The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Saturday, December 20, 2003

I do mock anti-war folk intemperately, but to some extent I respect that they have their own beliefs and opinions. But one such as Josh Marshall is worthy only of contempt and disdain. Marshall is not anti-war, or pro-war, or for that matter pro- or anti- anything except anti-Republican and pro-Democrat. For Marshall it is always the hgh summer of 1998, and any news must be interpreted and spun in the same manner as, say, whether it is true that Monica Lewinisky possesses a semen-stained dress.

Consider this posting from last Thursday:

As many news outlets are reporting, there was a new photo of Saddam published today which caused quite a stir in Baghdad.

It was published by Al-Mutamar, a new daily published by Ahmed Chalabi, and it features a disheveled downcast Saddam sitting before -- who else? -- Ahmed Chalabi.

Chalabi, with hands clasped, is sitting a couple feet from Saddam and seems to be posing some question, as Saddam looks on sheepishly.

This picture was taken shortly after Saddam's capture when the US military brought in four members of the Interim Governing Council to speak with Saddam: Chalabi and three others.

(The best reproductions of the picture I've seen are in the Dallas Morning News.)

Here are a few questions ...

Who took the picture?

Presumably an Army photographer, unless Chalabi was allowed to bring in a camera man from his new paper, which would be, to put it mildly, a bit irregular. Were pictures taken only of Chalabi and Saddam? And regardless of these two questions, why were pictures taken (presumably) by US military photographers given on a exclusive basis to Chalabi?

I bet there's a story there.

LATE UPDATE: I'm told that press reports say that Adnan Pachachi and the other two IGC members were in the photos, but were cropped out to leave only Chalabi. That of course leaves the questions above even more in need of answer.

You can, as I did, read the post again. And again. Once, or twice, or ten times, it will not matter; you will still be left wondering what the hell Marshall is complaining about. It's illegitimate for ... military photographers to record newsworthy events? For ... news editors to crop photographs to focus on the most newsworthy subjects? (I demand that all photographs of George Bush be expanded to include the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development!)

Consider what has happened: A dictator and mass murderer is deposed and, after eight months on the run, captured. He is brought in the presence of the man who represents, however imperfectly, legitimate governance of the country that he raped and ruined. The two are photographed. What would an observer reflect on when viewing this picture? The banality of evil? How even the most mighty can be brought low? Marshall sees the tableau and thinks to himself, scandal; that is what is hard-wired into his mental circuitry.

Also note the obliqueness and indirectness of Marshall's criticism. The first sign that someone has lost contact with reality is that he mutters to himself. Marshall's post is one long mutter.



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