Your Daily Bad News From Iraq

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How's that Iraqi free press going, you ask? Not exactly "free."

Under a broad new set of laws criminalizing speech that ridicules the government or its officials, some resurrected verbatim from Saddam Hussein's penal code, roughly a dozen Iraqi journalists have been charged with offending public officials in the past year.

Currently, three journalists for a small newspaper in southeastern Iraq are being tried here for articles last year that accused a provincial governor, local judges and police officials of corruption. The journalists are accused of violating Paragraph 226 of the penal code, which makes anyone who "publicly insults" the government or public officials subject to up to seven years in prison.

Obviously the code isn't as harsh as it was under Saddam Hussein. But this "burgeoning free press" is one of the purported bright spots in the new Iraq, and one of the things the administration always hauls out to wail on war doubters. If the press is only as free as, say, Venezuela's, it's worth knowing that.

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  1. This isn’t good.

  2. But what about all the reporters who WEREN’T carted off to jail for criticizing the government? Why don’t you ever write about them?

    No, seriously, don’t worry about the Iraqi government’s commitment to freedom. The corporate tax rate is capped at 15%. Mission Accomplished.

  3. Make these traitorous reporters fix the john at the police academy.

  4. I thought we were over there to enforce U.S. imperialism and democratic values at gun point? If that were shouldn’t the U.S. be putting a stop to it? Good God Joe, Iraq is part of the American empire? How dare we allow this happen.

    Look it is their country. Within limits, namely genocide and totalitarian government, they can run it how they like. If you are going to let people determine their own government, you have to be willing to live with the fact that they are going to screw it up sometimes and the government isn’t always going to look like we would like it to. If throwing a couple of reporters in jail in the middle of an insurgency is the worst thing that happens, things are not so bad.

    But this raises an interesting point. The opponents of the war bitch and wail about imperial America enforcing American values on innocent Iraqis. Then of course when the Iraqis use their sovereignty to do something that they don’t like, the opponents scream their heads off that the U.S. allowed this to happen. Do the Iraqis have sovereignty or not? I say they do and they can as a sovereign government can pass whatever laws they want and if I or Joe or any other American doesn’t like it, too damn bad, we are not Iraqis. Of course if what they are doing with their sovereignty shocks your conscience so much that they should be stopped, aren’t you really saying that they are not worthy of sovereignty and we need to step in and put a stop to it. That sounds pretty imperial to me, which of course is exactly what the opponents accuse the U.S. of except when they are whining that the U.S. is not imperial enough.

  5. Well, at least the Iraqi wingnuts (if there are any) won’t have any ground complain about the MSM only reporting the bad news in Iraq.

  6. John – Whoa. Dude, you are on a roll!

  7. Do the Iraqis have sovereignty or not? I say they do and they can as a sovereign government can pass whatever laws they want

    Good point John – so would you pressure the American government to talk to the democratically elected Hamas?

  8. If throwing a couple of reporters in jail in the middle of an insurgency is the worst thing that happens, things are not so bad.

    This is true. However, when the worst thing that happens is a brewing civil war with innocent people being tortured and killed every day, things pretty much suck.

  9. MarkVII

    I think we should. The Palistinians elected Hamas. Fair is fair. I don’t like Hamas but you can’t say that the Palistinians can have elections only if they elect who we tell them to. I do, however, think we have every right to cutt off aid to the Palistinians if they elect a warlike government, but we should not refuse to recognize a government just because we don’t like who won, no matter how lousy the winner may be.

  10. “This is true. However, when the worst thing that happens is a brewing civil war with innocent people being tortured and killed every day, things pretty much suck.” – jennifer

    Yep. Things pretty much suck. Do you tink they’d be better or worse without U.S. and coalition troops there? Or are you claiming that it’s the U.S. that is torturing and killing people? (Sometimes it’s hard to tell with your posts…)

  11. John, partisan politics is taking your eye off the ball. Remember, the Grand Strategy was, “A free Iraq will become a beacon in the Middle East,” inspiring the rest of the Muslim Middle East to democratize and, free of oppressive governments stoking hatred of external enemies as a distraction, the people of the Muslim Middle East would turn from extremism, “draining the swamp” that nurtured terrorism.

