Zarqawi and the Scarlet Pimpernel
WESTLEY: ‘ Well, Roberts had grown so rich, he wanted to retire. So he took me to his cabin and told me his secret. “I am not the Dread Pirate Roberts,” he said. “My name is Ryan. I inherited this ship from the previous Dread Pirate Roberts, just as you will inherit it from me. The man I inherited it from was not the real Dread Pirate Roberts, either. His name was Cummerbund. The real Roberts has been retired fifteen years and living like a king in Patagonia.” Then he explained the name was the important thing for inspiring the necessary fear. You see, no one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley.” ‘
-William Goldman, “The Princess Bride”
Billmon’s “Form over Substance” goes beyond expressing skepticism about the shadowy stories coming out of Iraq about top aides of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi being arrested. He suggests that the stories are a combination black psy-ops operation to influence public opinion, and scripted Hollywood entertainment value. I would only add that it is now often forgotten that the major politicians running Iraq are the same people who lied to the US public about Saddam’s WMD and about Baath links to terrorism, etc. Vice-Premier Ahmad Chalabi, Member of Parliament Iyad Allawi, and others told bald-faced lies or provided to Western intelligence defectors who told bald-faced lies. They told Tony Blair that Saddam could launch a chemical weapons attack on Western interests “within 45 minutes.” Chalabi’s lies and those of his cronies would fill a multi-volume print encyclopedia. How likely is it that now that they are running the Iraqi government, we can suddenly trust everything their spokesmen tell us? Yet the Western press dutifully reports these allegations about the attrition against the Zarqawi network as though it is gospel. I almost never refer to such reports, because they seem to me obviously questionable and impossible to verify, except that obviously someone continues to go on blowing things up in Iraq despite Iraqi government claims about all these arrests.
Meanwhile, Reuters says that an internet site associated with the Zarqawi network denies that any Zarqawi aides were arrested recently in Iraq or in Spain, as had been reported in the press. There is no way of knowing who posts these supposed communiques, and there is every reason to be suspicious of the information in them.
[See here for The Scarlet Pimpernel.]