Prominent neo-con RIchard Perle is now blaming the Bush administration for failure in Iraq: “I probably would have said, ‘Let’s consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists,'” he told Vanity Fair magazine in its upcoming January issue.
Kenneth Adelman, another Reagan era hawk who sat on the Defence Policy Board until last year, drew attention with a 2002 commentary in the Washington Post predicting that liberating Iraq would be a “cakewalk”. He now says he hugely overestimated the abilities of the Bush team. “I just presumed that what I considered to be the most competent national security team since Truman was indeed going to be competent,” Mr Adelman said. (Source here).
I remember very clearly Perles position before war. I glad to be able to quote it from that old article (because I blogged it back then):
Having spent decades in and out of office, feeding journalists and seeing his “genius” promoted in return, Perle has employed his semi-oracular status to promote war with Iraq while consistently underestimating its likely costs. As Perle told US News & World Report: “The Iraqi opposition is kind of like an MRE [meals ready to eat, a freeze-dried Army field ration]. The ingredients are there and you just have to add water, in this case U.S. support.” Testifying before Congress in 2000, Perle insisted, “We need not send substantial ground forces into Iraq when patriotic Iraqis are willing to fight to liberate their country.” Last year, he conceded that the US troop requirement might go as high as 40,000. (Source here)
Disregarding the legal issues with copyrighted material on YouTubes and Google Video servers (I can’t check those as a regular user), there are some clips where I am simply glad that they are available online, because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to see them: documentaries, political commentaries and satire.
Just some examples:
And there is a lot of similar examples of material available.
Search statistics about human trends through Google and watch it move with Gapminder. This is an interesting Flash application allowing to see changes of data over time.
[via Tim Bruysten]
There is also a video of the presentation. I especially found interesting what the presenter was saying about designers. He was showing this slides like this one:
And then he said things like this
- »There are people that know how to deal with these tools. It’s just that those guys and girls didn’t go to a statistics course, so they don’t know about data. So they don’t manage to get that data in their design tools….«
- »These things are dificult for designers to make look nice, because it’s so much data….«
- »The weather forecast every day …. nice graphics, they have data…. humidity, wind …. they don’t show these numbers… they get a lot of publicitiy with their weather forecast just by drawing nice suns, beautiful colors… so these are the guys to copy in social science!«
I wouldn’t say that drawing »nice suns« is what is the secret to good weather forecasts, but the statement reminded me of the fact that few years ago I planned to offer a seminar called »Forecast« and it was supposed to examine this topic with this intention: to learn how to deal visually with huge data sets. Unfortunatly most of the students thought it is a boring idea to design weather forecasts and so they didn’t share my excitement. So the course never came into being. Not yet.
In an TV interview with Wolf Blitzer Jack Cafferty from CNN’s Cafferty Line points out a fundamental change in the policy. The NSA started to collect massive data of phone calls of every US citizen without any warrant. Jack Cafferty in the interview:
The President rushed out this morning in the wake of this front page story in USA Today and declared the government is doing nothing wrong, and all this is just fine. Is it? Is it legal? Then why did the Justice Department suddenly drop its investigation of the warrantless spying on citizens because the NSA said Justice Department lawyers didn’t have the necessary security clearance to do the investigation. Read that sentence again. A secret government agency has told our Justice Department that it’s not allowed to investigate it. And the Justice Department just says ok and drops the whole thing. We’re in some serious trouble, boys and girls”
There are som many people in the US that probably just don’t care. I don’t know. All I know is if one single institution in the government starts to circumvent any elected representatives then you can’t tell if you still have a democracy or not. It is a serious issue. Saddam Hussein would have loved this: a political system that only appears to be a democracy.
Here are some comments by House members.
Update 6/26/2006: Why NSA spying puts the U.S. in danger
Like Michael Moore once said: »If you want to bomb a country you should at least be able to point it on a map!«. I would add you should at least be able to name some kind of reason. Just watch this video:
It’s a little bit hard to see in the video: These people don’t recognize the displaced country names on the map. Maybe half of the US public thinks Syriana is the name of a country?
Update on 05/16/06: After more than three years of combat and nearly 2,400 U.S. military deaths in Iraq, nearly two-thirds of Americans aged 18 to 24 still cannot find Iraq on a map, a study showed. [Source]
BBC reports that US secretary of offense Donald Rumsfeld acknowledges that the “war on terror” is primarily a struggle of ideas. He proposes the US propaganda machinery must be capable of fighting down the unfavourable news from offensive media with a “more effective 24-hour propaganda machine”.
Hm. I was thinking free press and freedom of speech is a core ingredient to freedom and democracy. Obviously it is not enough to pay Iraqi journalists to carry US reports.
Bruce Schneier in Wired discusses the challenge that surveillance technology raise for constitutional rights:
Sometime in the near future, a young man is walking around the Washington Monument for 30 minutes. Cameras capture his face, which yields an identity. That identity is queried in a series of commercial databases, producing his travel records, his magazine subscriptions and other personal details. This is all fed into a computerized scoring system, which singles him out as a potential terrorist threat. He is stopped by the police, who open his backpack and find a bag of marijuana. Is the opening of that backpack a legal search as defined by the Constitution?
MoveOn.org is running a site where people can offer housing for the evacuees. And there are entries like this that are kind of amazing:
We can provide a family of five or six a place to stay while rebuilding is complete. WE WILL PAY FOR YOU AIRPLANE TICKETS, WE CAN OFFER WORK AND WE WILL ASSIST IN GETTING KIDS INTO SCOOLS. We live on a small farm in a rural setting and can help a working family while things get straightend out.
This emotional 14 min. radio interview (MP3) with Mayor of New Orleans Ray Nagin calling for aid in bitterness and desperation will be an asset in the historic archives – no matter what history will tell about his role in the foreplay of the catastrophe. Quote:
It’s politics man and they’re playing games and they spin it!