Tuesday, April 10, 2007


by Ken Houghton

Dr. Black (who lives in the city of my birth) posts video from TDS discussing the glories of my "home state" (determined as "the place where you graduated from High School").

Fortunately, I can't see it. So I can't swear it's John Oliver reacting to Mike Pence's comparison of shopping in Baghdad to shopping at a flea market in Muncie or Columbus or Richmond. But I've shopped in two of those three, and have at least one high school classmate who lives quite well in the third. So when
[Pence] expressed regret Tuesday about a comment he made, saying it had been taken out of context as he tried to explain how a market his delegation visited in Baghdad reminded him of a flea market in Indiana.

we understand that he, as with Senator McCain, is going to misspeak occasionally. But when he continues:
He said he never intended to give the impression that Baghdad was as safe as Indiana. Pence said he meant the card tables and shops reminded him of a flea market in his home state.

it's difficult not to notice that he didn't mention "euchre tables" in any clip. But he did update his blog, and sell the notes to USA Today:
We milled around for more than an hour. I told reporters afterward that it was just like any open-air market in Indiana in the summertime. I didn't mean that Baghdad was as safe as the Bargersville Flea Market; I just meant that that was what it looked and felt like: lots of people, lots of booths and a friendly relaxed atmosphere.

It's the friendly, relaxed atmosphere that only "a squad of military security" can supply, perhaps, but that's another context.

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I hope you don't mind an off-topic comment, but I think this is important:

Re: the Iraq war in general

(also see this post)

Ever since the months prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there have been a few reports in the newspapers that the Central Intelligence Agency was casting aspersions on the intelligence the White House was relying on to justify the war. The CIA has never given a position on whether the war is needed or justified or said that Bush is wrong to go to war. But doesn't it seem much more likely that the CIA is an extremely right wing organization than a left wing one? After all, even if the people working for them and at least a lot of the leadership really wanted a war for their own reasons, there are a lot of reasons for them to not want to tie their credibility to what they know is faulty information. They and their personnel, present and former, could use other means of promoting the Iraq war, and still be motivated to make the statements in the media. If the CIA got behind faulty information, they would have to make a choice between whether they would be involved in scamming the American people and the world once the military had invaded Iraq and no weapons were found- so: 1) Imagine the incredible difficulties involved in pulling off a hoax that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. Imagine all the people you would have to be able to show the weapons to- the inspectors from the UN / the international community, the American press, statesmen, etc. Then imagine the difficulties of substantiating that story to people who would examine it- the lack of witnesses to a production plant that made the weapons or to transportation operations or storage of the weapons during Hussein's regime of them. 2) If the story fell apart upon inspection or the CIA tried not to hoax it at all, imagine the loss of credibility they would suffer. The CIA, it is safe to bet, does not want to be known to the American people as a group that lies to them to send them to war. Even within the CIA there could be disagreement among people about how involved they should be in promoting the war or the neo-con agenda more broadly, so the CIA would have to worry about lying to and managing its own people after trying so hard to get them to trust their superiors in the agency, and perhaps there simply might be too many people in the agency who knew enough about what was going on in Iraq to know if someone was deceiving people to promote this war.

So there is a lot of reason to be cautious against being seen as endorsing what they knew was false intelligence even if they were very strong supporters of going to war.
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