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S. Hamm
Posted on Friday, May 21, 2004 - 10:38 pm:   

Via King of Zembla, Knut Royce is reporting in Newsday that:

The Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that a U.S.-funded arm of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress has been used for years by Iranian intelligence to pass disinformation to the United States and to collect highly sensitive American secrets, according to intelligence sources.

"Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the United States through Chalabi by furnishing through his Information Collection Program information to provoke the United States into getting rid of Saddam Hussein," said an intelligence source Friday who was briefed on the Defense Intelligence Agency's conclusions, which were based on a review of thousands of internal documents.

The Information Collection Program also "kept the Iranians informed about what we were doing" by passing classified U.S. documents and other sensitive information, he said. The program has received millions of dollars from the U.S. government over several years.
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Posted on Friday, May 21, 2004 - 10:50 pm:   

Well, I don't think Bush needed much provoking. A lot of us knew there were no WMDs. If they were stupid enough to believe Chalabi it is because they wanted to believe him. It was convenient.
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Posted on Saturday, May 22, 2004 - 08:16 am:   

I agree with Brendan, Bush was already bent on destroying Saddam from the get-go, he just needed an excuse, any excuse. Not that I doubt this piece of news, but it comes at an awfully convenient time now that the heat is starting to turn up for Bush . . . See, the Iranians made him do it, he warned y'all about that Axis of Evil with good reason.

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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Saturday, May 22, 2004 - 08:34 am:   

Thats way to convienent... If its true, it was known to be true,and is being revealed now, just so they could justify being "duped".
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Posted on Saturday, May 22, 2004 - 08:44 am:   

I think it's likely true, at least to a great degree. If feels exactly right. We all wondered at the beginning about Chalabi, and here it is. Just because the Bush admin can say they've been duped by Chalabi doesn't let them off the hook. Au contraire. That Bush and cohorts could be duped by this low level con man is a compete indictment of their policy. Whether they knew or not is funamentally irrelevant to the fact of their stupidity. Either they were totally duped or partially duped. One way or another, they were had. And I don't think it in any fashion plays against Bush's desire to oust Saddam. Again, au contraire. He was perfect for them, a ready-made sucker. I cannot understand how anyone thinks this lets Bush off the hook. That they did not vette this guy well enough, that they jumped in with both feet following his lead, it makes them look like complete amateurs at best, and at worst, like villainous amatuers.
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Posted on Saturday, May 22, 2004 - 09:07 am:   

Well, Chalabi was convicted for fraud in Jordan and had to be smuggled out in the trunk of a car...

But Bush Co. don't mind fabricating their own "intelligence" also, ie Nigerian uranium.

Basically the whole thing was just trumped up.

Now Bush will claim that they have found WMDs, due to the one outdated, spent shell that possibly contains traces of sarin.
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Posted on Saturday, May 22, 2004 - 09:20 am:   

It doesn't matter what he claims. The hit has fit the shan. The Emperor has no clothes. This whole thing is falling apart and they stick their thumbs in the dyke all they want, it's not going to hold. Or, as my Uncle Fudd would say, they done messed up...
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Posted on Saturday, May 22, 2004 - 02:57 pm:   

Come on, Lucius! Everybody knows that Bush is a fucking moron from day one. His stupidity is legendary throughout the whole planet. How can a piece of news that basically says that Bush is a moron damage his rep? He has no rep. He never had.
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S. Hamm
Posted on Saturday, May 22, 2004 - 07:16 pm:   

Forget Bush's "rep." Bush is barely relevant. What you're seeing is the community of spooks jumping on the opportunity to take down their mortal enemies, the neocon cabal in the Pentagon that's been trying to cut CIA out of the foreign policy loop for almost four years now. Chalabi's buddies in the government are Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, et al, the boys who had the visionary plan to redraw the map of the Middle East, starting with Iraq. Yes, you bet, they were only too happy to be "duped" by Ahmed, because they thought everyone was on the same page, shared the same goal: democratic Iraq, happy liberated Iraqis, American military bases in perpetuity, theocracies and dictatorships toppling like dominos, Israel recognized, all the oil you can eat. It was sheer fantasy to begin with. But with the revelation that their boy Ahmed, who they thought was playing along, has instead been playing THEM all along -- and on Iran's behalf . . . well, their credibility is effectively demolished. Forever. The whole gang has just been stripped naked.

