Leaking self-doubt
May 13, 2004 8:28 AM   Subscribe

Leaking self-doubt...Tracing how the photos [of Abu Ghraib prison] became such hot public property reveals something striking, not only about the torture scandal, but about the coalition itself. This is a story, not of investigative journalism or antiwar activists exposing imperialist America to the world, but rather of America exposing its own uncertainty for all to see. The photos appear to have come from within US military or political circles; they were effectively volunteered for public consumption by elements within the military or higher up in the Pentagon, seemingly as part of a process of internal unravelling and deep disagreement over aspects of the war. In a sense, the publication of these photos to international outrage can be seen as the externalisation of America's own self-doubt about Iraq, and about its own mission in the world...
posted by Postroad (42 comments total)
george bush has no doubt whatsoever. (of that i have no doubt whatsoever.)
posted by quonsar at 8:33 AM on May 13, 2004

Hre is a Kerry resplnse to this issue:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A22443-2004May12.html
posted by Postroad at 8:36 AM on May 13, 2004

I thought the photos were exposed to the press by an officer at the prison who was worried about having to take all the blame himself. Not really having anything to do with the military's guilt.
posted by destro at 8:38 AM on May 13, 2004

Funny, I don't see it that way at all. Looks more like a society based on honest self evaluation where the fundamental principle of open discussion us upheld by the frank revelation of our own mistakes as a means for correcting them.
posted by cmdnc0 at 8:42 AM on May 13, 2004

Rumsfeld just said that the additional photos and videos won't be released to the public, cmdnc0, and if he had his way, we never would have known about them at all. You can be sure that soldiers won't be allowed to have cameras or cellphones from now on.

Frank revelations by people unconnected to the devising of our Iraq thing won't make changes happen.

Since 9/11, when the world learned that we're not as fabulous/on top of things/strong/invincible as everyone thought, thru our failure to get Bin Ladin, or stop Al Qaeda from attacking again, thru Iraq, our failings are not an intrinsically American thing, but the failings of our current leadership.
posted by amberglow at 8:51 AM on May 13, 2004

Amberglow, you're right about Rummy's preference, AFAICS.

But I don't agree that these (or other, future) revelations won't 'make things happen.' They already have; it's just that the Bushites have played their "turrorism" hand so forcefully that they've been able to effectively stifle dissent, to date.

We can only change that by voicing dissent.
posted by lodurr at 9:04 AM on May 13, 2004

But we've been voicing dissent for a while now. They haven't listened, and don't listen. (They make changes only when they have to, due to the failures of their previous plans/ideas/fantasies--they've been running those into the ground, and making it worse, especially in Iraq. Not one person has been fired for any of these failures either.)

Voting them out is the only way to stop these failures that i can see, short of a revolution.
posted by amberglow at 9:09 AM on May 13, 2004

A minor suggestion, Postroad: when you quote from a linked article in your FPP, could you place the text you're quoting inside quotation marks, for clarity?

(God help me, I'm turning into a nitpicker of FPPs--after two years at MeFi, I have become what I beheld.)
posted by Prospero at 9:35 AM on May 13, 2004

Kurt Vonngut is voicing dissent, too.
posted by muckster at 9:39 AM on May 13, 2004

They have gone 'to the ends of the Earth', says one American writer, 'and have painted brilliantly and indelibly an image of America that could remain with us for years, if not decades' (1).

Perhaps we should have used this guys methods?

"Hanns Scharff was primarily an American 8th and 9th Air Force Fighter pilot interrogator. He was considered the best of the interrogators at Dulag Luft. He gained the reputation of magically getting all the answers he needed from the prisoners of war, often with the prisoners never realizing that their words, small talk or otherwise, were important pieces of the mosaic. It is said he always treated his prisoners with respect and dignity and by using psychic not physical techniques, he was able to make them drop their guard and converse with him even though they were conditioned to remain silent. One POW commented that "Hanns could probably get a confession of infidelity from a nun." Hanns personally stepped into search for information that saved the lives of six US POWs when the SS wanted to execute them. Many acts of kindness by Scharff to sick and dying American POWs are documented. He would regularly visit some of the more seriously ill POWs and arrange to make their accommodations more humane. At one time the Luftwaffe was investigating him. After the war, he was invited by the USAF to make speeches about his methods to military audiences in the US and he eventually moved to the United States. General Jimmy Doolittle was one of the first to extend the hand of friendship to Hanns after the war, inviting him to a luncheon where they compared notes. Later he was invited to the home of Col. Hub Zemke who thereafter would send Hanns what he called a "Red Cross Parcel" every Christmas. And 38 years after he was Hanns "guest" at Dulag Luft - Oberursel, Col. Francis "Gabby" Gabreski was a guest of honor at Hanns 75th birthday party. In the United States Scharff worked as a mosaic artist. His works are on display in Cinderella's castle at Disney World.

