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The day the music died

vastleft's picture

[Welcome, Crooks & Liars readers!] was created to promote observances and analyses of the run-up to the Iraq War and of the fateful day when the reality-based community seemingly lost its charter. And we're looking for you to help recollect, commiserate, and if possible, make sense of it all.

On February 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations to rally support for an invasion of Iraq.

His presentation contained little substance and numerous obvious flaws, and the international community was unimpressed.

America's mainstream media, however, declared it "compelling."

For a nation living in the ghostly shadow of the twin towers, the media's Good Warmaking seal of approval was enough to keep that treasonous question — "why?" — relatively unheard.

The costs — in lives, money, reputation, and more — of this war of whim are nearly incalculable.

This year's fifth anniversary coincides with a Super Tuesday primary like no other. As Americans across the country go to the polls, a couple of hundred thousand American troops, contractors, and mercenaries are still stewing in America's longest and most ill-conceived war.

If you have thoughts and recollections about the fateful day of Powell's presentation, and the festival of lies and ignorance that preceded it, please send them to vastleft AT vastleft DOT com between now and February 5th. E-mailed commentaries, links to existing posts from back in the day or anytime since, and new posts on your site are all good — however you would like to express yourself about that surreal, world-changing period.

We plan to crosspost some of the most memorable submissions on the blog and on

Thank you for helping commemorate the tragic day — two days after the anniversary of Buddy Holly's, Richie Valens's and the Big Bopper's death — the day the music really died.

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Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

...when Powell held up the crack vial....OOPS! er, I meant faux anthrax vial.

How funny would it be to see a SNL skit of his preparation for this presentation. At some point there had to be some cretin thinking this visual would be a great idea. Then it actually had to be implemented.

You can write your own scenario as to who, where, when and how this little bottle was assembled for the assembled. How was it delivered to the deale...OOPS! er I mean Mister Secretary.

Did the deliverer have his own limo, or was a bicycle messenger used. Who was it. When did Powell actually slip it into his pocket, like the best man at the wedding being handed off the ring for presentation at the alter.

And WTF's in the vial - sand from the ranch or Katherine Harris's pancake makeup. Maybe magic 9-11 ground-zero dust.

Could it be REAL anthrax? Was Powell self-sacrificially prepared to go all the way by ingesting it himself as proof of its lethality if the General Assembly broke out in gales of laughter instead of a sweat. Nah, too implausible. He's too cowardly to come clean still, and besides that's what gung-ho taste-testers are for.

Where is this exhibit A now? In a safe at the Smithsonian or awaiting delivery to the NeoCon Wing of Madame Tussauds, to be placed strategically in the Colin Powell model's cold dead wax fingers? Maybe it can reused, relabeled "enriched Iranian uranium." For sure we know somebody will be enriched.

The Cheney cultists can wear little replicas on delicate gold chains or as charms on a bracelet.

This is fun.

I think I'm going to be sick again. Excuse me.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

If there should be a fetish object for this whole thing, it's the anthrax vial.

It's featured atop the first post on the DOS blog, from which the post above was derived, and I love your vivid imagineering all about it. Please do share more, and if'n you have a blog, please share the link!

My theory is that Doug Mientkiewicz has the vial, but I could be wrong.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

is still maddeningly being used as an "excuse" by those who were bamboozled into supporting the war. I even saw someone today use it to excuse Hillary's vote for the resolution. (Never mind that the bullshit presentation came some 4 months after that vote...)

Fortunately, I never tire of pointing out that the bulk of it was cribbed from a UK grad student thesis written in 1992; that cartoon drawings of mobile weapons labs are not the same as actual mobile weapons labs or even photos of actual mobile weapons labs; and that the satellite photos of large warehouse buildings could have just as easily been the Baghdad Wal-Mart as WMD factories.

The human capacity for self-delusion never ceases to amaze.

