pick up the tab. Better safe (and sunk) than sorry (and afloat).
posted by Postroad at 12:43 PM on February 22, 2003


giagantic cargoe ships?
~Drama~

Post who is going to clean up the ocean afterwards with your plan. Not trying to argue your idea. Now this is far fetch but with hollywood I can see sinking ships so as to really retrieve some weapons of destruction w/o anybody noticing. Yes Dr. Evil indeed.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:57 PM on February 22, 2003


The French and the Germans are very good as salvaging and making do with whatever is. Besides, we are not going to sink every boat but only those that we deem might be giving aid to an enemy, such as a catamaran used in the Americas Trophy race. I have it from inside sources that Mario Perillo and his son use cruise ships for questionable purposes, and it may not be by chance that so many decent people got taken ill (anthrax? a cover up?) on cruise ships. Here they were merely trying to renew their marriage vows, rekindle their fading love, and wham! they come ashore in stretchers. Doesn't that raise some eyebrows in the federal salon?
posted by Postroad at 1:24 PM on February 22, 2003


I wonder if they'll file a followup report if/when they find that it's just smugglers or something. If it were Fox News, I wouldn't even wonder.

Obviously, since this is MeFi, it just couldn't be that Saddam actually has WMD, and actually is taking all sorts of creative steps to hide them both in Iraq and in various other places. Obviously this is just another lie by the US to justify invading. Obviously Bush=Evil.
posted by MidasMulligan at 1:33 PM on February 22, 2003


You either agree or disagree ... no questions allowed ... no independant thought appreciated; isn't that right Midas?
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:49 PM on February 22, 2003


I'm personally sick of my independent thoughts. I wanna come home. Midas, will you let me back in?

Midas?

I don't have a lot. I'll have to mooch off you and get all my ideas from you for awhile. But I'm cold. I'm scared. I'm tired of it. All because I decided to take on some of the thinking rightly left to those in the know because I was selfish. That's not American. I know now.

Midas?

Can I come back? I promise not to think anymore.
posted by crasspastor at 1:59 PM on February 22, 2003


Is this being reported anywhere else? It seems like a potentially big story.
posted by condour75 at 2:11 PM on February 22, 2003


MidasMulligan: Obviously, since this is MeFi, it just couldn't be that Saddam actually has WMD, and actually is taking all sorts of creative steps to hide them both in Iraq and in various other places. Obviously this is just another lie by the US to justify invading.

The only obvious thing is that the story was poorly reported. The fact is, they don't know what's on those ships. There's no indication in the article of where they came from or what they're carrying, so reporting without corroboration that they may be carrying Iraqi weapons is conjecture at best -- more like uneducated guesses and fear-mongering, IMHO, but I could be wrong.
posted by RylandDotNet at 2:17 PM on February 22, 2003


I believe that eriko makes an astounding point: if there are those of us who are skeptical about the governmental slant on this news, its because they have tought us that skepticism is necessary. The consistant claim is that Iraq is deceiving the inspectors, the UN, the media, and the world. We've yet to see proof of that claim. Yet the claims of Blair and the American administration are shown to be false or questionable on an almost daily basis. Who are we to trust, Fox news? This story reeks of Bullshit. US and British intelligence think that these are weapon ships? Great, find out and tell me the truth.

Supposedly these ships cannot be boarded because they might be scuttled. This is the thinking from a military mindset that expects to protect Iraqi oil fields and its neighbors from "scuttling" by the use of overwhelming force? Fine, use overwhelming force to capture the ships and search them. Exactly what is the goal here; protecting us from WMDs while disarming Iraq, or making excuses for a costly and ill-advised war effort? Rational thought about stories such as this certainly show the latter to be the case.

Another question: if these are weapons ships, and they can't be boarded, and we attack and quickly defeat Iraq, where will these ships offload? Yemen, Qatar? Where will its cargo end up? Pakistan, Palistinian territories, San Francisco? If these ships do carry the WMDs of Saddam Hussein, then they should be much more the target than Bahgdad. Talk about the mother of all loose ends ...
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:22 PM on February 22, 2003


Not to mention that Saddam would have to be an astounding dumbass to let three "gigantic" cargo ships just wander around, not responding to hails, and expect them to go unnoticed. He'd be able to hide the (so-far) hypothetical WoMD much more easily inside Iraq, where he has control over all the roads and infrastructure.

