I went away but now I’m back

Many thanks to everyone who helped with my visit to St. Lawrence University, particularly Cathy Tedford, who curated the exhibition of my work currently on display in their gallery.

Site problems continue, but — he says, once again — should be fixed very, very soon. I think. In the meantime, I know some of you are having trouble with the back button due to the redirect, and I can only offer apologies and ask you to bear with us. We really are trying to get this thing resolved, I promise. (You can bookmark the current URL and come here directly and that will solve the problem for the time being, but keep in mind that as soon as the various technical and bureaucratic hurdles have been cleared, “thismodernworld.com” will once again be the official URL for this site, and at that point, I have no idea if “www240.pair.com/tomtom” will bring you here or not.)

Also, due to the patchwork nature of the site at the moment, I’m going to cheat a bit here and run several blog entries together in one post.

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With ’em or agin’ ’em

Richard Perle says that Sy Hersh is a terrorist.

BLITZER:Let me read a quote from the New Yorker article, the March 17th issue, just out now. “There is no question that Perle believes that removing Saddam from power is the right thing to do. At the same time, he has set up a company that may gain from a war.”
PERLE: I don’t believe that a company would gain from a war. On the contrary, I believe that the successful removal of Saddam Hussein, and I’ve said this over and over again, will diminish the threat of terrorism. And what he’s talking about is investments in homeland defense, which I think are vital and are necessary.
Look, Sy Hersh is the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist, frankly.
BLITZER: Well, on the basis of — why do you say that? A terrorist?
PERLE: Because he’s widely irresponsible. If you read the article, it’s first of all, impossible to find any consistent theme in it. But the suggestion that my views are somehow related for the potential for investments in homeland defense is complete nonsense.
BLITZER: But I don’t understand. Why do you accuse him of being a terrorist?
PERLE: Because he sets out to do damage and he will do it by whatever innuendo, whatever distortion he can — look, he hasn’t written a serious piece since My Lai.

Richard Perle owes Sy Hersh an apology.

(Via Atrios.)

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Everything you know is wrong

Further evidence that the rationales for this war — excuse me, this “possible war” — are built on a mountain of deceit:

A key piece of evidence linking Iraq to a nuclear weapons program appears to have been fabricated, the United Nations’ chief nuclear inspector said yesterday in a report that called into question U.S. and British claims about Iraq’s secret nuclear ambitions.

Documents that purportedly showed Iraqi officials shopping for uranium in Africa two years ago were deemed “not authentic” after careful scrutiny by U.N. and independent experts, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told the U.N. Security Council.

ElBaradei also rejected a key Bush administration claim — made twice by the president in major speeches and repeated by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday — that Iraq had tried to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes to use in centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Also, ElBaradei reported finding no evidence of banned weapons or nuclear material in an extensive sweep of Iraq using advanced radiation detectors.

From Saturday’s Washington Post, but it looks like the article is already walled off behind a pay archive. Here’s another version of the same story from the Globe and Mail.

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“More important than the Pentagon Papers”

From Norman Solomon’s Media Beat column:

Three days after a British newspaper revealed a memo about U.S. spying on U.N. Security Council delegations, I asked Daniel Ellsberg to assess the importance of the story. “This leak,” he replied, “is more timely and potentially more important than the Pentagon Papers.”

The key word is “timely.” Publication of the secret Pentagon Papers in 1971, made possible by Ellsberg’s heroic decision to leak those documents, came after the Vietnam War had already been underway for many years. But with all-out war on Iraq still in the future, the leak about spying at the United Nations could erode the Bush administration’s already slim chances of getting a war resolution through the Security Council.

“As part of its battle to win votes in favor of war against Iraq,” the London-based Observer reported on March 2, the U.S. government developed an “aggressive surveillance operation, which involves interception of the home and office telephones and the e-mails of U.N. delegates.” The smoking gun was “a memorandum written by a top official at the National Security Agency — the U.S. body which intercepts communications around the world — and circulated to both senior agents in his organization and to a friendly foreign intelligence agency.”

— snip —

Several days after the “embarrassing disclosure,” not a word about it had appeared in America’s supposed paper of record. The New York Times — the single most influential media outlet in the United States — still had not printed anything about the story. How could that be?

“Well, it’s not that we haven’t been interested,” New York Times deputy foreign editor Alison Smale said on the evening of March 5, nearly 96 hours after the Observer broke the story. “We could get no confirmation or comment” on the memo from U.S. officials.

The Times opted not to relay the Observer’s account, Smale told me. “We would normally expect to do our own intelligence reporting.” She added: “We are still definitely looking into it. It’s not that we’re not.”

Belated coverage would be better than none at all. But readers should be suspicious of the failure of the New York Times to cover this story during the crucial first days after it broke. At some moments in history, when war and peace hang in the balance, journalism delayed is journalism denied.


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Your cynicism is always justified, part 3,409,849

Washington — A company tied to Vice President Dick Cheney has won a Pentagon contract for advice on rebuilding Iraq’s oil fields after a possible war.

The contract was disclosed in the last paragraph of a Defense Department statement on preparations for Saddam Hussein’s possible destruction of Iraq’s oil fields in the event of a U.S.-led invasion. The statement calls for proposals on how to handle oil well fires and for assessing other damage to oil facilities. The contract went to Kellogg Brown & Root Services, which is owned by Halliburton Co., of which Cheney was chairman until his election in 2000.

The Houston company is a respected name in petroleum industry construction and one of a few companies capable of large-scale oil field reconstruction. But its ties to Cheney arouse suspicions among those who believe that a primary motive for a U.S. war in Iraq is oil.

“I certainly don’t think this comes as much of a surprise,” said Michael Renner, a researcher at WorldWatch Institute, commenting on the Halliburton contract, “There are lots of business opportunities embedded in this war. It represents the larger oil and energy issues at stake.”

More, via Cursor.