kiss me

Our readers will no doubt call to mind, on this day that seems especially appropriate to survey the ongoing war on terror, how often, and with what righteousness, the U.S. has threatened Iran and Syria for allowing insurgents to use their territory to access Iraq.

The Bush administration has also, lately, been in an upbeat mood about its contribution to the w-w-war on terror, to wit, the legalization of torture, and the extension of executive, judicial and penal power to the CIA. And one has to admit, this contribution almost exactly mirrors the soul of this administration: brutish, small, incompetent, and of a piece with the Dixie totalitarianism that runs, a rich vein, through our history: from the pro-slavery freebooters of the 1850s in Kansas through the lynchers of the 1890s to the segregationists of the 1950s.

Those who, like LI, believe the war on terror is a farce being performed by madmen, with various subject populations in walk on roles, found confirmation for that view in two articles this weekend. One, in the Washington Post, threw in the towel on the “Osama bin is on the run” line that has become a media’s mock Homeric epithet, forged in the fires of press syncophancy and always served piping hot to the hoi polloi who might, by some unwarranted exercise of the mental faculty, wonder where that dead or alive man is today. Dana Priest and Ann Scott Tyson’s article, “Bin Laden Trail Stone Cold,” was notable for one scoop:

“Intelligence officials think that bin Laden is hiding in the northern reaches of the autonomous tribal region along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. This calculation is based largely on a lack of activity elsewhere and on other intelligence, including a videotape, obtained exclusively by the CIA and not previously reported, that shows bin Laden walking on a trail toward Pakistan at the end of the battle of Tora Bora in December 2001, when U.S. forces came close but failed to capture him.”

This scoop, by those who keep up with such things, should be combined with the information we already have about what the military did during the battle of Tora Bora and Rumsfeld’s claim, afterwards, reprinted in Philip Smucker’s book, Al Qaeda’s Great Escape, “We have seen repeated speculation about his [bin Laden’s] possible location,” he said, adding that the pieces of information “haven’t been actionable, they haven’t been provable, they haven’t resulted in our ability to track something down and actually do something.” Ah, a spoonful of the Rumsfeldian sugar makes the medicine go down – LI’s little conspiracy theory that Osama was let to escape to provide the Bushies with a terrorist on tap looks better every day.

Our theory combines with another of our theories – that letting Osama escape was premised on the Bushist fantasy that America’s strength, like that of a god, was such that we could always pull in the little rascal. According to Priest and Tyson, in a year in which the President is sore in need of an October surprise, he’s doing his best to get one:

“"The handful of assets we have have given us nothing close to real-time intelligence" that could have led to his capture, said one counterterrorism official, who said the trail, despite the most extensive manhunt in U.S. history, has gone "stone cold."
But in the last three months, following a request from President Bush to "flood the zone," the CIA has sharply increased the number of intelligence officers and assets devoted to the pursuit of bin Laden. The intelligence officers will team with the military's secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and with more resources from the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies.”

The last three months our old rootin’ tootin’ Rebel in Chief suddenly flashed on that outlaw Osama, did he? Imagine that.

Mary Ann Weaver, in a NYT Mag article last year, has a very nice summary of what happened at Tora Bora and concludes thusly:

On or about Dec. 16, 2001, according to American intelligence estimates, bin Laden left Tora Bora for the last time, accompanied by bodyguards and aides. Other Qaeda leaders dispersed by different routes, but bin Laden and his men are believed to have journeyed on horseback directly south toward Pakistan, crossing through the same mountain passes and over the same little-known smugglers' trails through which the C.I.A.'s convoys passed during the jihad years. And all along the route, in the dozens of villages and towns on both sides of the frontier, the Pashtun tribes would have lighted campfires along the way to guide the horsemen as they slowly continued through the snow and on toward the old Pakistani military outpost of Parachinar.

Tora Bora was the one time after the 9/11 attacks when United States operatives were confident they knew precisely where Osama bin Laden was and could have captured or killed him. Some have argued that it was Washington's last chance; others say that although it will be considerably more difficult now, bin Laden is not beyond our reach. But the stakes are considerably higher than they were nearly four years ago, and terrain and political sensibilities are far more our natural enemies now.