Which doesn't rule out the possibility that Saddam is an astounding dumbass, but still...
posted by RylandDotNet at 2:29 PM on February 22, 2003


Interesting but kind of thin article.

If it is remotely true I guarantee there is a Los Angeles or Sea Wolf in the immediate vicinity of those ships. Possibly even a spec. ops. sub.
posted by rudyfink at 2:30 PM on February 22, 2003


A 35,000 dwt ship is not just giant - it's over 750 feet long, almost the size of a World War 2 aircraft carrier. See here for an example. A US T-AKR of that size carries all the equipment and supplies to support an 8000 man combat brigade for a month.

It's incredibly expensive to keep one of those ships in operation, and if three are steaming in circles as the story claims, that alone would be very suspicious.

But the report is not confirmed by western intelligence agencies ...
posted by Jos Bleau at 2:33 PM on February 22, 2003


Loved that last link that said: "British newspaper reports three vessels loaded with WMD circumventing globe"--I thought it was Bush ignoring enviormnetanlists who was circumventing the globe. Was it Magellan who circumvented the Globe or was he merely the swabby who circumnavigated the globe.

This mystery ship story has been around now for a few days. Perhaps it is a post-modern Flying Dutchman.
posted by Postroad at 3:14 PM on February 22, 2003


Later, it states that the ships have docked in Yemen, magically avoiding all the warships in the Gulf, I guess. — eriko

I think I agree with your overall point, but Yemen's not in the Persian Gulf.
posted by nicwolff at 3:43 PM on February 22, 2003


I don't have a lot. I'll have to mooch off you and get all my ideas from you for awhile. But I'm cold. I'm scared. I'm tired of it. All because I decided to take on some of the thinking rightly left to those in the know because I was selfish. That's not American. I know now.

You either agree or disagree ... no questions allowed ... no independant thought appreciated; isn't that right Midas?

Interesting. I and a couple of others - who are quite often the lone dissenting voices to the MeFi mindset, wind up so often being accused trying to quiet "independent thought" by daring to make a single comment that is opposed to the mentality that simply assumes the US is guilty.

Odd how you can take an average MeFi FPP of 50 or 60 posts, count 15 people trashing the US or Bush, one or two people speaking on their behalf ... and then claim that those two people are responsible for implying that you "either agree or disagree ... no questions allowed".

Quite a paradox ... using the accusation of squelching "independent thought" as your primary means mean of enforcing conformity to your own viewpoint.
posted by MidasMulligan at 4:21 PM on February 22, 2003


Midas: I appreciate your dissenting views, but sometimes your tone works against you. I think people sometimes react to the way you say things since your point is often lost in the seeming anger and italicized obviously's. It's possible that these ships could be hiding WMD, but there is no evidence that would support this claim beyond the usual unnamed intelligence sources etc. Spectacular claims need equally spectacular evidence in order to create any sense of truth.
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:35 PM on February 22, 2003


if only the governments involved would stop lying to me --eriko.

US and British intelligence think that these are weapon ships? Great, find out and tell me the truth. --Wulfgar

LOL
posted by stbalbach at 4:44 PM on February 22, 2003


Midas, these people just slam anything that doesnt fit their world view. It is such a kneejerk reaction I don't think eriko even read the article it says what port the ships came from and he didn't even know Yemen isn't in the Persian Gulf! The tidbits like the above quotes show their lack of knowledge of how the world really works, articles like this one that are kinda gray and don't fit a black and white world view just drive them crazy they can't process it. It has to be truth or not, pro or anti, they can't have a discussion about anything unless its a simple two sided one, so don't waste your energy.

As for this story it may or may not be true or part of some other truth (perhaps there are 5 ships, or a secret volcano island). Let's assume it is for the sake of discussion. What could he have on board? It may be WMD. It may be priceless art work to save from destruction. It may be thousands of hostages held for ransom. It may be an environmental disaster waiting to happen for revenge like how he blew up the oilfields in 91. There are a lot of possibilities and it's fun to think about.