Although -- if it turns out they've been personally feeding sensitive information to Ahmed, and through him to Tehran -- they may soon be wearing stripes.
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Posted on Saturday, May 22, 2004 - 07:29 pm:   

Right. This is not about Bush. It's about the whole fucking gang. And, Jorge, I'm sorry, man, but this will damage the administration's image in this country. Absolutely. What the rest of the world thinks doesn't make a damn bit of difference, but if you don't think this hurts the GOP and Bush and et al among the electorare here, you ain't looking close enough.
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Posted on Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 06:44 am:   

Well, no, I'm not looking at it from short distance. That's a fact. But from out here what I see is a big flock of voters totally and utterly ignorant about everything deciding (when there aren't courts involved at least) who grabs the president's chair. Poeple who don't only ignore practically everything about what the world is and how it works, but that will arrogantly dismiss every piece of information that could put a grain of sand in their established worldview. That's the american public as we see it from out here.

How difficult will it be to cook up a nice, neat story and broadcast it through Fox? You think the sheep wont eat it and smile?

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Posted on Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 07:47 am:   

Well, sure, Jorge, the people who watch Fox will eat any flavor of shit. But that's not everybody in the US by any means. I don't know where the "Out Here" is that you're watching from, but it seems you're not in the US and perhaps your view is somewhat limited. To assume something about another country from what your own media feeds you is every bit as misleading as watching Fox News. I've learned that the hard way. From my recent travels, Honduras and Europe, I'd say the levels of disinformation and sheeplike behavior currently existing in those places are every bit as profound as they are here...especially regarding the actions of their own governments. The American electorate does not have a genius IQ, for sure, but then neither does that of any country I've ever visited. That said, here's the deal. What you may not see is that Bush's own political party is beginning to turn against him. Sen. RIchard Lugar, a powerful Republican, gave a major speech against him last night. The prison abuse scandal, initially described by the govt as the acts of a few bad apples, continues to spread and now, it's apparent, is systemic. Bush's job approval rating is hovering around 40 percent, an all-time low.. There is great anxiety among the Republicans that the Democrats will gain control of congress. Bush submitted a budget that his own party is speaking out against. The Iraqi occupation is worsening and will continue to get worse. It's six months from the election, and a lot can happen, but right now it looks as if there's a chance to unseat Bush, and a few months back, no one would have said that. All this can change, but making up a story that the sheep will swallow is not going to do it. It's going to take a whole bunch of good things happening to stop the momentum of the Bush decline. If Kerry can run a better campaign than Al Gore, he'll win. But that's not a given....and even if Kerry does win, it's not going to mark a massive change in US foreign policy, When I was on in panel last winter in France, a political panel, people asked what happened to the American Dream, and Terry Bisson said, this is the American dream. And he's right. World domination has been the aim of US foreign policy since the 19th Century. Things may look better under Kerry, but they will not essentially change. The bottom line about this particular story is that howver it plays out, whether Chalabi betrayed the Bus h admin or if he's being set-up by George Tennant and the CIA, or anything in-between, it's not going to work out well for Bush. Yeah, his base may buy whatever explanation is given, but the independent voters are being turned off in droves, and the independents are key in this election. Chalabi has offered to testify before Congress on the matter. Let's hope that happens, because it won't be pretty if it does.
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Posted on Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 09:48 am:   

To support what I'm saying, right now on CNN, a republican senator, the head of the intelligence committee, is saying that no president in memory has been as isolated as Bush, hostage to two or three advisors, who think they know everything there is to know. He says he hasn't been approached for advice by the president for more than two years. This is serious criticism coming from a member of his own party. And another senator is saying that the president is risking losing the good will of both political parties. This is big stuff.
Bush might be able to cover his ass, but the administration is now in trouble, and the Chalabi story is a large part of it.
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Posted on Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 12:11 pm:   

OK, let's hope you're right. I've totally lost my faith in american voters when Bush got elected (and how he got elected is of no relevance - if he didn't have a massive vote, there would be no way to twist the results). It's true that I didn't have much faith to start with, but still... And I also know that there is no limit to right-wing lies, deceipt and manipulation - not there, not here, not anywhere.