    That’s the bill of goods we were sold. It was always a crock – there are too many dubious links in the chain of justification. But that was the pitch. “Iraq the Model.” You may have heard the phrase.

    The import of Dave’s story is that it shows, along with all the other terrible things happening here, how completely the war has failed to forge even the first link in that chain of hopes and dreams. No sane Jordanian or Syrian or Saudi looks at Iraq today and says, I want me some of that right here.

    The Middle East has not heretofore lacked for governments with press censorship who lock up reporters.

  12. If only Iraq could be more like the Kingdom of Saud….

  13. “‘A free Iraq will become a beacon in the Middle East,’ inspiring the rest of the Muslim Middle East to democratize and, free of oppressive governments stoking hatred of external enemies as a distraction, the people of the Muslim Middle East would turn from extremism, ‘draining the swamp’ that nurtured terrorism.” – Jim Henley

    That’s not “the bill of goods” I was sold. I remember being for the Iraq War because I remembered the first one and definitely did not want to continue to wait indefinitely while Saddam’s Baathists continued to act like they had WMD to hide.

    In retrospect, it would have been easier if we’d found a huge stockpile of WMD’s, but we didn’t. That’s the nature of the intel biz – it’s a lot like poker. You take your best guess at what the other guy is holding by reading him as well as you can, and hope that your four of a kind will beat his royal flush draw.

    But if you call and your opponent only comes up with a pair of deuces, a win is a win.

    What was the bill of goods I was sold? That Saddam most likely had WMD’s because he 1) claimed he did and 2) wouldn’t cooperate with the inspectors. Those are pretty big tells.

    So he was bluffing a pair of twos as three aces. He lost, that’s life. And the world is a better place because he was too dumb to realize the U.S. really WAS coming after him if he kept playing after we had not only seen all the “community cards” AND we had flipped over our cards for him to see.

    Is Iraq paradise now? Nope. Oh well, real life rarely has a Hollywood ending. Get over it.

  14. Yep. Things pretty much suck. Do you tink they’d be better or worse without U.S. and coalition troops there?

    Things were better for rank-and-file Iraqis before we got there. Saddam’s government was bad, but a power vacuum filled by any asshole on the street who has a gun and uses it on whoever he dislikes is worse. As nasty as Saddam was, if you weren’t one of his political enemies and you kept your head down you could still make your way through life, rather than have to worry about being randomly murdered because you’re in the wrong branch of Islam, or you’re a woman doing unwomanly things like driving a car, or you simply had the bad luck of walking past a car the second the bomb inside exploded.

  15. rob, you’re a funny man. You’re also confusing your own confusion and panic with the actual facts – Saddam did not claim he had WMDs, quite the opposite, and inspectors were on the ground racing to every site the US told them to visit by the winter before the war – but the big issue is your mistaking your own personal motives for invading another country (“Hey, it might work!”) with what our rulers and many, many of their supporters claimed as justification for the war. That “beacon” quote is a very close paraphrase of one of the President’s own speeches. If you never encountered “drain the swamp” in the pontificating of Administration spokespeople and their theorists in the hawkish policy community then you’ve been paying even less attention to that than to what you imagine “Saddam Hussein claimed.”

    You people are funny the way you keep swapping out justifications on us – Iraq will kill us with scary weapons! Okay, there’s no scary weapons but we’re going to make it a model for the middle east! Okay it’s not a model but it was never supposed to be! You doves don’t care about freedom for dark-skinned foreigners! Yeah it sucks there, but “Get over it!” Like I say, Funny! But we’re not laughing with.

  16. “Things were better for rank-and-file Iraqis before we got there.” – jennifer

    You know this how?

    “if you weren’t one of his political enemies” – jennifer

    You really think the guy didn’t see nearly everyone as an enemy. That’s the nature of tyrants.

    “and you kept your head down” – jennifer

    That’s good advice if you want to be a subservient serf. How would you like it?

    “you could still make your way through life,” – jennifer

    Yep. So your argument is “Live chained rather than die free”?

    “rather than have to worry about being randomly murdered because you’re in the wrong branch of Islam” – jennifer

    Actually, Saddam was pretty hard on religious folks who didn’t fit his worldview. You can look it up at your leisure.