What would you do as a ruthless dictator with 3 giant ships cruising the worlds oceans?
posted by stbalbach at 5:04 PM on February 22, 2003


Oh nevermind.....
posted by elwoodwiles at 5:08 PM on February 22, 2003


Whether his post was snarky or not, I think Midas hit the nail on the head. Or rather, by daring to dissent from the popular party line, he became the nail that got hammered down.

Stifling "independant thought"? If the attack hadn't been so ludicrous it would have been offensive.
posted by John Smallberries at 5:14 PM on February 22, 2003


Later, it states that the ships have docked in Yemen, magically avoiding all the warships in the Gulf, I guess.

Someone needs a geography lesson. By sea, Yemen is at least 1000 miles away from the Gulf.
posted by wackybrit at 5:24 PM on February 22, 2003


I found a followup from the Independant here.
posted by entropy at 5:29 PM on February 22, 2003


"Reports from Washington in December indicated that up to 15 ships were being operated by al-Qa'ida."

Don't worry. It might only the al-Qa'ida navy.
posted by entropy at 5:34 PM on February 22, 2003


"Obviously, since this is MeFi, it just couldn't be that Saddam actually has WMD"

Midas: Your post was the first to comment on the comments. Surely you should expect someone to claim you are using an Ad Hominem attack. I agree that you seem to fit the minority view on Metafilter. But, it's a very vocal minority. And, it isn't the minority view in the world many of us live in.
posted by ?! at 5:39 PM on February 22, 2003


Even the most vocal supporter of the US government has to be sick and tired of hearing there is "proof" and not having it offered.

From the first article: "Uncovering such a deadly cargo on board would give George Bush and Tony Blair the much sought-after "smoking gun" needed to justify an attack on Saddam Hussein's regime, in the face of massive public opposition to war."

Uncover the damn cargo. A country prepared to go to war shouldn't be worried about boarding a ship with a few inspectors. And if the threat of polluting the seas is too great....what about the pollution of using these weapons and more in the war?
posted by ?! at 5:40 PM on February 22, 2003


I and a couple of others - who are quite often the lone dissenting voices to the MeFi mindset...

...these people just slam anything that doesnt fit their world view...

Or rather, by daring to dissent from the popular party line...

Gosh, poor conservatives, nobody ever tells their side... well, except Fox News, and CNN, and every other major news organization everywhere. Christ, I've been expecting the magic phrase "liberal media bias" to come up any post now, although these days I think even hardcore conservatives know that's a lie. Methinks the dittoheads doth protest too much.

At this point, the ships' cargo is still unknown. All this talk of WoMD is just speculation until someone boards and finds out. How about we postpone this argument until then and save the wear and tear?
posted by RylandDotNet at 5:52 PM on February 22, 2003


Quite a paradox ... using the accusation of squelching "independent thought" as your primary means mean of enforcing conformity to your own viewpoint.

Indeed it is quite the paradox if you take into account that this isn't the real world here "in the blue". In the US there are a disturbing glut of people like you who do not think it worth their while to remain rational when it comes to threat after threat after threat on this or that horizon. Isn't it at all absurd to you this psychotic color coding of the mood we're supposed to have carry us throughout our days? Isn't it at all obvious that this is quickly becoming a world not really all that worth living in? When did it start and where does it end?

I've yet to see otherwise by those like you on Metafilter and out in that paradoxical place of real life that life is something to be cherished and enjoyed, not muddled through in fear, derision and obedience. Fuck the world you believe in.

Bush=Evil indeed. I haven't had a single day that I haven't had to go and worry about this or that. That's evil Midas, stbalbach etc. And I resent being made to drop what ever it was I was doing before he and his entered so rudely into my life. I don't believe a word of it because it's not conducive to a life worth living.
posted by crasspastor at 6:12 PM on February 22, 2003


This may be slightly off thread but I don't think so. A few years ago I met a man who had worked for British Intelligence during the Second World War. His group were involved in creating disinformation. He told me that at the time that the first radar installation began operating in the UK and were still top secret, they were assigned to invent a story that would keep the Germans from guessing why the Brits had got so much better at shooting down the German planes. They put out a story that the RAF pilots were being fed large quantities of carrots to improve their night time eye site. This story was believed by just about everyone and my parents alway insisted I eat my carrots so I would have better eyesight. Anyway, I'm not surprised that we get lied to all the time. I just hope that those guys know more than they're letting on.
posted by donfactor at 6:31 PM on February 22, 2003


Sheesh, look at this place! D'jever see the Twigligth Zone ep "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street"? Not the horrible remake this week, but the original from 1960?