Of course we must remember that Hanns was the exception at Dulag Luft and there were other interrogators that were nothing at all like Hanns, whose treatment of the prisoners was more of a physical and threatening nature."

The world is surreal no? The torture of these men in Iraq is terrible but we must remember that underrated human endeavor called forgiveness. Is it not feasible that the Iraqi people in time will forgive the United States and it's coalition despite the preemptive nature of this war. Do we take away that right for Iraqis to forgive. more over will they? These questions are important and while history can serve as an indicator what may happen, as in the example of Scharff or the incidents in the Philippines were American solders killed "insurrectos", it cannot be a measuring stick for the future of this situation. The real story should be forgiveness and trying to right the many wrongs already done.
My Uncle was interrogated at the Obereussel dulag and suffered but also suffered from strafing of British war planes, the segregation of noncoms and officers, overzealous officers threatning court marshall while in the camp because ones pants were unclean. watching as friends go 'wire happy" and commit suicide by trying to jump the wire. What is important is to try and understand why this happened and try not to let it happen again.
words are easy I guess but the pain is very real for both sides and only dialog and changes can be effective to help us understand these events better.
posted by clavdivs at 10:00 AM on May 13, 2004 [2 favorites]

Great comment, clavdivs. Amen.

And muckster, thanks for the Vonnegut link.
posted by languagehat at 10:16 AM on May 13, 2004

Friedman is having second thoughts, as is Tucker Carlson.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:31 AM on May 13, 2004

clavdivs, I remember seeing a documentary piece on Hanns Scharff a few months back and have been wracking my mind trying to remember who he was as a counterpoint since the whole prison abuse picture mess started. Thanks for the reminder.
posted by Cyrano at 10:41 AM on May 13, 2004

See also:

Abu Ghraib Fantasy Camp
posted by dhoyt at 11:13 AM on May 13, 2004

thank you gentlepeople.
I e-mailed Mr. Hanns-Claudius Schraff (Hanns Scraffs' son) concerning this thread and he would like to reply to the post. I told him I would gladly do so and I hope matt will understand. I will post his remarks when they come in.
posted by clavdivs at 12:12 PM on May 13, 2004

You can be sure that soldiers won't be allowed to have cameras or cellphones from now on.

Yessir, and the black helicopters are coming for you as we speak.
posted by Krrrlson at 1:22 PM on May 13, 2004

then USAToday also is waiting for those helicopters, Krrrlson. Keep on trying to crack wise--it's not working yet.

Amateur war photography is as almost as old as photography itself. During World War I, the army would execute soldiers who took photographs, Howe said.
While that step is obviously extreme by today's standards, perhaps the military, eager to manage public perceptions, might begin confiscating cameras of soldiers and contractors.
"I wouldn't be surprised if that happened," Jenkins said. "The images that are forcing the government to do things are coming out of very unlikely places."

posted by amberglow at 1:36 PM on May 13, 2004

Let's see -- he suggests a possibility (of questionable likelihood, I might add), and you turn it into "you can be sure that..."

I wouldn't talk about cracking if I were you.
posted by Krrrlson at 1:58 PM on May 13, 2004

wait and see, Krrrlson. i'll put money on it.
posted by amberglow at 2:00 PM on May 13, 2004

Put up another child, since betting your firstborn turned out so well.
posted by David Dark at 3:21 PM on May 13, 2004

Put up another child, since betting your firstborn turned out so well.

the bet: and from your own link: France accounted for approximately 25 percent of all U.N.-approved trade with Iraq, according to an estimate by the CIA.

Hmm...let's take a guess at who had a bigger share, thru direct business, subsidiaries, and shell companies. I'd bet you my firstborn that whatever shit the French did, we did more of.
--from this link. You haven't won that bet, nor proven me wrong. Funny how bets work, isn't it? I haven't lost anything.

Prove me wrong or take your trolling elsewhere. You upset that there's not a MeTa post about you yet this week?
posted by amberglow at 4:09 PM on May 13, 2004

But we've been voicing dissent for a while now. They haven't listened, and don't listen.

