free agent, loose cannon, pointy stick ... taking an imposing analytic toolkit out of the box, over the wall and into the street ... with callous disregard for accepted wisdom and standard English

reading tea leaves from original angles, we've led with uncannily prescient takes on the federal surplus, the dotcom crash, the "Energy Crisis", the Afghan campaign, the federal deficit.

More where those came from ... stay tuned.

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All "major" articles of older material have now been imported, some with updates worth perusing. We'll keep it all on the main page for a while, will add a few loose pieces of history, will trim the main page and index the archives for convenience later.


free agent, loose cannon, pointy stick ...
... gateway to the next Progressive Era?
Some say it's nothing but a train wreck ... roll in the big cranes, clear the track, see what the crew was smoking. If I thought so, I'd not be writing this ... and if they thought so, they'd not be drumming so hard.

Many thanks to Tony Adragna and Will Vehrs, still shouting 'cross the Potomac at QuasiPundit. Early Camp Enron material can be found in QP's Dispatches department.
Monday, February 10, 2003

--- Powell Spoiler Updates ---

CP hasn't seen print copy yet, but Newsweek gets in the game with a frame by frame review of Powell's case here. Excerpts:
The intercepts clearly refer to stray items, not big caches.

Iraqis are disputing the English translations provided by the U.S. State Department.

... truck-mounted labs would be all but unworkable. The required ventilation systems would make them instantly recognizable from above, and they would need special facilities to safely dispose of their deadly wastes ... U.S. intelligence, after years of looking for them, has never found even one.

U.N. inspectors said they verified the destruction of almost all Iraqi chemical weapons and ingredients after Operation Desert Storm. By now, any leftover supplies would have degraded beyond use.
From a more unabashed generalized antiwar perspective, Traprock Peace Center offers Glen Rangwala's point by point analysis, with much useful comment. They also maintain an extensive survey of "Claims and evaluations of Iraq's proscribed weapons". Take the evaluations as you will, Rangwala's comprehensive running index of claims and counterclaims should prove valuable to advocates in both camps.

For more Powell-watch coverage, see:
Slacktivist here and here.

Thomas Spencer here, here, and especially here.

An ICG backgrounder on Ansar al-Islam here

BBC's visit to the Ansar al-Islam "poison camp" here.
Regarding Powell's assessment of al-Zarqawi, numerous doubts have been raised with respect to:
(a) his relationship with al Qaeda, if any. Not previously identified as a Bin Laden subordinate, he fought with Afghan mujahdeen against Soviet occupation (contemporaneous with bin Laden), headed his own group (Al Tawhid), ran his own training camp under Taliban protection.

(b) his focal mission, which seems to involve bringing Islamist theocracy to Jordan through a program of assassinations.

(c) his relationship to Ansar al-Islam, whose focal mission seems to involve wresting Kurdish leadership from the secular PUK, then bringing Islamist theocracy to Iraq. [In related developments, Ansar assassinates PUK leaders.]

(d) his sponsorship, which seems more closely linked to Iran than Iraq (as does Ansar al-Islam's).

(e) his relationship to Saddam, if any, and presence in Baghdad, if any. He has not been reported at large in Baghdad since Jordan sought Iraqi cooperation in his arrest.
See an International Herald Tribune profile on Zarqawi here. (It's the NYT piece, acessible w/o registration on NYT's IHT.)

Iraqi expatriate nuclear scientist Imad Khadduri suggests Powell may have misread the "death threat" evidence: "The four or five, as I recall such declarations, which I read in detail, held us to the penalty of death in the event that we did not hand in all of the sensitive documents and reports that may still be in our possession!"

And the UK Independent expands on the intel retaliation theme: "Mr Blair is facing an unprecedented, if covert, rebellion by his top spies, who last week used the politicians’ own weapon – the strategic leak – against him."