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"A venal, dysfunctional government"
June 10, 2008 10:19 AM   Subscribe

"A venal, dysfunctional government." That is how the San Francisco Chronicle describes the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq. Now an investigation by the BBC's respected Panorama TV program estimates that around $23bn (£11.75bn) may have been lost, stolen or just not properly accounted for in Iraq. But they are not allowed to report fully because of US gagging order.
posted by Susurration (40 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I think we're all gagging a little.
posted by stenseng at 10:23 AM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


There is no such thing as a "gagging order" against journalists in the U.S. as there is in the U.K, on the other hand a judge can prevent litigants from discussing certain aspects of a case. That gag order would apply to the BBC's sources, not the BBC itself.

But, once that information was leaked to the media, a judge can't prevent it from being reported unless the media is a party in the lawsuit

(At least, that's my understanding, IANAL)
posted by delmoi at 10:25 AM on June 10, 2008


How can a foreign government gag the national broadcaster of another country?
posted by popcassady at 10:26 AM on June 10, 2008


San Francisco Chronicle

Yeah, well, you guys voted for Pelosi, and she took impeachment off the table. So, thanks for all of that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:26 AM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]



Blazecock Pileon writes "Yeah, well, you guys voted for Pelosi, and she took impeachment off the table. So, thanks for all of that."

You say that as if impeachment would be the end of the story, and Bush wouldn't just invade another middle east country in order to wag the dog. That's assuming an unrealistic amount of integrity on his part.
posted by mullingitover at 10:35 AM on June 10, 2008


Right now, I would vote for any politician who promised to introduce Constitutional Amendments 28 through 37, which would just be copies of Amendments 1 through 10, each one with the phrase "...and we're not fucking kidding this time." tacked on to the end.

I would mostly vote to send a message, not because I think there'd be any chance of the whole Bill of Rights passing today. I understand that there are too many liberals for the 29th Amendment to be ratified, too many neoconservatives for the 31st through 33rd or the 35th Amendments to be ratified, and far too many of both for the 36th or 37th Amendments to make it. I'll bet we could get the 28th and 34th Amendments to pass, though, once "no flag burning" and "unless someone mentions jury nullification" clauses got tacked on in committee.
posted by roystgnr at 10:39 AM on June 10, 2008 [8 favorites]


A US gagging order is preventing discussion of the allegations. The order applies to 70 court cases against some of the top US companies. . . . While George Bush remains in the White House, it is unlikely the gagging orders will be lifted. To date, no major US contractor faces trial for fraud or mismanagement in Iraq.

Yeah, it would be nice if the reporter, Jane Corbin, were a little less opaque about what she's talking about. This "gagging order" sounds it may be a general protective order, which is fairly routine in many civil actions, and is used to prevent disclosure of confidential information. But you wouldn't call that a gag order, and anyway, I don't think it would apply to a news organization that's not a party to the lawsuit. Also Corbin ties the gag order to the president, which I don't understand at all. Is this an executive order of some kind? So uh, I have no idea what this article is actually talking about. Plus, what does she mean when she says there are 70 court cases against "top US companies," but no "major US contractor faces trial." What are these cases about, then? Does she just mean that none have got to the trial stage yet?

Less typing more sensemaking pls, BBC.
posted by chinston at 10:40 AM on June 10, 2008


Oh, sorry, the bit about protective order vs. gag order was already addressed by delmoi, and I think he's basically right.
posted by chinston at 10:42 AM on June 10, 2008


Huh that's on in a few hours, and will probably be up on iPlayer soon afterwards. If your IP is from the UK, you should be able to watch the Panorama show in about five hours time.
posted by djgh at 10:50 AM on June 10, 2008


My first reaction to this story was "Only $23 billion?"
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:52 AM on June 10, 2008


Whenever I read about stuff like this, my mind quavers just a bit at the fact that around 25% of people in this country still think Bush & co are doing just fine.

Who the hell are these people?
posted by overhauser at 11:09 AM on June 10, 2008


Boy, this isn't biased at all. Typical NPR garbage.
posted by tachikaze at 11:13 AM on June 10, 2008


Whenever I read about stuff like this, my mind quavers just a bit at the fact that around 25% of people in this country still think Bush & co are doing just fine.

Who the hell are these people?


They're a soon to be extinct breed of subhumans who eat at Wendy's and like The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:17 AM on June 10, 2008


Boy, this isn't biased at all. Typical NPR garbage.