Thats because you're in the minority
posted by WLW at 5:56 PM on May 13, 2004

not anymore, WLW--according to most recent polls.
posted by amberglow at 6:26 PM on May 13, 2004

Amberglow, I wouldn't count on the Polls, just yet.
posted by WLW at 7:13 PM on May 13, 2004

Here is the comment in response to this thread by Mr. Scraff

"The current issues in Iraq are disturbing to me, to say the least, particularly in the migration from an attack on the Taliban and Al Quaeda by our invading Afghanistan to an all out attack and invasion of Iraq. The attack on Afghanistan was herolded as a war against terrorists and any detainees gathered by our forces would be treated outside of the Geneva Convention. Pretty clear direction to a no holds barred policy. However, when people from the LA Times went to Afghanistan to do a story on our intel units stationed there, and talked to the unit commander there, he told them that he had numerous books about my father, "The Interrogator authored by Col. Raymond Toliver, on his desk. He went on to say that the book was, almost, required reading for all his interrogator staff. The times published a front page article Sunday Times issue in June or July following the invasion and before we understood the implications of the build-up of detention and evaluation centers in Guantanamo. So here we are with a no holds barred policy along with the required reading of my father's book. Somewhat juxtaposed positions. Then we declare war on and invade Iraq - officially. Actual armed combat state to state. Now Geneva conventions suddenly comply - confusing, I would hint at saying in the least. The current reported abuses in Iraq appear not to be in accordance with Geneva although the convention officially applies. In Afghanistan Geneva convention is summarily thrown out the window, but the intel people have been told to learn and apply my father's methods. Does that make any sense? We have just lifted the lid off Pandora's box and have glimpsed what is in the box. Things are beginning to fly out , but we don't know what or how much. It will take days, weeks, months before the box is empty. These are very trying times and we have to keep very levelheaded about this process which is unfolding. Who is right and who is wrong will eventually be determined along with the consequences. I don't know enough about what is really going on. I only perceive that some policies appear incongruent with other policies. No game of football is the same played on different fields with different teams. If you start to intermingle the teams the results will be vastly different again. So in short our forces had been studying my father's methods along with other techniques at least during the initial phases. What caused changes, if any, I don't know.

The History Channel did a documentary on interrogation from the times of Stalin to Guantanamo. It showed the various techniques developed during the war leading up to Iraq. The documentary had a simulated spy net made up from volonteers and an interrogator net made up from former interrogators. The interrogators had to break the spy ring in 24 hrs. Although it was a game it became serious and the interrogators used methods we are now familiar with. Hooded faces, holding excruciating positions, sleep deprivation, cold water dowsing. Guess who won? The interrogators.
All the while interspersed through the documentary, they interviewed living interrogators and talked about those in the past. The talked about my father and interviewed me to fill in the gaps. It was aired on November 9 last year and re-aired March 9 this year. I hope the air it again soon.

Now to provide comments to your comments on MetaFilter:
Clavdivs, Thank you for mentioning my father in your comments. Our family appreciates them. I would like to clarify some points in what you wrote. It was unfortunate for your uncle to have suffered while he was a captive combatant (Kriegie) in Germany, and as you tell it his bad experiences were not all from his German captors. No German guard would have admonished him for wearing dirty pants, that would have come from the captives side where rank still held sway and discipline among co-captives was paramount. A psychological weapon against the captors. Discriminating between officers and other ranks was in accordance to the Geneva convention and practiced by both sides in the war. Whether such discrimination should still persist would be a topic of a new international convention to decide. My father never thought himself unique. He thought his other interrogation officers at DULG Luft to be equally honorable. He admitted to a few bad apples in a group of 40 to 60 interrogators (the numbers increased dramatically as the war progressed); he only named one person in particular with a bad attitude. My father respected his fellow officers very highly. He stressed that it was the intelligence machinery that he had at his disposal that made him so successful. He would know details about a prisoner that the prisoner thought only his mother knew. The German approach was that they knew every thing and didn't need to get any information from a particular prisoner. The would bombard him with facts to convince him that they knew all, and when the Germans really wanted to know something they would slip in the topic obliquely by chatting among themselves about an American procedure or technical point. One German would have strong views on the subjectand argue his point by browbeating his colleagues into submission. The colleagues being the prisoner's case officers. Invariably the prisoner would correct the browbeater to win a point for "his side" and thereby let the cat out of the bag. Stuff like that. The Germans spent enormous resources in building formidable data bases. I could go on and on.

