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Sunday, July 06, 2003

 
"Government Information Awareness"

Two MIT researchers, Chris Csikszentmihalyi and Ryan McKinley, have established a Government Information Awareness website in a turnabout-is-fair-play action responding to the Pentagon's Terrorist Information Awareness program.

The site will allow users to compile and access information on government officials. The system uses software to track information and create indexes from the Internet and also from C-Span. But users can add their own information, too. No effort will be made to verify information, but then, when the government mines its citizens' data, I don't imagine it rigorously subjects the data to verification, either.

From the website:
We are grateful that the world of military-funded science offers constant initiatives to refute. That a government with countless details about its constituents will serve them better is a theory that's oft been proven wrong, while the theory that a country should have access to details about its governors is one that this country was built on, and is incontestably solid. TIA receives hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and will thus probably succeed in some sense. GIA cost a hundredth of a hundredth of that, and may well succeed because of the intelligence of the American people.




 
And the War Goes On

I know you're all reading daily about the attacks on U.S. soldiers in Iraq, but I had to pause when I read this:

"The mortar attack, which occurred late Thursday and wounded at least 17 members of the Army's 3rd Corps Support Command at a sprawling military base near the town, resulted in more injuries than any other single incident since President Bush declared major combat in Iraq over on May 1. The subsequent ambush of the military patrol on a highway south of Balad sparked one of the most intense clashes in the past two months, with soldiers killing 11 Iraqis during three separate firefights that spanned eight hours, military officials said."

"Spanned eight hours"? Now, that's not a sniper taking a shot, or someone lobbing a grenade, bad as those incidents are. We're talking about firefights, eight hours' worth of firefights. And that ambush was carried out by 50 Iraqis.

The administration and its mouthpiece generals can blather on all they want about how these attacks aren't organized, that they're "militarily insignificant," and all the rest, but the fact of the matter is that the attacks show increased levels of organization and greater numbers of people working together to kill U.S. troops. Attacks on U.S. troops are now averaging 13 attacks per day. This is still war, and to paint it any other way is to continue lying to the American people.

And now those who are willing to work with the American occupiers are being targeted as well. Seven Iraqi police recruits died at their graduation ceremony when explosives packed into a utility pole went off, and 70 people nearby were injured. This is going to increase the difficulty in Iraq of getting the natives to work with us.

Saddam's audiotape--or the audiotape purporting to be Saddam's voice--isn't going to help, either. The voice on the tape calls on Iraqis to resist the Americans and to punish those who collaborate with them. It urges Iraqis not to cooperate in any way with U.S. forces and to withhold any information about those who carry out attacks.

Somehow I don't think there are too many Iraqis who want to collect on that $25 million reward being offered by the U.S. for information leading to Saddam's capture or proving his death. As my spouse said, if you turned in Saddam, that would be the last good night's sleep you ever had.

But I don't think blaming each and every attack on Saddam loyalists reflects the truth. There's no reason that the Shi'ites in the south of Iraq or in towns like Balad would support Baathists. These people have every reason to be thankful that Saddam is gone. And yet attacks have originated within towns populated by Shi'ite Muslims. Dissatisfaction with living conditions and the high-handedness of the occupiers provide many anti-U.S. Iraqis all the reason they need to wash their hands of the Americans and British.

Repeating the mantra that attacks on our troops originate with Saddam loyalists is not going to change the facts. The facts are that many factions exist in Iraq, each with its own agenda, and that and that in most cases we really don't know who is behind the explosions, snipings, and grenade launches. As we know, however, for this administration it's important not to let facts get in the way of a good spin.










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