A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Friday, October 31, 2003 :::
When A Bargain Isn't A Bargain. Plus, Good News on the Search for WMD, Sort Of...

A Mind That Suits is immensely fond of Italy, he must admit. He has been there four or five times in the last six years, and just yesterday he bagged one very sweet ticket there for Christmas.

The only hitch is, he has to return on Christmas morning. As the most important event--midnight Mass, hopefully at St. Peter's--actually begins late on December 24, this is not a problem. Sleeping on a plane has never been a problem for this boy.

A number of people have been surprised at the cost of the trip--$430. They think it is high, because right now travel to Europe from the East Coast is cheaper than perhaps it has ever been.

In part it is because people do not notice the various levels of travel to Europe from this coast. If you wish to go to London, Paris, or Madrid, it costs less than a trip to California. If you wish to go to Berlin, Munich, Vienna, or Rome, it will cost you another 100 bucks more.

Nonetheless, A Mind That Suits did discover an airline that was offering a round trip on the dates he wanted for $305. So of course, he clicked on that flight.

And suddenly it became $397, because of taxes and fees. And then he noticed that, rather than returning to convenient Reagan National Airport next to the Pentagon, the flight landed at Dulles International Airport, way the heck out there in the middle of a bunch of fields. You have to pay $15 or more for a round trip ticket to the shuttle from the Metro, and the Metro stop you shuttle to is still way the heck out there. A Mind That Suits does not live way out the heck out there.

And the flight landed 6:30. The last time A Mind That Suits took off from Rome, the flight was delayed four hours or more. If you come in late to Dulles, there is no ground transportation. You have to take a taxi. $45, plus tip.

And then, for some reason, you could not get this screwy ticket as an e-ticket, and they wanted to FedEx it to you for $15. So extra charges began at $30--for the ticket and the shuttle--plus an extra hour of travel each way. At least. Any screw up, and everything doubles, triples, or worse.

So $430--for a flight that begins and returns at civilized hours at an airport just across from the Metro, just 11 stops away from the old stomping grounds--suddenly appears quite reasonable.

And on Christmas Eve, A Mind That Suits will light a candle for all his dedicated readers somewhere in Rome, probably at Santa Maria in Trastevere, the ancient neighborhood where he hangs out when in Rome. He would light one in St. Peter's, but, with some 30 or 40 thousand people who go through there every day, they prefer not to toy with the laws of physics and so do not have any candles to light.

Otherwise, A Mind That Suits will be doing like the Romans do, mainly walking around the ruins and taking long meals in colorful neighborhood restaurants.

Weapons of Mass Destruction.

The Federalist, a cranky but useful assemblage of quotes and news stories, today brings some interesting news about the search for WMD. It raises the question of why Kay and his CIA experts arrived in Iraq three months after we took Baghdad, but still...this is worth reading...

One year ago, The Federalist first reported that Allied Forces would be unlikely to discover Saddam's WMD stores in Iraq -- that the UN Security Council's foot-dragging had provided Saddam with plenty of time to export his biological and nuclear WMD. Back then, we wrote, "There is a substantial body of intelligence supporting our position that Iraq shipped some or all of its biological and nuclear WMD stores to Syria and Lebanon's heavily fortified Bekaa Valley." In December, a senior-level intelligence source confirmed again that much of Iraq's WMD had, in fact, been moved to and through Syria.

This week, there was, for the first time, official public confirmation of our report. (In case you missed it as the Leftmedia's lead story, don’t fret; we missed it too.) Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, now director of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, told reporters that U.S. surveillance satellites captured images of vehicle traffic dispersing WMD materiel to urban locations in Iraq and moving large quantities into Syria as well.

"Those below the senior leadership saw what was coming, and I think they went to extraordinary lengths to [dispose, destroy and disperse] the evidence," said Gen. Clapper. "By the time that we got to a lot of these facilities...there wasn't that much there to look at. There was clearly an effort to disperse, bury and conceal certain equipment prior to inspections." Gen. Clapper added that there is "no question" that people and WMD materiel were moved by truck convoys into Syria.

So why wait until now to release this information? First, as we noted last year, the extent and accuracy of this information is a valuable intelligence asset, and the CIA, DIA and NSA are responsive only to U.S. national-security interests. Finding and destroying these WMD stores has everything to do with the likelihood that what we don't find now will visit our shores in a most terrible way later. Undoubtedly General Clapper's remarks were thoroughly vetted for their national security implications as we endeavor to contain Saddam's WMD and make clear that any effort to move them will confirm their current location.

Secondly, because some Americans and their Leftmedia opinion-shapers have very short attention spans, recent claims by Ted Kennedy et al. that President George Bush "misled" the nation regarding the "imminent threat" posed by Iraqi WMD, have undermined some domestic resolve. It is critical that our national resolve remain high and that Americans understand how important it is to keep the frontlines of our war with Jihadistan on their turf, not ours.

And third, because this merely confirms what many Americans not blinded by political ambition, already knew: that Saddam's most deadly WMD are still out there, still capable of inflicting catastrophic devastation in one or more major U.S. urban centers of an al-Qa'ida sleeper cell's choosing, and still capable of wreaking havoc on the economic recovery now underway.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 3:31 PM



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