I am not sure if those techniques are as applicable today as they were 60 plus ears ago. Technology has changed so dramatically. Individual knowledge has grown so dramatically. The pressure from the top may be different. All that notwithstanding, a man should be honorable to another man and not mistreat him for having fallen into enemy hands as a regular combatant. If the prisoner is deemed an irregular combatant other measures are applicable. A number of captured allied airmen were captured while trying to escape German held territory. These airmen disguised themselves as peasants. Each airman had an escape kit with him. If they were picked up by the police or GESTAPO, they were thought to be spies and some were badly mistreated. Once the Luftwaffe gained jurisdiction over genuine combatants and could prove it to the GESTAPO the prisoner's lot improved dramatically. I suppose today is much the same with CIA, FBI operatives clashing with military intelligence. Or there are forces in process trying to streamline the identification of a prisoner as a citizen, regular combatant, irregular combatant, spy, terrorist, Al Quaeda operative whatever and then after his category has been identified, what useful information could he have to aid our forces in winning the war."
posted by clavdivs at 7:47 AM on May 14, 2004

to clarify my earlier comment, it was an American officer who wanted to court marshall my uncle for dirty pants. allot of these occurred at the STALAG. (not the Dulag) And the separation of officers and non commissioned officers was in accordance to the rules. What i sought out from my uncles story (and he too as he wrote a book on the experience) was hope and understanding.

He recalled, while at interrogation, amazement at what his interrogator. He suffered no beatings or threats of violence. He did have an amusing story during his interrogation. The first interrogator shifted tactics and said:
"So you are from Chicago, perhaps you are a gangster, a Luft gangster?, perhaps you know Mr Capone?"
to which uncle replied: "I do not know Al personally, but I know his brother Ralph. He lives a couple of blocks south of me on Paxton Ave. And one of his henchmen, Jake Guzik, lives three blocks away on Luella. Jakes daughter and I went to the same high school"
(it was true he knew of these men)

The interrogator was not amused and called for the guard to return him to his cell.
"If I am allowed one phone call, I think we can clear up this mess" His second interrogator was a major in his 50's and tried the soft approach, as with most noncom airmen, there was not much to say and most did not say anything.

Another story was while he was at Stalag. He once played chess with an Austrian guard who was, by uncles recollection, not a fan of Hitler and a decent guard. The guard even once started to leave without his rifle which uncle reminded him not to forget. ( I believe it was during the start of an air raid.)

The humor and decency was a short break from the reality of imprisonment.
But Uncle was more concerned about after the war and how one copes and recovers as there were no therapy for W.W. II service person returning from captivity, in fact they were looked upon with shame, if only silent, for allot. He wrote some articles about this and eventuly his book.

He credits the Luftwaffe guards for saving his crewsmates lives after they where shotdown and local farmers killed one of his crew and beat the rest pretty bad.

These things are difficult if not impossible to understand unless one has been through it, and those like myself who have not can only try and understand.

to quote him at the end of his book:

"Thomas Wolfe said; "you can never go home again" I believe you can if you have the right perspective. It took more then forty years to play out this story. The mental barbed-wire lifts slowly. Perhaps, someday, I'll be free of the past. Perhaps, then, I'll know the true meaning of the words, Welcome Home".

-Richard Bing, T/SGT, 8th Air Force.

he died in 1996 and I miss him dearly. I can only hope that this world still holds forgiveness and understanding that these men had, from both sides of that war and it's aftermath.
posted by clavdivs at 8:30 AM on May 14, 2004

addendum: it was not dirty pants but uncles response that got him in trouble. He replied to the officer, "sir, I'm lucky to have pants" this may sound like a david letterman thing to say but it was not met with humour as it was insubordination.
posted by clavdivs at 8:37 AM on May 14, 2004

clavdivs - that was really great. Thank you for showing us one way that some dignity could be salvaged from this whole mess (and, if Mr. Scraff is reading, thank you also for taking the time to share your thoughts with us).
Sometimes even the worst train wreck of a thread can be turned into something genuinely useful by someone showing both clarity of thought and compassion, and that is what clavdivs and Mr. Scraff have done here.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 9:50 AM on May 14, 2004

I'll second that commendation to clavdivs. Way to go the extra 9 yards; you brought in two perspectives that are missed in the festival of armchair pontification we're all (including me) engaged in.
posted by lodurr at 10:41 AM on May 14, 2004

Psst. amberglow. Week old rumors that aren't true only make you look more foolish.
Rumor Control Central

Practically the only good news you hear out of the ground situation comes from soldiers who have internet access or cell phones. You honestly believe the administration wants to leave the "reporting" to the ethically challenged media? Here's a little anecdote from Toby Harnden, the Middle East correspondent for the Daily Telegraph:
The other day, while taking a break by the Al-Hamra Hotel pool, fringed with the usual cast of tattooed defence contractors, I was accosted by an American magazine journalist of serious accomplishment and impeccable liberal credentials.

