Adam Ash

Your daily entertainment scout. Whatever is happening out there, you'll find the best writing about it in here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

US Diary: Molly Ivins on Eye-Rack, and some recent gaffes from the Bushits

1. Hope, Hope, Hoping Along in Iraq -- by Molly Ivins

AUSTIN, Texas—Iraq and the media, the media and Iraq—over and over. Last week was supposed to be a good media week for Iraq—Abu Musab al Zarqawi was dead. Taken out, we said, by a combination of American and Iraqi troops with Jordanian intelligence.

The churlish might note this was the second time the American military had announced Zarqawi’s death—but, hey, we’ve announced the capture of Osama’s No. 2 guy at least seven or eighth times. Others claimed Zarqawi was never that important to begin with, indeed had been built up by our side. Still, that’s a goal for our side, as they say in World Cup play.

Then reality got a bit bumpy. Zarqawi wasn’t exactly dead when we found him. We put him on a stretcher and cleaned him up—the fog of war intervened.

I distinctly remember people predicting the first time we killed Zarqawi that it wouldn’t make much difference, so I presume they did it again. Thus, we get to revisit the old cackle over whether we are fighting international terrorists who have flocked to Iraq or a native uprising against our occupation of the country. Can’t even agree on what’s going on.

I’m so used to one side saying this and the other side saying the opposite that I didn’t even blink over the differences.

I did, however, come to a screeching halt over the right’s reaction to news of a triple suicide at Guantanamo. A great chorus of “How dare they?” seemed to follow this dismal news. My local paper said, “Detainees hid their plans to die. ... Guantanamo officials were fooled. ... Inquiry looks at how to prevent other deaths.”

Now it seems to me one might have any number of reactions to news of suicides at Guantanamo, but righteous indignation is not one of them. Most of these prisoners have been held for four years now without possibility of charge, trial or parole. I should think they would be suicidal. I’m sorry we failed to prevent it, but I’m not sure that’s possible. They hid their plans to die? Gee, the sneaks.

You know what? This is getting silly. The debate over this war is unrealistic and even ludicrous. (A) It is not going well. (B) It keeps getting worse. (C) Yes, it is possible that if we stay there long enough, it will get better eventually. (D) There is nothing suggesting that beyond hope.

A particularly acrid growth from this fruitless debate is the contempt for and dismissal of public opinion in other countries. “So what if we have alienated public opinion in nations throughout the Middle East?” seems to be the attitude. “Who cares what they think?” If I wanted to win a global war on terror, I’d sure be concerned about what they think.

I would hope the right would at least be concerned over the damage being done to the American military by this war. Morale, my ass. Excuse me, but our government doesn’t even seem to be able to pay these people on time. Not to mention stretching them past the breaking point in Iraq, leaving them without adequate mental care when they come home, endlessly extending their tours, bribing them to re-up, and so forth and so on. Then, of course, something like Haditha happens, and they all get a black eye out of it.

I think it’s time the antiwar side in this country started using a few threats of its own—specifically, about who’s going to take the blame for this when it’s over. Forget the liberal tradition of forgiveness. I say hold this grudge.

(To find out more about Molly Ivins and see works by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

2. And the Oscar Goes To ... by William Fisher

You can only be bemused by the title of the lady at the US State Department who called the suicides of three prisoners a "good PR move to draw attention."

Her name is Colleen Graffy, and her title is Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy. That's Public Diplomacy.

Her official State Department bio says Ms. Graffy "coordinates efforts with Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes."

One has to wonder if she coordinated her suicide remarks with Ms. Hughes, the longtime Bush spinmeister whose job it is to "win hearts and minds" for America throughout the world, and especially in the Muslim world.

My brain tells me she didn't consult Ms. Hughes, but my gut tells me it's not beyond the realm of possibility. That's because since President Bush asked Ms. Hughes to take on this impossible job, she has also suffered from foot-in-mouth disease.

Like telling upper-class Saudi women that they ought to be able to drive cars, only to hear that, thank you very much, they'd much rather use their drivers.

But the Graffy gaffe takes the foot-in-mouth malady to a whole new level. In fact, if there were an Oscar for the dumbest remark made since 9/11, this lady's words would rank right up there with "bring it on" and "Mission Accomplished."

And even if she doesn't go home with the award, I predict her words will become as iconic as Rummy's comments that "stuff happens," "you go to war with the army you have," and all the people at GITMO are "the worst of the worst."

But wait - there's more. Apparently not content with one foot in her mouth, Ms. Graffy stuck the other one in as well. She told the BBC the suicides were part of a strategy and "a tactic to further the jihadi cause," but taking their own lives was unnecessary. The three men did not value their lives or the lives of those around them, she said.

Then she went on to explain that the three detainees had access to lawyers, received mail and had the ability to write to families, and so had other means of making protests. She said it was hard to see why the men had not protested about their situation.

Evidently she hadn't heard about the hunger strikes and the many previous suicide attempts.

We don't know a lot about these three men. They may indeed have been among the "worst of the worst.Ó One, we have since learned, was scheduled to be released but hadn't yet been told. And none of them were among the ten - out of close to 500 prisoners - who have ever been charged with a crime or had a trial.

Along with 460 others, they were in a legal black hole, charged with nothing but facing indefinite imprisonment. So exactly who would they protest to?

But wait - we're in luck! Guantanamo's commander, Rear Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., mercifully brings a bit of clarity to the confusion. He explains that the suicides were "not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

Asymmetrical warfare. Got it now?


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