    “or you’re a woman doing unwomanly things like driving a car” – jennifer

    Because that’s how you’d want to live, right? Illiterate, unable to show your face in public (literally), and subservient to your husband’s every whim?

    “or you simply had the bad luck of walking past a car the second the bomb inside exploded.” – jennifer

    I’ll take the potential car bombs, with the hope of liberty over the safety of tyranny. How about you?

  17. Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight

  18. “Things were better for rank-and-file Iraqis before we got there.” – jennifer

    You know this how?

    “if you weren’t one of his political enemies” – jennifer

    You really think the guy didn’t see nearly everyone as an enemy. That’s the nature of tyrants.

    “and you kept your head down” – jennifer

    That’s good advice if you want to be a subservient serf. How would you like it?

    “you could still make your way through life,” – jennifer

    Yep. So your argument is “Live chained rather than die free”?

    “rather than have to worry about being randomly murdered because you’re in the wrong branch of Islam” – jennifer

    Actually, Saddam was pretty hard on religious folks who didn’t fit his worldview. You can look it up at your leisure.

    “or you’re a woman doing unwomanly things like driving a car” – jennifer

    Because that’s how you’d want to live, right? Illiterate, unable to show your face in public (literally), and subservient to your husband’s every whim?

    “or you simply had the bad luck of walking past a car the second the bomb inside exploded.” – jennifer

    I’ll take the potential car bombs, with the hope of liberty over the safety of tyranny. How about you?

  19. Jim – That’s an impressive mish-mash of things I didn’t say.

    “You’re also confusing your own confusion and panic with the actual facts”

    Uh, no, but you seem to be very confused about what I wrote. (Maybe I should take a refresher composition course, since my English degree isn’t getting the job done…)

    “Saddam did not claim he had WMDs, quite the opposite,” – JH

    “Saddam lied to stay in power

    On 14 December Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces. Time Online Edition reports that in his first interrogation he was asked whether Iraq had any WMDs. According to an official, his reply was: “‘No, of course not, the U.S. dreamed them up itself to have a reason to go to war with us.’ The interrogator continued along this line, said the official, asking: ‘if you had no weapons of mass destruction then why not let the U.N. inspectors into your facilities?’ Saddam?s reply: ‘We didn?t want them to go into the presidential areas and intrude on our privacy.'” Later interviews with Saddam’s military leaders indicated that Saddam didn’t want it demonstrated through inspections that he didn’t possess WMDs in certain places in order to pose a threat against those who might attempt a coup.””

    From wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-Saddam_WMD_search

    “the big issue is your mistaking your own personal motives for invading another country (“Hey, it might work!”) with what our rulers and many, many of their supporters claimed as justification for the war.” – JH

    Uh, no, again. That seems to be what you wish I had said.

    “That ‘beacon’ quote is a very close paraphrase of one of the President’s own speeches.” – Jim Henley

    There were plenty of reasons for going to war in Iraq. WMD’s and failure to allow inspectors in were the big reasons for me. That was what “sold” me. If the happy, shiny Iraq was achievable, great. But that’s really not my primary concern. My primary concern is eliminating threats to national security. Yours seems to be whining about our “rulers” – I can only assume you mean the current crop of idiots we elected to replace the previous crop. You can hardly call them “rulers,” and certainly not without betraying a rather pitiable Chomsky-esque view of the U.S.

    “If you never encountered ‘drain the swamp’ in the pontificating of Administration spokespeople and their theorists in the hawkish policy community then you’ve been paying even less attention to that than to what you imagine ‘Saddam Hussein claimed.'” – JH

    Sure, I’ve heard it. But it wasn’t the “bill of goods” I was sold. Maybe YOU bought it, but that just means you are as dumb as the guys you are complaining about. (I still don’t see it as an impossible future for Iraq, frankly, but it isn’t my biggest concern and never was.)

    “You people are funny the way you keep swapping out justifications on us – Iraq will kill us with scary weapons! Okay, there’s no scary weapons but we’re going to make it a model for the middle east! Okay it’s not a model but it was never supposed to be! You doves don’t care about freedom for dark-skinned foreigners!” – JH

    Did you mean that to be directed at me? Because I haven’t changed in my “justification” argument. So I’m not sure who you’re going after with the “you keep changing your rationale bit…

    The decision I made to support the invasion was based on the principle that the risks of doing nothing, sadly, outweighed the risks of invasion.