She had been disturbed by my argument that Iraqis were better off than they had been under Saddam and I was now — there was no choice about this — going to have to justify my bizarre and dangerous views. I’ll spare you most of the details because you know the script — no WMD, no ‘imminent threat’ (though the point was to deal with Saddam before such a threat could emerge), a diversion from the hunt for bin Laden, enraging the Arab world. Etcetera.

But then she came to the point. Not only had she ‘known’ the Iraq war would fail but she considered it essential that it did so because this would ensure that the ‘evil’ George W. Bush would no longer be running her country. Her editors back on the East Coast were giggling, she said, over what a disaster Iraq had turned out to be. ‘Lots of us talk about how awful it would be if this worked out.’ Startled by her candour, I asked whether thousands more dead Iraqis would be a good thing.

She nodded and mumbled something about Bush needing to go. By this logic, I ventured, another September 11 on, say, September 11 would be perfect for pushing up John Kerry’s poll numbers. ‘Well, that’s different — that would be Americans,’ she said, haltingly. ‘I guess I’m a bit of an isolationist.’ That’s one way of putting it.
People with this kind of an agenda can't possibly be relied upon to produce fair and balanced reporting. Little Miss Can't Be Wrong is also a bit of a traitor, since her admission reveals nothing short of an organized propaganda campaign to deliberately bring about the military failure of her countrymen. Unbelievable.

Oh, and clavs. Stellar comments. Thanks a million.
posted by David Dark at 2:32 PM on May 14, 2004

Psst, David Dark. Before amberglow wanders back in here and rips you a new one (which seems to be happening pretty frequently to you and yours lately), let me give you some free handy hints. Linking to a constantly discredited fucking partisan blog which breathlessly concludes that something "isn't true" because the rear area commando blogger in question checked with a few of his friends "and none of them seems to know anything about it" simply makes YOU look as foolish as anyone else quoting bloggers as sources. And constantly bringing up, then DUCKING, some bet with amberglow that you either lost or can't back up worth shit ain't likely to convince anyone you should be taken seriously, as if there were much chance of that.

Glad I could help you out on this. You're welcome.

'Course, given how Our Brave Brass and The Chickenhawk Administration wants to censorspin the news coming out of Our Latest Occupied Land (you'd think that if we were really doing the right thing there, there'd be no need for such spin), there's no doubt whatsoever troops are going to have their communications and views curtailed anew, same as it ever was:

On Wednesday morning, when the ABC news show reported from Fallujah, where the division is based, the troops gave the reporters an earful. One soldier said he felt like he'd been "kicked in the guts, slapped in the face." Another demanded that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld quit.

The retaliation from Washington was swift.


"It was the end of the world," said one officer Thursday. "It went all the way up to President Bush and back down again on top of us. At least six of us here will lose our careers."

But hell, they're just troops, right David Dark? I mean, you were the one telling us a few weeks ago about how unimportant their deaths were, let alone their living views.

Now let's examine your silly little Toby Harnden shit piece, shall we? Little Toby claims to talk with an unnamed American who works for an unnamed newspaper, which discussion takes place at an unspecified time, uncorroroborated by any other details whatsoever. No one else witnesses the conversation, nor do we get anyone else's version of this supposed conversation if it ever did take place. Its sole purpose is to to try to make us feel that Little Toby Can't Be Wrong, right? And you and Little Toby feels like this is just a wonderful journalistic coup he's made, right? And you and Little Toby want us to believe that his little hack partisan gossip piece is an example of MEDIA OBJECTIVITY...of FAIR AND BALANCED REPORTING?

I believe "unbelievable" was the word you used, eh? The right wing in this country is coming positively unhinged. Can't imagine why.


I believe you were also saying something out of the other side of your mouth about "ethically challenged media"? Maybe you'd comment on the ethics of those who parrot "ethically challenged media" pieces like the one above by Little Toby. Let's hear it.

Give the silly "traitor" nonsense a rest. The only "traitors" I see nowadays are The Brave American Torturers and their chain of command violating their oaths and making a complete laughingstock out of any moral standing America ever had.

