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chemical ali
August 21, 2003 7:45 AM   Subscribe

chemical ali captured. ny times link
now wait a second ... how much money did american taxpayers already spend to "kill" this man?
posted by specialk420 (45 comments total)

 
... just what the hell is there to complain about here?
posted by shadow45 at 7:48 AM on August 21, 2003


So it is August, and now we're capturing people that we already killed back in April? Sounds like progress to me!
posted by spilon at 7:52 AM on August 21, 2003


Fog of war is on.

The second article cleary states "The Pentagon believes "Chemical Ali," Saddam Hussein's cousin who ordered a chemical attack on Kurds in northern Iraq in 1988, is dead."
posted by a3matrix at 8:07 AM on August 21, 2003


There's not much to complain about in his capture. There is plenty to complain about with the Iraq-sized playground for terrorists that Bush and Blair have created. We'll go it alone, they said. And go it alone, they did. The results speak for themselves.
posted by holycola at 8:08 AM on August 21, 2003


I'd prefer him alive than dead. This was the chap in charge of Iraq's chemical weapons program. His potential knowledge makes this capture as important as the deaths of the two sons. Now we might get to find out just how big or how little a chemical warfare capability Iraq had.
posted by humuhumu at 8:09 AM on August 21, 2003


First Uday and Qusay, and now Chemical Ali? Fuck you, American military!

PS: Are you linking to Newsmax with the impression that anything they report past, present or future is true? Seriously?
posted by dhoyt at 8:10 AM on August 21, 2003


For those that haven't been paying attention:

Slashdot -> Microsoft

MetaFilter -> US Government

I'll be the first in line to bitch when they do wrong, but this is just semantics
posted by shadow45 at 8:11 AM on August 21, 2003


Fog of war is on.

Uh uh. I turned that option off. Full screen anti-aliasing doesn't seem to be working, though.
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:14 AM on August 21, 2003


Breaking news just in; Elvis has just been captured outside Tikrit with an entourage including seventeen chefs. Sources inside the military are hopeful of finding conclusive evidence of banana fritter manufacture, more to follow.
posted by johnnyboy at 8:18 AM on August 21, 2003


Gee, I would have thought this would have been seen as good news by those wringing their hands about the deaths of those poor kids Uday and Qusay.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:22 AM on August 21, 2003


Is anyone else getting tired of hearing about this? As time goes on, we just learn more and more about how much we f*cked up in this whole ordeal.

Given the large amount of people who were against it in the first place, I think the Bush administration's embarrassment factor should be substantially higher.

And WD, you need to go back to the previous driver, the latest one has bugs.
posted by joquarky at 8:24 AM on August 21, 2003


Fog of war is on.

I'd just like to mention that I read this as "Frog of war is on." And then I thought about us doing battle with a gigantic toad, with us bombarding his angry green skin with machine gun fire, and it lashing out with its terrible tongue, devouring soldiers whole. Viewers at home would be horrified to see U.S. soldiers being eaten by a mammoth frog, and would fill the newspapers with angry screeds about how they don't want their nephew Bill (he's in the Marines) devoured by an enormous amphibian.
posted by Skot at 8:31 AM on August 21, 2003


"We believe that the reign of terror of 'Chemical Ali' has come to an end. To Iraqis who have suffered at his hand, particularly in the last few weeks in that southern part of the country, he will never again terrorize you or your families," - rummy.

who is giving rummy his information anyway?

is this kind of thing indicative of much larger problems in this US government? who else does the defense department think they have killed or captured in the war on terror that are actually laughing in their townhomes in peshawar as the next 9-11 is planned? how safe are those nukes in pakistan anyway?

any wonder why the rest of the world hates americans and snicker when they see our clowny leaders make grand pronouncements of fact only to have them proven false a few short months later?
posted by specialk420 at 8:34 AM on August 21, 2003


There is plenty to complain about with the Iraq-sized playground for terrorists that Bush and Blair have created.

