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It appears there’s some confusion about yesterday’s story, so let me clear things up: I don’t think that the CIA is bribing Iraqi parliamentarians to vote the U.S. out of Iraq. The scenario seems thoroughly implausible. The only thing notable about the rumor – which, based on one email I received, may have originated in a casual joke that was transformed into theory and spread via the traditional Washington echo chamber–is that it suggests just how dire the situation is on the ground.
Meanwhile, CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield wrote me to take issue with the comments of a former intelligence official quoted in my story. That official said said the agency is “pretty much out to lunch in Baghdad.” Mansfield said the source doesn’t know what he’s talking about and that “CIA officers throughout Iraq take risks each day to collect intelligence that makes a critical difference to our country. Some of the information they gather is tactical, helping save the lives of American and Iraqi soldiers, and some is strategic, helping our government understand trends in the region.”
While that’s the CIA’s official position, many people familiar with the situation in Iraq say the agency, like the rest of the bureaucracy supporting the American occupation, is bogged down in the Green Zone.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Commentary — November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm
The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.
i. stand with israel
I listen to a lot of conservative talk radio. Confident masculine voices telling me the enemy is everywhere and victory is near — I often find it affirming: there’s a reason I don’t think that way. Last spring, many right-wing commentators made much of a Bloomberg poll that asked Americans, “Are you more sympathetic to Netanyahu or Obama?” Republicans picked the Israeli prime minister over their own president, 67 to 16 percent. There was a lot of affected shock that things had come to this. Rush Limbaugh said of Netanyahu that he wished “we had this kind of forceful moral, ethical clarity leading our own country”; Mark Levin described him as “the leader of the free world.” For a few days there I yelled quite a bit in my car.
The one conservative radio show I do find myself enjoying is hosted by Dennis Prager. At the Thanksgiving dinner of American radio personalities (Limbaugh is your jittery brother-in-law, Michael Savage is your racist uncle, Hugh Hewitt is Hugh Hewitt) Dennis Prager is the turkey-carving patriarch trying to keep the conversation moderately high-minded. While Prager obviously doesn’t like liberals — “The gaps between the left and right on almost every issue that matters are in fact unbridgeable,” he has said — he often invites them onto his show for debate, which is rare among right-wing hosts. Yet his gently exasperated take on the Obama–Netanyahu matchup was among the least charitable: “Those who do not confront evil resent those who do.”
Pairs of moose-dung earrings sold each year at Grizzly’s Gifts in Anchorage, Alaska:
An Alaskan brown bear was reported to have scratched its face with barnacled rocks, making it the first bear seen using tools since 1972, when a Svalbardian polar bear is alleged to have clubbed a seal in the head with a block of ice.
A former prison in Philadelphia that has served as a horror-movie set was being prepared as a detention center for protesters arrested at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fired his campaign manager.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”