Oh, and amberglow? Be gentle with David Dark and his ilk. Every night the latest news brings fresh despair to those who shares his politics. It's got to be achingly painful for him and his to watch their entire worldview going down in flames the longer this cowardly little war goes on. Look for more reflexive spasms of rage....or more folks like dhoyt above, who seem to feel that torture and the like is all a big laugh just so long as its Our Brave Americans Bravely Torturing Helpless Prisoners. Hell, maybe we can get Toby Keith music piped into the Iraqi prisons - music to sexually assault America's "enemies" by.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 7:23 PM on May 15, 2004


It was bad news for the division's 12,000 homesick

so, all 12,000 are "homesick"? as a doctor, could you explain this in military terms?

The message, whose authenticity could not be confirmed, concluded: "Our men and women deserve to be treated like the heroes they are, not like farm animals. Our men and women deserve to see their loved ones again and deserve to come home."

The "message" could not be confirmed huh...hmmm. Stellar reporting.

The nervousness of the brass has a venerable history. It has long been a practice in American democracy that the military do not criticize the nation's civilian leaders, as Gen. Douglas MacArthur found out in 1951, when he criticized President Harry Truman's Korean War strategy -- and was promptly fired.

hmmm...Trumans "war strategy' was "In March, Truman drew up a cease-fire proposal..." sounds like a peace strategy to me.

And did abe fire McClellan for this?
after all, he called abe an ape.
posted by clavdivs at 10:24 PM on May 15, 2004

Pssst. foldy. Thanks for the free handy hints. It's never been made more clear to me that you get what you pay for. As usual, your comment is full of errors, lies, and careless oversights.

Before amberglow wanders back in here and rips you a new one (which seems to be happening pretty frequently to you and yours lately), let me give you some free handy hints. Linking to a constantly discredited fucking partisan blog which breathlessly concludes that something "isn't true" because the rear area commando blogger in question checked with a few of his friends "and none of them seems to know anything about it" simply makes YOU look as foolish as anyone else quoting bloggers as sources.

Ummm, that 'anyone else' you're referring to would be amberglow, in both of his links. Moreover, the Kathryn Cramer link originates directly from the Electrolite link, where you'll find this in the comments section:
Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 01:19 PM:

I wrote it up as a straight-foward brief news story, hoping that it will propagate in my form.

I suggest other bloggers do likewise.
Isn't that special? See, foldy, I had to link to a blogger, because bloggers are the only ones writing about this story, because the simple fact is There Is No Story beyond gossip and disinformation.

Maybe you'd comment on the ethics of those who parrot "ethically challenged media" pieces like the one above by Little Toby. Let's hear it.

How about the ethics of misrepresenting your link to the SF Gate, which says absolutely nothing about troops' communications being curtailed, as if that could stop you from so eloquently lying through your teeth. You question the ethics of my 'parroting' while you deliberately fold, spindle, and mutilate facts to fit your position? How convenient. And completely unsurprising. That seems to be happening pretty frequently by you and yours, not just lately, but ever since you declared your little Personal War on America the moment Gore conceded the election well over three years ago. You're still not fooling anyone.

But hell, they're just troops, right David Dark? I mean, you were the one telling us a few weeks ago about how unimportant their deaths were, let alone their living views.

Another bold faced lie. Disinformation 101, the professor is on a roll tonight.

And constantly bringing up, then DUCKING, some bet with amberglow that you either lost or can't back up worth shit ain't likely to convince anyone you should be taken seriously, as if there were much chance of that.

Which is it, did I lose or can I not back it up? And how can I be ducking something if I'm constantly bringing it up? Do you even have any idea what the bet was or what it pertains to? It doesn't sound like it. Otherwise, if you know anything about anything, you'd refuse to acknowledge any mention of it, much like our pal amberglow has wisely chosen to do ever since I took the liberty of explaining sanctions to him. Would you like a lesson, too? How about a hint? Here's a free one: While I'm sure amberglow thanks you for your valiant attempt at his defense, at the same time, like the rest of the relatively sane lefties on Mefi, he probably wishes you would just please stop making the whole lot of them sound like rabidly frothing uninformed jackasses by ideological association.

Give the silly "traitor" nonsense a rest.

Now, this is interesting. Why on earth would you care that I called a reporter who doesn't exist a traitor? Hmmm. Isn't that an intriguing little slip?
posted by David Dark at 4:42 AM on May 16, 2004

...ever since I took the liberty of explaining sanctions to him.
Ever since I took the liberty of explaining shell companies and wholly-owned foreign subsidiaries to you, your comments on sanctions were meaningless. I'm sorry you don't understand that. It's a common practice among businesses that are based here but can't get into certain markets due to things like sanctions.