Submitted by lambert on

Most amazing thing. I remember playing whack-a-mole in the run up to the war. It was as if an assembly line somewhere was churning out the lies. The aluminum tubes would pop out. And we'd whack them! Then the mobile weapons labs! Whack! Bioweapons! Whack! Rockets! Whack! Not sure I'm remembering the exact sequence, and maybe there weren't rockets, but I've never encountered anything like it. And then Powell gives the speech... And all the moles we'd whacked already popped right out again! You really had the sense, I'm sure many of us had the sense, of the Beltway going one way, and the reality-based community going another.

Later, of course, we learned that there was an assembly line: The White House Iraq Group.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

I don't understand why there is so much controvesy in this world. Why we humans make it so complicated and are complicated.I found this page by chance because I was looking up the Day the music died for the buddy holly,richie valens,and big bopper death's for my english class....i don't think what happens every day war, death, the government in its deal, whatever ,won't ever many people have the rite idea for whats good in this world, but it seems its our leaders within this nation and out ;think what's best towards there opionon or country's depending on situation i's not directly leaders fault ... it's the complications just from living life... i mean humanity forms around coruption most of the time instead of the good...i mean if the U.S.A was just that, wouldn't it be worse?

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

are both on record as having consulted with Colin Powell. I don't know what is wrong with out political culture.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Presumably The Cowardly Lion is still high on the lists of most respected Americans, and probably has been on the short lists of Presidential candidates for VP.

By the same token, how is it that the sponsor of the enabling legislation for the biggest foreign policy disaster in our history, responsible as much as anyone for so many American dead and injured, ruinous expenses, a holocaust inflicted on an innocent Iraqi people, and sharply diminished respect for the United States abroad is (a) widely admired for his foreign policy "expertise" (b) leading in some Presidential matchup polls.

A very sick political culture, indeed.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

What I remember most about that day is tearing apart the speech over at the Talk section of the UK paper, the Guardian. By that point, I'd read the final UNSCOM report, and understood how Powell manipulated that report to make his case. I'd also literally given up on reading the US mainstream media --- British papers were about the only source of real information on the inspections process from "mainstream" sources (in English, at least).

Submitted by lambert on

In fact, I think we were filling in for Atrios at that time, and playing whack-a-mole there, and jumping on a Guardian story that proved to be wrong. Leah advised me to correct and move on; how right sh was, because it's my instinct to battle.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Only one Democratic candidate was brave enough to call bullshit on Colin Powell:

February 5, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Statement by Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Howard Dean in response to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s comments today before the U.N. Security Council:

“While I have the utmost respect for Secretary of State Colin Powell, I heard little today in his comments before the U.N. Security Council that makes the President’s case for war strong enough to establish a new doctrine of preemption, or strong enough for going to war unilaterally.

“The Secretary of State made a compelling case for what the American people already know. Saddam Hussein is a deceitful tyrant who must be disarmed.

“But I heard little today that leads me to believe that there is an imminent threat warranting unilateral military action by the United States against Iraq.

“Terrorism around the globe is a far greater danger to the United States than Iraq. We are pursuing the wrong war. While Secretary Powell discussed the previously known fact that elements of Al Qaeda have been present in Iraq, he did not offer compelling evidence that there is a current operational link between the two.

“Despite the Secretary of State’s comments today, we continue to have more questions than answers in this debate about sending U.S. troops into harm’s way.

“This is the gravest decision any President will make: Whether to send our sons and daughters into battle to risk their lives for freedom.

“Neither the President in his speech before Congress nor Secretary of State Colin Powell today before the Security Council has made a case for immediate, unilateral military action.

I remember being home sick that day and listening to Powell's presentation on the radio. He didn't make his case.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

moment for me. i understood, for the first time in a really clear, across-the-board way, that i could trust myself, my own thinking, even to the point that i would go against other people who had more influence or "knowledge" than i was supposed to have. i knew i was right, and going to be proven right to all, eventually. i knew they were wrong/liars.

i was a 6%er, and i knew powell was full of shit the second his lips started moving, i knew that the "official story" was increasingly made up of lies, regardless of the issue in question, and i knew my gov't was shredding the constutition on a daily fucking basis including torturing and spying on citizens.

but as to the realization of how difficult it is and can be to sustain such a consciousness, the powell speech was an important time in my life. so many around me (and a few others) who were deaf to reason, blind to fact, led by their thrist for violent and racist "revenge." that's what this day of shame is about to me. this is the part of the american soul that gets us into all our troubles. how to reshape it, then?

