July 21, 2003


Interesting aside in the current New Yorker's Sy Hersh piece on how Syria's been falling over itself trying to ingratiate itself with the Americans since Sept. 11 and D.C. has more or less responded to all the diplomatic overtures with insults and random border skirmishes.

Syria also provided the United States with intelligence about future Al Qaeda plans... The Syrians also helped the United States avert a suspected plot against an American target in Ottawa.

What can that refer to, I wonder? Surely not the Maher Arar case, of which we've written before. Is American intelligence still counting that as a victory for the good guys? If not that, then what?

Posted by BruceR at 10:43 PM


Jeff Jarvis, et al, can spin all they want, but there's no way the recent death of Dr. David Kelly ends up making the BBC look bad. There's really only two logical scenarios for the known facts.

Scenario 1:
Assume Kelly met with the BBC reporter Gilligan, and said that the government's Iraq WMD evidence was questionable at the time of their public statements;
Kelly then went before Parliament, and told them the exact opposite, that the WMD evidence was NOT questionable to his mind, then or now;
Kelly then killed himself, either out of his own guilt because his testimony was false, or because someone pressured him into lying. Either way, the government looks bad.

Scenario 2:
Assume Kelly met with the reporter, and said that the government's evidence was unquestionable;
He then went before the Parliament, and said the same thing again, is congratulated by the MPs for his honesty, etc., etc.
He then kills himself... well, why, exactly? Because he was guilty over the damage he'd done to public broadcasting? Because he feared some unspecified BBC retaliation? Even if there was a tape of the original interview, it could logically only back his claim to honesty... so presumably the BBC had no power over him (other than the usual ways the press has to make your life hell, but Kelly would have to be extraordinarily fragile to see that alone as enough to make life unlivable).

So basically, those are your two scenarios: either Kelly was pressured into lying (or pressured himself out of loyalty), and found he couldn't live with that after; or he was an inherently unbalanced (albeit honest) individual in a position of high government responsibility, and a promoter of the war, who fell apart at the slightest push.

(Note that Gilligan's own credibility, which is all but shot, is irrelevant to these scenarios. Calling Kelly a "senior intelligence official", as opposed to a mere scientist, was a straight-out lie, for which he will certainly be sanctioned, but it can hardly have had any impact on Kelly's own thinking. What Kelly couldn't live with, apparently, was the fallout from his own Parliamentary testimony... why?)

UPDATE: Notice Jarvis' real agenda, with his little aside that a public broadcaster is "insane journalistically." Why, because it criticizes the government too much? C doesn't follow from A...

UPDATE 2: The comparison I haven't seen made yet, which is surprising since Kelly's death was almost 10 years to the day (July 20, 1993) later, is to the death of Vincent Foster. Presumably the BBC is just as responsible for Kelly as the Wall Street Journal was for Foster's. Without believing any of the conspiracist lunacies surrounding it, it's also fair to say that situation saw the effects of conflicting loyalties between honesty and team loyalty could have on an unstable man.

Posted by BruceR at 01:22 PM


Spent Friday and the weekend, like Instapundit, away from the computer, so I'm catching up on three days news, too. Actually, "away" from a computer for me is relative... I'm on deadline on a couple freelance pieces, and at least part of the weekend was spent switching the house over to a wireless setup.

Wireless computing is remarkably cheap and painless now, actually, if you're hesitating on the brink. The one thing that surprised me in the otherwise painless process was that the PC commercial world doesn't have a widely available wireless repeater product (as opposed to a signal booster), to reliably extend coverage in the home environment.

The trouble with a booster, like the one Linksys sells, is it adds bulk in the place where you may not want to add bulk... ie, where the cable modem and router already are, next to the coax point in the wall which connects you to the big wide world. Presumably that puts it in the proximity of either your home entertainment unit or a desktop computer as well, so adding another box to the clutter is not exactly optimal. (Nor are home users likely to be too enthralled with longer antenna units on the router or the computers, for the same reason.)

The aesthetically elegant solution would be to put a repeater, which just receives the wireless signals and rebroadcasts them again, up in the attic somewhere, to ensure cross-house coverage. Apple has this capability, with its AirPort Extreme setup (not cheap, mind you), but the PC world is lagging. D-Link sells a repeater, although it's supposedly not compatible with other companies' hardware, and D-Link doesn't have the distribution network of a Linksys or Microsoft or Netgear, at least in Canada. A lot of stores are giving away low-end wireless routers with every laptop they sell now, so there's a lot of non-standard equipment out there, too, that would be part of the installed base for any cross-compatible solution. It shouldn't be a serious technological challenge... to create a repeater you're more or less stripping technology out of the wireless access point products those other companies already make (no routing, no Ethernet hookups, no DHCP). It's really surprising none of those other companies is selling them yet.

It's hard to imagine, if a dedicated PC repeater product showed up in the big store chains that was advertised as widely cross-compatible, under $100 US, and stable (or at least easily remotely rebootable, so you could put it up in the rafters and forget about it) that every laptop-possessing home owner wouldn't consider picking one up the next time they go by. Marketing-wise, it's got to be close to a sure thing (the only trick is deciding whether the old WiFi-B or the new WiFi-G standard would sell you more boxes): everyone can always use more signal, or at least isn't averse to the idea. If you heard of a company coming out with something like it in the next year, I'd recommend buying stock.

Posted by BruceR at 10:35 AM