There is no indication that bin Laden ever left Pakistan after he crossed the border that snowy December night; nor is there any indication that he ever left the country's Pashtun tribal lands, moving from Parachinar to Waziristan, then north into Mohmand and Bajaur, one American intelligence official told me. The areas are among the most remote and rugged on earth, and they are vast. Had bin Laden been surrounded at Tora Bora, he would have been confined to an area of several dozen square miles; now he could well be in an area that snakes across some 40,000 square miles.

Defending its decision not to commit forces to the Tora Bora campaign, members of the Bush administration - including the president, the vice president and Gen. Tommy Franks - have continued to insist, as recently as the last presidential campaign, that there was no definitive information that bin Laden was even in Tora Bora in December 2001. "We don't know to this day whether Mr. bin Laden was at Tora Bora," Franks wrote in an Oct. 19, 2004, Op-Ed article in The New York Times. Intelligence assessments on the Qaeda leader's location varied, Franks continued, and bin Laden was "never within our grasp."

The NYT article that provides a sweet-n-sour chaser to Priest’s obituary for the Osama on the run meme is about Pakistan’s treaty with the Taliban, which might get in the way of flooding the zone – although, being a mere peapicker instead of the Rebel in Chief, I just don’t know.

“On Tuesday, the Pakistani government signed a “truce” with militants who have resisted Pakistani military efforts to gain control of the region, which is roughly the size of Delaware. The agreement, which lets militants remain in the area as long as they promised to halt attacks, immediately set off concern among American analysts.”

I love the concern business. Usually, I don’t know, such a thing would set off condemnation. Our vampiric V.P. would show his fangs on that show he does on Fox, “Cheney Shows His Fangs” – you know, it comes on right before “America’s Funniest Waterboarding Videos.” But here we have the measured responses of the mature republic we are.

“After two attempts to assassinate President Pervez Musharraf in December 2003 were linked to the tribal areas, Pakistani officials expanded the military effort to subdue the region. But after suffering heavy casualties in 2004 and early 2005, they began negotiating with local militants. Last year, Pakistan signed a separate agreement with militants in South Waziristan, but the move failed to slow the killing of government supporters.

“If you look at the number of deaths in the region, it’s not clear that they’ve dropped,” said Xenia Dormandy, former director for South Asia for the National Security Council. Signing such truces, she said, “is a potentially dangerous route to take because there is little pressure that you can bring to bear to make sure they can follow through on the agreements.”

"Two hundred miles to the south, the Taliban leadership is believed to have established a base of operations in and around the Pakistani city of Quetta, according to American analysts. Afghan officials say the Taliban used the area to plan and carry out sweeping attacks in southern Afghanistan in the spring.”

The amazing thing, to LI, is that the fraud of the war on terror is so threadbare. You don’t have to really rise from your reclining chair to connect the dots. We know how it was done, we know who did it, and we know how it goes on, and on, and on. This truly offends me. As the Al Pacino character says in Dog Day Afternoon says:
Kiss me! Kiss Me!
Cause I liked to be kissed when I’m fucked!

My motto for this all too sad day.


new york pervert said…
Yes, so threadbare that even John Tierney started calling it the Terrorism Industry. However, I don't know if terrorism isn't still serious, just that it isn't being fought as if it is. But that doesn't mean it isn't. It just means the Bushies don't like to do things well, but rather enjoy doing them crookedly.
roger said…
Ah, Mr. Nyp, as Holmes said to Watson, you know my methods. It's LI's contention that in the theater of politics, the serious becomes ludicrous and the ludicrous becomes banal. So Rumsfeld applies the ladybug, ladybug fly away home strategy to OBL at Tora Bora, and now, three months before things might go bad for the Bush Junta, the Rebel in Chief wants to flood the zone. As for the ludicrous becoming banal, the WAPO article I referenced was discussed, today, and the discussion was at a level... well, here's an example of a question:

"Conspiracy Theories..: As you most likely know, there are many conspiracy theories circulating the net regarding OBL.

One of the more interesting ones is that OBL has -already- been caught and is being held in a secret location and trotted out by the Bush Admin. whenever they need to "scare people" following the onset of bad news..."