    Sure, Saddam and his Baathists fooled our intel guys and hence the guys in charge, but it was a convincing bluff. I think I’d be fooled by that one twice…

    Of course, you can read minds so you could never be bluffed. How come you’re not in charge? It’s a damn shame, they could use a guy like you over at the CIA mind-reading and parapsychology department.

  20. Because that’s how you’d want to live, right? Illiterate, unable to show your face in public (literally), and subservient to your husband’s every whim?

    That’s not how I’d have lived in Saddam’s Iraq, but that’s how I’d live there now. We turned a secular nation into a nation on the verge of Islamic theocracy.

    I’ve pasted here the address of a story CNN ran yesterday, about an elderly Iraqi woman gunned down by Sunni extremists in front of her own home; since she was a Shiite it was assumed she was an American spy.

    According to the story, her family is devastated by her loss. Which is ridiculous, right? They should be consoled by thoughts like “I’m glad that she died free. That’s better than living in chains.”

    http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/09/28/iraq.victims/

  21. rob, you realize your wikipedia quotes do not support your statement that “Saddam claimed he had WMD,” right?

    “There were plenty of reasons for going to war in Iraq. WMD’s and failure to allow inspectors in were the big reasons for me. That was what ‘sold’ me.”

    Again, as a factual matter, Saddam let the inspectors in. Saddam had not kicked them out in the first place.

    During the three-odd months that inspectors were in Iraq the US kept telling them exactly which sites to go to – Donald Rumsfeld said explicitly that we “know” where they are – and finding nothing. This was in all the papers. It was a source of endless, contemptuous amusement in the jingo media. Meanwhile the Iraqi regimes official statements were, “There are no weapons to find.” The UN kept demanding document dumps. The UN sent the CDs of the documents directly to the US government. Every time, within a couple hours of getting the disks, well before any competent analyst could have begun to inventory their contents, the US authoritatively pronounced the latest pack of documents as “inadequate.”

    It was all a shadow play on our part, but the widely publicised facts remain: Inspectors were in Iraq; Iraq claimed that their programs were long since ended; The US government ritually declared the inspectors incompetent and the Iraqi claims dishonest on essentially no basis.

  22. Jennifer – That’s sad. No doubt about it. But do you think it’s worse to be someone that a group of thugs target because you’re a Shiite, or the target of a gov’t with a standing military that targets whole groups of people?

    You know the groups you mentioned, like:

    1) People murdered because Saddam and his Baathists believed they were political enemies.

    2.) People murdered because they were brave enough not to meekly “keep their head down.”

    3.) People murdered because they were in the wrong branch of Islam.

    4.) Women murdered for doing unwomanly things like driving a car (or reading).

    Saddam was Sunni. Granted, he was not a good Sunni Muslim and his displays of piety were mostly just that – for show. But that certainly doesn’t mean that the Baathists did not oppress the Shi’a. Again, you can look it up.

    But you can’t claim Saddam’s regime was a great secular gov’t that kept people from oppressing other religious groups. That’s just bizarre. Currently there’s violence, but it is not state-sanctioned. That’s a big difference that you fail to take into consideration. At least now the gov’t will try to protect you from that crap, instead of being the ones actually doing it to you.

    “Oppression of Shi’a Muslims
    The hypocrisy of the supposed commitment of the Saddam Hussein regime to Islam is shown by its long oppression of the country’s Shi’a Muslim majority. Restrictions on Shi’a Muslims include: placing conditions and outright bans on communal Friday prayer; prohibiting Shi’a mosque libraries to loan books; denying permission for Shi’a programs on government-controlled radio or television; banning Shi’a books, including prayer books and guides; banning many funeral processions and other funeral observances other than those organized by the government; and prohibiting certain processions and public meetings commemorating Shi’a holy days. Shi’a groups report capturing documents from the security services during the 1991 Shi’a uprising that listed thousands of forbidden Shi’a religious writings.”

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/ogc/apparatus/islam.html

    This is your idea of religious oppression?