I'd like to think of it more as flypaper. I'm sure most would rather have terrorists in Iraq then in the US.
posted by Mick at 8:34 AM on August 21, 2003


It wasn't just NewsMax. The 'he's dead' story was big news. The susequent 'um, never mind' story was not so much. Media's fault? Administration's fault? Elvis' fault? Heck, I dunno... I do find it interesting though.
posted by spilon at 8:45 AM on August 21, 2003


seen as good news

pardon you? ... ahh.. yeah. one would think penny pinching conservatives would be a little concerned about this sort thing - and the larger implications... you'd think.
posted by specialk420 at 8:53 AM on August 21, 2003


I'd like to think of it more as flypaper. I'm sure most would rather have terrorists in Iraq then in the US.

I'd rather we didn't have them in either place. The problem with this flypaper theory is that it makes some rather broad assumptions:Frankly, I find each of these assumptions to be of questionable merit, and these are just those I can think of off the top of my head. I am sure brighter bulbs can think of many others.
posted by moonbiter at 8:59 AM on August 21, 2003


The headline really ought to be "U.S. Military Announces Capture Of Chemical Ali". They could well have had him for weeks now, saving up the announcement for a time when the good publicity would be useful...a couple days after a massive bombing, say.
posted by uosuaq at 9:00 AM on August 21, 2003


Breaking news just in; Elvis has just been captured outside Tikrit with an entourage including seventeen chefs. Sources inside the military are hopeful of finding conclusive evidence of banana fritter manufacture, more to follow.

Because we all know that fried peanut butter and 'nana sammidges are Weapons of Arterial Obstruction.
posted by bwg at 9:12 AM on August 21, 2003


just semantics

yeah, we should be worrying more about whether or not they spelled the names right. syntax is important, people.
posted by andrew cooke at 9:20 AM on August 21, 2003


I'd just like to mention that I read this as "Frog of war is on." -skot

Wasn't there a Pink Floyd song about that?
posted by Tubes at 9:21 AM on August 21, 2003


i dunno, but there was a Pink Floyd song about the worms coming! and that DID happen just last week..
posted by shadow45 at 9:49 AM on August 21, 2003


The reason this is a big deal is that they definitely claimed this guy was dead back in April and as such was touted as a big military success, rejoicing Iraqis footage etc etc.

Now four months later turns out it wasn't such a big success after all, don't get me wrong it's great that they finally got him but come on folks its still a poor show.
posted by zeoslap at 9:58 AM on August 21, 2003


"... they definitely claimed this guy was dead back in April..."

It's an easy mistake to make. They all look the same, you know.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:17 AM on August 21, 2003


I hope someday I can afford an orgy of western indulgences like the one discovered at Chemical Ali's house:

"a battery-powered model of a Ferrari, a Japanese motorized water scooter, a parachute, a video library that included dozens of Hollywood movies of the past decade, more than 100 racing car wheels and the entire fittings for a luxury European kitchen."

Aw, who am I kidding? The most a middle-class schmuck like me can hope for is a wind-up ferrari model.
posted by scarabic at 10:45 AM on August 21, 2003


Good eye Scarabic! That paragraph seems like it was written by somebody at the DOD- Rummy himself?
posted by crazy finger at 11:18 AM on August 21, 2003


Finding him is good, but it casts further doubt on the current administration. They keep lying and then saying that they only lied because they thought it was true. More and more it seems that they're either habitual liars or naive fools.

Both explanations are a bit disquieting.
posted by mosch at 11:25 AM on August 21, 2003


I'm sure most would rather have terrorists in Iraq then in the US.

Fer sure. Hey. What're thousands of worthless Iraqi lives, especially weighed against the political-cum-ideological benefits of perpetual war?

OK. So we right-wingers weren't exactly leveling with you about reasons for preemptively invading the Iraqi homeland. "WMDs" hasn't panned out as a reason to go to war...yellowcake....aluminum tubes....drones....chemical weapons buses....yada-yada-yada, yeah, yeah, I know. And "stabilizing the region" obviously turned out to be complete horseshit....waging war to "help the 'flypaper' people (oops, I meant 'the Iraqi people')" ain't exactly an easy thing to say with a straight face anymore....

But maybe "flypaper" will sell. Hell yeah. Maybe Bush's next State of the Union address can include, oh, eighteen words or so about his grand "flypaper" strategy for sacrificing Iraqi lives (and some of them goddammed UNers too...'bout time) for American "security".

That should go over real big with a certain demographic in The Home of the Brave. Whatever sells.

Is there any way we can "flypaper" terrorists to France? Failing that....California?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:31 AM on August 21, 2003


First Uday and Qusay, and now Chemical Ali?