I don't blame homo americanus for thinking American foreign policy is an extension of Hollywood action films -- the ones starring Stephen Segal. I can't imagine homo afghanistanus being any more interested in foreign policy. People have lives to live. Unfortunately, this leaves an opening for people like the clique ruling us in D.C. There are many more serious problems facing American than terrorism, but certainly terrorism is serious enough not to go out of our way to provoke it and not to fight it as an endless photo op opportunity.
Conspiracy theories are the marinara on an otherwise dull bundle of noodles. They are the ketchup on the meatloaf of ennervating neuroses. Done well, they are the salsa on the chips of fragmented psyches. What would we do without them? Critics never offer an answer to this.
roger said…
Mr. Scruggs -- find tastier meatloaf and noodles? Ah, I see what you are doing -- you are tying this post into my menu and tomato obsessions. Ho ho.
I go to blog commenting with the obsessions I find, not the ones I might want or might wish to have at a later date.
roger said…
But surely the quest to make meatloaf tastier is one of the human universals? I think Levi Strauss calls it, somewhere, l'imperative a la Betty Crocker.
new york pervert said…
'What would we do without them? Critics never offer an answer to this.'

No use the broken record, Scruggs. Critics answer this constantly, as you may find at Lenin's Tomb. The point is that some Conspiracy Theorists are planaria and/or nematodes, which are useless for noodles except in uncivilized places like Japan and China. Therefore, they have to be tortured due to producing a hollow husk of hallucinatory huge flatulence that is meant to and does attract too much attention when the Irony ain't Enuf. Now I hope there is enuf tasteless crud in this here morsel to satisfy even a raging nihilist like you. Cute clothes will go only so far, as you are discovering.
Roger, you're right. I studied his disquisition on Structural Oeconomicus at the University of Chicago. He dealt with the crockerite tendency extensively in that one. Good times, eh?

Mr. NYP, you wrong me! And my comrades at Lenin's Tomb. What there is of my nihilism is genial and relaxed, like the refreshed feeling one might get from the perfect nap, of the sort taken between pointless, ennervating exertions. The rages that come with living through a moronic meltdown pass quickly. In happier times, it's true, I'd be moderating a panel discussion on right wing humanism and sneaking the delicious canapes meant for the dignitaries. But things are not so bad, and I'm always happy to share when someone's sockpuppet has horked the last of his cocaine.
new york pervert said…
I'm glad to know you and Mrs. Peter warszawa-Lorre are in bed together, Scruggs. Both so genial, both so serious. Nevermind that you can never be sure, so you've no need to complain about a nation of dickerers and tinkerers. Keep on truckin', I guess. There are hobbyists everywhere--little else, it can seem, except then it annoys to find that some people are still really in business.
The only warszawa with which I'm intimately familiar is on the David Bowie album, "Low". I have a place in my heart for "Fame", of course, and certainty is best left to the aggressively certain. I cherish my doubts! I am a tinkerer and I do have hobbies. The dickerers, however, surely we can all agree their activities are beyond the pale? One of them ate my prize squirrel.
new york pervert said…
'Blue, blue, electric blue, that's the colour of my room, where I will live...'

'Don't look..
at the carpet..
'Cause I'm doing summmm-thing...awful-on-it.'

Scruggs, you use the term 'intimately' misleadingly, just like your comrade uses all terms. From the way you write it, I could think you didn't even know who I was referring to. From the way he writes (or she, because warszawa loves to pretend to being either sex if it can help his Senator Byrd type filibuster number), you'd think all the hard-left bloggers supported his 9/11 conspiracy theory, and not one does, except Mrs. Chabert, who is more like Mme. la Comtesse d'Aulnoy, who wrote 'The White Cat' and 'The Great Green Worm' after she got her salon together.

Roger's conspiracy theories are more convincing, and thus far, I've agreed with all of them, even though I agree with him that he often seems insane. I ask him a question and he answers in so indirect a way I think he thinks I'm stupid, but anyway, I am stupid about all things I don't know. Who the fuck isn't?
roger said…
Mr. NYP, there is something that puzzles me. Myself, I obviously don't think the Bush monsters snuck into the wtc and placed explosives in the building, then instamessaged Mohammed Atta and the dreadful dwarves. But those people who believe that don't upset me like they do you, because I just don't think they represent some important group. Rather, I think they present a syndrome that is naturally going to form in the present atmosphere. Its an atmosphere of imperial irresponsibility.

