Roger L. Simon

The Evidence of Absence...

Nothing in the NYT today (that I could find, anyway) about the humiliation of Joseph C. Wilson, whose story they covered so assiduously last year, usually on the front page. They do, however, inform us that the “Final 9/11 Report Is Said to Dismiss Iraq-Qaeda Alliance”.

That’s the headline. The article, not surprisingly, begins a little differently: The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks is nearing completion of a final, probably unanimous report that will stand by the conclusions of the panel’s staff and largely dismiss White House theories both about a close working relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda and about possible Iraqi involvement in Sept. 11, commission officials said.

Note the words “close working relationship.” Whoever said that? Mafia families rarely have close working relationships. Frequently they kill each other. On the other hand, they know who their enemy really is — in the case of the Mafia, the government; in the case of Saddam and Al Qaeda, the USA. When it is to their mutual advantage, they will ally against their common enemy. What is so difficult to understand about that?

Never mind. Philip Shenon is doing his job, expressing the party line. The NYT does, however, have fascinating piece of reporting on one of the lead terrorists in the Madrid bombing known as “Mohammed the Egyptian.” Apparently this fanatic was addicted to cellphones (not just to blow people up, but to talk) and was recorded at length by Italian police. On one of the calls, he was persuading some poor fellow to be a suicide bomber:

Mr. Ahmed told his young charge that he listened to soothing cassette tapes of martyrdom continuously, and told him to do the same.

“They will make everything easier when you feel them enter your body,” he said, explaining that a suicide mission “takes five minutes, and then everything blows up.”