If Only the DNC Had Been Held Two Years Ago!

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It's nice to learn, via The New Republic, that capturing top al-Qaeda operatives is once again as high a priority as our Noble Experiment in Iraq:

A third source, an official who works under ISI's director, Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq, informed tnr that the Pakistanis "have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs before [the] election is [an] absolute must." What's more, this source claims that Bush administration officials have told their Pakistani counterparts they have a date in mind for announcing this achievement: "The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq's] meetings in Washington." Says McCormack: "I'm aware of no such comment." But according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"–the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

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  1. Is this like the Afghan pipeline story where normally sceptical people start having warm, trusting feelings towards the claims of random Pakistanis? I’ll share this story with a liberal Israeli friend. I suspect he’ll believe it becuase it confirms that “Bush is Evil.”

    [I’m not saying that Bush isn’t evil, just that we shouldn’t swallow every piece of manure that confirms it.]

  2. Yes, TNR’s “news article” approaches the left-wing version of the tinfoil hat, UN black helicopter crowd.

    As long as Osama is at large, he’s a danger to the US and others. So if Dubya is allowing him to remain at large until he can be captured at a time of Dubya’s choosing, the president is then knowingly putting American lives at risk for political gain. If you’re going to make that kind of explosive and unbelieveable charge, you’d better back it up with credible sources, documentation, and so on. This article didn’t do that. Instead, we’re supposed to believe three unnamed sources from the notoriously corrupt ISI, an organization that was Osama’s bosom buddy not too long ago? Please.

  3. Dan, I never said this rises to the level of a mathematical proof. Given that the Pakistanis go for a couple of months at a time between catching/killing *anyone* in al-Qa’ida, let alone a target that actually gets serious media play, the statistical likelihood that they will catch a verifiable “HVT” (e.g., Khalid Muhammad-scale or up) between July 27 and July 29 is certainly less than the theoretical 1-in-10 chance they would have of randomly catching any given member of al-Qa’ida during any given three day period in a month. If an HVT is captured during that block of time, that boosts the likelihood the story is correct. Also, since Dan broke my “no sneering” proposal, does anyone else find it funny that a war-supporter is suddenly a stickler for logical proof?

  4. SR,

    “does anyone else find it funny that a war-supporter is suddenly a stickler for logical proof?”

    As a “war-supporter”, I say your premise is wrong; the anti-war guys are the “sticklers for logical proof that should stand in a courtroom” against Saddam, Gitmo prisoners, etc.

    We are for “pre-emption” when it comes to national security.

    (personally, I don’t think we need to give up our freedoms to do that – but that is another topic)

  5. Wasn’t there an Ohio congressman who leaked to the press a couple of weeks before Saddam was caught that there was something big in the works?

    I wonder what that guy knows about this?

  6. I suppose one of the main reasons we HAVE elections is to prompt our government into improving its performance.

    Sorta like the market-place, huh? So shallow, so base, why don’t they do things for the sheer love of fellow-man…blah, blah, blah.

  7. Dan, I never said this rises to the level of a mathematical proof. [insert bungled attempt at mathematical proof]

    Let me simplify it for you: I’ll claim that anonymous Pakistani sources told me that John Kerry used some of his wife’s money to bribe the Pakistani government into NOT capturing bin Laden until after Kerry is safely elected.

    Crazy conspiracy theory? Sure. But, using your “logic”, if Kerry gets elected and bin Laden gets captured after that, we’ll “see that I was correct”.

    Anyway, here is a short list of the mistakes you made:

    1) the fact that three days is 1/10th of a 30-day month does not mean that there is a 1/10 chance of catching a terrorist during a three-day period. Your claim would be true only if Pakistan always captured precisely one terrorist, chosen at random, every month.

    2) while it is an obvious fact that “capturing an HVT” is less likely than “capturing any terrorist at all” (since not all terrorists are HVTs) it is NOT necessarily the case that “capturing an HVT” is less likely than “capturing a non-HVT”.

    3) based on the information we have available, the odds of a HVT being captured during the three-day period you cite are the same as the odds of an HVT being captured during any other three-day period. What matters is whether the odds of a terrorist being “randomly” captured during a given three-day window are less than the odds of the Bush adminitration orchestrating the capture of that terrorist during that three-day window. Well, the odds of a terrorist being captured are completely unknown. The odds of the Bush folks staging it are also completely unknown. It is, therefore, completely and utterly irrational to prefer the “coincidence” explanation to the “conspiracy” one, or vice-versa, based solely on the fact that a terrorist was caught during that three-day window.

    does anyone else find it funny that a war-supporter is suddenly a stickler for logical proof?

