I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

What News?

There are a number of stories this morning on how bad things are going in Iraq. We have this from the Washington Post:
U.S. Military Is Still Waiting For Iraqi Forces to 'Stand Up'
And more from Bob Woodward:
Secret Reports Dispute White House Optimism
Perhaps the only significant news from Woodward's latest book is how involved the original Lord Of Darkness, Henry Kissinger, has been in the Iraq debacle. If you want to know how things are going in Iraq perhaps you should look at what their neighbors are thinking and Saudi Arabia must think that things are going badly.
Saudis build 550-mile fence to shut out Iraq
Security in Iraq has collapsed so dramatically that Saudi Arabia has ordered the construction of a 550-mile high-tech fence to seal off its troubled northern neighbour.

The huge project to build the barrier, which will be equipped with ultraviolet night-vision cameras, buried sensor cables and thousands of miles of barbed wire, will snake across the vast and remote desert frontier between the countries.

The fence will be built despite the hundreds of millions of pounds that the Saudi kingdom has spent in the past two years to beef up patrols on its border with Iraq, with officials saying the crisis in Iraq is now so dangerous it must be physically shut out.

"Surveillance has already been stepped up over the past 18 months," said Nawaf Obaid, the director of the Saudi National Security Assessment Project, an institute that advises the government on security affairs.

"But the feeling in Saudi is that Iraq is way out of control with no possibility of stability. The urgency now is to get that border sealed: physically sealed."

The fence is a fresh sign that key allies of the United States in the Middle East are resigned to worsening violence and the possible break-up of Iraq, where American intelligence agencies said this week that the continuing conflict fuelled global terrorism. The National Intelligence Estimate, a report compiled by 16 spy agencies, concluded that the Iraq war had become a cause célèbre for Islamic extremists and was cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.
Although he is specifically talking about the leaked and then released NIE on Iraq, Frank Rich puts it all in perspective this morning.
So You Call This Breaking News?
The supposedly shocking key finding in the N.I.E. — that the Iraq war is a boon to terrorism — isn’t remotely news. It first turned up in a classified C.I.A. report leaked to the press in June 2005. It’s also long been visible to the naked eye. The latest New York Times/CBS News poll, conducted before any revelations from the N.I.E., found that nearly half the country believes that the Iraq war is increasing the terrorist threat against America and only 12 percent thinks the war is decreasing that threat. Americans don’t have to pore over leaked intelligence documents to learn this. They just have to turn on the television.

Tonight on “60 Minutes,” Bob Woodward will spill another supposedly shocking intelligence finding revealed in his new book: a secret government prediction that the insurgency will grow worse next year. Who’d have thunk it? Given that the insurgency is growing worse every day right now — last week suicide bombings hit a record high in Baghdad — the real surprise would be if the government predicted an armistice. A poll released last week by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland found that about 6 in 10 Iraqis approved of attacks on American forces. Tardy investigative reporting is hardly needed to figure out that the insurgency is thriving.

“The insurgents know what they are doing,” Mr. Woodward is to say on CBS, according to an advance excerpt. “They know the level of violence and how effective they are. Who doesn’t know? The American public.” He accuses the administration of keeping such information out of sight by stamping it “secret.” All this, too, apparently comes as eye-opening news to Mr. Woodward three and a half years into the war; his new book’s title, “State of Denial,” has a self-referential ring to it. But the American public does know the level of violence all too well, and it also knows how the administration tries to cover up its failures.

That’s why long ago a majority of that public judged the war a mistake and Mr. Bush a dissembler. It’s only the variations on the theme that change. When the president declared last month that “the Iraqi government and the Iraqi military is committed to keeping this country together,” reality was once more busily contradicting him. The Los Angeles Times reported that a third of that government wasn’t showing up to parliamentary sessions and that only 1,000 Iraqi soldiers answered the American call for 4,000 reinforcements in the do-or-die battle to secure Baghdad.
The war in Iraq began with delusion and lies and nothing has changed.
The facts of Iraq are not in dispute. But the truth is that facts don’t matter anyway to this administration, and that’s what makes this whole N.I.E. debate beside the point. From the start, honest information has never figured into the prosecution of this war. The White House doesn’t care about intelligence, good or bad, classified or unclassified, because it believes it knows best, regardless of what anyone else has to say. The debate over the latest N.I.E. or any yet to leak will not alter that fundamental and self-destructive operating principle. That’s the truly bad news.

This war has now gone on so long that we tend to forget the early history that foretold the present. Yet this is the history we must remember now more than ever, because it keeps repeating itself, with ever more tragic results. In the run-up to the war, it should be recalled, the administration did not even bother to commission an N.I.E., a summary of the latest findings from every American intelligence agency, on Iraq’s weapons.

Why not? The answer can be found in what remains the most revealing Iraq war document leaked to date: the Downing Street memo of July 23, 2002, written eight months before the invasion. In that secret report to the Blair government, the head of British intelligence reported on a trip to Washington, where he learned that the Bush administration was fixing the “intelligence and facts” around the predetermined policy of going to war in Iraq. If we were going to fix the intelligence anyway, there was no need for an N.I.E., except as window dressing, since it might expose the thinness of the administration’s case.
Yes, none of this qualifies as breaking news. The only "breaking news" is that the support for the Bush administration's Iraq policy drops a little more everyday. Those outside the administration are seeing reality through the clouds of lies and delusion.

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