|Ken Novak's Weblog
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Sunday, February 27, 2005
How the DoD undercounts Iraq casualties, by their own admission by a factor of over 2, by other's estimates possibly 3-4. "If an actual journalist, someone with resources, balls and determination, filed the right FOIA requests, we might begin to get some numbers we can trust." More technical details at globalsecurity.org
. 11:08:36 PM
Juan Cole doubts Iraq ballot fraud
also today repeats the allegation that the US or the electoral commission somehow cheated the United Iraqi Alliance of an absolute majority in parliament. (Note that this argument completely contradicts the interview they did, which speaks of US helplessness before the results.) The argument that the Iraqi elections were fixed is, however, implausible. It is sometimes alleged that the Shiites should have done better than they did, given the Sunni Arab absence. But when the smoke cleared, the UIA did
have a majority in parliament, so the allegation makes no sense.. Precisely because the United Iraqi Alliance has ended up with 51 percent of the seats, which is enough to confirm the new government once a cabinet is selected, and since with the small Shiite parties it has 54 percent, either the US did not intervene in the ballot counting or it was completely incompetent in doing so. Personally, I don't think the US was in a position to intervene. Grand Ayatollah Sistani would not have put up with it, and the Americans knew it." 10:41:00 PM
Daschle, Thune and the Blog-Storming of South Dakota:
"The blogging efforts on behalf of Thune's Senate campaign didn't cause greater civic participation or bring in piles of small donations. Instead nine bloggers -- two of whom were paid $35,000 by Thune's campaign -- formed an alliance that constantly attacked the election coverage of South Dakota's principal newspaper, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader
. More specifically, their postings were not primarily aimed at dissuading the general public from trusting the Argus'
coverage. Rather, the work of these bloggers was focused on getting into the heads of the three journalists at the Argus
who were primarily responsible
for covering the Daschle/Thune race: chief political reporter David Kranz, state editor Patrick Lalley, and executive editor Randell Beck.
Led by law student Jason van Beek and University of South Dakota history professor Jon Lauck, the Thune bloggers tormented and rattled the Argus staff for the duration of the 2004 election, clearly influencing the Argus' coverage. They also appear to have been a highly efficient vehicle for injecting classic no-fingerprints-attached opposition research on Daschle -- most of it tidbits that perhaps might never have made it into the old print media -- directly into the political bloodstream of South Dakota. What they did may turn out to be a "dark side of politics" model for campaign-blogger relations in 2005-06 -- made all the more telling by the fact that the Thune bloggers relied heavily on now-discredited Jeff Gannon/James Guckert of Talon News for many of their stories. " 9:49:00 PM
Scott Ritter's latest:
"On Friday evening in Olympia, former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter appeared with journalist Dahr Jamail. -- Ritter made two shocking claims: George W. Bush has "signed off" on plans to bomb Iran in June 2005, and the U.S. manipulated the results of the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq." Will be interesting to see if these play out as accurately as his pre-war statements about WMD in Iraq. 6:01:09 PM
Iraq's neighborhood councils are vanishing:
"The fate of the councils provides grim evidence of how difficult it is for democracy to take root in Iraq. Hundreds of neighborhood councils, now a dead letter as the elite politicians who won seats in Iraq's national election squabble over the spoils, were set up across Iraq in 2003 by the US military and the Research Triangle Institute, based near Raleigh, N.C., was given a contract with up to $460 million to build local governance. The idea was to prime the pump of citizen participation and create a new culture that would make democracy work for citizens in a tangible way. But nearly two years later, the money and effort has yielded few visible gains.
Iraq's diverse and decentralized insurgency has turned its focus from US forces toward the easy targets provided by Iraq's front-line politicians, police officers, and new soldiers. Hundreds of low-level councilors have been killed, scaring local councils out of existence in at least a dozen of Iraqi towns. An official at the Research Triangle Institute says that councils still exist and are active in safer regions of Iraq, while others in the areas where insurgents have been most active may exist in name only." 3:58:17 PM