The Better Rhetor

Friday, February 07, 2003
Bomb Plagiarizers, Too!

And now it comes out that the "fine paper" published by the British and referenced by Colin Powell in his UN testimony on Iraqi deception, contained plagiarized materials. (Thanks again to the amazing Atrios for the heads up.) Apparently material in the British paper was lifted from, among other sources, an article written by Ibrahim al-Marashi, a research associate at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, CA.

Two thoughts come to mind. First, British intelligence, if they were enrolled in any self-respecting First Year Comp class, would have just flunked the course. Colin Powell might also flunk, if only for not doing his homework. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Second, wasn’t it just about two weeks go that Condoleeza Rice was accusing Iraq of "unabashed plagiarism" and suggesting this was yet another reason to invade that country? In an op-ed piece for the NY Times, Rice excoriated the Iraqis for using plagiarized materials in their report to UN on the status of their chemical and other weapons. Dr. Rice wrote, and we quote:

Iraq’s declaration even resorted to unabashed plagiarism, with lengthy passages of United nations reports copied word-for-word (or edited to remove any criticism of Iraq) and presented as original text.

The Iraqi report, Rice declared, amounted to a "12,200 page lie."

Well, now it turns out that British Intelligence is every bit as underhanded as the Iraqis, at least when it comes to citing source materials properly. So what do we do now? Both countries lifted materials and falsely presented these as their own. Both countries used their counterfeit reports to mislead (actual word: "lie") the United Nations and the world. Both countries essentially tossed principles and right behavior out the window to further their short and long-term goals. So now what? Do we bomb the British, too? Send the cruise missiles into London? Treat our erstwhile allies to a little taste of Shock and Awe?

Or how about this: We just send each nation a copy of The Little, Brown Essential Handbook for Writers, which has a very clear discussion of plagiarism and how to avoid it, and call off the war.

Give the writing teachers time to do their work!

Jesus at the White House Press Briefing
(And Other Great Moments in Theology)

From Russell Mokhiber’s ongoing tragi-comedy, Ari & I .

Mokhiber: Ari, two things.

A group of bishops and
pastors from the National
Council of Churches, the
United Methodist Church,
Episcopal Church, among
others -- sent a letter to the
President last week. They
said they want a meeting
face-to-face with him
because they're "uneasy
about the moral justification
for war on Iraq." Will the
President meet with these
church leaders?

Ari Fleischer: As always,
we'll fill you in on the
President's schedule. But I
want to emphasize again the
President is a deeply
religious man, and there are
many people in a variety of
religions who are going to
have different thoughts
about how to keep the peace
and whether or not to go to
war with Saddam Hussein.
The President will respect
their thoughts, and he will act
as he sees fit as
Commander-in-Chief to
protect the country.

Mokhiber: One question on

You just said the President is
a deeply religious man. Jesus
Christ was an absolute
pacifist. How does the
President square his
militarism with Jesus'

[At this point, other reporters
in the room challenge
Russell's assertion that
Jesus Christ was an
absolute pacifist. One says
"no he wasn't." Another
says "How about the -- at
the temple with a whip,
where he beat the hell out of
those money-changers?
Does that sound like he's an
absolute pacifist, Ari?"]

Ari Fleischer: I think there
may be a debate in the press
corps about your question,

[Press conference ends,
with reporters shouting. Ari
walks out without answering
the question.]

Can You Imagine George Bush
Answering Questions Like These?

Tony Blair gets roughed up in a interview with the BBC. Thanks to the amazing Atrios.

What’s so fascinating about this session is not that the interviewer refuses to be put off—though we’ve mostly forgotten how that sounds in the U.S.—but that actual British citizens, who have actual criticisms—get to put them to the Prime Minister. Read and ask yourself whether can you imagine our own "Dear Leader" facing the same un-scripted scrutiny.

Is George Bush above such questions? Does he not have to answer to the people who—oh, I almost said "the people who elected him."

US War Crimes

From The Bellingham (WA) Herald.

Operation 'Shock and Awe' would be a war crime

Pentagon officials recently announced a monstrous battle plan for the new Iraq war code-named "Shock and Awe." The plan entails launching 600 to 800 cruise missiles at Iraq during the first two days of battle (far more than were launched during the entire 1991 Gulf War). The stated intent of the plan is to exhaust the Iraqi military "physically, emotionally and psychologically." The unstated intent is to wreak wholesale destruction and slaughter on the Iraqi infrastructure and civilian population. A Pentagon official who appeared on CBS News had this to say about the plan: "There will not be a safe place in Baghdad .... The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never been contemplated before..." He went on to describe the operation as "rather like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima."

Note the horrible irony here: In order to prevent Iraq from using weapons of mass destruction (which it may not even yet possess), we are targeting an overwhelming barrage of conventional weapons at an urban center to produce mass destruction on the scale of a nuclear blast.

Targeting civilians violates international law and carrying out operation "Shock and Awe" would be a war crime. If you are disgusted and ashamed that our country is bragging about its plans to crush a city and murder its civilians, please call the White House comment line at (202) 456-1111 and let them know that you don't support a war that targets civilians.
David Flanagan

The Bottom Line on War:
It Will Be Our War

From Jimmy Breslin via Cursor.

The government talks about a war in terms of personal insults, deliberately keeping us waiting, by Saddam Hussein, of whom we're all sick and tired.

No one so far has talked about the number of people who will be killed in Iraq. We will lose great young people. Oh, there has to be tens of thousands of Iraq civilians killed. How can they bomb and invade without killing tens of thousands? Particularly those school children whose mothers dress them for the day and send them off to be blown apart by a smart bomb that turns dumb on the way down and hits a schoolhouse.

Saddam Hussein and his sons and generals don't seem to care how many of their people get killed. Their record seems to show that.

The blood of children, however, is not on his hands. It is on ours. The questions will be asked at the end of life and the answers - "I didn't do it. Bush did it and the guys flying the planes did it" - are not going to do much good for you.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003
More on Gassing His Own People

Several letters in today’s New York Times (yes, you must register) dispute Stephen C. Pelletiere’s claim that Iraq was not responsible for gassing Kurdish civilians in Halabja. One letter is from Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch. And we quote:

Re "A War Crime or an Act of War?" (Op-Ed, Jan. 31):

Stephen C. Pelletiere writes that Iran, not Iraq, might have been responsible for the 1988 gassing of Kurdish civilians in Halabja.

Human Rights Watch researchers interviewed survivors from Halabja and reviewed 18 tons of Iraqi state documents to establish beyond doubt that the attack was carried out by Iraq.

Iraqi forces used mustard and nerve gases, as well as mass executions, to kill some 100,000 Kurds in the genocidal 1988 Anfal campaign. The commander, Gen. Ali Hassan al-Majid, said of the Kurds, in a taped speech obtained by Human Rights Watch: "I will kill them all with chemical weapons! Who is going to say anything? The international community?"

The evidence is incontrovertible: Iraq is responsible for the crime of genocide, committed against its own Kurdish population. The gassing at Halabja was part of that crime.
Executive Director
Human Rights Watch

Pope John Paul!
Go in Haste To Baghdad!

For more on this and other excellent words and acts, go (in haste) to Instead of War, an excellent anti-war blog out of St. Louis, MO.

Do you think Bush would call for airstrikes against Baghdad if the Pope were acting as a human shield? I bet Rumsfeld would. And Richard Perle would probably argue for bombing the Vatican—just to send a message.

The New Plutocracy

Nathan Newman charts the latest battleground in the class warfare against the middle class and the poor.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003
Shuttle Columbia

Sometimes old words are best.

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

I KNOW that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My county is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.