This thread has turned into that ...

And crasspastor, if Bush=evil is the biggest worry you've got, I wish I had your problems.
posted by Jos Bleau at 6:33 PM on February 22, 2003


Yes, folks, I did in fact mentally conflate the Gulf of Aden and the Persian gulf. Obviously I'm a complete idiot with no possibility of rational points.

However, that would imply that there are no US or NATO warships in the Arabian Sea or the Gulf of Aden. I guess this means that the Fifth Fleet doesn't exist after all.

Which is good, because that nonexistent Fifth Fleet
has publicly stated that they have no information whatsoever on this ships.
Period.

So, the Independent -- the paper *most* supportive of New Labour in the UK, publishes this report stating that these three ships, contrary to International Law (which they aren't, there are no rules demanding communications in international waters) are being carefully tracked by US forces (who have never heard of them) and, of course, are carrying Iraqi WMD, even though they can't tell us what ports these ships might have docked at to *load* these WMD. They say that they didn't dock in Iraq, since that would mean inspection of by US/NATO warships, but the ships docked in Yemen -- not that 5th Fleet would *ever* watch the Straits of Aden -- not that the Red Sea or the Suez Canal are important or anything.

So, yes, MidasMulligan and others. I don't buy it. It is yet another lie to convince us that we need to attack Saddam. Meanwhile, the organization who killed 3000 in Manhattan? Not important. Oil, important. People who actually kill Americans in America? Not important. A country that's developing nuclear weapons and has missiles that can hit the US? Not important. A country that, despite years of searches, still can't be shown to have WMD, and who's biggest violation is that their 90 mile range missiles actually go 125 miles? Important.

The only good thing likely to come out of this is the destruction of New Labour in the UK. Of course, lots of US/UK citizens will probably die. But hey, that's not important.



posted by eriko at 6:51 PM on February 22, 2003


All I can think of is How the US public relations industry sold the Gulf War to the US, the mother of all clients : "The great Iraq War lie. The pictured girl told the world under tears that she saw how Saddam Hussein's soldiers took babies out of their incubators and let them die on the cold floor. In Novembre 1990 Bush 41 told this lie to the poor soldiers. In truth she hadn't been in Kuwait at the time. The girl was in fact the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador in Washington, USA."....Go on: fact check the veracity of US Gov. claims on this.....smells like......... "Teen spirit"? - no, actually it smells like "Wag the Dog"....
posted by troutfishing at 7:25 PM on February 22, 2003


Eriko, the fact that we're most likely going after Saddam with the strategy most appropriate for Saddam (conventional war), by no means is proof that we're not going after other enemies by the strategies most appropriate for them.

When al-Quaeda had bases and tanks to attack (via their Taliban alliances) we attacked them. Now it's a little harder. We're still going after them in a variety of ways overt and covert (recall the drone attack in Yemen a few months ago?).

North Korea is a challenge of a different sort. That they may have functional nuclear weapons, even one or two, dictates a more cautious strategy. The presence of China on the northern border, with China's historic sensitivity about it's spheres of interest, is another. Simply put, a conventional military attack doesn't seem like a sound strategy against them right now.

The worst sin that anyone cannot commit (geopolitically) is to fight many wars with the same strategy, or to fight any war with yesterday's strategy.
posted by MattD at 7:47 PM on February 22, 2003


MattD, what are you talking about? We're talking about these cargo ships, what they may be carrying, and if in fact they exist at all, not what strategy to use in the war.
posted by RylandDotNet at 7:56 PM on February 22, 2003


All I can think of is How the US public relations industry sold the Gulf War to the US, the mother of all clients : "The great Iraq War lie. The pictured girl told the world under tears that she saw how Saddam Hussein's soldiers took babies out of their incubators and let them die on the cold floor. In Novembre 1990 Bush 41 told this lie to the poor soldiers. In truth she hadn't been in Kuwait at the time. The girl was in fact the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador in Washington, USA."....Go on: fact check the veracity of US Gov. claims on this.....smells like......... "Teen spirit"? - no, actually it smells like "Wag the Dog"....

