"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Three People's Stories 

One of the real benefits of war - I mean, aside from the economic stimulus, the Malthusian population control, and the political advantage it bestows upon cynical chickenhawks with a hard-on for carnage - is the richness of the stories it inspires. Yesterday, three people with nothing else in common all happened to experience life-changing events little noted in the news, and all as a result of our Glorious War on Islam Terror.

First, there is Sibel Edmonds:
In a one-line order with no explanation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia today upheld the dismissal of FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds’ case, despite a Justice Department Inspector General’s report which concluded that Edmonds’ whistleblower allegations were in fact “the most significant factor” in the FBI’s decision to terminate her.

“First the government claims that everything about me is a state secret, then the court hearing is closed to the public, and now the court issues a decision without any public explanation. The government is going to great lengths to cover up its mistakes,” Edmonds said. “If the courts aren’t going to protect us, then Congress must act.”

Edmonds, a former Middle Eastern language specialist hired by the FBI shortly after 9/11, was fired in 2002 after repeatedly reporting serious security breaches and misconduct. Edmonds challenged her retaliatory dismissal by filing a lawsuit in federal court, but her case was dismissed last July after Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked the so-called “state secrets privilege,” and retroactively classified briefings to Congress related to her case....

The state secrets privilege has historically been rarely invoked, and even more rarely employed to dismiss an entire case at the outset. When properly invoked, it permits the government to block disclosure of evidence that would cause harm to national security. In the Edmonds case, however, the government used the privilege to urge dismissal of the entire lawsuit, insisting that every aspect of Edmonds’ case involves state secrets—including where she was born and what languages she speaks.

Sharp-eyed readers will note that the court in question - the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia - is the same august body that gave Dick "Dick" Cheney an early Christmas present this week by ruling that one of the perks of his office is the right to sell it to the highest bidders. This is exactly the sort of thing that leads people to complain about the tyranny of judicial activism. Or not.

Second, there is Janis Karpinski:
Former Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the highest-ranking officer punished in the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, fired back Tuesday against the Army inspector general who demoted her last week, saying the Army relied on an old shoplifting charge to prosecute her.

The Army revealed no evidence that she was responsible for the abuses of Iraqi prisoners, said Karpinski, whose Army Reserve unit was in charge of the prison during the abuse of Iraqi inmates.

"The punishment may look like it's in response to Abu Ghraib, but it is not,'' Karpinski said in an e-mail interview with The Associated Press. "They had nothing to use against me, so they exploited this so-called charge of shoplifting and made mention of it in conjunction with the final report, making it appear this demotion was about Abu Ghraib.''

Karpinski noted that the last line of the report states "Actions General Karpinski took or failed to take in no way contributed to the abuses at Abu Ghraib.''

The Army's inspector general investigated four allegations against Karpinski: dereliction of duty, making a "material misrepresentation'' to investigators, failure to obey a lawful order and shoplifting. Only the shoplifting and dereliction of duty allegations were substantiated.

Cry no crocodile tears for Our Janis; she deserves no great sympathy. Even assuming that her claims that she was largely cut out of the loop by other, higher ranking general officers who subverted her authority (Mssrs. Sanchez and Miller, call your aides de camp) are true - and, personally, I believe they are - it is in the nature of command that one might be held responsible for the acts of one's subordinates even if one is in no way to blame for those acts. That's one reason why generals make the big bucks (that, and the awesome power of life and death). However, two points must be raised: (1) Wouldn't it be nice if that "command responsibility" thing didn't stop somewhere short of the Secretary of Defense and/or Commander in Chief; and (2) isn't relying on an old, unsubstantiated shoplifting charge kind of a punk-ass way to go about destroying a woman's career?

And finally, we revisit our old friend, Ahmad "the Arab Tom DeLay" Chalabi:
King Abdullah of Jordan has agreed to pardon Ahmed Chalabi, the controversial Iraqi political leader, who was sentenced to 22 years in prison for fraud after his bank collapsed with $300m (£160m) in missing deposits in 1989.

Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi President, asked the king to resolve the differences between Jordan and Mr Chalabi, now Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, during a visit to Ammanthis week.

Latif Rashid, the Iraqi minister of water resources, said Mr Talabani confirmed to him that King Abdullah had promised, in effect, to quash the conviction. He expected there would first be a meeting between Jordanian officials and Mr Chalabi "who has some questions of his own."

The expected pardon, is the latest twist in the extraordinary career of Mr Chalabi, now again in the ascendant as an important member of the Shia coalition and the new Iraqi government. Only a year ago US soldiers raided his house in Baghdad, put a gun to his head, arrested two of his supporters and seized papers. He was accused of passing intelligence information to Iran.

Previously an ally of the neoconservatives and of the civilians in the Pentagon whom he managed to convince of the need to topple Saddam Hussein, Mr Chalabi sought new friends. He cultivated Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia clergyman whose militia the US Army was trying to destroy. He became a leader of one of the main factions in the United Iraqi Alliance, the Shia coalition which triumphed in the election on 30 January.

Again Mr Chalabi has escaped not only political annihilation, but has emerged from a crisis with his power enhanced.

Chalabi's career is an inspiration to mendacious greedbots everywhere, and rightly so. The guy punk'd the United States government, spies for the Iranians ("accused" my smiling Irish ass!), steals everything that isn't nailed down, runs away like the disease-ridden weasel he is when the heat is on, and not only survives but thrives! (I love the part in the article where he "has some questions of his own" - like, "are you gonna eat that huge pile of small unmarked bills, or can I have it?")

I was surprised to find that there is very little discussion of Chalabi's latest reversal of fortune going on today, at least so far as I could find. The redoubtable Juan Cole, however, has this to say:
Just so readers don't put their necks out doing a double take, I just want to repeat that Chalabi is a vice premier of Iraq and the Jordanian government is going to pardon him for embezzling over $200 million. In an unrelated story, two burglars from Dubuque, Iowa, face life in prison under a 'three strikes and you're out' law for their robbery of the West Locust Mart (their third offense), in 2000.

Friggin' liberals and their elitist "perspective," and "ethical values," and "gag reflex." Don't they know there's a war on? And speaking of the war - gather 'round the campfire, kiddies, and we'll all tell stories. That will make us feel better.

Update: Blogger is totally bloggered today. It took me a dozen tries to get this thing published, and then when I discovered that I had failed to link to Juan Cole's original post (now fixed), another dozen attempts to publish the correction. Please be patient today with all blogs at a "blogspot.com" URL. Including, of course, this one.

 

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