David Hackworth, of Soldiers for the Truth has a call for action on the email thing on the front page (in the red box):
DefenseWatch magazine has received several tips that the Defense Department is preparing to shut down private email service for troops deployed in Southwest Asia by ordering Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown, & Root to pull the plug on private electronic communications for at least 90 days. Anyone with knowledge of this alleged plan is urged to contact DefenseWatch Editor Ed Offley.

We'll see if DefenseWatch or SFTT will get proof. You can't be as naive as to expect a press release from KBR/Halliburton or the Defense Department announcing this, can you?
posted by amberglow at 6:54 AM on May 16, 2004

Ever since I took the liberty of explaining shell companies and wholly-owned foreign subsidiaries to you, your comments on sanctions were meaningless. I'm sorry you don't understand that.


Oh shit, that's funny. Some of the ignorance you were spewing in that thread is incredibly laughable, amberglow:

I can't wait for all the UN info to come out--it'll show that US companies are completely and totally implicated and guilty of the same shit the french and russians are. And for this to break now, during an election year--can you say blowback?

Here's what you're up against:


1-Adax/ 8.3 million
2-Trafigura (Patrick Maugein)/ 25 million
3-Michelle Gremard/ 1 million
4-French Arab Friendship Association/ 15.1 million
5-Ayx/ 47.2 million
6- Charles Pasqua, former French Interior Minister/ 12 million
7-Elias Al-Gharzali/ 14.6 million
8-ALTC (Claude Caspert)/ 4 million
9- Jean-Bernard Merimee, French diplomat, their UN representative, and former president of UN Security Council/ 3 million
10- Jean-Bernard Merimee/ 8 million
11-De Souza/ 11 million


(A 1,366 billion barrels grant to the Russian Federation)

1- ZarubezhNeft (Russian Foreign Economic Association, RFEA) / 174.5 million
2- Rosneft Ambix - Azakov (Russian presidential office)/ 86.9 million (2 million of them to Russian ambassador in Baghdad)
3-Russian Communist Party companies/ 137 million
4-Amercom (Unity party/Emergency ministry)/ 57 million
5-Machino Import Co./ 83.5 million
6-Alpha Eco (Russian Foreign department)/ 128.8 million
7-Yetumen (Russian Foreign department)/ 30.1 million
8-Slav Naft (Gutsriev)/ 25.5 million
9-Zan Gas Co./ 49.1 million
10-Rus Naft Co./ 35.5 million
11-Gasben Invest Co. -Kalmika/ 8.5 million
12-KalmNaft Gas Co. -Kalmika/ 7.5 million
13-Gas Brum Co./ 26 million
14-Tat Naft -Tatarstan/ 64.5 million
15-Pash Naft Co./ 12 million
16- LukOil Co./ 63 million
17-Surgot Naft Gaz Co./ 4 million
18-Siberia Oil and Gas Co./ 1 million
19-Nafta Moscow Co./ 25.1 million
20-OnaCo/ 22.2 million
21-SidanCo/ 21.2 million
22-SebNaft Co./ 8.1 million
23-Trans Naft Co./ 9 million
24-Yukus Co./ 2 million
25-Democratic Liberal party companies (Zhirinovsky)/ 79.8 million
26-Peace and Unity party companies (Mrs. Sagi)/ 34 million
27-Russian committee of solidarity with Iraq (Rodasaiev)/ 6.5 million
28-Russian association of solidarity with Iraq (Goravilion)/ 12.5 million
29-Rus Naft Gaz Export Co. (Mr.Akapapon)/ 12.5 million
30-Ural Invest Co. (Mr. Stroiev)/ 8.5 million
31-Zeidg-Moscow Science Academy/ 3.5 million
32-Raomin (son to former Russian ambassador in Iraq)/ 19.7 million
33-Zrabesh Naft (Gopkin Univ.)/ 3.5 million
34-NordWest group/ 2 million
35-Zrabesh Naft Gas -Gaz Brum (Mr Hassan)/ 3 million (only 1 million delivered)
36-Soyouz Naft Gas (Mr. Shvranck)/ 25.5 million
37-Nicolai Rytchkov/ 13 million
38-Stroi Naft Gas/ 6 million
39-Acht Naft Co./ 4.5 million
40-Chechnian adminstration/ 2 million
41-Adil Al-Jilawi (ANM Air)/ 5 million
42-Khruzlet/ 5 million
43-Trans Nafta/ 3 million
44-Russian presidential office secretary/ 5 million
45-Russian Orthodox Church/ 5 million
46-Russian National Democratic party/ 2 million

Go ahead and look for US subsidiaries and shell companies in there. Dig up anything at all that you can find anywhere linking US companies to this scandal, because I'm ready to compare evidence whenever you are.