I'm wondering how this is a problem of the US government instead of the Kuwaiti government?
posted by Plunge at 8:30 PM on February 22, 2003


RylandDotNet: He's answering the charges put forth by eriko.
posted by Plunge at 8:32 PM on February 22, 2003


Mattd - re: "The worst sin that anyone cannot commit (geopolitically) is to fight many wars with the same strategy, or to fight any war with yesterday's strategy."

So: Are you accusing the Bush Adm. of cultural sensitivity?
posted by troutfishing at 8:41 PM on February 22, 2003


eriko said:
there are no rules demanding communications in international waters

From where does your knowledge of international commercial maritime law come? I don't wish to discount your rebuttal if it is indeed true, however, like the article, you failed to cite a credible source.
posted by mosch at 8:47 PM on February 22, 2003


I guess I'll never cease being amazed at the lack of critical thought in the world today.

The world is not black and white. It is a complex beast with many different versions of "the truth." You get closer to reality by examining not what is said but by who is saying it and what motivates them. Let's just examine eriko's last post:

Yes, folks, I did in fact mentally conflate the Gulf of Aden and the Persian gulf. Obviously I'm a complete idiot with no possibility of rational points.

No, eriko, as previously stated the world is not black and white. You may have rational points but your previous statement was cemented in the fact that Yemen was in the Persian Gulf. This does not mean you are incapable of rational points, it means that a major premise of your argument was false thus calling into question any conclusions you've made based on those false set of facts.

are being carefully tracked by US forces (who have never heard of them)

Again, a call to a black or white view. Do you think that the US intelligence tells you everything they know? Some reporter calls and asks what the deal is on three ships that are being secretly tracked and you expect the US military to just gush with information about it? Could it be that instead of either the black and white view that perhaps the US military is tracking the ships covertly and some paper somehow got the scoop?

In case you haven't heard, there's a anti-terrorist group called Delta Force. Despite the fact that they fought in places like Afghanistan and Somolia, the US military refuses to admit the group even exists. So would you also argue that any battles they engage in are obvious lies since the unit doesn't actually exist?

even though they can't tell us what ports these ships might have docked at to *load* these WMD

So, you don't believe the report but you believe everything in the report? You don't believe the story is true, yet you believe that intelligence doesn't know. Again, could it be that they do know but only leaked out the minimal amount of information for the story to serve its purpose?

I'm just going to stop here because it's pointless to single out the flawed arguments any further. I will leave you with some advice though; do yourself a favor and read this PBS article series. I suggest it because it outlines in rather good detail what the Whitehouse is doing and why they are doing it. It's a Post-Cold-War strategy that has been in the works for some time now and Sept. 11 was the US' license to bring it out in full force. In fact it answers some of the questions you asked. There's a reason why the Whitehouse thinks it needs to take down Iraq in a military action while it feels it can deal with N. Korea via diplomatic channels.

I question the government all the time. The difference between you (and 90% of the anti-Bush crowd on MeFi and elsewhere) and I is that I actually take the time to find out what is happening and why. War for oil makes for a catchy phrase to put on your anti-war poster but it's not what motivates this Whitehouse. Until you take the time to actually find out what it's about, your opinions will carry with them the same level of ignorance that were displayed with your comments about Yemen being in the Persoan Gulf and will be dismissed just as quickly by those who have done their homework.
posted by billman at 8:59 PM on February 22, 2003


The difference between you (and 90% of the anti-Bush crowd on MeFi and elsewhere) and I is that I actually take the time to find out what is happening and why.

Ya know billman, you might have been able to make an argument without fleeing into this unsubstantiated, arrogant pile-of-horse-shit claim. For all your lofty and vast knowledge, you still can't answer two simple questions: What is on those ships, and why is the media reporting them as weapons ships while the US Military is disavowing knowledge of them? You can't answer the first question, so you just find fancy wording to tell us all that we don't need to know (*cough, cough, bullshit*). You attempt to answer the second with the same sad degree of misdirection, that the military/government/spook information factory will tell us all what we need to know based on their oh so well thought out strategy for fooling the enemy (Its super double secret spin).

