Today's Blogs

Saddam’s Paper Trail

Bloggers welcome the release of recently uncrated documents from pre-war Iraq. They also engage in a bit of a blood-feud over V for Vendetta and laugh and cry over the idea of microchip-implanted killer insects.

Saddam’s paper trail: The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has finally released the first installment of a long-awaited archive of Baathist paperwork, which may yield important information about Saddam’s WMD capability and ties to Osama Bin Laden. It’s a blogger free-for-all, as the government more or less says, “Have at it,” to whatever willing translators and amateur intelligence analysts abound in cyberspace.

The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes has been agitating for the past two weeks to force John Negroponte to make available the 2 million documents, which the ambassador maintains will produce no earth-shattering revelations, despite the fact that only 3 percent of them have ever been perused by anyone outside of Iraq. Hayes eagerly rolls up his sleeves, hoping that the hoi polloi might now work out a few pressing, and still very contentious, questions for themselves: “How close were the French and the Russians to the former Iraqi regime? What kind of information was being passed to the Iraqis on the eve of war in early 2003? What is the real story of Iraq’s WMD programs?” 

Behold the booty of the Army of Davids, intones Pajamas Media founder Roger L. Simon, a novelist and screenwriter: “Back in mid-February Pajamas Media went to Washington to cover the Intelligence Summit and did video interviews with Congressman Hoekstra (chair of the House Intell Committee), former DCI Woolsey and Richard Perle, among others. In all those interviews we discussed our idea - new to all of them - that the myriad untranslated Saddam tapes and documents be released to the blogosphere for translation. The three men all, to one degree or another, liked the idea, although they were surprised by it.” And Iraq denizen Omar, at the pro-regime change Iraq The Model (also a Pajamas Media affiliate), has already started in on language change.

But lefty Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly’s Political Animal isn’t betting on fair and balanced exegesis: “One hates to be cynical so early in the morning, but seriously: what are the odds that these documents are going to be ‘vetted on a nonpartisan and scholarly basis’? Every single piece of intelligence ever made public by the Bush administration — every single piece — has been cherry picked for maximum partisan effectiveness. Surely no one seriously believes it’s going to be any different this time?”

Read more about the released Iraqi docs.

Bend sinister or silly?V for Vendetta is the hot new movie this weekend, especially for those who thought Fahrenheit 9/11 raised the current political discourse by any degree of temperature. Based on an anti-Thatcherite graphic novel written in the late ‘80s, this noir dystopian thriller depicts a futuristic England overrun by fascism, where the only hope is a bald Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving, who wears a Guy Fawkes mask and wants to blow up Parliament. Although V has been made to “resonate” with current events, 1984 it isn’t, say most paid and unpaid critics.

CalMN at the left-wing Daily Kos is unsurprisingly sanguinary about the film’s can’t-miss urgency in these oh-so-troubled times: “Will this movie serve to Wake UP the young people (and the rest of us) in the USA and inspire them to take action to put a halt to creeping fascism? I’m hearing it and feeling it: People from all over are fed up with the way their corrupt governments are treating the people, making the timing perfect for this thought-provoking and incendiary movie.”

But “Manish” at the U.K.-based Sepia Mutiny naps through the revolution: “The dialogue is full of leaden, soapy howlers, and the audience was unforgiving. There are some lines that can only be pulled off in noir, not in a brightly-lit room by a Shakespearean fop in a pageboy wig and a geisha mask. ” And Seattle writer and consultant Matt Rosenberg at reviews the reviewers who whistle through the glamorization of terror: “Myself, I’d like to see a film loosely based on the lives of the subway bomber terrorists who killed scores of Londoners last July. Or a fictional take on the life of Theo van Gogh’s killer.

A bug’s double life. The Pentagon is investing in research to make programmable insects for surveillance and military purposes, according to this BBC report. Yeah, well, the bombardier beetle’s about as close as they’ll come to intelligent demolitionist design, if you ask the cognoscenti.

At the natural-history-oriented blog Pharyngula, biologist PZ Myers “for one, will welcome our Cyborg Insect overlords,” but he has a few qualms  about the Pentagon’s proposed engineering methods: “Chips aren’t going to be integrated, they’re going to be encapsulated. I’ve done long-term studies of larval insect nervous systems, and they’ve got a surprisingly good immune system—hemocytes are going to flock to whatever is implanted, and it’s going to be well glopped up with cells and proteins.”

Locust years for the troops, salad days for caterpillars, fumes New Jersey resident David Austin at Quaker Agitator: “Only in America. Only in our military. We send them to war without proper body armor or properly armored vehicles. And they die … But we have some money. For bugs.”

Read more about the deadly butterfly effect and your tax dollars at work.