The Bush culture isn't new. What is new is that the
'moderates' -- the Cold Warrior papas, the Wise Men in DC, the Eisenhowers -- are gone. There's no brake now. It is funny, Bush Sr. was the last of em.

And so we have things like the WAPO story I linked to, that gives us a scoop about 2002 -- that Bush basically withdrew any forces to hunt for OBL in March 2002 - with blithe unconcern that this news is four years late. With no explanation of why the media just either didn't care or didn't know. And the four years later scoops are given to us by reporters that lick their chops with self satisfaction and never, ever question why they took four fucking years to give us this info, They preen about what an excellent press we have. They sit on my face, man. They disarm the power of the information we get by giving it to us far to late for us to use it. That pisses me off.

To my mind, this is how juntas operate.

In such an atmosphere, I expect conspiracy to flourish, but I don't blame the conspiracy buffs. Have you ever read that Naipaul piece about Eva Peron and Argentina? It was written on the cusp of the dirty war. Naipaul is as always a little too catty, but it is a very good piece about the conspiracy mindset.
Ho, ho! I was being precise. I have read warszawa's comments and Lenin's Tomb as well. I do share some of the political and economic affinities. As far as conspiracies go, I've yet to find one that couldn't be explained by malign neglect, willful stupidity, fear of partly related corruption being exposed, etc. . . The host of ills that go with an unaccountable elite. Fair trials, swift hangings, that's the ticket. I have something of a crush on Colonel Chabert, which causes me to stay away. I'm really very conservative in that regard.

I think you want me to say something mean about the hard left. Ain't goin' do it. They're no threat to my squirrel-related program activities and I'm almost completely unconcerned about views on my credibility. In a world dominated by chimperors and great feelers of other people's pain, which never extends to NOT causing it, there are more important things to deal with, like music.
new york pervert said…
'I think you want me to say something mean about the hard left. Ain't goin' do it. They're no threat to my squirrel-related program activities and I'm almost completely unconcerned about views on my credibility.'

No, I don't. I couldn't give any more of a shit about your credibility than you do. You write like some snuff-sniffing aristocrat half the time and some prole-helper the rest. I hate your squirrels-down-the-9/11-blast corridor for the same reason I hate the conspiracy people. They don't believe it, and are doing something out of fun that to me is sacred even though profaned by the Bushies 5 minutes into it. Anyway, at Lenin's Tomb there are very bright people who are as interested in facts as Roger is, and among the several core contributors you have a lot of information on things you don't know, and the owner has a lot of energy and does not care to evade facts. So why would I want you to say something about the hard left?

Roger--it has to do with being in the direct experience, at least within the zone, even if my experiences were still less than those who had to escape from the immediate area. These are still more removed from the event than the dead ones in it. I admitted to Lenin that I know I cannot be perfectly objective about this even which is so emotional to me, and part of this is that it becomes sacred to you. Attempts to produce sensation for leftist programs, as warszawa tries to do at Lenin's Tomb are especially interesting when they finally go so far as to make the smart ones read the conspiracy material and find nothing of value in it, while still wanting questions to be asked and information found out if at all possible. So that warszawa does not even succeed on the hard left. Maybe Scruggs thinks the Lenin's Tomb people are not the hard left, but only Chabert and warszawa are, since they believe the 9/11 insider job theory--and feel free to insult anyone trying to talk about any other issue that 9/11 was used to excuse. They say that really nothing can be done to understand the stupidity of the Iraq War until you've accepted their idiotic theory.

Beyond this, it is somewhat personal in that I passed myself off as a kind of arty popinjay with Chabert, we could talk about opera and such things, New York, etc. She thought of me as a lightweight intellect until I had enough passion about at least a couple of matters not to care what she's got up her skirts. Warszawa in particular spends all of his time trying to condescend to everybody at Lenin's Tomb who will not support his theories. I cannot keep from finding this offensive in the extreme.