Meanwhile, there's three ships out there that may contain a huge cargo of death-dealing agents, and what I know is that our government is either ignorant of what's on board, or they know what's on board and they're lying to me while doing nothing. Of course some of you here will pull the "anti-Bush card" out of your asses while trying to tell me that I should just trust my government to know what's best, but you can't answer the question: what's on those ships?

Here's the long and short of it: I know my Government lies to me. If they are still my government (you know, that pesky "of the people, by the people, for the people" shit), then the burden of proof is on them. Trying to turn it on me, or those like minded (eriko) is a fascist tactic I don't accept.
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:00 PM on February 22, 2003


I hear one of the crew is wandrin around with an albatross round his neck and that not only are these ships carrying iraqi wmds they have flames painted up the side of the boats and are being guided thru the brine by none other than the loch ness monster.
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:00 PM on February 22, 2003


Sarge, dude, cut back on the McLellans. You know that Nessy would never leave those cool Scottish waters ...

It's gotta be mermaids.
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:17 PM on February 22, 2003


Wasn't this same story in Underworld? Wait, and that had a picture of the World Trade Center on the cover. Dude, I'm starting to freak myself out...
posted by eatitlive at 10:26 PM on February 22, 2003


Do you think that the US intelligence tells you everything they know? Some reporter calls and asks what the deal is on three ships that are being secretly tracked and you expect the US military to just gush with information about it? Could it be that instead of either the black and white view that perhaps the US military is tracking the ships covertly and some paper somehow got the scoop?

Could be true, but isn't it prudent when confronted with denied, unconfirmed information to seek confirmation before wailing that there are ships carrying weapons of mass destruction. Perhaps this would not be so funny if it were not for the fact that the previous Bush administration lied about Iraqi troop buildups on the Saudi border (commercial satilite imagry failed to reveal the claimed mass of amour and infantry ready to roll into Saudi Arabia.)

In addition it is possible that the this might not be a case of the U. S. Government pulling a fast one. If you read the article carefully, it comes from a single anonymous source in the "shipping industry", not your typical government tip. It is quite possible that Mr. Harrison is being hoaxed. It is also quite possible that said shipping industry source heard something from someone who heard something and Mr. Harrison filled in the details. At any rate there are tons of reasons to look at this report with a critical eye.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:26 PM on February 22, 2003


Hey, don't blame the US for this one if it turns out wrong. I haven't seen the story at all in US media, nor have I heard the President say anything about it. I'd be reluctant to think anything is on those ships, but it seems suspicious enough to take a look at them.

And Ryland - I don't suscribe to the media bias wholeheartedly, but the US Media does tend to underreport a lot of stories, especially if the govt. doesn't take an official position. For instance, the controversy in Germany about the coverup of knowledge about smallpox in the German intelligence community. FAZ, Die Welt (I believe), and many other major papers have been running this page one last week, since Schroeder allegedly covered up the info in order to bolster his peace-based campaign. No paper or US website I read has mentioned this story.

I don't see a bias either way (in the US; Britain, on the other hand, has quite a bit of bias in their news). All I see is lazy reporters - if an official doesn't feed them a story, they won't print it.
posted by Kevs at 10:49 PM on February 22, 2003


From where does your knowledge of international commercial maritime law come?

Mosch: Oops. I'd meant to link that. It comes from the USGS, USCG, and other US blue water orgs I've dealt with.

The primary source of international law on the high seas is The United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea.

The only mentions of radio in the LoS are Article 109 (don't be a pirate radio transmitter) and the various articles (example, Article 39) dealing with transit, that require monitoring of the various international distress frequencies -- 500, 2182, 8364 kHz, 121.5, 156.8 and 243.0 MHz.

Another important document is COLREGS -- formerly the US Coast Guard Collision avoidance Regulations, now the International Regulations for Avoiding Collisions at Sea.

These two documents make up the main body of law on the High Seas. Note that when you are in coastal waters, things change. The US does require that you respond to radio transmission from various US agencies -- but that only applies in US waters. On the high seas, you are not require to reply to any transmission. However, failing to do so can result in you get shot at and/or boarded, see Article 110. Also, you are required to render assistance, if needed (Article 98), which may require you to transmit (to relay an SOS)

MattD: No, my previous statement was *not* cemented on the fact that Yemen was in the Persian Gulf. My previous statement has a portion that was based on the fact that the statements "The ship did not use Iraqi Ports, because of risks of inspection" and "Docking in Yemen did not place the ships in the area of US inspection" are not both true.