Some more pearls of wisdom you spouted:

We'll see if and when all the facts come out--many US companies were enjoying Christmas in Baghdad too, for ages. They had the support of our reps in the UN, and our government. Let's see our government release all applicable documents along with the French and Russians. And let's see all the records from all the companies that did do business and paid the payoffs, knowing that some of the money went to kickbacks and graft.

Hmm...let's take a guess at who had a bigger share, thru direct business, subsidiaries, and shell companies. I'd bet you my firstborn that whatever shit the French did, we did more of.

You did say direct business, did you not? Tell me again that you know what you're talking about. I'll try really really hard to believe you if you can give a halfway convincing performance.
posted by David Dark at 1:15 PM on May 16, 2004

well amberglow?
posted by clavdivs at 8:42 AM on May 17, 2004

David when you learn how to read a complete sentence, then we'll talk.
posted by amberglow at 9:31 AM on May 17, 2004

But those figures do not count most products purchased by Iraq from American subsidiaries abroad. This indirect U.S.-Iraqi  trade is tracked by the United Nations, which must approve all the contracts. But little information about it has been made public.

The U.N. humanitarian program for Iraq maintains a Web site that lists contracts by number, with a brief description of the goods involved and the country--but not the company--selling them to Iraq. According to this, the United States has been responsible for only 2 out of 2,080 contracts for oil spare parts submitted to the United Nations for approval. France, China and Russia, by contrast, submitted a total of 746 contracts.

America's real share of this trade, while unclear, is certainly far greater. Until recently, visitors to the Web site could search for a company name and then call up the contract numbers associated with that company, allowing cross-referencing between contracts and companies. The search engine was shut down last week after U.N. officials learned that The Washington Post had used it to investigate U.S. companies doing business with Iraq through foreign subsidiaries.

John Mills, spokesman for the U.N. Office of the Iraq Program, declined to comment on the extent of U.S. trade with Iraq, saying it was proprietary trade information.

According to diplomats and the Web site, American firms that have done business with Iraq, directly or through subsidiaries, include such petroleum industry giants as Halliburton, the world's largest oil field service company; Schlumberger, the second largest oil field servicer; the Fisher-Rosemount unit of Emerson Electric Co. in St. Louis; the Hamilton Sundstrand unit of United Technologies in Windsor Locks, Conn.; and Baker Hughes Inc. of  Houston.
-from here (WaPo article from 2000 reprinted)
posted by amberglow at 3:30 PM on May 17, 2004

amberglow, don't be a boob. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to spend all day digging up a moot point.

All your article says is that twice, a company based in the US submitted a contract for approval to sell oil spare parts to Iraq. It doesn't say that the contracts were approved, but even if they were, (illegally, and something that would have happened under Clinton's watch, by the way), this still has absolutely nothing to do with UNSCAM. You're either already aware of this, or you're even more in the dark than I'd originally assumed. Which would explain a lot, actually.

But feel free to keep trying. These attempts are amusing, if nothing else.
posted by David Dark at 1:14 AM on May 18, 2004

You're wrong. In the older thread and here, i've shown that we were doing business in Iraq, and therefore are not innocent in the UN scandal. You wish to paint the French and Russians as the bad guys and you're wrong because we don't have all the facts yet. That's always been my point, and you've refused to believe it. It's sad. If you're going to bring up bets, it'd be wise to wait and see if the bet pays off, which you haven't done.
posted by amberglow at 5:15 AM on May 18, 2004

i've shown that we were doing business in Iraq, and therefore are not innocent in the UN scandal.

Wrong. I couldn't have demonstrated your lack of understanding of the issue in any better form. This is the essence of your mistake. Doing business does not equal guilty in UNSCAM, how hard is that to grasp? I'm not painting the French and Russians as anything, they're clearly implicated in the scandal. It's not even an arguable point. No evidence implicating the US exists. None. You are the only person claiming that US companies are involved, and you haven't produced any relevant evidence to suggest that this is the case. You obviously don't have the first clue as to what the UN scandal is even about, but willful ignorance doesn't excuse wrongheadedness.
posted by David Dark at 11:26 AM on May 18, 2004

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