Yeah must be the liberal media trying to slander the good name of the US Govt again.
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:20 AM on June 10, 2008


Whenever I read about stuff like this, my mind quavers just a bit at the fact that around 25% of people in this country still think Bush & co are doing just fine.

Who the hell are these people?


This is the Crazyfication Factor. We've touched on it before.
posted by eclectist at 11:32 AM on June 10, 2008


They're a soon to be extinct breed of subhumans who eat at Wendy's and like The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

OK. I'm not going to defend The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, but dammit, Wendy's makes a mighty fine hamburger for a fast food joint.
posted by wabbittwax at 11:37 AM on June 10, 2008


On a somewhat related note, Republicans block extra taxes on oil companies
posted by ornate insect at 11:52 AM on June 10, 2008


Whenever I read about stuff like this, my mind quavers just a bit at the fact that around 25% of people in this country still think Bush & co are doing just fine.

Who the hell are these people?



"What did you expect? 'Welcome, sonny.' 'Make yourself at home.' 'Marry my daughter.' You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land...the common clay of the New West. Y'know: morons."
posted by stenseng at 11:53 AM on June 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


. . . my mind quavers just a bit at the fact that around 25% of people in this country still think Bush & co are doing just fine.

Who the hell are these people?


Well, some of my relatives (who live far away from me).

They've lived all their lives in farm country, hours away from any sizable city.
They are very poorly-educated (other than on-the-job training).
They don't read much; their main news source is satellite TV (mostly Fox News).
They have Internet access, but don't really know how to use the net for anything other than e-mail.
They are fundamentalist Christians; their church continually reinforces the attitude that they are the "good" people persecuted by outsiders, and that they are waging a holy war against Satan. Anyone who disagrees with them is either evil or a corrupted innocent. Bush is blessed by God; we are living in the "end times."

I know these people very well; they aren't distant relatives I've never spent much time around. Last time I visited, it upset me so much I swore I'd never go again. Too many of my good childhood memories are sullied by what these people have become. I know they were basically always this way, but in the last decade or so they have become more extreme. I'm soooooo happy I didn't grow up there.
posted by D.C. at 12:03 PM on June 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


"...equal to the annual budget for the state of Colorado. Radhi al-Radhi, an Iraqi judge who provided that figure..."

Why is the Gate going to Iraqi judges to find out Colorado's budget? Can't they just use an almanac?
posted by poe at 12:05 PM on June 10, 2008


This is what happens when you let everyone vote.

I'm kidding! please put down the knife! please?
posted by blue_beetle at 12:09 PM on June 10, 2008


ornate insect: please note that the Rethuglicans are also kicking to the curb tax breaks and funding for alternative energy sources and say the cure to the problem is 'increasing domestic production'.

Meanwhile, the Goon threatens to veto the Amtrak funding bill because it lacks milestones, while ignoring the fact that the airlines are failing to meet the milestones built into the airline bailout bill. (Let's not even go there as far as other milestones are concerned.)

I really need a comet driver.
posted by mephron at 12:11 PM on June 10, 2008


Powell's former chief of staff Col. Larry Wilkerson guest-lectured a human rights class I took a couple years back. He told the class that this stuff isn't even the tip of the iceburg when it comes to the squandering of US funds in Iraq.
posted by The White Hat at 12:12 PM on June 10, 2008


Boy, this isn't biased at all. Typical NPR garbage.

You forgot to log in as tadellin.
posted by drezdn at 12:29 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers
I don't know why this is the case, but my biological father and his whole family are lifelong, active members of the Democratic party. Several have even held public office in the town and have sat on local Democratic committees stretching back half a century.

Perhaps this is because they are New England farmers. (Somers, CT to be exact.) Perhaps this is because they are Jewish, though the family ranges from Orthodox to Conservative and that doesn't quite jibe with liberalism. Perhaps, though, it mostly has to do with the fact that my family ran a business. They weren't morons. They didn't just milk cows and grow crops. They were businessmen and women. The were actively involved in commerce and the events that shaped their business. And because they were a family farm, not a massive factory farm that could have its own zip code, the Democratic party served their interests. As was the case with most farmers I knew. There certainly were stereotypically simple farmers on the farm. It doesn't take much brain power to milk a cow. On the other hand, to get that cow to produce more milk without the use of hormones or without stressing out the cow, took a working knowledge of the biology and chemistry of the animals. The same can be applied to crops.

I know it's off topic and certainly doesn't apply to me in the least, but it ruffles my feathers to see farmers stereotyped en masse. There is a science, an art, and beauty in farming, both in its simple complexity and as a business.
posted by sequential at 12:31 PM on June 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


Sequential is right. There are plenty of educated, non-extremist farmers and other rural folk. In my experience rural culture varies by region.