The world is, in fact, not black and white. But some things are. What neither you, or any other war with Iraq supporter, nor Bush, nor Blair has established is why we *need* to go to war with Iraq. We've heard many reasons. Many of these have been proven to be outright lies -- including, apparently, these three ships. The US and UK governments have repeatedly tried to link Iraq with Al-Queda, and failed. They've tried, repeatedly, to demonstrate that Iraq is not in compliance with UN resolutions, and mostly failed. The sources of the stories are biased news sources closely linked with the ruling parties in the UK and US.

Yet, still, we mobilize for war. Why? What justification do we have for attempting a $24 Billion bribe to use Turkish lands for the invasion. What is the threat to US interests from the collapsed economy of Iraq?

That's the point. What is the *compelling threat* that demands the mobilization of thousands of troops to invade a country?

Meanwhile, much more real threats, like Pakistan, North Korea, and Al-Queda, get short shrift.

(And, by the way, 1-SFOD (Delta Force) is *not* a anti-terrorist force, but a hostage rescue force. The US does not have a dedicated anti-terrorist force, instead using various small tactical units (USN Seals, Marine Force Recon, and so forth) to attempt such actions.)

And, billman, no, I don't believe a single thing in the report. I merely used the stated "facts" in the report to repeatedly point out the inconsistencies in the report. I use the "facts" in the report to disprove the conclusions of the report. This, btw, is known as the Reductio Ad Absurdum argument, where you pretend the facts presented are true briefly, to show that the conclusions they reach do not agree with the conclusions stated. A classic version of this is the Pons asinorum proof that the square root of two is irrational.

And as to your lovely ad homienem about my inability to take the time to find out what's really going on? I've spent the last five years studying the Middle East. The threat to the US is not from a isolated dictator who continues to impoverish his country to maintain his lifestyle.

The threat is from various disaffected, amorphous groups who have realized that by using unconventional tactics, they can wreak havoc on large populations. Combine this with a three decade long indoctrination program to reduce the value of the self, and the ability of technology to multiply the damage they can cause, we get September 11th, and we will get worse.

And Bush wants to fight a conventional war against a conventional enemy. Why?

Where is the threat?

neither You, Nor Bush, Nor Blair, has shown me that. You've shown me obfuscation and lies. To hell with you, them, and this war.
posted by eriko at 10:57 PM on February 22, 2003


bicker! argue! decry!

Just board the fuckers and find out already.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:43 AM on February 23, 2003


but how do they fit the boats in the underground tunnels?
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:10 AM on February 23, 2003


Bush, nor Blair has established is why we *need* to go to war with Iraq. We've heard many reasons. Many of these have been proven to be outright lies -- including, apparently, these three ships

eriko, your arguments fall down with statements like this. You have not proven these ships don't exist, you talk with authority on matters you can't possibly know about. The truth is, no one on MeFi knows if this story is true or not. I wonder what other Bush/Blair "lies" you base your position on and how you came to determain they are lies. Sounds like a lot of propaganda to me.

much more real threats, like Pakistan, North Korea, and Al-Queda, get short shrift.

Not true. These threats are being addressed through the intelligence community and could take years to play out in the interim you won't hear anything except the occasional arrest.

It's a common logical flaw among the left to assume that the US is inconsistent in which dictator it attacks and therefore is not justified in attacking anyone. That's another black and white thinking process that we must attack ALL evil dictators in the world or none at all. If we don't attack North Korea we are not justified in attacking Iraq, it's a stupid argument. We attack who and what we want based on many complex factors that to the outsider may seem inconsistent but this is not a high-school debate class it is foreign policy of a large and complex government.

failing to do so can result in you get shot at and/or boarded

My god man your logic is so messed up. That's like saying obeying the speedlimit is not the law, but failing to do so can result in you being pulled over and given a ticket. If failing to answer the radio results in your being forcibly boarded than what is the difference, why even bring it up. I for one find it hard to believe there is not some law to that effect as the article says there is.
posted by stbalbach at 7:06 AM on February 23, 2003


We attack who and what we want based on many complex factors that to the outsider may seem inconsistent but this is not a high-school debate class it is foreign policy of a large and complex government.

