Thursday, November 19, 2015


I'm having flashbacks as I listen to conservatives talk about the mysterious -- but presumed to be slapdash -- process of vetting Syrian refugees. Yesterday a woman named Arnessa, a Muslim who came to America at the age of twelve as a refugee from war in the former Yugoslavia, pointed out in a series of tweets that the vetting process is long, bureaucratic, and almost absurdly detailed. Here's some of what she posted:

And on and on.

This is not a secret to Republican elected officials and right-wing political insiders. It's known to them, or at least it's knowable.

But their prime directive is to make Americans hate the president, the Democratic Party, and liberalism, as well as Muslims, of course, and they know the public doesn't know any of this. So they cynically portray the system as likely to be run by incompetents who do a half-assed job.

We've been through this before, in the run-up to the Iraq War. There were inspectors in Iraq -- and they knew what they were doing. Bob Drogin of the L.A. Times reported on how much they were able to learn and how certain they were -- based on real evidence -- that the defector known as Curveball was fabricating stories about sites with which he was somewhat familiar:
The raid by the American-led biological weapons experts lasted 3 1/2 hours. It was long enough to prove Curveball had lied.

Djerf al Nadaf was on a dusty road lined with auto repair shops and small factories, near the former Tuwaitha nuclear facility and a sewage-filled tributary of the Tigris River.

Behind a high wall, a two-story grain silo adjoined the warehouse that Curveball had identified as the truck assembly facility.

"That's the one where the mobile [bioweapons] labs were supposed to be," said a former U.N. inspector who worked with the U.S. and other intelligence agencies. "That's the one we were interested in."

The doors were locked, so Boston microbiologist Rocco Casagrande climbed on a white U.N. vehicle, yanked open a metal flap in the wall, and crawled inside. After scrambling over a huge pile of corn, he scraped two samples of residue from cracks in the cement floor, two more from holes in the wall and one from a discarded shower basin outside.

Back at the Canal Hotel that afternoon, he tested the samples for bacterial or viral DNA. He was searching for any signs that germs were produced at the site or any traces of the 1998 bio-weapons accident. Test results were all negative.

"No threat agents detected," Casagrande wrote in his computer journal that night. "Got to climb on a jeep and crawl into buildings and play second-story man, but otherwise spent the day in the lab."

A British inspector, who had helped bring the intelligence file from New York, found another surprise.

Curveball had said the germ trucks could enter the warehouse from either end. But there were no garage doors and a solid, 6-foot-high wall surrounded most of the building. The wall British intelligence saw in 1997 satellite photos clearly made impossible the traffic patterns Curveball had described.

U.N. teams also raided the other sites Curveball had named. They interrogated managers, seized documents and used ground-penetrating radar, according to U.N. reports.

The U.N. inspectors "could find nothing to corroborate Curveball's reporting," the CIA's Iraq Survey Group reported last year.

On March 7, 2003, Hans Blix, the chief U.N. inspector, told the Security Council that a series of searches had found "no evidence" of mobile biological production facilities in Iraq. It drew little notice at the time.

The invasion of Iraq began two weeks later.
The abilities of the inspectors are made abundantly clear in Drogin's book Curveball. They'd have been able to detect trace elements of weapons activity even at scrubbed sites. They had the time to inspect many sites to their satisfaction. They were clear on the fact that what they were told they'd find wasn't there.

They were right. We know that now. But in America, Dennis Miller, speaking for the entire pro-war right, got the last word:
With regard to the inspectors in Iraq, Miller asked, "How long do we have to wait for these morons?" He compared Hans Blix to Inspector Clouseau--and pictured the U.N. teams "driving around in the Scooby-Doo van" looking for weapons. "The only 'smoking gun' I need to see is the one they use to kill Saddam Hussein."
It's happening again. Refugee vetters can't possibly know what they're doing! They must be bumbling idiots! The people saying this know better, or ought to. But they know the public doesn't know better. And so they cynically take advantage, because that's what they do.


Victor said...

"So they cynically portray the system as likely to be run by incompetents who do a half-assed job."

In all fairness, when the conservatives are in charge, any system they are likely to run, will be staffed by incompetents who'll do a half-ass job - but want full-time pay, AND bonuses!!!

Ten Bears said...

The vast majority of "Americans" couldn't do what was asked of that young lady.

AJ said...

Remember when Obama was planning on letting ebola spread all over the country as part of his diabolical/incompetent plan to impose martial law? I'm seeing similar things on RWNJ sites now, that the real reason Obama wants to help refugees is in hopes of an uprising of armed citizens, which he will quash and then use as an excuse to take away all the guns.

Yastreblyansky said...

This all also applies to Republican/Likud attempts to smear IAEA inspectors over their ability to monitor Iran in the debate over the Iran agreement. It was completely absurd to suggest that they could be "tricked" by wily Persians scrubbing the premises during bureaucratic delays, and it kept being said and not challenged by the press.