Thursday, September 29, 2005
From Arianna: Shots Across the Bow: On Integrity, Iraq, and al-Queda's Pecking Order
If This Is Integrity...: Delay, Frist, Abramoff, Safavian... Wasn't this the crowd that was going to "restore honor and integrity" to Washington? If this is what integrity looks like, let's bring back Oval Office blow jobs.
There I was, feeding my Scott McClellan addiction by watching the latest White House press briefing. Suddenly, a question piqued my interest: a reporter wanted McClellan to clarify remarks the president had made earlier in the day about "the way we're changing our strategy" in Iraq. But before Scotty could reply, C-SPAN abruptly and without warning cut away from the gaggle and over to Sen. John Warner on the Senate floor waxing lyrical (and vaguely Blue Boy) about John Roberts: "He is a magnificent man."
Take the Scotty Quiz!: C-SPAN left me in suspense this morning.
It was a couple of hours before I could finally track down a transcript of the press briefing -- hours spent speculating on what Scotty's answer might have been. I thought you might enjoy playing along. So, what was Scotty's reply?
A) "The president said what???"
B) "Why would we want to change our strategy, when things are going so well?"
C) "We have a strategy in Iraq?"
D) "Actually, when the president said 'changing our strategy,' he actually meant 'changing our talking points.'"
E) "We're fighting them there so that we don't have to fight them here at home."
(correct answer below)
# 2 at Al Qaeda...with a Bullet!: After reading that U.S. forces had killed Abu Azzam, identified by the LA Times as the "No. 2 Al Qaeda Leader in Iraq," I couldn't help but wonder: Where do they get these rankings? Are they based on raw stats like the Billboard 100 (ie most beheadings or suicide bombers recruited)? Some kind of playoff system? Or is there a ridiculously complicated poll like the BCS? And do they factor in intangibles like the blackness of your heart?
And what about Al Qaeda's #3? Does he automatically move up to #2 now that Azzam is dead, or can someone leapfrog the order of succession? For instance, can #5 suddenly become #2 if he has an IED hot streak?
And will the new #2, whoever he is, be happy for the promotion? Will he get a congratulatory e-mail from Osama bin Laden? A catchy job title like Azzam, who was known as the emir of Baghdad? Will it mean a big end-of-year bonus and a corner office down the hall from Abu al-Zarqawi or a million-dollar bounty on his head? Inquiring minds want to know.
Answer to the Scotty Quiz: E) "We're fighting them there so that we don't have to fight them here at home." I'm not kidding. He really said that -- as well as, "This is a strategy that was developed by our military commanders, because they're the ones who are on the ground, the ones on the ground who are in the best position to understand how to defeat the enemy. And it's a strategy that will succeed." In other words: Meet the new strategy; same as the old strategy.