Anyway, the "Out Here" is in Europe. And we don't have only our media to watch - we watch CNN as well. That surely reduces skewing in perspective? Although I must say that from its coverage of what happened in Irak, I have very little confidence in CNN's information. Very, very little.

(Although, and thinking of it just now, CNN's (and the rest of american media's) pro-american stance is probably a very good reason why these events are a lot more schoking for americans than for everybody else. We were more or less expecting something like this to surface - not this serious perhaps, but under these lines. But your people had your illusions intact. And that sudden reality check really can be traumatic enough to kick Bush out of the White House. Let's hope so.)
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Posted on Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 12:46 pm:   

I don't know. I live in Europe (Switzerland) and find many people's views here to be rather naive also. For instance, it is pretty general that people pin all the world's ills on the US, when many countries like Portugal, Italy, and last year's Spain, have fully supported the US policies.

I remember when I first moved here, it was just before the last presidential election. Most European pundits and people were saying, "For us it really does not make much difference who wins. The differences in the two nominees mostly have to do with local politics."

Now of course - after relations are the chilliest they have been in ages and the US has driven a wedge through Europe - people are singing a different tune.

Basically, I find Europeans to be as politically naive as Americans - though in a slightly different way.
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Posted on Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 12:51 pm:   

Well, actually I think I would characterize American voters as less having their illlusions intact than being indifferent. But then I think that's true of many voting populations. I'm not saying that CNN's info is accurate; I'm saying that when you see Republican senators on CNN harshly criticizing a Republican president, that's meaningful. As to the outcome, this election is likely to be determined by a small percentage of voters in a handful of states. The bases of the two parties are pretty solid, and that leaves only a little portion of the electorate in play. In fact, some say that whoever wins the state of Ohio will win the election. Not a confidence builder for anyone who's ever been in Ohio. But that state is really suffering from economic woes and it's not getting better there. If Kerry forces Bush to run on his record, he'll win. But don't expect much to change regarding Iraq. Kerry has already said we can't pull out...though he may change his mind once he gets a look at a few presidential briefings.

I don't find any of this particularly shocking in terms of human history. How many countries have been blessed with morally sound and enlightened leadership? Not many, by my lights, and when it does occur, it doesn't usually last long. I think one reason Bush alarms everyone so much is that he's so clearly an idiot. Most politicians do a better job of hiding the fact. If truth be told, I'd imagine that there are a number of Bushes and worse out there -- they just don't have his power.
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Posted on Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 01:41 pm:   

Brendan, you are right about leaderships, but wrong about the people. While it is generally correct to say that the people tend to pin all the world's ills on the US (and Israel - don't forget Israel) and that Portugal, Italy and Spain were with Bush at leadership level, the fact is that the people never was. In Spain, in fact, the people was overwhelmingly against (90% or so), and even in Portugal, opposition to the war and to the support the portuguese government gave to that war reached 60%. Now, as the disaster unfolds, it's probably a lot bigger.

Anyway, yeah, the people are politically naive everywhere. In Switzerland, for instance, a good portion of the people thinks that if they don't get involved in world affairs, the world affairs won't find a way to affect them. Here, the current government still has about 40% of the voting intentions, according to the last polls (although it's very likely that they'll loose the next european election - the 3 left-wing parties that may elect people to the Europarliament together have over 55%), and I could go on for ever.

Finally, I also agree that what makes Bush so alarming is his blatant idiocy... and, yes, the amount of power he has (powerless morons are everywhere and they usually harm themselves more than they harm others)... and the kind of people that surround him. Rumsfeld, for instance, is just creepy.
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Posted on Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 10:57 pm:   

Well, Portuguese and Italian governments (both right wing) were still elected. And the people elected them. So, for me it is not far different.

We will see what happens in the next elections. Maybe the governments will change like they did in Spain.
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Posted on Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 11:11 pm:   

"Well, Portuguese and Italian governments (both right wing) were still elected. And the people elected them."

The candidates we had to choose from were, shall we say, uninspiring. It didn't help that many people didn't even bother to vote.