Er, what's this about U&Q? CA was claimed dead months ago, and has now turned up alive. U&Q were claimed dead weeks ago... are they now turning up alive? Gahd, I hope not.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:46 AM on August 21, 2003


It was fairly widely reported that Ali was still at large. The story may not have gotten as much play as his "death," but it was there:
"After Saddam, the biggest name on the list is Ali Hassan al-Majid, Saddam's first cousin and one of his bloodiest henchman, also known as "Chemical Ali."
Like many in Saddam's inner circle, al-Majid's rise in the regime was meteoric. Before Saddam's 1968 revolution he was a motorcycle messenger in the army.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had announced al-Majid's death on April 7 and showed reporters video of laser-guided bombs obliterating a house in Basra, Iraq's second city, where a tipster had told coalition forces he was staying. But last month, U.S. military officials said that interrogations of Iraqi prisoners indicated al-Majid might be alive." -- Associated Press, July 23

"U.S. officials had been confident that a coalition airstrike killed one of Iraq's most notorious officials, the man nicknamed "Chemical Ali." Now, they are not so sure.
Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that interrogations of Iraqi prisoners indicated Ali Hassan al-Majid might be alive." -- Houston Chronicle, June 6

"The Iraqi military commander known as "Chemical Ali" for his role in using chemical weapons against the Kurdish minority may still be alive, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today." New York Times, June 6 (but with June 5 dateline, hence "today"

"U.S. officials had been confident that a coalition airstrike killed one of Iraq's most notorious officials, the man nicknamed "Chemical Ali." Now, they are not so sure.
Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that interrogations of Iraqi prisoners indicated Ali Hassan al-Majid might be alive." -- Associated Press June 5

"BAGHDAD, Iraq _ Hospital workers say they saw the infamous Saddam Hussein henchman known as "Chemical Ali" alive in Baghdad just before the city fell, contradicting British Army claims that he had been killed in an air raid on a house in the southern city of Basra days earlier.
The eyewitness reports that Ali Hassan al Majid, who ordered poison gas attacks on Kurdish villages in 1988 that killed 5,000 civilians, was at the Baghdad Nursing Hospital on April 6 or 7 is an indication of how little is known about the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein's inner circle, both during the war and now." Knight Ridder, April 24

"Sky News (4/18) reports, "Chemical Ali, the notorious Iraqi general who ordered the gassing of thousands of Kurds, may still be alive. Iraqi soldiers say they saw Ali Hassan al-Majid just a day after British soldiers claimed they had killed him. They told a TV reporter the commander had been spotted with his henchmen in his home town of Al-mara in south- east Iraq. 'The people gathered after Ali Hassan al-Majid got out from his car,' the soldier told the BBC. " -- The Bulletin's Frontrunner, April 18
It was always reported that Ali was "believed" to be dead or "reported" killed. Not that he was, in fact, dead. Even FoxNews was careful with the wording:
"TOBIN: Now, aside from today's big question, is Saddam dead? Military leaders are being asked the other question, is Saddam's cousin dead. That cousin, a man who ordered chemical attacks on the Kurds in Halabja back in 1988, Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as Chemical Ali, who killed 5,000 civilians. His house was struck by laser-guided munitions Saturday. His bodyguard is dead. But U.S. officials have yet to say with absolute confidence that Chemical Ali is dead. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, and what about Chemical Ali?
VICTORIA CLARKE, PENTAGON SPOKESWOMAN: And on Chemical Ali, he was optimistic, and we remain optimistic that he's dead. (END VIDEO CLIP)"--FoxNews, April 8


There were, however, exceptions and articles that could lead one to believe that he had been confirmed dead. Note the following headlines, which tend to be UK pubs:
"Body in air raid debris is Chemical Ali, say Iraqi police" -- Daily Telegraph, April 8
"Chemical Ali is killed in SAS raid" -- Daily Mail, April 8
"WAR IN IRAQ: SAS KILLED CHEMICAL ALI" -- Daily Post, April 8
"CHEMICAL ALI DIED IN BRITISH AIR STRIKE" -- Birmingham Post, April 8
posted by emptyage at 11:51 AM on August 21, 2003


deja vu!
posted by mcsweetie at 12:47 PM on August 21, 2003


emptyage, how dare you resort to such a gaudy rhetorical tactic as "presenting the facts"! Let's face it, even if the U.S. did rather quickly raise the possibility that "Conventional Ali"* might not actually have been killed, their efforts were obviously insufficient in light of the overwhelming publicity to the contrary. It's not the truth that counts -- it's the media's perception of the truth that matters.