    “In Iraq, 80 percent of the country is populated by Muslims, with 60 percent of these being Shiites, according to the World Almanac and Book of Facts. However, with Sunni Muslim Saddam Hussein as head of state, the Shiite population has been largely ignored, and at times repressed, for over a decade. With U.S. occupation of Iraq, things are looking different for the Shiites.

    ‘This is truly an amazing day,’ said Jasam Hamad, a Shiite Muslim in Basra on April 11, according to a New York Times article. ?For 35 years we had to pray in our homes or in secret, but not anymore.'”

    From http://courses.washington.edu/com361/Iraq/ethnic_differences/differences.htm

    What you’re arguing is pretty much like arguing that the slaves were better off in the South during slavery than they were after the Civil War because the KKK might come for them in the night and because services and food were scarcer.

    Weird.

  23. Nobody got killed because of their religion in Iraq under Saddam. Saddam definitely did not persecute Shiites. He was a secular dictator. Here endeth the revisionist history lesson.

  24. John,

    “I thought we were over there to enforce U.S. imperialism and democratic values at gun point?”

    It appears that the people running our government know, and care, a lot more about “gunpoint” than about “democratic values.”

    I don’t think the Gread Democracy Crusaders have the foggiest idea what democracy is. They’re pretty sure it has something to do with low corporate taxes and foreign ownership of oil companies, but the whole free-speech thing is, apparently, not something worth worrying about.

    Anyone else see the polls – please note the “s,” as I’m referring to a set of independent polls – that show about two thirds of the Iraqi public supporting the withdrawal of American forces? How’s your smugness about your superior democratic credentials holding up, John? On the most important question facing the democratic polity in Iraq, which side are you on – the public’s, or the foreign government’s?

    That’s Democracy, GOP style. It has very little to do with “American values.” Apparently, John’s support for Iraqi sovereignty extends up to, but not including, the decision to allow foreign troops to occupy your country.

    rob, the guys in “the intel biz” told the administration not to raise, because the odds were too sketchy. That’s why they put together the Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon – because they couldn’t get the CIA to say what they wanted to hear.

    “And the world is a better place” Yeah, the dramatic increases in terrorism, decreased ability of the democratic world to cooperate, and the reduction in the capacity of the American military to respond to new threats or opportunities has really been a gold mine.

    But, to be fair, the Iraqi security personnel torturing people to death are now aligned with Iran instead of hostile to them. So there’s that.

    The Soviets used to talk about the slaughters they created in other people’s country’s being democratic regime changes, too. Garbage in, Garbage out – and the understanding of democracy among the people who started this war is garbage.

  25. I’ll take the potential car bombs, with the hope of liberty over the safety of tyranny. How about you?

    wow.

    talk doesn’t get any cheaper than that when you live in a place where neither your liberty nor your safety has ever been meaningfully threatened.

    yes, the iraqi people are free of the generally un-benevolent though relatively quiet rule of saddam hussein. in its place, they enjoy an islamic gangland, where they have freedom in name but are threatened with oppression and violence on a much more personal basis every day.

    the whole “it’s better to die free than live chained” business is great for showing what an internet tough guy you are, but really quite meaningless when you know it will never be put to the test.

  26. “Again, as a factual matter, Saddam let the inspectors in. Saddam had not kicked them out in the first place.” – JH

    Since this is the only fact you assert and the rest is a bunch of Chomsky-esque nonsense, I’ll address it.

    From the same wiki article you claim doesn’t support what I’ve said:

    “The United States and Britain, along with many intelligence experts, believed that Saddam Hussein possessed hidden stockpiles of WMDs, and must be prevented from building anymore. Hussein denied having any such weapons while at the same time refused to allow weapons inspectors unrestricted access to his country’s various facilities.” –

    Which part of that article is confusing to you?

    1.) We knew he had WMD’s in the past.
    2.) He had used them as recently as 1991, so he wasn’t exactly shy about having and using them.
    3.) He claimed to still have them.
    4.) He denied inspectors access to facilities that were likely WMD locations.

    I’d have thought he had them, too. And I thought he did. Even tho I could pretend that I knew better then and that I know better know. But I don’t. I honestly think the guy left no alternatives beyond more opportunities for obfuscation and sleight of hand while the inspectors tried to conduct a real inspection.

