Thursday, October 13, 2005

Dickie's Quickies

It's not exactly news, but is reporting on an internal CIA investigation that confirms what we already knew: the Bush administration paid attention to reports that helped them sell the war (the inaccurate reports on so-called WMDs) and ignored reports on what would happen after the invasion (the accurate ones). I believe if you look up online the phrase "fuck up" you'll find a new definition entry that is linked to the report.

The authors had access to highly classified intelligence data and produced three reports concerning Iraq intelligence.

...The report determined that beyond the errors in assessing Iraqi weaponry, "intelligence produced prior to the war on a wide range of other issues accurately addressed such topics as how the war would develop and how Iraqi forces would or would not fight."

The intelligence "also provided perceptive analysis on Iraq's links to al-Qaeda; calculated the impact of the war on oil markets; and accurately forecast the reactions of ethnic and tribal factions in Iraq."

Speaking of the war, if you missed The Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night, you missed one helluva show. Olbermann suggested that there's an amazing coincidence between the raising of terror alerts in the United States and the Bush administration getting into hot water with bad news reports. He said that the latest such alert - the one about possible plots for the NYC subway system - was just one of 13 such incidents and he went on to enumerate them all. He noted that these could just be coincidences, but his viewers (or listeners, since I get the program on XM) should draw their own conclusions. Luckily, if you missed it, he put the whole commentary on his blog here.

Newsweek is reporting that the administration has been caught off guard by an internal report on the possible effects of an avian bird flu pandemic. Last week, if you'll recall, Bush held a meeting with drug manufacturing execs urging them to research and make a vaccine. He did this after he found out that the US is way behind other countries in ordering the most promising drug and that our supplies couldn't possibly be filled until 2007 (in fact, as I blogged here, we're behind 40 other countries on placing orders). Now the administration is holding top secret meetings with Congressional leaders and other cabinet officials on the topic.

A leading public-health expert questioned the wisdom of discussing epidemiological policy in secret. Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s school of public health, said, “This is old-fashioned cold war secrecy being applied to a public-health issue--a very bad idea.” Redlener has criticized President Bush and other administration officials for hinting recently that in the event of a pandemic bird flu outbreak, the federal government might rely heavily on the military to establish quarantine zones and restrict public movement to limit the possible spread of disease.

Redlener and other experts say that the United States is seriously unprepared to cope with an avian flu outbreak, although there is no clear indication if or when such a pandemic might strike the United States. According to the intelligence-community paper, the World Health Organization has reported that since 1997, 132 people have been reported to have contracted the H5N1 strain, and “so far about half of the people infected” have died.

I've read some conflicting opinions on this issue. One blogger likened it to the swine flu scare and another to Y2K. That may be, but it cannot hurt to be prepared. The flu strain is spreading fast as these 2 reports on the BBC this morning show.

Harold Pinter was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature today.

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