Monday, December 7, 2009
It was ("it" meaning the cement mixer) the same overlarge miniature as many other toy vehiclesabout the size of a breadbox. It weighed three or four pounds. It was a simple toyno batteries. It had a colored rope, with a yellow handle, and you held the handle and walked pulling the cement mixer behind yourather like a wagon, although it was nowhere near the size of a wagon. For Christmas, I'm positive it was. It was when I was the age where you can, as they say, "hear voices" without worrying that something is wrong with you. I "heard voices" all the time as a small child. I was either five or six, I believe. (I'm not very good with numbers.)
I liked the cement mixer and played with it as much as or more than I played with the other toy vehicles I owned. At some point, several weeks or months after Christmas, however, my biological parents led me to believe that it was a magic and/or highly unusual cement mixer. Probably my mother told me this in a moment of adult boredom or whimsy, and then my father came home from work and joined in, also in a whimsical way. The magicwhich my mother likely reported to me from her vantage on our living room's sofa, while watching me pull the cement mixer around the room by its rope, idly asking me if I was aware that it had magical properties, no doubt making sport of me in the bored half-cruel way that adults sometimes do with small children, playfully telling them things that they pass off to themselves as "tall tales" or "childlike inventions," unaware of the impact those tales may have (since magic is a serious reality for small children), though, conversely, if my parents believed that the cement mixer's magic was real, I do not understand why they waited weeks or months before telling me of it. They were a delightful but often impenetrable puzzle to me; I no more knew their minds and motives than a pencil knows what it is being used for. Now I have lost the thread. The "magic" was that, unbeknown to me, as I happily pulled the cement mixer behind me, the mixer's main cylinder or drumthe thing that, in a real cement mixer, mixes the cement; I do not know the actual word for itrotated, went around and around on its horizontal axis, just as the drum on a real cement mixer does. It did this, my mother said, only when the mixer was being pulled by me and only, she stressed, when I wasn't looking. She insisted on this part, and my father later backed her up: the magic was not just that the drum of a solid wood object without batteries rotated but that it did so only when unobserved, stopping whenever observed. If, while pulling, I turned to look, my parents somberly maintained, the drum magically ceased its rotation. How was this? I never, even for a moment, doubted what they'd told me. This is why it is that adults and even parents can, unwittingly, be cruel: they cannot imagine doubt's complete absence. They have forgotten.
Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/features/2009/12/14/091214fi_fiction_wallace#ixzz0Z1yth6wY
PENTAGON EASES RULES
Officers air concerns, citing Afghan effort
Under new authority granted by the Pentagon, U.S. commanders in Iraq may now donate to the Iraqis up to $30 million worth of equipment from each facility they leave, up from the $2 million cap established when the guidelines were first set in 2005. The new cap applies at scores of posts that the U.S. military is expected to leave in coming months as it scales back its presence from about 280 facilities to six large bases and a few small ones by the end of next summer.
Some of the items that commanders may now leave behind, including passenger vehicles and generators, are among what commanders in Afghanistan need most urgently, according to Pentagon memos.
Officials involved say the approach has triggered arguments in the Pentagon over whether the effort to leave Iraqis adequately equipped is hurting the buildup in Afghanistan.
Millions of Messages Sent, but Only Handful Mention Al Qaeda Leader
By Margie Burns
"Missing" White House emails retrieved from Bush administration records indicate that top Bush Justice Department officials had little interest in the pursuit of Osama bin Laden or Mullah Mohammed Omar, head of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), prolonged correspondence has pursued "missing" emails between the Bush White House and Bush's attorney general, deputy attorney general, associate attorney general, Office of Public Affairs, Office of Legal Counsel and Office of the Inspector General, in the Justice Department.
After a lengthy search, President Obama's Office of Information Policy, which handles FOIA requests, found emails pertaining to Osama bin Laden or to Mullah Omar only in Attorney General and Office of Public Affairs records from the Bush administration. Alberto Gonzales, previously Bush's White House counsel and then Attorney General, did not use email.
White House emails from the Bush years, often reported as missing, numbered in the millions. Thousands of emails were sent between the Bush White House and top Justice Department officials, through both government email accounts and private accounts including the Republican National Committee.
FOIA inquiries have produced two emails, totaling four pages, between the White House and Justice under the former administration relating to Mullah Mohammed Omar.
The FOIA requests produced 26 emails, totaling 119 pages, relating to Osama bin Laden.
The first internal reference to Mullah Omar, according to email records, occurred Dec. 7, 2001. White House staffer Edward Ingle forwarded a series of talking points titled "Meet Mullah Omar" from Deputy National Security Adviser James R. Wilkinson to a distribution list of several dozen government personnel in Cabinet offices and the Pentagon including Paul Wolfowitz. Omar has continued to evade capture and is believed to be living in neighboring Pakistan. There is no reference in the emails to Omar dating from the period when he was evading US forces. The next, and only other, mention of Omar's name was an incidental reference in a Sept. 23, 2004, New York Times article on Afghanistan forwarded the same day by White House staffers...
Fifteen emails mentioned bin Laden in 2004. Some were in response to criticism of the White House after disclosure of the famous Aug. 6, 2001, Presidential Daily Briefing, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." All email references are forwarded press briefings and other press releases, forwarded newspaper articles, or talking points related to bin Laden.
The Department of Justice represents the US government in enforcing the law in the public interest. According to the official definition of responsibilities printed under a photograph of then Attorney General Ashcroft, "Through its thousands of lawyers, investigators, and agents, the Department plays the key role in protection against criminals and subversion ... It represents the government in legal matters generally, rendering legal advice and opinions, upon request, to the President and to the heads of the executive departments. The Attorney General supervises and directs these activities, as well as those of the U.S. attorneys and U.S. marshals in the various judicial districts around the country."
Either top Justice Department personnel under the previous administration were not a set of bloodhounds, or documents have been suppressed. The email archives contain no indication that inside circles in the Bush White House and DOJ were paying attention to capturing Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar. Mentions of bin Laden and Omar come strictly in the context of public relations.
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