    And we still gave him one last chance to spare himself and his people a world of hurt:

    “Prior to the invasion of Iraq, the United States stated that Saddam Hussein had 48 hours to step down and leave Iraq. As the deadline approached, the US announced that forces would be sent to verify his disarmament and a transition to a new government.”

    Quotes from the same wiki article you claim doesn’t support what I’ve said:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_and_weapons_of_mass_destruction

  27. I don’t understand the assertions that Iraqis are somehow less likely to be targeted by state-sanctioned violence than they were before the war. Aside from all of the stories about Iraqi soldiers and police torturing people (remember the secret prison and torture chamber the Interior Ministry was running awhile back?) the major political parties have militias that engage in ethnic violence all the time. They are protected from the government by their powerful political allies. This seems a little bit like state-sanctioned violence.

  28. Look it is their country. Within limits, namely genocide and totalitarian government, they can run it how they like. If you are going to let people determine their own government, you have to be willing to live with the fact that they are going to screw it up sometimes and the government isn’t always going to look like we would like it to. If throwing a couple of reporters in jail in the middle of an insurgency is the worst thing that happens, things are not so bad.

    But this raises an interesting point. The opponents of the war bitch and wail about imperial America enforcing American values on innocent Iraqis. Then of course when the Iraqis use their sovereignty to do something that they don’t like, the opponents scream their heads off that the U.S. allowed this to happen. Do the Iraqis have sovereignty or not? I say they do and they can as a sovereign government can pass whatever laws they want and if I or Joe or any other American doesn’t like it, too damn bad, we are not Iraqis.

    Careful, John. You are coming dangerously close here to making a really good argument as to why we never should have invaded Iraq in the first place.

  29. “The decision I made to support the invasion was based on the principle that the risks of doing nothing, sadly, outweighed the risks of invasion.” -rob

    “My primary concern is eliminating threats to national security.” -rob

    “I’ll take the potential car bombs, with the hope of liberty over the safety of tyranny.” -rob

    Hmmph

  30. “talk doesn’t get any cheaper than that when you live in a place where neither your liberty nor your safety has ever been meaningfully threatened. ” – steven crane

    You’re the internet tough guy, friend, not me. I know my limitations when it comes to people who personally insult other people from the safety of their keyboard.

    Whenever someone starts screaming chickenhawk and making claims about how someone else has never “been there, done that” – someone they CLEARLY know nothing about – just means they don’t have any real point to make.

    I’m not tough, but I do know what tough is, and it’s not from watching it on TV.

  31. “I don’t understand the assertions that Iraqis are somehow less likely to be targeted by state-sanctioned violence than they were before the war… This seems a little bit like state-sanctioned violence.” – TH

    It probably has something to do with the oversight of the Iraqi police and military by hundreds of thousands of U.S. military personnel.

    Then again, while I think the state-sanctioned violence is less than before Saddam was toppled I also think that there’s no way to keep all police and military from abusing their authority. Even the U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib got away with unsavory stuff until they were caught.

  32. My bad: “hundreds of thousands” should read “over a hundred thousand.”

  33. rob, it’s cute that you’re using wikipedia as an authoritative source for interpretations of disputed fact sets as opposed to the sorts of things wikipedia is actually good for. But way way back before you began doing the usual hawkish fog dance, you said, explicitly, Saddam Hussein claimed to have WMDs. Not one quote from the wiki article you like so much has established Saddam Hussein claiming to have WMDs. Your very word. Not one quote has refuted the fact – unchallengeable fact – that UN inspectors were in Iraq starting the winter before the war. Because it is fact. You haven’t even begun to address that Saddam Hussein did not order the UN inspectors out of Iraq in 1998 – the UN pulled them out in direct anticipation of the US-British bombing campaign (Operation Desert Fox).

    I can believe that you combined an excessive level of fear and insufficient knowledge in late 2002 and early 2003 – many Americans did. But your imagination, then and now, is not history.

  34. Doesn’t the Iraqi contitution protect free speech and freedom of the press? Can’t the defendants in these cases appeal to higher courts and challenge the law on constitutional grounds?

