Tuesday, May 15, 2007

You can make the worst of anything

Here's a headline for you:

New detainees strain Iraq’s jails
Sharp rise follows start of security plan; suspects housed with convicts

And the lede:

BAGHDAD - The capture of thousands of new suspects under the three-month-old Baghdad security plan has overwhelmed the Iraqi government's detention system, forcing hundreds of people into overcrowded facilities, according to Iraqi and Western officials.

I wonder what the headline would have been if the "surge" had been unsuccessful in rounding up "thousands of new suspects"?

This article carefully skirts the issue of the evidence against these "suspects." Nowhere is the claim that neighbors with grudges are gleefully informing on one another and that this alone is enough to get you crammed into Baghdad's overcrowded jails - so, since there's no doubt in my mind (particularly given the tenor of the many, many other articles to which the WP's special correspondents on this story have contributed) that that detail wouldn't have been left out if true, it strikes me that perhaps the standard of evidence to throw someone into the slammer where they'll await arraignment is perhaps along the lines of "seen planting a roadside bomb."

This isn't to say jail overcrowding is not a problem, nor that it's good that uncharged suspects are held with convicts. My point is that the narrative doesn't change no matter what the news is: Baghdad is burning. Pre-"surge," it was an insurgency out of control; inter-"surge," it's an imperfect and inadequate criminal justice system, of all things. (Still no resurgence of the rape rooms, though.)

I commend to your attention the "parliament of clocks" fable from Chicagoboyz. It's highly instructive, with regard to the media narrative.

Monday, May 07, 2007

And running away, and buggering off...

Via Captain's Quarters, which I haven't visited in too long, we hear that Bill Richardson goes that extra mile beyond his Democrat brethren in advocating pullout from Iraq:

He would pull American troops out of Baghdad, but also from Anbar and Diyala, where they face al-Qaeda terrorists and where we have made a lot of progress in engaging the local tribes.

And from Richardson himself:

So I would deauthorize the war, I would set a timetable of all troops out by the end of the year. And here is where I'm different from other candidates -- I would have no residual forces. No American troops, except for an embassy detail [in Baghdad] of Marines, which is traditional in our diplomatic representation ...

Furthermore, he thinks Congress, acting alone, can correctly accomplish this lofty goal:

I believe that deauthorization, on the basis of Article I of the Constitution, also would have a Congressional reaffirmation of its power to declare war, which it has, but which it has not exercised. The President can't veto this. The issue probably would go to the courts.... But it's decisive, it's strong, it's direct, it's specific, it's easy to understand by the public, and that's the course I believe it should take.

So he plans decisively, strongly, directly, specifically, and most importantly ever-so-simply to leave Iraq altogether.

Paging the post-GWI Kurds...