*Obviously, "Chemical Ali" is a misnomer, since everyone knows Iraq got rid of their chemical weapons in 1991. (tm)
posted by pardonyou? at 1:14 PM on August 21, 2003


What's the relationship between the Pentagon's not being right about their earlier belief that Chemical Ali had been killed in a bombing and how much they spent in the operation?
posted by shoos at 1:16 PM on August 21, 2003


logical relationship, that is
posted by shoos at 1:21 PM on August 21, 2003


logical relationship, that is

What's logic got to do with it? First it's emptyage with his "facts" and "cites," then it's you and your "logic." Don't you people know where you are?
posted by pardonyou? at 1:26 PM on August 21, 2003


Okay fair enough, at the time I only paid cursory attention to the latest claims but it does go to show how misleading this minute by minute reporting is.

His death was widely reported, with hindsight there were qualifiers but at the time the spin was "yes he's dead but that's not verified because he's somewhere in that 30ft crater", the supposed sightings seem to have been treated more like Elvis sightings, certainly not the same level of coverage as the incorrect initial reports.

If only these instant news hungry outlets were only allowed to broadcast once a day (once a week would be nicer..).
posted by zeoslap at 1:53 PM on August 21, 2003


What's logic got to do with it?

Just policing the quality and coherence of FPPs.

And, by the way, what is the relationship?
posted by shoos at 2:56 PM on August 21, 2003


For those who can't figure out what the problem is:
CNN, 7 April 2003

British military: Body of 'Chemical Ali' found

DOHA, Qatar (CNN) -- The notorious Iraqi general known as "Chemical Ali" -- Saddam Hussein's cousin who allegedly ordered a deadly chemical weapons attack against Kurds in 1988 -- was killed in a coalition airstrike on his home over the weekend, U.S.-led coalition officials said Monday.

Capt. Al Lockwood, a spokesman for the British military at U.S. Central Command, said the body of Gen. Ali Hassan al-Majeed had been found.
posted by mosch at 3:26 PM on August 21, 2003


mosch: have you read all the comments in this thread?
posted by turbodog at 3:56 PM on August 21, 2003


Did they find those weapons yet?
posted by adampsyche at 4:38 PM on August 21, 2003


Did they find those weapons yet?

They've found them four times and haven't found them I think five time, now.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:21 PM on August 21, 2003


What weapons?
posted by pemulis at 9:36 PM on August 21, 2003


turbodog: yes, and they clearly illustrate the problem. The administration makes sure that everybody hears when anything good MIGHT have happened, without taking the time and effort to verify that anything good actually happened. If they turned out to be wrong, they slowly back off the statement instead of stating their wrongness.

Do you think our administration is manipulative, or do you think it's incompetant? Surely it's at least one of the above.

This story is just a very small example of this sort of behaviour, a larger one being the pre-war descriptions of how the rebuilding of iraq which also, it turned out, was either rooted in deception or incompetance.
posted by mosch at 8:41 AM on August 22, 2003


So what would you do if you were Chemical Ali being interrogated by the US military?

Me, I'd be making all sorts of outrageous claims of WMDs being buried all over the freakin' place. The interrogation room would be knee-deep in bullshit.

Why?

Because then the US would waste billions more doing the weapons-search monkey-dance, only to look like fools when nothing turns up.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:37 AM on August 22, 2003


The administration makes sure that everybody hears when anything good MIGHT have happened

Why would they do otherwise? That sounds like a natural human impulse to report a potential positive event.

without taking the time and effort to verify that anything good actually happened

You seem to be flatly stating that they did not. Do you have anything to back that claim up?

If they turned out to be wrong, they slowly back off the statement instead of stating their wrongness

Even Fox said that he might have been killed, right at the outset. As more information (interrogating Iraqi prisoners, etc.) became available, they reported it. What more do you want? Richard Meyers with hat in hand issuing a tearful mea culpa?
posted by turbodog at 2:10 PM on August 22, 2003


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