    Maybe I am naive about this whole thing but I was under the impression that there must be some kind of judicial review process, at least in theory, that Iraq’s legal system has to overturn laws that are unconstitutional.

  35. JH – It’s cute that you post nothing to refute the wiki citation, you just try to smear its credibility.

    “you said, explicitly, Saddam Hussein claimed to have WMDs. Not one quote from the wiki article you like so much has established Saddam Hussein claiming to have WMDs.”

    Nope. Here it is, once again:
    “Saddam lied to stay in power

    On 14 December Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces. Time Online Edition reports that in his first interrogation he was asked whether Iraq had any WMDs. According to an official, his reply was: “‘No, of course not, the U.S. dreamed them up itself to have a reason to go to war with us.’ The interrogator continued along this line, said the official, asking: ‘if you had no weapons of mass destruction then why not let the U.N. inspectors into your facilities?’ Saddam?s reply: ‘We didn?t want them to go into the presidential areas and intrude on our privacy.'” Later interviews with Saddam’s military leaders indicated that Saddam didn’t want it demonstrated through inspections that he didn’t possess WMDs in certain places in order to pose a threat against those who might attempt a coup.”

    From wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-Saddam_WMD_search

    Saddam played it both ways, no doubt about it. Just like he played the secular leader and the devout Muslim leader whenever it seemed the most useful thing to do.

    He claimed to have WMD’s on the one hand, to keep his neighbors in check, and denied having them to the inspectors. It’s such a mystery that a world leader might say whatever is most likely to be of benefit?

    You’re the guy who thinks the U.S. people were hoodwinked by the Bush administration. I think they were bluffed by Saddam’s back and forth takes on it… It was a bad thing to bluff on. Unfortunately, not only Saddam loses because of this.

  36. rob at 11:29:

    “That Saddam most likely had WMD’s because he 1) **claimed he did** and 2) wouldn’t cooperate with the inspectors.”

    I’ll give you “wouldn’t cooperate with the inspectors” as a difference of interpretation, so long as we agree that Saddam did in fact let inspectors back into Iraq during the winter before the war and did not kick them out of Iraq in 1998. (I’ve stated some of my reasons for thinking it’s largely a crock.) But “claimed he had WMD” is a simple question of fact. Saddam did not, after some time in the mid-1990s if not before, claim to have WMD. He claimed to have destroyed all stockpiles. Repeatedly claimed.

    If you’re formally modifying your claim to “Saddam formally professed that he had gotten rid of his WMDs but did the dance of the seven veils to fool [someone] into thinking he still had them,” then we’re back into realms of interpretation again. It’s an interesting question whether Saddam was trying to convince some set of outsiders that he really had WMDs and just who the “someone” was in the brackets.

    If the above adequately clarifies what you meant, then you’re no longer spreading misinformation, just offering a tendentious reading of events like the rest of us.

  37. Not that it matters but I’m with Jim on this.

  38. If Jim and I team up maybe we can get the “facts’ into wikipedia?

  39. Well, never let it be said that rob doesn’t support your right to die for his freedom.

  40. If throwing a couple of reporters in jail in the middle of an insurgency is the worst thing that happens, things are not so bad.

    Completely ignoring the corruption of the officals… I seem to remember a corrupt official in Iraq a few years back. What was his name again? Saddam something-or-other…

  41. Rob the “bill of goods” you bought was just as fake as the others.

    If you really believed Saddam had WMD you would have to believe one of the following.

    1. Bush Sr, Powell, and stormin’ Norman, failed to removed all existing WMDs in the first gulf war. (We knew about them back then didn’t we?)

    2. Saddam was so slick he rebuilt his WMD while the tough sanctions were in place for 12 years.

    (Hell he couldn’t rebuild his own damn power plants under those sanctions.)

    3. Saddam borrowed some from a neighbor.

    4. Didn’t listen to the experts such as the energy department or the Air Force when they disputed the DIA assesments on tubes and UAVs.

    (As a matter of fact not one of Bush’s claims were without dissent.)