    It’s a matter of which axioms you use. Mine include things like “any enemy of the United States who acquires, or attempts to acquire, nuclear or chemical weapons should be brutally killed, along with everyone who even thought about helping him, as soon as possible” and “all Arab and Islamic dictatorships need to be toppled at our earliest convenience”. So, logically, Hussein’s regime had to go. 🙂

  8. Dan, did I say I was offering a mathematical proof? No, it was an argument about probabilities. If someone predicts that unlikely event “X” will happen on date “Y”, and offers a theory that explains why event “X” will happen on date “Y” and then event “X” does, in fact, happen on date “Y”, the burden shifts to opponents of the theory to explain why that theory was wrong. E.g., a guy sitting next to you in a bar tells you that Mr. Smith, a local celebrity with a trophy wife, will be murdered next week because he owes the Mafia a large sum of money and can’t pay, and the following week you read a newspaper item saying that Mr. Smith was found shot dead in his home and there are no suspects at this time. Now, is it more logical to decide that Mr. Smith was killed by the Mafia or to decide that he was killed by his wife?

    Also, as for the 1/10th chance, have you heard the term “simplifying assumption”? You’re like a Commie who claims that capitalist economic models are useless because a market is never truly in equilibrium.

  9. Well speaking for Rick Barton, Ralph Nader, and Justin Raimondo I think that this is POSSIBLE, but has anyone checked in with the Sharonist-Neocon Cabal that TRULY runs this country?

  10. This is highly suspect, and I think TNR is falling for what it wants to believe.

    Greg Djerejian wrote a good piece about this article and about TNR’s possible gullibility.

    Because I think it’s rude to cut and paste huge chunks of text into comments, just go to Belgravia Dispatch and scroll down to the “This is TNR-Worthy?” post.

  11. Of course, back in February, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) announced, regarding the Notorious O.b.L., “Obviously, he?ll be caught between now and the election.”

    http://www.hillnews.com/under_dome/020404.aspx

  12. Well, thank heavens that once we catch Bin Laden, there will be no more terrorism, ever.

  13. Geez, guys — not only are you days late in noticing this accusation, but you’re actually *buying* it, too? Not too smart.

  14. We’ll see in two to three weeks whether this is correct or not, so why doesn’t everyone on both side hold their sneers until August 1, OK?

  15. Whatever the accuracy of the speculation regarding HVTs, this paragraph from the article makes my head spin, an is completely verifiable.

    “The Bush administration has matched this public and private pressure with enticements and implicit threats. During his March visit to Islamabad, Powell designated Pakistan a major non-nato ally, a status that allows its military to purchase a wider array of U.S. weaponry. Powell pointedly refused to criticize Musharraf for pardoning nuclear physicist A.Q. Khan–who, the previous month, had admitted exporting nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea, and Libya–declaring Khan’s transgressions an “internal” Pakistani issue. In addition, the administration is pushing a five-year, $3 billion aid package for Pakistan through Congress over Democratic concerns about the country’s proliferation of nuclear technology and lack of democratic reform.”

  16. Whatever the accuracy of the speculation regarding HVTs, this paragraph from the article makes my head spin, an is completely verifiable.

    “The Bush administration has matched this public and private pressure with enticements and implicit threats. During his March visit to Islamabad, Powell designated Pakistan a major non-nato ally, a status that allows its military to purchase a wider array of U.S. weaponry. Powell pointedly refused to criticize Musharraf for pardoning nuclear physicist A.Q. Khan–who, the previous month, had admitted exporting nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea, and Libya–declaring Khan’s transgressions an “internal” Pakistani issue. In addition, the administration is pushing a five-year, $3 billion aid package for Pakistan through Congress over Democratic concerns about the country’s proliferation of nuclear technology and lack of democratic reform.”

  17. I know a guy whose uncle knows a guy who knows the real story about the JFK assassination, if you’re interested.

  18. I’m interested.

  19. Hey Douglas, that’s simple: LBJ hatched the plan with Castro on his “Texas Ranch,” and then Castro contracted the New Orleans mafia to arrange the hit. Lee Harvey Oswald was actually Castro’s brother Raul in disguise, and they switched the real Lee back in for the shooting. Got it??

    Sigh….Reason and TNR fall prey to the romantic idealism of a portly, bearded man in a Michigan State hat.

  20. We’ll see in two to three weeks whether this is correct or not, so why doesn’t everyone on both side hold their sneers until August 1, OK?

    You’ve fallen victim to the post hoc fallacy. Catching a HVT in two or three weeks won’t prove that he was caught at that time because Bush ordered it done; similarly, a *failure* to catch a HVT in that time frame won’t prove Bush *didn’t* order it done (it wouldn’t be the first time a Bush order didn’t yield successful results).

    And, of course, whether this story is true or not, it doesn’t excuse The New Republic’s shoddy journalism or Reason Magazine’s credulity — the story may be true (just like LBJ “may” have had Kennedy killed), but there’s certainly no reason for believing it’s true on the basis of this unsourced hit piece.

    And Josh, what’s so shocking about our cozying up to Musharraf? He’s the best option we’ve got, and he knows it. He’s got us by the balls, really; he knows that WE know that if he falls from power, the same Islamists who originally backed the Taliban and Al Qaeda will be the ones who take over — and, in so doing, gain access to nukes. Not “nuclear technology”; actual nuclear weapons.

  21. The difference, Dan, is that The New Republic is a reputable, cautious, conservative magazine that values the public image of its commentary above all…

    and you’re Dan.

    I have no way to judge the evidence one way or the other. But this isn’t “Z” or even “The Nation.”

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