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

I have tears in my eyes.

I'm voting for Hillary, so naturally they must be fake tears. But still.

Honestly, that's exactly the feeling and situation that I think we need to remember. And thanks for the comments upstream, too, re: The Guardian, etc.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

lots and lots of virtual hugging going around today, despite the narrative that we're all at each other's throats. or perhaps, the quality communities i am reading are just rising above it. the agitators are clear to see and ignore; most people are ready to remember why they care about this shit in the first place and get behind whomever is just going to have to be 'good enough.'

love you too, bro.

Batocchio's picture
Submitted by Batocchio on

Well said by so many! Whaleshaman, Will Ferrell definitely would have fumbled the anthrax, especially if he was playing Bush. Hilarity would ensue…

Lambert, the Assembly Line of Cthulhu about sums it up.

CD, was it really only 6%? Wow. I was one of them, too. Your comment deserves its own post. I ran into some of the same thing. As I wrote in my DOS post, I really don't think it took special knowledge or wisdom not to buy what Bush and company were selling. Cassandra syndrome can be a danger for blogging or anyone, but much less so, I think, if one admits one's fallibilities with humility. Not coincidentally, that's not something most hawks have ever done. And the bigger point you're hitting is something I certainly appreciate — that you have good instincts, and should trust them. I used to teach high school, and one of the things I know (and remember from being a teenager myself) is that many people can suss out a bullshitter, even if he or she can't exactly articulate what the specific bullshit is. Fear sadly overpowers that radar for many folks, while for some of us, all "rumors of war" set that radar off. Anyway, thanks, and you're also right about blogger luv, given this and the recent Blogroll Amnesty Day. I look forward to reading your DOS post.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

refers to the number of people who didn't in any way approve of bush in polls taken immediately after 9/11. "do you support preznit bush blah blah blah" and in most polls, he got 90% or higher "yes" or "somewhat" responses. or so we were told. anyway, i recall those dark days when some few of us felt soooo alone, knowing that the bumbling chimp was the wrong, wrong, wrong guy for the job, and that he was only going to use that black day to fuck things up more. but you couldn't say it, not out loud, not without worrying someone would shout at you or cry or point a gun at you and scream about how "we" were under attack.

tangentially, i used to be a M/LIHOPper too, but of late i've decided that willful ignorance and incompetence explain most of the holes in the official 9/11 story just as well as deliberate malice (although i think that there was a good deal of that too).

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

As I've related in other places on the internets, I very clearly remember my sequence thoughts on 9/11: 1) Oh my god, those poor people; 2) Jesus christ, and we're stuck with THIS moron, burn in hell you media whores who chortled about how "it really doesn't matter WHO wins the election; and 3) oh goddamned, now I'm gonna have to hear that stupid fucking Lee Greenwood piece of shit a million more times.

I also remember the whack-a-mole game leading up to Iraq, and the moment when it became undeniably crystal clear they were making up every bit of the "case of war", though I had thought they were probably lying all along...the balsa planes of death were so over-the-top Dr. Evil that I literally sat there with my jaw agape, thinking WTF? I knew at that moment they were making it ALL up, because no one would ever trot out that outlandish weak-ass shit if they had ANYTHING BETTER at all. So it was instantly obvious that they didn't have a thing. And at the same time it infuriated me because I realized they thought it was all just some big fucking game.

Submitted by lambert on

What they do is seize opportunities with what they have ready to go.

If it hadn't been 9/11, it would have been something else.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by lambert on

Surely the 6% deserve a decent shell -- like linux (or OS X?)

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Victimizing Iraqis by Showing Trick Anthrax

Submitted by lambert on

But maybe the two divisions weren't talking to each other?

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by lambert on

VL, that's the best laugh I've had in days. See, I just assumed.... Well, for obvious reasons... Well, you know what I assumed.

[hangs head]

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.