"We will see what happens in the next elections."

The way things are going, they most likely will lose. However, the alternative (assuming the so-called "Socialist" Party gets elected) are every bit as lame as the current government.

We'd be better off without any leaders, I say.

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Posted on Monday, May 24, 2004 - 12:32 am:   

Well - the situation is not that different than in the US. The main difference is that the US is just much more powerful. Truth be told, the Italian government is MUCH more corrupt than that in the US, and many things that go on there politically would not be tolerated in the US.

I guess my point is that people all over the world are not that different, and that Europeans are every bit as gullable as Americans.
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Posted on Monday, May 24, 2004 - 07:39 am:   

Brendan, you may be right, but still there is one major difference: americans are much more prone to accept that their country stumps on everybody else's toes than europeans. They still didn't realize that in today's world you can't do whatever you like without paying a price for that. Europeans, at least most of them, already did.

Further, we have a whole generation now that was born in the era of EU construction, which is based on giving up sovereignty and on multilateralism. For this generation, it is only natural to have to take into account multiple points of vue and multiple interests and to be in a world surrounded by different languages and cultures. To this generation, every act of american arrogance is disgusting because it is totally contrary to their culture. It's a gut feeling of repulse. I don't know if you can feel that in Switzerland, since the country is not a EU member, but within the Union this feeling is apparent (to different degrees in different countries - the UK, for instance, is still quite celf-centered). And it is the core of current anti-american feeling in Europe, that is growing explosively and will only grow further if the US goes on behaving like an elephant in a porcelain shop.

This is one major difference. Perhaps the major difference.
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Posted on Monday, May 24, 2004 - 07:40 am:   

Rumsfeld is creepy. According to a report I just read, the creepiest part of the M. Moore movie is...well, here's the whole thing.

"But why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day
it's gonna happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it's,
it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like
that? And watch him suffer."
— Barbara Bush on "Good Morning America," March 18, 2003

She needn't have worried. Her son wasn't suffering. In one of the several
pieces of startling video exhibited for the first time in Michael Moore's
"Fahrenheit 9/11," we catch a candid glimpse of President Bush some 36 hours after
his mother's breakfast TV interview — minutes before he makes his own prime-time
TV address to take the nation to war in Iraq. He is sitting at his desk in
the Oval Office. A makeup woman is doing his face. And Mr. Bush is having a high
old time. He darts his eyes about and grins, as if he were playing a
peek-a-boo game with someone just off-camera. He could be a teenager goofing with his
buds to relieve the passing tedium of a haircut.

"In your wildest dreams you couldn't imagine Franklin Roosevelt behaving this
way 30 seconds before declaring war, with grave decisions and their
consequences at stake," said Mr. Moore in an interview before his new documentary's
premiere at Cannes last Monday. "But that may be giving him credit for thinking
that the decisions were grave." As we spoke, the consequences of those
decisions kept coming. The premiere of "Fahrenheit 9/11" took place as news spread of
the assassination of a widely admired post-Saddam Iraqi leader, Ezzedine
Salim, blown up by a suicide bomber just a hundred yards from the entrance to
America's "safe" headquarters, the Green Zone, in Baghdad.

"Fahrenheit 9/11" will arrive soon enough at your local cineplex — there's
lots of money to be made — so discount much of the squabbling en route. Disney
hasn't succeeded in censoring Mr. Moore so much as in enhancing his stature as
a master provocateur and self-promoter. And the White House, which likewise
hasn't a prayer of stopping this film, may yet fan the p.r. flames. "It's so
outrageously false, it's not even worth comment," was last week's blustery
opening salvo by Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director. New York's
Daily News reported that Republican officials might even try to use the Federal
Election Commission to shut the film down. That would be the best thing to
happen to Michael Moore since Charlton Heston granted him an interview.

Whatever you think of Mr. Moore, there's no question he's detonating dynamite
here. From a variety of sources — foreign journalists and broadcasters (like
Britain's Channel Four), freelancers and sympathetic American TV workers who
slipped him illicit video — he supplies war-time pictures that have been
largely shielded from our view. Instead of recycling images of the planes hitting
the World Trade Center on 9/11 once again, Mr. Moore can revel in extended new
close-ups of the president continuing to read "My Pet Goat" to elementary
school students in Florida for nearly seven long minutes after learning of the
attack. Just when Abu Ghraib and the savage beheading of Nicholas Berg make us
think we've seen it all, here is yet another major escalation in the
nation-jolting images that have become the battleground for the war about the war.

"Fahrenheit 9/11" is not the movie Moore watchers, fans or foes, were
expecting. (If it were, the foes would find it easier to ignore.) When he first
announced this project last year after his boorish Oscar-night diatribe against Mr.
Bush, he described it as an exposé of the connections between the Bush and
bin Laden dynasties. But that story has been so strenuously told elsewhere —
most notably in Craig Unger's best seller, "House of Bush, House of Saud" — that
it's no longer news. Mr. Moore settles for a brisk recap in the first of his
film's two hours. And, predictably, he stirs it into an over-the-top, at times
tendentious replay of a Bush hater's greatest hits: Katherine Harris, the
Supreme Court, Harken Energy, AWOL in Alabama, the Carlyle Group, Halliburton, the
lazy Crawford vacation of August 2001, the Patriot Act. But then the movie
veers off in another direction entirely. Mr. Moore takes the same hairpin turn
the country has over the past 14 months and crash-lands into the gripping story
that is unfolding in real time right now.

Wasn't it just weeks ago that we were debating whether we should see the
coffins of the American dead and whether Ted Koppel should read their names on
"Nightline"? In "Fahrenheit 9/11," we see the actual dying, of American troops
and Iraqi civilians alike, with all the ripped flesh and spilled guts that the
violence of war entails. (If Steven Spielberg can simulate World War II carnage
in "Saving Private Ryan," it's hard to argue that Mr. Moore should shy away
from the reality in a present-day war.) We also see some of the 4,000-plus
American casualties: those troops hidden away in clinics at Walter Reed and at
Blanchfield Army Community Hospital in Fort Campbell, Ky., where they try to cope
with nerve damage and multiple severed limbs. They are not silent. They talk
about their pain and their morphine, and they talk about betrayal. "I was a
Republican for quite a few years," one soldier says with an almost innocent air
of bafflement, "and for some reason they conduct business in a very dishonest

Of course, Mr. Moore is being selective in what he chooses to include in his
movie; he's a polemicist, not a journalist. But he implicitly raises the issue
that much of what we've seen elsewhere during this war, often under the label
of "news," has been just as subjectively edited. Perhaps the most damning
sequence in "Fahrenheit 9/11" is the one showing American troops as they ridicule
hooded detainees in a holding pen near Samara, Iraq, in December 2003. A male
soldier touches the erection of a prisoner lying on a stretcher underneath a
blanket, an intimation of the sexual humiliations that were happening at Abu
Ghraib at that same time. Besides adding further corroboration to Seymour
Hersh's report that the top command has sanctioned a culture of abuse not confined
to a single prison or a single company or seven guards, this video raises
another question: why didn't we see any of this on American TV before "60 Minutes

Don Van Natta Jr. of The New York Times reported in March 2003 that we were
using hooding and other inhumane techniques at C.I.A. interrogation centers in
Afghanistan and elsewhere. CNN reported on Jan. 20, after the Army quietly
announced its criminal investigation into prison abuses, that "U.S. soldiers
reportedly posed for photographs with partially unclothed Iraqi prisoners." And
there the matter stood for months, even though, as we know now, soldiers'
relatives with knowledge of these incidents were repeatedly trying to alert Congress
and news organizations to the full panorama of the story.

Mr. Moore says he obtained his video from an independent foreign journalist
embedded with the Americans. "We've had this footage in our possession for two
months," he says. "I saw it before any of the Abu Ghraib news broke. I think
it's pretty embarrassing that a guy like me with a high school education and
with no training in journalism can do this. What the hell is going on here? It's

We already know that politicians in denial will dismiss the abuse sequence in
Mr. Moore's film as mere partisanship. Someone will surely echo Senator James
Inhofe's Abu Ghraib complaint that "humanitarian do-gooders" looking for
human rights violations are maligning "our troops, our heroes" as they continue to
fight and die. But Senator Inhofe and his colleagues might ask how much they
are honoring soldiers who are overextended, undermanned and bereft of a
coherent plan in Iraq. Last weekend The Los Angeles Times reported that for the
first time three Army divisions, more than a third of its combat troops, are so
depleted of equipment and skills that they are classified "unfit to fight." In
contrast to Washington's neglect, much of "Fahrenheit 9/11" turns out to be a
patriotic celebration of the heroic American troops who have been fighting and
dying under these and other deplorable conditions since President Bush's
declaration of war.

In particular, the movie's second hour is carried by the wrenching story of
Lila Lipscomb, a flag-waving, self-described "conservative Democrat" from Mr.
Moore's hometown of Flint, Mich., whose son, Sgt. Michael Pedersen, was killed
in Iraq. We watch Mrs. Lipscomb, who by her own account "always hated" antiwar
protesters, come undone with grief and rage. As her extended family gathers
around her in the living room, she clutches her son's last letter home and
reads it aloud, her shaking voice and hand contrasting with his precise
handwriting on lined notebook paper. A good son, Sergeant Pedersen thanks his mother for
sending "the bible and books and candy," but not before writing of the
president: "He got us out here for nothing whatsoever. I am so furious right now,

By this point, Mr. Moore's jokes, some of them sub-par retreads of Jon
Stewart's riffs about the coalition of the willing, have vanished from "Fahrenheit
9/11." So, pretty much, has Michael Moore himself. He told me that Harvey
Weinstein of Miramax had wanted him to insert more of himself into the film —
"you're the star they're coming to see" — but for once he exercised self-control,
getting out of the way of a story that is bigger than he is. "It doesn't need
me running around with my exclamation points," he said. He can't resist
underlining one moral at the end, but by then the audience, crushed by the
needlessness of Mrs. Lipscomb's loss, is ready to listen. Speaking of America's
volunteer army, Mr. Moore concludes: "They serve so that we don't have to. They offer
to give up their lives so that we can be free. It is, remarkably, their gift
to us. And all they ask for in return is that we never send them into harm's
way unless it is absolutely necessary. Will they ever trust us again?"

"Fahrenheit 9/11" doesn't push any Vietnam analogies, but you may find one in
a montage at the start, in which a number of administration luminaries
(Cheney, Rice, Ashcroft, Powell) in addition to the president are seen being made up
for TV appearances. It's reminiscent of Richard Avedon's photographic
portrait of the Mission Council, the American diplomats and military figures running
the war in Saigon in 1971. But at least those subjects were dignified. In Mr.
Moore's candid-camera portraits, a particularly unappetizing spectacle is
provided by Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of both the administration's Iraqi
fixation and its doctrine of "preventive" war. We watch him stick his comb in his
mouth until it is wet with spit, after which he runs it through his hair. This
is not the image we usually see of the deputy defense secretary, who has been
ritualistically presented in the press as the most refined of intellectuals —
a guy with, as Barbara Bush would have it, a beautiful mind.

Like Mrs. Bush, Mr. Wolfowitz hasn't let that mind be overly sullied by body
bags and such — to the point where he underestimated the number of American
deaths in Iraq by more than 200 in public last month. No one would ever accuse
Michael Moore of having a beautiful mind. Subtleties and fine distinctions are
not his thing. That matters very little, it turns out, when you have a story
this ugly and this powerful to tell.
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Posted on Monday, May 24, 2004 - 08:54 am:   

Yes, I want to see the Moore film.

Jorge: I agree with you on the our-country-is-the-greatest attitude of Americans. Not one of our best qualities.

Still, there is less of that acutally in America than you see on TV. Most of my friends at least don't have that attitude. So, to some degree it is a bit of a sterotype. Not to say it does not exist. It does. But I have heard the same kind of BS from Italians and Germans etc. Not in the sense of military strength, but in the sense of feeling nationalistic and superior. I imagine it exists in all cultures and just takes someone like Bush or Hitler to bring it out in the population.

In any case, I live right on the border with Italy, so I am pretty aware of the EU type stuff. Plus, Switzerland is part of Europe even if they are not in the EU. The attitudes here are the same more or less.

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