    Come on, face up to it, you were one of those that quickly jumped on the get Saddam bandwagon and was willing to graps anything that looked good to you. You never looked for proof or real evidence of the claims you were willing to believe. Saddam did not say he had WMD, doing so would have justified our actions from the start. He did talk tough about war and killing our troops but it was the U.S. that assumed he would use WMDs against us. Failure to cooperate does not equal the threat that Bush claimed existed nor is it a reason to war.

    The false ‘bill of goods” arguement will disappear as soon as Bush gets the victory.

    Bush needs to stop talking about winning, he need to do it already.

    U.S. to Bush, SHOW US THE VICTORY
    but, if he could, he would.

  42. Rob @ 11:29: it’s a lot like poker.

    Uh-huh. Where I play, the dealer doesn’t shoot me in the fucking face when I lose a hand, though.

    Hundreds of billions of our dollars, thousands of dead Americans, and no end in sight to any of it. But what the hell, “it’s like poker,” just a game, right?

  43. If you really believed Saddam had WMD you would have to believe one of the following.

    1. Bush Sr, Powell, and stormin’ Norman, failed to removed all existing WMDs in the first gulf war. (We knew about them back then didn’t we?)

    Might want to take it up with joe, who’s fond of the line “Sure, Iraq had WMDs in the 90s – but Clinton took care of them all!”

  44. While I’ve long since abandoned any support for the war, I have to note a verbal sleight-of-hand Iraq war opponents have been fond of – the simplification of the claim “Iraq is trying to get WMDs and could make some soon” to “Iraq has WMDs”. I know I didn’t support the war out of hopes of already-made nukes going off in the Middle East.

  45. ERic .5b,

    The 1991 war didn’t destory Iraq’s WMD stockpiles, or programs. I’ve never disputed that fact. Nor have I ever said “Clinton took care of them all.” What I have stated, and what is true, is that the UN teams, backed up by American and British military force, destroyed most of Iraq’s WMD capacity. The rest was destroyed on the orders of the Iraqi government itself, after Operation Desert Fox convinced them that doing so was a good idea.

    Also, you might recall the Secretary of Defense, asked if he knew “where the weapons of mass destruction are located” (please note the present tense), replied, “Yes,” and proceded to provide geographic descriptions. Completely transparent ones, but all in the present tense.

    rob, I, too, was surpirsed by your assertion that Saddam claimed to have WMDs. I seemed to recall Saddam Hussein and his spokesmen denying (truthfully, as it turns out) that they had any WMDs. I also seemd to recal George Bush himself saying that he wasn’t going to take Saddam’s word for it when he denied having WMDs.

    So I was interested to see what kind of evidence you could come up with for your assertion, and was disappointed to note that the wikipedia entry you quote – that is, the evidence you considered sufficiently strong to back up your assertion – doesn’t actually say that Saddam Hussein claimed to have WMDs.

    I think you demonstrated that your word is worth less than that of Saddam Hussein. Man, that’s rough.

  46. Well, never let it be said that rob doesn’t support your right to die for his freedom.

    Now, now, they don’t all have to die. Some of them can just be tortured…um, subjected to coercive interrogation techniques that were torture when the Vietnamese did it to McCain but aren’t torture when we do it to Khaled El Masri.

  47. The 1991 war didn’t destory Iraq’s WMD stockpiles, or programs. I’ve never disputed that fact.

    Neither have I. Other people in this thread have, including the person I quoted.

    Nor have I ever said “Clinton took care of them all.” What I have stated, and what is true, is that the UN teams, backed up by American and British military force, destroyed most of Iraq’s WMD capacity. The rest was destroyed on the orders of the Iraqi government itself, after Operation Desert Fox convinced them that doing so was a good idea.

    You’ve previously given Clinton explicit credit for this. It’s actually an arguable claim (if not the way you put it), since it did turn out to have worked – even though Clinton’s statements at the time described the weapons programs as a grave, continuing danger, not something that had been neutralized.

    Also, you might recall the Secretary of Defense, asked if he knew “where the weapons of mass destruction are located” (please note the present tense), replied, “Yes,” and proceded to provide geographic descriptions. Completely transparent ones, but all in the present tense.

    Yes, and every citation I’ve seen of this remark focuses on one response in one interview, while every other statement of the administration harped on WMD programs – at least until they had to give up and admit they couldn’t find anything remotely productive going on.

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