Thursday, March 16, 2006

The General Denied at Dawn

Sure in the heat of battle, or should I say the buzz of Operation Swarmer (not to be confused with The Swarm, the 1978 Irwin Allen classic about killer bees--ah, for the dear dreary days of the late 70s, when we merely watched disaster movies and didn't send people to act them out in foreign countries), it might be hard to pick your words with the precision of a smart bomb flattening its designated target. But even cutting him some slack, this has to be one of the weirder quotes ever under wartime duress (the AP reports):

But Gen. John Abizaid, chief of the U.S. Central Command, sought to downplay the uniqueness of the raid.

"I wouldn't characterize this as being anything that's a big departure from normal or from the need to prosecute a target that we think was lucrative enough to commit this much force to go get," Abizaid said.

We "prosecute" targets? Here's hoping U.S. Central Command is better at that kind of prosecution than the U.S. Justice Department is at trying to convict a man who proudly says he is al-Qaeda. This prosecution also involves more than probing questions and a deft revelation of key evidence, for the story claims, "Residents in the area of the assault reported a heavy U.S. and Iraqi troop presence and said large explosions could be heard in the distance. American forces routinely blow up structures they suspect as insurgent safe-houses or weapons depots." And lord knows the best thing to do with suspects is blow them up. Then you never get accused of torturing them.

Gen. Abizaid's biggest slip might have been working the word "lucrative" into an explanation of the Iraq War. It would be fascinating to know what the exact calculus is for determining how many lives, given American > Iraqi, equals how much oil money plus Bush approval ratings points squared.


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