If you can't see this, then you can't see anything about this. I guess we both find things offensive in the extreme that the other doesn't, so there's nothing to be done about it. Tell me why you should be upset and half-crazed all the time about things and I shouldn't be about different ones?
new york pervert said…
The most offensive aspect of the 9/11 conspiracy people is that they have set up--at least warszawa and chabert have--that the burden of proof is on those who do NOT believe it. This is why I pushed very hard to get several at Lenin's Tomb to say something about what they really believed about this. And, as far as I can see, I was very impressed that these real leftists (at least I think they are) were not able to try to falsify something just because we might all think the world was more just if Bush was caught in something THIS blatant. Lenin and these fellows Meaders and Johng are extremely energetic and I never thought I'd be impressed with people in this kind of movement, but they are just fucking smart, that's all, and they will not try to 'make up a fact' just because it would seem to be wonderfully fortuitous if only we could impossibly imagine that it be true.
Aren't you in a rotten mood today! You have to get right with the squirrels, my good fellow. The program transcends issues of character, assassinated and otherwise, and trumps carping over style. ONLY through the squirrel teachings is there hope.
roger said…
Mr. Nyp,
My "why" question wasn't equal to chill, man -- it was really just "why". I've gotten some emails from friends in NYC who find my tone about 9/11 disturbing in one way or another, and you know -- 9/11 is still a hot little burning coal in my breast, and my anger about it comes out in a caustic tone that sometimes seriously distorts my message. I mark that day as a personal turning point in my life - I have been on the straight downward path to failure ever since. Seriously, before 9/11, I had a politics, but basically I was concerned with the things in my own personal bubble. Since then, I can't seem to go back. And that isn't good at all -- your life is truly going to become shit if you neglect your own personal bubble. I'm an exhibit to that truth. But what the hell - these are the breaks.
So, I do understand why you find the conspiracy theorizing upsetting. But my question was more, why do you seek it out? I think I see why, now.
new york pervert said…
Thanks, Scruggs and Roger--I think it was also that more emphasis was placed on the 5-year anniversary than it was on the preceding ones that this year I finally could not avoid escaping the anguish I felt from having to see the towers fall by myself. In a sense, I did what Giuliani said do--take a vacation, have a nice meal, etc., because there was no way I could take all of it in, and I'm sure I still haven't. I told my brothers who called that day that I might have symptoms from this, but that I didn't know yet. I know that one of the least horrifying things was that, since the wind was the way it was, the smoke was blown out to Brooklyn so that I could not even see that anymore, only a perfectly blue sky 10 minutes after the North Tower fell. And this year on the 11th and also yesterday (it's hazier today), the perfect blue days happened exactly as they did then, and they had not in the previous years.

I remember reading in the NYT a few months after 9/11 that 'the victims of such things often feel scorned socially.' It probably came out accidentally, but I thought it was uncanny, even though I still didn't think it applied to me: After all, I'd only lost a friend in the Pentagon crash, and actually could go on my 'Giuliani vacation.' But I see now that I was victimized by it too, because I am so territorial about it, even if I am a 'lesser victim.' Those of us in the zone are abnormally touchy about it just the way others are about many other things.

What I could never bear was that I kept looking out the window while the radio was saying that people were jumping out of the towers, but I could not quite see them. I thought that if I saw them, horrible as it must be, that it wouldn't seem so unreal, as if nothing much had happened except a demolition of inanimate matter. So I was seeing the bodies, but I could not see them also. I wasn't quite close enough. I never wept for 9/11 till this year, because I didn't have an object to weep for except the sense of disappearance of the buildings I'd seen every day for nearly 30 years.

Sorry for the rudeness, Scruggs and Roger. I do know that this event is not more important than other horrible sufferings, but it is the hardest to understand because it was immediately perverted in every possible way, unlike the less spectacular ones. That gave it a less sympathetic profile than those occurring in 3rd World countries, but to those immediately in it--smelling smoke that you don't know whether it's burned computers leaving off and becoming melted steel or vaporized bodies or now-decomposing bodies--there is no difference at all. In that way, we pay a different kind of price from those in other nightmares.
I have a clear sense of your grief, now. No more teasing from me.