On the other side of my family, my grandparents grew up on ranches in rural Texas and New Mexico during the Depression. Both of them went to college (they met there) and had successful careers.
posted by D.C. at 1:14 PM on June 10, 2008


Radhi al-Radhi on 60 Minutes: Iraq: State Of Corruption
posted by homunculus at 1:14 PM on June 10, 2008


@sequential


It's a movie quote...
posted by stenseng at 1:26 PM on June 10, 2008


overhauser: "Who the hell are these people?"

It's not just religious farmers who still support Bush. I know quit a few very well educated professionals who support the war, think global warming is a hoax and wish that Social Security, Medicare, Medicade and Foodstamps were eliminated. They hate public schools, public transit, taxes, gun laws and cities. They listen to Rush and Beck all day and get their news from NewsMax and Drudge think that Obama is a marxist. I can't claim to understand and I try not to get into arguments but these people exist. And for the most part are very nice personable folks and if you just stay to technical topics or sports or movies, you can get along fine.
posted by octothorpe at 1:28 PM on June 10, 2008


sequential - the farmers thing is a quote from Blazing Saddles, not an actual opinion.
posted by workerant at 1:30 PM on June 10, 2008


Thanks for the clarification, stenseng and workerant. I feel a bit foolish, but it's not as if the sentiment isn't commonplace.
posted by sequential at 1:33 PM on June 10, 2008


They're a soon to be extinct breed of subhumans who eat at Wendy's and like The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

There are very few people on this earth whom I would describe as subhuman. But they are all of them Letterman fans. Not that I have anything against Letterman. He is not subhuman. Letterman is posthuman. Paul Schaffer, however, is subhuman. Maybe sub-subhuman.
posted by Faze at 3:51 PM on June 10, 2008


How can a foreign government gag the national broadcaster of another country?

By leaning on the spineless suckholes that make up the government of that other country?
posted by mattoxic at 4:35 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would say that Paul Schaefer is a freak of nature, but I don't believe there's any nature involved.
posted by newdaddy at 5:25 PM on June 10, 2008


Who the hell are these people?

Well, some of my relatives (who live far away from me).

They've lived all their lives in farm country, hours away from any sizable city.
They are very poorly-educated (other than on-the-job training).
They don't read much; their main news source is satellite TV (mostly Fox News).
They have Internet access, but don't really know how to use the net for anything other than e-mail.
They are fundamentalist Christians; their church continually reinforces the attitude that they are the "good" people persecuted by outsiders, and that they are waging a holy war against Satan. Anyone who disagrees with them is either evil or a corrupted innocent. Bush is blessed by God; we are living in the "end times."


I have some Bush-loving family members as well; by contrast, mine aren't in farm country, they're not poorly educated, they do read quite a bit (at least my dad does), and they don't believe in the end times.

However, there are two striking similarities: they don't use the net for much of anything except email, and they do watch Fox News almost exclusively.

So even urban-dwelling former liberals with graduate degrees in the arts are vulnerable to the pull of far right propadanda and urban legends trading in paranoia and xenophobia. This was an unsettling lesson to learn.
posted by scody at 7:17 PM on June 10, 2008


mattoxic: you missed 'conga line'
posted by pompomtom at 9:31 PM on June 10, 2008


I know it might be kind of pedantic and moot at this point, but the article doesn't describe the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war as stated. "A venal, dysfunctional government" is how they characterize the Iraqi state the Bush administration created.

The difference of who's being referred to is easy to miss, though.
posted by RockCorpse at 8:34 AM on June 12, 2008


If the BBC is claiming that a gag order is preventing them from discussing anything, they're confused at best and liars at worst.

How the mighty have fallen.
posted by oaf at 1:59 PM on June 12, 2008


scody writes "So even urban-dwelling former liberals with graduate degrees in the arts are vulnerable to the pull of far right propadanda and urban legends trading in paranoia and xenophobia. This was an unsettling lesson to learn."

I think a big chunk of the country doesn't go beyond a team sports mentality regardless of their education level, and their team can do no wrong. It doesn't matter if your team is caught doping, cheating, raping, torturing prisoners, wiping their ass with the Constitution, lying their way into a war of aggression, or enacting policies exactly at odds with the interests of their base: the fans won't abandon their team.

I think the current state of affairs is an indictment of the winner-take-all voting system, but that's another thread.
posted by mullingitover at 2:19 PM on June 12, 2008




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