Yes, indeed: and "outsider" here includes quite nearly the entire population of the United States, who have not been given anything like a clear and sensible justification for this mad war. I really don't care how big or complex the federal government is: if they're going to sell me a plan, it had damn well better make sense. This one doesn't. I'm not buying.
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:28 AM on February 23, 2003


From entropy's link: "Reports from Washington in December indicated that up to 15 ships were being operated by al-Qa'ida. But Mr Cockroft warned that intelligence services did not know where ships were or what were their destinations."

Great. Meanwhile, back at home: "An upcoming article in The New Republic, contending that the president has not done enough, cites an American Association of Port Authorities estimate that it would cost $2 billion to make the ports secure. But since Sept. 11, only $318 million has been spent. Although Mr. Bush himself endorsed a program to screen cargo at foreign ports, his budget provides no money for it."
posted by homunculus at 11:56 AM on February 23, 2003


<offtopic>

donfactor:

Yeah, it's interesting how public history is often shaped or informed by wartime propaganda. I was brought up believing in the whole carrot thing as well.

Essentially, the disinfo. people created a superhuman night fighter pilot named 'Catseyes' Cunningham, and released details of his aerial victories to the media (this at a time when the British didn't release much information at all about individual pilots). The idea was that he found German bombers during the Blitz using his amazing eyesight. A version of Cunningham actually did exist -- a pilot in 604(?) squadron, with a number of night victories -- but he achieved those in the conventional way, using the then-secret aerial mark IV radar. Cunningham (who died last year) was, I think, always a little bemused by his avatar, and the way it achieved a life of its own in the decades after his death.

There's an obit. here.

Apparently, the deception wasn't just to hide the fact that the RAF had operational air-to-air radar, it was also conducted in part on behalf of the Ministry of Food, to make farm production seem a little more glamorous.

</offtopic>
posted by Sonny Jim at 4:48 PM on February 23, 2003


'...decades after his death.' = '...decades after the war.', BTW.
posted by Sonny Jim at 4:52 PM on February 23, 2003


They're in Aden? 1. What a lovely place for ships potentially full of WMD and 2. do we have any jurisdiction to board the ships when they're in port? (Yemen being such a longtime friend of the US and all.)
posted by swerve at 7:57 PM on February 23, 2003


Ya know billman, you might have been able to make an argument without fleeing into this unsubstantiated, arrogant pile-of-horse-shit claim.

Granted, I am arrogant but the claim is valid. The Bush Doctorine isn't even Bush's. It's been in the system for a long time. Failure to read about and understand why the US acts one way in one situation and why it acts differently in another is willful ignorance. Eriko and many like him hate Bush so much they refuse to even educate themselves on what he ACTUALLY believes and why he believes it.

You can't dispute doctorines very easily on bumper stickers and t-shirts so many consider the point too complex and immediately reduce the argument to war for oil or Bush sucks or some other easily digestiable slogan in order to avoid thinking too hard.

For all your lofty and vast knowledge, you still can't answer two simple questions: What is on those ships, and why is the media reporting them as weapons ships while the US Military is disavowing knowledge of them? You can't answer the first question

And that, amigo, is the point. I can't answer the question and neither can you nor anybody else here. We don't even know if the ships exist. So everything from that point on is speculation and/or a willingness to give some degree of credibility to the report. Whether the the existance of the ships is true is the first leap of faith you have to make. If you make that leap of faith, that the ships exist, then you can go on to dispute other factors of the report. My response was to Eriko's left turn into anti-Bush rhetoric. Not because I support Bush but because his failure to curb his emotion resulted in a disjointed set of statements/arguments which don't even stand up to logic.
posted by billman at 8:53 PM on February 23, 2003


its been reported that nessie and the three ships of death are heading for san francisco , possibly berthing at the secret naval base of al-queda commander m.haughey.
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:57 PM on February 24, 2003


« Older Pianist Looks for Justice After Losing Finger...  |  A reporter's quest to get to t... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments