Bush on Terror War: We Can’t Win

George W. Bush was on the Today Show today.

During the course of talking about how we mustn’t dare end the war on terror… ever, because it’d make us look weak, he was asked “Can we win?”.

In a rare moment of candor, Bush admitted no, “I don’t think you can win it”.

Of course, just because the threat of terror hasn’t actually shrunk, and just because the US military is already stretched well past its limits, and just because civil liberties are increasingly a distant memory… and now we’re also admitting that we’re never actually going to win, that’s no good reason to stop.

I’m sure that’s one thing Bush and Kerry can agree on.

It just keeps getting better

I hadn’t even originally planned on doing a blog entry this week, but I can’t pass up a chance like this:

Timeline on Jonathan “call me Jack” Idema:

July 7: Three Americans and four Afghans arrested for operating private prison

July 8:One of these men is identified as Jack Idema. An early report from Afghan officials says Afghan prisoners were hung by their feet.

July 9: Idema claims he’s the inspiration behind George Clooney’s Role in Peacemaker

July 21: Idema Says he was working with the knowledge of the DoD. His Trial begins,the US military denies knowing anything about what he was doing.

July 23: Idema’s lawyer claims to have video proof he was working with the US. This is at first questioned, but later US Military spokesman Major Jon Siepmann admits that they did indeed receive prisoners from Idema’s group. They claim this was an isolated incident and they had no idea of anything else he was doing.

July 27: Knight-Ridder releases a story about Jack Idema’s career as a part-time journalist.

August 6: Idema’s dubious history is discussed in the article.

August 11: Idema’s lawyer complains that he can’t get a fair trial in Afghanistan.

August 16: Idema’s trial is delayed for a week when he claims the FBI is withholding evidence that could prove his innocence. The FBI agrees to hand over the huge collection of files relating to Idema and his group.

August 23: After a week, Idema complains that he hasn’t been given access to everything, and that the documents would prove he was working for the US Army. The defense shows video of Afghanistan’s former Education Minister congratulating Idema and his group for capturing “terrorists” and promises to help them continue their work. One of Idema’s cohorts, Mr. Caraballo enters the courtroom with a crutch, and badly bruised feet. The prosecution claims he “slipped”.

August 24: The US investigates the treatment of Idema’s men while in custody, and decides that it was acceptable.

August 25: The US once again denies any contact with Idema outside the single incident with the prisoners reported on July 23. They claim Idema had delusions of grandeur, and that any contact he claimed was entirely in his head.

August 26: The Department of Defense, after over a month of denials, finally admits that they were in contact with Idema, and that Acting Director of Security Heather Anderson had telephoned him.

This obviously isn’t over, but at the month and a half mark, I thought it would be a good time to review. I don’t know if the Pentagon is in contact with a lot of would-be A-Teams, but how could it take them nearly two months between the time of the initial arrest and the time where they finally remembered “oh yeah, we called him?”

And at any rate, why lie (multiple times at that) about it? The story barely registers on the mainstream American press’ radar. The average American barely cares about the vast amount of torture the US military has performed itself… surely the whole truth about Jack Idema can’t be that serious a threat.

“You’ll be here until we kill someone”

Those of you who are regular readers probably saw the story where the BBC crew was held hostage in Nablus by Israeli Troops. Now, finally, we get their story, fresh from the BBC Website.

Apparently storming the homes of random civilians and using them to shoot children in crowds is what passes for an Israeli Right to Self Defense these days.

Of course the IDF murdering (or in this case trying to murder and simply wounding) Palestinian children is nothing new. Hardly a week goes by in which at least one such story doesn’t wind up on our website. What makes this interesting though is that we’ve got the eyes and ears of BBC journalists within the actual residence the IDF was occupying, and while their cameras and whatnot were confiscated, they still tell the tale, in vivid detail.

Its probably the most interesting article you’ll see this weekend, unless American massacres in Iraq are something you really get into.

An Army of Fun?

Some Soldiers Seem to Be Enjoying the Whole ‘Killing’ Thing a Little Too Much

“I enjoy killing Iraqis,” says Staff Sgt. William Deaton, 30, who killed a hostile fighter the night before. Deaton has lost a good friend in Iraq. “I just feel rage, hate when I’m out there. I feel like I carry it all the time. We talk about it. We all feel the same way.”

Disturbed yet?

Thats from an article in the LA Times. That’s not just some random crazy guy either, that’s a person that the United States government felt it would be a good idea to hand a gun to and send to an occupied nation as a ‘peacekeeper’. And at least in his opinion that’s how they all feel.

Then, just like everything else nowadays, they blame video games for desensitizing these people to violence. Now either they are vastly overestimating the power of Super Mario Bros., or they are vastly underrating a normal human being’s aversion to killing others.

I play video games, lots of them… and killing Iraqis doesn’t sound remotely enjoyable. I’ve got news for you people: If Splinter Cell makes you thirst for the blood of Iraqis, you had some major problems to begin with.

Just the kind of problems that make you perfect for running some Iraqi prison, or patroling the streets of Baghdad, apparently.

Your Money’s No Good Here

I just had what has to be the most extraordinary day I’ve spent in quite some time.

This requries a little backstory: I just went through a major hassle with my previous bank, somebody stole my check card number and bought some stuff online, I filed a fraud complaint, they called me a liar, the whole thing was just a mess. Today it came to a conclusion, and I withdrew all my money and closed my accounts with that bank.

I checked online, and found another bank with local branches which offered the services I wanted, so I headed over there, money in hand, intent on opening new accounts.

Didn’t happen…

They require ID to open an account. I expected that, I mean, that’s obvious. But apparently, under the USA PATRIOT Act, the amount of ID that bank now requires is so excessive as to make opening an account virtually impossible. They wanted two types of ID.

Driver’s License… I’ve got that, no problem

And another form of “acceptable ID”. They were pretty vague about what was acceptable, but they were quite clear about what was not acceptable, which is to say everything. Social Security Card? No good. Student ID? Not a chance. Car insurance card? That one stopped her for a second. Do you own a car? No… I just have road service for driving other people’s cars. Then the card is no good.

The only things the woman would confirm as actually acceptable secondary ID were:

Proof of Car Ownership

Major Credit Card

Military ID Card

So basically, I’d either need to go buy a car and then prove to them I own it, or join the military, or no banking for me. Major Credit Card struck me as particularly funny. Oh, you mean one of those things banks give you after you have an account with them?

Well, this went on for awhile, and she ultimately said if I could bring in a voter registration card, my cable bill, and a paycheck from my employer, they’d look it over and might be able to help me then. God only knows what happened to my voter registration card.

Ultimately we decided that I just wasn’t a fit customer for that particular bank. The woman gave me something which I consider to be quite an intriguing collectible, a pamphlet entitled:

Protecting America
Protecting You

I feel safer already, don’t you? The pamphlet describes how the war on terror requires them to collect all sorts of crazy information to prove that I am who I say I am, and how they reserve the right to do pretty much whatever the hell they want.

But the final result is, I walked into a bank with a wad of cash, tried to give it to them, and they said “no”.

The thing that struck me as most interesting is that I could have taken my money over to the gun store and bought a bunch of weapons and ammo, and they wouldn’t have required half as much information about me.

Now, you’d think I’d be mad, but quite honestly the whole situation was so surreal, so unexpected, and so downright entertaining that the smile never left my face the whole time I was there. Even now, I consider the tale more humorous than deleterious. I mean sure, I’m out an hour’s time and I’m still without a bank, but at least I had something interesting to write here.

Blowing Up the Peace Process

Saturday must’ve looked like a promising day to Palestinians.

The International Court of Justice had just declared the Israeli wall illegal, the UN was in the process of drafting resolutions criticizing Israel about it. Ariel Sharon’s position was weakening, he had just turned to Shimon Peres, who made his cooperation conditional to speeding up the pullout from Gaza.

Of course, anyone who has paid any attention to the last half century of this war knew that couldn’t last.

So today, al-Aqsa, a militia affiliated with Fatah, decided this would be a good idea to blow up a bus in Tel Aviv, killing one innocent woman. So now Sharon has postponed his meeting with Peres and is childishly blaming the attack on the ICJ. One can only assume he’ll respond with some kind of retaliatory attack.

Yassir Arafat, for his part, condemned the attack. But it still leaves me sitting here thinking “he’s the leader of Fatah, right?”. I mean, I know al-Aqsa and the other militias operate independently of the parent group, but surely if he had called for an end to attacks beforehand, perhaps while cheering the ICJ ruling the other day, it might’ve been prevented. Even if it hadn’t, calling for an end to attacks would’ve been more meaningful if he’d done it before, rather than after.

Moreover, as he so often does, he suggested that Israel was responsible for the attack. Now, assuming that was true, why would al-Aqsa take credit for it? I mean, again, he’s the leader of Fatah… surely he could’ve at least convinced the militias not to take credit for the thing if they really didn’t do it. That’s almost as stupid as blaming the ICJ for it.

So now Sharon has another excuse to escalate the conflict, and that retaliation will lead to more retaliation from groups like al-Aqsa. Fifty plus years in you’d figure one side or the other would’ve figured out retaliation ad-infinitum isn’t going to end this war.